Before US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf went to Lebanon, the US administration set two main goals for the visit.
According to US government sources, the two goals are based on showing the permanent American interest in Lebanon and the Lebanese, and the second goal is to carry a message to the leaders you will meet, informing them of the need to work quickly to elect a president for the republic, and to form a government that carries out the necessary reforms that the Lebanese demand.
Perhaps the US Assistant Secretary of State succeeded in her mission in terms of delivering the two messages, but it remains important to look at what controls US policy towards Lebanon, especially what Washington accepts and what it rejects, especially when it comes to a president supported by the Shiite duo.
Since 2021, US President Joseph Biden’s administration has considered that the main goal of its policy in Lebanon is to ask the Lebanese to reach solutions, but it has never said that it has solutions, or that it will try, through its diplomacy or influence, to reach these solutions.
What prevents the current US administration from doing so is its conviction that it does not have vital interests in Lebanon and a timetable that it is forced to implement.
The tongue of the Americans
However, the first thing that comes to the lips of Americans when talking about Lebanon is the expression “calm.” The many challenges on the international arena, especially in eastern Europe and the Pacific, push the US administration to seek calm in other regions of the world, such as the Middle East, and Lebanon is one of the smallest of these countries in the region. Especially since no one in Washington wants or can spend time and effort on “a problem in Lebanon that may turn into a crisis.”
Likewise, American officials consider, and this is before and after Barbara Lev’s visit, that what is required is for the Lebanese to seek to return the state’s work to its normal course by electing a president who works with the forthcoming government to adopt “reforms that the Lebanese want.”
From the Lebanese presidential palace in Baabda (archive – Reuters)
It is correct to say that the international community and international institutions also want these reforms. The World Bank, the Monetary Fund and the countries that contribute to their budgets are ready to provide assistance, only if the Lebanese government implements these “reforms”, and that means reforms in the state apparatus, preventing waste and reforming the energy sector with all its requirements. So that Lebanon can receive electricity and gas from Egypt and Syria without the “energy gangs” in the two countries benefiting from this project, which starts in Egypt and passes through Jordan and Syria to reach Lebanon.
In addition, the Americans stress very much that their goal in Lebanon remains stability and sovereignty, and when asked about more details, officials say that they feel the tragedies that the Lebanese have gone through, and that they are ready to help get out of the tunnel, and their current efforts are based on expressing feelings and intervening when appropriate.
Presidential vacuum in Lebanon
It is remarkable that the administration of the current US president considers that the US intervention in reaching an agreement between Lebanon and Israel on the maritime borders comes in this context, i.e. intervention when necessary, and if necessary a second time, they would have intervened again.
The Americans also call for results in the investigation of the port explosion, and they will continue to cooperate and assist the Lebanese army and security forces.
However, they want to take into consideration that Lebanon’s sovereignty is an important issue and should not be compromised.
President and the Arab and international community
And we must stop at this American saying, as they apply it when talking about the presidential elections. They do not want to talk about any role in choosing the future president, and they consider that adopting the name of their candidate is a violation of Lebanese sovereignty, and this is what they do not want.
Also, some employees of the American administration laugh in private sessions when talking about supporting the presidential candidates and say that this issue is left to the French!
In addition, when talking to Al-Arabiya.net about the candidacy of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement for Suleiman Franjieh, the Americans suffice by saying, “They do not interfere in the names, but they stress that the American administration will separate the person of the president from those who support him for the presidency, and they do not consider Franjieh’s relationship with Hezbollah, which is classified as an organization.” A terrorist is something that hinders dealing with Franjieh or those who are in his treachery.”
Rather, they indicate that dealing with Hezbollah is a separate matter, as the United States will pursue the policy of sanctions against it and will try to combat its activities and financing.
But what the Americans want from the Lebanese now is to elect a president for the republic, whose specifications are as follows: “He is not involved in corruption, he can unite the Lebanese, he can work with all parties to implement reforms, and he can also work with the countries of the Arab world and the international community.”