From friend of PULSE and correspondent in Beirut, Franklin Lamb.
It appears that the Biden visit is part of a US bid to supervise the electoral campaign of a Lebanese party, which feels threatened politically, in light of the expected outcome of the legislative vote. We call on all Lebanese, regardless of their political views, to rise up against such meddling that represents a flagrant violation of Lebanese sovereignty. Biden’s visit is part of U.S. efforts to impose its views on the government that will be set up after the elections. They are tracing red lines for the future government but we will rise up to this.
— Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah, Friday morning 22 May 2009 as Joe Biden arrived in Beirut.
Let U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hear what Lebanon needs and not listen only to what the U.S. wants
— Hezbollah deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem in a message to President Michel Suleiman (22 May 2009)
How not to win votes for the ‘US team’
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beirut with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman aboard a U.S. military helicopter at 11:50 am this morning. At 12:14 pm Biden arrived at Baabda Palace and went straight to meet President Michel Suleiman ignoring media questions. Biden was greeted at Beirut’s airport by Hezbollah supporter Fawsi Salloukh, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister and one of the key back channels for US-Hezbollah communications. Biden’s Salloukh meeting is likely the extent of any dialogue between Biden and Hezbollah this trip. Biden’s first words, shouted to some journalists outside the Baabda Presidential Palace were, “I am happy to be in Libya…I mean Lebanon…this morning!”
If Biden was having a good morning, many Beirutis were not. Many woke up furious as they learned they will be on “lockdown” from 11 am to 6:30 pm for Vice President Joe Biden’s quick visit. It will be the 14th visit by a US official over the past six months to assure the people of Lebanon that the US will not interfere in the June 7 elections. In fact, US interference has now reached a near fever pitch just sixteen days before the voting.