Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007
The WSJ article (copied below) claims that the Hariri tribunal is still in doubt. Neither China nor Russia have given assurances that they will not veto the resolution for a tribunal under Chapter VII. They claim they are still studying the draft resolution.
Addendum: Before posting the WSJ article here is a piece posted by Col. Pat Lange on his site on the subject of Fatah al-Islam. (Sorry for the previous attribution confusion to some readers.)
Col. Pat Lange, who was head of Military Intelligence for the Middle East for a number of years, argues that Fatah al-Islam is probably not linked to Syria, but a home grown Lebanese phenomena. This was the gist of Anthony Shadid's reporting for the Washington Post of a month ago. Lebanese authorities insist that the group takes orders from Damascus. The origins of the the fighting, which began with a botched bank robbery, do not sound planned by either side. Here is the WSJ article:
there are the 200,000 odd permanent Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. They are not Lebanese citizens. They have no political vote, are overwhelmingly Sunni, are excluded from good jobs, and therefore good housing. They are excluded from many Lebanese schools. They and those who came before them have been living in those camps on a kind of "dole" from the UN for a long time, many of them for 50 years. They have no prospects, zero. People who have no prospects are dangerous.
So, they are susceptible to the takfiri jihadi message and influence drifting on the winds of the internets and in the minds of returned fighters from Iraq. Not surprisingly some of them have accepted the call, the call to drive foreign, kaffir influence out of the Lebanon, the call to vent their rage against a political system that offers them nothing.
The "players" in the Siniora/Hariri coalition do not have clean hands in the matter of the creation and encouragement of Sunni zealotry in Lebanon. Lebanese political leaders have "played" to the Sunni Lebanese of the north for many years, seeking their support in the maze of Lebanese politics. Did they think that the Sunni Palestinians in the camps would not hear the same message?
So, now we have fighting between the Lebanese Army and Palestinian zealots. What a surprise! If it spreads to camps in the south of Lebanon, the Lebanese Army will be hard pressed. Their commander said so yesterday, urging restraint.
The 24/7 news networks were hard at work today trying to make Syria responsible for the Sunni zealots in the camps. The statement was being made today that these groups were connected to AQ. No evidence was offered, but the assertion was repeatedly made based on the "possibility" that had supposedly been voiced by some nameless person in the Lebanese government. Various Lebanese were asked that question – "Is this Al-Qa'ida?" Nobody could be found who was willing to say that there was an organizational link to Al-Qa'ida, but the question was asked over and over again. This question was paired with another – "Is Syria controlling and "behind" this group?" Nobody could be found who would say that either, but the question was asked over and over again.
Now, think about it, folks Al-Qa'ida is a virulently anti-Shia Sunni group. Everyone "knows" how much Syria supports Hizbullah, a virulently anti-Sunni Shia group. So, which is it? Which side does the syrian government support? Does the Syrian government support both at the same time? If you believe that, then you really are a sucker for propaganda.
It would be interesting to know who sets the agenda for the content of 24/7 news. Very interesting. pl
Lebanon Unrest Puts Hariri Tribunal In Peril (thanks to Ehsani)
2007-05-21 19:47 (From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
By Jay Solomon
WASHINGTON: As violence in Lebanon escalated, the Bush administration braced for a possible showdown with Russia and China over the establishment of a United Nations court to try suspects in the 2005 killing of Lebanon's former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.
U.S. and Lebanese officials anticipate a vote at the U.N. Security Council in the coming days on a draft resolution that would unilaterally establish a Hariri court, after pro-Syria critics inside the Lebanese Parliament opposed such a move.
U.S. diplomats said there are increasing fears that Moscow and Beijing may seek to veto the plan, citing recent violence, with deadly clashes between Lebanese army troops and a Sunni militia in Tripoli and bomb explosions in Beirut.
A senior U.S. official working on the Hariri case said within the Security Council there isn't "any agreement to move forward" on the court and that Bush administration officials are debating whether to push for the resolution without a clear indication on how China and Russia will vote. "It's all up to whether the U.S. has the backbone to dare them to veto" the resolution, the official said.
The U.S., France and the United Kingdom see the Hariri court as central to stabilizing Lebanon and ridding the country of Syrian influence. Initial U.N. investigative reports released in 2005 implicated senior Syrian intelligence officials in Mr. Hariri's death, a charge Damascus has denied repeatedly.
The U.N. also is investigating allegations of Damascus's ties to more than a dozen attacks on anti-Syrian activists in the past two years. Senior members of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora's government yesterday charged Syria with inciting the latest violence in an effort to derail the establishment of the tribunal. "This is the new Syrian counterattack to try and destabilize Lebanon," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader in the government's parliamentary bloc, in a telephone interview from Beirut. "They're trying to tell us that if we move ahead with the tribunal, this will be the answer.
Syria denies the charge and says it has no ties to the militant group battling Lebanese troops. Many Lebanese officials fear the current political crisis could push Lebanon back into the type of sectarian conflict that gripped the country during its 1975-90 civil war. Lebanon has developed into the latest proxy battle between pro-Western factions in the Middle East and Iran and Syria. Both Tehran and Damascus have backed the Lebanese political party and militia, Hezbollah, in its bid to topple the current Lebanese government.
Russian and Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have said in recent days that their governments are still studying the draft resolution on the Hariri court. Moscow sent a parliamentary delegation to Lebanon last week to confer with government and opposition figures on the status of the international tribunal. "We'll come to a conclusion this week," said a spokeswoman at the Russian mission to the U.N. Russia has been among Damascus's closest allies, tracing back to the Cold War. China is seen as adverse to the U.N.'s unilateral establishment of a tribunal on the principle of protecting national sovereignty.
The clashes in the past two days have pitted Lebanese army troops in the northern city of Tripoli against a Sunni militia called Fatah Islam. Senior Lebanese security officials say the militia's leadership was based in Damascus until late last year and many of its members entered Lebanon after fighting U.S. forces in Iraq. Leaders of Fatah Islam say they share the same world view as al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and fight to contain the spread of American and Israeli hegemony.
About 300 Fatah Islam militants are based inside the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Tripoli, they said.The current fighting was sparked by a bank robbery allegedly conducted by Fatah Islam members that grew into an all-out battle between Lebanese army troops and the militia.
Lebanese tanks and armored personnel carriers shelled Nahr el-Bared yesterday in a bid to flesh out the Fatah Islam members from the camp's population, which is estimated at 40,000 people. At least 50 combatants have been killed in the fighting, and Palestinian leaders said they feared that members of the camp's refugee population have been killed. They pressed Mr. Siniora's government for restraint.
The Bush administration has publicly voiced support for the Lebanese military's response. A State Department spokesman said Beirut's military was working in a "legitimate manner" against "provocations by violent extremists." Lebanese leaders have sought support from the Palestinian Liberation Organization to flush out civilians from Nahr el-Bared so that Lebanese troops can crush Fatah Islam. "If not, there will be a civil war," Mr. Jumblatt said. Yesterday, a second bomb in as many days exploded in downtown Beirut. This one struck the upscale Sunni neighborhood of Verdun.
Lebanese officials again pointed their fingers at Damascus. Syria's foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, denied that his government had any role in supporting Fatah Islam or overseeing the bombings and stressed that Damascus had sought to arrest its leadership. "Our forces have been after them, even through Interpol," Mr. Moallem said in a lecture at Damascus University, according to Reuters. "We reject this organization." Mr. Moallem described the Hariri tribunal as "one of the tools of the U.S. to undermine Syria and the region. This is why we said we will not deal with it."
The Hariri tribunal has been at the heart of a Lebanese political crisis that has stretched on for six months. The country's largely Shiite opposition, led by Hezbollah, pulled its support for Mr. Siniora's government in November, in part because of its opposition to the terms of the Hariri probe. Beirut's parliamentary speaker, Nabih Berri, subsequently, has refused to convene a legislative session to ratify the U.N.'s international tribunal, because of the lack of Shiite ministers in the Lebanese government.
Mr. Siniora wrote U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon this month to request the Security Council move forward with the international tribunal without Beirut's parliamentary approval. That has required the U.S., France and Britain to try and pass a resolution through the Security Council that would empower the U.N. to act without Lebanon's legislative support. The U.S. completed a draft form of the resolution Thursday, according to U.S. officials.