“Iran’s and Syria’s plan: an interpretation,” by Michael Young

Iran's and Syria's plan: an interpretation
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Many Lebanese, particularly in the majority camp, have been preoccupied with the court being set up to try suspects in the assassination of the late Rafik Hariri. The resignation of Serge Brammertz from the International Criminal Court to devote himself full-time to the upcoming Hariri trial suggests there is something there for them to look forward to. However, they miss the larger picture. The court has become just one utensil in a much broader conflict to determine the future of Lebanon and of the Levant, in the context of a regional power struggle between Iran, Syria and their allies Hizbullah and Hamas on the one side; and all those who would deny them the advantages they seek on the other.

In recent days, some have suggested that Hizbullah intends to do in Lebanon, or part of Lebanon, what Hamas did in Gaza. The reality may be worse, if more subtle. A statement on Sunday by Hizbullah's Nabil Qaouk could be read as notification that the party might defend what he termed "Lebanon's unity" by force – shorthand for a military coup. Qaouk's warning that foreign observers should not deploy on the Lebanese-Syrian border, his describing such a project as "Israeli," his presumption that he had the right to impose a new "red line" on the state, all suggest a new mood in Hizbullah, one that is dangerous.

Hizbullah's attitude is only convincingly explained in the framework of Iran and Syria implementing a project to reclaim Lebanon, but more importantly perhaps to eliminate international, particularly Western, involvement in the Levant. After having won in Gaza, Tehran and Damascus are now pushing forward in South Lebanon. Their joint objective, regardless of their different priorities on other matters, appears to be to remove the Siniora government, undermine United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, and create a situation where the international community would have to accept a Syrian return to Lebanon, which would, by extension, scuttle the Hariri tribunal.

How would such a project be carried out? Here's one interpretation.  The priority is to emasculate the Siniora government, whether by taking control of its decisions or through the creation by Syria of a parallel government. In this context, the opposition's calls for a national unity government don't favor unity at all. Opposition parties will only enter a Cabinet they can control and bring down. We know that because they rejected the 19-10-1 formula proposed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, which would have given them the means to block decisions they didn't like. But the opposition's insistence on a 19-11 division is valid only for torpedoing a government through the resignation of its 11 ministers. The aim is apparent: to bring to office a president sympathetic to Syria.

If its conditions for a unity government continue to be rejected by the majority, the opposition might create a parallel government or engineer a situation allowing President Emile Lahoud to remain in Baabda. There are surely problems in a second government, not least of which that Sunni representation is bound to be anemic. This could create a troubling sense that a Sunni-dominated Siniora government is facing off against a Shiite-dominated pro-Syrian government, which could backfire regionally against Hizbullah and Iran. There is also the fact that Michel Aoun's bloc might begin cracking if the general enters such a government.

What would the purpose of this second government be, beyond wreaking havoc in the country and putting pressure on Siniora's government? Simply, to neutralize the effectiveness of the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL in the South, by making their interlocutor in the state unclear. Many have overlooked that the Nahr al-Bared fighting might have been a stage in a process to render the army less effectual in South Lebanon. Several units have been pulled out of the South in the past six months – first to prevent sectarian clashes in Beirut after the opposition built its tent city in the Downtown area last December; then to engage in fighting in the North. This has given Hizbullah much more room to maneuver in the border area, while also opening space up for groups operated from Syria. Even if Hizbullah did not fire the rockets against Kiryat Shmona on Sunday – probably the work of pro-Syrian Palestinians – it almost certainly was aware of the attack, and did not oppose it.

Iran's, Syria's and Hizbullah's purpose in reopening a northern front against Israel, aside from reviving Hizbullah as a military force (which is essential for its own survival), is to empty Resolution 1701 of its content. Better still, if cross-border rocket attacks continue, it will be Israel, not Hizbullah, that will start casting doubt on the UN resolution's merits. Hizbullah's recent insistence that the Cabinet return to its 2005 policy statement as a condition to end the governmental crisis only showed the party's true intentions toward Resolution 1701. The policy statement defends the right of armed resistance, unlike the later UN resolution. 

For Syria and Iran, as well as for Hizbullah, Resolution 1701 is the door through which the international community entered Lebanon in force, after Resolution 1559 and the Hariri tribunal. That's the reason Tehran and Damascus want to render UNIFIL powerless, even though there will remain useful idiots in Europe who think they can reach an understanding with the Syrian regime to protect UN forces. Syria has no interest in this, however, because it has likely taken a strategic decision with Iran to remove any vestige of international influence in Lebanon – as it did in Gaza – with the goal of reviving its domination over the country.

In this context, even an illegitimate parallel government to that of Fouad Siniora could prove useful in the long term. Look what the Soviet Union did in Poland during World War II. It created the so-called Lublin Committee, which initially had far less clout than the London-based Polish government in exile. However, when the balance on the ground in Poland shifted, it was Moscow's puppets who were recognized as the power in Warsaw.

The Syrians and Iranians may be thinking along the same lines in Lebanon. Create a parallel government; erode UNIFIL's effectiveness while compelling the Lebanese Army to manage Syrian-created security brushfires; press your advantage against the drained Americans, the spineless Europeans, and the debilitated Arabs; and then, when the international community and Arab states are truly lost, strike using Hizbullah and drive your coup toward its logical conclusion: a new Pax-Syria in Lebanon, supported by Iran.

Such an ambitious project could fail, as so many others do in Lebanon. The real question is whether the country can avert civil war. Has Hizbullah's secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, forgotten that at the funeral of Walid Eido, many of the Sunni mourners provocatively shouted "USA! USA!"? Has the party forgotten that after the fighting between Sunnis and Shiites in Tariq Jedideh in January, there was talk of sectarian war? These are disquieting trends, and while Nasrallah may have no latitude to challenge the orders of Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei – as party members frequently remind us – that only says we may soon be paying the price for the conceit of an Iranian leadership with negligible knowledge of inter-Lebanese relations.

Several measures can dent Iran's and Syria's plans. The first is for the Lebanese Army to make a statement that it opposes the setting up of a parallel government, but also that it can no longer protect Lahoud when his mandate ends, for constitutional reasons. This is not as easy as it sounds, because there are conflicting loyalties in the officer corps. However, the army has never been as united as it is today, thanks to Nahr al-Bared. There would be nothing unseemly for army commander Michel Suleiman to warn that a parallel government or yet another extension for Lahoud would only lead Lebanon into the unknown, and that the armed forces might not be able to manage the consequences. That statement would probably not check Syria, but it could induce those vacillating Lebanese politicians to reconsider participating in the scheme.

Second, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir should take a much firmer position against Christian participation in a parallel government. He's already declared his opposition to such a move, but now it's time to name names. Michel Aoun is vulnerable, and while it may be hopeless to expect anything from a man now playing Syria's game, a direct warning to the general from Bkirki, even if it angers pro-Aoun bishops, could considerably impair his preparations to enter such a government. Sfeir can back this up with the influence he enjoys over several Aounist parliamentarians, and can play on Michel Murr's reluctance to stand athwart of Maronite public opinion, and of the Gemayels, in the Metn.

Third, the Saudis and the Egyptians have to display more nerve. Iran and Syria humiliated them both by demolishing the Mecca agreement in Gaza. What have the Arab states done in return? Almost nothing, though Egypt has said it would cut its ties with Hamas unless Gaza was returned to the Palestinian Authority. Iran's expanding power poses existential threats to the regimes in Riyadh and Cairo. More efforts are needed to impose a consensus that isolates Iran and puts Syria on the defensive. The Saudis have a range of tools they can use in Lebanon, including helping Fatah financially in the refugee camps, giving the Lebanese Army better weaponry, and working more actively in the Arab world to suffocate establishment of a parallel Lebanese government.

And fourth, the UN must draw the consequences of its own reports that Syria is sending weapons across the Lebanese border – a direct violation of Resolution 1701. Some UN members with troops in the South have to stop trying to cut deals with Damascus to protect their own troops. What is happening today threatens UNIFIL in its entirety. Iran and Syria never accepted Resolution 1701, so efforts to offer Syria "incentives" miss the point that Syria intends to win back, with Iran, the whole Lebanese pot once international forces are intimidated. The Italians in particular must be less timorous. Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema won't get from Syrian President Bashar Assad what the Saudis and the Americans couldn't. Whether the UN likes it or not, it is at the center of a regional battle, and its forces cannot afford to be as craven as they were in Srebrenica.

In the coming months, the trick will be to abort the reckless Syrian and Iranian adventure, while also avoiding a descent into sectarian carnage. This is achievable, but only if everyone realizes what is at stake.

Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Comments (48)


1. George Ajjan said:

So I guess Young has given up on the idea he floated less than 2 months ago: that Syria is worried about invaders from outer space landing on Earth and forcing Iran to improve relations with the US at Syria’s expense.

Now I see we are back to Young’s standard “libertarian” talking points: no one in the Middle East acts for themselves – Sfeir controls the “Marionettes”, Hezbollah and Hamas sit around like lovesick teenage girls waiting for the phone to ring with the latest orders from Iran and Syria, etc.

Young has yet to explain how libertarian thinking is supposed to take root in a region where, according to his analysis of political motivations, the wishes of foreign benefactors or religious figureheads outweigh an individual’s committment to his own nation’s interest.

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June 22nd, 2007, 11:45 am

 

2. t_desco said:

This is an important development – for the first time charges are filed in one of the cases of attacks on Lebanese politicians:

Attentats Murr et Aïn Alak – Chaker Absi et Abou Hourayra parmi les accusés
Mirza engage des poursuites contre 20 personnes, pour la plupart des Syriens

Le procureur général près la Cour de justice, Saïd Mirza, a engagé hier des poursuites contre quatre personnes, un Libanais et trois Syriens, accusés d’avoir tenté d’attenter à la vie du ministre Élias Murr, le 12 juillet 2005. Il a également engagé des poursuites contre l6 autres personnes, 10 Syriens, 2 Palestiniens, 1 Palestinien de Jordanie, Chaker Absi, chef du groupe terroriste Fateh el-Islam, 1 Saoudien et 2 Libanais dont Abou Hourayra, un des cadres de Fateh el-Islam, tous impliqués dans l’affaire de l’attentat de Aïn Alak, le 13 février 2007.

Dans l’affaire Murr, M. Mirza a engagé des poursuites contre le Libanais Ibrahim Hassan Awada et les Syriens Firas Abdel-Rahman Omran, Mahmoud Abdel-Karim Omran et Izzat Mohammad Tartoussi, qui avaient été cependant libérés sous caution en 2006. Ils sont accusés d’avoir fait exploser la voiture piégée qui avait visé le convoi de M. Murr sur son passage dans la région de Naccache. Un passant, Khaled Moura, avait été tué dans l’explosion et plusieurs autres personnes avaient été blessées, dont le ministre, son chauffeur et son garde du corps, tous grièvement atteints.

M. Mirza a demandé au juge d’instruction près la Cour de justice, Dany Chrabieh, d’entreprendre les investigations nécessaires et de lui remettre les pièces du dossier à la fin des interrogatoires. Le texte officiel ne dit cependant pas si les quatre individus ont été de nouveau arrêtés.

Parallèlement, M. Mirza a engagé des poursuites contre les Syriens Moustapha Ibrahim Siou, Kamal Farid Naassan, Malek Farid Naassan, Yasser Mohammad Choukayri, Ahmad Abdallah Hajji, Firas Saïd Hajji, Maakal Ghazi Naassan, Majdeddine Abdel Hay Abboud, Mohammad Nasr Hajji et Moubarak Ghazi Naassan, les Palestiniens Arifé Ghattas Farès, Chaker Youssef Hassan Absi et Ahmad Toufic Hayti, le Saoudien Saleh Ali Omar Makdah Mouhandi et les Libanais Hussein Daoud Zayyat et Chehab Khodr Kaddour (Abou Hourayra).

La plupart ont été écroués à l’exception de Chaker Absi, Abou Hourayra, Majdeddine Abboud, Mohammad Nasr Hajji, Saleh Mouhandi, Ahmad Hayti et Moubarak Naassan, qui sont toujours en fuite et contre qui des poursuites ont été engagées par contumace.
Ils sont tous accusés d’avoir formé une bande de malfaiteurs pour commettre des crimes contre les civils, porter atteinte à l’autorité de l’État, fabriquer, posséder et utiliser des matières explosives à des fins terroristes et d’avoir commis un double attentat contre deux bus à Aïn Alak, faisant trois tués et plusieurs blessés.
L’Orient-Le Jour, 22 Juin 2007

(my emphasis)

As-Safir has more details on the Murr and the bus bombing case.

Note that it doesn’t say that the two cases are connected.

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June 22nd, 2007, 11:55 am

 

3. Antoun said:

Why oh why Mr Landis do you bother wasting your time posting the rabble of Michael Young?

Michael Young, like most Lebanese journalists, falls far below the par of credible journalism. Michael Young, like most Lebanese journalists, is a propaganda mouth for a certain faction of the Lebanese conflict.

Those of us who are into Middle Eastern affairs can predict what Michael Young is about to say before he even begins to move his lips.

Do not insult your intelligence, and that of your readers, by drawing yourself into another tit-for-tat arm wrestle with a man void of any integral credibility.

Michael Young is a PR spokesman for the March 14 element, that has been clearly acknowledged by all in the circle.

His article offered no analysis of the situation, but only a list of proposals the US/EU/Israel and their Arab proxies should do to defeat Hamas, Hizballah, Syria and Iran.

My direct response to Mr. Young, with all due respect, time is on the side of the Syria-Iran axis. The American forces will eventually withdraw from the Iraqi conflict, which will only leave a massive void in the Middle East that the Iranians and Syrians are gearing to fill.

Once the US withdraws, their proxies in March 14 and Fatah will follow suit. The other puppets in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, will have nothing to hide behind, save Israel. You’d be amazed how low corrupt leaders will go to protect their wealth.

Hizballah need not fire a bullet, for all they need to do is wait, which is exactly what they’re doing. Patience is a virtue.

It is, on the other hand, March 14 anxiously pulling tricks out of the old card box to deter the inevitable.

The funding and arming of Fatah al-Islam, and the consequent battle, is only evident of that.

To speak of the March 14 as a majority is a mock of the meaning of the very word. The Lebanese political system, for starters, does not allow a majority to begin with. It is a decrepit system that allocates seats disproportionally to serve the interests of a few. It is not representative of Lebanon’s population demographics, a key fact the Western media constantly ignores.

It is a sectarian system designed to keep Lebanon divided, exactly how the French intended it.
Hizballah is going to create their own state? Lebanon is nothing but a series of federal cantons, it always has been. The Maronites live in their corner, the Druze in the other, and the Shiites at the end of the table. The only difference is that the Shiites are well armed, and looking after themselves as the Government continues to neglect them (as it has done since independence).

The Maronite Patriarch represents nothing more than the old, traditional, tribal, right-wing guard of the Maronite fascist movement. It commands interest only from that quarter, currently led by Samir Geagea and the withering Gemayel clan. This segment of the Maronite Christian community is in its vast minority, as most Maronites and Christians have realised their future depends not on old Lebanese sectarianism, but on equal nation-building which guarantees the rights for all. These are the principles in which the Free Patriotic Movement (led by Michel Aoun) have been founded upon.

Let us take a look at the outfit of March 14 to test their worth. It’s made up of two warlord crooks that would’ve been tried and jailed had the Lebanese Civil War taken place in Sierra Leonne or Bosnia, led by an inexperienced, corrupt Saudi billionaire who would’ve been imprisoned in any Western country for his corruption. Only in Lebanon do we revere our criminals.

As a Lebanese citizen (Christian mind you), I would entrust the leadership of my country to Hizballah any day over this bunch of Saudi/American bank-rolled mass murderers (who now have an array of villas at their disposal at the expense of millions of Lebanese struggling to put food on their plates).

Hizballah defended the country when no one else would. Hizballah supports its Shiite community. They grant them free health and education, whilst on the other hand, the Christian leaders are busy filling up their pockets with blood money.

Hizballah has demonstrated a willingness to share Lebanon and produce a national system that provides equality to all. It is the only Lebanese power that has never imposed its will upon the rest. All it requests is its slice of the cake, which is fair if you believe in true democracy. The March 14 gathering obviously do not.

None of this 19-10-1 nonsense. The government is unconstitutional, half of the ministers have resigned. How on earth can we continue to speak of a government and an opposition? There is no government!
Since when did the government ever look after the people in the first place, let alone now with half a cabinet?

Just go for a drive through Lebanon, you’re in a state of anarchy. Major roads without ashphalt; unzoned areas with concrete buildings piling on top of the other; litter in every corner; no security; no jobs; no social services; two electricity bills and you still have daily blackouts; one of the most expensive phone rates in the world, what kind of a country is this?

More than 20 bombings in Lebanon, and not a single suspect has been caught. Neither Hizballah nor Michel Aoun are in charge with the security of the state, Mr Young’s Welch Club is!

March 14 has served no one as it is only their to serve its selfish interest. It is a gathering of corrupt leaders who’s sole desire is to protect, and expand, their personal wealth.

The usual tactic employed by them to coy the people is that of fear (used by almost everyone these days, that’s how Bush sucked the Americans into going to Iraq). However, fewer Lebanese people are buying the lies and rubbish of the March 14, just as fewer Americans are buying the lies of the Bush Administration.

Syria and Iran have their interests in the region, no doubt, but at this stage they’re acting on the defensive. The United States is alien to the Middle East, not Iran or Syria. The US will leave, but Syria will still be next door.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and believe it or not, Lebanon feeds off Syria, not the US. Perhaps we should wait till the next time Syria decides to close its borders for us to realise how dependent we are on this relationship. Syria has committed grievances in Lebanon, I will never deny that, but they are out, and they will stay out so long as we get our act together.

There is a chronic illness in which Michael Young and the aspirational of the Middle East suffer from. That is this deluding belief that the United States and Europe are destined to give us the life they live. Yes, the West is free (although even civil liberties are now starting to be threatened by the Neocons), the West is rich, the West is luxurious. The West have a system that works and an economy that functions. They are the power of the world, who wouldn’t look up to them with awe?

However, if any of you deluding aspirationalists, like Michael Young, ever bothered to study history and the current geo-political/economic situation of the world, you will notice the rich in this world live off the poor. The richer the poor get, the poorer the rich get. This following comment is especially attributed to those arrogant Lebanese who believe they are the most civilised on the planet and share nothing with the Arab world (like Michael Young), WE ARE THE POOR. The West LIVE off us.

They are democratic and prosperous, but they don’t want that for us. If we have it, they suffer. They enjoy their power, they’re not about to give it away, to us the least of all. Wake up, please, and get out of this fantasy that the white Christian American Army is going to save us from ‘backward Arab Muslims’!

If you want to play it fair ball, Mr Young, bring on fair elections where every Lebanese citizen is represented, and I assure you, Jumblatt and Geagea will be nothing more than a nightmare memory. Then you will see the true majority. The majority that is sick of corruption and devastation.

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June 22nd, 2007, 11:57 am

 

4. t_desco said:

An impressive (yet incomplete) list:

FACTBOX-Violence by Lebanon’s Sunni Islamist militants

* June 22, 1993 – One man is killed and another wounded in the north when a bomb they are planting explodes. They were targeting Orthodox Christian clerics, apparently in revenge for Orthodox Serb attacks on Muslims in the Bosnia war then raging.

* Aug 31, 1995 – Militants assassinate leader of rival pro-Syrian Islamist group in Beirut. One suspect — Ahmad al-Saadi, or Abu Mohjen — escapes to Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh. He later forms Usbat al-Ansar, a group now on Washington’s list of terrorist organisations.

* June 8, 1999 – Gunmen kill four judges who had dealt with militancy-related cases in southern city of Sidon. They flee to Ain al-Hilweh where Usbat al-Ansar is said to protect them.

* Jan. 1, 2000 – Group led by Bassam Kanj, or Abu Aisha, clashes with army units in Dinniyeh in the north. Syrian forces help crush militants. Kanj is among about 30 killed. Others are jailed, but are freed in 2005 by parliamentary amnesty.

* Jan. 3, 2000 – Usbat al-Ansar member fires on Russian embassy in Beirut to protest at Moscow’s campaign in Chechnya.

* Sept. 11, 2001 – Ziad Jarrah, from eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, is one of 19 al Qaeda suicide hijackers, piloting United Airlines Flight 93 which crashes in Pennsylvania.

* 2001 – Security forces arrest militant cell led by Yemeni plotting to blow up McDonald’s fast food branch in protest at U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

* 2004 – Lebanese and Palestinian militants form Jund al-Sham group and deploy at entrance to Ain al-Hilweh. Some group members are later killed in Iraq fighting for al Qaeda.

* September 2004 – Tipped off by Italian intelligence, security forces arrest members of a network led by Dinniyeh survivor Ahmad al-Mikati that was planning to attack Italian embassy and other targets.
Investigations lead to another cell sending fighters and weapons to Iraq. Its leader, Ismail Khatib, dies later in detention, sparking riots in his village of Majd al-Anjar.

* Jan. 13, 2006 – Lebanese authorities charge 13 people — Saudis, Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians — with belonging to al Qaeda and smuggling men and weapons to Iraq.

* Feb. 5, 2006 – Protesters burn Danish consulate in Christian area of Beirut amid furore over publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad.

* March 2006 – Security forces arrest nine Sunnis who admit plotting to assassinate Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Shi’ite Hezbollah group.

* July 7, 2006 – U.S. authorities announce foiling plot to bomb New York rail tunnel, saying Lebanon holds one of three suspects. Lebanese authorities name him as Assem Hammoud.

* Aug. 24, 2006 – Jihad Hamad, 20, surrenders to Lebanese authorities who say he confesses to taking part in failed attempt to bomb trains in Germany and to al Qaeda membership. He is put on trial in 2007 with three other suspects. In June, 2007 Germany indicts another Lebanese suspect it holds.

* November, 2006 – Veteran Palestinian guerrilla Shaker al-Abssi splits from pro-Syrian Fatah Uprising. Starting with 200 fighters, he makes a base in Nahr al-Bared camp for a new group named Fatah al-Islam.
Abssi, sentenced to death along with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Jordan for 2002 killing of U.S. diplomat, says he admires Osama bin Laden but has no direct links to al Qaeda. Scores of Arab fighters, many of whom had fought in Iraq, join him. Western-backed government says group is a Syrian tool.

* Feb. 13 – Bombs explode on two buses in Christian village near Beirut, killing three civilians. Authorities arrest nine suspects and say they belong to Fatah al-Islam. Group denies it.

* May 20 – Police storm hideout of suspected bank robbers in northern city of Tripoli, sparking firefight. Suspects are Fatah al-Islam members, whose comrades swiftly attack Lebanese army posts around Nahr al-Bared, killing some 17 soldiers. …
Reuters

Have the 13 alleged al-Qa’ida cell members ever been charged?

More on the Murr interview:

“Concernant l’organisation Fateh el-Islam, Élias Murr s’est refusé de parler de ses liens et de sa genèse, laissant cette tâche à « la justice militaire et aux Moukhabarat de l’armée qui établiront un rapport détaillé sur la question ».

Revenant sur les desseins de Fateh el-Islam, M. Murr a indiqué que l’organisation projetait, grâce notamment à ses cellules à Tripoli, de prendre en otage tout le Liban-Nord et de le déclarer « principauté » terroriste.

Le ministre Murr a reconnu, par ailleurs, l’existence d’el-Qaëda et de groupes terroristes au Liban, n’écartant également pas la possibilité de nouveaux attentats, notamment contre des personnalités.
L’Orient-Le Jour, 22 Juin 2007

(my emphasis)

Did he suggest a link between al-Qa’ida/terrorist groups and attacks on politicians?

ANALYSIS-Sunni jihadis lose Lebanon battle but won’t vanish
By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

BEIRUT, June 22 (Reuters) – The Lebanese army has declared victory over Fatah al-Islam militants in a Palestinian refugee camp, but that alone will not wipe out al Qaeda-inspired jihadis who are exploiting Lebanon’s security gaps and sectarian splits.

Fatah al-Islam has Lebanese as well as Palestinians, Syrians and Saudis among its few hundred fighters, some of whom have seen combat against U.S. forces in Iraq, security sources say.

“It’s not just a product from abroad, whether the hypothesis is Iraq or Syria or al Qaeda,” said International Crisis Group analyst Patrick Haenni. “It is also rooted in Lebanon.”

Sunni militants have operated in Lebanon and beyond. One of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked plane attackers in the United States was Lebanese. Four Lebanese men are on trial in Beirut for trying to blow up trains in Germany, where a fifth suspect was indicted this week. Lebanese authorities say they have foiled several other alleged al Qaeda plots.

Lebanon’s political paralysis and sectarian alignments have fuelled a climate in which jihadi clusters can thrive and find recruits in Palestinian camps or the back streets of Tripoli.

Haenni contrasted Tripoli’s traditional purist Islamists, some of whose leaders have been softened by wealth and co-opted by mainstream Sunni politicians, with a harsher jihadi trend.

“The jihadi experience in Lebanon seems deeply linked with a kind of uprooted militancy,” he said, referring to al Qaeda-type networks operating across borders in a globalised struggle.

After Hezbollah’s war with Israel last year, al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged Muslims to rush to south Lebanon and “set up a jihad base on the borders of Palestine”.

“I’m sure these jihadi groups will rise. They may not act now, but they are going to be there,” Haenni said. “They are neither a small bunch of radicals nor a huge trend — but definitely enough to create a lot of disturbances.”
Reuters

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June 22nd, 2007, 12:36 pm

 

5. Observer said:

This is a very interesting article. It encapsulates the essence of the contradictions of Lebanon whereby some think of it as a modern or post modern nation state with mature political forces that are at work with true constituencies whereas the reality of the political scene shows that it is a medieval conconction of families and clans and sects all being manipulated by outside forces. The Sunnis in Lebanon are the biggest losers in this as they have no institutions, have put their faith in a light weight playboy of a leader, have opted to be used by outside forces that will not be steadfast with them when the situation heats up. Lahoud built the Lebanese Army and that may be in the eyes of some his only positive legacy and he made sure that it is not politicized. If Michael Young wants to use the Lebanese Army in this byzantine political mess, it will fragment and be destroyed. This would allow for further interference by outside forces and as the Sunnis continue to see their leaders routed they will fall as ripe fruit in the sphere of the fundamentalist Salafists. If he thinks the civil war was terrible then at that time it would look like child play to what will happen with hardened militants. If Nahr Albared is any indication of the nature of the fight, it does not bod well for the Army which took many casualties and required 5 weeks and the fight is not yet finished. Lebanon is paying the price of the Arab and US incompetence. The Saudis have no political plan, they are desperate to diffuse the Arab Israeli conflict as it has morphed into a rallying cry for all the injustice and incompetence of all the regimes. All are hated deeply but all are hated less than the US and Israel. Egypt drove itself over the last 10 years into total irrelevance on the Arab scene as it followed a complete subservient role to the US, and Jordan has no political weight whatsoever; the only role it plays is that of providing covert operations directed and financed by others. In both Syria and Iran, the leadership did not panick especially as the insurgency in Iraq mushroomed and they realized that the US is deep in the quicksands. Now they are moving for the kill. Iran will accomodate the intersts of the West including those of the US provided it dominates the region with soft not hard power. Mark my word, you will see all the states surrounding SA slowly and surely begin to be drawn into the orbit of Iran as it will show the rulers of the region that it is capable of protecting them from both the US and Israel. It will also slowly replace Saudi in its influence in Afghanistan and perhaps in Pakistan as well. Iran is the only country ( with Israel perhaps ) that have a long term strategy of what they want to do and where they want to go. As for Michael Young if he thinks that the Arabs are going to do anything let me remind him that the Arab leaders’ thinking does not go beyond what is for dinner tonight. I think it will be stuffed Zuchini before Lebanon gets any help from Saudi.

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June 22nd, 2007, 1:42 pm

 

6. Observer said:

This is from the atimes.com and it aptly analyses the situation in Gaza
Putting all the eggs in Fatah basket
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

With the dust of Hamas’ triumphant counter-coup in the Gaza Strip yet to settle, Israel and the United States have wasted little time on a counter-strategy, of supporting the rival Fatah organization in West Bank and trying to isolate Hamas economically and diplomatically. This they are doing by rallying the “moderate Arab” support for Fatah and, in Israel’s case, by preparing for a full invasion of Gaza.

Yet none of these amount to a prudent response, and the best option would appear to be to let Hamas try its chances at ruling

Gaza while various interlocutors in the Arab and Islamic world work on rebuilding the broken bridges between the two dominant Palestinian organizations.

Even the staunchly pro-Israel Washington Post has recognized the pitfalls of the Israel-US response, editorializing: “The most dangerous illusion to emerge from the US-Israeli discussions is the idea that Hamas can be isolated in Gaza while Mr [Palestinian President Mahmud] Abbas is built up in the West Bank.”

An influential Hamas politician, Ahmed Yousef, writing an op-ed column in the New York Times under the heading “What Hamas wants”, has reiterated Hamas’ willingness to play politics with Israel, stating:
From the day Hamas won the general elections in 2006, it offered Fatah the chance of joining forces and forming a unity government. It tried to engage the international community to explain its platform for peace. It has consistently offered a 10-year ceasefire with the Israelis to try to create an atmosphere of calm in which we resolve our differences. Hamas even adhered to a unilateral ceasefire for 18 months in an effort to normalize the situation on the ground. None of these points appear to have been recognized in the press coverage of the last few days.
Ahmed’s last comment quoted above is indisputable. Case in point: Martin Indyk, a well-known pro-Israel pundit, has written an article in the Los Angeles Times that tersely refers to “the two-state solution, Palestinian style”, omitting any criticism of Israel’s iron-fist occupation policy and placing all the blame on the Palestinians, mentioning Hamas’ attack on Abbas’ presidential palace yet, rather curiously, failing to mention what Yousef has pointed out in his New York Times piece, the fact that it was precipitated by Fatah’s attack on the home of democratically elected Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, which is precisely why the appellation “counter-coup” for describing the developments in Gaza is not altogether inappropriate.

The pertinent question now is whether or not Hamas will be given a chance to rule Gaza, with or without partnership with Fatah. Clearly Israel, which has commenced its air strikes and military incursions inside Gaza already, has no intention of allowing this to happen, hedging its bets on the collapse of Hamas rule one way or another, including the economic strangulation of the whole population, to bring them to their knees.

Left-leaning Israeli author Gideon Levy has aptly described the starvation already sweeping Gaza and the “thousands of wounded, disabled and shell-shocked people unable to receive any treatment … The shadows of human beings roam the ruins … They only know the [Israeli army] will return and they know what this will mean for them: more imprisonment in their homes for weeks, more death and destruction in monstrous proportions.”

With the United States’ Middle East peace policy in complete disarray, allowing Israel to continue with its unreconstructed oppressive policy will only exacerbate Washington’s negative image in the Middle East. It is equally necessary to recognize the importance of giving Hamas a chance to breathe, to bring stability to Gaza and to demonstrate its statecraft, instead of seeking to “nip it in the bud”, a virtual impossibility at this critical juncture.

Lest we forget, the outgoing United Nations envoy for the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, has rightly criticized the disastrous US-European policy toward the Palestinian elections in Gaza, which must now be revisited in light of the serious backlash in the form of Hamas’ victory.

“The Quartet took all pressure off Israel. With all the focus on the failings of Hamas, the Israeli settlement enterprise and barrier construction [have] continued unabated,” de Soto writes in his report, which has, sadly, fallen on deaf ears, as the European Union’s rush to condemn Hamas and support Fatah clearly demonstrates.

Europe must now balance its flawed approach and exert a moderating influence on Israel, by pressuring it to stop its manipulation of humanitarian assistance to the starving Gazan people for the sake of political gains, and to convince Washington that its refusal to engage Hamas in dialogue is counterproductive and dangerous.

Much as certain hawkish pro-Israel pundits such as Daniel Pipes insist that “the only solution is military”, there is, in fact, no military solution to the Palestinian problem, only a wise political solution that has been shunned by all Israeli leaders so far, respecting the rights of Palestinians.

On Hamas’ part, the rays of hope discerned in Yousef’s piece in the New York Times, for a reasonable Hamas approach to the issue of rapprochement with Israel, must be expanded by meaningful Hamas actions that prove it is more than a public relations attempt and that its cadres are adept at not only the art of warfare and martyrdom but also the ingredients of diplomacy and statecraft. That is Hamas’ critical test at this hour and, by the looks of it, Israel and its US supporters are hell-bent on preventing Hamas from passing this test.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of “Negotiating Iran’s Nuclear Populism”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote “Keeping Iran’s nuclear potential latent”, Harvard International Review, and is author of Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.

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June 22nd, 2007, 2:00 pm

 

7. norman said:

Gaza: A Joint Iran-Syria Production
By Dr. Walid Phares
FrontPageMagazine.com | June 22, 2007

The latest dramatic military and terror events in Gaza and Lebanon can be viewed from a regional geopolitical perspective: A Syro-Iranian axis offensive on its (their) primarily western front stretching along the Mediterranean coast.

In previous analyses I have argued that the Tehran-Damascus axis is involved in a regional campaign to seize as much physical terrain and score as many victories across the Middle East in order to consolidate their strategic posture before 2008; the year they believe Americans will limit – perhaps diminish — their moves because of the U.S. presidential campaign season.
.
Iran’s and Syria’s offensives have been well-coordinated on battlefields across the Levant since last January, with a clear escalation since early spring.
.
The following are the main fronts:

Eastern Front: There have been multiple reports and much evidence of arming and supplying neo-Taliban and other Jihadi forces in Afghanistan in order that they may engage U.S.-led NATO forces and provoke chaos across the country.
Central Front: The axis has intensified its actions against U.S. and coalition forces, as wells as Iraqi civilians in an attempt to create more sectarian tension, with the greater objective of disrupting “surge” operations in particular, and generally eroding U.S. and allied efforts in Iraq.
Western Front: The axis has unleashed two blitzkrieg-like offensives — one on the upper western front (Lebanon). The other within the lower western front (Gaza).

1. In Lebanon, the Tehran-Damascus axis has had as its goals to crumble the Seniora Government, cripple the Lebanese Army, and crush the Cedars Revolution. To accomplish these, two approaches have been taken:
.
a) Terrorism: The assassination of MP Walid Eido in Beirut, other bombing attacks including car-bombs targeting and killing civilians.

b) Fatah al Islam attacks against the Lebanese Army in Nahr al bared and Tripoli in the north.
.
In Lebanon, the axis is expected to launch more terror attacks. We are looking at all Syro-Iranian assets in Lebanon, monitoring which ones will be deployed to battle next, and when.
.
2. The axis has also been involved in Gaza where they surprised observers with their decision to throw Hamas fully against Fatah and the PA in the enclave. The plan to seize control of Gaza was projected a long time ago. But the timing was at the discretion of the Syro-Iranian war room, which funds and strategically controls Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
.
The heavy fighting in Gaza represents an important decision made by the regional masters: The acceleration of the axis offensive so that by the end of summer, four battlefields will be fully ignited against the U.S., its allies and regional democracies: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza (Palestinian territories). But just as important is the fact that an entire Taliban-like zone has been established on the eastern Mediterranean under Hamas control and with Syro-Iranian backing. Our expectations are that, short of a large-scale counter-operation aimed at dislodging the “coup” in the enclave, the area will become a massive terror base of operations.

In the final analysis, the axis’ offensive on their western front is peaking. The immediate goal of the axis is to protect the Syrian regime’s western (Lebanon) flank and southern (Israel) flank.

Thrusting in Lebanon and spreading chaos, also would potentially shield Bashar al Assad from the upcoming UN investigation into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (and others).

Seizing Gaza would, in their estimation, curtail U.S. efforts in Iraq, and pressure Israel away from Syria and Hezbollah. The Jihadi strategic mind is in its full offensive mode in the region.

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June 22nd, 2007, 2:16 pm

 

8. majedkhaldoun said:

yesterday, Elias Al-Murr announced that the fighting in Nah el Bared is over and the army achieved a great victory,we believed him, but it turned out the situation is different,this is just like Bush anouncement in may 2003,that mission accomplished,the truth is Murr is wrong,and it has been a humilliating battle to the army.
however in october ,the battle for president will begin,it is 3-4 months from now,if the new one is pro march 14,then they will have both the presidency,and prime minister job,a situation is too good to be true for them,we just have to wait and see.
Amr Mousa did not achieve success,the dialogue( secon level) is useless,not binding,it is waste of time

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June 22nd, 2007, 5:27 pm

 

9. ausamaa said:

Where is the Panadol?

The English speaking version of Ahmad Al Jarralah/Al Syasseh is coming out with a new “Syria: the Evil Empire” episode.

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June 22nd, 2007, 8:05 pm

 

10. Jamal said:

Thanks for posting the Michael Young piece. It was worth reading. It has a sense of being written by someone inside Lebanon who is trying to make sense of events and information – not those sitting outside fulminating because things are not going the way they would like.

George Ajjan and Antoun obviously have particular hopes and views, but does not justify them crudely insulting Young. He is a credible and very competent writer and it says everything about the state of the world that his equivalents are not publishing analysis and opinion pieces in Syria and Iran. Lebanon being how it is means not everyone will want to accept Young’s observations, but I feel his critics above are superimposing all kinds of sinister and sectarian things onto Young’s piece that are hard to link with what he has actually written.

I was inside Lebanon a couple of months ago and was impressed by the calm-down and clean-up efforts of Hizbullah after the ugly and extreme violence by Israel last year. Even though they have in a way smoothed away the surface evidence of Israel’s crimes.

But I know it does not represent a self-sustainable reality.

Antoun writes: “Hizballah defended the country when no one else would. Hizballah supports its Shiite community. They grant them free health and education”

Yes, at the expense of Iranian citizens, who are increasingly resentful and outspoken about their leaders spending money there while neglecting domestic services and infrastructure back home. Hizballah admirers, research it and see for yourself, plus the worsening mess the Iranians have made of their own economy.

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June 22nd, 2007, 8:09 pm

 

11. Qifa Nabki said:

Can I ask a very basic question?

What does it mean to “be in the orbit of X”? What does that feel like, for the leaders of a country and for its lowliest citizens? What does it actually signify, when you come down to brass tacks? If this is the political metaphor of choice (as it seems to be these days), then can someone explain it to me in reasonable terms?

Why should one prefer the Western orbit to the Syro-Iranian one, or vice-versa? If I had to go orbit-shopping, in other words, why pick one orbit over another?

I remember hearing one of Nasrallah’s speeches where he said, with his inimitable cadences: “Let us be clear. We do not want to be in any alliances. But if we were placed into a position where we *had* to choose between two alliances, namely one which extended from America to Europe to Israel, and another which extended from Ramallah to Damascus to Tehran, we would certainly choose the latter.”

Sayyed Hassan knows what he wants, as do many other Lebanese. Antoun has suggested that he wants something similar to Nasrallah, but I would like to understand his reasoning, in the most basic terms.

Antoun states: “Syria and Iran have their interests in the region, no doubt, but at this stage they’re acting on the defensive.” What then are Syria’s interests, vis-a-vis Lebanon? Is it permissible to look at the track record of the past decades? The Lebanese have Syria to thank for stabilizing the country at odd moments, but who will deny the fact that fomenting instability and chaos was also one of Syria’s grand strategies in Lebanon for the period of its lordship?

Antoun warns: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and believe it or not, Lebanon feeds off Syria, not the US. Perhaps we should wait till the next time Syria decides to close its borders for us to realise how dependent we are on this relationship.”

Is this the model of statesmanship that you would like to see bequeathed to Lebanon’s future generations? A craven, quaking, knock-kneed rapport with its larger neighbor? Come on, Antoun. This is not only a cowardly vision, but it’s also a haplessly dysfunctional one. How long can this kind of relationship go on without leading to war or prolonged misery for the citizens of both countries?

Antoun suggests that: “Syria has committed grievances in Lebanon, I will never deny that, but they are out, and they will stay out so long as we get our act together.” Again, I would propose that you direct some of your flashing cynicism that you’ve reserved for the West towards Syria. What does “getting our act together” mean, exactly? Why should an authoritarian regime relinquish its hold on a highly profitable client state if it is not forced to? Do the bombings and assassinations that have peppered the past two years not at least raise an eyebrow? Of course, they were all committed by Israel or March 14 with CIA help, but that’s beside the point: just consider that some of them *might*, just *might* have been authorized by a regime that is well-versed in such methods… *then* would this give you pause?

Given that “the West is free … the West have a system that works and an economy that functions,” why elude its orbit? I’m well aware of the arguments against doing so, but do they truly outweigh the arguments for joining the orbit of Syria and Iran? I’m sorry, but your zero-sum-game economic model isn’t particularly satisfactory to me.

I agree with Nasrallah: I don’t want to be in any alliances. I will echo the refrain of all political actors across the entire spectrum in Lebanon: sovereignty, independence, etc. But if I was compelled to step into an orbit, what should inform my decision making?

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June 22nd, 2007, 9:54 pm

 

12. ausamaa said:

The SMALL problem with people like Michael Young is that they cry and moan and act as if they have one major uncurable problem called SYRIA.

The BIG problem with Michael Young is that he does not realise that he and his likes actually have 20,000,000 million problems, and counting. They are called SYRIAN ARABS and they dont seem to be planning on going anywhere else soon.

Ba’athist or not, Bashar or not, Bush or not, those 20,000,000 Syrian Arabs will always look at midgets like himself as small people, belonging to a small obscure little place called Mount Lebanon, which is expected to act and and to behave itself in the same way as Bahrain behaves towards Saudi Arabia, or as Panama and Urugway behave towards the United States.

Now, this is called geopolitics. And this term was coined niether by the Syrian People, nor by Basar Al Assad, nor by the Baath Party.

So, for his likes, it is actually a never ending nightmare..
One of their own making, actually.

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June 22nd, 2007, 10:59 pm

 

13. mick said:

If you contort reality to make it appear that ‘Israel’ is conniving to control every government, it is rightly called anti-Semitism. When Michaal Young contorts reality, makes every actor one-dimensional to fit his latest conspiracy theory, it is called ‘brilliant analysis’ and the Daily Star and the supposed Libertarian rags in the States pay him handsomely.

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June 23rd, 2007, 12:11 am

 

14. Jamal said:

Ausamaa, you’re worse than George Ajjan and Antoun. What has what you’ve written got to do with Michael Young?

A great many if those 20,000,000 Syrians are anxious and unhappy about the ongoing troubles in Lebanon. The adventurism of their leaders, not the Syrian people, has played into the nightmare.

And Mick, too, another hater who has to denigrate the messenger not the message.

One would be led to believe from these comments that the fact he is actually there living and breathing events in Lebanon makes Michael Young’s views less worthy than those of his armchair insulters.

What’s really going on here? What real dogs could you guys possibly have in this fight unless you’ve chosen to invest your futures there?

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June 23rd, 2007, 12:13 am

 

15. Atassi said:

Alex please release my posting to Landis form today ..It’s not a SPAM
Thanks

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June 23rd, 2007, 12:33 am

 

16. Akbar Palace said:

Ausamaa said:

They are called SYRIAN ARABS and they dont seem to be planning on going anywhere else soon.

Ausamaa,

Why are you telling us that “Syrian Arabs…don’t seem to be planning on going anywhere else soon”? Was someone asking them or threatening them to get out of Syria?

Gee, I thought only Zionists were paranoid;)

…the Daily Star and the supposed Libertarian rags in the States pay him handsomely.

Mick,

Who pays Hezbollah?

majedkhaldoun said:

…just like Bush anouncement in may 2003,that mission accomplished,the truth is Murr is wrong,and it has been a humilliating battle to the army.

I see “humilitation” is a favorite pastime of yours.

Do you feel the same way when after IDF answers the missiles the Holy Palestinians fire against Sderot?

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June 23rd, 2007, 1:20 am

 

17. majedkhaldoun said:

A P
No

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June 23rd, 2007, 1:36 am

 
 

19. guess who said:

Akbar Palace,

How old are you?

You did not comment on Antoun’s noble and honest comment ?
Will you ?

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June 23rd, 2007, 3:53 am

 

20. t_desco said:

Corrections

– What Murr actually said in the interview:

“Is there al-Qaida in Lebanon? Yes. Are there terrorist organizations? Yes. More explosions? Possible. Assassinations? Possible.”
AP

I don’t think one should read too much into this.

– 15 kilograms of explosives, not 60 (as claimed by the SPIEGEL); no word on composition:

Investigators identify vehicle used in Eido slaying
The Daily Star

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June 23rd, 2007, 7:53 am

 

21. Alex said:

Atassi, I’m sorry but .. I did not find your comment within the 2000 spam comments.

The only one I found was by “Guess Who” above. I released it.

So my great discovery yesterday is not that great after all.

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:14 am

 

22. Mustapha said:

Michael Young is a moronic mouthpiece for the ooze of a few ill-educated bandits. Please don’t publish his erratic ramblings and pseudo-journalistic quotes again, its quite tiresome and laughable at this stage. Actually even though this Michael Young lives and breathes in Lebanon, doesn’t mean he isn’t an armchair Journalist……thats what most Journalists who ‘Live and Breathe in Lebanon’ do, don’t they???
Thanks.

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:19 am

 

23. M said:

There’s enough evidence gathered over the past 3 years to directly point the finger at Syria’s direct or indirect involvement in the assasinations/bombings/terrorist attacks that were obvious attempts to destablize the country.

The mere fact that Hezzbollah and Aoun continue to deny that and remain loyal to Syria, trying to cover up for thier criminal actions is truly disgusting and their accusations that the March 14 forces are American puppets is just an excuse to bring down the government.

If the opposition truly wanted to serve Lebanon’s best interest, the resigned ministers would go back and help the country stand on it’s feet again, rather than stay out of the government and sit and complain and b**ch about why the government is doing anything. Truly disgusting.

In the past month, Syria played two new cards; the Fatah Al-Islam terrorists, and the lauching of the rockets against Israel in the south. They replayed the assasination of a March 14 member. Perhaps the only card they have left is to invade Lebanon, which would be really stupid of them.

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:33 am

 

24. ausamaa said:

Akbar Palace

Ok, I will simplify it for you, thought you know it by heart:

What I meant in my remark about the 20,000,000 million Syrian Arabs who are not planning to go anywhere else soon, is that Lebanese egotistical misfits like Michael Young should consider awaken themselves to the fact that they better come to accept the fact that Syria is Lebanon’s neighbour forever, and that his likes better reconcil themselves to the “smart” idea that making ammends with Syrians will provide a better basis for a mutualy benificial existance for both people on better terms than what is going on today.

The same thing can be said about your beloved little peace-loving Zionist entity which happens to think that it can force its bloody existance/occupation?domination over the 300,000,000 Arabs (three hundred millions and also still counting) who also do not seem planning to immigrate anywhere else anytime soon.

So, both of you, and your -somewhat similar- respective schools of thought seem to be a little bit -if not a whole lot- at odds with the geoploitical realities of the Arab World. The Arab Wprld! Incidently, that is the name of the area where your beloved Israeli Worriers and Young’s dream-merchants live in.

Heck, with such odds stacked against your respective schools of thought ( being an ever-dominant Israel in your case, and a westernized an ethinically clean Mount Lebanon enclave Unattached to its Arab roots in Young’s case), beating the house odds at any Vegas Casino might seem a child’s play compared to what you both face. You know what they say; in the end, the House Winns.

Got it now?

Cheers…

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:46 am

 

25. ausamaa said:

AP,

And I said SYRIAN ARABS for the sake of rubbing it in for the likes of Young. THey may “digest” Syrians, but when you add the word Arabs, they get the jitters. They just see Arabs as the real danger. They are so keen on severing “thier” Lebanon from anything bearing any close resemblance to the Arab World they exist in. Only exception of course is their warming off and welcoming to Arab Money and Arab Investment when it is destained for certain Lebanese of Lebanon. Such things loosen thier toungs in praise of the “hated” Arabisem.

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:59 am

 

26. ausamaa said:

JAMAL says:

” What real dogs could you guys possibly have in this fight unless you’ve chosen to invest your futures there?”

Oh, I ,among many many others, see my future “there”!!! And I have a lot of dogs in this “fight”. I know a lot of those “dogs” too.

And thanks for your concern!

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June 23rd, 2007, 9:18 am

 

27. why-discuss said:

Michael Young is such an expert in the area and has such influences on the events and the people making them that he feels obliged to advise them on what to do. Would they listen to him??

The Lebanese army
“Several measures can dent Iran’s and Syria’s plans. The first is for the Lebanese Army to make a statement that it opposes the setting up of a parallel government”

The patriarch
“Second, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir should take a much firmer position against Christian participation in a parallel government”

The Saudis and the egyptians
“Third, the Saudis and the Egyptians have to display more nerve. Iran and Syria humiliated them both by demolishing the Mecca agreement in Gaza.”

The UN
“And fourth, the UN must draw the consequences of its own reports that Syria is sending weapons across the Lebanese border – a direct violation of Resolution 1701.”

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June 23rd, 2007, 11:28 am

 

28. Atassi said:

Dr Landis,
What kind of reaction or impact this verdict will have on the average Syrian loggers ? was it an intentional warning shot intended as reminder to the young Syrian bloggers “” the BIG brother is watching you”?
====================================
US slams Syria for jailing young democrats
22 June 2007
Agence France Presse

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2007 (AFP) –
The United States on Friday criticized the Syrian government for what it called harsh sentencing of seven young democrats and sought their immediate and unconditional release.
The seven defendants, in their 20s, were sentenced to between five and seven years in jail for “exposing Syria to acts of aggression,” according to the Syrian National Human Rights Organisation.
“The United States condemns the harsh sentencing of seven young civil society activists, several of them university students … by the Syrian government,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
They were sentenced to prison simply for forming a discussion group and posting their writings on a website, he said.
“The unjust sentences reflect the Syrian regime’s contempt for fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression and association. They also reflect a legal system devoid of legitimate standards,” he said.
The group was arrested early last year after trying to found a youth association for democracy and pacifism.
The charges were brought under state of emergency laws in place in Syria for more than four decades.
McCormack alleged that the young “prisoners of conscience” were held incommunicado for months and denied access to their lawyers and families.
The United States called on the Syrian government to “immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and to observe its obligations under international human rights law,” he said.
The United States also remained committed to supporting Syrian citizens in their efforts to build a “less corrupt, more prosperous, and more democratic country,” he said.
The United States also accuses Syria of aiding anti-US insurgents in Iraq, trying to topple the pro-Western government in Lebanon and backing rejectionist Palestinian groups.

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June 23rd, 2007, 1:50 pm

 

29. Atassi said:

Alex,
My apology to you, it was my mistake, I never post the comment, I left it in my draft folder…Your SPAM filter is working fine, I am glad this SPAM filter is not written by a Baath party member 🙂

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June 23rd, 2007, 1:57 pm

 

30. Abhinav Aima said:

Young writes:

“Many have overlooked that the Nahr al-Bared fighting might have been a stage in a process to render the army less effectual in South Lebanon. Several units have been pulled out of the South in the past six months – first to prevent sectarian clashes in Beirut after the opposition built its tent city in the Downtown area last December; then to engage in fighting in the North. This has given Hizbullah much more room to maneuver in the border area, while also opening space up for groups operated from Syria.”

This is an interesting manner in which to draw analysis – to point out the tertiary benefit of one incident and imply that it means the unrelated beneficiary must have been involved in the said incident. By this logic, as Syria had to withdraw from Lebanon after Hariri’s assassination, would it be reasonable to imply that the tertiary beneficiaries (Israel, France, U.S.) were, therefore, involved in the assassination?

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June 23rd, 2007, 6:14 pm

 

31. Akbar Palace said:

Ausamaa replies to my question about where they Syrians are going:

What I meant in my remark about the 20,000,000 million Syrian Arabs who are not planning to go anywhere else soon, is that Lebanese egotistical misfits like Michael Young should consider awaken themselves to the fact that they better come to accept the fact that Syria is Lebanon’s neighbour forever, and that his likes better reconcil themselves to the “smart” idea that making ammends with Syrians will provide a better basis for a mutualy benificial existance for both people on better terms than what is going on today.

Dear Ausamaa,

OK, the Lebanese need to take Syria into account. Syria has concerns, and the Lebanese cannot ignore them.

But what does that have to do with your statement, “They are called SYRIAN ARABS and they dont seem to be planning on going anywhere else soon”.?

The Lebanese are not threatening Syria nor are they a threat to Syria! And, frankly, the Israelis (which so many here can only refer to as “The Zionist Eneny”), have never had any desire to “wipe Syria from the map”.

Conversely, it is the Syrian government that has difficulty with both Lebanese and Israeli sovereignty.

The same thing can be said about your beloved little peace-loving Zionist entity which happens to think that it can force its bloody existance/occupation?domination over the 300,000,000 Arabs (three hundred millions and also still counting) who also do not seem planning to immigrate anywhere else anytime soon.

Israel is a “peace-loving” country (I’m really tired of the “entity” reference). Israel is not “dominating” over 300 Million Arabs; this only shows the extent of your Arab-media reprogramming. Israel is not dominating anyone except to stay alive. Israel welcomes Arab business, contacts and exchange programs. The only hindrance are Arabs like yourself who can’t call Israel by her real name.

Got it now?

It is always a learning experience.

Anyway, I may be sorry I did this, but if anyone here would like to chat with me outside this website, feel free to contact me at palace.akbar@gmail.com. Tell Bashar he is welcome as well.

It is my hope that we can try to understand each other better, and break the barriers that still, unfortunately exist.

AP

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:31 pm

 

32. Honest Patriot said:

To all the negative critics of Akbar Palace:

Stop blaming Arab fanaticism, incompetence,inability to accept responsibility, fratricide, and hollow jealousy of anyone else in the region who succeeds on AP, Israel, the world, the (true) Lebanese, those who work hard and succeed eventually after many generations sacrifice in their family.

What you think of as the Great Satan (the U.S.) and the Europeans are not telling Prime Minister Siniora what to do. He is a true patriot with an admirable patience in dealing with the backwards puppets following the orders of Syria and Iran. Nasrallah is a very intelligent and erudite man. The Shiites in Lebanon have very valid grievances that should be addressed. Aoun is correct in wanting accountability for money wasted. However, none of that justifies the blind enslavement they are accepting at the hands of the incompetent, jealous, selfish, and extremist Syrians and Iranians.

Get Real ! Use your intellect to think outside the box and see the reality of the situations.

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June 23rd, 2007, 8:46 pm

 

33. K said:

Ausamaa represents Syrian fanaticism at its nastiest. Those Lebanese who harbor anti-Syrian sentiment have in mind a stereotype embodied by Ausamaa – stupid, crude, mean, and arrogant but only out of bitterness , jealousy and low self-esteem. If Ausamaa’s views are truly representative of the Syrian mentality, forget better relations between our 2 countries. Better to build a giant wall, shoot infiltrators on sight, and police it with international forces, while turning elsewhere for our labor force.

Thankfully, I do not believe Ausamaa represents all Syrians, and there are plenty of intelligent, ethical, reasonable and compassionate Syrians including some who comment on this blog. I urge my Lebanese compatriots not to judge Syria as a whole on the basis of polluted minds like that of Ausamaa. Of course, this is a difficult proposition while Lebanon suffers from relentless Syrian aggression that targets our independence, our distinct way of life, our lovely capital city in all its diversity and beauty, our tattered economy, our democratic institutions, and some of the brightest minds of our free press.

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June 23rd, 2007, 9:30 pm

 

34. Jamal said:

Ausamaa, George Ajjan, Antoun. Mick

……and now Mustapha slings some crude mud at Michael Young, while a couple of others resort to sarcasm.

It’s weird. All irrationally attacking the man and not the message.

Instead, I’d be sincerely interested in having each of you tell us:

What would you IDEALLY LIKE TO SEE happening in Lebanon?

What do you think IS REALISTICALLY LIKELY to happen in Lebanon?

Then we put all this next to what Young has written and see if it constitutes an equal contribution. That’s a fair fight, not this kneejerk sectarian mudslinging.

Note, I didn’t ask you what is actually happening in Lebanon right now. I suspect it would not read that differently from what Young has written.

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June 23rd, 2007, 10:11 pm

 
 

36. ausamaa said:

K, do you really beleive in all that BS?

You are making “your” Lebanon sound like the Gardens of Eden with White Angels as the occuopants?

AP, who is claiming temporary title to the Land of Milk Honey may not agree with your above description of Lebanon out oif jealouy. You both seem to belong to the most suffering, tollerent, acheiving, compassionate, creative and bright peoples God ever created.

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June 23rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

 

37. majedkhaldoun said:

“The Lebanese are not threatening Syria nor are they a threat to Syria”
Isreal has many spies trained in Haifa and sent to Lebanon and Syria,through USA,they are major threat to Syria.
” refer to as “The Zionist Eneny”), have never had any desire to “wipe Syria from the map”.
not true, they say it publicly they want Isreal from Euphrate river,to the Nile river.

Conversely, it is the Syrian government that has difficulty with both Lebanese and Israeli sovereignty.\
not true,it is the syrian people and the lebanese people who hate to stop at a border, they are related,they are friends,they are one people,the division is created by England,and France.if you do not believe this,ask for referendum.

I’m really tired of the “entity” reference
hopefuly,one day even entity is gone, so you will not be tired anymore.

Got it now?

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June 23rd, 2007, 10:51 pm

 

38. Abhinav Aima said:

While Young seeks to tie in the Syria-Iran-Hamas-Hizbollah angle, it is also possible to examine the situation from the other side and demonstrably argue that it is the Israel-US-Saudi alliance that is creating instability and causing the reactionary growth of militant groups such as Hamas (1987) and Hizbollah (1982)…

After Hamas took control of Gaza last week, I noted on my blog that there are many commentators in the U.S. who routinely conflate Al Qaeda and Hamas – they are wrong, but they do so because of a number of reasons, two of which are either an automatic hatred of all Islamic movements, or out of a desire to equate Israel’s national security with the U.S., or as is also common, both.

But Hamas is not Al Qaeda. In fact, the only reported setup of Al Qaeda in Palestine turned out to be a false flag operation allegedly launched by the Israelis… There has never been any proof that Hamas has actively sought to target, attack and kill Americans… The politico-military aspirations of Hamas are strictly regional, even though their rhetoric is often universal… But then, isn’t the rhetoric of most radical religious groups universal? Oh yes, I forgot, we aren’t radical, we are just right…

It should also be noted that the only incident in Palestine, in the Gaza Strip, in which an American convoy was attacked by a car bomb and resulted in three fatalities (in October 2003) was NOT a Hamas operation… The investigation of that attack resulted in the arrest of seven members of militias loyal to Fatah… Of course, the Bush administration has since given millions of dollars to these same pro-Fatah militias…

The crux of my arguments all through this period has been that these crippling economic sanctions and the bloody armed campaign waged by the U.S. and Israel against Hamas and the Palestinian people would lead to a weakening of the Hamas’s political wing and a strengthening of the Hamas military wing (known as the Izzadine al-Qassam Brigades).

And that is pretty much what we have seen happen over the last year – the authority of Hamas political leadership, under the command of Ismail Hanniya, has weakened, while the authority of the Hamas military wing, reportedly led by Khaled Mashal out of the Damascus office, has taken lead in dictating Hamas activities…

And yes, Hamas has an office in Damascus, but this doesn’t mean that they are a Syrian group… Hamas does, within limits, see Syria and Iran as its natural allies in the region… And in that relationship, Hamas offers that peculiar triangulation of interests – a Sunni Muslim group focused on Palestine is allied with a secular Ba’thist/Alawi Syrian regime and a Shiite fundamentalist Iranian regime…

Readers should also note that this isn’t a matter of deterioration of Palestinian polity that I am simply and singularly blaming on the Bush administration… This crumbling of Palestinian Authority is, in part, due to the reckless nature of U.S. meddling in the political apparatus for the PA, which was essentially designed by the CIA at the behest of the American authorities…

In fact, CIA Director George Tenet spent many weeks in Palestine over the course of his tenure in the Clinton and Bush administrations, offering all kinds of political, intelligence, military and economic assistance to the leaders of the PA… When the authority was first established and Arafat was a reliable ally against other radicals, the CIA helped design a political apparatus that concentrated power in the hands of the president (Arafat)…

When Arafat fell out of favor with the U.S., the CIA, with the full backing of the U.S. government, again interfered and pressured Palestiniain legislators to redraw the political infrastructure, this time weakening the president (Arafat) and giving more power to the Fatah legislators more favorable to the U.S. interests…

And then in 2006, the widespread corruption of the legislators, mostly from Fatah, led to a sweeping victory for Hamas, so once again the U.S. is trying to restructure Palestinian Authority in order to make the president more powerful.

All this may make perfect sense to those who prefer a Machiavellian foreign policy of constant corruption, deceit and bloodshed – but it is very much this approach to Middle East politics that has disheartened the local population has turned them toward cynical radicalism.

The links to related news reports and articles are on my blog post.

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June 24th, 2007, 12:29 am

 

39. Akbar Palace said:

majedkhaldoun said:

not true, they say it publicly they want Isreal from Euphrate river,to the Nile river.

Majedkhaldoun,

I’ll make it easy for you. Since “they say it publicly”, please just reference ONE quote showing who said this and when.

… hopefuly,one day even entity is gone, so you will not be tired anymore.

Majedkhaldoun,

Please do your best to ensure the “entity is gone”. I know this is an important cause for terror thugs such as yourself and the many terrorists like you that roam the world.

What I find interesting, however, is that intolerant thugs such as yourself only wind up killing many more of your own people instead of the people you dream daily of destroying. Hate has a way of destroying much more than your enemy. Just ask Hitler.

“Tolerance” in the Middle East

http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,,2109574,00.html

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=46e_1177179030

http://switch3.castup.net/cunet/gm.asp?ai=214&ar=1483wmv&ak=null

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June 24th, 2007, 3:01 am

 

40. majedkhaldoun said:

” terror thugs such as yourself and the many terrorists like you ”

terror thugs are people like you,who killed inocent palastineans,and children in Qana,not to mention what sharon did in Sabra and shatilla,or did you forget dair yasin,and so many other horrible crimes commited by Isreal.

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June 24th, 2007, 3:28 am

 

41. Akbar Palace said:

Majedkhaldoun,

No Israeli killed the 700-800 innocent people in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps.

BTW – You didn’t provide the “public” quote you stated yesterday. Did you make that up or was it derived in the Arab media?

Here’s another example of Arabs murdering Arabs. What website did you post to Majedkhaldoun to show your displeasure?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3738368.stm

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June 24th, 2007, 1:58 pm

 

42. ausamaa said:

Akbar Palce,

Are you a Female by any chance?

Because you are so smooth and soft spoken and stubborn, and you act in a way very similar to a lady I know. She hears only what she wants to hear, she answers only what she wants to answer, she turns facts upside down as it suits her, she takes a lot of people for fools, she never tires of pointless arguments, others are always wrong and she is right, she refuse to admit to any shortcoming or faults or mistakes committed by her, she loves fishing in muddy waters and she always acts as if she is still owed something by somebody. All of which is similar to your approach when taking about Israel.

Of course, there is a difference between Her and your “faultless entity”; she has a heart, she has mercy, she belongs to this area and she is not decaying because of many fatal deseases she does not even want to acknowledge.

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June 24th, 2007, 4:55 pm

 

43. ugarit said:

Very sad

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article2701324.ece

‘50,000 Iraqi refugees’ forced into prostitution
Women and girls, many alarmingly young, who fled the chaos at home are being further betrayed after reaching ‘safety’ in Syria

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June 24th, 2007, 6:06 pm

 

44. THOMAS said:

Dear Antoun:

Oh what kind of a Christian are you? Are you simply an “ethnic” Christian or one who has experienced a real relationship with his God. Does your belief in God inform your thinking about political issues?

I sense a spirit of hate in your writing. The need to gain revenge. The need for power! A sense of insecure bravado. How do you deal with the concept of fairness? The concept of forgiveness? Do these concepts exist for you?

Please advise,

Thomas

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June 27th, 2007, 3:34 am

 

45. Antoun said:

I really don’t have the time to write another lengthy piece, particularly as it will only be me regurgitating a lot of comments from my former post.

Qifa Nabki,

You’ll find many answers to your questions in my former post. I invite you to re-read it again, this time not so selectively.

On some points I shall clarify. When I said that we as Lebanese people need to get our act together, it centred on the frequent habit of Lebanese to blame our problems on others. We have to deal with our reality … we are a dysfunctional state and a dysfunctional society. I do not think Syria or Palestine are very different, only most Arab countries have dictators to suppress dissent from within a fragmented society. Our divisions, our sectarianism, our fears, our mistrust, they’re all Lebanese problems. Our problems invite further trouble upon us, hence the constant wars.

As for the Syrian-Lebanese relationship, I highlighted in my post the simple fact that Lebanon’s connection to Syria is a natural one. Michel Aoun, who vigorously fought the Syrian occupation for 15 years, acknowledges that we need good relations with Syria in order to survive. We have to stop thinking we’re bigger than what we really are. We are a tiny country with exceptionally limited natural resources, with 80% of our borders shared with Syria. On top of that, add in the thousands of years of shared history and culture. Heck, there are so many Lebanese-Syrian mixed families you could make a country out of them alone! Lebanese north of Tripoli visit Syria more often than they do Beirut. They cross the border frequently just to do their groceries. I don’t mean to sound petty, but I am merely seeking to demonstrate that the relationship between Lebanon and Syria is so deep that it transcends any political climate.

It is unfortunate for us that we have a horrible regime at our doorstep, but it would be even more unfortunate for us if Syria turned into today’s Iraq or had a Saudi-like Wahhabi leadership.

Our links to Syria are natural, but we as Lebanese can determine on what level we want such a relationship.

Jamal,

Don’t criticise me for criticising another. Michael Young writes from one perspective, the US-Israeli-Saudi perspective. This is not balanced reporting, and definitely not balanced analysing. I shall continue to criticise him until he learns the meaning of objectivity.

Kneejerk, sectarian mudslinging? How on earth did you come to such a conclusion from my post?

If you would like to discuss what I want for Lebanon, that’s another matter. I was not writing a post on what I want for Lebanon, I was responding to Michael Young and March 14 propaganda. However, I’d be delighted to engage in a dialogue with you discussing our ideas for a better country.

Thomas,

Your comment isn’t even worth responding to.

The days when a Lebanese Christian was expected to follow the Phalangist, right-wing, fascist line of thinking are over.

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June 27th, 2007, 2:19 pm

 

46. K said:

Antoun is a standard Aounist.

I have mixed feelings about Aounists. Their heart is in the right place, they care about Lebanon, and they tend to be secular and relatively progressive. But they are fanatical followers of their General, who is a madman. After his bizarre sell-out, role reversal, and alliance with Syria’s terrorist proxies in Lebanon, Aounists have been scrambling to understand and defend his behavior. Pushed into this corner, their secular-progressivism weakens and they tend to fall back on their civil-war era hatred of non-Aounist Christians, and on anti-Sunni sectarianism.

Aounists position themselves as a secular and moderate alternative to “rightwing” Christians; a false dichotomy. Not all non-Aounists are sectarian, and believe me, the Aounist rank-and-file is as sectarian as anyone else in Lebanon. For example, a civil war-era debate between Aounists and Ja’ja’ supporters centered around who was the rightful successor of Bashir Jmayyel: Aoun or Ja’ja’? More recently, well-meaning Aounists have told me in hushed tones that in the battle between the equally reprehensible Sunnis and Shi’as, “we” (Christians) must side with the ascendant party – the Shi’a. Others have told me that, while all Muslims are “dangerous”, Sunnis are more dangerous than Shi’a… etc. Antoun, you may not share these beliefs, but I think you have heard these arguments in Aounist circles. You don’t have to admit it here.

Having criticized Aounists let me cut them some slack. Their hatred of non-Aounist Christians, while presently irrational, is founded in their disgust at the civil war atrocities committed by Christian militias. I share this disgust. And their suspicion of the Saudi role in Lebanon is also well-founded and important. The difference is, I would prioritize it below freeing Lebanon of Syrian tyranny.

So how can a secular progressive like myself support the M14 movement which contains elements with criminal backgrounds (the warlords) or dubious foreign alliances (Hariri and KSA)? Firstly, I understand it is a grassroots movement for Lebanese freedom, and I never personalize it in the figures of the zu’ama. In terms of political leadership, none of which is very impressive in Lebanon, my personal preference was always for the 2nd-level MPs, the type who are being killed off by Syria. Secondly, the only context in which I can ever side with figures like Hariri, Ja’ja’ and Jumblatt is in the context of a multisectarian alliance, and a movement for Lebanese freedom. I wish Aoun would join, or should I say, re-join this broad alliance. And I did dream, 2 very long years ago, that Hizballa too would come onboard… but with Aoun’s help, they have made their choice to side with Iran and Syria against Lebanon 🙁

The biggest problem with Aounists is Aoun himself! His brief reign was disastrous for Lebanon, and especially Lebanon’s Christian community. (Having taken power in dubious constitutional circumstances, with a limited mandate to organize Presidential elections, Aoun took it upon himself to launch 2 catastrophic wars: one fratricidal war against fellow Christians, and one suicidal war against Syrian Occupation. These 2 wars brought more destruction to East Beirut than the whole rest of the civil war(s) combined.)

The golden era for Aounists, in my opinion, is the era of Aoun’s exile. Now that Aoun is back on the scene, he has reverted to short-sighted power-grubbing, to the great detriment of Lebanon.
But in Paris, the General was forced to become a human rights activist, an international advocate for Lebanese liberation, and a lobbyist of world powers against Syrian Occupation. More importantly, on the ground, his followers were on the front lines of the grassroots movement for Lebanese independence during these dark years, enduring horrible repression at great cost. (Alex naively believes that Syria stood at “equal distance from all parties” during this period of brutal repression.) And Aounists were a driving force behind the March 14 Movement, which freed Lebanon.

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June 27th, 2007, 2:58 pm

 

47. Antoun said:

K,

No I’m not an Aounist, so I can’t really vouch for him.

I concur on his role in the Lebanese civil war, and I am equally displeased at the cult following he’s receiving among his own ranks.

However, I find your stance is not so much positioned on what is required for benefiting Lebanon, but on whom you’re opposed to. You have cemented yourself firmly against the Syrian regime, thus you will ally yourself with any anti-Syrian element within Lebanon regardless of their profile (eg mass murdering criminals that ought to be in a trial at The Hague).

On the other side of the coin, you will find many Lebanese who position themselves on the political scene based upon hating Israel and the US, and again, not on what benefits Lebanon.

Neither vicious anti-Israeli elements, nor vociferous anti-Syrian factions are benefiting Lebanon.

Our existence cannot be based on conflict, otherwise there’s no purpose for our existence.

Lebanon needs balanced, but strong relations with Syria. There is no way we can bypass that. To rectify the status quo, I would push for internal Syrian reform, as opposed to the imposed neocon New Middle East agenda, which does not serve our interests. As Syria opens up and develops (which can only occur internally), we will see benefits for Lebanon. A prosperous Syria equals a prosperous Lebanon. The two are attached by an umbilical cord, any attempt to fight it is futile. It is in our interest to see Syria develop, for it aids in our own development.

I agree with you that having an erratic, Jumblatt-like leadership in Syria does not serve our interests. The Baath Party’s only desire is to preserve its power, not including Syria’s national interests. The Baath are like any traditional Lebanese faction … tribal, self-centred, and brutal.

But outright war with Syria isn’t in our interests either. They have left our land, but they will always have an influence in the country. This is irrevocable, that is the nature of our intertwined relationship. What we need is to have a positive influence emanating from Syria, rather than a negative one.

As for the FPM, they have their faults and they are tangled between well-meaning Lebanese nationalists, modernists and secularists, and the traditional right-wing Maronite mentality from which Michel Aoun offshooted.

However, they have thus far been rational in their decisions. They have a multi-sectarian alliance with the sect that was neglected from Lebanon’s political and economic life. If the FPM didn’t sign a MoU with Hizballah, the feeble branch that held the Shi’ite branch to the Lebanon tree would’ve snapped. The FPM has ensured the Shi’ite community remains integral to the Lebanese state by offering them an “entrance door” as opposed to the “exit door” that March 14 proposed.

At present, it’s the US and Israeli interests which present Lebanon’s immediate threat. Syria will not bother Lebanon so long as it doesn’t feel threatened by it. All we need to guarantee Syria is their security, and loyalty to our relationship, and they will more or less stop bothering us. The Americans want to totally reshape the Middle East, and the majority of Joshua Landis’ articles in the past few years hold testimony to that. The US doesn’t want true democracy for the Middle East, it doesn’t want us to prosper. It is attempting to exploit our problems in serving its own national interest … expanding its hold on global energy resources and protecting Israel.

Hizballah and the FPM have joined to prevent Lebanon from falling under the spell of another foreign power. Syria was a menace when it was in charge of Lebanon, I agree, but if we are genuine about our concerns for our state, we must resist America’s attempt to submerge Lebanon within its regional umbrella.

We didn’t fight so many years to rid ourselves of Syria to invite another foreign power to make decisions for us.

The FPM is a clean party, it is a new and developing party and has thus far made the appropriate decisions according to national interest. They propose a secular state, to nationalise our institutions and to develop a national identity that shall destroy our sectarian barriers and create a sense of belonging to Lebanon.

However, I’m not always quick to throw my hat in the basket. I welcome their proposed alternative to the corrupt, tribalist, sectarian, and treacherous March 14, but it will all be for nothing if they do not make the necessary changes required for Lebanon to survive. If the FPM reach power and do nothing … well I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

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July 1st, 2007, 3:57 pm

 

48. SimoHurtta said:

terror thugs such as yourself

that intolerant thugs such as yourself only wind up killing many more of your own people instead of the people you dream daily of destroying.

Akbar because you allow yourself to call fellow commentators as terror thugs among other name calling you certainly do not mind if people with your opinions are called serial rapists. People are like their President, aren’t they Akbar. Lucky that Ariel Sharon never became the President, then you could be called by much worse names as a serial rapist.

Well if you refer to your other passport and say that you are a US citizen the situation is not much better remembering Junior’s honourable military carrier, drunk driving, drug and alcohol problems.

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July 1st, 2007, 10:12 pm

 

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