Hezbollah says Biden visit interferes in election

May 22, 2009 15:14
3 minute read.


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


US Vice President Joe Biden reinforced his country's support for Lebanon's government Friday ahead of key parliamentary elections that could see the pro-Western faction ousted by Iranian-backed Hizbullah and its allies. Hizbullah has accused Washington of trying to influence the June 7 election in favor of the pro-Western faction that dominates the government. The terror group said Friday that the visit by Biden and an earlier one by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raised "strong suspicion and amounted to a clear and detailed interference in Lebanon's affairs." Biden is the highest-ranking US official to visit Lebanon in more than 25 years and the second from the Obama administration in about a month, following Clinton's trip. The attention underscores Washington's concerns about a possible win by Hezbollah, which the US considers a terrorist group. The White House said Biden's visit was meant "to reinforce the United States' support for an independent and sovereign Lebanon." With the election about two weeks away, this deeply divided nation is in the throes of an increasingly abrasive election campaign that has split voters into two main camps. A pro-Western camp made up mainly of Sunnis favors close ties to America, France and moderate Sunni Arab countries while the other faction is dominated by Shiites and backed by U.S. foes Iran and Syria. Hizbullah, which is highly critical of US Mideast policy and has a strong anti-Israeli agenda, is looking to strengthen its political hold beyond the veto power it currently has in the government. The Shiite group has only 14 seats in the 128-seat parliament, but got the veto power after a show of force a year ago when its gunmen overran Sunni neighborhoods in Beirut. The coalition dominated by the heavily armed group stands a good chance of winning, which could increase the influence of its sponsors Iran and Syria in the region. Israel and US Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are concerned about the growing influence of Iran in the Middle East, especially through the militant groups Tehran backs such as Hizbullah and Hamas in Gaza. US officials have said they will review assistance to Lebanon depending on the composition of the next government, a warning clearly aimed at Hizbullah and its allies. The US has provided Lebanon with more than a billion dollars in assistance since 2006, including $410 million to the military and the police. The White House said Biden will announce further assistance for the Lebanese military while in the country. Biden's visit caps a transformation in American policy toward Lebanon that began four years ago after more than two decades of largely steering away from a country that has been viewed as a quagmire. Pro-Iranian militants targeted Americans with bombings and kidnappings in the 1980s during the civil war, leading to a 12-year US ban on Americans traveling to the country that was lifted in 1997. Biden flew into Beirut airport coming from Kosovo, closing a three-day tour of the southeastern European region that also took him to Bosnia and Serbia. Lebanese military helicopters hovered over the Lebanese capital to provide security as a motorcade of about dozen cars sped through the city center on its way to the presidential palace in the suburban hills of Baabda. During the visit scheduled to last a few hours, Biden met with President Michel Suleiman, a neutral former army commander elected a year ago by consensus after a nearly two-year political crisis that almost drove the country into another conflict like the 1975-90 civil war. Biden's visit is seen here as a boost for the standing of the Lebanese president and the military. Both could play a pivotal role in stabilizing the country after the elections and be partners the United States could continue to work with should the Hizbullah -led coalition wins. Biden will also meet the pro-Western prime minister and the speaker of parliament, who is aligned with Hizbullah , the White House said. The vice president will end his visit with a ceremony at the airport with Lebanon's defense minister. Biden last visited Lebanon in 2005 as a senator during that year's parliamentary elections.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

File: Jordan's King Abdullah II greets Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House in Washin
October 22, 2018
Is Israel’s position in region as secure as it looks?