(Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State) - President Bush, speaking at the State Department August 14, welcomed the adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution on Lebanon and the implementation of a cease-fire in the region as an important step forward and said the next task is helping people in both Lebanon and Israel return to their homes and begin rebuilding their lives without fear of renewed violence and terror.
Recalling the suffering of civilians in both countries during the recent weeks of violence, Bush said he believes that responsibility for this suffering lies with Hezbollah, for its unprovoked attack against Israel that started the conflict. He also accused Hezbollah of hiding behind civilians.
Bush also said Syria and Iran, as the state sponsors and supporters of Hezbollah, also share responsibility for the suffering of the Lebanese people. Hezbollah was emboldened by its state sponsors, and despite claims by both countries to the contrary, sophisticated weaponry ended up in the hands of Hezbollah fighters, and many assume and many believe that that weaponry came from Iran through Syria.
The president said the world must now recognize that it's Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah that exacerbated the situation in the Middle East, and he accused Syria of supporting the organization in order to undermine Lebanons democratic government and regain its position of dominance in the country.
DEFEAT FOR HEZBOLLAH
However, Bush said the fighting had dealt a blow to Hezbollah, because it would no longer be able to operate freely in southern Lebanon, since Lebanese forces will be taking control of the area with the support of a robust international force, according to the terms set by the U.N. Security Council, and agreed to by the governments of Lebanon and Israel, reports Trend.
How can you claim victory when at one time you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force? Bush asked.
The president said the region now stands at a pivotal moment in history, and the recent fighting showed the determination of extremists to prevent modern societies from emerging in the Middle East.
Yet millions of people in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere are equally determined to live in peace and freedom. They have tired of the false promises and grand illusions of radical extremists, he said, and reject their hateful vision in favor of a better future.
We're determined to help them achieve that dream, he said.
He said the current challenge is to help young democracies in the region, such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan, overcome their vulnerability to terrorists and their sponsors.
One vulnerability is that many of the new democratic governments in the region have not yet established effective control over all their territory, he said.
Bush said his administration has a clear message to those opposed to the spread of democracy in the region. America will stay on the offense against al-Qaida. Iran must stop its support for terror. And the leaders of these armed groups must make a choice. If they want to participate in the political life of their country, they must disarm. Elected leaders cannot have one foot in the camp of democracy and one foot in the camp of terror, he said.