Rice rubber-stamps Lebanon's Hizballah-controlled government

Monday, June 16, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Beirut on Monday in support of a new coalition government deal that has brought stability to the country following a difficult 18-month period.

The only problem is that the new government is almost entirely beholden to the Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorist militia. The coalition deal brokered in Doha, Qatar last month that brought an end to 18 months of political instability grants Hizballah, which is one of the leading parliamentary opposition factions, veto power over any and all government decisions. It also paved the way for the election of former army chief Michel Suleiman, a Hizballah ally, as Lebanon's president.

Brushing aside Suleiman's Hizballah ties, the Associated Press quoted Rice as telling the new Lebanese president "we are all just very supportive of your presidency and your government."

Hizballah forced the government to accept its coalition conditions after military seizing control of most of Beirut in a mini-military coup last month. Suleiman's forces stood by and refused to intervene as Hizballah gunmen imposed curfews and blockaded Beirut's international airport.

The Doha agreement is seen in the region as a major victory for Hizballah and its Iranian sponsors.

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