Bush: Hezbollah Could Join Mainstream

“WASHINGTON – President Bush (newsweb sites) on Tuesday left open the possibility that the militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah could be part of the political mainstream in Lebanon despite its terrorist past.

“We view Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” Bush said after an Oval Office meeting with Jordan‘s King Abdullah. “I would hope that Hezbollah would prove that they are not by laying down arms and not threatening peace.”

Hezbollah has been involved in Lebanese politics for over a decade, with an extensive social welfare program and nine lawmakers in the current 128-seat parliament. But it has steered away from major decision-making in national politics as its guerrilla army — the most organized and best-armed faction in Lebanon — focused on fighting Israel. Lebanon considers Hezbollah a legitimate resistance movement that led the guerrilla war against Israel‘s 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon.

Lately, Hezbollah has been flexing its political muscle by organization two huge pro-Syrian rallies.

A U.N. Security Council resolution demands that Hezbollah disarm and that Syria, which has 14,000 troops in Lebanon and has enormous control over political affairs there, withdraw its soldiers. The United States has long listed the Iranian-founded, anti-Israeli Shiite Muslim group as a terrorist organization.”

I am not real optimistic about this. Terrorist organizations that are motivated by religious ideology are not good candidates for changing their stripes.

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