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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

$10 million to go to Lebanese Military from US-or not?

Lebanon is keeping its army away from the battlefront between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters because it lacks the firepower to sway the conflict and fears it may spark a civil war by intervening.

``The Lebanese army won't disarm Hezbollah,'' President Emile Lahoud told reporters in Beirut yesterday. ``Disarming Hezbollah by force may lead to a civil war.''

Lebanon told the United States Condoleeza Rice that unless they call for an immediate cease fire, their is no point to Lebanon receiving the US on diplomatic terms. It is uncertain what the Lebanese military will do, but its ill-will towards the onslaught from Israel has been marked.

The Lebanese army, with about 40,000 troops, is larger yet weaker than Hezbollah's militia, which has several thousand fighters, said Brigadier General Walid Sukkarieh. Lebanon's ground forces have aging Soviet tanks and lack anti-aircraft or anti-ship weapons. It has an annual budget of about $500 million, according to the Central Intelligence Agency's Web site.

Hezbollah has about 12,000 rockets and has improved its technology with guided missiles that were used to attack an Israeli ship off the coast in mid-July, according to military experts. The militia is better equipped than the army, said Sukkarieh.

Israel's Hezbollah targets, including rocket launchers, were hit during the night in the city of Tyre, the eastern Bekaa Valley, and in southern Lebanon, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman said, speaking anonymously by regulation. One of the raids destroyed Hezbollah's regional command center in Tyre that directed rocket attacks on Israeli towns, he said.

The Lebanese army would ``likely disintegrate if it clashes with Hezbollah because it is made of soldiers and officers who belong to the different communities that make up Lebanon, and to a significant extent the Shiite community,'' said Sukkarieh.

Israel continues to insist that the Hezbollah militia disband. Israel plans to hold on to a chunk of the country that it occupied previously to create a 'security zone'. It plans to claim territory that it believes has been used and occupied by its enemies, accorsing to Israeli statements. ``Everybody who knows the Middle East knows Lebanon isn't a serious state and the Lebanese army isn't going to be serious and capable either,''``It has no combat capabilities, only the ability to police Lebanon's streets.''It would be up to an International force to strengthen the Lebanese military as seen fit to secure.

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