American Official Denies Report that U.S. Prepared to Open Dialogue with Hizbullah


A prominent U.S. State Department official denied to An Nahar in remarks published on Saturday recent reports that the American administration is considering opening dialogue Washington has labeled as terrorist, including Hizbullah.

He said that on the political level, there can be no dialogue with Hizbullah because it is a terrorist organization creating instability in the Middle East.

A Washington Post article published on Thursday stated that Washington was mulling launching dialogue with Hizbullah and the Taliban.

“The Hizbullah issue is still being framed, in terms of policy debate. But the White House has focused on it in recent weeks because of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Hizbullah that is nearing completion,” the article said.

“Officials who have read draft versions of the estimate say it assesses Hizbullah in a broad context, as a political and social force in Lebanon in addition to the militia officially designated by the United States as a ‘foreign terrorist organization.’ Like most NIEs, this one is said to contain a broad array of views, with some analysts stressing Hizbullah’s terrorist capabilities and others noting the organization’s growing political role, including its representation in the Lebanese cabinet,” it noted.

“The political time bomb ticking away in the NIE is the question of whether the United States should seek some kind of direct or indirect engagement with Hizbullah — at least with its political wing. Officials who support this course argue that the organization is like the IRA or the PLO — with nonmilitary components that can be drawn into a dialogue,” it continued.

“The high-level discussion of Hizbullah illustrates the ferment in U.S. thinking about a Middle East that is being transformed by democratic uprisings. Officials caution that for now, the Hizbullah question is a matter for intelligence analysts, not policymakers. The White House recognizes that it has enough to deal with already without opening a new question that would produce shock waves in Israel, Saudi Arabia and other countries,” the report said.

“The bottom line is that after a decade of American wars in the Middle East, the Obama administration is increasingly looking for ways to talk with adversaries and draw them into a process of dialogue. The world is changing, and perhaps so should U.S. policy,” it added.

The U.S. official said that the way in which Hizbullah’s activity led to the toppling of the Saad Hariri government has decreased chances of holding dialogue with the party.

He stressed that there are no discussions in the U.S. on changing policies towards Lebanon, adding that the U.S. administration is concerned with Hizbullah’s strong influence over Beirut’s airport.