U.S. Intel Skeptical Of Lebanese Army
WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The U.S. intelligence community has become skeptical of
efforts to modernize the Lebanese Army.
Officials acknowledged that the Lebanese Army and Internal Security
Forces have been taken over or been intimidated by the Iranian-sponsored
Hizbullah. They said Hizbullah agreed to the election of Chief of Staff Gen.
Michel Suleiman after he refused to stop the Shi'ite militia's takeover of
Beirut and large parts of Lebanon in May.
"Part of the problem there is that the army was itself made up of the
different factions in Lebanon," U.S. Principal Deputy Director of National
Intelligence Donald Kerr said. "And to some great degree, I think they
elected to stay out of the conflict to avoid breaking into the factions
themselves. As many of you know, the recently elected president of Lebanon
is the former commander of the Lebanese armed forces. And whether his
ability to keep that coalition in the army together can translate into an
ability to keep some of these factions together in governing, I don't know."
In a briefing to the Washington Institute on May 29, Kerr did not
provide details of the Hizbullah takeover and the role of the Lebanese
security forces. But the intelligence official stressed that Hizbullah
achieved its goal in ensuring a veto of any policy by the central government