The Corner

Re: Lebanon!?

So here’s the full transcript of the Q&A. Again, maybe it’s just me, but it sure sounds like the State Department really, really, doesn’t want to say it cares about Israeli security:

QUESTION: Yeah, on the Middle East. Again, these reports about the Syrians moving Scud missiles into southern Lebanon and are giving them to Hezbollah have emerged. Senator McCain raised the issue at the hearing on Iran this morning and Under Secretary of Defense Flournoy said that the U.S. is very concerned by these reports. Do you have anything to add to that? And – well, that’s the end of the question.

MR. CROWLEY: We are concerned about it. And if such an action has been taken – and we continue to analyze this issue – it would represent a failure by the parties in the region to honor UN Security Council Resolution 1701. And clearly, it potentially puts Lebanon at significant risk. We have been concerned enough that in recent weeks, during one of our regular meetings with the Syrian ambassador here in Washington, that we’ve raised the issue with the Syrian Government and continue to study the issue. But obviously, it’s something of great concern to us.

QUESTION: Well, the Syrians deny that they have any – (a) that this is happening, but (b) that they have anything to do with it. Do you accept that denial?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, let’s – I mean, there’s a broader issue here. Regardless of the issue of Scuds, we are – we remain concerned about the provision of increasingly sophisticated weaponry to parties in – to Hezbollah. And this is an issue that we continue to raise with Syria, other parties in the region. And this is a clear threat to Lebanon’s security.

QUESTION: Well, does that – this is a clear threat to Lebanon’s security? That means you’re – so you believe or you know that these Scuds have been transferred?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not going to talk about intelligence matters. I don’t think at this point, we have a clear –

QUESTION: Well, you just did. You just said that you’re –

QUESTION: Wait, could you finish your sentence? You said at this point, you don’t think you have a clear indication?

MR. CROWLEY: A clear picture.

QUESTION: A clear picture.

QUESTION: But you just did. You just said that this – that the transfer of increasingly sophisticated weaponry, as if it was a fact.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is –

QUESTION: Is it a fact?

MR. CROWLEY: — a flow of weaponry into Lebanon. I’m not talking about systems as large as Scuds, but we are concerned about it and we have raised it with various parties, including the Syrians.

QUESTION: So are you saying that the Scud reports are wrong?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not commenting on – specifically on scud reports.

QUESTION: Could this issue affect the dispatch of the ambassador designate to Damascus?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we – no. We hope to have an ambassador placed in Damascus because it’s in our national interest to do so, that – so we have the opportunity to raise on a continual basis not only our concerns about Syria’s behavior but also work, we hope, over time more constructively with Syria on our areas of mutual interest, including potentially Syria’s important role, should it choose, in the peace process.

QUESTION: Is Lebanon the only country that is affected by this, if Scuds were placed in southern Lebanon? Are there other concerns?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, obviously a concern that we would have if you hearken back to a brief discussion that Matt and I had on Monday over what is the nature of a state, one of the essential ingredients of a state is monopoly in terms of the significant use of force. And if you have non-state actors that are armed to the teeth, that actually – that threatens the security of that particular country and stability across the region. That is something that we have been concerned about for some time. And we would be looking for countries in the region, including Syria, to play a more constructive role in taking responsibility for regional security.

QUESTION: But you don’t – you’re not afraid that this could jeopardize Israel’s security? I mean, you’re talking about Lebanon.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it’s a clear risk to a number of countries in the region, given the range – and again, I’m not confirming anything.

QUESTION: Well, and given the mission of Hezbollah, right?

MR. CROWLEY: But given the range of those particular systems, if that report proved to be true, that would be a threat to a number of countries in the region, including Israel.

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