BEIRUT (Dispatches) -- In yet another sign of U.S. meddling in Lebanon’s internal affairs, a U.S. diplomat says Lebanon will have to bear more pain before the Middle Eastern country sees a new government.
“Things will have to get worse before the public pressure mounts in such a way” that parliament selects a new president, Barbara Leaf, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said at an event hosted by the Wilson Center in Washington DC on Friday.
Leaf, Washington’s top Middle East diplomat, said “I can see scenarios where there is disintegration…where there is just an unraveling.”
She made her comments at the time Lebanon is left with a presidential vacuum after former President Michel Aoun’s term ended last Sunday. The country grapples with a tough economic crisis, which was to a great extent caused by U.S. sanctions on Lebanon.
She criticized Lebanon for not sealing a $3 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund, saying that Lebanon’s gas exploration is years’ worth of work and that there is no money in Lebanon’s banks, making the loan a necessity. Meanwhile, she failed to mention that the IMF loan was to come into effect only if Lebanon met certain conditions, which Lebanon rejects.
Commenting on former Zionist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to “neutralize” the maritime deal made with Lebanon, Leaf said, “I think there will be lots of voices advising him [Netanyahu] otherwise.”
Lebanese officials have said the U.S. mediator has promised to protect the agreement in the face of a Netanyahu victory. Leaf, however, refused to outline what steps Washington would take to protect the deal or whether she believed a Netanyahu-led regime in Tel Aviv would tear it up.
Netanyahu and his far-right allies secured the majority of seats in the Zionist regime’s election on Tuesday, and he is expected to be tapped to form a new cabinet.
Leaf is not the first U.S. diplomat to reflect American interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs.
In September 2020, during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, former U.S. under secretary of state David Hale revealed that the United States “has spent $10 billion in Lebanon, on security forces and the army on one hand, and on the civil society represented mostly by non-governmental organizations on the other, throughout several years.”
He declared that Washington’s support for the Lebanese army comes within the U.S. strategy to confront the Lebanese resistance group, Hezbollah, which was successful in kicking out Israeli occupation from Lebanese territory in 2000.
Also back in July 2010, former U.S. assistant secretary of state Jeffrey Feltman revealed that after Lebanon’s 2006 war, the U.S. invested $500 million to demonize Hezbollah’s image using the media and to drive people away from the party.
Hezbollah, the only party in the region that was able to defeat the Zionist regime, which is the U.S.’ top ally, has been a core American target since the party was founded in the wake of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.