The March to War: USS Cole gives the war jitters to Lebanon

A U.S. decision to dispatch three warships, including the USS Cole, to the coast of Lebanon to “show support for regional stability” is causing jitters within the country that such an overt show of foreign military strength is likely to exacerbate its political crisis.
Pentagon officials announced that the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole left Malta for Lebanon on Tuesday, because of “concern about the situation in Lebanon,” which is suffering the worst political crisis since the end of its 1975-1990 civil war.
The politically-divided Lebanese see the move as a show of force intended to threaten Syria and Iran, the backers of the Hezbollah-led opposition that Washington accuses of obstructing the election of a president, a post that has been vacant since pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud’s term expired in November.
While Hezbollah slammed the U.S. deployment as “military intervention” to support the anti-Syrian ruling majority and the government, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Friday indicated he had not sought American help, and particularly not through a show of military force.
Speaking to Arab ambassadors in Beirut, Siniora said in televised remarks that no warships were currently in Lebanese territorial waters, and that his government did “not ask anyone to send warships.”
Earlier, Siniora summoned U.S. charge d’affaires Michele Sison to clarify the presence of the USS Cole, a government source told AFP news agency. “Mrs. Sison assured him that the warship was in international waters and had been dispatched to guarantee regional stability,” the unidentified source said.

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