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)


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101. 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.

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May 8th, 2008, 11:30 pm

 

102. 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.

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May 8th, 2008, 11:36 pm

 

103. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

104. 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?

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May 9th, 2008, 12:14 am

 

105. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 12:57 am

 

106. 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

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May 9th, 2008, 1:01 am

 

107. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 1:03 am

 

108. 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.

——————————————————————————–

Click Here to Write a Letter to the Editor

About Us l Contact Us l Geostrategy-Direct.com l East-Asia-Intel.com
Copyright © 2008 East West Services, Inc. All rights reserved.

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May 9th, 2008, 1:12 am

 

109. 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

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May 9th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

110. 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%

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May 9th, 2008, 1:21 am

 

111. norman said:

QN,

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

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May 9th, 2008, 1:41 am

 

112. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

113. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 1:45 am

 

114. Alex said:

QN, sorry for the delay, I answered you here

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

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May 9th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

115. 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)

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May 9th, 2008, 2:18 am

 

116. 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!

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May 9th, 2008, 2:19 am

 

117. 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?

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May 9th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

118. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 2:39 am

 

119. 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?

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May 9th, 2008, 2:52 am

 

120. 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 .

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May 9th, 2008, 3:02 am

 

121. 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

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May 9th, 2008, 3:06 am

 

122. Enlightened said:

Norman:

You are referring to Michael Kilo? Right!

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May 9th, 2008, 3:08 am

 

123. 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 ).

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May 9th, 2008, 3:14 am

 

124. 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

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May 9th, 2008, 3:19 am

 

125. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 4:02 am

 

126. 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

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May 9th, 2008, 4:41 am

 

127. 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…

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May 9th, 2008, 4:44 am

 

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

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

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May 9th, 2008, 5:04 am

 

129. Naji said:

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

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May 9th, 2008, 5:15 am

 

130. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 5:40 am

 

131. 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.”

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May 9th, 2008, 11:45 am

 

132. 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.

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May 9th, 2008, 12:07 pm

 

133. 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.

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May 10th, 2008, 6:21 am

 

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