March Toward Disaster

By Qifa Nabki

This morning, while various neighborhoods in Lebanon were shut down by labor strikes that quickly and predictably morphed into violent clashes between pro- and anti-government forces, I spoke to a relative of mine living in Beirut. Loyal to the opposition, my relative (let’s call him Talal) sounded doleful for the first time in a year and a half. Gone from his voice was the tone of righteous defiance and indignation that so often characterized our political discussions. In its place was glum resignation and a dispirited antipathy towards the selfishness and cynicism of Lebanon’s political elite.

“We have a government that is completely corrupt; I have no confidence in their integrity,” Talal said. “On the other hand, I am beginning to have doubts about the opposition’s allegiances.”

“Compromise between the two sides is impossible, because the government and the opposition are speaking two different languages.”

Indeed, if there is anything that unites most Lebanese on both sides of the political divide, it is precisely this sentiment that their leaders have failed – spectacularly and even willfully – to establish a common ground for communication and compromise. What’s more, they seem to be oblivious to the widespread embitterment and frustration among their constituents. Or, more likely, they are mindful of it yet interested solely in exploiting it for political gain.

If the opposition was to blame in earlier months for a shameless strategy of mixed signals, delay tactics, and ever-shifting goal posts, which negated the solutions proposed by the Arab League and other international mediators, March 14th has now become guilty of a similarly cynical set of maneuvers. Sensing a soft underbelly in the ranks of the Change & Reform Bloc after the defection of Michel al-Murr, March 14th has sought to press their advantage by attempting to drive a wedge between Hizbullah and its Christian supporters.

Did the strategy succeed? On the one hand, the rioters consisted largely of Amal and Hizbullah supporters, with no significant showing by FPM members. A survey of the Aounist blogs shows a significant degree of ambivalence toward and even criticism of the escalation of violence. On the other hand, March 14 has put itself in a game of chicken with Hizbullah which announced that the airport road will remain blocked until the government reverses its decision to dismantle the Shiite militia's communication network and to remove Wafiq Chouqeir, head of airport security. If the March 14 forces are hoping that such an ultimatum will spur resentment of Hizbullah’s "state with in a state" among its FPM supporters, we may be in for a long and nasty ride.

While both sides have paid lip service to the concept of "national dialogue", neither March 14 nor March 8 have committed themselves publicly to addressing the major problems that lie at the basis of Lebanon's current (and perennial) woes, among them: (a) the adoption of a fair electoral law; (b) the future of Hizbullah's weapons; (c) the strengthening of state institutions; (d) the establishment of democratic reforms designed to increase politicians' accountability to their constituents, and to begin the process of dismantling sectarianism. As long as these issues are swept under the rug, Lebanon will continue to falter. 

It seems that each of the two alliances has settled on a strategy of shaking Lebanon as hard as possible in the hope that the other side comes unstuck. Is it any wonder that more and more Lebanese are wishing the fate of the proverbial watermelons (Bateekh yekassir ba3do) on their inept and selfish leaders?

Here is a round-up of stories on the latest events:

Clashes erupt in Lebanon as Hezbollah stages labor strike

By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer Wed May 7, 3:47 PM ET

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon's long-simmering political crisis erupted into gunfire and explosions Wednesday when a labor strike devolved into clashes between rival Hezbollah and government supporters.

Demonstrators supported by militant Hezbollah protested the U.S.-backed government's economic policies and paralyzed much of Beirut with roadblocks of burning tires. The strike turned violent when both sides began throwing stones at each other, and gunfire and explosions rang out in some areas for brief periods.

The cause of the explosions was not immediately known. There were a few injuries reported, mostly from the stone throwing.

The clashes threatened to degenerate into an all-out sectarian conflict. Shiite Hezbollah seized the offices of a major Sunni group and the fighting spread to several mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods.

Most Sunnis back Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's government, while Shiites generally support the opposition led by Hezbollah, which the U.S. has labeled a terrorist organization.

The Sunnis' spiritual leader denounced the militant Shiite faction and appealed to the Islamic world to intervene.

"Sunni Muslims in Lebanon have had enough," Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani said in a televised address from his office, demanding an "end to these violations."

In unusually harsh words, he called Hezbollah an "armed gangs of outlaws" and called on the group's leaders to withdraw from Beirut's Sunni neighborhoods.

Shiite opposition supporters remained on the streets after sunset and many of the blocked roads remained closed, indicating the protest will likely continue at least until Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks at a planned news conference on Thursday.

The standoff between the two sides has lasted 17 months. It's left Lebanon without a head of state since November when opposition-allied President Emile Lahoud's term ended with the government and the opposition deadlocked on electing a successor.

Tensions reached a new high Tuesday, when the Cabinet said it would remove Beirut airport's security chief over alleged ties to Hezbollah. The militant group and leaders of the 1.2-million-strong Shiite community, believed to be Lebanon's largest sect, rejected the decision, and the airport security chief continued on the job.

Wednesday's strike was called by labor unions after they rejected a government pay raise offer as insufficient. It was largely confined to Shiite areas that back the opposition.

Striking workers caused the delay or cancellation of dozens of arriving and departing flights at Beirut's airport. Flights resumed later, but the roads to the airport remained closed, trapping scores of arriving passengers in the terminal.

Hezbollah supporters seized two local offices of Sunni parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri's group, security officials said.

Earlier in the day, an Associated Press photographer saw gunmen from Hezbollah and the allied Shiite Amal group controlled by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri shooting toward one of the buildings housing Hariri's Future Movement office. Police also were seen firing toward a building.

A cameraman for Hezbollah's al-Manar television was beaten by a soldier, the station reported. Other news reports said he was hit by stones raining down on protesters. A soldier also was hit in the mouth by a stone.

Two other news photographers were hurt by stones, according to witnesses and television reports.

Earlier in the same area, a stun grenade thrown into a crowd lightly injured three protesters and two soldiers, the state-run National News Agency said. It was not immediately clear who threw the grenade.

Opposition Vows No Retreat After Day of Clashes (Daily Star)

BEIRUT: A General Labor Confederation (GLC) strike turned political and violent on Wednesday when supporters of the opposition took to the streets and blocked the main road leading to Beirut's international airport in protest at the government's recent decision to sack the facility's security chief, General Wafiq Shoucair, and counter Hizbullah's private phone network. 

A well-informed opposition source told The Daily Star on Thursday that the opposition would not stop its protest action unless the Western-backed government reversed its decisions.

"Our movement will not stop and will change to become civil disobedience until our demands are met," the source added. "After rejecting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's call for dialogue, the government made a number of provocative decisions. Our movement is the result of these decisions."

After an Amal Movement meeting that was headed by Berri later on Wednesday, the party held the Lebanese government responsible for the current escalation.

Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is due to hold a new conference on Thursday to react to the government's recent decisions.

Robert Fisk: Lebanon descends into chaos as rival leaders order general strike

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Burning tyres on the airport road, flights suspended, demands from the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt that Hizbollah moves secret cameras from runway 1-7 and end the militia's equally secret underground communications equipment. Across Corniche Mazraa, crowds of shrieking Sunni and Shia Muslims hurl abuse and stones at each other. A soldier comes up to my car at the crossroads. "Turn round," he shouts. "They're shooting."

Lebanon seems to feed on crisis, need crisis, breathe crisis, like a wounded man needs blood. The man who should be the president is head of the army and the man who believes he leads the resistance – Sayed Hassan Nasrallah of the Hizbollah – accuses Mr Jumblatt of doing Israel's work while Mr Jumblatt claims the head of Beirut airport security, Colonel Wafic Chucair, works for the Hizbollah and should be fired.

 
Yesterday, in case you hadn't guessed, was a "general strike" by opponents of the Lebanese government with all the usual chaos. Mr Nasrallah is to hold a press conference today and then we'll all find out if this latest crisis is the greatest crisis since the last great crisis. Yes, a good cup of cynicism is necessary to wash down the rhetoric and threats of the past few days. At its most serious is the incendiary language in which Lebanon's politicians now address each other, the kind of menacing words that could easily touch an assassin's heart. 

لبنان في فم التنّين

المواجَهة فُتِحت ميدانيّاً ونصر اللّه يرسم السقف اليوم والسلطة تطلب التدويل المباش

ر حتى صدور هذا العدد، لم يكن هناك ما يشير إلى تبدُّل في مسار الأمور سياسياً وميدانياً، بعدما شكّلت حوادث الأمس تحوّلاً استراتيجياً في الصراع الداخلي والإقليمي على إدارة الوضع في لبنان. وإذا كانت المعارضة قد تظلّلت بتحرّك الاتحاد العمّالي العام لتسجيل اعتراض هو الأبرز على سياسة الفريق الحاكم، فإنّ فريق السلطة أعرب عن تمسّكه بقراراته والشروع في مناقشة خطّة تحرُّك تشمل المواجهة على الأرض، والطلب إلى العالم العربي ومجلس الأمن الدولي التدخّل لحمايته في لبنان.
وبانتظار المؤتمر الصحافي للأمين العام لحزب الله، السيّد حسن نصر اللّه، المقرّر ظهر اليوم، شهدت بيروت أمس أكثر التحوّلات الميدانية عنفاً منذ وقت طويل، بعدما تجاوز الطرفان كل الخطوط الحمر وسارا بقوّة نحو مواجهة تأخذ طابعاً مسلّحاً، يتوقّع أن يستأنف اليوم، ما دام لم يبرز إلى الضوء أي تفاهم سياسي.
وأفادت مصادر مطلعة بأن المعارضة، وحزب الله على وجه التحديد، ليسا في وارد التراجع عن التحرك الذي انطلق أمس، حتى تتراجع الحكومة عن القرارات التي أصدرتها فجر الثلاثاء. وعلم أن مساعداً أمنياً للنائب سعد الحريري اقترح خلال الساعات الماضية حلاً للمشكلة، يقضي بتجميد تنفيذ قرار الحكومة القاضي بنقل العميد وفيق شقير من قيادة جهاز أمن المطار، وإصدار الحريري بياناً يَعُدّ فيه شبكة الاتّصالات جزءاً من سلاح المقاومة الذي هو خارج البحث، وهو أمر نفته مصادر على صلة بفريق 14 آذار، وقالت إن الحكومة ليست بوارد التراجع، وإن المعارضة وحزب الله يتحملان مسؤولية الخطوات التي تدرس الأكثرية النيابية اللجوء إليها، والتي تركّز على مطالبة الجامعة العربية ومجلس الأمن الدولي بالتدخّل بكل الوسائل «لحماية لبنان من انقلاب يقوده حزب الله بدعم من سوريا وإيران». وقد استعان هذا الفريق، على عجل، بمفتي الجمهورية محمد رشيد قباني في إضفاء البعد المذهبي على المواجهة القائمة، عبر إطلاقه موقفاً لافتاً في حدته بمواجهة حزب الله وإيران

Heading toward a Lebanese Divorce

By Michael Young

The Daily Star

Thursday May 8, 2008 

Once we accept that this week's alleged labor unrest was only the latest phase in Hizbullah's war against the Lebanese state, will we understand what actually took place yesterday. And once we realize that cutting the airport road was a calculated effort by Hizbullah to reverse the Siniora government's transfer of the airport security chief, Wafiq Shouqair, will we understand what may take place in the coming days.

Since last January, when Hizbullah and Amal used the pretense of social dissatisfaction to obstruct roads in and around Beirut, the opposition has, quite openly, shown itself to be limited to Hizbullah. Michel Aoun, once a useful fig leaf to lend cross-communal diversity to the opposition, has since become an afterthought with hardly any pull in Christian streets.

Long ago we learned that Hizbullah could not, in any real sense, allow the emergence of a Lebanese state free from Syrian control. Soon after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the party tried to suffocate the 2005 "independence intifada" in the egg, realizing that Hizbullah had no future as an autonomous armed group in a state that would seek to reimpose its writ after decades of subservience to Damascus. That effort failed on March 14, 2005 – mostly useful as an event in showing that a majority of people would not be intimidated by Hizbullah's rally of March 8.

Hizbullah's anxieties were understandable. As the party saw things, without a Lebanese state embracing the idea of open-ended conflict against Israel, and Hizbullah's sovereign, vanguard role in that conflict (and what state truly independent of Syria would ever want to choose so reckless a path?), Hizbullah would not be able to justify retaining its weapons. But without its weapons, Hizbullah could not exist. Post-Syria Lebanon has posed existential problems for the party, problems that began when Israel withdrew from most of South Lebanon in 2000. The irony of this situation – that Hizbullah was always most comfortable when both Syria and Israel were present in Lebanon – the latter to fight against, the former to safeguard that fight – says a lot about the party's future options. 

 
Angry Arab publishes this first-hand account of the demonstrations, on his blog:

A Western reporter in Lebanon sent me this (he does not want his name mentioned) (he is relatively new to Lebanon and it shows at a point or two–like Amal militia has a long history in thuggishness and yet it used to complain about PLO thuggishness): "spent the entire day running around all the flashpoints in beirut, wherever there were mobs, shootings, explosions, i got harassed by various militias from both sides, but i was really shocked at the behavior of amal. i've spent a lot of time with mustaqbal militiamen, who of course are thuggish and racist and their militias are getting better organized, and thats all frightening, but they seem very weak and almost cowardly when compared with the amal thugs i saw today, who were very provocative. it had nothing to do with the labor union strike for them, it was just a show of force to specifically intimidate sunnis. even in iraq i havent seen this kind of anti sunni sectarianism, its couched in anti baathi or anti wahabi language. obviously i've seen anti shiite sectarianism all over the place among sunnis in the region they had switch blades, clubs, and they even had small molotov cocktail bottles in their pockets in case they needed them. they threw stones at the army without provocation, and the army was basically letting them do whatever they wanted, and proved how weak it was, the army guys were begging the amal and hizballah guys to behave basically. it was clear today how pathetically weak the lebanese army and police are. in most cases they just stood by and watched as protesters did whatever they wanted, in other cases, depending on their affiliation, they actually physically helped both sunni and shiite militias. when the amal guys threw stones at the soldiers, all some of the soldiers did was throw them back when the call to prayer started from the sunni mosque across the street in tariq al jadida, the amal guys started shouting various religious shiite slogans, insulting sunnis etc. it was quite obvious that the hizballah men present were controlling them when they looked like they were about to cross to the sunni side. it was as if hizballah has these amal pitbulls who are just foaming at the mouth eager to attack and kill, and hizballah is letting them bark and bite a little, to show the other side that its holding the leash and can let go at any time and the amal pitbulls would destroy anything in their way, which it was very clear they wanted to do this country is so fucked, the sunni militias now run checkpoints and demand IDs and act just like shiite militias" 

 

Comments (103)


1. Innocent_Criminal said:

Poor watermelon :(

Obviously the chances for a full blown civil conflict has increased over the past days. Its funny that just a week ago the majority were vowing to elect a president and that signs were hopeful a consensus will be reached. Anyone thinks it’s a coincidence that days later things have changed 180 degrees?

I’ll point my finger at march 14th for escalating this one first. The removal of Hezbollah’s man in the airport is an obvious smack in the face and a serious security risk at a time when things are pretty hot and supposedly at a turning point for the better. The cold hard reality is that there is no chance for a peaceful solution without compromise from at least one camp if not both. March 14th might win the PR war with their latest move by highlighting HA state within a state but in an armed conflict they don’t have a chance. And both sides must already know that a viable Lebanese government CANNOT exist without the Sunni/Mustaqbal block nor can it without HA (sorry the Christians don’t have a say in this one). So either both parties are planning to take it to an-all-or-nothing scenario (i.e. civil war) or March 14 will have to realize that HA cannot be marginalized by force and to give in to (some of) their demands. With the unfortunate recent events I doubt the latter is about to occur anytime soon.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:17 am

 

2. Innocent_Criminal said:

and btw, very good post QN

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May 8th, 2008, 5:18 am

 

3. Enlightened said:

QN:

I asked you a few days ago if the gloves were off? but you didn’t respond, obviously you were busy burning tyres with a mask on jumping for joy wearing your new USSR red t shirt. Singing “Oh what a feeling-Toyota”

Hope they gave you plenty of money for the ad!

A link of Photos from Lebanon:

http://news.yahoo.com/nphotos/Lebanon/ss/events/wl/021405lebanon/s:/ap/20080507/ap_on_re_mi_ea/lebanon_protests;_ylt=AqRi7voy8wVbKz_wxlF4ut8UewgF#photoViewer=/080507/photos_wl/2008_05_07t193747_450x274_us_lebanon_conflict

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May 8th, 2008, 5:22 am

 

4. Majhool said:

This is the end for Aoun. HA isolaated its self and is going to end up like Hamas in Gaza.

Here are 2 possible outcomes:

1) Calm will be restored in few months, in this case and if an election is held, Aoun would lose the election and M14 will win and would be able to elect a president with/without opposition.

2) A civil war, in this case HA will be the biggest loser. The North and entire Mount Lebanon will be out of reach for HA. HA will be confined to Bekaa and the South and without the syrians and Lebanese popular support Israel will have no mercy.

It’s pretty sad.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:34 am

 

5. Naji said:

إعلان حرب
خالد صاغية
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72724

عند الساعة الرابعة والنصف من فجر يوم الثلاثاء الواقع فيه السادس من أيّار عام 2008، خرج المواطن غازي العريضي وتلا أمام اللبنانيين بياناً. كان وجهه شاحباً، ولم يكن النعاس وحده سبب هذا الشحوب. كان يعلم، على الأرجح، أنّ ما كُلِّف بتلاوته ليس إلا إعلان حرب أهليّة.
قد يجد المرء، إن أراد، تسويغات عديدة لما صدر عن مجلس الوزراء من قرارات في تلك الليلة. وقد تأخذه سذاجته إلى حدّ ربطها ببناء دولة المؤسّسات، في اللحظة نفسها التي تعيش فيها الطوائف كافة حالة تقوقع وخوف من أخواتها. لكنّ هذه التسويغات لن تخفي حقيقة واحدة: إنّ من اتّخذ هذه القرارات، اتّخذ في الوقت عينه قراراً بإشعال البلاد.
والواقع أنّ مجلس الوزراء مكوّن جزئياً من مجموعة كومبارس لا خبرة لهم في الحقل السياسي، شاءت الصدفة التاريخية أن تضعهم في مناصب حسّاسة في لحظات عصيبة. أمّا الجزء الآخر، فمؤلّف من مندوبين لأمراء حرب أهليّة سابقين. نفهم تماماً أن ينفّذ المندوبون أوامر زعمائهم الذين ينتابهم الحنين للزمن الماضي، فيصرّون على اتّخاذ قرارات حربيّة. أمّا الآخرون، فليس واضحاً كيف يكملون انحدارهم بخفّة من «الأوادميّة» إلى الغباء، ومن الغباء البريء إلى الغباء المؤذي.
السلطة في يد هؤلاء «بتجرح». أمّا الدماء التي بدأت تسيل، فستجعل من الصعب عليهم النظر في المرآة ورؤية أنفسهم.

عدد الخميس ٨ أيار ٢٠٠٨

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May 8th, 2008, 8:06 am

 

6. Alex said:

IC,

Very true.

But I will have to simply repeat again that this is mostly coming from Washington and Riyadh… they have debated for the past two years the different options

1) We weaken/destroy Hizbolah first, then Syria then Iran

2) no, let us try Syria first, then Hizbollah and wait for Iran to fall.

3) no, we need to go to the source of all evil … We need to attack Iran fast.

I guess they decided that since the latest polls in the Sunni Arab states showed that Nasrallh and Bashar are the most popular Arab leaders (not their two 80+ leaders) then any option should start from turning the Sunni Arab street against Nasrallah and Bashar… And the best way to do that is to make Nasrallah’s Shia militias kill Sunni Lebanese.

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May 8th, 2008, 8:29 am

 
 

8. Alex said:

Good morning Naji Beik

How are Syrians looking at the mess next door? are they worried? upset at one side or the other?

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May 8th, 2008, 8:37 am

 

9. Naji said:

Alex,

I have been writing frantically on SC about the impending calamity, but no one seemed to be as alarmed as people who live around here…! You can feel the tension and alarm in the air around here lately…! Also, things have taken a less than rosey turn, economicaly and otherwise, since I last reported on the atmosphere around here…!!

These things happen, and we always have our Defense Masterplan of relying on divine intervention (latest manifestation in Olmert’s looming resignation??! Perhaps the opposite…??!), but it is not looking all that good right now…!

The Lebanese roads to Syria have all been blocked this morning, like the roads to the airport, and things are looking pretty tough for HA and Aoun, who have been bending over backwards lately in trying to accomodate the ruling junta, but… they really seem cornered right now… and preparing for their “last stand”…!!

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May 8th, 2008, 8:47 am

 

10. SimoHurtta said:

2) A civil war, in this case HA will be the biggest loser. The North and entire Mount Lebanon will be out of reach for HA. HA will be confined to Bekaa and the South and without the syrians and Lebanese popular support Israel will have no mercy.

As an non Arab and non Lebanese I naturally have a very vague picture, based on the normal news, of the military strength between different groups’ militias. Majhool if Hizbollah can resist rather successfully Israel, what makes you believe that that the other militias could defeat Hizbollah. Will the Lebanese army stay neutral or go against Hizbollah and do you believe that Israel will come to help the Lebanese, lets say, government. It would be interesting to read your opinion about this subject in more details than a claim “Hizbollah will loose”.

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May 8th, 2008, 8:49 am

 

11. Naji said:

At this point, it almost seems to have come down to a “war” between Saudi and Syria, with Israel and the US (along with Egypt and the M14) as merceneries…

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=699#comment-141070
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=699#comment-141071
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=699#comment-141073

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May 8th, 2008, 8:55 am

 

12. Alex said:

Naji, since you linked your prediction from last month, I will show you who is even more farsighted that you!

from 15 months ago:

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=167

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May 8th, 2008, 9:07 am

 

13. SHAMI said:

The lebanese government should not tolerate the wilayat faqih state of hezbolla.It’s not true that anyone is against hezbolla is with israel ,hezbolla is using this pretext to hide its iranian teleguided policy.The americans and israelis are reponsible in hezbolla appearance because they gave a green light to asad regime in lebanon for several years.And i think that the israelis are not unhappy whith hezbolla criminal behavior in beirut.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:17 am

 

14. Naji said:

Yes, Alex, you saw it coming…, but this latest gathering Summer storm has really been in plain sight… I became really alarmed, if you remember, when the Nuke/Peace dichotomy first emerged a few weeks ago… and since then, it has been a very orchestrated final push… I know you could see that, but were maintaining a facade of bravado… Ultimately, your prediction of another neo-con failure will of course come to pass, but after what…?!

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=695#comment-139352
http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=695#comment-139379

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May 8th, 2008, 9:18 am

 

15. offended said:

One thing doesn’t fit very well here.

The sick sectarian slogan shouted by the Amal movement members: Are they (Hizbollah and Amal) not aware that these kind of provocations are exactly what the 14 Marchers are looking for to get the opposition entangled in the sectarian strife issue? Arab masses can never tolerate targeting of Sunni Lebanese merely based on their sect. You see, the political adversity is totally understood. But sectarianizing the conflict doesn’t help Amal or Hizbollah or even the FPM for that matter…

What exactly is going on?

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May 8th, 2008, 9:28 am

 

16. Alex said:

Naji,

I’m joking. You know that I like and trust your opinions.

But by the way, I always believed there is a chance the next few months (before Eliot and Cheney have to leave) can be very challenging to the region and if you ask Shai, I always warned that we need to wait till next year until IF WE SURVIVE THIS SUMMER without a war.

So it is still the same … this week it looks more like there will be a war .. but everything is a game of probabilities and/ or brinkmanship

If you read my comments you will realize that I said that basically if the neocons want to escalate in a way intended to seriously challenge Syria’s role or Syria’s stability, then there will be a big mess everywhere in the Middle East … and I still stand by my prediction.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:29 am

 

17. Alex said:

Offended,

I agree .. if they are going to block the airport .. the least they should do is not act like religious fanatics.

But Nabih Berri is not the type …. so, I assume he will interfere to calm things down, or .. things are really bad and they want to quickly intimidate the new militias of Saad Hariri.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:34 am

 

18. Saroukh said:

Simo,

Hezbollah can defeat Israel because it is a foreign army invading a sovereign nation. The Israeli soldiers sent to fight are not as passionate about invading and occupying Lebanon as Hezballah is about defending their homes.

When it is an internal struggle this is not the case. There is no doubt that in the short run Hezballah will have an advantage in any internal war (I refuse to use the term civil for internal strife). But you must remember that they are up against two of the baddest warlords Lebanon has ever seen in Jumblatt and Geagea. They can re-arm their militias with heavy artillery in a matter of weeks. A few rush shipments from the US and Israel and the balance of power is there. We have not yet begun to talk about the Sunni warriors in and out of the camps.

This would be a most dreadful scenario in which no side would win, and we would end up in 1990 again. There are no parts of the country that are distinctly pro or anti Hezballah. Sure they have their strongholds, but in real geographic terms it is not a contiguous territory. Lebanon is tiny. Most villages can be crossed by foot in less than an hour. So Hizb will be supported in a series of 3 to 4 villages, but the next 3 villages you will see Hariri pictures, then the next 3 Hizb, and so on and so forth.

The shiites will not be defeated in Lebanon. Just as the Sunni’s and Christians wont be defeated. When you hear Lebanese say Hezballah will lose it does not necessarily mean in a military sense because militarily it will be a draw. It means they will lose their credibility in the eyes of the average Lebanese and wont be able to put up or hide behind the our weapons are for resistance banner. So when the new agreement to end the civil strife emerges (returning us to 1990) there will not be any party that is exempt from disarming – thus leaving the State as the only authority in the land – inshallah.

This brings up a very interesting observation: Without arms the Hezb will lose its military dominance on the street. However if they maintain their current social services and lack of corruption I can very well see them becoming the most popular movement in Lebanon. As a Christian I would support an unarmed Hezballah more than any other existing political party. As I told a friend this morning I don’t care if we are ruled by the Faqih or the Pope so long as we have stability, I can go to my job, and my kids can get to school safely.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:42 am

 

19. offended said:

Alex, I agree with you. Nabih Berri is a smart veteran, but I am inclined to believe that things are really bad.

What added insult to injury was that clown of a Muffti yesterday showing up on TV and rambling about how Sunnis are fed up and all. Well you’d think that religious figures are usually wiser than this….

Sounds like the threshold, where people will start to feel that their own elasticity and tolerance have been exploited to the max, this threshold have become very close.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:44 am

 

20. Naji said:

Alex,

Of course, … I understand where you are coming from, and we are in complete agreement…!

Offended,

The nasty slogans are typical street-thug stuff and are exchanged by BOTH sides… Depending on which TV channel you are watching, you will either see Hariri militia shouting obscenities about Nassrallah and Shia religious symbols and burning HA pictures and flags, etc. …. Or you will see Amal militia doing the same to Sunni/Mustaqbal symbols, etc… Once this kind of thing breaks out, it is not pretty and HA stands to lose the most…, which is why they have been trying to avoid it the hardest…

Also, to be fair, this bloody grand mufti has been even worse than Sfeir… much worse… Throughout the last 3 years he has not spared an opportunity to inflame and has been completely biased and devoid of any pretences of piety or inclusiveness…!! The Shia religious leaders are not perfect either, but, again to be fair, they have been much more conciliatory throughout the whole debacle… (until now…?!)

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May 8th, 2008, 9:51 am

 

21. Alex said:

That’s true Offended, but we have been through similar periods before … and the Lebanese people always backed down … as the violence starts to pick up, people remember more vividly what it was like during the civil war years… and then they decide to retreat.

And when they watch the news in Iraq everyday … I can’t imagine that they would wish to start the same thing in Lebanon.

So, there is still hope .. although, the pressure of Cheney’s the last few months in office is not to be underestimated.

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May 8th, 2008, 9:51 am

 

22. Opposition Supporters Doubtful | The Beirut Spring, a Lebanese Blog said:

[...]   Thursday, May 8 Opposition Supporters Doubtful Even those who support Hezbollah and the opposition are not happy about the latest events: Ispoke to a relative of mine living in Beirut. Loyal to the opposition, my relative (let’s call him Talal) sounded doleful for the first time in a year and a half. Gone from his voice was the tone of righteous defiance and indignation that so often characterized our political discussions. In its place was glum resignation and a dispirited antipathy towards the selfishness and cynicism of Lebanon’s political elite. [...]

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May 8th, 2008, 10:07 am

 

23. Naji said:

Saroukh, above, has put it in a nutshell… which also explains the popularity of the FPM… and also explains why the old warlords, feudal clan chiefs, and Saudi kleptocrats all feel so threatened by any move towards true democracy in Lebanon…! They all want that “Ghazi Canaan” election law that they had engineered back in 2000…!

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May 8th, 2008, 10:07 am

 

24. SHAMI said:

In fact the hezbollahis have not better time than today because they depend mostly on syrian regime which is like a bridge between the iranian regime and them.They know that asad regime is not eternal and without asad there is no hezbolla.

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May 8th, 2008, 10:08 am

 

25. ausamaa said:

Lebanon today?

The Seniora crowd knew EXACTLY what they are doing. They pushed Hizbullah into this tough and tight corner intentionally. They figured this will raise the stakes, draw US support, provide material for Terry Rod Larsen report on Lebanon due today, and “MAYBE” Hizbullah as usual will back down to avoid confrontation.

However, when Seniora and his government crossed a red line by threatening the communication network of Hizbullah, and angered the whole Shieat community by removing the Head of Airport Security who is a Shiat, they had grossly miscalculated the consequences. What the hell did they expect Hizbullah and Amal to do? Stand by and watch the exposure of their communication network and do nothing? Western military think tanks usually reffered to operational military capability by something called C3I. What is C3I? It is Command, Control, COMMUNICATIONS, and Inteligence. Hizbullah is in a serious state of WAR with Israel, COMMUNICATIONS is vital to its operations, so the governmet by taking the decision to dismantle this network is a matter of life and death to its anti-Israel military capability. This is serious stuff they are playing with.

Clearly, it is all planned by the Seniora government, but my estimate is that it will back fire again. They have underestimated the resolve and patience-limits of Hizbullah. Nassrallah has been playing the “nice guy” for two years because he cares about Lebanon a hundred times more than the Saudi-Bush-Israeli-grown Feb 14 Gang. Now he is pushed into a corner and he will respond. About time, really.

The Siniora crowd and their Masters had asked for it, now it seems they will get it. And as the Arabic saying goes:

اتق غضب الحليم اذا احرجته

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May 8th, 2008, 10:29 am

 

26. ausamaa said:

From Al-Akhbar newspaper qouted by Qifa Nabki above:

الموالاة تحت الصدمة والمعارضة تتخـلّى عن التحرّك العمّالي لمصلحة الحسم

تخلت المعارضة عن خجلها للمرة الأولى أمس، وأرسلت صورة واضحة عما تريده، وحتّى عن الوسائل الجاهزة لاستعمالها، وتخطت الفتنة عبر الحسم السريع في المناطق، وعبر عزلها للمربعات التابعة للموالاة. لم تكن البارحة بحاجة إلى غطاء مطلبي، وأعطتها الحكومة فرصة نادرة يبدو أنها ستستغلها إلى النهاية

فداء عيتاني

http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/72773

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May 8th, 2008, 10:46 am

 

27. Naji said:

Aussamaa,

You got it completely right, except that “they had grossly miscalculated the consequences”… Like you said before, they knew EXACTLY what they were doing…, or more accurately, their masters did…!!

The head Shia cleric is speaking on TV right now… I must say, he sounds a lot more reasonable that the grand mufti…, but I guess when you are in a tough spot, you are always more reasonable…!!

However, ALL gloves seem to be off…!! Gods have forsaken this region a long time ago… all that is left is old men in white beards and various colors of robes and turbans…

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May 8th, 2008, 10:51 am

 

28. ausamaa said:

Naji,

Let us wait after Nassrallah speach. The opposition is playing it smartly by mainly staying overly quite so far. Watch for Aoun, Farangieh and Karami strong supportive response for wharever agreed upon options Nasrallah will declare.

In my opinion, civil disobedience will be the oppositions next step coupled with a popular show of force. Let them see who really has the upper popular hand in Lebanon. They will expose their shallow popular base. Harriri and Saudi Money can not by the majority of Lebanese after all. That is what I meant by the miscalculation of the Seniora crowd; the response maybe so unperdictably tough and decisive.

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May 8th, 2008, 11:14 am

 

29. Naji said:

New FPM site
http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar

Btw, Frenjeieh is predicting civil war… as announced by Khaled Saghieh above…!!

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May 8th, 2008, 11:17 am

 

30. Naji said:

Ausamaa,

I agree with you completely… and civil disobedience was the plan, but the M14 and their masters tried to pre-empt it with the late-night cabinet meeting and decisions, and the sectarian card as usual, … The problem is that these M14 thugs are marching to the beat of a different drummer… neo-con/Saudi drummer…!! (amazing how Israel is outside the discussion now…!!?)

Btw, “the people” are worse than their leaders and deserve what is coming… they seem to be so easily moved, agaist their own interest, by this sectarian nonsense…!!

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May 8th, 2008, 11:48 am

 

31. Naji said:

The mufti of Saida is giving a VERY POWERFUL speech (in reponse to the grand mufti) right now, but… who is listening…!!!? Excellent Sunni perspective… with ALL gloves off, again (and finally)…!!

The surprise that HA maybe able to pull off, and others have hinted to, is a non-Shia militia to handle internal civil strief…!

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May 8th, 2008, 12:00 pm

 

32. norman said:

08/05/2008 08:47:52 Õ

President George W. Bush

US widens Syria sanctions

President George W. Bush said he was extending US sanctions against Syria following Washington’s charge that Damascus had been building a nuclear reactor with North Korea’s help.

Bush said he would continue for one year a freeze on Syrian assets and the ban on the export of certain goods to Syria.

Accusing Syria of “supporting” terrorism, “pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs” he said the decision was taken to deal with the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security”.

The US president also said Syria was “undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.”

Bush initially slapped sanctions on Syria in May 2004, then extended them in April 2006 and widened them in February to target officials engaged in “public corruption”.

In fact, US national security officials are charging Syria with building a secret nuclear reactor for military ends.

They told Congress the plant was being built with the help of North Korea, until its destruction by Israel in an air raid on September 6.

The International Atomic Energy Agency launched an investigation into the US accusations but also chided both Israel and the United States for their handling of the affair.

Syria denied the US allegations, promised full cooperation with the UN watchdog, and accused the United States of a “campaign of lies” akin to US charges that Iraq had a weapons of mass destruction program.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:21 pm

 

33. ausamaa said:

The Saida Sunnies Mufti speach was tough and blunt against the practices of the Siniora crowd and the false claimes of the Shiat danger.

I bet in the end, we will see a large prtion of Sunnies siding openly with Hizbullah and the opposition.

BTW, Mini Harriri will also speak today after Nassralah. I guess his speach is being reviewd by Oukar and Riyadh, it will not be a reconciliatory one as it is being prepared before the Feb 14 and their masters digest what Nassrallah will have to say. Their response to Nassrallah will be ready before he even speaks.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:23 pm

 

34. ausamaa said:

Norman,

Ya3ni what sanctions for God’s sake?

Syria has been under some sort of sanctions or boycut since God knows when. They all know it is not going to work, but what other means do they have at their disposal to use against Syria? This and PR and theatrical moves and threats. It is more barking than biting as it has always been. And tomorrow they will swallow their pride and sit down with Syria once again. They just have short memories and a gambler’s false hope of winning at a Vegas Casino.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:31 pm

 

35. norman said:

It is a day of reckoning in Lebanon , May God saves that state.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:32 pm

 

36. ausamaa said:

Amen.

But again, all the Feb 14 can do is bark without real bite. Junblat and Ja’ja are of course throwing the Harriri fools in the fire and watching them melt. But I guess things will be decided in the opposition’s favore and contained within days in the end.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:43 pm

 

37. norman said:

Ausamaa,

I think there is more arms than we think.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:46 pm

 

38. norman said:

Ausamaa,
you are right on the sanctions , It makes them feel that they are doing something.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:50 pm

 

39. ausamaa said:

From Al Jazeera Site

مدة التصويت: من7/5/2008 إلى 10/5/2008
موضوع التصويت:

هل تعتقد أن إزالة شبكة اتصالات حزب الله يصب في مصلحة:
الخيارات النسبة عدد الأصوات
إسرائيل 82.4%
12430

لبنان 17.6%
2650

إجمالي المصوتين 15080

نتيجة التصويت لا تعبر عن رأي الجزيرة وإنما تعبر عن رأي الأعضاء المشاركين فيه.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:52 pm

 

40. why-discuss said:

I think the arrival of Bush in Israel and the pressure on Olmert is making the US administration bolder in provoking clashes in lebanon to weaken the Hezbollah and prepare the ground for an Israeli-Lebanon peace following the Syria-Israel peace plan that is been cooked. Hezbollah must be put out of the way.
Parallelly, the current lebanese government is very worried that Syria and Israel are having separate peace talks, as they will end up with the palestinian refugees.
They are also worried that Hezbollah principal ally Iran is getting more carrots than sticks from the Europeans in order to clean up the nuclear stuff. If Iran gets away with the nuclear crisis, it will be even stronger in prestige in the whole middle east and it will strengthen the position of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
These are the main reasons why the CIA and Israel agents, Hariri, Jumblatt and Geagea are trying to provoke Hezbollah into discrediting itself for the Lebanese population. It looks to me like a desperate act, as they seem to have overlooked the consequences..
They can’t succeed without destroying Lebanon. Shias will never give up Hezbollah for a puppet and inefficient governement that would not protect them. Hezbollah is not only a military strength , it is also a political and social power.
I believe Aoun will come out in a better position. While Hariri thugs are in the street and the sunni mufti calling for the end of the heretic Shia, Aoun’s people have remained calm.
Nasrallah speech may touch on the plot against Hezbollah by the US and Israel and I expect Nasrallah to talk tough.
Msgr Sfeir and the Beirut Sunni mufti should be put in Asfurieh where they belong.

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May 8th, 2008, 12:57 pm

 

41. norman said:

When is Nasrallah speaking?.

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May 8th, 2008, 1:21 pm

 

42. Naji said:

Hah…that was clever….Nassrallah redirected the blame from Siniora/Saudi to Jumblatt…!! If the Sunnies have more traditional disdain and mistrust for anybody more than Shia’s it is for the Druze… They are not even considered muslims, traditionally…!

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May 8th, 2008, 1:32 pm

 

43. Naji said:

Norman,
nassrallah has been speaking for half hour… very important…must see!

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May 8th, 2008, 1:33 pm

 

44. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex, Naji, Ausamaa:

I think that all talk of Lebanese doing the bidding of their “masters” is rather immature commentary. Is March 14 any less beholden to Washington than Hizbullah is to Tehran? Does March 14 receive more money from Washington than Hizbullah does from Tehran? Is March 14 more ideologically committed to a Washingtonian perspective than Hizbullah is to an Iranian one?

I think that we should stop painting certain groups as puppets while ignoring the puppetry taking place on the other side. It is a fact that EVERYONE in Lebanon is being used by outside powers. To pretend otherwise is to make us feel good about ourselves, nothing else.

As I said above, there is no question that Jumblatt picked this fight with Hizbullah. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was encouraged to do so by the stupid American administration.

However, I urge you all to stop imagining that Hizbullah is the poor, helpless, vulnerable, democratic little pussycat that you often make it out to be. Hizbullah is the single most powerful political organization in Lebanon. If there is a hegemon, albeit a quiet one, in Lebanon, it is Hizbullah. It receives more funding and assistance from outside than probably all of the other parties put together. It has achieved a degree of direct control and self-sufficiency over the territories of its constituents that dwarfs that of all the other sects. If sectarianism is the biggest obstacle to Lebanon’s emergence as a sovereign democratic state, then there is a strong argument to be made that Hizbullah represents one of the biggets examples of such sectarianism.

HOWEVER… the Lebanese are not going to solve these problems in the street. That is why I, for one, completely reject these tactics by March 14. They are short-sighted, cynical, and destructive.

Let us please stop adopting the fairy-tale school of political analysis (Little Red Riding Hood vs. Big Bad Wolf).

Everyone’s a wolf. Let’s get used to it.

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May 8th, 2008, 1:41 pm

 

45. why-discuss said:

QN
I agree that Hezbollah is far from being ‘poor’ and weak. They have shown organization, maturity and initiatives consistent with clear lines: resistance and national interests. They are supported by the most powerful and influential country in the region, Iran. We read that the US is now worried about Iran growing influence in South America. This proves that Iran, despite its controversial authoritarian and religious regime, has grown into becoming an international power and THE only powerful country in the region. KSA, another rich authoritarian religious regime, may have the money, but they are looking more and more like chicken with golden eggs.

“If sectarianism is the biggest obstacle to Lebanon’s emergence as a sovereign democratic state, then there is a strong argument to be made that Hizbullah represents one of the biggets examples of such sectarianism.”

The official association of Hezbollah with Aoun makes it less sectarian and is a breakthrough. If ultimately Hezb party merges with Aoun’s party to create one party, this will be a new beginning. While it may take some time, it may very well happen. This is troubling very much the 14 mars group who is loose, weak and in disarray. This association also worries KSA who sees the sunnis in Lebanon becoming politically marginalized as were the shias for decades.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:02 pm

 

46. ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki

1- Do you in all sincierity think that Nassrallah is more beholden to Iran than he is to fighting Israel and the Bush Agenda?

2- Even if Nassrallah is the “pupet” of Iran, or Syria, do you equate that with Siniora and Junblat and Ja’ja who are confessed allies of Bush and Israel? Is Syria and Iran the same as Bush and Israel.

Anyway, now it all over. Nassrallah has set the new rules of engagement, let see who will dare challenge him and the opposition.

Another bunch bite the dust!!!

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May 8th, 2008, 2:05 pm

 

47. Naji said:

QN,

How about Little Orange Riding Hood vs. Bad Wolfie…?! ;)

I agree with WD and Aus, and you…, but while some would sell their soul to the devil (not a new phenomenon in human affairs!) in order to preserve their power and riches,…others try sticking to principled positions and fighting for national interest in order to get in power or whatever (again, not an entirely new phenomenon in human history!)….!

As I have said before, you should have some faith in your fellow Lebanese… and be proud of them…!! Not ALL M14 followers are puppets… General Aoun, btw, was the original and main component of M14… Many other idealists have also left the M14 bunch… all you see in their latest rallies are mostly your typical rednecks, bigots, and ze3ran…!! …not the same as the first days of the Cedar Revolution…!

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May 8th, 2008, 2:07 pm

 

48. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss,

I agree that a merger would bea positive development, but it unrealistic to imagine that happening any time soon. Hizbullah has to transform (along with the rest of Lebanon) into a completely different kind of political party. Do you think that the Christians of Kesrouan will happily join a party that calls itself “Al-Muqaawama al-Islamiyya fi Lubnan”? Until that happens, we need to see changes on all sides.

Nasrallah is a superb orator. There is no one in Lebanon (or the rest of the region) who is a match for him. He has the military might on his side, and he knows it, and he is flexing his muscles confidently. March 14 will lose spectacularly if they try to bend the opposition to their will with these stupid tactics. The best way to deal with Hizbullah is by making them part of the state.

It will be interesting, in the coming days, to see how Jumblatt rationalizes his move.

From my perspective, March 14 walked into a trap. Blocking the airport and civil disobedience of this nature have long been part of the opposition’s plans, to be used if visibly provoked. March 14 gave them a perfect opportunity to block the airport and to humiliate the government by forcing them to reverse their decision. It was a mistake of major proportions by the pro-government forces.

Jumblatt’s strategy was to provoke them into carrying out these plans, in the hope that it would make Hizbullah look bad. The miscalculation, in my opinion, is that Hizbullah’s supporters (both Shi`a and Christians) are not stupid. They already know what Hizbullah is, and even if some are not happy with it, they will grin and bear it until the end of this conflict. Therefore, whatever political capital March 14 can gain from provoking the opposition is basically neutralized. However, the opposition’s political capital is not, because they will win the street battles without any problem.

My personal feeling is that Hizbullah should listen to Uqab Saqr, and lift the downtown sit-in as a token of good will. The majority should then respond by granting a veto to the opposition. Together, they can hammer out an election law IN the cabinet, not on the streets. We will hold fresh elections, and let the best men win. End of story.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:22 pm

 

49. norman said:

QN,

I like Hezbollah not because it is weak , I like it because it is strong and can stand to pressure which is rare in the Arab world.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:25 pm

 

50. Qifa Nabki said:

For those who cannot follow the press conference on television, NOW Lebanon has an ongoing translation.

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=41551

Do NOT follow the version on Naharnet. It is highly biased and selective, and even misquotes Nasrallah. The version on NOW is more responsible.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:28 pm

 

51. Naji said:

The press conference is still going on… so I have not been able to read all of QN’s last comment, but every time I see the Uqab Saqer name, I cringe…!! Seriously, QN, where did you get that infatuation with that little huslter…??! (No offence!)

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May 8th, 2008, 2:30 pm

 

52. Qifa Nabki said:

Norman

There is much to like about Hizbullah. In one of my very first posts on Syria Comment, I told Alex that my ideal president of Lebanon would combine the character and charisma of Nasrallah with the economic acuity and connections of al-Hariri (Rafiq not Saad). I have a lot of respect for this man, and also for many aspects of the organization.

But we need to bring them into the state. We need to accelerate the process of enfranchising the Shi`a, so that Hizbullah feels confident about transitioning.

Naji, what do you have against Uqab? I like him because he is a voice of moderation. He criticizes both sides, and he has called for M14 to give the opposition a veto for a long time.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:32 pm

 

53. Naji said:

QN,
That was Aoun’s singular achievement, bringing HA back into Lebanon and the state,…and that is one of the main reasons i developed a lot respect for Aoun…

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May 8th, 2008, 2:38 pm

 

54. Naji said:

That petty crook,Larsen, is giving his poisonous report at the UNSC right now… The thing is so badly written, it sounds as if Jumblatt wrote it himself, with no editing… to what level has the UN sunk…?!

The plot continues…!

One reassuring thing one got from the Nassrallah press conference is that Nassrallah does NOT seem to think that there will be an actual military campaign this summer…!

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May 8th, 2008, 2:43 pm

 

55. Qifa Nabki said:

Naji, you are right about Aoun in that respect. But in my humble opinion, Aoun has (at times) functioned more as a fig leaf than as an actual moderator and facilitator of Hizbullah’s transformation. Some may argue that this has been the case because Aoun was demonized by the US, Saudi Arabia, and M14 from the moment he signed his memorandum with Hizbullah, and there is much truth in that argument.

But I also believe that he has sacrificed many of his principles for the sake of political glory.

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May 8th, 2008, 2:45 pm

 

56. Naji said:

QN,

We will have to have a long discussion about Aoun sometime (right now I am watching that crook Larsen), but trust me (for now) he is THE only one on the current stage who has a sincere project for a proper democratic state… which is why he is something of a threat to all, including neighbors…

Naji said:

QN,

How about Little Orange Riding Hood vs. Bad Wolfie…?!

I agree with WD and Aus, and you…, but while some would sell their soul to the devil (not a new phenomenon in human affairs!) in order to preserve their power and riches,…others try sticking to principled positions and fighting for national interest in order to get in power or whatever (again, not an entirely new phenomenon in human history!)….!

As I have said before, you should have some faith in your fellow Lebanese… and be proud of them…!! Not ALL M14 followers are puppets… General Aoun, btw, was the original and main component of M14… Many other idealists have also left the M14 bunch… all you see in their latest rallies are mostly your typical rednecks, bigots, and ze3ran…!! …not the same as the first days of the Cedar Revolution…!

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May 8th, 2008, 2:55 pm

 

57. Qifa Nabki said:

Naji, if you can convince me, I would be happy to support Aoun. Until then, I will remain independent and miserable.

(The FPM have the cutest girls, anyway). ;-)

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May 8th, 2008, 3:01 pm

 

58. norman said:

QN,

Hezbollah is popular because Arabs are sick and tired of weak leaders following outside powers and do not represent their people aspersions , What we see from KSA and Egypt is not something that makes people feel that they have an alternative ,

Hezbollah will be integrated in the Lebanese army only after a political reform as we discussed previously that will give Lebanon a government that they can call their own without foreign interference and that needs bold movement toward reform., Aoun Can push for that , He is stubborn enough.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:02 pm

 

59. ausamaa said:

Now Terry Rod Laersen is doing his bit to the UNSC on Jazeera.. most enjoyable..!! BTW, didn’t Arafat refuse to meet him and accused him of cheating and siding with the Israelis months before he was assasinated?

Mind you, its better to watch Rafiq on the live show on NBN live now.

Then we wll have the best show of the day and listen to mini Harriri. Let us hope he has practiced his speach before he delivers it to the public. His pronunciation, grammer and delivery I mean.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:04 pm

 

60. majedkhaldoun said:

Fuad Siniora miscalculated, made wrong decisions, and I am very surprised,Saad Hariri ,hopefully ,will correct the problem.
Nasrallah is better than Nasser, Nasrallah acomplished victory, Nasser led us to defeat, we love nasser,we should like Nassrallah more.
Again it is clear, Jumblat is commiting treason,by causing (fitnah) serious trouble.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:05 pm

 

61. Naji said:

QN,
You seem to be convinced already… what else, of any significance, is left… ;)

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May 8th, 2008, 3:05 pm

 

62. Naji said:

Aussama,
I hear that little Hariri has been getting elocution lessons in the Lebanese accent lately… so he should be a little less insufferable this time… that damn Saudi accent was always too irritating to listen to for a whole “speech”…!!

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May 8th, 2008, 3:10 pm

 

63. ausamaa said:

Wonder what is Bander and Saud Al Faisal are thinking and saying to each other now?

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May 8th, 2008, 3:15 pm

 

64. Naji said:

Is everyone watching the gun battles in Beirut right now… Apparently, these cowards (juvenile neo-cons and senile Saudies) have opted for a Lebanese civil war over another military campaign against HA…!!

Sad…truly sad… :(

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May 8th, 2008, 3:17 pm

 

65. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Naji,
Who is fighting who in Beirut? FM against Amal?

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May 8th, 2008, 3:18 pm

 

66. Qifa Nabki said:

Hariri might offer some kind of olive branch. (Nasrallah wisely left this option open, by reaching out to the Sunnis and marginalizing Jumblatt).

The article in al-Akhbar said that Hariri originally planned to freeze the cabinet decisions, but the M14 General Secretariat later denied this.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:19 pm

 

67. why-discuss said:

Minnie Hariri is so dull and apathetic, no wonder that the Diva Minnie Jumblatt is taking over the show.
I always said that Jumblatt, with his druze roots, heretics at the eyes of all moslems, has always tried to create rifts between Shia-sunni-christians to keep some sort of power for his 400,000 druze community. He has been so much calling for celebrity in martyrdom, I wish someone renders that service to him and to Lebanon.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:30 pm

 

68. norman said:

To All,

Is it time for Suleiman to declare Martial Law , resolve the government and the parliament and put a care taker government to set up a new election law and new election for a new parliament and the new constitution with no set aside or quotas.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:31 pm

 

69. Naji said:

Suleiman is a wimp…! :(

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May 8th, 2008, 3:35 pm

 

70. Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss,

Walla this is hateful language. The Druze are “heretics”? If we are going to adopt this kind of frame, then tell me: What are the Alawites?

We should really reject this kind of language altogether, or else forget about Israel: we can butcher each other perfectly well on our own.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

71. norman said:

Naji,

He can declare Martial law , Aoun can not ,

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May 8th, 2008, 3:42 pm

 

72. Qifa Nabki said:

Norman,

The only person who can declare martial law is the president.

Otherwise, this constitutes a military coup.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:43 pm

 

73. idaf said:

The following is a list of direct quotes from Nasrallah’s speech from tayyar.org. It does summarize the speech well:

17:27 السيّد نصرالله:
- نحن على جهوزية كاملة للدفاع عن انفسنا في حال حاولت إسرائيل خوض حرباً معنا. نحن مستعدون لخوض حربين معاً إن كان بعض من في الداخل ير يد مساعدة إسرائيل
- لا نطرح اي تغيير في النظام اللبناني ولا في مواقع السلطات فيه
- لن نتسامح في الدفاع عن كرامتنا أو وجودنا

According to Nasrallah, it seems that the following is the main reason for Junblat’s hysteric move that caused all of this:

- جنبلاط مستعد للإنقلاب شرط ان نقوم بتحالف رباعي معه وهذا تصرّف غير اخلاقي لن نقبله

17:16 السيّد نصرالله:
- أقول لتيار المستقبل مصلحتكم أن تكونوا في بلد آمن
- حلم وليد جنبلاط أن تحصل الفتنة السنية – الشيعية
- الذي بدأ الحرب عليه أن يوقفها
- لدي معلومات انّ بعضهم يلوم بعضهم لتسرّع القرارات التي أخذوها
- لا نحبّ المعارك على رغم كلّ الجراح،من يصرّ على خوضها ليتذّكر اولمرت وحالوتس
- قرارات مجلس الأمن لن تكون اسوأ من الذي صدر سابقاً على رغم انّ حكومة الرئيس جنبلاط اعطته مادة دسمة، لكن قرارات هذا المجلس لا تعنيني كثيراً
- القوات الدولية في لبنان مرحّب بها في لبنان ضمن مهام وظيفتها المحددة ونحن من يحميها

16:53 السيّد نصرالله:
- لن نتقاتل مع القوى الأمنية ولا مع الجيش اللبناني
- مواجهتنا لقرارات الحكومة هي مدنية
- سلاح حزب الله لن يستخدم في الداخل ومواجهتنا للذين يريدون نزع سلاحنا ستكون شبيهة بقتال عيتا الشعب
- لو كنّا نريد الإنقلاب لإستفقتم صباحاً داخل السجون
- هناك يد ممدودة للحوار على اساس إلغاء القرارات الحكومية الأخيرة، ويد اخرى تمسك السلاح، ليس لإلغاء أحد لاننا نريد الجميع ان يبني البلد
- في الطائفة السنية علماء دين صادقين ومخلصين
- يراهنون على الفتنة ونحن كنّا نخافها، ونحن مطمئنون
- لا فتنة في لبنان بين السنة والشيعة وهذا الامر لا يخيفنا
- للشعوب العربية اقول في لبنان لا يوجد إنقلاب بل هناك مؤامرة ضدّ سلاح المقاومة
- المطلوب إلغاء قرارات الحكومة غير الشرعية
- لن نقبل بقتلنا على الطرقات أو نذبح ومن يريد الحوار نحن مستعدون
16:52 السيّد نصرالله: العميد شقير هو عميد المطار وكلّ تعيين لضابط آخر عليه ان يعرف انّه عميل
16:48 السيّد نصرالله: نحن مع منطق الدولة ونحن أم الصبي ويوم الإعتداء في مار مخايل طالبنا القضاء بالتحقيق، أمّا هم منطق العصابة يحاكمون غيابياً العميد شقير ويقيلونه

This has to be the strongest condemnation of Junblat ever by Nasrallah:
16:41 السيّد نصرالله: حنبلاط لص وكذاب وقاتل
16:41 السيّد نصرالله: ممنوع المسّ باي فرد من المقاومة، والذي سيضربنا سنضربه والذي سيقنّص علينا سنقنّص عليه
16:37 السيّد نصرالله: إن اليد التي ستمتدّ الى سلاح المقاومة ستقطع، إسرائيل حاولت مدّ يدها وقطعناها، وقد أعذر من انذر، حتى لو كان ابي يريد وضع يده على شبكة الإتصالات السلكية سنواجهه
16:34 السيّد نصرالله: قرار الحكومة الأخير هو بمثابة إعلان حرب بقرار اميركي لتصفية حزب الله
16:32 السيّد نصرالله: أوقف النائب الفرنسي في الضاحية بجانب منزلي وهذا الأمر هو مركّب لإعتقاله،
نعم نحن سنعتقل كلّ فرد يريد التجسسّ على قياديي المقاومة ولن نفرّط بامن اي قيادي
16:31 السيّد نصرالله: النائب الفرنسي اوقف قرب منزلي وهو يصور
16:30 السيّد نصرالله: وليد جنبلاط هو رئيس حكومة لبنان والسنيورة موظّف مسكين عنده
16:29 السيّد نصرالله: أبلغنا ضباط الجيش اللبناني أنّه لا يوجد شبكة سلكية في كسروان وفيما بعد حاولت السلطة إبتزاز سلاح الإشارة بموضوع فكّ الإعتصام: هذا الأمر يظهر الدولة وكانها عصابة
16:25 السيّد نصرالله: ليس لحزب الله أي شبكة سلكية في كسروان وجبيل وكل من يقول بغير ذلك هو كاذب
16:23 السيّد نصرالله: الرهان على حروب إقليمية سقط
16:23 السيّد نصرالله: لا تحالف رباعي مع فريق الموالاة لا في الدنيا ولا في الآخرة
16:21 السيد نصرالله: اقول للوزير العريضي انّ مقاومين كثر لحزب الله قتلوا واستشهدوا نتيجة إعتمادهم على الإتصالات السلكية التابعة للدولة اللبنانية
16:19 السيد نصرالله:
- سلاح الإشارة موجود في كل الجيوش والانظمة العالمية ولا يمكن فصله عن السلاح الناري
- الإتصالات اللاسلكية أو الأثيرية يمكن التجسس عليها ويمكن ضربها، امّا الإتصالات السلكية لدى المقاومة هو فقط مجموعة سنترالات وشبكات موصولة لدى المقاومين، وهذا السلاح: سلاح الإشارة السلكي هو سلاح فعال لمقاومتنا
16:16 السيّد نصرالله:
- موضوع سلاح الإشارة والإتصالات لدى المقاومة هو أمر حيوي لإستمرار المقاومة
- لبنان بعيد جلسة مجلس الوزراء الأخيرة ليس كقبلها فقد أخذ فريق الموالاة لبنان الى مرحلة صعبة ودقيقة وحرجة

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May 8th, 2008, 3:46 pm

 

74. norman said:

It is always surprising to me why people want others to have the same religion as they are , If any member of a religion thinks that only the people of his own will go to heaven , wouldn’t it be more beneficial not to have too many people there , let everybody believe whatever they want we should look at what people do not what their faith is.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:49 pm

 

75. norman said:

QN,
They should have one , they have no recognised government by all the people.

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May 8th, 2008, 3:51 pm

 

76. Qifa Nabki said:

Idaf

I actually would not be surprised if Nasrallah is telling the truth on that score (ta7aaluf rubaa3ii).

If we look at the press during the past ten days or so, there was a lot of agitation on the part of Aoun against what he called a “renewal of the quadripartite alliance”. The confidence expressed by Saad al-Hariri that we would elect a president on May 13 did not reflect the decision by March 14 to use the 50+1 option. Rather, it reflected (in my opinion) a real breakthrough between Hariri and Nasrallah on the main issues. This is why Nasrallah did not attack Hariri and the Sunnis in his speech.

It is entirely possible and plausible that the agreements between Hariri and Nasrallah were not to Jumblatt’s liking, which is why he torpedoed them. Who knows?

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May 8th, 2008, 3:56 pm

 

77. Majhool said:

SimoHurtta

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

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May 8th, 2008, 4:05 pm

 

78. ausamaa said:

This is sad. As sad as Iraq and Gaza. Beirut is lovely, it does not deserve all this. When will this hell be over?

And please guys, let us act as if AIG and AP do not exist until the Welch heat wave is over.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:17 pm

 

79. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ausamaa,
I hope Nasrallah takes your advice and does not involve Israel in this. I am sad to see what is happenning in Beirut. You read my posts long enough to know that I would have prefferred a democratic Lebanon with one man one vote.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:22 pm

 

80. Joe M. said:

Qifa Nabki,

I agree with you that the government walked into this trap. Obviously, Nasrallah has been warning of the possibility of disobedience for a long time. The Mustaqbal people were in an interesting position. They were being pulled from several directions, and chose to confront Hizbullah and the opposition. It will be interesting to see, when the dust clears, how calculated was this decision by Hizbullah to act now. I would not be surprised if it is a specific attempt to peel the Mustaqbal from the LF and Jumblatt. My guess is that without American and Saudi support, Mustaqbal would become neutral and bend towards Hizbullah very quickly. Currently they are immunized from the consequences of confrontation by the USA and Saudi, and they are actively pulled toward confrontation by Jumblatt and Ga’ga. (well, the USA does its share of pulling as well, but I doubt its influence in this respect is very great).

But I highly doubt that there will be a civil war, as Hizbullah can control its side and prevent fighting if necessary. The news has not been entirely clear about who is doing the fighting right now, but my guess is that demonstrators and opposition forces are generally coming under fire from March 14 vigilantes with some Amal partisans retaliating. But this will hardly last a few days at most (barring some extraordinary situation, like a major assassination), because they simply will not have anyone to fight when Hizbullah orders an end to their side’s role. I guess there is a slight chance for FPM and Amal to fight with Jumblatt and LF people for a little while, but i doubt it is sustainable; it ignores the central issues leading to the current crisis.

Anyway, that said, my guess is that Mustaqbal will not immediately split from Jumblatt and Ga’ga, but they will have to back down in confronting Hizbullah and lose face in the process. I doubt Hizbullah will make any concessions at all and take the whole situation as a further sign that they can not compromise, as they are in a position of strength. In the process, it will further put the squeeze on Mustaqbal, as Jumblatt and Ga’ga will be radicalized by this crisis. I don’t know what will happen down the road, and whether Mustaqbal considers confronting Hizbullah on matters of state sovereignty to be worth the cost of escalating this type of massive unrest, or whether they will move towards compromise with Hizbullah. That is what we have to wait and see. There is no doubt that they are in the hardest position, and are being pulled from every direction. The problem is that everyone is losing in this, and that has the downside of discrediting the best possible solution (new elections). Of course, Mustaqbal is not interested in new elections because they will lose their majority, which further feeds the instability.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:32 pm

 

81. Naji said:

QN,

That’s all there is to it, I am afraid…! These zu’ama will sacrifice the whole world, not only Lebanon, to keep their positions… I remember Jumblatt once saying this much, almost to the word, in one of his press conferences not too long ago…!! And what are they fighting over… lording it over a few villages… although some have now grown into international fame and fortune…!

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May 8th, 2008, 4:36 pm

 

82. abraham said:

As’ad Abukhalil has more to say about Lebanon in one of his latest blog posts:

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2008/05/legacy-of-rafiq-hariri-dahlan-plan-for.html

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May 8th, 2008, 4:38 pm

 

83. Naji said:

Joe,
Your analysis captures many points, but misses an essential element, I think. The Saudi/Bush determination to take this thing to the end…and they don’t really care what happens if they cannot win…! Of course the local parties, Mustaqbal in particular, can put a stop to this against the wishes of their backers, but… will they…?!

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May 8th, 2008, 4:43 pm

 

84. Naji said:

General Aoun is going to speak in about half an hour…!!

What happened to the little runt (Hariri), btw…?!

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May 8th, 2008, 4:50 pm

 

85. norman said:

Aljazeera is saying the the confrontations are expanding.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:52 pm

 

86. Alex said:

I watched Nasrallah’s press conference live. Here are the main points he clearly wanted to make

1) To his supporters in the Arab world, mostly sunnies, avoid looking like he is leading an attempt to implement Iranian/Shia hegemony in Lebanon. He Started quickly by declaring that Junblatt was the prime minister in Lebanon … Seniora was “a poor man working for Junblatt who works for Condy Rice and David Welch).

2) To the Lebanese people … don’t worry yet … we might have to escalate, but there will be no civil war, and no war in general (for the foreseeable future)

3) To the Saudis … a warning “I hope you TRULY work to bring us together … I hope you do not make the same mistake you made in 2006 then you had to work hard to undo. “they” spent hundreds of million of dollars on their public relations campaign against Hizbollah the past two years and it only backfired … we are, according to all polls and to information we get from Arab visitors, even more popular in the Arab world than we were before they spend all that money”

As Ausamaa and Naji pointed out, Terje Roed Larsen art the UN followed Nasrallah’s speech with a sneaky report that sounded like typical Junblatt/Cheney talk … it is sad that all of them are obviously coordinating their moves yet they are pushed to escalate more and more in order to not admit their mistakes.

Which leads me to Qifa NAbki’s comparison between Hizbollah’s alliance with Iran and M14′s relationship to the Neocns and Saudis.

QN … there is a differnece … two differences actually. First, Nasrallah is winning .. he does not have to come up with increasingly desperate and foolish tactics to protect his future. M14 are … in a much more difficult situation .. they have a depressing deadline .. the end of this summer when their Neocon allies are going back to Texas.

Nasrallah’s friends in Iran and Syria are not going anywhere soon.

The second difference is … the type of relationship … Junblatt’s relationship with the White house, and mini Hariri’s relationship with Al-Saud are not to be compared with Nasrallah’s relationship with Iran and Syria … I think I wrote here before about a freind who told me that at his Christian village near Lattakia in Syria, every single house he visited had a large poster of Nasrallah on the wall … usually Nasralla and BAshar.

I doubt in Saudi Arabia they have posters of Hariri Jr. on many walls, and I doubt in Washington they have Junblatt’s beautiful face on their living room walls.

But … in general, yes, obviously Nasrallah is taking Syria’s interest and Iran’s interest in to account when he calculates many of his moves.

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May 8th, 2008, 4:58 pm

 

87. ausamaa said:

Wait till after Harriri deliver his speach. I am afraid that what we have seen is nothing yet. Amal and Hizbullah seem to be still holding back in a way. But Nassrallah language were more than clear and I do not think he is bluffing or poustering.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:00 pm

 

88. Naji said:

The little creep is on now…! He is not starting off well…!!

Well, actually, he went on to be more conciliatory… They seem to be backing down…!

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May 8th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

89. offended said:

Well, Hariri (and not Junblat, note that!), has delivered his demands to Naserallah. It’s obvious that he’s trying to talk from a position of a strength…. I don’t know…. this whole thing might have been staged by the 14 Marchers.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:25 pm

 

90. Qifa Nabki said:

I just spoke with my father, who lives in Hamra. He said that the fighting has entered the area.

Alex,

We can discuss your point for many hours. This is not the time! But in brief I will simply say that it is important to distinguish between leaders and people. While March 14′s leaders may be the darlings of the neo-cons, this does not mean that the common aspirations of the people who support them (and they represent much of Lebanon) are not genuine, and they will certainly not expire with the end of the Bush presidency.

As I have said many times, many in Lebanon are not happy with the “divinity” of Hizbullah. They are not willing to stand by and keep their mouth shut, and risk being labeled as “Zionists” if they criticize the party.

Nasrallah’s popularity in the Muslim world outside of Lebanon is completely irrelevant to our analysis here. He is popular because of what he represents. Would he be as popular in Syria (or Iran or Egypt or anywhere else) if Hizbullah was based in those countries?

Anyway, we can discuss this more later.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:26 pm

 

91. Alex said:

Hariri Jr. just finished reading his response to Nasrallah … he tried for a couple of minutes to speak while looking into the Camera… but he had a hard time trying to give a passionate speech with his weak Saudi accent.

He left the door open for a solution. He proposed to Nasrallah to elect General Sleiman immediately, then to sit and talk about their differences and to ask General Sleiman to be the judge between them.

He said … we already have fitna … a Sunni Shia fitna, and it is Hizbollah’s fault.

He talked about Islam … as if Lebanon has only Muslims. Nasrallah managed to mention “al-sayiedd Almasee7″.

He said that M14 has only one enemy .. Israel … Israel is their one and only enemy.

Right.

If I were there I would have asked him why Junblatt again declared last week that he does not mind assassinating Bashar to overthrow the Syrian regime.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:31 pm

 

92. Naji said:

The opposition spokespersons are supporting my reading above:

Naji said:
The little creep is on now…! He is not starting off well…!!

Well, actually, he went on to be more conciliatory… They seem to be backing down…!
May 8th, 2008, 5:08 pm

That’s really good news… the whole thing maybe contained…!!

But, as the Jazeera guy commented, it is really tragic if the Lebanon is practically into a civil war… and the reason is simply a misunderstanding… as little Hariri suggested…!!

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May 8th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

93. offended said:

May 8th, 2008, 5:33 pm

 

94. offended said:

Naji, he sounded reconcilatory. But his demands are not.

He’s simply asking the opposition to resolve the whole dilemma of Lebanon…like he doesn’t bear any responsibility himself. Doesn’t sound any reconciliatory to me.

Alex, Hariri’s game is obvious. He’s trying to accentuate the Fitna angle to the max. (or rather the people who’d pushed him to the podium…

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May 8th, 2008, 5:48 pm

 

95. Alex said:

Qifa NAbki

What are the aspirations of the M14 supporters?

I think what is more significant is the fears, and not aspirations, of the M14 people… fears fo Syrian hegemony and/or Shia power are the main motivating forces in the M14 camp.

Those have been carefully encouraged and supported through Saudi/American media and Public relations … when this stops, those fears will gradually and slowly diminish… I think Damascus knows how to behave this time after a new Sleiman/Aoun president takes over and a new government is elected next year…

As for aspirations … only a regional settlement will help there. I really don’t think Lebanon can isolate itself from its regional environment and its competitive nature.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

96. majedkhaldoun said:

Hariri suggestions are totally wrong, they would not be accepted by HA, first there must be freezing goverment decisions, and call for calm,,allow for talk and dialogue.

Alex , no one is saying there are no christians in lebanon,but,now, it is a broblem between Hariri, and Nasrallah.

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May 8th, 2008, 5:53 pm

 

97. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

The opposition is just as good at promoting the fears of its supporters as March 14. Suleiman Frangieh went on TV to accuse the government of a plan to dismantle the communications system “in order to kill Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.”

If that isn’t incitement, I don’t know what is.

Let’s stop pretending that one side represents genuine feelings and the other represents foreign interests. This is complete baloney, and it will get the Lebanese nowhere.

Instead, we should reject this language when it is spoken by ALL leaders (from Hariri to Aoun to Geagea to Nasrallah to Jumblatt to Frangieh) and focus instead on SOLVING THE PROBLEM.

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May 8th, 2008, 6:04 pm

 

98. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki

Yes, yes, absolutely.

But it is a matter of

1) Who STARTS these things? .. who escalates first?

2) How much money / effort is put behind the fear campaign and how frequest / constant / strategic it is for the two different groups.

You mentioned frangieh … that was one statement … there were a few others by frangieh .. but … do you honestly want to compare opposition’s efforts in this regard to those of the M14 group??

Seriously … the anti Syria madness was about 100 times louder than the opposition’s “working for cody rice” charges.

And … this is my personal opinion … there is no comparison in who is more of an enemy of Lebanon .. the ones that Nasrallah is allied to (Syria) .. or the ones that M14 are allied with .. Neocons and Israel.

Look at 2005 to 2008 and deiced for your self who is more of an enemy … and please look at known actions, not at allegations from the M14 group.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are about the same in some respects … they are both interested in their own Sunni /Shia communities in Lebanon .. I don’t want to get into that.

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May 8th, 2008, 6:17 pm

 

99. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex,

Ok, so you want to discuss it now.

1) Who STARTS these things? .. who escalates first?

Alex, who left the government on the basis that it was a “Zionist/American tool”? Who called various politicians in the majority “traitors” and “collaborators”? Who lay siege to the parliament building and declared the government illegitimate, illegal, unconstitutional, etc.? The current crisis was the result of two major actions, BOTH of them initiated by Hizbullah: (a) the July war; (b) the opposition’s walk-out.

I have repeatedly pointed out March 14′s mistakes, but there is absolutely no doubt that Hizbullah is just as much to blame for the chaos.

You mentioned frangieh … that was one statement … there were a few others by frangieh .. but … do you honestly want to compare opposition’s efforts in this regard to those of the M14 group??

Alex, I read al-Safir, al-Akhbar, etc. every single day, and every single day there are hundreds of statements from pro-opposition politicians, policy analysts, journalists, etc. that completely trash the government and call it a tool of the Zionists.

As for “the anti Syria madness”, this was very loud and very repetitive, you are right. But Alex, you completely ignore the anti-U.S. rhetoric that is deeply ingrained in our political culture, to the point that we simply take it for granted, and which taints anyone who has any association with the West.

And … this is my personal opinion … there is no comparison in who is more of an enemy of Lebanon .. the ones that Nasrallah is allied to (Syria) .. or the ones that M14 are allied with .. Neocons and Israel.

Now you sound like the opposition. March 14′s only allies are the neocons and Israel? Come on, let’s be serious. The Lebanese government has been supported by the entire Arab League, Europe, the U.S. (neocons and non-neocons) and many other countries. Are they all Zionist puppets? Are they all enemies of Lebanon?

Let’s not get into a discussion of who is the bigger enemy or the bigger friend of Lebanon. We will be at this all day.

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May 8th, 2008, 6:40 pm

 

100. why-discuss said:

QN

DRUZE HERETICS?
“They were declared to be heretics when the eleventh century leader Muhammad Bin Ismail ad Darazi declared that the Fatimid Caliph Hakim (996-1021) was actually divine.”

Even more than the Alawis, the Druze have always kept their doctrine and ritual secret to avoid persecution – both from regular Druze and from Muslims. Although an important principle for them is to always tell the truth to each other, they are permitted to lie to outsiders – especially when it comes to protecting the secrets of their religious beliefs.
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/blfaq_islam_druze.htm

ALAWITES?
Although Sunni Muslims do not regard them as Muslims, Alawis consider themselves to be Muslims. The Syrian Constitution requires that the President of the Republic be a Muslim and there was doubt as to whether or not Hafiz al-Asad fulfilled that condition. But the leader of the Twelver Shi’as in Lebanon, “Imam” Musa Sadr, endorsed their claim to being Muslims.
http://atheism.about.com/library/FAQs/islam/blfaq_islam_alawis.htm

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May 8th, 2008, 10:58 pm

 

101. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

I would like to suggest to you going back to 2005 and please tell me if the opposition took the M14 people to the security council and if they threatened to kill George Bush or the Saudi King like Jumblatt threatened to kill Bashar Assad.

It would not be useful to ask “who started it” in a way that is limited to Lebanese parties … if we forget the United States and Iran and concentrate on the two SS (Syria and Saudi Arabia) who happen to be hte closest sponsors of the M14 and opposition, Nasrallah was polite to the Saudis … and he continues to be polite to them until today (although a bit less than in 2005) … Jumblatt … was asking for a US invasion of Syria, he was asking for the overthrow of the Syiran regime, he was asking for killing Bashar Assad.

Hizbollah can not be the same without a very friendly Syrian regime, and M14 can not survive too long without the Kingdom’s sponsorship … so, when you ask who started it, then you should perhaps look at who started to try to choke the others through cutting their outside support.

M14 started it, and they took it to hte security council, they used their much more influential Saudi owned media empire in addition to other Neocon-friendly media (WSJ, Times of London ….) two committed presidents (Bush and Chirac) promoting Seniora and trying to take away Hizbolla’s arms …

I can’t see how you can compare that massive campaign to … “alakhbar and Franjieh …”

But I understand and appreciate your effort in trying to moderate us Syrians here who seem to be biased in favor of the opposition
: )

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May 9th, 2008, 1:57 am

 

102. Qifa Nabki said:

Alex

We are completely off topic. What does this comment have to do with the original issue? I don’t even know where to begin to address your point.

It seems to me that your biggest problem is with the anti-Syria actions of March 14 (especially Walid Jumblatt) and their allies in Washington and Riyadh. Fine. I’ve told you that I think it has become hysterical and counter-productive.

What you have to understand, however, is that hatred of Syria is not something that is cooked up in some PR office on Madison Ave. Alex, there is a LEGACY of hatred and mistrust and terrible feelings towards Syria by many, many Lebanese people. It’s not just Walid Jumblatt and his followers. I urge to speak to the Aounists and read their blogs. They are FULL of venomous anti-Syrian comments, alongside their anti-Saudi and anti-Iranian and anti-American comments.

March 14 may have exploited this, for sure, but you have to appreciate that we are dealing with a much larger history, one that goes back way beyond 2005. Hatred of Syria is not all the result of some “massive campaign”. It has something to do with history, and with SYRIA, as you know.

I’m not trying to moderate you guys! I’m simply trying to bring in a different perspective.

Khalas, this is a silly argument.

Why-Discuss, I don’t understand your point.

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May 9th, 2008, 2:17 am

 

103. Alex said:

Qifa Nabki,

Wallahi I did talk to quite a few Lebanese every week the past twenty years and I do understand the Anti-Syria sentiments… I realize they existed pre-2005.

But M14 made it their full time job to fight Syria and to create a Syrian monster in the mind of their people… I have watched the level of hate double and triple after 2005 among the Sunni and Druze Lebanese in particular …

The level of negative sentiments did not start at zero, but after the Syrians withdrew from Lebanon, it might have gone back closer to zero by now had they not worked hard to maintain it and promote it … full time… every day and every hour, for he past three years.

Now, before you think that I am blindly focused on Syria, let me explain how this is totally significant to internal Lebanese politics and to potential solutions: Imagine Nasrallah did the same since 2005 … every day calling the Saudi King a murderer and occasionally asking for an Iranian invasion of Saudi Arabia.

Wouldn’t you say that he would have guaranteed that Seniora and Hariri will never be able to make any agreement with him?

Similarly … Jumblatt and Hariri and Geagea and Seniora surely knew that they will not be able to have a deal with Hizbollah while they were attacking Syria non-stop… they were not looking for an agreement with Hizollah .. they were looking for weakening Hizbollah (by involving the Security Council and by trying to destroy Syria).

I don’t care for any other formality and superficial dialog or pretentious politeness towards Nasrallah or “al-muqawameh” … the above attitude towards Syria (Hizbollah’s main ally) says it all… since day one M14 was guaranteeing there will be no agreement with Hizbollah (and Amal).

In other words … THEY started it and hey took it to much higher levels.

And that was the original point of our discussion my friend : )

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May 9th, 2008, 3:56 am

 

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