From ABC’s Blotter:
The dispute between the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the State Department in Washington has been simmering since late last year.
At one point, the U.S. Embassy refused to allow a State Department official from Washington, James Golden, managing director of the Emergency Projects Coordinating Office, permission to enter the country for the embassy project by denying normally standard “country clearance.”
What’s the reason for this dispute?
It seems that the US State Department bought a site for $22 million a couple of years ago and wants to build a new embassy there. If you think back to 1983, while Reagan was in his first term, the civil war in Lebanon was hot. Iran-allied HizbAllah had a cottage industry of kidnapping Americans for ransom. In 1983, a HizbAllah assassin bombed the US Marines barracks in Beirut, murdering 241 US Marines and leading Reagan to withdraw US forces from the peacekeeping mission there. Also in 1983 and 1984, the old embassy had been hit by HizbAllah in two separate bombing attacks that killed 87 people including eight CIA employees.
I understand why State would want to replace the old embassy. The old embassy was susceptible to bombings as proved multiple times. And it had been bombed, which tends to cause structural damage. Best to get a new embassy building. That’s the sensible thing to do. But sensible people don’t choose to build embassies a few hundred yards from the headquarters of a proven enemy and gang of assassins like Iranian catspaw HizbAllah.
“It boggles the mind,” says former State Department security official Tony Diebler. “Any reasonable person that looks at that site, does their homework and sees who controls the area would determine that it’s a foolish, dangerous idea to build the embassy there,” Diebler said.
State seems to be the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Leaks, failures of diplomacy, incompetent choices of allies in Islamic countries, and now plans to build a henhouse in the foxes’ neighborhood.
The good news at the end of this is that the plans are on hold.
plans for a controversial new U.S. Embassy in Beirut have been put on hold indefinitely, and effectively killed
Cross your fingers that it remains a dead plan.
It makes you wonder though if there was an overarching plan behind this. Was this kerfuffle planned all along? The notoriously conspiracy minded HizbAllah assassins are likely to think so. This development will probably drive them crazy wondering what the real US plan is.