News Release

U.S. Mideast Policy: No Dialogue?


In February this year, three former U.S. diplomats toured the Mideast as part of an independent delegation and met with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, various Hamas officials and Amr Mousa, secretary general of the Arab League.

A former U.S. ambassador to Greece and Zimbabwe, Keeley said today: “It was remarkably easy for us to get meetings with the major players in the region. I think that’s because there has been so little dialogue between them and our officials.

“When we were in Lebanon, I found that our ambassador doesn’t talk to the Lebanese president. [Mideast NSC official] Elliott Abrams had been there, but he doesn’t talk to the Lebanese president either.

“Even among the undemocratic leaders, we found enthusiasm for the concept of democracy in the region, but the U.S. is viewed as totally hypocritical, only backing democracy when the people it wants win.

“We need to stop castigating and threatening — and start talking and listening.”
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Peck, a former U.S. chief of mission in Iraq and ambassador to Mauritania, was deputy director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan administration. He said today: “Israel wants and needs to live in peace and security with her neighbors. That will never be achieved under her current policy. … In this context, the silence about the tragedy in Gaza, since the events in Lebanon, will be part of the costs to Israel and to the United States — and I do not want to be right.”
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President of the Center for the National Interest, Bird said today: “While in Lebanon we met with the president, the prime minister and Nasrallah. All three emphasized the following three points: Israel had not fully withdrawn from Lebanese territory — this is separate from the Shebaa Farms issue. There are three areas of just a few thousand square feet, but they are military positions.

“Second, they emphasized that Israel has not given a map to thousands of landmines it left in Lebanon as it was supposed to do. These mines regularly kill people. Third, they emphasized the abduction of three Lebanese who were taken from Lebanese territory by Israel. I asked Nasrallah what he would do about these people. He said that there was only one way to free them, and that was to capture Israeli soldiers. What Hezbollah is doing may seem to be foolish, especially in the short term, but we need to understand the facts involved.

“The United States could have probably prevented all this from happening if they had taken any action to answer the complaints of the Lebanese government.” Bird is a 23-year veteran with the United States Foreign Service and the former Counselor of Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Video of their meeting with Nasrallah
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167