Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Seymour Hersh - truth or fiction?

Seymour Hersh's latest revelations point to US covert operations in Lebanon. Writing in the New Yorker, he claims that the US is arming Sunni extremist groups inside Lebanon to bolster the Siniora government against the armed opposition of Hizbollah.

"In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."

Click here to read the piece.

In an article in the Daily Star of Lebanon today, the Lebanese government deny anything of the sort, while Alaistar Crooke of Conflicts Forum suggests there is a germ of truth as do Hizbollah. Click here to read the full text.

1 comment:

Davis said...

These Crooke comments are lifted verbatim from the actual New Yorker article, so cannot determine its accuracy.

I've seen Hersh demolished in print, handled as senile and unreliable. Am not entirely convinced though...

If one reads the entire article, it is striking how US diplomats, on the record, such as Indyk, give assesments of the situation, whilst the more 'sensational' narrative is woven by Hersh, substantiated time and time again by unnamed sources.

It is however a good piece in terms of spelling out the US dilemma in light of the new strategic realities. And it is excellent on painting that broader picture.