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27 03 2008 - Christian Militia Take on Damascus?
27/03/2008 Beirut
Christian Militia Take on Damascus?

In receiving Christian leader Samir Geagea, Washington appears to be preparing for a re-activation of the latter’s militia forces if the Lebanese army crumbles.

Elliot Abrams, an official in charge of the Middle East department at the National Security Council, has been organizing a visit to the United States by Samir Geagea, chief of the executive committee of Lebanon’s Forces Libanaise since early this month. The White House sent a helicopter to fetch the Christian leader, his wife, legislator Sethrida Geagea, and tourism minister Joe Sarkis, within the grounds of the American embassy in Beirut on March 5.

On March 10 Geagea talked for two hours with George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, in the presence of the former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, who is now undersecretary of state for Near East affairs.

Hadley and Feltman insisted on the fact the Lebanese Army was in charge of ensured the country’s security but made it clear they weren’t opposed to the Forces Libanaise’s Christian militia being formed again if the Army found itself overrun. Hadley even promised that in such a case the U.S. would support and train Christian para-military forces. A former head of the Forces Libanaise’s militia, Ghassam Touma, presently lives in exile in Washington. Geagea met with him as well as other former para-military leaders while in Washington.

On March 14, the chairman of the House of Representative’s subcommittee in the Middle East, Gary Ackerman (Democrat from New York) organized a reception in Geagea’s honour that was attended by legislators Sheila Jackson-Lee (Democrat from Texas) and a Republican lawmaker from Michigan, Thaddeus McCotter. On March 17, the Christian leader travelled to New York to meet with U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in the presence of Terje Roed-Larsen, the special envoy for implementation of resolution 1559 on the Syrian presence in Lebanon.


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