By Provoking Hizbullah, Is Washington Hoping for a Showdown?

Will the latest US and March 14 provocation break Hizbullah or Lebanon? March 14 is targeting Hizbullah's communications system while Washington escalates pressure on Syria.

Here are some headlines:

(Time: Butters) Is This the Start of the Next Lebanese Civil War?

Nick Blanford "Cell Phone Civil War"

BBC: The leader of Hezbollah has said the Lebanese government's decision to close down its private telecommunications network was a "declaration of war".

(Bloomberg: Derhally) Hezbollah and opposition supporters took to the streets a day after the Lebanese government said it was launching a judicial probe into a telecommunication network which the Shiite movement had set up across the country with the alleged help of Iran. "It's completely illegal — it covers the whole country in fiber optics,'' Hamadeh said. “They have created an Iran telecom all over the country. We discovered they were making ducts and trenches and told them to remove it from sensitive areas where people don't agree to be spied on. They answered that if you touch this we will consider it an act of aggression and threatened four ministers and the prime minister.''

(AP) The clashes followed a defiant speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who said his Iranian-backed militant organization would respond with force to any attacks. "Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them," he said. "Those who shoot at us, we will shoot at them. The hand raised against us, we will cut it off." It was the second day of fighting that has turned some city neighborhoods into battlegrounds and spilled over to other parts of the country.

Here are video posts of the Nasrallah speech: here or here. (Thanks HP) 

[Comment by Landis] It became clear to to the Eliott Abrams crowd in Washington that the Bush administration's Lebanon policy was failing some months ago. This began to became clear when the Lebanese opposition stood firm on blocking the appointment of a president by the March 14th coalition. It became indisputable when the US and March 14th could not pressure the opposition to accept the Michel Suleiman presidential compromise. The opposition felt confident enough to demand a blocking third in any future cabinet and a say in forming governments. Ambassador Feltmen warned of this weakness at Brookings when he returned from his ambassadorship in Lebanon.

David Schenker, a fellow with WINEP, summed up this assessment in his Sept. 2007 assessment of the situation: losing traction against Syria, shortly after the Israeli bombing of Syria's alleged nuclear reactor.

As information begins to emerge about the extent of North Korean-Syrian ties, Washington will have another opportunity to focus the international community on the continuing dangers posed by the Asad regime. The UN’s Hariri tribunal will add to the pressure on the regime, but that alone will not suffice. To stem Syria’s reacceptance into the international community, Washington needs to convince its European and Arab — particularly Gulf — allies to freeze their engagement with Damascus. It should also exclude Syria from the Arab-Israeli peace conference scheduled to take place this November.

With Israeli-Syrian tensions rising and the pro-Western Lebanese government on a precipice, renewed political and economic pressure on Damascus is vital. In the absence of effective measures, the Asad regime will continue to undermine Washington’s hopes for the region.

Renewed political and economic pressure on Damascus was forthcoming with added sanctions against a number of Syrians linked to President Asad, the position of US war ships off the coast of Lebanon, the congressional hearing on the North Korean – Syria Connection, the pressuring of international firms not to do business in Syria, and Israeli war exercises along the Lebanon and Syria boarders. When Syria leaked that Israel was sounding it out on the terms of Golan deal, Secretary Rice was quick to dash any hopes a deal, declaring that this was not the time to engage Syria. Yesterday, President Bush renewed economic sanctions on Syria.

Two days ago Ambassador Imad Moustapha flew off to Damascus after meeting with Jeffery Feltman

Laura Rosen, at MoJo has this to say about it from "a Washington hand:"

… The Feltman-Mustapha discussion had nothing to do with a potential deal and everything to do with the US government communicating to the Syrian one the elements it has about the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor. […] Any opening to or quid pro quo with Syria for the current administration will be conditioned on tangible positive steps on Lebanon. I suspect that the next administration, even a Democratic one, will have essentially the same policy, but with arguably a lower priority.
The substance of the US position toward talks is simple: you want to do it, do it. But we are not sitting at the table unless we have something tangible on Lebanon. We are not risking our multilateral policy, consensus with Europeans and Arabs, credibility, alliances, geopolitical interests to test the improbable proposition that talking to Syria will lure it from Iran, which is Israel’s primary goal….

Read the End Game in Beirut? by Col. Lang. He ties Cheney's latest Middle East visit to this escalation.

"The decisions (of the government) are tantamount to a declaration of war and the start of a war … on behalf of the United States and Israel," a defiant Nasrallah said at a rare press conference via video link.

On Tuesday, the government launched a probe into a communications network Hezbollah has set up in Lebanon and reassigned the head of airport security over his alleged links to Hezbollah."  AFP

Dr. Shuaibeh, sent out this email from Damascus, claiming that the Siniora government had dispatched detailed plans of Hizbullah's communications network to the UN, from where it was immediately handed to the Israelis. He claims that Israeli military assessments agree that in order to defeat Hizbullah in a second round, Israel needs to knock out Hizbullah's secret communications network, which it failed to damage in 2006.

مؤامرات فريق السلطة في لبنان ومعلومات موثقة

من سلم خرائط شبكة إتصالات المقاومة إلى أسرائيل  السنيورة أرسلها للأمم المتحدة وإسرائيل حصلت على نسخة منها على الفور

شبكة الإتصالات التابعة لحزب الله أصبحت خريطة إنتشارها بتفاصيلها كافة في يد الإسرائيليين لأن السيد مروان حمادة وبموافقة السنيورة أرسل نسخا عنها للأمم المتحدة

مروان حمادة وبموافقة السنيورة أرسل نسخا عنها للأمم المتحدة

 مركز المعطيات والدراسات الاستراتيجية بدمشق

نشرت وكالة أخبار مونتريال نقلا عن الزميل خضر عواركة الكاتب اللبناني واسع الإطلاع المقيم في كندا تقريرا خطيرا عن دراسة إسرائيلية موثقة نشرت الوكالة صورة عنها ورابطا لموقع مركز الدراسات الإسرائيلي الذي حررها وفي التقرير كلام خطير جدا عن دور الحكومة اللبنانية في خدمة إسرائيل بعلمها أم بعدمه. إذ يقول الزميل عواركة نقلا عن الدراسة بأن واحدا من أسباب نصر تموز الرئيسية هو وجود شبكة إتصالات أرضية لدى حزب الله مكنت قيادته من السيطرة على المعارك في كل مراحل الحرب دون تعريضها للتنصت.

 الدراسة الإسرائيلية كما ظهرت فقرات منها تقول بأن أي حرب جديدة بين حزب الله وإسرائيل لا يجب أن تشن قبل تدمير شبكة إتصالات حزب الله ويمكن القيام بذلك بحسب الدراسة عبر الضغوط الأميركية على أصدقائها اللبنانيين في حكومة السنيورة وما بناه حزب الله بسنوات يمكن تدميره عبر السنيورة بأسابيع.

الزميل عواركة نقل عن أحد أعضاء مجلس النواب في بلد غربي ممن يطلعون على تقارير سرية ديبلوماسية بأن شبكة الإتصالات التابعة لحزب الله أصبحت خريطة إنتشارها بتفاصيلها كافة في يد الإسرائيليين لأن السيد مروان حمادة وبموافقة السنيورة أرسل نسخا عنها للأمم المتحدة لكي يصدر مجلس الأمن قرارا جديدا يدين خرق المقاومة بالشبكة تلك للقرار 1701 و 1559 وفي الواقع يقول المصدر الكندي أن الشبكة وخرائطها صارت في يد إسرائيل.

Conclusion: Is this a show down? Probably not. It is an escalation. By taking on Hizbullah at the Beirut airport, Washington and Siniora undoubtedly beleived they were attacking it at its weakest point. The airport is a national institution. But Hizbullah has considerable resources at its disposal and will chose provocations of its own. Nasrallah has declared dismantling its assets at the airport as a "red Line

Israel's Golan talks with Syria, may have been designed to pry Syria away from Hizbullah while Washington tries to weaken the Lebanese opposition. My hunch is that Syria will not fall for this. It is keenly aware that if it allows Washington to successfully divide and rule, Damascus will be next.  Without a strong Hizbullah, Syria will lose the Golan Heights. The only reason Israel is willing to discuss giving back the Golan with Syria is in order to get Syria to cut weapon supplies to Hizbullah and to pry it away from Iran. Hizbullah will take a ding on this one, but Lebanon will be no closer to having a president or finding political compromise. Only dialogue and dealing can do that. By looking for a take down move, Washington will deepen Lebanon's agony

Comments (133)


ausamaa said:

“By Provoking Hizbullah, Is Washington Hoping for a Showdown?”

I dont think so. They are just trying to deepen any rifts and fears in the area and to demonize Hizbullah and the Opposition. They are using Lebanese blood to keep things in a big mess.

And once again, a new blody blunder is in the making by Bush and his local stooges. He had not gotten a single thing right so far, and this one will surely be one more blunder to add to the neocons long list of “achievements” before he gets the hell out of the White House.

But what does he care.. it is Arab blood after all.

May 8th, 2008, 4:28 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

It takes a while to load (and may freeze) but here are video posts of the Nasrallah speech:
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/VideoPreview.aspx?id=51
or
http://67.205.76.210/video/Nasrallah/sayed_05-08-08.wmv

May 8th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Josh,

Your title suggests that you don’t think the Lebanese gov’t has any agency of its own. I think that’s a bit too black/white.

So far, all dialog & (re)conciliation has been between Nabih Berri & M14 (incl. Hariri, Geagea, Jumblatt, etc.) Hizballah had intelligently stayed out of this, letting Berri do all the talking & suggesting, as well as Aoun all the blustering, thus maintaining plausible deniability.

But now Nasrallah has pretty much called the government “enemies of the state & the people”, equating them with Israel and the clashes in Beirut with “the frontlines of Bint Jbeil”. That’s pretty strong stuff. He also broke with the long-standing claim that “HA’s weapons will only be used to ward off foreign aggression and never against Lebanese”. Of course, he – at leas rhetorically – circumvented a contradiction of himself by simply labeling M14 & their followers as “anti-Lebanese / foreign-supported” but that won’t fly with the Lebanese people.

If M14 is foreign, then so would be HA. Last time I checked, the latter’s official party program still has the Supreme Leader of Iran (currently Ali Khamenei) as HA’s commander-in-chief …

Obviously, as Qifa Nabki has pointed out, this doesn’t take anything away from the wrongs that M14 has done and does not excuse or even justify the bellicose words of Jumblatt et al.

However, there is one major difference: M14 wants to work out a system with & for all Lebanese, whereas Hizballah’s attitude is “my way or the highway”. HA is convinced that it’s the only one that has things right. Nasrallah basically said “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Now that sounds awfully like Bush & the Neocons …

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 4:37 pm

 

Majhool said:

وكالة أخبار مونتريال????

Couldn’t you guys come up with better sources? This is very disappointing.

“without a strong Hizbullah, Syria will lose the Golan Heights”

FYI, we lost the hights long time ago. I suggest that HA move his stuff to Syria and liberate the hights from there.

May 8th, 2008, 4:37 pm

 

Majhool said:

SimoHurtta

Other Lebanese don’t have to defeat HA and concur its areas. It does not work that way. If you check google earth you will find the Christian areas are sealed off in mount Lebanon, there weak point has always been the “Shouf” which is the southern edge of mount Lebanon. Shouf is controlled by Jumblat and this time he is in alliance with the M14. It will be self defeating for HA to even think about it. The best HA can do is to control the western Part of Beirut. If they do, they will be repeating Yasser Arafat’s mistake in 1982. It’s a lose lose situation.

May 8th, 2008, 4:41 pm

 

Joshua said:

MSK: You are quite correct. March 14 and Hizbullah are responsible for their own decisions.

You are also correct that it is very dangerous for Hizbullah to attack the government. Unfortunately, by dismantling its communicatios system, the government has placed Hizbullah against the wall. It will be a sitting duck to a second round of Israeli attack without it.

These are high stakes.

May 8th, 2008, 4:46 pm

 

offended said:

Al Arabiya TV right now:
The white house calls on Hizbollah to stop propagating tension in Lebanon.

On SC:
Offended asks Al Arabiya TV to STFU.

May 8th, 2008, 4:48 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Mini Harriri will deliver his speach at 8 PM Beirut time. Let us pray that some sane Saudies might have pumped some sense into his head. But if his answer is ngative, things will really take a turn to the worst. To his worst first of all.

Given his age, his background, his Saudisem, his usual naivety and his advisors,his reply will be Negative.

I hope I am wrong.

May 8th, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Josh,

HA’s insistence that it will not integrate its forces into the Lebanese Army does not bode well.

After Ta’if, all militias were disbanded, except for HA, which was tasked with resisting the Israeli occupation. Obviously, they were experienced and deployed in the South. However, at the same time, the Lebanese Army was forbidden from having anything to do with the liberation of the South – thus ensuring it stayed weak and, in the eyes of the population, the label “defender of the homeland” was monopolized by HA.

This has been continuing until now.

There is no reason why HA cannot fuse with the Lebanese Army, unless HA choses a sectarian autonomy over a strong Lebanese nation. At this point, it seems that HA is fulfilling all the accusations thrown at it.

We can charge M14 with all sorts of things, but fundamentally we have the clash of irreconcilable world-views & so far M14 has been the more conciliatory one.

As for the clashes in Beirut – I’d be careful to make any sorts of of comments a la “M14 thugs shooting at innocent demonstrators” or “Amal thugs rampaging through Sunni areas” unless having a witness account.

So far, M8 was responsible for the violent actions. Once M14 blocks all access to the Dahiyeh … we can talk about equal responsibility.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 5:03 pm

 

abraham said:

It seems it’s another glorious day for zionism.

May 8th, 2008, 5:06 pm

 

ugarit said:

Dr. Landis said: “Unfortunately, by dismantling its communicatios system, the government has placed Hizbullah against the wall. It will be a sitting duck to a second round of Israeli attack without it.”

Does this not imply that M14 is not working for the interests of Lebanon but for their US/Israeli/Saudi patrons? Why would M14 want to weaken Lebanon visa-vie Israel?

May 8th, 2008, 5:16 pm

 

abraham said:

MSK said:

However, there is one major difference: M14 wants to work out a system with & for all Lebanese, whereas Hizballah’s attitude is “my way or the highway”. HA is convinced that it’s the only one that has things right. Nasrallah basically said “You’re either with us, or you’re against us.” Now that sounds awfully like Bush & the Neocons

I disagree. It is plainly obvious (at least to me and a great many others) that March 14 is nothing but a tool of Western imperialism. I don’t know much more obvious they need to make it.

I am firmly of the belief that HA’s instrasigence with regards to the political issues is merely a reflection of their rejection of Western and zionist intentions for Lebanon. I think this is also quite obvious if you look at the history and nature of the parties involved.

If it comes down to defending the sovereignty, rights, and people of Lebanon, I’d choose HA hands down over March 14 or any Western- or Saudi-backed lackeys anyday.

May 8th, 2008, 5:20 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Mini Harriri has started talking now and he had almost fu… it up within one minute from starting his speach.

Clearly, he has Backed Down, but in a very EVASIVE manner.

Would Nassrallah and the Opposition trust him, or would they put more pressure on him until he totally and clearly backs down. Whichever way, the Feb 14 have lost the confrontation this time when Nassrallah spoke the only language they understand.

Whose turn is it to muddy the waters now? The ones who assasinated Rafiq al Harriri perhaps!!!!

May 8th, 2008, 5:24 pm

 

MSK* said:

The Lebanese gov’t has not dismantled HA’s communications system. It has questioned some of HA’s lines, especially into regions that have little to do with defense against Israel.

Why does everyone accept the premise that HA should be remain the de facto defense against any possible Israeli aggression?

On that note, maybe there should be a kind of “Islamic Resistance” against Israel in Syria, as obviously the Syrian government & army are incapable (& unwilling?) to defend Syria against Israeli attacks …

Any thoughts? 😉

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joshua,

I think the Washington angle might be a bit over-stated.

My own suspicion is that this entire debacle is the work of Walid Jumblatt (with or without U.S. encouragement).

I think that Hariri and Nasrallah were on a path of agreement last week, which is what led to the sudden optimism about a breakthrough. Something about this agreement threatened Walid Jumblatt and Geagea, and so they tried to scuttle it.

I would agree with Joe M’s analysis on the previous post. The Future Movement is being pulled in different directions.

May 8th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

ugarit said:

MSK Said: “The Lebanese gov’t has not dismantled HA’s communications system. It has questioned some of HA’s lines, especially into regions that have little to do with defense against Israel.”

That may be true at the moment, but surely you know that that is not M14 ultimate goal.

May 8th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

abraham said:

MSK said:

Why does everyone accept the premise that HA should be remain the de facto defense against any possible Israeli aggression?

Ok, then if not HA, who is going to defend against Israel? The Lebanese army that served them tea in 2006? The UN? March 14? The Easter Bunny?

May 8th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

MSK* said:

Oh who even knows what M14’s “ultimate goal” is …

It’s an amalgamation of politicians, each with his own aims, who are united more by what they’re against than what they’re for.

Oh wait, that’s exactly like M8 …

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 5:38 pm

 

Alex said:

MSK* said:

On that note, maybe there should be a kind of “Islamic Resistance” against Israel in Syria, as obviously the Syrian government & army are incapable (& unwilling?) to defend Syria against Israeli attacks …

MSK, war between Syria and Israel is not an option anymore .. the same way war between the USSR and the United Stated never took place .. instead smaller allies were used to do the fighting when necessary …. to reduce regional tensions and to make a point!

You keep repeating this point which the Saudi editors love to repeat every week for the past two years.

May 8th, 2008, 5:40 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

MSK,

Percentage wise, how much do you attribute the trouble in Lebanon to interference by foreign powers?

May 8th, 2008, 5:44 pm

 

MSK* said:

Abraham,

Have Lebanon vote according to the Butrus Harb law, have a Senate, have a Constitutional Court, integrate HA into the political process & its militia into the army, have them train (and why not in Iran?) et voila … you’ll have a perfectly good defense against Israel. You can THEN even call it “national”.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 5:45 pm

 

abraham said:

MSK,

I can’t disagree with anything you said. Lebanon needs to make this decision for itself (i.e. all the various parties and factions need to work towards this) and not with any foreign influence from any country.

May 8th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hariri has proposed a four-point solution:

1. Placing the issue (of the communications system, etc.) under the Army command.

2. Removal of all combatants from the streets.

3. Election of Michel Suleiman as president.

4. Return to the dialogue table.

This is a face-saving mechanism to remove culpability from the government, put it in the hands of the army (which will say something like “all further moves must be studied carefully, and must await a political solution”).

May 8th, 2008, 5:58 pm

 

MSK* said:

Ya Alex,

Syrian territory is occupied by Israel, yet the Syrian gov’t/army is not doing anything to liberate it.

Syria is victim to Israeli attacks, yet its gov’t/army is not doing anything to defend the homeland.

Hmmm … in Lebanon that is reason for a non-state organization – HA – to call the local gov’t “traitors” and take it upon itself to defend the motherland.

Just sayin’ … 😉

Dear STT,

I’m not an engineer – I don’t put percentages on such matters. You’ll have to ask Alex & the other engineers/doctors/assorted-non-social-scientists for graphs & pie charts. 😉

I’m not privy to the communications between Lebanese groups & various foreign allies – so I don’t know who is responsible for what exactly & who suggested/told/forced to whom what to do. And I won’t make any assumptions.

Ya Abraham,

That would require all parties to actually want to compromise. I don’t see that happening. And at this point, HA seems to be the most intransigient, up to the point of arrogating state powers. Yalla, if Hassuhum wants to be “the state” – why doesn’t he just declare independence of the South & the Bekaa & gets it over with? Lebanon is just a “colonialist/imperialist construct” anyway, right? 😉

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 6:02 pm

 

Joshua said:

QN:

you write: “My own suspicion is that this entire debacle is the work of Walid Jumblatt (with or without U.S. encouragement).”

I doubt Jumblatt could pull this off without the backing or Hariri’s acquiescence. See the Bolton op-ed in the WSJ today about Syria’s nukes — Bush’s North Korea Nuclear Abdication: “The White House is obscuring evidence of Pyongyang’s proliferation activities in Syria and beyond.”

If Jumblatt has gone alone, Hariri will back down and this will be over quickly. I could be wrong. Who is Jumblatt to lead the Lebanese government by the nose?

If march 14 does not back down, it will be because Washington is pushing for a confrontation with Hizbullah because it believes that the next administration will turn the page on Lebanon and Hizbullah will become a permanent piece of the furniture in Lebanon.

The strategy behind the 2006 war was to force Siniora’s government to confront Hizbullah. It did not and Israel-America’s strategy got lost.

Now the Siniora government is being pushed to confront Hizbullah. That is my hunch.

May 8th, 2008, 6:11 pm

 

Naji said:

I recommend to all a second listen to the full Nassrallah speech and press conference… (on right now on Lebanese TV)… he addressed most of the points being discussed above…quite transparently, in detail, and convincingly…!

May 8th, 2008, 6:15 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
MSK is simply asking why the Lebanese cannot be free to decide if a war between Lebanon and Israel is an option. Why do the Syrians decide this for them? Most of the Lebanese, even the Shia, are tired of fighting the Israelis for the Syrians.

Let’s say Israel refuses to negotiate with Syria about the Golan. What will Syria do in your opinion?

Asad has repeatedly said that if he won’t get the Golan by peace he will get it by war, so every option is still on the table, or do you disagree?

May 8th, 2008, 6:16 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joshua

I am quite confident in Jumblatt’s ability to go it alone. His rhetoric is almost always out of sync with the rest of the March 14 elders. He is the only one who has directly accused Hizbullah of complicity in the various political assassinations. He is also the only one who has personally attacked the character and allegiance of Hasan Nasrallah. Jumblatt is a wild card, a loose cannon.

Washington may be trying to get the government to confront Hizbullah, but I am doubtful of the notion that it is pulling all the strings. After all, Syria isn’t pulling all of the opposition’s strings, right?

May 8th, 2008, 6:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Just as Aoun is the cover for Nasrallah that the conflict is not a Suni-Shia one, Jumbalat is a cover for M14. They do not want either to be portrayed as starting a Suni-Shia war and that is why they delgate the more combatative statements to Jumbalat. I have to agree with Josh on this.

May 8th, 2008, 6:25 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Of course it is fair to ask that question .. but it is also fair that Israel returns ALL of the occupied territories to the Palestinians and it is fair that we ask the Jordanian people if they want to vote on King Abdulla to be their king …

The same way the USSR used smaller countries like Syria and Egypt to fight America through its regional ally Israel, Syria might be using Hizbollah to help resist (not go to war against) the neocons and their freinds.

That’s how it goes.

Note however that many Lebanese are happy with Hizbollah’s opposition to Israel .. it is not like Syria is pushing ALL the Lebanese agianst their will … in 2006 when Israel invaded, Hizbollah’s support in Lebanon was 83% I think.

Hizbollah is not Syria’s only ally in its quest to regain the Golan heights .. the Turkish government is another ally … and that’s a more likely outcome (I hope at least) … Syria will not ask Hizbollah to laucn war against Israel.

AIG … I would say that there is a majority of Lebanese who are secretly or not so secretly proud for having one of their own (Nasrallah) as the most popular and respected leader int he Arab world who led his Lebanese force to what many considered to be a victory against the mighty IDF.

Syria’s strongest ally in Lebanon is not exactly a Saddam Hussein.

Ask Qifa Nabki.

May 8th, 2008, 6:26 pm

 

Naji said:

Marcel Ghanem is interviewing that freak, Jumblatt, on LBC right now…!! A must-see…!! I think it answers many of Josh’s and QN’s speculations above…!!?

I am beginning to believe that Nassrallah did it again…! These fools seem to have overshot their mark and are really trying to back down…!! Their bluff has been called and they have been stared down… I can’t believe it…!!! Even after Nassrallah called him the worst of names, Jumblatt seems to be bending over backwards to appease…!! He is actually being polite and concilliatory…!!

I remember Nassrallah saying during the press conference that he felt lucky that the other side was in such a nervous rush that they made the great mistake of pushing several offensive measures at once during that late-night session…, making it easier for HA to make its forcefull counter-move… it would have been much harder to mount such a forceful opposition, he candidly stated, had they snuck these decisions by, one at a time…!!

May 8th, 2008, 6:28 pm

 

MSK* said:

Ya Naji,

So … Jumblatt is a “freak” but Nasrallah is a nice guy?

Hmmmmmm…

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 6:39 pm

 

Naji said:

Nassrallah has more hair…(and brains)…!

May 8th, 2008, 6:46 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Little Junblat, same as Ja’ja, is a mere small-time opportunist aggitator and manipulater. He can not lead the Feb 14 gang nor impose what he wants on them. Nassralah’s signaling him out today was to belittle Siniora and to give Mini Hariri a face-saving way out.

The “project” in the end is a Chenny/Abrams/Welch project, imposed on and sponcered later by the Arab moderats. The Lebanese leaders of course are Mini Harriri and Siniora. They are the Saudi/Bush spearheads and the real tools. Ja’ja and Junblat are mere accessories. But the later two can be seen as handling the Israeli angle which the Siniora and Harriri can not touch.

But Junblate alone being capable of doing all this by himself. No way..

May 8th, 2008, 6:52 pm

 

MSK* said:

Ya Naji,

How would you know that Nasrallah has more hair? He never takes off the turban … Could be a wig … 😉

Jumblat survived from ’77 until today – that takes brains.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 6:57 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

[Comment by Landis] It became clear to to the Eliott Abrams crowd in Washington that the Bush administration’s Lebanon policy was failing some months ago.

Professor Josh,

As predicted, you and the the chorus of anti-American whiners makes this Lebenese government/Hezbollah standoff an Israeli-American conspiracy.

Will wonders never cease?

Any time the Lebanese government wants to curb a non-government militia, we know who is to blame.

I hope the UN and the Europeans put the pressure on the non-government militias that are once again, trying to ruin Lebanon.

May 8th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

Naji said:

LOL… Marcel just won’t let Jumblatt off easy… He even asked him: what is the matter with you tonight… so resigned, defeated, and in surrender mode…?!!!

…love it …there is nothing like Lebanese TV… soap-operas and reality-tv my foot… 😀

May 8th, 2008, 6:58 pm

 

Innocent Criminal said:

QN,

i am with Josh on this. Jumblat rants to such extremes because he feels he has to. When you’re representative of such a small minority but want bigger say in the country’s affairs you have to be a bit more extreme. The more you rant the more you will get attention. But at the end of the day he knows he is disposable and so accepts that he has to do the dirty work of his allies. He kind of reminds of Tlas, the man talks a lot of crazy shit but doesn’t really have the power to move a pencil. However, there is no way the Harriri block would let jumblat “trick” them into something they feel is stupid and even if that happened the saudi’s & americans would make sure that wouldn’t happen.

I agree that the US is not pulling ALL the strings. But the way I see it is that March 14, Saudi and the US are on the same page and therefore deliberate on how to escalate the situation when they feel it’s the right time. I do however believe that M14 would never dare to escalate without Saudi/US green light. The situation is probably similar on the HA/Syria/Iranian block but I believe the dynamics are slightly different. They are much more in sync that HA can take actions on its own because it knows that their allies would approve.

May 8th, 2008, 7:07 pm

 

Naji said:

The Marcel interview is just brilliant… brilliant…
Marcel is the best…!
… 🙂

May 8th, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

MSK* said:

Ya Naji,

And that on the “M14 mouthpiece” LBC …

Could you imagine Al-Manar interviewing Aoun like this? Or Naim Qassem? Or Nasrallah? Or Orange TV grilling Aoun? Or NBN doing it to those, or Berri?

I’m glad Ghanem is doing this.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 7:08 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

IC

You may be right. We’ll have to see.

Naji,

Thank you for praising Marcel when he deserves it. Too often, people say he is only pro-March 14, and that’s obviously not true.

May 8th, 2008, 7:10 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

It seems that the opposition has rejecected the Hariri proposal. They will maintain the blockage of the airport and will not pull their gunmen off them streets until the government reverses its decisions.

In other news:

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said he would be willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel in exchange for the Golan Heights, but categorically refused peace if the condition was to end relations with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.

In an interview with an Italian magazine, Assad said preliminary talks for real negotiations with Israel were underway. The Syrian president added that they awaited the election of the new American president.

Assad said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s “friendship” with Israel was not an obstacle to peace. “In the past, we dealt with Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush senior despite their deep ties to the Hebrew state,” he noted.

May 8th, 2008, 7:14 pm

 

Naji said:

QN, Alex,

What keeps Lebanese TV worth watching (even more than all the rest) is that each of the stations, and they are all partisan, has at least one or two programs that are tops in their integrity and professionalism… Btw, most of my initial Lebanese “political education” came through LBC… For years I wasn’t even aware of the other stations, and certainly did not know that they all also had their own morning political talk-shows… (and evening political talkshows, and all-day political talk-shows…and…)

May 8th, 2008, 7:17 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I know that the following article will be highly unpopular with many of my friends here on Syria Comment, but sometimes it gets dull around here when the mud-slinging is all going in one direction.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

_______________________________

Hezbollah’s Endgame?

By Lee Smith

Elie Fawaz, a friend and colleague with the Lebanese Renaissance Foundation in Beirut, provides on-the-ground analysis on the developing situation in Lebanon:

“Beirut witnessed another round of sectarian violence yesterday following decisions of the Lebanese government to sanction and remove Hezbollah’s illegal private telecommunication lines, and to replace the head of the international airport security for his direct responsibility in allowing Hezbollah to install private spying cams on one of its runaways.

“Hezbollah closed down the roads leading to the airport, and a couple of others leading to its headquarters in Dahieh by unloading trucks of dirt and sand and by burning tires. They also clashed with Sunni groups in areas of Beirut.

“The Christian suburbs stayed calm, unwilling to participate in the demonstrations despite the calls of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun to join in. This proves clearly that Aoun’s popularity is seriously damaged, as it also shows that the majority of the Christians refuse to grant Hezbollah a cover for its attempted coup.

“More remarkably, the Grand Mufti of the Lebanese Republic Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani (the religious head of the Sunni community) accused Hezbollah of staging a coup, and warned that Sunnis of Lebanon are fed up with Hezbollah’s ways and Iran’s interference. He also called on all Arab and Muslim nations to help put an end for this crisis. These two developments, for the first time since the conflict between the opposition and the majority began, left Hezbollah, alone and uncovered.

“For years Hezbollah has tried to jump the sectarian divide by defending the causes of the umma. But when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah’s armada lost its raison d’etre. Yet even after the Syrian occupation ended in 2005 following the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the party refused to terminate its mission and give up its arms and the many privileges enjoyed under Damascus’ tutelage. To survive, Hezbollah needs its perpetual resistance, but the Party of God is today at odds with the rest of the Lebanese, and the survival of Lebanon as a state depends on the government bringing an end to this conflicted situation. There is no way one state can have two centers of decision-making, two policies, two armies, two economies, that are at odds with each others. The road to the airport must be re-opened at any cost, and Hezbollah must cease his state within a state either by negotiations or by force.”

Tony Badran, also blogging here in Michael Totten’s absence, weighs in as well:

“What this has done is lay bare all the charades of the last two years that Hezbollah’s is a “national” opposition, etc. What we saw yesterday is that Christians didn’t budge (Aounists that is), in any region. And so, what you have here is Hezbollah vs. the rest, and Hezbollah vs. the state. Politically this is very bad for them, and obviously for Aoun. In that sense it was a shrewd political move by March 14, because it hit them on a point that they can’t get sympathizers for outside their thugs (i.e., they have no allies, and they’re fighting the state!). Second, it puts them in a corner: they either force the government to capitulate, or they lose themselves. Nasrallah is against the wall.”

In his press conference today, Nasrallah demanded that the government must back down from its decision. The government says no, that would mean the end of the state. Washington, along with the other international and regional actors like France, Saudi Arabia and the UN that have stood alongside the Lebanese government these last several years can only be pleased that the government has asserted its sovereignty in key respects; and it should be noted that Hezbollah’s redline appears to consist of the government acting like a government. However, as Michael Young points out in The Daily Star, Hezbollah’s security apparatus had penetrated the Rafiq al-Hariri international airport long before it installed cameras. Indeed, the assassinations of several March 14 figures a day after they had returned from abroad, especially Gebran Tueni and Antoine Ghanem, indicated that the airport was riddled with pro-Syrian assets. The question then is, why did the government act now?

In an email, Michael Young suggested it might be because of the debate today at the UN on Security Council 1559 that calls for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. “Suddenly the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons is back on the table internationally, where the majority wants to put it,” writes Michael.

There are two other possibilities Tony Badran and I have been entertaining today.

The first is that the government may believe that Hezbollah’s preparations for another war with Israel have reached a critical point; given that Siniora and his cabinet have long understood that their actions would lead to a confrontation with Hezbollah, another war with Israel is a more daunting threat.

Second, as Tony conjectures, the Lebanese are watching closely a the US presidential campaign unfolds and are likely concerned what an Obama presidency represents for March 14, especially if Hezbollah starts a war with Israel: it means the pillar of the international alliance supporting a democratic Lebanon is apt to go hat in hand to Hezbollah’s patrons in Tehran and Damascus looking to “engage.” If there is another war, the US impulse will likely be to go over March 14’s head and sue for peace with Iran and Syria, which is precisely what Bush resisted.

Finally, as Tony and Elie Fawaz and Michael Young are always careful to insist to Lebanon watchers, it is important to consider not just the local situation, but also the regional and international dimensions of the Lebanese arena. Assuming that the Syrians have no problem with sectarian strife in Lebanon, or anything to delay or obscure the international tribunal into the Hariri assassination, the foremost questions then concern Iran.

A Shia-Sunni conflict in Lebanon might well damage Iran’s own efforts to jump the sectarian divide. What level of control does Tehran have over Hezbollah at this stage while the Party may well be in an existential fight over its role not just as an armed militia, but as a Lebanese party? Further, and perhaps most importantly to Washington, what will Hezbollah’s actions, and Tehran’s decisions, say about Iran’s war against the US-backed order throughout the rest of the region – from Gaza (Hamas vs. Israel and Egypt), through the Arab Gulf states, and most especially Iraq? If the Iranians fear they are losing in Iraq, will they agree to heat up Lebanon, or do they understand that Hezbollah is inviting a civil war it cannot win, and thus risking Tehran’s near 30-year, multi-billion dollar investment in exporting the Islamic Revolution?

May 8th, 2008, 7:23 pm

 

Naji said:

QN,

What does F. Scott Fitzgerald know about our little spot of paradise: Around here, just to retain the ability to function, you have to be able to hold Many opposed ideas at the same time…and without the benefit of “a first-rate intelligence” (we export these!)… 😉

[I’ll have to quote myself on this in the future, I guess..] 🙂

May 8th, 2008, 7:32 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear QN,

You didn’t just copy/paste an article that quotes both Elie Fawaz AND Tony Badran (with a side-kudo to Michael Totten)???

That’s the equivalent of quoting Tlass or Qanso …

What IS true, however, is that in the capital the Christians (& Druze) aren’t participating in the fighting. It’s Amal/HA vs. Mustaqbal. Life is going on as normal, except in the “hot spots”. Banks are open, etc.

There are no FPM/LF clashes in Beirut or the mountains.

I wonder, though, what’s going on in the Bekaa – who’s clashing with whom?

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 7:35 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Robert Fisk May 8th

“The darker side of all this, of course, involves Beirut airport. Mr Jumblatt’s claim that Hizbollah has installed cameras beside one of the runways appears to be correct. Lebanese army officers have apparently noticed the cameras which can monitor executive jets taking off and landing. However, the apparatus may well have been installed because the Hizbollah believes that runway 1-7 – which starts a few metres above the Mediterranean – could be used for a small seaborne landing by Israeli troops. There is a persistent rumour in Beirut that the Israelis were about to stage such an operation against the Hizbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut on 28 April but that it was cancelled for equally mysterious reasons. Was this the origin of the cameras and of Hizbollah’s unpleasant suggestion that Mr Jumblatt is doing Israel’s work?’

May 8th, 2008, 7:44 pm

 

norman said:

——————————————————————————–

2 Dead As Shiites, Sunnis Clash In Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 8, 2008
——————————————————————————–
(AP) Shiite Hezbollah supporters and Sunnis backing Lebanon’s U.S.-allied government battled Thursday in the streets of Beirut with guns, stones and rocket-propelled grenades killing two people in a second day of sectarian violence that has evoked bitter memories of the country’s long civil war.

Fighting intensified after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned of swift retaliation to any attacks on them. Rival Sunni politician Rafik Hariri later attempted to calm the situation by offering a compromise.

“My appeal to you and to myself as well, the appeal of all Lebanon, is to stop the slide towards civil war, to stop the language of arms and lawlessness,” said Hariri, the son of a slain former prime minister, in a televised appeal to Nasrallah.

Earlier, the Hezbollah leader accused the government of declaring war on his group with its recent decision to shut down the Shiite militants’ private telecommunications network. He warned against trying to disarm the group.

“Those who try to arrest us, we will arrest them. Those who shoot at us, we will shoot at them. The hand raised against us, we will cut it off,” Nasrallah said in a news conference via videolink from his hiding place that was broadcast live on television.

Within minutes of his address machine gun fire and explosions rang out in the Muslim western sector of Beirut as masked gunmen opened fire on street corners. In troubled neighborhoods, people stayed indoors, huddled in hallways or staircases as armed men rushed from one street corner to another.

Others took their families and moved to safer neighborhoods while people stocked up on food, standing in lines at supermarkets.

“There is so much shooting and explosions outside,” said Beirut resident Ghada Helmi. “Our building is in the middle of the fighting,” the terrified woman said by telephone.

The clashes also spread outside the capital Thursday and shut down the country’s main gateways to the outside world.

The violence appeared to be a test of wills between the Hezbollah-led opposition and the Western-backed government who have been locked in a 17-month power struggle. But there was a risk the escalation could degenerate into a wider and deadlier sectarian conflict.

That could also have implications for the entire Mideast at a time when Sunni-Shiite tensions already are high. The tensions are fueled in part by the growing rivalry between Iran, which sponsors Hezbollah, and Sunni Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Egypt said it will convene an emergency Arab Foreign Ministers meeting to discuss the situation in Lebanon, according to the foreign minister’s spokesman Hossam Zaki. He didn’t say when.

In Lebanon, the Sunnis’ spiritual leader – a government ally – denounced Hezbollah and appealed to a largely Sunni Islamic world to intervene. Arab heavyweights Saudi Arab and Egypt, both strong supporters of the U.S.-backed government, urged parties in Lebanon to restore calm and avoid sectarian clashes.

The latest round of violence was touched off by the government’s decision Tuesday to confront Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah.

It declared its military telecommunications network illegal, saying it was a threat to state security. The government also said it would dismiss the security chief of the country’s only international airport because he was suspected of ties to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah runs its own secure network of primitive private land lines. Nasrallah has said the network helped the guerrillas fight Israel’s hi-tech army in the 2006 summer war. He and other Hezbollah leaders have suggested they are regularly targeted by Israel and they need secure communications.

Nasrallah said the decision to declare its network illegal is “tantamount to a declaration of war … on the resistance and its weapons in the interest of America and Israel.”

“I am not declaring war. I am declaring a decision of self-defense,” he said. The government has “crossed all the red lines. We will not be lenient with anyone.”

Nasrallah said Maj. Gen. Wafiq Shukeir, the airport security chief that the government decided to remove, will stay in his post, rejecting any replacement.

The government’s decision to replace him came after pro-government leader Walid Jumblatt alleged Hezbollah had set up cameras near the airport – which is located in the Hezbollah stronghold of south Beirut – to monitor the movement of anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians and foreign dignitaries. Jumblatt suggested Hezbollah was planning to bomb aircraft to assassinate such figures.

Nasrallah said the only way out of the confrontation is for the government to revoke its decision.

In Beirut, Hezbollah supporters kept the road to the airport blocked for a second day Thursday. There were no incoming flights on Thursday and many of the outgoing ones were either postponed or canceled.

In an apparent retaliation for the airport siege, government supporters blocked the main coastal highway linking Beirut with predominantly Shiite southern Lebanon.

Pro-government Sunnis also blocked the highway linking Beirut to the border with Syria in the eastern Bekaa Valley. They set up burning tires and mounds of earth near the main border crossing to Syria.

Cabinet Minister Ahmed Fatfat, a government supporter, accused Hezbollah of staging a “coup.”

“Hezbollah … is trying to blackmail the Lebanese government by taking the airport as an economic and political hostage,” he told Associated Press Television News.

But Nasrallah denied the coup accuastion.

The army, which has remained above the political fray, has refrained from using force to open the airport or quell disturbances for fear of being dragged into the sectarian conflict.

The military called for calm and said the problems should be resolved by dialogue.

Though the latest clashes are rooted in politics, they quickly took on a sectarian tone. In Beirut, many residents had to navigate a city newly divided up by roadblocks and army checkpoints, a grim reminder of the 1975-1990 civil war that left lasting scars.

Most Sunnis support the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. Most Shiites generally support the opposition led by Hezbollah, a group the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization and which has close ties to Syria and Iran.

The long-simmering political crisis first exploded into violence Wednesday when Hezbollah supporters blocked roads in Beirut to enforce a strike called by labor unions. But it quickly escalated into street confrontations.

On Thursday, the violence spread outside Beirut. Sunnis and Shiites exchanged gunfire in the Bekaa Valley village of Saadnayel. Four people were injured, said security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military regulations.

The area is on a major crossroads linking the Shiite areas of Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold, with central Lebanon and Beirut.

© MMVIII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

——————————————————————————–
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May 8th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

Joe M. said:

I tend to agree with Qifa Nabki on the influence of the outside powers. I doubt that the major players (Nasrallah, Little Hariri, Jumblatt…) are puppets of any side. But what happens is that the outside powers become enablers of the crazy ideas each player has. Thus, Jumblatt is not dictated to by Welsh, but he knows that he can rely on Welsh for support when he makes a crazy move. Hizbullah is not told by Iran or Syria what to do, but they can rely on them for support when they are in a jam.

Again, I think the most important aspect of this crisis is the situation of Mustaqbal. They have been trying to position themselves as a more neutral party for a long time, and doing so by advocating the sovereignty of the state in their confrontations with Hizbullah. It seems pretty clear that the majority of Lebanese are uneasy (to say the least, including Hizbullah supporters) with the fact that Hizbullah has the ability to bring the country to war with Israel without any input from anyone else (even if the population actually supports the war). But what remains to be seen is whether Mustaqbal is advocating the sovereignty of the state because they are currently the leaders of the government, or whether they actually want a neutral state.

And this is where what Landis said earlier comes into play. To what degree is Mustaqbal acting in coordination with the USA? When you see Little Hariri’s demand that Hizbullah support their choice for president, and do so without giving Hizbullah a say in any other governmental decision, you have to ask whether he seriously is advocating that position, or whether it is empty rhetoric (knowing that he doesn’t have to compromise because he is so comprehensively defended by the USA).

Again, it seems to me that Mustaqbal is a weak party, and willing to bend much more than anyone else. The degree to which they back down will be a good indicator of the degree to which they are a pawn in the American-Israeli game.

May 8th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Joe,

Suleiman was HA’s choice of president, not Mustaqbal/M14’s …

And giving HA/M8 a veto in a government means that they might as well just have the whole gov’t for themselves. Having a veto is the continuation of the blockade since Nov ’06 inside the gov’t as opposed to outside downtown.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 7:58 pm

 

Naji said:

Joe,

This is almost what I was saying, but you ignore that the puppet thing is NOT just a one-way on/off deal… and even the enabling is a two-way thing…!! Especially when you are in an unequal alliance with someone much larger and more powerful than you, you have to do their bidding sometimes, just like they do yours… And, sometimes, they may even push you way beyond the limits of your interests… or abilities…!

May 8th, 2008, 8:03 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

What is extremely counfounding in all of this is that Hizbollah cannot win. Let’s say it wins all the battles easily and sets up a government which includes it and FPM. That would be a pariah government that would be shunned by the West and by the Arabs except Syria. It would be the end of Lebanon.

More realistically they win in Beirut, the South and the Bekaa. Then what? Lebanon will be de facto divided and their areas will only be economically connected to Syria and not to the rest of Lebanon. Again, an extremely bad position for them to be in.

Hizballah and FPM have no plausible end game except to force March 14 to share power amicably. But that is not on the table anymore. All they can do is keep spoiling as they have run out of constructive moves.

May 8th, 2008, 8:06 pm

 

Seeking the Truth said:

MSK,

By trouble in Lebanon, I meant the political stalemate sitution on the whole, and not a specific incident.

May 8th, 2008, 8:07 pm

 

MSK* said:

So, ya Naji,

What do you think, how much is then HA doing the “bidding” of it’s bigger allies, Syria & Iran?

And do you think that they push HA “way beyond the limits or abilities” of HA?

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:07 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear STT,

Again, I can’t & won’t put numbers on this. Actually, I would highly caution against quantifying responsibilities. I don’t think it can be calculated.

Foreigners interfere too much in Lebanese affairs, but Lebanese are still ultimately responsible for their own actions.

It’s not a zero-sum game.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:10 pm

 

Naji said:

MSK,

Surely you recognize that the likelihood of HA being pushed around is FAR LESS than that of any other Lebanese party…!! In fact, it can be argued that Iran and Syria, at least often, need HA more than HA needs them…!! Can you ever say the same about Mustaqbal, or Jumblatt, or Gaega vis-a-vis Saudi or the USA…?!

May 8th, 2008, 8:12 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joe,

I mostly agree with your analysis. (By the way, I got your email and will respond in a few days, once all this settles down).

MSK

And giving HA/M8 a veto in a government means that they might as well just have the whole gov’t for themselves. Having a veto is the continuation of the blockade since Nov ‘06 inside the gov’t as opposed to outside downtown.

I disagree with you about the veto.

What can Hizbullah really block with a veto that it can’t block with the current situation? At most, the veto will be used to block an unfair and biased electoral law, and that is actually a GOOD thing.

As you know, I’m not a big fan of many of the opposition’s stances, but I do support their demand for a veto.

If that’s what it takes to move the stalemate and the fights into the parliament and off the streets, I’m for it.

This is a lame duck government, with no mandate anymore. We need fresh elections, plain and simple. Let’s all take a breather, salvage what’s left of our pathetic tourist season, and get our house in order.

(This is what I was calling for, several months ago, with my post on a proposed solution for Lebanon).

Naji, I like your take on F. Scott Fitzgerald. I will plan on quoting you as well. 😉

First-hand news update: Abu Qifa Nabki reports that the fighting is on four fronts (Sodeco, Hamra, Ras al-Nab`, Corniche al-Mazra3a). Umm Qifa Nabki says that the Chouf is quiet. And Jidd Qifa Nabki says that the Metn is quiet as well.

May 8th, 2008, 8:17 pm

 

Zenobia said:

MSK said : And giving HA/M8 a veto in a government means that they might as well just have the whole gov’t for themselves.

I don’t understand why giving veto power is equivalent to having control over the whole government.
Do not the other parties also have veto power that they can retain? If they gave a blocking third or veto power to HA can’t they also retain this for themselves?
It would seem to me that veto is only one type of check/balance, and there can easily be offsetting power on the other side to prevent HA from asserting policy that the current ruling party doesn’t want or doesn’t support.
Of course, Veto powers mean there can be more deadlock in the functioning of government, but that is also more “democratic”, is it not? Ironically, it seems to me that what HA is demanding as a political party or for its participation in the government is actually more democratic than what currently exists. This is why I do not understand how the current M14 and gov’t is always referred to as defending the ‘democratic’ government.??? I think that HA is demanding that it be even more authentically democratic. To have one side dominate power is actually less democratic, no matter who it is.

May 8th, 2008, 8:20 pm

 

Joe M. said:

Naji,
As for American power, the reason I am not so willing as you to believe that the USA has that much power in Lebanon is that there is no risk of them putting troops in Lebanon, and Hizbullah will always have a veto (because it is the most popular and the strongest militarily) over any type of total American domination. I agree with QN that it is just too easy to see everything as a war of good vs. evil (USA/Israel) and think Mustaqbal is legitimately split, and also they are at least partially legitimately seeing a neutral state that they think is impossible with Hizbullah being so powerful. Neither you nor I know their internal debate, and how cynical they really are in this. And in this respect, maybe they are putting their life in the American’s hands (to counter-balance Hizbullah’s strength), but honestly, I doubt it. Mustaqbal actually lives in Lebanon, while Welsh doesn’t. When things go bad, Welsh will be fine and it is Mustaqbal people who will be blown up. I am sure they are very aware of that.

MSK,
I disagree. I think Hizbullah was willing to compromise to Suleiman IF they were given a blocking 1/3. They were not, and thus they have rejected him. If he was their man, they would have pushed him regardless of their position in government. That Little Hariri is pushing him now, absent of the blocking 1/3 is enough evidence of which side they think he is on.

As for the veto itself, I am pretty confident that Hizbullah would have only used it on military matters and would generally allow the government to function under the authority of Mustaqbal. They want the ability to deflect the ravings of Ga’ga and Jumblatt, they are not trying to turn Lebanon into Iran…

May 8th, 2008, 8:21 pm

 

MSK* said:

Ya Naji,

I don’t know about that. HA gets loads of $$$ and all of it’s arms from Syria & Iran – one could argue that they have it at a stranglehold. Syria has more irons in its fire with Israel than just HA – the Syrian regime is too clever to put all it’s bets on one horse. And for Iran HA is useful, but they’re not dependent on it. If Iran pressures HA to do (or, more likely, NOT do) certain things or risk getting less $$$ and/or weapons, there’s little HA can do. It’s not the other way around. What’s Nasrallah going to do – threaten Iran that he’ll make a separate peace with Israel?

Dear QN,

You misunderstood me. I’m saying that giving HA a veto in the gov’t won’t change anything to the better – it’s just a continuation of the current blockade under a different name. It may not make things worse than they already are, but it also won’t make anything better. HA seems to be bent on forcing the rest of the country to abide by their ideas of what’s best for Lebanon or break the country.

The veto will be used to block everything they’re blocking now – talking about integrating the HA militia into the army, privatizing the telecom, having the Lebanese state extend its sovereignty over HA-controlled territory, having people in the Dahieh pay electricity bills, etc.

And HA would not see & treat it as a move towards national reconciliation, they’d call it “Nasr min Allah #2”. Don’t forget, the M14 gov’t is the same as Israel … 😉

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:27 pm

 

Naji said:

Now, Olmert is speaking…!! Honestly… this ain’t no slow-news day…!!

Divine Intervention… or not?! …this Olmert indictment.

And, Joe, this is such a tangeled web with so many players… Saudi/US pushing each other, US/Israel pushing each other, M14/Saudi/US pushing each other, Jumblatt/Ga’ga/Hariri pushing each other…all on one side, …while on the other it is only HA/Iran/Syria and HA/FPM…

May 8th, 2008, 8:32 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MSK

That’s fine, and Hizbullah will claim victory, etc. but to me it’s worth it.

You see, I believe that Hizbullah is much stronger OUTSIDE the government than inside it. Outside, they are superheroes, divine combatants, rijaal Allah fi’l-maydan (to quote Nasrallah via Julia Boutros).

Inside, they are Clark Kents like everyone else. They are far more accountable. So let’s bring them back in.

May 8th, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

Joe M. said:

Just to add about the blocking 1/3, they are a significant part of the government before the summer war, and they were not obstructing anything. But they demanded the blocking 1/3 after they saw what Mustaqbal did during the war, and the ease by which Mustaqbal was willing to accept American and Israeli demands for the terms of the cease fire. The most obvious example is that Hizbullah would have probably advocated that Unifil troops be equally distributed in Israel and Lebanon for the cease fire to take force, rather than solely in Lebanon. Of course, there are dozens of other biases that came from the cease fire and the war. And Hizbullah see this potential as a true danger to itself, and this us demanding a blocking 1/3.

AnotherIsraeliGuy
You have no clue. No Arab or western government boycotted Lebanon before the war when Hizbullah was a part of the government. Hizbullah is not trying to control the country, they only want to insure that they are not destroyed by an act of the government under extreme conditions. They saw how quickly the government turned against Syria after Hariri was killed, and they want to protect against a similar flare up against them in the case of some other extreme situation like a war or assassination…

May 8th, 2008, 8:34 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Zenobia,

HA’s idea is not about a “democratic” government, but one of “national/sectarian” unity.

In a democratic state, the parliamentary majority fields the government & rules until the next elections, and the opposition has little say. In Lebanon, according to the Taif Accord, the gov’t has to include all (major) sects. That’s not democratic, that’s sectarian.

Dear Joe,

I don’t trust HA as much as you do, so we disagree. As far as I can see, HA declares everything “military” that it feels like.

And as for Suleiman – he was fielded by M8 last year, so it wasn’t for HA to “compromise” on him at all. They suggested him. M14 then accepted and immediately M8 came up with preconditions … and you know the rest.

I think that HA doesn’t care about who’s president as long as it has a control over the gov’t – i.e. a blocking 1/3. Fundamentally, HA doesn’t trust anyone or any political process & institution but itself. That’s not the way towards a democratic and strong Lebanese nation-state …

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

Zenobia said:

Joe M. said: MSK,
I disagree. I think Hizbullah was willing to compromise to Suleiman IF they were given a blocking 1/3. They were not, and thus they have rejected him. If he was their man, they would have pushed him regardless of their position in government. That Little Hariri is pushing him now, absent of the blocking 1/3 is enough evidence of which side they think he is on.

As for the veto itself, I am pretty confident that Hizbullah would have only used it on military matters and would generally allow the government to function under the authority of Mustaqbal. They want the ability to deflect the ravings of Ga’ga and Jumblatt, they are not trying to turn Lebanon into Iran…

I am very pleased to hear Joe M. say this because i totally agree. The first paragraph has in it implicitly evidence that in fact, HA is interested in compromising and is willing to do so. Asking for a formal veto is essentially asking for recognized power to have a bottom line that is NOT based on having to use their weaponry to assert power.
Isn’t this , or wouldn’t this be PROGRESS actually???

In the second paragraph, there is the suggestion that HA is like any other party here – being that they are interested in a representative share in government that is indicative of the relevance of the people they are representing in the country.
To constantly call HA’s forceful assertion of their intention to rest equal power a “coup” is simply a way to discredit their legitimate claims and demand. And crying “coup” is also a way of scaring everyone and creating defiance on the other side and organizing potential counter resistance to HA’s plans.
This is a very dangerous and risky game of chicken.

May 8th, 2008, 8:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

MSK

The problem, to my mind, is this:

As long as we are in a crisis situation, every tiny little incident can be blown up into world-historical proportions.

Take the example of Wafiq Shuqair.

Does it really matter that much who is head of airport security? No, his firing was largely symbolic and everybody knows that, including Hizbullah. Everybody is monitoring the airport, not just HA, and everybody finds ways to smuggle things into the country.

But because of the current state of hysteria, his firing was spun by the media and the zu’ama into a MAJOR THREAT against the resistance, the Palestinians, the Shi`a of Lebanon, Muslims worldwide, and even God Himself!!! And it was ordered by no one less than Olmert himself, or even George W. Bush, and perhaps even Satan behind him!!

As long as we remain in the schoolyard, things become more dangerous day by day, and the conflicts will be settled by thugs with guns, rather than government bureaucrats.

May 8th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Joe & Zenobia,

So far, HA hasn’t compromised on anything.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Regarding the veto, the issue is 1559 and 1701. Hizballah could not stay in a government that accepted those resolutions and it left. It will not join a government in which it would not be able to veto the Lebanese acceptance of these resolutions. So Saniora is stuck with either renegging on all his international promises and losing the financial backing of the west or accepting the veto condition. The veto condition is a non-starter.

May 8th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

Zenobia said:

MSK said: In a democratic state, the parliamentary majority fields the government & rules until the next elections, and the opposition has little say. In Lebanon, according to the Taif Accord, the gov’t has to include all (major) sects. That’s not democratic, that’s sectarian.

Yes, but in a very good democratic state, there are things like bicameral houses and checks on power such that even the party with majority rarely rules without any need to have agreement with the minority party or parties. Most representative governments have even more power diluting due to the presence of multiple parties and coalitions (unlike the USA). so this business of a majority party ruling the government totally until someone else can win it all – is not very democratic at all.
The sectarianism is not the creation of HA, it is a problem of the whole country, obviously. And they are all prisoners of the confessional and sectarian system. To me – HA’s challenge is probably going to help bring a challenge to that system- even if that isn’t the purpose of their fight. It is certainly bringing these problems to the fore.

May 8th, 2008, 8:43 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG, of course, what you just said is true.
what is so surprising about that. The question is who gets to decide what commitments to the International bodies are going to made.

May 8th, 2008, 8:48 pm

 

MSK* said:

Dear Zenobia,

So your understanding of “democracy” differs from that of everyone else. Well … you live in an (almost) free country, and you can have your opinion.

Whoever has the majority rules. Period. Even in bi-camerial systems it happens quite often that one party or coalition holds both houses. Do feel free to check parliamentary histories – I’m sure Wikipedia is a great source.

As for HA and sectarianism … do feel free to check their organizational set-up, program, and work. It’s religious Shi’ite party with a clear religious ideological program.

–MSK*

May 8th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
The Lebanese people and not one party in Lebanon. The government accepted 1701 while Hizballah was in it. So the renegging using the veto is a dirty trick. Most Lebanese support 1559 and 1701.

May 8th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

Joe M. said:

AnotherIsraeliGuy,

If Hizbullah would have had a blocking 1/3 in the government before the war, the UNSC resolutions would have been more rhetorically balanced. That’s the difference. They would have equally been accepted by all parties. Today the resolutions are not being fully implemented. Mustaqbal is not trying to implement them, and is balancing the desires of Hizbullah and the USA in this respect. The dirty trick is that the USA/Israel uses a war to attempt to force its political will on the Lebanese people.

MSK*,
I admit that I trust Hizbullah most of the Lebanese parties. That is more of a reflection of how disgusting/corrupt I think the other parties are than any special love for Hizbullah. But even forget that, and even if you consider them the enemy of the state, we have already seen that they are the most powerful party. So let’s try to build a powerful state, what’s the best way? There is nothing legitimate about any of the lebanese institutions, they are all as unfair as the others. So absent new elections and a total revision of the confessional system, I don’t see how Hizbullah blockading the government is any more problematic than Hariri and Jumblatt forcing government actions on Hizbullah. It’s like a thief calling another thief a criminal. well, look in the mirror.

For a fair system to be developed, there has to be a wholesale revision of the entire process. To do it piecemeal is no more legitimate than the current system. Ok, but currently you have Mustaqbal who is in power on the back of the death of Hariri trying to push through a massive agenda. That is not democratic, even if they “won” an election. How would you feel in the opposite situation, if a government dominated by Hizbullah came to power from the crisis of the summer war? What if Hizbullah was pushing its program as hard as Mustaqbal is? You would be burning even more than you are now. And this is the position that Hizbullah is in, and especially so considering that they suffered so much from the war and had to face the problem of a government that they had no influence over.

The simple truth is that neither side has much legitimacy. In this case Hizbullah is actually pushing the more inclusive approach. Obviously they are trying to safeguard their weapons and protect themselves against the threat of another war. But Mustaqbal is acting crazy to assume they can bully Hizbullah to give them up and neutralize them by force. If you really want to integrate Hizbullah and deal with them effectively, you will grant them the fact that they are the single largest party, that they are probably the majority with FPM and Amal, and that there is not going to be progress politically without them. And that is honestly more democratic than the results of any one election.

May 8th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

abraham said:

Lebanon reminds me of WWE wrestling. They have a bunch of different groups who at one point or another battle with one another, constantly shift alliances, move from one group to the other, go from good guys to bad guys to good guys, etc.

May 8th, 2008, 9:19 pm

 

abraham said:

What’s wrong, Akbar? Are you mad because the neocon plan for re-shaping the Middle East has crumbled into a small pile of utter failure yet again?

May 8th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

Majhool said:

Syria-News Headline

منطقة راس النبع في قبضة المعارضة

May 8th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In the end as Alex says, “thats the way it goes”. In the middle east might makes right, nothing else. Syria has bigger guns than Lebanon and so can manipulate it. The Lebanese must learn to accept it. Hizballah has bigger guns than the rest in Lebanon and can make demands and create facts on the ground. Israel has bigger guns than Syria and therefore can keep the Golan. My advice: Buy guns.

May 8th, 2008, 9:26 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Joe,

Very, very well put, once again.

I think that we often forget that Lebanon is in uncharted territory at the moment. We are living in the post-Syrian era. I hate to use this somewhat hackneyed imagery, but Lebanon is like a little child who has been thrown into the swimming pool without the floating ring that used to keep it up artificially, and it has to figure out how to swim while … half-swimming, half-drowning.

Our institutions and consensual agreements are not suitable for democratic self-governance. They were fine for getting us out of the war, and for reconstruction (to a limited extent). But they are now mostly useless, without the Syrians around to make the trains run on time.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any real visionaries who are willing to step up to the plate and channel the will of the people for change into concrete and far-reaching reforms.

That’s the tragedy. We need a Lebanese Obama. Instead, we have clowns, thieves, and zealots.

May 8th, 2008, 9:30 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
You don’t consider the war of 1948 over and you view the struggle in Lebanon as over? You can claim victory against the neo-cons when Hizballah establishes a prosperous and thriving Lebanese state with happy citizens that is anti-US thus proving that democracy and American hegemony are not the right way.

May 8th, 2008, 9:36 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

The Lebanese Obama = QN

Until he really emerges, let’s all Lebanese join in this song:

May 8th, 2008, 9:46 pm

 

abraham said:

QN: what is the source of the article you posted at 7:23pm? I wish people would include the URL to the articles they post.

At any rate, I see the names Tony Badran and Michael J. Totten and I can pretty much conclude that it is complete garbage. It was already obvious within the first few paragraphs. But any site that would host content from those two little monkeys is pure unadulterated refuse.

May 8th, 2008, 9:52 pm

 

Zenobia said:

dear MSK,

actually my definition (which wasn’t a definition but a description) isn’t different from everyone else’s.

so, sometimes one party gets control of both houses and maybe even the presidency on top of it. so what. more often or even if not more often the point is that they don’t control everything.
even if a party controls both houses (assuming we are talking about a USA type arrangement with only two parties) if they want to pass a law and there is opposition from the other party – the vote requirement to override is extremely high… two third instead of majority. It is almost never attainable.
Not to mention- if laws are passed that really disenfranchise a particular group- we always have another body- Supreme Court to also override unconstitutional laws. Thus, another check.
so, please don’t talk to me dismissively, like i am way out of touch with how my own government works. It is kind of irrelevant anyway. I am just saying that nobody in lebanon is practicing something like a real democratic process at this time.

It is very obvious that Lebanon has nothing even resembling a democracy right now.

and the point is that sharing power is very democratic as an idea. And the question is not about whether there should be power-sharing. It is simply that you do not trust that this is the aim of HA, and some other people believe that is their goal.
Even if their propaganda is ideological, I think just about everybody’s is. This is not unique to HA. What is more important is what they do. Maybe you will be right, and it will be proven that they are out for the whole pie and they are interested in turning Lebanon into a mini theocracy. But i happen to think that is nonsense. I am not sure if that is what you are asserting. but even anything in that direction seems highly unlikely. Even if they wanted that, it is simply not possible. And the goals of leadership are not that fantastical.

May 8th, 2008, 9:56 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Abraham,

I don’t know where the article was originally from, but it was blogged on Totten’s website.

I know how you feel about him, because I recall the debacle on your blog.

May 8th, 2008, 9:57 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG,
actually, HA ministers resigned, as I recall, soon after the gov’t had accepted 1701. That was the start of the latest phase of cold conflict after the summer war. So, nobody from HA ever signed on to 1701 and then reneged. The government really didn’t have any choice but to accept 1701, knowing that it was an impossible demand to disarm HA whether they truly want to or don’t really want to. The country was being bombed. I think they would have signed on the bottom line no matter what.

May 8th, 2008, 10:00 pm

 

Majhool said:

From Tayyar.org

حديث سعد الحريري مساء اليوم :الفتنة اشتعلت والحل بسلة شروط … تتمة
01:01 حديث السيد حسن نصرالله بعد ظهر اليوم :قرارات السلطة هي اعلان حرب واليد التي ستمتد على سلاحنا سنقطعها … تتمة
00:55 معلومات صحفية غير مؤكدة عن اخلاء الوزراء للسراي الحكومي
00:36 منطقة ساقية الجنزير تشهد احتداماً بالمواجهات
00:17 منطقة رأس النبع اصبحت في عهدة الجيش اللبناني (NTV)
00:02 حالات فرار واسعة من قبل عناصر السلطة من مختلف مناطق بيروت
23:58 عدد كبير من عناصر تيار المستقبل يلقون أسلحتهم في منطقة الملا ( NBN)
23:56 المنار: انصار المعارضة يحمون عائلة الوزير حسن السبع بعد فرار حراسه من امام منزله بعد استسلام عناصر تيار المستقبل من منطقة كركول الدروز
23:54 May 08, 2008 New pictures: Click here
23:53 nbn: عشرات المسلحين التابعين لتيار المستقبل في منطقة الحمرا قرب وزارة الاقتصاد يلقون اسلحتهم ويجرون اتصالات لإخراجهم من المنطقة
23:41 الجزيرة : القضاء الإسرائيلي يوجه لأولمرت تهمة تلقي رشى قبل توليه رئاسة الوزراء
23:33 معلومات ميدانية: تقدم المعارضة في منطقة كركول الدروز
23:33 احتدام الاشتباكات بشكل عنيف جداً في كورنيش المزرعة ودوي اصوات الرصاص في كافة ارجاء المنطقة

23:32 معلومات ميدانية: اشتباكات مكثفة في محيط عين التينة
23:23 الحزب التقدمي الاشتراكي يخلي عدداً من مراكزه ويسلمها للجيش اللبناني
23:01 مصادر ميدانية: مجموعة المعارضة تسيطر على منطقة عائشة بكار في بيروت
23:00 nbn: حالة ارتباك واسعة تسود صفوف عناصر تيار المستقبل في عدد من المناطق ومعلومات عن استسلام عدد من المسلحين ولجوئهم الى أهالي المنطقة

Bravo, They have control of the Sunni Areas in Beirut. Now what?

May 8th, 2008, 10:04 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

What is extremely counfounding in all of this is that Hizbollah cannot win. Let’s say it wins all the battles easily and sets up a government which includes it and FPM. That would be a pariah government that would be shunned by the West and by the Arabs except Syria. It would be the end of Lebanon.

Yeah, whatever. It would be an end of Western meddling in Lebanon, that’s all. Lebanon would still attract the tourism from the rest of the Arab world, it would still have it’s links to the West, and everyone would be happy.

I’m sorry things aren’t turning out in Israel’s favor.

May 8th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

abraham said:

Zenobia:

To constantly call HA’s forceful assertion of their intention to rest equal power a “coup” is simply a way to discredit their legitimate claims and demand. And crying “coup” is also a way of scaring everyone and creating defiance on the other side and organizing potential counter resistance to HA’s plans. This is a very dangerous and risky game of chicken.

Well said.

May 8th, 2008, 10:06 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Hizballah agreed to it during the war as a condition to stop the fighting but did not stand up to their committments. 1701 was not coerced, it was negotiated. For example Olmert got a lot of strife because 1701 does not require the immediate return of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Plus, Hizballah were “winning” anyway and so how could they have been in a rush to end the war?

May 8th, 2008, 10:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Habibi HP. 😉

Nice song.

May 8th, 2008, 10:10 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

You can claim victory against the neo-cons when Hizballah establishes a prosperous and thriving Lebanese state with happy citizens…

They did, and then Israel blew it all up in the summer of 2006. But do you forget so easily? Anyway, sorry about that (summer of 2006 defeat). I know it’s hard to admit you lost. Better luck next time, eh?

May 8th, 2008, 10:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Israel has no dog in this fight. Some in Israel would say that the best that could happen would be for Hizballah to take over Lebanon because then fighting Hizballah would be easier. Lebanon/Hizballah would find itself in the same situation as Syria, it would have too much to lose in a war.

As for your prediction, it is dead wrong. What happened to Gaza when Hamas took over would happen to Lebanon. There would be severe western sanctions on Lebanon. Saudis are not going to continue enjoying the Beirut casinos and night life under the auspices of the “hated” Shia. Saudi I am sure will not let its citizens travel to Lebanon if it were ruled by Hizballah.

May 8th, 2008, 10:15 pm

 

abraham said:

QN said:

I don’t know where the article was originally from, but it was blogged on Totten’s website.

Is that where you go to read fiction about the ME or for comic relief perhaps? 😉

May 8th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

abraham said:

AIG:

Hizballah agreed to it during the war as a condition to stop the fighting but did not stand up to their committments.

Uh, please, you don’t really want to go down this road, do you?

Since when has Israel ever abided by any (and I mean *ANY*) UN resolution?

Please.

People who live in glass houses should really get some curtains.

May 8th, 2008, 10:20 pm

 

Zenobia said:

AIG,
mmm. i don’t know. i disagree. I remember it being much more ambiguous than that. i remember being in a state of disbelief at first when I heard that HA agreed to 1701. Then the descriptions got sort of hazy….like…they accepted it as a cease fire, but didn’t accept that part about disarming militias. Or the overall gov’t agreed to it, even if those in HA didn’t…
I recall that everybody ignored the problem because they just wanted the agreement to push through. But I don’t think anybody was naive enough to think that part was going to hold. Nobody. It was being stated immediately afterwards that this was meaningless because it is impossible.

anyhow, it is done now.
I certainly never said they were winning the summer war. I don’t even think i believe much in the idea of winning at such wars. They had a very steep price. If your towns get demolished and the people flee, that is hard to call winning. But these days…as long as Israel isn’t able to take over land and occupy it, that is called winning against them… : )

May 8th, 2008, 10:27 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Abraham,
Let me save you the trouble:
You won in 48. You won in 56. You won in 67. You won in 73. You won in 82. You won in 2006. You are winners!

The Israelis today celebrated their 60th independence with barbecues and picnics etc. They were not shooting at each other. That makes the Israelis wimps and losers.

May 8th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

I want you guys to read this thread on the main Aounist forum.

It points exactly to what Joe M. and I have been talking about, namely that there is real feeling among many of the Mustaqbal people that they were sold out by Jumblatt and Geagea.

The interesting thing is that the Aounists are sympathetic to them.

Fascinating stuff:

http://forum.tayyar.org/f8/urgent-message-33892/

May 8th, 2008, 10:35 pm

 

abraham said:

The Israelis today celebrated their 60th independence with barbecues and picnics etc. They were not shooting at each other. That makes the Israelis wimps and losers.

Meanwhile, 1.5 million Arabs continue to starve right next door to you. Thanks, to you.

So yeah, in my book that makes you guys losers.

2025

P.S. The question was “when has Israel abided by *ANY* UN resolution”, not that I didn’t expect what your reply was going to be.

May 8th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Did we forget Mughniyeh’s murder a few months ago? This is obviously an Israeli sneaky strategy to use the violent and uncompromising operators in Lebanon to weaken and take a revenge on Hezbollah and ultimately murder Nasrallah.
Israel has launched a new war in Lebanon and it applaudes the confusion it creates and the way the medias are presenting it as inspired by Iran, the terror of Israel. Israelis are hearing Ahmadinejad treating Israel as a ‘stinking corpse’ just as they are celebrating its 60 years of occupation. Lebanese leaders (except for Nasrallah and Aoun) always lacked any sense of morality and respect for the life of Lebanese citizens, they are ruthless and greedy. We have seen that during the 1975 war and the same leaders are still here, hateful and cynical. They are the perfect pitbulls Israel can use to crush Hezbollah without loosing any of their soldier. This country is a snake pit, nothing else.

May 8th, 2008, 10:38 pm

 

Majhool said:

بيروت-سانا

تجددت الاشتباكات المسلحة اليوم في منطقة كورنيش المزرعة بين أنصار المعارضة الوطنية اللبنانية وميليشيا تيار المستقبل

Notice أنصار المعارضة الوطنية اللبنانية and notice وميليشيا تيار المستقبل

Funny..

May 8th, 2008, 10:39 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

A ray of hope in a troubled land of political mediocrity
By The Daily Star

Friday, May 09, 2008

Editorial

The sudden deterioration of the security situation in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon has been as unsurprising as the cool spring breeze coming off the Mediterranean at this time of year. With both major parties locked into a stalemated political confrontation for the past year and a half, escalation was anticipated after both sides suddenly raised the heat in the past two weeks. A political contest of existential proportions transformed into street clashes after a series of separate incidents, including Hizbullah’s detention of a French national, Walid Jumblatt’s strong accusations against Hizbullah and its foreign backers, and the government’s decision to clamp down on the Hizbullah telephone system and the Beirut airport security hierarchy.

The union movement’s general strike Wednesday provided the opportunity to expand a legitimate cost-of-living issue into a totally incomprehensible political battle on the streets. Thursday saw the two main leaders – Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and MP Saad Hariri – speak out about the issues, and it was not surprising that both followed similar scripts. They declared their allegiance to Lebanon’s security and sovereignty above all else, insulted each other with gusto and occasional venom – in both cases suggesting that the other was Israeli-like in his actions – and then offering terms for a political deal. The last act is the most important, because it touches on core issues at play here: The unity of Lebanon, avoiding sectarian and civil war, resolving the issues of the presidency and a national unity government, and addressing the contested government decision on airport security and the Hizbullah telecommunications system.

A careful analysis of what Nasrallah and Hariri both said suggests that they are speaking the same language that has always defined Lebanese politics and politicians: Act tough, show that you are a real man who is prepared to fight, and then offer a deal in which nobody loses face, manhood, or their privileged access to shared incumbency and the assets of statehood. Hariri’s specific offer in reply to Nasrallah’s suggestions seems reasonable, and in line with what Nasrallah said he had told the Iranian ambassador: that we can find a solution to this problem.

The points each man made – basically to review the government’s two controversial decisions and immediately restart the national dialogue – indicate a middle ground where the concerns of all parties can be taken into account. The fact that all agree on General Michael Suleiman as the next president is also a good sign.

The question is not whether these and other political leaders in Lebanon will ultimately agree on a comprehensive compromise that they can live with. That is as certain as the breeze. The unknown factor is only about how much more suffering, death and political mediocrity all Lebanon must suffer before the politicians actually make the compromises. Their commitment to the discipline of a purposeful and practical national dialogue remains unclear. Both major camps engaged in a fruitless dialogue two years ago, and there are few signs that they would do any better now.

Lebanon is a tortured and vulnerable land with mediocre leaders when it comes to consensus and stable, sensible governance. The two positions outlined Thursday offer a ray of hope. All Lebanese, meanwhile, hope that some responsible adult leaders might step forth now and act on that opening.

May 8th, 2008, 11:13 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Lebanon is a beautiful place. It has so much to offer. But, it is not a real country. The last statement may sound harsh, but let me explain:

How can the army/law enforcement agencies of a real country allow a group/party to occupy the main highway to its airport and shut it down?

Even in the most democratic countries in the world, this cannot happen.

What you have in Lebanon is a total vacuum at the central government level.

When you have no monopoly over maintaining law and order, you have no country.

When the army/police watches the events of the past 48 hours without being able to do anything about it, you have no country.

Beautiful beaches, mountains, restaurants and nightclubs mean nothing to the people of a country that fears the disintegration of its armed forces when the slightest trouble breaks.

Foreign powers and players meddle in Lebanon because they can. With hollow central governing at the core, they sense a weak country that they can manipulate and control.

Indeed, having survived as long without a President, they wonder if this is a real country at all.

May 8th, 2008, 11:30 pm

 

Nour said:

Reports are coming that Future militia members are withdrawing, giving up their weapons and surrendering to the Army. Future Movement got in over its head on this one. I don’t think there will be an all out civil war. This will end soon; apparently the loyalists were not up to the task, and the PSP and LF basically left FM fighters out to dry. PSP turned over their positions to the Lebanese Army. Maybe this will turn FM around and actually get them to work with people they can trust.

AIG and others,

Sorry looks like your neocon agenda is proving to be a failure once again. The Bush administration has left quite a legacy… of utter failure.

May 8th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ehsani

I think that you are right.

But I think that there is a growing will on the part of the Lebanese to change this reality.

After a Civil War and the chaos it wrought, and after 15 years of Syrian tutelage, the Lebanese are finally coming to terms with the fact that a strong central authority is the only salvation.

Now we need to find a way to get rid of these ridiculous leaders, and replace them with promising younger ones who have learned the lessons properly.

May 9th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Nour,
You are naive to believe that this is the end. The Lebanese civil war lasted 15 years. This is just the beginning and nobody is going to win.

I really don’t know about the neo-con project but wouldn’t busying Hizballah in a Lebanese civil war be a success for the neo-cons?

May 9th, 2008, 12:14 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

ESHANI2 states:

How can the army/law enforcement agencies of a real country allow a group/party to occupy the main highway to its airport and shut it down?

ESHANI2,

Gee, all of a sudden we have a Syrian Commentor wondering about whether Lebanon is “real country” for opening a highway to the airport.

How about a country that responds to rocket attacks? Is that a “real country” or just a Zionist aggressor?

A fool would ask whether a country is real for responding to a blocked highway to the airport. Most of the fools on this website think it is Zionist aggression when Israel responds to rocket attacks.

May 9th, 2008, 12:57 am

 

EHSANI2 said:

AP,

What are you talking about? You make no sense. Are you writing for the sake of writing? This is the most stupid comment that I have read here for a long time.

What does my comment have to do with your idiotic reference to Zionism and rocket attacks?

Stop making a fool of yourself

May 9th, 2008, 1:01 am

 

Nour said:

AIG,

I know you are still desperately hoping and praying that this turns into a prolonged civil war, but it simply isn’t. The loyalists are not up to the task because there’s really nothing for them to fight for. In 1975 there were more “serious” issues for the parties involved and there was more of a parity between the various warring groups. This does not exist today. What exactly are the loyalists fighting for? Even they are not completely convinced in what they are saying.

May 9th, 2008, 1:03 am

 

norman said:

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lebanon heats up following surge of infiltrators from Syria

BEIRUT — Two days of violence have erupted in Lebanon, weeks afer the Lebanese Army became aware of and sought to stem the infiltration by insurgents from Syria.
“There are hundreds of terrorists flowing into Lebanon, and until now little was done,” a security source said.

Officials said Lebanese Army and security forces have bolstered their presence along the border with Syria. They said the forces were sealing areas of the border used by Palestinian and other insurgents believed sent by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Also In This Edition

——————————————————————————–

NORTHEAST ASIA:

Burma (Myanmar) faces pressure to allow major aid effort
MIDDLE EAST:

Clashes in Beirut as Hizbullah pushes hard for power
NORTH AFRICA:

A Darfur capital is a humanitarian boomtown

Meanwhile, sectarian fighting spread through the streets of Beirut on May 8 as Shiite Hizbullah operatives and Sunni backers of the Lebanese government battled with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Supporters of the Amal faction, which is aligned with the Hizbullah movement, patrolling a street in Beirut on May 7. Anwar Amro/Agence France-Presse
——————————————————————————–

The violence started in Muslim West Beirut, where masked gunmen opened fire along Corniche Mazraa, a major thoroughfare that has become a demarcation line between the two sides.
Earlier, on April 21, the government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora launched an operation to seal the 150-kilometer border with Syria. Lebanon’s state-owned National News Agency reported that security forces were focusing on the northern border.

Officials said the border would be sealed in the area of Nabi Barri in the Hermel region.

Over the last month, hundreds of Palestinian and Iranian-trained insurgents have infiltrated Lebanon from Syria. Officials said the infiltrators included members of the Syrian-sponsored Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and Fatah Al Islam.

The United Nations has sought to help the Lebanese government increase border security. But the UN Interim Force in Lebanon has backed down from confrontations with Lebanese militias, particularly the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah.

In March 2008, Hizbullah prevented UNIFIL from seizing a truckload of weapons in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah fighters aimed assault rifles toward UNIFIL troops, who on March 31 abandoned their attempt to confiscate the truck near the Litani River.

“This serious violation of the UN resolution raises concerns,” a report by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said.

——————————————————————————–

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May 9th, 2008, 1:12 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Interesting (albeit non-scientific) website survey of Now-Lebanon:

How do you think Lebanon can exit the current escalating crisis?
Total number of votes: 1206
649/1206 – 54% The government should confirm its recent decisions to block a Hezbollah coup.
312/1206 – 26% A compromise solution should be reached between Hezbollah and the government.
245/1206 – 20% The government should back down from its recent decisions to avoid confrontation with Hezbollah.

http://www.nowlebanon.com/PollResults.aspx?vote=true&ID=69

May 9th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP

Only trouble is that NOW Lebanon is widely read by people partial to the government.

If we look at a similar poll conducted on the FPM forum, we see the following results:

“Do you want up the opposition to continue its mouvement and kick out this government once and for all?”

Yes = 77%

No = 23%

May 9th, 2008, 1:21 am

 

norman said:

QN,

Do you think that the Lebanese are ready for a strong man?.

May 9th, 2008, 1:41 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

I think that what the Lebanese are ready for is someone wise.

We’ve had enough strong men, destroying the country with their machismo.

————————

Why I Left Israel, and Why I’m Going Home
By SHARI MOTRO
May 8, 2008; Page A13
Wall Street Journal

Today Israel turns 60. When I was growing up in Herzilya, people celebrated Israel’s Independence Day by shooting each other with toy guns that covered the victim with fluorescent string. Later, when I was studying Arabic in Jordan, Palestinians I knew mourned the 1948 war as the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”).

Now I live in Virginia, where Israel’s birthday is invisible, and this year I mark it by packing. I’m preparing to move back for my sabbatical, preparing to embrace the double life I’ve been trying to deny since I dodged the draft into the Israeli army 18 years ago.

“Are you excited?” I get asked at least once a week. No, I say, I’m just going home.

I’m going home, and I’m scared. I’m scared not because of Iran’s nuclear capability or Hezbollah’s Katyushas or Hamas’s suicide bombs. These threats are real, but they feel abstract. I’m scared because I’m not sure I can resist absorbing their reverberations, the pent-up aggression that flows like a river through so many daily interactions; the constant noise, the sense that life is a zero-sum game, that the planet is too small for both of us, that your gain is my loss, that listening to your story will erase my own.

When we studied Zionism in high school, I asked my history teacher why Jews have a historical “right” to the land. I could understand saying we had a “connection,” but what do we mean when we speak of a “right”? What does that say about the rights of the people who were here before us?

“If you ask such a question,” he said, “you shouldn’t be here.”

So I left.

I left because I wanted to think my own thoughts, to read Socrates and Rousseau and Kierkegaard and ask the “real” questions of existence. I left and I built another life, not as a Jew, not as an Israeli, but as a human being. I left, and (even after returning briefly to Israel after college to complete my military service) I embraced what I imagined America could give me – an identity that was all about the future, all about possibility.

Being American, I imagined, meant that it didn’t matter what I came from: that I could shed my grandparents’ traumas and my parents’ generation’s sins; that I could claim America’s light without seeing its darkness; that I could take its freedom without its slavery and its Indians.

I was wrong. Slavery is part of my American self just as the Nakba is part of my Israeli self. America has taught me that these truths coexist, and that I can’t be a full human being without acknowledging and honoring what I come from. So I’m going home.

I’m going home not because I have a “right” to a home. Lots of people come from nowhere in particular, perhaps from a suburb their family left when they were teenagers, people with free-floating identities I can’t ever understand. I’m going home because I happen to have one.

I am blessed to have a home that still exists, a home with parents and sisters whom I love more than I’ve let them know. I miss them. I miss my family and I miss my childhood friends. I miss the dust and the sun, the warm salty Mediterranean, watermelon with Bulgarian cheese, droopy Eucalyptus branches and their brittle leaves crackling underfoot.

I miss Hebrew – rough, jagged, unforgiving Hebrew. When I hear it, an invisible film between me and the world dissolves. I come from a place – from streets I remember when they were still unpaved, from the house where I lost my first tooth, from the beachside terrace where my grandmother taught me how to tell time, from the cemetery where we buried her.

I didn’t choose these places, and I didn’t expel anybody. But that doesn’t change the fact that my joy is someone else’s pain. My home is someone else’s home, a home they can’t return to, because of me. I can’t reconcile this, but running from it doesn’t reconcile it either.

One of the Palestinian women I knew in Jordan believed that the Quran predicts the Jewish State will be destroyed and the Palestinians restored to their land. When I told her that in addition to being American I was also Israeli, and that I had served in the army, she was shocked. She liked me, and it took her a few moments to absorb that I could be this terrible thing.

I assured her that I enlisted after dodging the draft only so I could see my family, and that I had no intention of living in Israel again. She thought about it, and finally said something I didn’t fully understand until now, 10 years later. I’m so sad for you, she said, to have to live so far from your family.

She could feel both things at the same time: She could pray for Israel’s destruction and also hope that I might find a way home.

Ms. Motro is an associate professor of law at the University of Richmond.

May 9th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

Observer said:

I watched the entire speech today, that of the HA secretary general and that of Hariri and that of Jumbaltt. It is clear, that the escalation by the March 14 group is being challenged to the core by HA and Amal and as of now the high Shia council approved essentially the speech of the secretary general and his demands. It is clear that Jumblatt and Hariri have not taken into account the reaction of HA, they appeared taken off guard and are awaiting instructions on how to proceed.

It is now mathematically impossible for Hillary to be the nominee. It will be between Obama and McCain and I would bet on Obama. If he is the next president, all bets are off with regard to Lebanon policy. This is why this administration is so dangerous as it is looking to entangle the next one in a confrontation with Iran and Syria. Lebanon as usual will be the first proving ground.

In this confrontation the Sunni community will come out much worse for it, while Jumbaltt will sell his mother to remain the head of his community and expecting to be the King maker. Siniora is nowhere to be found and has not said a word. Interestingly enough one can read a lot from reviewing the saudi controlled press as not a word was on their front pages today.

May 9th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

Alex said:

QN, sorry for the delay, I answered you here

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=703#comment-142442

May 9th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

Enlightened said:

I am a little bit lost for words at the mayhem this morning. I read all the posts that I missed because of the time difference. 10 people are dead, 30 injured by the last count. All comments had some slant towards a political faction, with QN having some slight leaning towards neutrality, that is until EHSANI put everything into perspective.

Lebanon is a beautiful country, but like the Lebanese favourite pastime time for cosmetic surgery, it has some very ugly features that the beauty of its natural surroundings cannot mask or hide to any discerning outside observer.

This cosmetic surgery has failed, to cover any of the ugly inherent features of its make up. The Taef accord was a Band Aid solution that needs to be revisited, The electoral Law that was designed under Syrian Auspices is now outdated. The outdated concept where one sect gets a particular post on a 1923 census needs to be revoked. The feudal concept of Zaimism has no future. Social and economic justice for all Lebanese should be mandatory, all groups should be looked after and cared for by the state, not the political affiliation it follows.

Some times Cosmetic surgery does not succeed at the first attempt. It might take more bloodshed and innocents to die before all parties step back from the precipice. However plastic surgery has much further success when performed a second time. Lets hope the surgeons knife is a lot more precise this time, heck Jumblatt and Berri need a new look, even Harriri could do with a nip and tuck and fold!

Ehsani:

I think Akbar Palace was referring to Isreal’s 60 year birthday celebrations, and he mistook Israeli fireworks for more rocket attacks, well that was the story until AIPAC issued a retraction, and told its cohorts it was a false alarm! (LOL)

May 9th, 2008, 2:18 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

I responded. But honestly, we’re getting nowhere with this. 😉

Enlightened, I’ve been wondering where you were!

It just hit me: you’re in friggin’ Australia!

May 9th, 2008, 2:19 am

 

Enlightened said:

Allah Ye Sehedok QN!

Friggin Australia Ya Habibi is called ” The Lucky Country” I am very happy that my late father made it our home and not cold wintery Canada (sorry Alex)

QN: ( You havent answered why you were wearing that new communist tshirt) and doing a great impersonation of the toyota ad?

May 9th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Enlightened,

I wore my CCCP t-shirt because my International Anarchist Congress of Trablus t-shirt was in the laundry.

Yes, you’re lucky to be down under.

But I’m sure Canada is lovely. (wink wink alex)

Night night all.

May tomorrow be a better day.

May 9th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

why-discuss said:

It looks that the Future Movement is armed like a militia. I thought the only armed militia was the decried Hezbollah, and Minnie Hariri had only body guards! Body Guards equipped with Kalashnikivs and rocket propellers?

May 9th, 2008, 2:52 am

 

norman said:

Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

I think that what the Lebanese are ready for is someone wise.

We’ve had enough strong men, destroying the country with their machismo.

————————

Look no far , He is in Damascus . If you know what i mean .

May 9th, 2008, 3:02 am

 

norman said:

Second Day of Violence Engulfs Beirut

Hezbollah supporter burns tires, closing for a second day the highway to Lebanon’s international airport during a protest in Beirut, 08 May 2008

Clashes between Lebanese government supporters and the opposition Hezbollah are continuing for a second day in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley. As Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Beirut, Hezbollah has been blocking several strategic highways as well as Beirut Airport.
Street clashes in Beirut have taken an ominous new turn after Lebanon’s top Sunni and Shi’ite Muslim leaders accused each other of taking orders from foreign powers to provoke religious strife.

Sectarian clashes between pro-Hezbollah Shi’ite militiamen and Sunni supporters of government majority leader Sa’ad Hariri prompted Lebanon’s Sunni Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani to accuse Hezbollah of “trying to seize control of the country” with the help of Iran and Syria.

Shi’ite Mufti Abd al Amir Qabbalan replied angrily that it was the United States and Israel that were trying to “set fire to Lebanon and the Middle East.”

The Mufti said, Arab patriots and Muslims are facing an American-Israeli plot to create religious strife, and destroy the noble resistance to Israel.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah supporters continued to set tires on fire and pile mounds of sand to block major roads, including the highway from Beirut to Damascus, the coastal highway south of Beirut and the road to Beirut Airport. Activity at the airport remained paralyzed for a second day.

Lebanese Army tanks also positioned themselves along key intersections where Hezbollah and anti-Hezbollah partisans were throwing rocks and exchanging gunfire.

Army Commander Michel Suleiman reportedly refused a government plea to impose a curfew to stop the violence.

Nearly a dozen people were wounded in clashes around the mixed Shi’ite and Sunni neighborhood of Mazraa, where businessmen piled sandbags to protect their shops and burned-out vehicles littered the roadside.

Cabinet member Marwan Hamadeh, a pillar of the March 14 ruling coalition, warned Hezbollah and its allies the government would not back down in its conflict with the opposition and was taking its case to the U.N. Security Council.

Hamadeh says the Lebanese government is appealing to the Arab League and the United Nations to condemn both Iran and Hezbollah for undermining Lebanon’s independence. He says the government will not back down on any of its demands, and will say ‘enough, enough, enough.”

The head of Lebanon’s pro-government National Liberal Party, Dory Chamoun, argues that violence could get worse if Hezbollah does not realize where its policies are leading.

“Well, it could be something very dangerous, it could if they realize the mistakes that they are making, the Hezbollah people, it could probably calm down by tomorrow, but I doubt very much whether they haVe got that much acumen to realize how dangerous the situation has gotten,” said Chamoun.

The latest clashes were sparked Tuesday after the government voted to fire the pro-Hezbollah security chief of Beirut Airport, General Wafiq Shuqair, amid reports that Hezbollah was using cameras to spy on the private jets of top leaders with possible plans to assassinate one of them.

Hezbollah insisted that the cameras were “needed to fight the Israeli enemy.”

Speaking on the group’s al Manar TV, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah insisted that the only way out of the current crisis is for the government to revoke its ‘unfair and illegal’ demands, which he says are part of a U.S.-Israeli strategy to destroy Hezbollah.

VOA News

May 9th, 2008, 3:06 am

 

Enlightened said:

Norman:

You are referring to Michael Kilo? Right!

May 9th, 2008, 3:08 am

 

norman said:

Enlighted one ,

Kilo might be nice , I do not know what he stands for , I actually do not like people who talk ill of Syria no matter what their intention is , The Israelis do not do that , but he is not the best Syria has , that one is obvious ( Bashar Assad ).

May 9th, 2008, 3:14 am

 

norman said:

انهيار ميداني كامل لعصابات الحريري وجنبلاط وجعجع … المعارضة تحسم في بيروت

لم تمض ساعات قليلة على إنهاء الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله مؤتمره الصحافي، حتى كانت مجموعات من مقاتلين تابعين لقوى من المعارضة قد احتلت مراكزما يسمى بتيار المستقبل في مناطق عديدة من بيروت، وحصرت المواجهات في بعض الطرقات الفرعية المؤدية الى قصر قريطم والسرايا الحكومية ومنزل جنبلاط في كليمنصو، فيما أبقيت منطقة الطريق الجديدة خارج دائرة المعارك بقرار من قيادة المعارضة.وفيما ظلت عمليات إطلاق النار تجري بصورة متفرقة في المناطق المحاذية للطريق الجديدة، طلب جنبلاط من الرئيس نبيه بري توفير الحماية الشخصية له ولأنصاره قرب منزله في كليمنصو، في مقابل أن يسلم جميع مراكزه للجيش اللبناني ويعود جميع مقاتليه الى بيوتهم.
وترافق الانهيار الميداني لعصابات الحريري وجنبلاط وجعجع مع تراجع سياسي غير مكتمل، تمثّل في مواقف مرتبكة صدرت عن جنبلاط والحريري ركزت على الحوار ووقف المعارك، وذلك على اثر خطاب نصر الله، الذي حذر من أن المقاومة تعتبر نفسها في حالة دفاع عن النفس وهي مستعدة للذهاب الى أبعد الحدود في معركة الدفاع عن سلاحها. وفيما كانت أوساط الموالاة تصاب بالذهول إزاء الانهيار الكبير والسريع في الشارع، كانت القيادات الموالية تعيش وضعاً أصعب بعد سماع نصر الله الذي «كان مفاجئاً في حدته، والأمر لا يستأهل كل هذه الضجة وهناك إمكان لمعالجة ما قرّرناه في مجلس الوزراء» على ما قال السنيورة لوزراء كانوا في مكتبه، والبارز في كلام نصر الله كان إعلانه أن البلاد دخلت مرحلة جديدة بعد قرارات «حكومة وليد جنبلاط» كما سمّاها. وبرغم الطابع الهادئ لمؤتمره الصحافي، فإن حزماً اتسمت به مواقفه التي حددها برفض وقف الاحتجاجات القائمة الآن في الشارع حتى يتراجع فريق الأكثرية عن قراراته الخاصة بالمقاومة وسلاحها وشبكة الاتصالات الخاصة بها وإلغاء قرار إعفاء رئيس جهاز أمن المطار العميد وفيق شقير من مهامه والعودة الى طاولة الحوار.وكان لافتاً إعلان نصر الله التخلي عن كل الخطوط الحمراء التي كانت قائمة سابقاً. وقال بلغة تشبه لغته الحاسمة التي توجه عادة الى الاسرائيليين إن «اليد التي ستمتد الى المقاومة ومناصريها والذين يساعدونها ستقطع». كما رفض التهويل بالفتنة السنية ـــــ الشيعية، مشدداً على أن المخرج الوحيد هو عودة الاكثرية عن القرارات والذهاب الى طاولة الحوار.وعلم أن اتصالات جرت ظهر أمس بين قيادات فريق 14 شباط وضمنها زيارة ل غسان تويني إلى رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري قبل دقائق من تعرّض منزل الأخير للقذائف، ثم استؤنفت الاتصالات على اثر المؤتمر الصحافي للسيد نصر الله. وبرزت أكثر من وجهة نظر أبرزها ل سمير جعجع، الذي طالب بإعلان الاستنفار ودعوة جميع القوى الامنية والعسكرية الى الشروع في عملية عسكرية ضد قوى المعارضة. وحمل جعجع على موقف قيادة الجيش، وخصوصاً بعد تعثر اقتراح إعلان حالة الطوارئ وفرض نظام منع التجول.في هذا الوقت، كان هناك قياديون من عصابات الحريري يتحدثون عن استعدادات على الأرض لما سمّوه «شن هجوم مضاد». لكن الواضح أن جنبلاط، الذي رأى في كلام نصر الله «قراراً بإعدامه»، أصر على الحريري أن يتم الخروج بموقف يدعو الى الحوار والى الحل.
وأجرى جنبلاط والحريري اتصالين بالرئيس بري، الذي كان يستمع الى انفجارات القذائف والرصاص المنهمر بالقرب من مقر الرئاسة الثانية. وقال بري لجنبلاط «هذه المراسيم لا تلغى إلا بمراسيم، فلا تحاول المراوغة قانونياً. ولماذا تريدون توريط الجيش أكثر؟». ثم عاد وقال للحريري «على أساس أنت لا تتحدث إلا مع السيد حسن؟ ثم أنا سمعتك على التلفزيون، وهذا لا ينفع. اسحبوا هذين القرارين ثم لنذهب إلى الحوار. وكيف تضعون (العماد ميشال) سليمان على رأس الحوار.. أبصفته رئيساً؟ أنتم تريدونه أن يكون رئيساً لكم ويدير لكم الحوار، أم بصفته قائداً للجيش وعندها تورّطون الجيش أكثر. المطلوب هو العودة الى حوار وليس إنهاء المبادرات وسلة الحل، والمطلوب الآن العودة الى طاولة الحوار في المجلس وليس انتخاب الرئيس أولاً».وأكد بري للرجلين أن موقف المعارضة واضح وقد أعلنه السيد نصر الله ولا عودة عن الخطوات المتخذة على الارض. وقد تبيّن لبري أن جنبلاط هو من صاغ تلك «المبادرة الرباعية» ومررها إلى الحريري كي يعلنها على انها مبادرة منه. وقرر بري إرجاء أي اتصالات سياسية إلى الصباح. وبعد فترة من الهدوء استمرت لساعات نهاراً، كان عناصر من عصابات الحريري بمساندة عناصر من عصابات جنبلاط وبعض العناصر الأمنيين الرسميين الذين يعملون في مواقع الحماية والحراسات، قد أظهروا مؤشرات على نيتهم الهجوم على بعض المناطق، ولا سيما مقر بري في عين التينة ومقر الاعتصام في وسط بيروت.وخلال خمس ساعات، استسلم نحو 800 مقاتل من مرتزقة الحريري في المناطق الممتدة من رأس النبع وبشارة الخوري ومار الياس والزيدانية وعائشة بكار وفردان وساقية الجنزير وطلعة فردان وصولاً الى مناطق الملا. فيما نقلت مجموعات من هؤلاء المقاتلين الى تجمعات في الحمرا ومستشفى الأطباء في الوتوات، بينما كانت الحشود الاخرى تنتقل الى مناطق في الطريق الجديدة التي أقفلت على نفسها، وخصوصاً بعدما فر العشرات من عناصر ميليشيا جنبلاط من مناطق الكولا ووطى المصيطبة، رافضين حتى القتال لوصل الطريق الجديدة بالمنطقة الممتدة صوب الاونيسكو. وتلقت جهات قريبة من جماعة الحريري تحذيرات من منظمات فلسطينية من مغبة توريط المخيمات الفلسطينية في المعارك الدائرة.وبعد عقد ثلاثة اجتماعات في قريطم ضمّت مسؤولي التيار الميدانيين وقيادات من جهات أمنية رسمية، تم الاتفاق على حصر التجمعات العسكرية في المناطق المحيطة بقصر قريطم ومنزل جنبلاط في كلمينصو والطلب الى الجيش تعزيز حضوره بالقرب من السرايا الكبيرة، فيما كانت البلبلة تسود صفوف المقاتلين الذي صاروا يطلقون النار بعشوائية قبل أن يتركوا السلاح ويلجأوا الى منازل مدنية للاختباء. وتبيّن أن غالبية هؤلاء من مناطق شمالية وبقاعية.أما في الشمال، فقد تولى مرتزقة مرتبطون بالحريري ورجال دين يعملون مع دار الفتوى العمل على إطلاق عملية تعبئة لنقل مئات المقاتلين الى بيروت، إلا أن اتصالات جرت ليل امس لوقف هذه العملية، لأنه لم تعد هناك إمكانية لإيصال هؤلاء الى مقار قد أخليت. وقد سادت حالة من الهرج والمرج في صفوف مجموعات أمنية وعسكرية تابعة لفريق الموالاة

الاخباراللبنانية – شام برس – وكالات

May 9th, 2008, 3:19 am

 

SHAMI said:

The better for now is that the people of beirut who are the relatives of the syrian people remains calm ,the educated people they are ,they should not answer to hezbolla provocation which is commiting a suicide despite all this noisy and dark show.

May 9th, 2008, 4:02 am

 

Naji said:

هل أخطأ فريق السلطة تقدير ردّ فعل حزب اللّه؟
ابراهيم الأمين
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72916

لم تكن هناك حاجة الى المزيد من التوضيحات في الكلام الذي أطلقه الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله. كان حاسماً في اعتبار قرارات حكومة الرئيس فؤاد السنيورة بمثابة إعلان حرب تقف الولايات المتحدة وإسرائيل وحلفاؤهما العرب خلفها، ما يوجب حسب مداخلته مواجهتها. لكن الجديد الذي سيربك الساحة هو إعلان نصر الله مغادرة منطقة الحياد الإيجابي التي سكنها نصر الله وحزب الله طويلاً والتي يقوم منطقها على اعتبار أن ما يجري لا يتجاوز الخطوط الحمر وقابل للاستيعاب. لكن جاءت التطورات الأخيرة لتقول بأنه لم يكن هناك إمكان للبقاء في هذه الدائرة، وأن الأمر يوجب الانتقال الى الدائرة الحمراء التي تؤدّي عملياً الى موجة من العنف الذي يأخذ البلاد الى فوضى وحرب أهلية.
قال نصر الله صراحة إن الحزب لا يريد الدخول في حرب أهلية ولا هو راغب في المواجهة ذات الطابع المذهبي، وإنه مستعد للحل من خلال إعادة الأمور الى ما كانت عليه قبل قرارات الحكومة الاخيرة. لكن هذا الموقف يعكس عملياً أن الحزب بات في وارد الذهاب الى أبعد مما ظن كثيرون سابقاً. وبالتالي فإن حركة الحزب على الأرض تأخذ شكل المتحسب لمواجهة شاملة، لا تقف عند حدود مجموعات تيار «المستقبل» الآتية بمعظمها من مناطق بعيدة في الشمال والبقاع، بل تلامس كل من يراه الحزب مسؤولاً عما يجري، وكان لافتاً تحديد السيد نصر الله لهوية رئيس الحكومة بأنه وليد جنبلاط، مع ما يعني ذلك من موقف يحمّل جنبلاط مسؤولية ما يحصل وبالتالي إشعاره بأنه مسؤول وعليه تحمّل المسؤولية.
وإذا كانت التطورات الميدانية غير قابلة لحصرها في دائرة أو في مكان، فإن المناخ السياسي الذي يرافق هذه المواجهة، يأخذ بعين الاعتبار أن فريق السلطة لم يكن مضطراً الى القيام بما قام به لولا شعوره بأن عليه واجباً والتزاماً، وتظهر مداولات الجلسة الاخيرة للحكومة أن هناك من تحفظ على التوجه، لناحية البحث في شكل آخر، مثل القول بأن أمر شبكة الاتصالات يمكن أن يعالج من خلال دوائر أمنية ووزارية معنية، وكذلك ملف رئيس جهاز أمن المطار الذي لا يحتاج الى قرار من الحكومة. لكن الواضح أن القرار كما صدر يعكس الحاجة إليه كوثيقة تسجل عند الغير، وتحديداً عند القوى المؤثرة خارجياً.
ويلفت مصدر قيادي في المعارضة الى أن الأمور بدت واضحة منذ مدة لا الآن، لأن طبيعة المداولات التي تخص ملف شبكة الاتصالات وملف العميد وفيق شقير، كما عرض السيد نصر الله لتفاصيلها، كانت تفتح الباب أمام تسويات لمن كان يرغب في الوصول الى تسوية. ومع ذلك فإن الفريق واصل سيره باتجاه ما انتهى إليه. ويرى المصدر أن الأصل يعود الى بعض الوقت، حين أبلغت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الحلفاء في لبنان أن عليهم المبادرة وعدم الاكتفاء بالمطالبة والمناشدة فقط، وأن أقل الإيمان أن يبادروا الى خطوات شبيهة بتلك التي أقدم عليها رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية محمود عباس تجاه حركة حماس قبل أن يستنجد بالعالم لدعمه، وان الطلبات الى فريق السلطة في لبنان عاد وكررها ديفيد وولش عند زيارته الاخيرة الى لبنان، وهو الأمر نفسه الذي كان تيري رود لارسن قد طلبه من دبلوماسية 14 آذار.
وسرد المصدر ما يعتبره مسلسل «التحرش النوعي» بقوى المعارضة كافة، بدءاً بالحملة المستمرة على الرئيس نبيه بري واتهامه بإقفال المجلس النيابي بصورة كاملة ومن ثم إشعاره بأنه غير مرغوب فيه إلا شريكاً لهم، وهو تعرّض لعملية ضغط لم تكن ذروتها قرار السعودية عدم استقباله وتعامل مصر بلامبالاة مع زيارته، وكذلك تجاهل الجانبين الأوروبي والأميركي لمبادراته الحوارية. ثم كانت الحملة تشنّ دون توقف على العماد ميشال عون، بدءاً بحملة التهويل على وضع التيار الوطني الحر الداخلي واتخاذ مناقشات داخلية منصّةً للحديث عن ضرب التيار من الداخل، مروراً بحادثة زحلة التي ووجه فيها حليف عون الأساسي النائب إيلي سكاف بعد سلسلة من التحرشات بمناصرين لعون في أحياء وجامعات وصولاً الى إخراج النائب ميشال المر من كتلة عون ضمن حملة تهدف الى ضرب قواعده الشعبية وحملة ضغوط على رؤساء البلديات والمخاتير، ثم الشروع في عملية إنفاق مالية في مناطق نفوذ عون. وكان الأمر نفسه يجري في طرابلس وإقليم الخروب والبقاع الغربي حيث النشاط الاضافي لفريق السلطة الأمني والمالي بقصد إضعاف التجمعات السنية التي نجحت المعارضة في استقطابها.
ويضيف المصدر القيادي في المعارضة: بعدما فشلت مساعي الاحتواء والضغوط لم يجد هؤلاء أمامهم إلا السير نحو المكان الأكثر حساسية، وهنا ظهرت الحاجة من جديد الى دور خاص لجنبلاط الذي تخصّص في هذه الأمور، وكانت الحملة التي انطلقت تحت عنوان شبكة الاتصالات الخاصة بالمقاومة وأمن مطار بيروت الدولي، وفق سياق يهدف عملياً الى فرض وقائع جديدة من الإمساك بكامل مفاصل البنى الأمنية والمرافق الاساسية في الدولة وفق المنطق الذي يتحكم بعمل الاجهزة الامنية الخاضعة لسلطة فريق الاكثرية.
وبحسب هذا المصدر فإن استسهال الحكومة اتخاذ هذه القرارات عنى للمقاومة واحداً من أمرين: إما أن الفريق الحاكم لم يعد يملك مبادرة الاعتراض على الطلبات الخارجية، وإما أنه كان يعتقد بأن الأمور سوف تسير من دون ردة فعل. وفي الحالتين، يرى المصدر أن هذا الفريق ارتكب الخطأ الكبير الذي قاد الى خيار الرد والمواجهة وهو الخيار الذي لم تظهر كامل معالمه حتى اللحظة. لكن كان لا بد من اللجوء الى المواجهة المباشرة ـــــ يضيف المصدر ـــــ وباللغة التي تفتح أعين الفريق الحاكم على أن البلاد قابلة للاحتراق بصورة تسقط كل مصالحهم دفعة واحدة وتعيد فرض وقائع من نوع مختلف.
وإذا كان نصر الله أبقى الباب مفتوحاً أمام حل سهل ومن شأنه إدارة الامور صوب حلول متكاملة، وبالرغم من أن النائب سعد الحريري رد بسلة حوارية فيها بعض الاختلاف، فإن الاخير حاول ترضية المقاومة بترك قرارات الحكومة خارج مهمة التنفيذ، فيما طالب في المقابل بالتراجع عن شرطي الحكومة وقانون الانتخاب لانتخاب رئيس جديد. ويبدو أن ما دفع الحريري الى هذه الدعوة يأخذ بالاعتبار أموراً عدة أبرزها حقيقة ما يحصل في بيروت.

عدد الجمعة ٩ أيار ٢٠٠٨

May 9th, 2008, 4:41 am

 

Naji said:

They burned the Mustaqbal newspaper offices… (a service to free press!)…!

07:13 لليوم الثالث، الوضع في شوارع بيروت على حاله والاشتباكات لم تتوقف طوال الليل والازمة الى تصعيد
07:00 تلفزيون أخبار المستقبل: مبنى جريدة “المستقبل”يتعرض لهجوم بالرصاص والقذائف الصاروخية

I think this thing should stop today, …by noon, say…

May 9th, 2008, 4:44 am

 

Peace Like A River » Cables, dispatches and memoranda said:

[…] Syria Comment – By Provoking Hizbullah, Is Washington Hoping for a Showdown? […]

May 9th, 2008, 5:04 am

 

Naji said:

Now, Mustaqbal TV is off the air… another service to free press…?!

May 9th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

Alex said:

huh?!

I am certainly not a fan of Almustaqbal (the party, the newspaper, or the TV station) … but whoever fired at them is making a mistake in my opinion.

May 9th, 2008, 5:40 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Naji, are you serious??

Alex, the reason that this is possible is because the guys standing on the sidewalk outside of Mustaqbal thought for about three seconds and then came to the exact same conclusion as Naji. “Yalla, let’s do it shabab.”

May 9th, 2008, 11:45 am

 

Naji said:

QN,

Must I keep using these emoticons…?! I thought that by now you would know how I feel about these things…! 🙁

…and there was that ironic “?!” at the end of my comment…!

For, the record, I am completely unhappy about any and all of the violence that has engulfed Lebanon since… well, since forever, it seems…!! And I would never support shutting down any news outlet, regardless of how corrupt and biased I thought it was…!

Even if I am glad that the “M14” schemes and machinations are failing, I feel sorry, but hopeful, for their sympathizers.

May 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm

 

Mark McHenry said:

What I want to know is where is the hot singer Haifa Wehbe? Hopefully someone is on top of her and she’s safe.

May 10th, 2008, 6:21 am

 

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