Lebanese leftist leader Walid Jumblatt, who left Beirut three days before the assassination of president-elect Bashir Gemayel, has blamed U.S. Middle East policy for the sectarian bloodshed there and called for "international safeguards."
The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party and an alliance of leftist forces, who is visiting French Socialist officials, said yesterday that the "U.S. approach throughout the war Israel's invasion was destructive and brutal. A more coherent U.S. policy could have avoided such a bloodbath.
"The U.S. backed Gemayel . . . . It was a mistake. Now their nursling is dead . . . . I just hope that in the future the U.S. will take a more realistic and positive approach."
Jumblatt is also the leader of about 350,000 Lebanese Druze -- a sect comprising 10 percent of the population. The religion is an outgrowth of Islam and also has many adherents in Syria.
Saying he was an "obstacle, an opponent" for Israelis and Christian Phalangists alike, Jumblatt added: "I will go back only under the protection of the multinational force." The need for an international peace-keeping force under the auspices of the United Nations is "vital" he said. "I have no confidence in present U.S. safeguards."
For Jumblatt, the presence of the French-Italian-U.S. force is a "positive development" but he said it would take two years "to mend this fragmented land."
Describing initiatives of newly elected President Amin Gemayel as "shy but positive," Jumblatt said he agrees that all foreign troops--Syrian as well as Israeli--must withdraw simultaneously. He considered Gemayel "too soft" on the Israelis.
A long-time political foe of Bashir Gemayel, Jumblatt did not support his brother Amin for the presidency.
Depite his sense of uneasiness over the new government, Jumblatt conceded that he would accept a position should he be asked. Such as move, to enlist Druze support, is looked upon as a possibility in Beirut.