Leaving Iran Out of the Lebanon Equation
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
Here's the latest on the situation in the Middle Ease.
First, the diplomatic efforts. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice started her trip to the region with an unannounced stop in Beirut. She met with Lebanon's Prime Minister, who told her that his country has been set back 50 years by Israel's bombing campaign. The speaker of Lebanon's Parliament reportedly rejected Rice's proposals outright. Rice then went on to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli leaders.
The U.S. also announced today that it will be sending humanitarian aid to Lebanon. The White House says helicopters and ships will be sent and the State Department is offering $30 million worth of assistance.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
The fighting is still fierce. Israeli ground troops moved further into villages near the border with Lebanon. At least two Israeli soldiers were killed today, and 18 injured. Hezbollah guerillas fired more rockets into Israel, hitting towns across the country's north.
The fighting has been on the mind of NPR's senior news analyst, Daniel Schorr, who sees it as part of a wider conflict.
DANIEL SCHORR reporting:
Lebanon is a struggle within a struggle. Most immediately, Hezbollah's abduction of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12th has triggered a huge Israeli response, so far short of a full-scale ground invasion.
It is intended to depopulate southern Lebanon and its launching pads for thousands of Iranian-supplied rockets. Arab diplomats and others, and now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, are trying to construct some kind of international force that could be interposed on Lebanon's border. That may be slow in coming.
Not involved in these discussions, and perhaps the most relevant outside party, is Iran, the godfather of the Shiite movement. To Iran, Lebanon is apparently just one incident in its larger plan to dominate the whole Shiite sectarian community, including Iraq and south Lebanon, and a struggle with the infidel led by President Bush and Israel.
The aggressive young president, Mahmoud Amadinejadmade, made his target known in a long, open letter to President Bush on May 9th. He said, "how long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers? How much longer will a specter of insecurity hunt the people of the world?"
It could be speculated that the Hezbollah capture of the two Israelis, which triggered the crisis, was probably known to the Iranian government before it happened. If the Molas(ph) wanted a crisis in the Islamic world, they got one. The question is, what next in Iran's challenge to America? The Molas must dream of the day when a nuclear-armed Iran will hold sway over the region and beyond.
This is Daniel Schorr.
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