WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made calls to Lebanese
leaders in recent days to emphasize the American commitment to stability as
upheaval in Syria threatens its neighbor.
On Thursday, Clinton spoke to
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former prime minister Saad
“The secretary voiced concern over recent incidents in Lebanon
and expressed appreciation for the prime minister’s and other Lebanese leaders’
efforts to maintain calm,” according to the State Department statement on the
Mikati call. “Secretary Clinton emphasized the United States’ commitment to a
stable, independent and sovereign Lebanon.”
She communicated a similar
message to Hariri, according to the State Department, but also discussed steps
the US could take with him and the Lebanese government to improve the situation,
which has seen violence threaten to once again engulf the country.
is trying to change the subject and move the confrontation to Lebanon,”
explained Amal Mudallali, an adviser to Hariri who was speaking at the
Foundation for Defense of Democracies Friday in Washington.
But she said
that right now, only Hezbollah has the military and political power in the
country to start a civil war.
Yet she assessed that Hezbollah did not
want to move to such a step at this time.
“The party that has the most
weapons and the power is Hezbollah, and it’s not in their interest to have a
war,” Mudallali said. “There’s no party in Leb that has an interest in civil
Hassan Mneimneh, who also spoke at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies event Friday, agreed. While he said tensions would continue to flare
in Lebanon, “It’s not going to devolve into civil war.”
dismissed the threat of Salafis or even al-Qaida gaining power in the north as
not borne out by the facts, one which Lebanese there see as a “ploy” to justify
action against the area.
She saw this too as an effort by Syria to
distract from its own actions, particularly by drawing US attention to Lebanon
with such warnings.
“Using it is a message to the United States,” she