We had a busy first day in Beirut Sunday with numerous briefings, a visit up into the Shouf mountains for a lunch-time visit with ‘Tawhid’ MP Wiam Wahhab, and a visit to the massive arts and crafts fair organized in the Dahiyeh by the rural development arm of Hizbullah’s ‘Jihad al-Binaa’. On the acre or so of tables laid out there small food-processors and artisans from throughout Lebanon were displaying and selling their amazing wares. Pics, later, I hope.
On the political front, the most significant things I heard were:
(a) Loud condemnation of the statement Hillary Clinton made in Jerusalem Saturday evening, when she lauded PM Netanyahu for having made “unprecedented concessions” on the settlements issue and urged the Palestinians to resume negotiations without preconditions; and
(b) An account from former longtime UNIFIL official Timur Goksel of how many of the small arms now pouring into Lebanon are brand-new US weapons that are smuggled here from Iraq. The presumed provenance of these weapons is via the US’s large-scale handouts of weapons to former Sunni insurgents under the “Sons of Iraq” and “Awakening” programs. It is really depressing to see the damaging effects of so many US decisions regarding Iraq still reverberating throughout the region.
Today (Monday) we have many government appointments lined up. Never a dull moment with CNI!