U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has faced criticism from Lebanese citizens this week as she announced plans to travel to Israel to continue peace talks (Canadian Press, Nasrallah). As America sends aid workers into Lebanon, it is my position that they are also blatantly still selling the weapons to Israel that are being used to attack Hezbollah and innocent Lebanese civilians. President Bush has failed to call for an immediate ceasefire, something that Rice is taking a lot of flack for. Similarly, U.K. Prime Minister Blair has taken the line that calling for a ceasefire will not solve the dispute because both sides have to be willing to agree (CBC news, Annan). While Rice was preparing to leave Jerusalem and drop in on Beirut once more, her plans were cancelled unceremoniously by the Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan who announced he would not meet with the Secretary of State until an unconditional ceasefire was called (CBC news, Lebanese).
Fighting between the two sides began when Hezbollah, a Lebanese Islamic Shiite political party with a militant wing, captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12. Hezbollah is dedicated to rebellion against Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon and does not necessarily represent the entire Lebanese state. Israel has responded with targeted attacks on Beirut and southern Lebanon where Hezbollah retains headquarters.
The failure of international efforts to stop the violence has led to massive numbers of refugees fleeing Lebanon via Beirut. Roughly thirteen thousand Canadians were evacuated on ships leaving Beirut, the last group scheduled to leave on Saturday 29th. The Canadian Embassy said, “People are feeling extremely sad about leaving. This [last] group is the group that hung on, hoping for perhaps a ceasefire, waiting for some sort of resolution to this conflict. Now they, too, have given up” (Canadian Press, Canadian Evacuees).
The Bush administration retains that international effort is required to stop the violence, however peace talks in Rome Wednesday 26th have failed to derive results. Both Hezbollah and the Israeli government are continuing their attacks, resulting in ruined homes and mass graves in the targeted regions. Hezbollah says that as long as Israel is attacking its citizens, the fighting will be reciprocated (CBC news, Middle East).
In Canada, there have been large peace protests calling for a ceasefire (Canadian Press, Canadians). Some Canadians feel that Stephen Harper is endangering Canada’s strong stance as a peacekeeping nation by neglecting to get involved. Meanwhile, Harper maintains that Israel is justified in its attacks of self-defence. I contend that the U.S. continues to both sell ammunitions to the Israeli government and send aid to Lebanon. They sure have a funny way of doing things.
Canadian Press (2006, July 29). Canadian evacuees reach 13,000 as 2 ships leave Beirut. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/07/29/lebanon-boats.html
Canadian Press (2006, July 29). Canadians protest PM’s stance on Mideast crisis. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/07/29/halifax-protest.html
Canadian Press (2006, July 29). Nasrallah ready to talk as Rice returns to Mideast. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/07/29/mideast-wrap.html
CBC news staff (2006, July 24). Annan, Rice intensify diplomatic efforts to end conflict in Lebanon. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/07/24/rice-visit.html
CBC news staff (2006, July 31). Lebanese president gives full backing to Hezbollah. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/national/2006/07/28/lahoud-interview.html
CBC news staff (2006, August 4). Middle East in crisis: Timeline of recent events. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/middleeast-crisis/