U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, concluded his Middle East trip last week with a visit to Lebanon, where he promoted anti-Iranian policies, under the guise of supporting Lebanese democracy. Pompeo’s visit centered around the American obsession with the Lebanese resistance movement and political party, Hezbollah, which has been demonized by the United States and its allies as a “terrorist organization.”
During his visit, Pompeo called on the Lebanese people to oppose Hezbollah. In several interviews, he recycled the trope that Hezbollah was an “Iranian-funded terrorist organization.” In a talk with Lebanese broadcaster MTV, Pompeo said the United States was “prepared to support” efforts against Hezbollah from within Lebanon. He added: “We want our good partners in Lebanon to understand that we are with them in this battle.” In an interview with Sky News Arabia, Pompeo claimed that Lebanon, “a beacon of democracy throughout the world,” was allegedly at risk due to Iranian influence, making sure to emphasize that Iran is an “Islamic” republic.
In both his interviews, Pompeo claimed that no Lebanese politician disagreed with him, and arrogantly insisted that all Lebanese want what the Trump administration wants for Lebanon.
Unlike the leaders of various powerful Arab states, however, Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun seemed anything but enthusiastic about meeting Pompeo. Both Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil publicly disagreed with Pompeo’s claims about Hezbollah and Iranian interference. For his part, Bassil affirmed that “Hezbollah is a Lebanese party, not a terrorist group, and it enjoys a wide popular base,” in a joint press conference with Pompeo on March 22. Indeed, Hezbollah is a democratically elected member of the Lebanese parliament, where it is part of the unity government.
Pompeo, of course, could not care less about Lebanese lives. Instead, his actions are in line with America’s bipartisan, unconditional support for Israel, which has historically had a destructive role in Lebanon. The Israeli regime has for decades occupied Lebanon, participated in genocidal atrocities, and killed civilians of all sects. Israel’s ongoing interference with Lebanese sovereignty, including the Netanyahu regime’s continuous threats to annihilate not only Hezbollah, but also to obliterate the Lebanese people altogether and send the country to the stone age, remain unchallenged and uncriticized by the United States.
Pompeo’s efforts to destabilize Lebanon remain unsuccessful for now. The Lebanese will, however, continue to struggle with the deadly confluence of U.S. imperialism and Israeli terror for some time to come.