By Wayne Madsen | Strategic Culture
US President Donald Trump, hobbled by a two-minute attention span, demonstrated his utter lack of knowledge about the political situation in Lebanon during a recent visit to the White House of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri. During a press conference outside the White House, Trump opened his remarks by stating to an astonished Hariri and the viewing Lebanese television audience, «Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah».
Trump was correct that Lebanon is battling the Islamic State and Al Qaeda but is doing so with the assistance of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’a movement with which Hariri’s government maintains a fragile but maturing political accommodation. Trump followed his opening remarks by stating, «Hezbollah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people, and the entire region. The group continues to increase its military arsenal, which threatens to start yet another conflict with Israel, constantly fighting them back. With the support of Iran, the organization is also fueling the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. Hezbollah likes to portray itself as a defender of Lebanese interests, but it’s very clear that its true interests are those of itself and its sponsor – Iran».
Following his meeting and news conference with Trump, Hariri was forced to correct the record in order not to face a government collapse back in Beirut. Hariri said, «We fight ISIS and al-Qaida. Hezbollah is in the government and part of parliament and we have an understanding with it». There is little doubt that Trump, under the influence of Israeli agents-of-influence like his son-in-law Jared Kushner, was not briefed on Hezbollah’s critical role in supporting the Hariri government, to bring about a Lebanese political crisis. Fortunately, Hezbollah did not fall for the Israeli subterfuge and gimmickry carried out by the White House.
Kushner obviously had help in briefing Trump on the need to attack Hezbollah. Just after Trump’s misguided comments on Hezbollah, US National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster fired an unwanted staff member, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a leftover from retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s regime at the National Security Council. After Flynn was fired by Trump in February 2017, McMaster attempted to oust Cohen-Watnick, who was attempting to use sectors of the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency, where the staffer once worked, to overthrow the government of Iran. Israel’s propaganda network within the United States and abroad began beating the tired old «anti-Semite» canard to criticize McMaster and call for his firing by Trump. Immediately, «rumors» began circulating from the White House, most of them originating with the Kushner circle, that Trump was considering relieving McMaster as National Security Adviser and sending him to command US troops in Afghanistan, a move like Adolf Hitler sending rebellious German generals off to the «Russian front».
The Kushner crowd also suggested that Trump was misled about the situation in Lebanon by Hariri, who was accused of colluding with Hezbollah, Lebanese president Michel Aoun – a political ally of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Armed Forces, Directorate of General Security (Lebanese Intelligence) General Abbas Ibrahim, and unnamed Lebanese lobbying organizations in Washington, DC of trying to «sell» a «pro-Iran order» in Lebanon and Syria. Only seasoned cabalists who make up the Israel Lobby, itself possessing a rich history of advancing actual conspiracies, could concoct such an intricate fictional conspiracy theory to complement their hysterical rhetoric concerning Lebanon.
With Cohen-Watnick out at the National Security Council and Trump’s new chief of staff, retired Marine General John Kelly, attempting to limit Kushner’s access to the Oval Office and involvement with crucial Middle East policy decisions, perhaps Trump can be educated about Israel’s documented military, logistical, and intelligence support for the Sunni jihadist groups in Syria that have been battling against the Syrian Army and volunteers from Hezbollah and Iran. However, Trump has been found loathe to listen to advice from anyone who commands more knowledge of international affairs than himself, which may be anyone possessing a Bachelor’s degree in political science or history.
Trump’s siding with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a sanctions showdown with Qatar, engineered by Abu Dhabi’s computer hacking of the Qatar News Agency, is a case in point. The entire Qatar episode appears to have been engineered by Kushner, who was miffed after Qatar rejected his request for a $500 million investment in the failing Kushner office building at 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and the UAE’s pro-Israel and anti-Qatar ambassador in Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba. Trump found it preferable to heed the advice of Kushner and the Saudis and Emiratis over that provided by McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump was obviously operating from an outdated neo-conservative playbook when he met with Hariri. True, Hariri has long been considered a Sunni pro-Saudi political power in Beirut. But, Hariri is prime minister as the result of a carefully-negotiated power sharing agreement that saw Aoun become president, Hariri become prime minister, and Hezbollah backing the national unity arrangement. While Trump fails to meet the most minimum degree of a working knowledge of international politics, the same does not hold true for operatives like Kushner and his allies in the White House. It is likely that these pro-Israeli elements were trying to engineer a political crisis in Lebanon, an event that would have worked in Israel’s favor.
Hezbollah, which has scored impressive military successes against Israeli military forces and which has managed to harden its telecommunications systems from Israeli eavesdropping, did not take Kushner’s bait. Hariri has publicly recognized and lauded Hezbollah’s role in militarily defeating Al Qaeda and Islamic State jihadist forces on Lebanon’s northern border, calling it a «big achievement». Hariri stated, «We have our opinion and Hezbollah has its opinion, but in the end, we met on a consensus that concerns the Lebanese people for the [welfare of the] Lebanese economy, security and stability». Hezbollah leader Nasrallah also held back from falling into the Israeli and Wahhabist trap. Rather than denounce Trump for his ill-informed comments on Hezbollah, Nasrallah merely said he would withhold comment to not embarrass Hariri and his entourage. The words of Hariri and the «no comment» by Nasrallah were irritants to the Israelis and their Wahhabist allies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, who were hoping to upset the political apple cart in Beirut.
For years, the Israelis and Saudis have attempted to force a Sunni radical government on Lebanon. Both countries’ intelligence services had their fingerprints on the November 2005 car bombing assassination in Beirut of Hariri’s father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri. This was borne out by a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare, which concluded that Rafik Hariri was assassinated by a «criminal network», not by Syrian intelligence or Hezbollah as proffered by the neo-conservative propaganda mill operating out of Washington, DC and Jerusalem.
In fact, Lebanese intelligence ascertained that the assassination of Hariri and twenty-two other persons was carried out by rogue Syrian, Druze, and Palestinian intelligence operatives in Lebanon who were in the pay of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service. The entire operation was designed to besmirch Hezbollah and Syria and their Lebanese Christian allies. The Israelis were fishing for a casus belli to justify a Western military attack on Syria. War with Syria would be put off until the Barack Obama administration’s ill-fated decision to support «Arab Spring» uprisings throughout the secular Arab world. Mr. Trump, knowingly or unknowingly, attempted to set off a political time bomb in Lebanon with his comments about Hezbollah. Lebanese politics has matured greatly since 2005 and neither Hezbollah, Hariri, Aoun, or other legitimate Lebanese political voices will fall again for the gimmickry engineered in Jerusalem, Riyadh, and the Israeli-directed think tanks in Washington.