The Democrat's midterm election victories last week and the subsequent resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent a message of American weakness to Syria that will likely result in "instability and chaos" in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East, Lebanon's Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt said in a WND interview Tuesday.
Chaos in Lebanese gov't as pro-Syrian ministers resign / Associated Press
Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV says Hizbullah and allied Amal cabinet ministers resign from Lebanese government
Jumblatt is head of Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party and is widely considered the most prominent anti-Syrian Lebanese politician.
He charged the Democrats' calls for a withdrawal from Iraq and for changes in US Middle East policy in part emboldened the Syrian-backed Hizbullah militia to bolt the Lebanese parliament this past weekend and to threaten street protests that many say could easily turn violent.
Hizbullah's parliamentary departure threw into crisis the composure of the majority anti-Syrian Lebanese government, with some in parliament stating the government is no longer legitimate.
'Syrian believe they have the upper hand'
"The Syrians play this game where they have been waiting for the Americans to get weaker in Iraq," said Jumblatt. "Now with the Democrat's win paving the way for an American withdrawal and with Rumsfeld's resignation making a statement, the Syrians believe they have the upper hand in the region to retake Lebanon."
"The Syrians are trying to profit from the circumstances by creating havoc and by using Hizbullah to stage a coup d'etat to get rid of us (the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority)," Jumblatt said.
"The government has lost its legitimacy following the ministers' resignations, and any decision it makes will be considered unconstitutional," Lahoud said prior to yesterday's cabinet meeting on the Hariri tribunal.
On Monday, Hizbullah ministers said they would stage "peaceful" street protests as part of a campaign to press demands for better representation in government for its allies, especially the Christian opposition leader, Michel Aoun.
Lebanese leaders, including Jumblatt, fear Hizbullah protests could turn violent.
The United States and Israel has accused Syria of arming Hizbullah with rockets and advanced weaponry.
"There is no question these protests can foment violence and instability," said Jumblatt, who accused Syria of orchestrating the Hizbullah ministers' resignations.
"This could not have happened without Syria's backing," Jumblatt said.
He said Syria was taking advantage of the "changes in attitude" in the US, where many see the Democrats' victory and Rumsfeld's resignation as setting the stage for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq.
Jumblatt said President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 was "the right thing to do," but stressed an early evacuation would send the wrong signals to Syria and Iran, and could result in regional instability.
Source: WorldNetDaily, by Aaron Klein, WND. 11.14.06