12) Deal for Lebanese army chief Gen. Suleiman's appointment as president was hatched behind American backs at AnnapolisDEBKAfile Exclusive
DEBKAFILE - November 30, 2007
Our Middle East sources reveal that Saudi foreign minister Saud al-Faisal and Syrian dep. foreign minister Faisal Mekdad quietly finalized the deal at the Middle East conference in Maryland on Nov. 27 - unbeknownst to President George W. Bush, who was fully engaged with the Israeli-Palestinians peace process. Inviting Syria to the meeting had been intended by Bush and Nicolas Sarkozy to buy Damascus off from installing another puppet in Beirut.
The conference was a washout for its main goal. If as a result, the Lebanese presidential candidate Washington and Paris vetoed and who is bitterly opposed by Israel wins the vote in parliament on Dec. 7, Annapolis will turn out to be a triumph for Damascus and let-down for Bush, Sarkozy and Olmert.
To arrest Lebanon's slide back into Syria's arms, the US and France are working had to save the pro- Western Fouad Siniora's government, but have no guarantee of success.
DEBKAfile reports: Gen. Michel Suleiman, 59, was chosen by Syrian military intelligence to head the Lebanese army in 1999 when Lebanon was under Syrian occupation. He has family, including a sister, living in Damascus. In the 2006 war with Israel, Suleiman cooperated with the Hizballah. It was he who allowed the Iran-backed Shiite terrorists to use the Lebanese army's coastal radar station outside Beirut to aim the C-802 missiles which damaged an off-shore Israeli missile ship on July 15.
After the war, Gen. Suleiman let Hizballah use army trucks to transport smuggled Syrian and Iranian arms into the county in defiance of the UN Security Council ceasefire resolution. Instead of policing south Lebanon along with UNIFIL to prevent Hizballah's post-war re-establishment and re-armament in the South, the national army was used to shelter the Shiite group's operations to restore its strength.
Saudi ambassador to Beirut Abdul Aziz Khoja announced Thursday that his government would back the general's candidacy if he has a consensus of all Lebanon's rival factions.