Roundup: War in the Middle East

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ROLE OF FRANCE
Although mocked by the Israelis, the French, because of their historic role in Lebanon, doubtless will play an important role in putting together an international force and terms of any political settlement. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy, in Beruit Monday for talks with the Lebanese government, provided clues as to French thinking: “There will not be a permanent cease-fire without a political agreement … France believes that it would be impossible to have a military solution only,” he told reporters. He said the political agreement should be “between Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah on one side, and Israel, Lebanon and the international community on the other.”

Douste-Blazy continued: “I have spoken a lot about the necessity of reaching a political agreement, and its components are: the release of all Lebanese detainees and the two Israeli soldiers; the complete implementation of the Taif Accord; the expansion of the authority of the Lebanese government to cover all the Lebanese territories; a solution to the Shebaa Farms through demarcating the borders, and even placing it temporarily under the UN mandate; and the emphasizing on the sovereignty of each of Lebanon and Israel.”

HAGEL’S BREAK WITH BUSH
Full Text of Hagel’s Middle East statement
“The United States will remain committed to defending Israel. Our relationship with Israel is a special and historic one. But, it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice. Achieving a lasting resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is as much in Israel’s interest as any other country in the world.”

BANGLADESH
With US foreign policy seemingly dead in the water, and military commanders beginning to seriously complain about an army stretched too thin, news that the US soon will be facing a new center of terrorism in the poor Muslim nation of Bangladesh can only add to American disarray. Up to now the Bangladesh government has been secular. According to Selig Harrison of the Washington Post, “While the United States dithers, a growing Islamic fundamentalist movement linked to al-Qaeda and Pakistani intelligence agencies is steadily converting the strategically located nation of Bangladesh into a new regional hub for terrorist operations that reach into India and Southeast Asia.”

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