Mughnieh: Liberator of Lebanon or Opportunistic Terrorist ?

Hizbullah leader’s death in Syria could trigger retaliation
By Nicholas Blanford | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
February 14, 2008

Beirut, Lebanon
A shadowy senior Hizbullah commander, thought to have masterminded spectacular terrorist attacks in the 1980s, was killed Tuesday in a Damascus car bombing that will almost certainly trigger a retaliation from the militant Shiite group.

Imad Mughnieh’s legendary militant credentials, which are thought to include attacks on the US Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, made him a prime American and Israeli target for decades and a significant figure in the arsenal of Hizbullah, the Islamist political and guerrilla force that Washington calls a terrorist organization. Analysts say that with Mr. Mughnieh out of the picture, Hizbullah has lost a key asset in its ability to strike in Lebanon or the region.

“This is as big a blow as it gets for Hizbullah security. It’s even bigger than killing [Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan] Nasrallah,” says Magnus Ranstorp, a Hizbullah specialist and research director at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

Mughnieh, in his mid-40s, was accused of killing more Americans than any other militant before the 9/11 attacks, and the bombings and kidnappings he is alleged to have organized are credited with ending American intervention in Lebanon under the Reagan administration.

He is believed to have overseen the April 1983 suicide bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut and, six months later, the twin suicide truck-bomb attacks against the US Marine barracks and the French paratroop headquarters in Beirut, acts that killed nearly 400 people.

As of Wednesday morning, no one had claimed responsibility for his death. But many in Lebanon and Syria blamed Israel, who is believed to have carried out these sorts of targeted assassinations in Beirut and Damascus before.

The late-night blast Tuesday tore apart Mughnieh’s car, which was parked near an Iranian school in the Damascus suburb of Kfar Soussa. Syrian authorities have only confirmed that one person died in the blast.

Mohammed Habash, a Syrian Islamist lawmaker, said that Damascus needed more time to conduct an investigation before commenting publicly. “Israel is always aggressive and doesn’t respect international laws and norms and it has proved in the past that it doesn’t respect countries’ sovereignty, whether in Palestine, Lebanon, or Syria.”

Hizbullah confirmed Mughnieh’s death early Wednesday morning. “With all due pride, we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs,” said a statement carried by Hizbullah’s Al Manar television channel.

“This is a personal loss for Nasrallah,” says Robert Baer, an ex-Central Intelligence Agency officer who tracked Mughnieh in the 1980s. “[Nasrallah and Mughnieh] are basically the ones who made Hizbullah, in the sense of driving the West out [of Lebanon] in the 1980s, then turning that power against the Israelis” occupying south Lebanon.

Israel denied responsibility for Mughnieh’s death, but Israeli officials greeted his demise with joy. Danny Yatom, former director of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, called the assassination “a great achievement for the free world in its fight against terror.”

Analysts say that a retaliation from Hizbullah is inevitable. When Israel assassinated Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, then Hizbullah leader, in February 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was blown up a month later, killing 29 people in a revenge operation alleged to have been planned by Mughnieh himself.

“This is something that Hizbullah cannot let pass. Mughnieh was too much of a symbol,” says Timur Goksel, lecturer on international relations in Beirut and a former United Nations official in south Lebanon. “I don’t think Hizbullah will go for a big bombing, probably an assassination of a high profile target.”

Mughnieh’s death comes amid rising tensions in Lebanon as the country prepares to mark the third anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination in a Valentine’s Day truck bomb blast in 2005. Hizbullah is organizing a large funeral for Mughnieh Thursday afternoon, even as a huge turnout is expected in Beirut to commemorate Mr. Hariri’s death.

While Israel and the US top the list of suspects behind Mughnieh’s death, some Lebanese were quick to point a finger of blame at Damascus.

“It could have been the Syrians,” says Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken member of the anti-Syrian March 14 parliamentary coalition. “Damascus is well protected, and I don’t think somebody else could do it.”

Some analysts suggest that Damascus may have seen advantage in delivering up Mughnieh to his enemies to curry favor with the US at a time when Syria is under intense international pressure. While America’s $25 million reward for Mughnieh is a potential motive, the imminent establishment of an international tribunal to judge Hariri’s killers also may have spurred Damascus’s leadership to cooperate with the Americans over Mughnieh. Syria is widely suspected of involvement in Hariri’s death.

Mughnieh was born in 1962 in the southern Lebanese village of Teir Dibba. He grew up in Beirut’s southern suburbs where as a teenager he joined Force 17, the elite unit of the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

After Israeli forces expelled the Palestinians from Beirut during the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Mughnieh joined a group of Shiite Islamists then coalescing under Iran’s guidance in the Bekaa Valley. The group became Hizbullah and Mughnieh, despite his youth, was considered one of its most capable figures.

In addition to the 1983 attacks in Beirut, in 1985 Mughnieh led the hijacking of a TWA airliner in Beirut in which a US Navy diver was killed. He is also alleged to have run the networks of kidnappers who snatched dozens of foreigners in Beirut in the mid- to late 1980s.

“The man was a murderer and murdered people who had nothing to do with Lebanon,” says Mr. Baer, the former CIA officer. “But at the same time, he believed he was fighting an anti-Colonial war. He was a disciplined soldier in a manageable war, unlike Al Qaeda, which is completely unmanageable.”
  • Julien Barnes-Dacey contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.

Imad Mughniyah, who was assassinated Tuesday in Syria, was a man of the Middle East's shadows. He was a terrorist mastermind behind political causes. For him, though, it was as much about the fight as the cause. He shunned the light. He never gave public speeches or lectures. He is not known to have given any press interviews, not even to sympathetic or politically aligned journalists. Western reporters who sought the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hizballah's help to arrange a rendezvous were politely but sternly advised not to go there.

So, did the CIA or some other American intelligence agency finally do Mughniyah in? Everyone, including some of his friends, may have had a motive.

U.S. officials told TIME today that Mughniyah had traveled to Iraq to train the Shi'ite warlord Moqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Mughniyah, says one American official, was Hizballah’s "chief of external operations" and "considered the key to their military activity." U.S. officials acknowledge that American spy agencies had intensely been tracking Mughniyah the past five years as he moved between Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.

Apart from his ties to Hizballah, Mughniyah was also believed to have worked closely with Iran. A U.S. official confirmed reports that in 2006, Mughniyah accompanied Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a trip to Syria and met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In the 1980s, he had been accused of everything from bombing the U.S. embassy and U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut to the kidnappings of American journalists, academics and the Beirut CIA station chief. More recently, some have claimed that Mughniyeh collaborated with Osama bin Laden. After al-Qaeda's top guns, Mughniyah has the highest price on his head of any terrorist wanted by the FBI — $5 million.

Hizballah immediately blamed Israel for Mughniyah's assassination in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday night. Israel's Mossad spy agency is a reasonable suspect, given Israel's determination to bring him to justice for his alleged involvement in the 1990s bombings in Argentina of the Israeli embassy and a Jewish cultural center. Israeli intelligence has a good history of eliminating terrorist masterminds, even when they are located in unfriendly Arab capitals.

A U.S. official told TIME that Mughniyah had been linked to the 2002 discovery of 50 tons of weapons by Israeli Navy commandos who intercepted a freighter called Karine A in the Red Sea. More recently, said the U.S. official, Mughniyah was connected to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers that led to the July 2006 invasion of Lebanon.

The Israeli Prime Minister's office issued a statement denying any involvement in Mughniyah's killing. A senior ex-intelligence official told TIME: "The Americans wanted him, so did the Saudis and the Lebanese Christians. We weren't the only ones." Still, the former official, who asked not to be identified, has been hunting Mughniyah for over 20 years and described him as "a fanatical killer." "It was as if a big stone had been removed from my heart," he said.

In the John Le Carre world of Middle East terrorism and politics, however, it's impossible to rule out the wildest of conspiracy theories, including that Mughniyah's friends in Syria or Iran may have found his continued existence to be an inconvenience. Or, they may have believed it was politically useful to demonstrate that they can be relied on to control terrorism in the Middle East — as long as the U.S. doesn't try to go after the regimes in Damascus or Tehran. With reporting by Aaron J. Klein/Jerusalem

Imad Mughniyeh: Hezbollah's Phantom Killed

13/02/2008

….Born in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre, in July 1962, to farmer parents, Mughniyeh grew up with two brothers, Jihad and Fouad, and later moved to the capital’s southern suburbs, where he attended school. He spent a year studying at the American University of Beirut.

Mughniyeh later joined “Force 17”, a special military unit that was tasked with protecting Fatah’s leadership in Lebanon (Yasser Arafat, Abu Jihad and Abu Iyad) and became a veteran sniper. After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Mughniyeh oversaw the transfer of weapons from Fatah and the PLO to the nascent Lebanese resistance, represented by Amal and Hezbollah.

Following the three-month siege of Beirut and the PLO’s departure from Lebanon to Tunisia, Mughniyeh joined the Amal movement and later Hezbollah, at the same time as the party’s current leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Anis Nacchache, a Lebanese who had led a failed assassination attempt on the former Iranian Prime Minister Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris, in 1980- after he announced his opposition to Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime- first introduced Mughniyeh to senior officials in the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

According to Abu Wafa, a former leader in the revolutionary guards, Mughniyeh stood out from other enthusiastic young men. On his first trip to Iran, in the early 1980s, Mughniyeh proved his military capabilities and excelled in his training. After three months of basic training, he traveled with other Lebanese Shiaa young men to the Iranian front and took part in several daring operations behind Iraqi lines, according to Iranian military leaders.

 

Imad then joined Hezbollah and was appointed by, Ahmad Motevaselian, a leader in the revolutionary guards in Beirut at the time, as the Party of God’s intelligence chief. His leading role in three operations made Mughniyeh’s name on the top of most-wanted lists in the United States and France: the bombing of the US embassy in the Lebanese capital in April 1983, in which 63 US and Lebanese individuals were killed, the bombing of the US Marines barracks in Beirut, in which 241 died and the bombing of the French barracks in the Bekaa Valley, which killed 58 French soldiers.

Mughniyeh was also tasked with protecting the life of Sheikh Hassan Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, but with his exceptional abilities in field command and leadership, he became the head of the party’s special operations branch.

Mughniyeh disappeared from view for two years and re-emerged on board a kidnapped TWA flight in Beirut international airport in 1985, where he killed one of the passengers, a US Marine.

That same year, a car bomb exploded in front of Fadlallah’s house, killing 62, including Imad’s brother Jihad.

Mughniyeh also participated in the attempt to release a relative who was part of a group known as “Dawa 17” imprisoned in Kuwait after attacks on the US and Kuwaiti embassies. The men were released after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He later kidnapped several westerners and released some of them, in the wake of secret negotiations with the Reagan administration.

According to an Iranian source, who met Mughniyeh on more than one occasion in Iran, the elusive figure had undergone plastic surgery to change his facial features in 1990. He then returned to Beirut incognito, under a new name and a false identity, with an Iranian diplomatic passport. Using several forged Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian and Pakistani passports, Mughniyeh successfully planned and executed a number of terrorist operations in Argentina in the mid 1990s, including the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994, killing 85.

During his constant traveling, Mughniyeh met Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri in Sudan, where al Qaeda’s leader had established training centers in farms, while the revolutionary guards were also active in the country, under the guise of “Jihad for construction” organization, which was responsible for building roads and installations. When Mughniyeh’s cover was blown, he returned to Iran where he underwent a second operation and completely changed his look.

Between 1997 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Mughniyeh traveled between Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan and northern Iraq, and assisted al Qaeda leaders to cross from Afghanistan to Iran. He then played a role in moving fighters loyal to bin Laden from Afghanistan to Iraq, through Iranian territory, by exploiting his relationships with the revolutionary guards, al Zawahiri, Saad bin Laden and Mohammed al Islambouli, whose brother assassinated the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

 

In 2005, he was tasked with organizing relations between the different Shiaa armed factions in southern Iraq. Mughniyeh then became the field supervisor of the revolutionary guard’s intelligence bureau in the region. That same year, he traveled to Lebanon through Syria, accompanied by Iranian officials, under the name of Sayyid Mehdi Hashemi, an Iranian national with a diplomatic passport.

In early 2006, reports indicated Mughniyeh had been seen in the city of Basra, where he is alleged to have been facilitating the entry of Mehdi army fighters into Iran, to take part in military training. In April, Mughniyeh was said to have returned to Lebanon where he held senior positions in Hezbollah's intelligence services and, according to Israeli sources, planned the operation to kidnap Israeli soldiers, based on orders from Iran’s revolutionary guards.

Analysis: Duet in Damascus – is it déja vu?

"Gathering intelligence in Shiite neighborhoods is complex, of course, the nature of the neighborhood almost didn't allow them to walk around on foot and look at things, neither were they able to drive around in a rented car. One of the buildings in the street matched the description given to them in an intelligence briefing by a local agent. After several turns in the area at different hours of the day, a car that was also seen at his office was noticed parked outside the building on the residential street. The next day, when they waited for him to leave the neighborhood in the early morning hours, they identified the man himself and his car. Now was the time to move. He finished assembling the bomb quickly and lifted it carefully – nobody enjoys walking around with a kilo of explosives in his hands. He quickly moved towards the car and crawled underneath it, took out the tools from his pocket, and placed the bomb under the chassis." (Duet in Beirut, Mishka Ben-David, 2002)

Mishka Ben David
Photo: Courtesy

No need to wait for the book on Imad Mughniyeh's demise in Damascus. It may already have been written.

Duet in Beirut by former Mossad operative Mishka Ben-David is a work of fiction, but owes its wealth of detail to the author's intelligence experience. Published in Hebrew six years ago, it describes a Mossad hit team traveling to Beirut, stalking the head of Hizbullah's foreign terror department and assassinating him in a car bombing. Perhaps unfortunately for Mughniyeh, it was not translated into Arabic; had he read it, he might have taken greater precautions. ….. (Continue)

From Ford Prefects news archive of 1995.

U.S.: Saudis Blocked Effort to Catch Suspected Terrorist
BYLINE: Jim Mann; Ronald J. Ostrow, Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
April 21, 1995, Friday, Final Edition
SECTION: A SECTION; Pg. A16

Saudi Arabia thwarted American efforts two weeks ago to seize a man authorities believe is one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, U.S. officials said yesterday.

The man they had hoped to arrest had been hunted for a decade for his reputed roles in the 1983 car-bombing that killed 241 U.S. troops in Lebanon and for a 1985 Trans World Airlines hijacking in which one American died.

FBI officials were secretly sent overseas to prepare to take custody of the suspect, a leader of the militant Muslim group Hezbollah, on a stopover in Saudi Arabia during an April 7 Middle East Airlines flight headed from Khartoum, Sudan, to Beirut.

But before they could carry out this operation, Saudi Arabia decided not to cooperate and refused to allow the plane to land.

The Clinton administration this week delivered a formal diplomatic protest to Saudi Arabia for its unwillingness to help the FBI. The incident underscored the limits of cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which admitted American troops onto its soil in 1990 to help defend the kingdom following the Iraqi invasion of neighboring Kuwait.

The suspect sought by the FBI, who was secretly indicted in the United States in 1985, is said to have been the Hezbollah security chief in Lebanon who was in charge of American hostages taken in the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 from Athens to Rome. One American, Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem, was killed during that hijacking.

Although authorities refuse to give the suspect’s name, he is believed to be Imad Mughniyah, whom a top FBI official described several years ago as “the single most dangerous terrorist at large today.”

Mughniyah is said to have been one of the masterminds not only of the TWA hijacking but also of the 1983 suicide bombing that killed 241 U.S. military personnel in Beirut. And he allegedly was a leader in the abduction of a series of American hostages in Lebanon in the early 1980s.

Although there is no evidence that the aborted U.S. move against the Hezbollah leader had any connection to this week’s bombing in Oklahoma City, the episode demonstrated the global scope of the war against terrorism. As deadly bombings come home to America, the FBI has been intensifying the scope of its anti-terrorism campaigns overseas.

The dispute reportedly touched off a flurry of contacts at high levels between the Clinton administration and Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials did not respond to repeated phone calls seeking an explanation of the April incident.

However, U.S. officials confirmed that in early April, the FBI had tried and failed to seize in Saudi Arabia a major Hezbollah leader wanted for, among other things, the hijacking of the TWA flight. And they acknowledged that the reason for the FBI’s failure was the Saudis’ refusal to cooperate.

In 1994, Israeli forces managed to kill Mugniyah's brother, but Mugniyah himself for years remained elusive

Copyright 1995 The Washington Post

Bush orders sanctions against Syrian officials
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush, stepping up pressure on Syria, ordered new sanctions Wednesday to punish officials in Damascus for alleged efforts to undermine stability in Iraq and meddle in Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy.

Bush, in an executive order, said he was expanding penalties against senior government officials in Syria and their associates deemed to be responsible for — or to have benefited from — public corruption. The order did not specifically name any officials.

Bush signed the order a day after Imad Mughniyeh, one of the world's most wanted and elusive terrorists, was killed in a car bombing in Syria nearly 15 years after dropping from sight. The one-time Hezbollah security chief was the suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans in Lebanon and of the brutal kidnappings of Westerners.

"The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "One way or the other, he was brought to justice."

The White House said Wednesday's executive order built on one Bush issued in May 2004 that banned all U.S. exports to Syria except for food and medicine. His earlier action followed long-standing complaints that the Middle Eastern nation was supporting terrorism and undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq.

The 2004 order also banned flights to and from the United States; authorized the Treasury Department to freeze assets of Syrian nationals and entities involved in terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, occupation of Lebanon or terrorism in Iraq; and restricted banking relations between U.S. banks and the Syrian national bank.

The U.S. had complained that Syria was supporting militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah and failing to stop guerrillas from crossing the border into Iraq.

A White House statement on Wednesday said Syria was undermining efforts to stabilize Iraq and allowing Syrian territory to be used for that purpose.

Syria's government "continues to pursue other activities that deny the Syrian people the political freedoms and economic prosperity they deserve, and that undercut the peace and stability of the region," according to the statement.

"Syria continues to undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and democracy, imprison democracy advocates, curtail human rights and sponsor and harbor terrorists," it said. "The United States will continue to stand with the people of Syria and the region as they seek to exercise their rights peacefully and to build a brighter future." Lebanon is gripped by turmoil as Syrian-supported Hezbollah struggles for power with the U.S.-backed government.

Just last June, Bush signed a proclamation barring U.S. entry to people it says are undermining the stability of Lebanon and its government.

Syria held political and military sway in tiny neighboring Lebanon for some three decades. Besides armed troops on Beirut streets, Syrian intelligence forces were often a shadowy but pervasive force in Lebanese daily life.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments (125)


MSK said:

Dear Josh-

Just two things:

(1) – Looking at the two pictures of Imad Mughniyah I wonder why the journalists keep mentioning that he’d undergone plastic surgery to “totally change his appearance”. He looks like he hadn’t done any change whatsoever.

(2) – Every time I read something about HA/Iranian/Shi’ite cooperation with Wahhabi Islamists I get very suspicious. Given the latter’s hatred of “rafida” (“deviants”, a.k.a. Shi’ites) any claims of some sort of trans-sectarian terrorism cooperation seem more like something that outsiders would love to portray, so they can throw the various “evildoers” into the same pot & it reminds me of the “Al-Qa’ida/Saddam connection” that had been floated before the 2003 Iraq War.

–MSK*

February 14th, 2008, 6:32 pm

 

Observer said:

Interesting reading about the plight of Palestinians and the dismemeberment of the West Bank
http://counterpunch.org/christison02142008.html

February 14th, 2008, 7:48 pm

 

Naji said:

Excellent collection, Josh… I presume your next collection of articles will be about Valentine’s Day 08 in Lebanon, and I look forward to it…!
Thanks.

February 14th, 2008, 8:44 pm

 

Naji said:

Here is something…!

من قلب بيروت قال أهل السلطة: لا للشراكة في الوطن. ومن ضاحيتها جاء الرد: من قرَّر الطلاق، فليخرج من هذا البيت.

في 14 شباط 2008، وحده المطر كان موحَّداً وموحِّداً في بيروت. أما الباقي كلُّه فكان في لبنانين (2)، لم يجمعهما حيٌ ، ولا راحلان

February 14th, 2008, 8:52 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer,

I wanted to respond to a question you asked on an earlier post:

Does this bombing conicide with the Jumblatt rethoric incidental or is it part of a new offensive? Are the new US sanctions against unnamed Syrian authority figures part of a new coordinated offensive or just part of the course of things? Does this play into the Arab Summit in March?

My personal opinion is that this is not a coincidence. I highly doubt Jumblatt or Hariri had any knowledge of the event ahead of time, but the press reported on a couple of strong signals sent by both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia during the previous week, which suggested that the game was going to change. (Plus there was the interesting ‘coincedence’ of Hariri and Jumblatt both using the same expression as David Welch did in his letter from Washington, viz. “we will not stay hands tied”). So they probably got word that a new play was going to be called.

From Annapolis up until about last week, M14 was in a “concession-giving” mood, and this was almost certainly because the Americans decided to let the French and the Arabs try to create a diplomatic solution. I remember on Syria Comment, there were all kinds of speculations about a likely “thaw” in US-Syrian relations. Ever since then, M14 gave in on the choice of the president, gave in on the idea of giving up cabinet seats, and even submitted to a plan which gave them the SAME number of seats as the opposition! This is a lot of ground to give, and is only worth doing if you can cap it all off with a political solution. Rather, as Paul Salem observed, all of these concessions really had no effect besides making March 14 look sickly and delapidated. Every concession was greeted with more equivocation and more stalling for time, and more humiliation for the Europeans and the Arabs.

I think the Saudis probably said, “Enough is enough.” They may have convinced the Americans to take the gloves off and try a different strategy.

February 14th, 2008, 8:53 pm

 

Ford Prefect said:

Gee, that top picture looks like Francis Ford Coppola on the set of Apocalypse Now. So Coppola is Mughnieh after all?

Seems like this guy never missed a meal as he got older.

And how about the beautiful undershirt worn by that Mishka Ben David Ben Farteen dude? Did all shirt buttons enlist to fight the war on terror in Israel also?

February 14th, 2008, 9:12 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ford Prefect,

I agree, the older picture of Mughniyya is far more impressive.

He is looking suspiciously over his shoulder, hunted, as it were.

🙂

February 14th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

Atassi said:

Killing of top Hezbollah operative may be costly for Syria
By HAMZA HENDAWI
Associated Press Writer
14 February 2008
Associated Press Newswires
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – President Bashar Assad boasts that Damascus is “the capital of resistance,” a claim borne out by the presence here of Hamas leaders and a host of other radical Palestinian groups.

But the killing of Imad Mughniyeh, one of America’s most-wanted fugitives, in the Syrian capital shows how costly the regime’s traditional hospitality toward Arab hard-liners can be.

Mughniyeh’s presence on Syrian soil was a deep embarrassment to Damascus, fueling U.S. accusations that the country allows extremists of many stripes — Palestinian militants, Hezbollah operatives and Iraqi insurgents — to operate freely.

And the fact that someone was able to set off a car bomb Tuesday in an upscale district of the capital to kill Mughniyeh is a blow to the reputation of Syria’s feared security services, which are a cornerstone of the regime’s autocratic control of the country.

It could also raise questions over the strength of the regime’s grip.

Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s one-time security chief, was a terror icon of the 1980s and 1990s, linked to the killings of hundreds of Americans, French, Jews and Israelis in bombings and airline hijackings over two decades. He had dropped almost completely from sight for close to 15 years, but Western intelligence officials say he remained a significant figure in Hezbollah and continued to be a danger.

Syria has long been on Washington’s list of states supporting terrorism, and the Bush administration has sought to isolate the Assad regime for its support of Hezbollah guerrillas and radical Palestinian groups. Its attempts intensified after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, which many in Lebanon blame on Syria.

President Bush stepped up pressure on Syria again Wednesday, ordering new sanctions to punish officials in Damascus for alleged efforts to undermine stability in Iraq and meddle in Lebanon’s sovereignty and democracy. The order did not specifically name any officials.

Syria’s allies Hezbollah and Iran blamed Israel for the assassination, though Damascus has not said who it believes was behind the attack. Mughniyeh presumably had many enemies, and Israel has denied any role. But if the Jewish state was behind the killing, it would be the second time in recent months that Syria’s top enemy has been able to strike freely on its territory.

In September, Israeli warplanes bombed a target in eastern Syria that Damascus said was a military facility, though some reports contended it could have been a nascent nuclear facility.

A Western diplomat based in Damascus said the incident was a double embarrassment for Syria — “on account of (Mughniyeh) being here and because they could not protect him.” The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

“The Syrian security agencies have a lot of explaining to do as to how a hit like this could be carried out in a city that’s remarkably secure,” said Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East program at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Some in the security services were either caught unaware or are complicit in the killing,” he said.

The assassination came at a time when Syrian security forces have been cracking down on pro-democracy activists. At least 12 activists have been rounded up in recent weeks, including a former lawmaker suffering from cancer.

Syria has seen violence by Islamic extremists in recent years, with security forces clashing with al-Qaida-inspired militant groups on several occasions. In September 2006, Islamic militants tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus in an unusually brazen attack in which three assailants and a Syrian guard were killed.

Most of those attacks were linked to Jund al-Sham, an al-Qaida offshoot that was established in Afghanistan. Militants often denounce Assad’s secular regime and have at times called for its overthrow.

But al-Qaida has not made a concerted effort to act in Syria, not because of the strength of its security services, but because of Damascus’ anti-Western stance, according to Syria expert Joshua Landis.

“It’s not just because the police are good. Syria’s been given a pass by al-Qaida and others because of its anti-American position, but Americans and the West don’t want to admit that because they don’t want to admit that there’s a cause and effect,” said Landis, director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He also maintains a widely read blog on Syria.

Syria has long been accused of allowing Muslim militants to use its territory to cross into Iraq, where they take part in attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces. It dominated neighboring Lebanon for three decades until it was forced to withdraw its military in 2005. But Damascus has regained much of its influence, using Hezbollah to stymie Lebanon’s U.S.-backed government.

Mughniyeh’s presence in Damascus will only hurt Syria’s image at a time when it has been emerging from its international isolation. European, American and Arab officials have increased their visits to the country after years of avoiding it.

But Syria is unlikely to give up its support for militant Palestinian leaders and Hezbollah, a cornerstone of its foreign policy for decades, giving it considerable leverage in the region.

Assad was apparently referring to Syria’s role as a haven for radical Arab groups when he credited Damascus for the spread of a “culture of rejection to all traces of colonialism, old and new” in an address last month. He branded the city as “the capital of resistance.”

February 14th, 2008, 9:16 pm

 

Observer said:

QN
Even if there is no coordination of events, the HA and Syria will see it as such and I think the game is up for retaliation from both sides. I personally believe that:

The Syrians and HA have more cards to play than the US or the KSA

The Israelis are itching for a fight, their problem is that the timing and the chosing of the fight may not be in their hands. They have lost some of the initiative in provoking the HA and they will react only to whatever response HA has in its power.

Israel is waiting for the next administration to play its cards. There is no incentive in engaging in any peace initiative and there is no incentive in following a directive for war on behalf of Washington if it does not suit its interests. It will however fight a war with HA to restore its deterrence and to crush the organization if it thinks it can do it.

HA will have to secure its back in Lebanon before it engages Israel and my prediction is that nothing will happen immediately or that the impasse will be even further complicated.

The present administration is quite dangerous and will continue to pursue policies that will tie the hands of the next president

Now my question is the following: is there truly a promise of action agaisnt the oppostion or are the members of the March 14 so stupid that they would repeat the mistake of threatening action when they are not fully sure of the realization of such action. In other words, did Welch promise them something so solid that they are willing to stick their necks out again?

February 14th, 2008, 9:57 pm

 

EHSANI2 said:

Ford Prefect,

Mr. Mughnieh’s plastic surgery may have only involved putting on extra body fat perhaps?

One would think that he did not have to pay much for this service.

February 14th, 2008, 9:58 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Mr. Mughnieh’s plastic surgery may have only involved putting on extra body fat perhaps?

One would think that he did not have to pay much for this service.

So this is what my grandmother is doing every time I visit the bilad and I come back several pounds heavier. Khayfeh 3alayye!

February 14th, 2008, 10:07 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

What we need to know is, where was he in the last 3 days?
a man with such stature, and importance must be protected by his inteligent guards.what do they know?

February 14th, 2008, 11:05 pm

 

ausamaa said:

[Comment edited by admin.]

Qifa Nabki

With all due respect, you are taking about Emad Mughanieh. I just hope you know what you are talking aboout. Not Harriri, Sinoora or blood thirsty Jaja. It some one who sent America packing out of Laebanon. Some respect is due, plastic surgery or not.

ان ماردا يهوي سينهض الف مارد
يا كبرياء الجرح لو متنا لقاتلت المقابر

This is not a no body, this is a man who shaped history when your “idoles” were chasing money, personal advancment and short skirts and offering thier wives to whoever paid more.

And Attasi,

“Killing of top Hezbollah operative may be costly for Syria”

Please do not jump to conclusions, it is gonna be costly only to those who were involved in it. Nassrallah promissed you that it is going to be an open war. Nassrallah is tewnty times more leathal and determined than George Habash, Wadie Haddad and Laila Khalid.

I do not want to contemplate what might HA do, but it will make things really diffrent for Israel and its surrogates.

This Emad Muggahanie, not an also ran. And not a stupid Bin senseless Bin Laden. This is serious business.

I hate what many Lebanese do and say, but the mere fact that Lebanon gave birth to the likes of a Hassan Nassrallah and Emad Mughanie is enought to forgive all their sins.

You want a clue of what might come? Watch Gazza and Iraq. And forget a Feltman-Shapped Lebanon. Good bye Siniora and the American shaped Lebanon. And do not worry about how much it is gonna cost Syria. It will raise Syria to new hights.

BTW, Nassralah words were not directed to Israel Alone. That is some one who knows what he is doing!!! Dig it?

February 14th, 2008, 11:05 pm

 

offended said:

In the mean time, Israel is on a renewed killing spree in Gaza and the west bank.

February 14th, 2008, 11:39 pm

 

Carl said:

Many people have wondered about Syria’s invitation to the Annapolis Middle East peace conference. There has been a thawing of relations with the West, and some have said that fewer militants are travelling through Syria on their way to Iraq.

I believe that Israel and the US have agreed to return the Golan Heights. Why the hit after all of this time? Syria must have given him up.

This reminds me of the situations with Carlos the Jackal and PKK leader Ocalan. However, in those cases Damascus expelled the personnae non grata when the heat got too hot.

This time they gave more, because they got more.

Bush’s calling for more sanctions is a smoke screen.

If true, this confirms that those who urged detente with the US’s enemies were correct. You get more with negotiations than bullets. The US and Israel should have tried this tack sooner.

The confirmation will be a mass exodus of militants from Damascus to Tehran.

Regarding the current situation in Lebanon:

Why don’t all parties agree to a comprehensive census conducted by a neutral outside party immediately?

All negotiations on tweaking the confessionalism system, the constitution and election laws will be futile without knowing the real numbers on the ground.

February 14th, 2008, 11:47 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
In my opinion now is the time for the 50%+1 president as HA and Syria will do nothing. Let’s see if March 14 grasp the opportunity. Nasrallah is alienating with his rhetoric the support of many Aounites that are not pleased to learn that Mugniyeh is and was the true face of Hizballah and that Hizballah (and therefore Lebanon) will now fight abroard. I see the change on the Orange blogs. This is good for March 14 and for everybody interested in a prosperous Lebanon.

February 14th, 2008, 11:47 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Alex:

As a moderator here I thought that explicit language was not the accepted norm? Are we still trying to maintain some civilized sense of decorum here? Or does it only apply to certain individuals?

Accepted that Mugniyaa might be a hero to some(personally I think that the thug and murderer got what he deserved). Those that use violence deserve no eulogizing or praise.

February 14th, 2008, 11:52 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa,

Nice to see you’re back. I was starting to wonder where all the comedy went. (And the tragedy, for that matter)

If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’d know that Hariri, Jumblatt, Geagea are far from my idols. But you’ve made it clear that Mughniyeh was one of yours. Wow.

Mughniyeh will be remembered as the guy who blew people up, and that’s about it. Rafiq al-Hariri, for all his faults, will be remembered as a man who rebuilt his country, sent thousands of young Lebanese to college, restored the hopes of his countrymen after a devastating war. Nasrallah believed in him and followed him as well.

I know it’s hard to bear this news right now; I feel for you, I really do. Just take a deep breath and remember… the world will be ok, without Imad Mughniyeh. *sigh*

February 15th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

Enlightened said:

Robert Fisk: Bloody end of man who made kidnapping a weapon of war

Imad Mougnieh, who was killed yesterday, arranged many kidnappings during Lebanon’s civil war

Thursday, 14 February 2008

It wasn’t the staring eyes, nor the way he picked up an apple in front of me and cut it open with such careful deliberation. It was the vice-like handshake, the steely grip that made my fingers hurt. “Imad Mougnieh,” he said, as if to show he wasn’t on the run, wasn’t afraid to use his real name.

Yes, he said, he was a “member of Islamic Jihad” – I knew very well he was the leader of the organisation, that he had arranged the kidnapping of so many Western hostages in Beirut – but he was in Tehran, in the upper floor of a luxury hotel. Safe from his enemies – but then again, that’s probably what he thought when he climbed into his car in Damascus on Tuesday night.

Mougnieh was an enemy of America, an enemy of Israel; the latter’s denial of responsibility for the car bomb that killed him will be seen by his supporters as a mere linguistic sleight of hand, and he knew the risks. His brother was assassinated in Beirut by a bomb meant for him and his own loathing for the CIA station chief in Beirut, done to death by Islamic Jihad after his 1984 abduction, was proof enough of Mougnieh’s war with the United States.

William Buckley of the CIA was kidnapped, Mougnieh told me, because he was controlling the then pro-American Lebanese government of President Amin Gemayel, whose army had been seizing thousands of Muslims, civilians and militiamen, some of whom were tortured to death.

I had gone to see Mougnieh to plead for the release of my close friend and colleague Terry Anderson, the Beirut bureau chief of the Associated Press, kidnapped in 1985 and subsequently held for almost seven years in sealed rooms and underground dungeons.

Mougnieh tried to reassure me. “Believe me, Mr Robert, we treat him better even than you treat yourself.” I shuddered. I didn’t believe that. I had heard this language before. How they respected the innocents they had so cruelly deprived of freedom, the very freedom they demanded for their own friends and supporters.

Maybe Mougnieh sensed that. When I asked about Terry – this was in October 1991, a month before he was released – Mougnieh cast those staring eyes upon me. They never left my face unless he wished to discuss a phrase or a sentence with his friends in the same room.

He prefaced his remarks with the opening words of the Koran – just as Islamic Jihad’s hostage messages and videotapes did. This was the man who had taken Terry and who would have taken me had the occupants of the shark-like cars that haunted the Beirut Corniche grabbed hold of me. He was utterly uncompromising.

“Taking innocent people as hostages is wrong,” he admitted to my astonishment. “It is an evil. But it is a choice and there is no other option. It is a reaction to a situation that has been imposed on us – if you want to ask about the existence of some innocent people among the hostages, then this question should not be posed to us alone, when Israel kidnapped and imprisoned 5,000 Lebanese civilians in the south of Lebanon in the Ansar camp.”

Israel had indeed imprisoned those men at Ansar after its 1982 invasion. Amnesty International had condemned the conditions under which they were held. “Most of the people in Ansar were innocent,” Mougnieh added – he did not define innocent – “and this is not even to mention the invasion itself and the killing of many people.”

Mougnieh, Lebanese by birth, was a man of frightening self-confidence, of absolute self-belief, something he shared with Osama bin Laden and – let us speak frankly about this – with President George W Bush. Islamic Jihad, it was said, tortured its enemies. So does al-Qa’ida. And so, as we all now know, does Mr Bush’s army.

Mougnieh – and again we should speak openly about this – was a valued, respected and senior figure in Iran’s security apparatus. “Islamic Jihad” was a satellite of the Lebanese Hizbollah, the old un-reformed Hizbollah, whose leadership would now like to forget – even deny – its association with abductions. In that sense, Mougnieh was a man of the past, pensioned off in Damascus, safer for the Iranians there rather than cosseted in a Tehran hotel room.

But back in his days as an intelligence officer, he was a powerful man. Because of the suffering he had caused Terry, I should have hated him. But I did not hate him.

In the course of our conversation, he would become angry, stabbing his right fist in fury as he condemned America for its support for Israel and for shooting down an Iranian Airbus civilian airliner over the Gulf in 1988. I had seen this kind of fury before, at cemeteries and at mass graves. If he had allied himself with Iran, his passion was genuine.

I pleaded for Terry again. Could he not feel compassion for my friend? Again, his eyes never left me. “Of course, it would be very easy to find the answer to this question if you had been the mother or the wife of one of the hostages in Khiam [Israel’s torture prison in southern Lebanon] or the mother or wife of Terry Anderson. My feelings towards the mental pain of Terry Anderson are the same as my feelings towards the Lebanese hostages in Khiam – or the mother or wife of Terry Anderson.” Amnesty had also condemned the tortures at Khiam.

By now, Mougnieh was already playing that most famous role in all US soap operas: America’s “number one enemy”. The US would not have been weeping if Israel did kill Mougnieh yesterday. America wanted Mougnieh dead or alive – and for all the usual reasons.

Not least was his involvement in the hijacking of TWA flight 847 from Athens to Rome in June 1985. Mougnieh was one of the gunmen on board and demanded the release of 17 Islamic Jihad members imprisoned in Kuwait and 753 Lebanese Shia prisoners held in Israel.

After wandering around the Mediterranean, the aircraft – almost all the passengers were American – eventually came to rest in Beirut where an American, Robert Stetham, was viciously clubbed over the face and body before being shot in the head and thrown from the plane in front of the world’s cameras.

I saw his body in the American University Hospital, grey-faced, hair tousled, lying next to a plump Palestinian woman who had just been shot in a gun battle between Shia militiamen and the PLO.

Shia Muslim Amal gunmen loyal to Nabih Berri – today, Lebanon’s pro-Syrian Speaker of Parliament – stormed the aircraft, hustled the hijackers and most of the passengers into vehicles and sped off into Beirut’s southern suburbs. All the passengers were released, but Mougnieh and his comrades were secreted off to Damascus – only to re-emerge in command of a hijacked Kuwaiti jet with similar demands and with an equally brutal assassination; that of a Kuwaiti fire brigade official at Nicosia airport.

Live by the sword, as they say, and you die by the sword.

Thus to the bomb attack in Damascus, not far from an Iranian school, close to a local Syrian intelligence office, explosives under Mougnieh’s own car and a body dragged from the vehicle by policemen.

February 15th, 2008, 12:38 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Observer said:

QN
Even if there is no coordination of events, the HA and Syria will see it as such and I think the game is up for retaliation from both sides.

Now my question is the following: is there truly a promise of action agaisnt the oppostion or are the members of the March 14 so stupid that they would repeat the mistake of threatening action when they are not fully sure of the realization of such action. In other words, did Welch promise them something so solid that they are willing to stick their necks out again?

Observer, I think (a) many of the leaders of March 14 are so stupid as to repeat previous mistakes. There isn’t a single political mind among them of the calibre of Sayyed Hassan (or Aoun, for that matter); (b) however, I don’t think they’re banking on outside guarantees as much as Hizbullah’s own self-imposed red lines.

They’re calling HA’s bluff. This will be followed by HA’s calling of M14’s bluff, because that’s what these idiots are all doing, bluffing. And then one day very soon, some unemployed slightly unstable Trabulsi is going to lose it and go shoot up a busfull of Shi`a, and then there won’t be anything that anyone can do about it.

February 15th, 2008, 12:47 am

 

Enlightened said:

QN:

“And then one day very soon, some unemployed slightly unstable Trabulsi is going to lose it and go shoot up a busfull of Shi`a, and then there won’t be anything that anyone can do about it.”

You forgot one important point here, that in this eventual scenario, everyone will be ducking for cover, and taking out their index finger and point the blame inevitably at each other, while denying of course that they are responsible”

Lets hope that no one has has their fingers on the trigger, and hope that the finger is firmly plugged where the sun does not shine!

So the people from Tripoli are still considered crazy? (LOL) We have a saying for crazy people from Tripoli ( My mother is from there). There is a village just to the North its called Moushmoush! All the crazies come from there!

February 15th, 2008, 12:55 am

 

Shual said:

Shuals War-Index after Winograd

War vs Hamas: Possiblity of major ground operation in Gaza up from 20% to 50%. War against Islamic Jihad: Still 100%. War against other militias: Still 20% active. War against Syria up from 15% to 25%. War against Hezbollah up from 30% to 80%. War against Lebanon up from 10% to 25%. War against Iran up from 35% to 50%.

Index up from 235 to 350. [+Danger for Israeli citizens worldwide]

Conclusion: http://www.alertnet.org/thefacts/imagerepository/RTRPICT/2008-02-14T182120Z_01_JER19_RTRIDSP_2_ISRAEL_articleimage.jpg

Possibility that this Druze child of Majdal Shams will see a peaceful NE in her life down from 15% to 3%.

February 15th, 2008, 1:55 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It looks like the Syrians are against peace now:
http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL14506186

Also interesting:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article3372399.ece

How long can the Syrians not retaliate?

If we were in 2003 or 2004, Hizballah would have already fired katyushas at Israel. The July 2006 war has certainly changed the rules of the game.

February 15th, 2008, 2:21 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

And for some comic relief:
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gJ2Ogx8GRZ9-7N4n9djhosJbmNGwD8UQCQDO0

The hashish must be exceptional quality this year.

February 15th, 2008, 2:23 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

AIG –

Just in case you weren’t aware, the Arab Street in very angry now.

I’ll keep you up-to-date on a weekly basis.;)

February 15th, 2008, 3:16 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Since when Patriotic people are thugs and murderers? to defend our country, and fight the evil occupiers is not wrong,some innocent people may die,but in a war everything may happen, the one to blame is the one who started the war, the occupier.

February 15th, 2008, 3:18 am

 

Jason said:

Many analyst are saying that a Hezbollah response is only a matter of time. Hezbollah will not respond with violence. Nasrallah is too smart. He is not about to throw his legitimacy as a resistance away for a quick, short term retaliation. He said in his speech that Israel has violated the terms of the basic understanding in the conflict, which is that both parties will only fight on the Lebanese border and not internationally. He will continue this agreement. Nasrallah will not sacrifice his political legitimacy in Lebanon and his tacit international support as a resistance. I don’t believe Mugniyah has been a major factor in the leadership of Hezbollah for some time now. Nasrallah would rather not have the link of international terrorism that Mugniyah’s name brings to the group. He is only giving Mugniyah lip service and respect by referring to him as the most important martyr for Hezbollah, mainly for reasons of popularity. Nasrallah will not throw away Hezbollah’s legitimacy for vengeance. Once Hezbollah turns to international violence, they lose. They lose politically and internationally. He won’t retaliate. Too much is at stake.

February 15th, 2008, 3:54 am

 

norman said:

Jason ,
That is intresting, I agree with you , you make sense , revenge does not advance goals.

February 15th, 2008, 4:04 am

 

trustquest said:

I would like to know if Syrian officials have double standards when it comes to the USA. How come the Syrian authority block a literature magazine after writing a post on the high number of Syrian officials acquiring foreign passports (specially American and Canadian),and on the other hand Syrian FM promise that Syria will retaliate against the USA in the near future by filing a law suit against USA for supplying arms to Israel. The article was questioning why Syrian officials collect wealth in Syria to end up in the USA.

February 15th, 2008, 4:23 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

jason
I think you are right, if any israeli get killed it would not be HA action, do not blame them for that.

February 15th, 2008, 5:33 am

 

Alex said:

AIG,

“it looks like the Syrians are against peace”? .. “now”?!

Is there any reason for your amusement or your astonishment today?

I have been telling Shai for a couple of weeks that I dont think there is any serious chance for peace now …. next year hopefully.

And you found it hillarious that Syrians who lost their lives in 2006 during your country’s agresson on Lebanon might sue the United states who supplied your army with those bombs and who stopped the UNSC from enforcing an early ceasefire? … is Hariri’s life more valuable thatn the lives of all the Lebanese and Syrians who were unnecessarily killed by your peace loving army?

Can you explain to us why you are so amused? …Mr. “I want to help you Syrians tripple your GDP with my secret and exclusive method … insta-Democracy”

February 15th, 2008, 6:27 am

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki

“Mughniyeh will be remembered as the guy who blew people up, and that’s about it. Rafiq al-Hariri, for all his faults, will be remembered as a man who rebuilt his country, sent thousands of young Lebanese to college, restored the hopes of his countrymen after a devastating war”

I did not mention Harriri the dead, I was talking about the mini one who said to the women in Tripoli that he is counting on them to get thier men out to join the Feb 14 demonstration. Which is a smart move -thought it comes from a stupid person- that tells you he knows his own people!

As to Mughanieh, I think history will be more fair towards him than it would be to President of the United States of America George Dubbya Bush who managed -supported by a fully democrtatic and advanced and free society- to kill more than a million Arabs in Iraq in a sensless war launched to steal the wealth of the area and to strengthen the World’s only single race-religion state called Israel.

Tell me now, which one would you rather have as an Idol? And which of those two persons -or their society- gave rise to the other?

Not knowing the answer is the Tragedy you refere to. Knowing it and acting as if you dont is the Comedy you mentioned!

February 15th, 2008, 11:18 am

 

Nour said:

QN,

I don’t know the exact importance of Moughniyeh to the Resistance in Lebanon, but I do believe that his role has been exaggerated somewhat by both sides, each for different reasons. However, to compare Hariri to the resistance is ridiculous. Hariri did absolutely NOTHING for Lebanon except drown it in debt in order to increase his own wealth. He did not rebuild his country. He merely rebuilt a few structures in a very limited area within Beirut where tourists can be attracted. On the other hand he used his post as PM in order to borrow money in the name of the Lebanese government and then proceed to pay himself that money so that he can carry out the projects that he awarded himself. He had no vision for the country. He couldn’t care less about improving the lives of ordinary Lebanese. He had no interest in focusing on building state institutions, developing industry and agriculture, and helping advance our research and academic institutions. In the end Hariri was a businessman, and an utterly corrupt one at that. He was willing to sell the entire country to make a quick buck.

People in the resistance, on the other hand, gave their lives to liberate their land from foreign occupation and restore dignity to their country and their people. They did not exploit their people to increase their wealth, nor did they sell their country for a profit. It is utterly shameful to demean, insult, and belittle our resistance fighters only because we hold personal grudges based on our tribal loyalties.

February 15th, 2008, 11:24 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

In the mean time, Israel is on a renewed killing spree in Gaza and the west bank.

Offended,

And so is Hamas…

Gunmen have attacked the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Gaza City and blown up its library, burning thousands of books, its director says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7246454.stm

February 15th, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Monty Python is my idle!

QN is this a no Brainer?

February 15th, 2008, 12:31 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

As to Mughanieh, I think history will be more fair towards him than it would be to President of the United States of America George Dubbya Bush who managed -supported by a fully democrtatic and advanced and free society- to kill more than a million Arabs in Iraq in a sensless war launched to steal the wealth of the area and to strengthen the World’s only single race-religion state called Israel.

Tell me now, which one would you rather have as an Idol? And which of those two persons -or their society- gave rise to the other?

Ausamaa, don’t you ever tire of listening to yourself reproduce the same argument over and over? I certainly do. It goes something like this, just in case you enjoy listening to it, which you seem to.

Dubya = very very very bad
others = maybe bad but not as bad as Dubya!!

Therefore, Ausamaa like others and hate Dubya!!!

This is a fun argument; unfortunately, it’s only compelling and provocative to people who like Bush! So, you’re out of luck on this forum, unless you want to spend all of your time debating AP and AIG. It seems, since they don’t really bother with you anymore, you’ve now taken your frustration out on other Arabs who aren’t as fond of your favorite argument as you are.

___________________________________________________________________

Nour said:

However, to compare Hariri to the resistance is ridiculous. Hariri did absolutely NOTHING for Lebanon except drown it in debt in order to increase his own wealth. He did not rebuild his country. He merely rebuilt a few structures in a very limited area within Beirut where tourists can be attracted.

Nour, habibti, why must you always attack me for things I did not say!? We are in agreement most of the time, but you somehow feel the need to imagine I am some HA-bashing member of the shabab Qoreitem. Let me kindly ask you again to stop sloganeering at me, and read what I’ve written more carefully.

If you agree that Mughniya’s place in the resistance is not clear and FAR from comparable to Nasrallah’s place in it, then we are in agreement. I never mentioned anything about the resistance fighters gave their lives, let alone “demeaned” and “insulted” them, based on my own “tribal loyalties”. How would you know what my tribe is, and how loyal I am to it?

As for your claim that Hariri did nothing for Lebanon but to drown it in debt, well I’m afraid you’re wrong, in my opinion. Have you been to Lebanon since 2000, by the way? This is not a challenge, just a question, as there are plenty of Arabs on this blog who constantly piss and moan about the Lebanese economy etc. without having ever been, or not since 1972.

Hariri’s influence on Lebanon cannot be overstated. I have many reservations about his corrupting ways and his personal dealings, but you would be either foolish or political motivated to suggest that he did nothing for his country. Remember that Lebanon was destroyed after the war. Decimated. Shattered. A smoldering heap of garbage, lawless, hopeless, miserable. Hariri built roads, bridges, hospitals, tunnels, schools, airports, seaports, mosques, churches, and much more, all over Lebanon. Trust me, some of my family members worked as construction men on these projects, in Zahle, Trablus, Saida, Soor, and the Bekaa, and they earned an honest wage for a hard day’s work, year after year. Hariri sent thousands of Lebanese to college with his own money (I know many of them). He pushed towards the reformation of the electoral law (blocked by Syria). He unified the Lebanese in ways that were previously unimaginable, and may have influenced Sayyed Hassan’s decision to reform Hizbullah into a political party, in order to give it a real future in Lebanese political participation. All of this, in 15 years.

If you want to discuss Hariri’s faults, yalla, let’s do it. I’m ready and willing. But you have to shed all the pathos, habibti. Shed all of the rhetoric and tired sloganeering, because that is what belongs to the sphere of tribal politics not intelligent and accurate criticism.

February 15th, 2008, 2:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

First, the Syrians should sue Israel not the US. After all it is the Israelis that did the illegal killing if anyone did so.

Second, if that kind of law suit has any merit (which it doesn’t) then all the Israeli civillians hurt by Hizballah will sue Syria for supplying Hizballah the weapons.

So you see, the Syrian minister is just running his mouth and providing comical relief.

February 15th, 2008, 2:22 pm

 

Nour said:

QN,

Before any further misunderstandings, I’d like to clarify that I’m not a female ;-). It’s ok, many have made that mistake as the name can go either way.

Now, back to topic, I have indeed been to Lebanon since 2000. I was there in 2001, 2004/2005, and 2006. And if you yourself have been there, please explain to everyone what Beirut looks like outisde of the limited area in and around sa7et el-nejmj. It is still a heap of garbage, chaotic buildings, impoverished people, etc. Please tell what the northern areas next to Tripoli look like, where people are forced to live in tin houses and where fundamentalism is rampant due to the disastrous economic conditions there. What Hariri did was build a few structures here and there. But this is not an accomplishment, as any person could have done the same given the capital. He did not improve Lebanon. He did not change its institutions. He did not attempt to reform or change the Lebanese sectarian system, as it suited him perfectly well. Sure, he paid for many people’s education, but all tribal leaders do that, and that is in fact a negative value not a positive one. Assad also paid for the education of thousands of people. Saddam educated many more people than Hariri could have dreamed of. The whole point of doing that is to create a relationship of patronage between the leader and the subject. A true accomplishment would be to build a state where advanced education is available to all citizens.

May I also remind you that Hariri in fact hurt many Lebanese. I know a few people who had their properties confiscated by Hariri in exchange for some measly shares in his company, so that he may carry out his projects on their land. Politically, the 2000 election law was created to benefit Hariri, who did in fact benefit tremendously from it. Hariri increased his wealth by more than 5 times during his reign over Lebanon and in the process devastated the economy by sinking the country in debt. I have no personal disdain for Hariri, as I don’t differentiate between him and any other politician, but for the fact that he had much more capital. But I cannot go on glorifying him and making out of him what he was not. It is truly disturbing to see everything in Lebanon turned into Rafiq Hariri, as if he owned the country. It is reminiscent of Saddam’s Iraq, where everything was Saddam and everyone had to be thankful to Saddam for everything in the country.

Lebanon was highly corrupt before Hariri and it remained highly corrupt after Hariri. Again, I am not blaming Hariri for Lebanon’s problems, as I believe Lebanon’s system is inherently corrupt and can only lead to one disaster after another. I believe Hariri benefited from this system and therefore had no interest in trying to change it. Thus, I find it quite ridiculous to put him on a higher plain than any other politician in that country.

February 15th, 2008, 2:58 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

But that’s exactly the point … if we want to be fair and sue eveyone who did something bad, then where do we start and where do we end? … that is the point the “comic” Syrians were trying to explain when they suggested that relatives of the innocent Syrian people who were killed by Israel invasion to Lebanon should sue President Bush and his administration who, if they did not prevent the UNSC from enforcing an immediate ceasefire, would not have been killed by Israeli bombs.

Here is a reminder of what started the comedy, in case you did not understand:

WASHINGTON: US President George W Bush ordered expanded sanctions on Wednesday against Syrian government officials and their associates, the White House said. The measures are intended to freeze US assets of those believed to have benefited from public corruption …

The fact that president Bush is now reduced to sitting in his office trying to think of ways to punish officials in a far country for their “public corruption” … is “laughable”, no? …

If the president is now into helping the Arab world deal with its corruption … how about starting from the top … we know for a fact (according to the BBC) that his best friend and adviser Prince Bandar made 2 billion dollars as a commission on one arms deal with England .. sounds like the place to start taking action.

Or .. President Putin admitted this week that he failed to deal with public corruption in Russia. Let’s go ahead and sue the corrupt Russians!

But that won’t happen … so let’s pick on Syria again.

What is not so “laughable” is that after almost 8 years in office … this administration does not realize that it has severely restricted the United States’ ability to solve problems and to make peace and to help in spreading stability across the region.

Here is an example in case you forgot, or in case you think there is really no need to talk to the Syrians:

An open microphone at the G8 summit picked up an exchange between President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Looking disappointed and frustrated, President Bush said:

“See the irony is what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this S**t and it’s over… Felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen”

20 months after that incident, President Bush in 2008 is still stuck … often needing to convince someone to pick up the phone and talk to Bashar “to make something happen” … but his ego is still preventing him from doing so. Instead, he came up with a great idea “let’s go after corruption in Syria”

And when they ask him why he does not want to simply TALK to the Syrians, he says “because my patience ran out” …

He never called the Syrian President … from day 1 he arrived to Washington with his patience running out … because his advisers were admirers of Saudi Arabia and Israel exclusively.

February 15th, 2008, 3:11 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

Sure I get tired of saying this over and over again. Bush is But I believe in the famous saying: Repetition teachs the whatever…!

I will keep saying that Dubbya and Co. are cold calculating criminals out to steal and destroy us since they have labelled us as the Enemy after the colllapse of the USSR. And that was long before 9/11 too. And we will not him and his camp succeed in doing what they intend to do to us. Because whatever they intend must be bad as history has tought us.

The Bushies and the Israelies, stupid as they are, have given Hizbullah a way out as HA has been restrained from attacking Israel sice August 2006. Now the stupid bastards have given Hizbullah and others a wider lattitude to strike anytime and anywhere while having the option of keeping the Lebanese-Palestinian border quite. And then go find them or find whoever will any suchg thing and prove that it was HA who had done it. How stupid..

February 15th, 2008, 3:33 pm

 

Alex said:

Nour, QN,

You are both right… Hariri was a corrupt politician … many of the wonderful things he is credited for were also opportunities for him to gain more wealth and power and influence.

But we have that wonderful corruption in Syria, Egypt, Iraq (with and without US intervention), Saudi Arabia…

So my opinion of the late Hariri falls somewhere between Nour’s and QN’s … Hariri was not the saint they made him to be. If they did not want an excuse to go after Syria, and if Saad Hariri and his Saudi friends did not have the Media and financial assets that they have… I doubt anyone would be covering Hariri’s third anniversary today.

But he was very good for Lebanon in many ways. He was wise … pleasant … non-confrontational.

And he was motivated to find solutions .. not to take revenge… and he understood the situation and he understood the mentality of his people, and of the Syrians, and the Americans, and Saudis …

If anyone doubts Hariri’s achievements in that respect … just look at the disaster we have in power today in Lebanon.

February 15th, 2008, 3:40 pm

 

CWW said:

Alex,

The United States actively works to prevent corruption abroad, not only in Syria. It does so to detriment of its own business interests. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Corrupt_Practices_Act) enables US law enforcement to prosecute individuals and companies engaged in corruption abroad.

February 15th, 2008, 3:58 pm

 

T said:

Yeah, America sacrifices for clean businesses practices. There is humor on this blog afterall…! Yes and we have global corruption in USA that endangers the entire world financial system- S & L, enron, subprime mess, staggering national debt, no-bid contracts for Halliburton etc etc. there is enough graft to go around for all. Only limitations are the capability to pull it off. Maybe we can merge ours with Syria’s for some East-West graft a Grand Democracy, Inc.

On the privatized gov sphere- soon we’ll get Israel implementing its “new” Syrian constitution that they have already finished(like they did for Iraq before that war) and an Israeli rabbi “thanking America for the war in Iraq” while Americans die. The lawsuits to reclaim “jewish land” in Damascus have also been drawn up.

The Lebanese and the Syrians better start learning Hebrew. Because the choice is not between Assad or Democracy, it is between Assad or Netanyahu. Pick well. Iran is in there too… Shaul Mofaz is sure to help.

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2008/02/14/neocon-godfather-podhoretz-trying-to-re-ignite-fires-of-war-against-iran/

February 15th, 2008, 4:01 pm

 

Nour said:

Alex,

Did you see today’s article in the Guardian? Looks like Prince Bandar threatened Blair with terrorist acts unless he put a stop to the corruption investigation. I wonder if Bush will now impose Sanctions on Saudi Arabia. Here is the link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/15/bae.armstrade

February 15th, 2008, 4:12 pm

 

ausamaa said:

“The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enables US law enforcement to prosecute individuals and companies engaged in corruption abroad.”

Yeh, and one of the Top Proioreties of the consecutive US Administrations is the selfless quest to achieve the well-being, advancement, freedome, liberty and democratization of the World’s Population. As a ma tter of fact, the Congress is debating changing the name of our beloved country, from the United States of America, to become the Charitable and Human Loving States of America, Servant of the Three Holly Sites: The military-industral complex, the NY based Banks and the neo-con pro Zionist Agenda.

Man, you think we are dump or what??

February 15th, 2008, 4:13 pm

 

Alex said:

CWW

In theory, the United states is wonderful in every way… I am looking forward for President Obama (or president Huckabee) for some honest effort to bring back the America that we all love.

Thanks Nour for that link. I did not know.

Here are two links to go with it

http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/events-images/185_bandar_bush2050081722-8119.jpg

http://newsdetails.blogspot.com/2007/07/audio-david-leigh-on-guardians.html

February 15th, 2008, 4:21 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Alex,

I’m a follower/reader of this interesting blog even if I sometimes don’t chime in for a long time.

I do have to ask that you delete the obscene language that Ausamaa uses and monitor such language in his postings before they make it to the live blog in the future.

Even though QN does a superb job of keeping his cool, injecting quite satisfying humor while gently honoring Ausamaa with responses, and while that in itself is so enjoyable that we might be tempted to want it to keep coming, I cannot but believe that our QN (he’s ours because we just admire him even if we don’t really know him) is not in need of this kind of prompting to continue to amuse and educate us.

Finally, my editorial on all this is that as long as the Arab nation has many with the mentality of the likes of Ausamaa and Majed who view the methods of Mughnieh as “patriotic” and “just,” there is absolutely no hope for progress towards peace and for a just solution of the Palestinian problem – the crux of the conflict in the Middle East, and the rest of the world is given continuing excuses to regard Arabs who make such pronounements as fundamentally backwards in their thinking and behavior, and the bigots of the world are given more amunition to perpetuate racism against all Arabs.

February 15th, 2008, 4:23 pm

 

T said:

QN thinks in cliches. If you want to joke around- humor is, by definition a necessity – you have to be funny. Or creative- QN’s MIA on both counts. But our friends who always complain about “the blood libel” have some comics that might amuse us. Wink, wink.
http://newsfromthewest.blogspot.com/2008/02/jewish-magazine-shows-how-to-cook.html

Alex,

Obama has been threatened with assassination if he becomes President. Little ‘statements’ dropped here & there in the isareli-controlled press. Even his wife worries about these ‘insinuations’.

AIG,

It is not the most talented/brave who usually rise to the top. It is the most devious and ruthless/ and or the richest and most well connected. “Talents” in your book maybe. Assets vs Talents.

There has never been an international law definition of terrorism- it is not legally limited to non-state actors as there have been no legal definitions approved and accepted by all- only definitions flung by the Big State terrorists against the poorer terrorists on the low end of the economic scale… the F16/MOAB/nuke terrorists vs those economically limited to delivery systems utilized by the impoverished classes who must use their bodies – ’suicide bombers’ etc.
The difference between a Sabra/Shatilla Sharon and The Manson Family may come down in the end to motive and capability, and of course who is applying the terror label. (and for minors on the blog, I’m referring here to Charles and not Marilyn).

As for this Almighty Tribunal- if the Assads did it? Jail them. But show us the evidence and not some fake, cooked up junk. And then go after Bhuttos’ killer and get behind the real al Qaeda. And all the other assassinations like the Bir al Abed bombing in Haret Hreik 20 yrs ago. Why stop at Hariri if you really champion justice, truth and democracy? Get them all!

February 15th, 2008, 4:31 pm

 

Alex said:

HP,

Despite the impression that many form about each person who participates in this forum, I know that in real life both Ausamaa and Qifa Nabki are very nice pople and they are both very smart and like most of the people here graduates of some of the best universities.

There are two reasons why two or more commentators here get into heated discussions;

1) Humor and sarcasm: In advertising or communication in general, it is always considered risky when you decide to rely on humor in delivering your message to those you do not know. there will always be some who hate your sense of humor, or worse .. get offended by it.

2) When someone tries to clam that his side is uniquely moral and the other side is evil … almost no one in mideast politics is 100% clean … and very few are “evil” by nature.

And this brings me to your disapproval of Ausamaa and Majed’s portrayal of Mughanieh as a patriot or a hero. I decided to not make any comment about his moral values for the same reasons listed above … it is not easy to classify him (or most other players) into “good” or “bad” … you realize that half the Lebanese people, and most of the Arab people think of him as a hero right? .. it is not only Ausamaa or Majed.

We don’t have many Gandhi-like figures in the Middle East … most others are busy thinking how they can use violence tomorrow to retaliate against the violence inflicted on them yesterday.

And in many cases .. we do not know WHO is really behind the killing .. who is really trying to stop it and who is igniting the fires behind the scene …

So if you ask me, I would suggest that we leave the absolute judgments out of our “analysis” here.

February 15th, 2008, 4:40 pm

 

Jason said:

Majedkhaldoun, Norman,

I think this argument needs to be exposed more. Almost all analysts are arguing that it’s only a matter of time until Hezbollah responds, without considering Hezbollah’s interets. I think they’re wrong. It’s too simplistic.

February 15th, 2008, 4:59 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Thanks Alex.

I think you make my point by indicating that “most of the Arab people think of [Mughnieh] as a hero.” Nor am I claiming that other players are “good.” One could even theoretically try to argue that Mughnieh’s technique can be given some level of justification or at least explanation. However, notwithstanding any intellectual prowess that you might want to attribute to Ausamaa, Majed, or anyone else for that matter, not only is nothing stated here (or elsewhere) convincing to a neutral observer on that subject, but quite to the contrary the statements made reveal an inherent disregard to fundamental human values. As far as “lawyers” making the case for a client, it’s bumbling incompetence to say the least.

The opinions I present are by their nature subjective and I continue to be interested, educated, and sometimes amused by this blog. To me, however, while equating QN and Ausamaa as “nice people,” if indeed you know them, is fine, any hint of parity in their intellectual ability to articulate objective observations is, in my opinion, laughable.

Just like a caller to a talk-show I will “listen” to any further comments you may have on this but do not wish to further engage in this debate – which might not be as interesting to others.

I will, however, repeat my request to excise obscene language, for example in http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=593#comment-114542

February 15th, 2008, 5:08 pm

 

CWW said:

It’s amazing to me that there are people on this blog who would defend a man like Moughniyeh. Nobody has been questioning his involvement in the hijacking of a civilian airliner or his involvement in an attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina. Nevertheless, a few people on the blog think that they should take the time to defend a man who killed hundreds.

Ausamma:
You wrote:
President of the United States of America George Dubbya Bush who managed -supported by a fully democrtatic and advanced and free society- to kill more than a million Arabs in Iraq

For the record, according to an October 2006 study by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “The proportion of deaths attributed to coalition forces diminished in 2006 to 26 percent. Between March 2003 and July 2006, households attributed 31 percent of deaths to the coalition.” Seeing as the conflict during the period of 2003 morphed from interstate to insurgent to primarily civil war the 26 percent, of the total, is likely to have continued to decrease. The study points to the fact that we constantly see on the news: the overwhelming majority of the killings in Iraq are committed by fellow Iraqis.

Source: http://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/2006/burnham_iraq_2006.html

February 15th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

norman said:

Jason,
You are logical but i fear that the Mideast is not a place for that kind of common sence.look at Israel as it continues the killing then expect people to like and accept Israel.

February 15th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

why-discuss said:

Nour

I totally agree with you. Before he is was killed, Hariri was critised all the way for his racket on Solidere, the cult of money and the corruption to which many syrian officials and lebanese businessmen gladly participated.
Death made him a hero.. a saint.
He destroyed the soul of downtown Beirut to make it a poor satellite of an chic european capital, rejecting the melting pot atmosphere that was making the lebanese of all classes feel close to each other in the Borj. He has consacrated the class and religion split.
How many factories did he build? How many cultural centers? How many theaters? How many institutions did he create? Yes, he did send a few students abroad, yes he fixed roads to Saidah and other, he encouraged the building of glamorous hotel and malls, but at what price? Billions of dollars of debt that will affect the lebanese for generations. Anyone could have done better and more useful!!!!With such money spend, he deserves no praise for the result.
But if many wants death to give him the aura of sanctity, well good for them but certainly not for Beirut.

February 15th, 2008, 5:16 pm

 

why-discuss said:

CWW

Would you defend Olmert or Perez if they were murdered by a car bomb?
I guess you would even though they have killed thousands of innocents.

February 15th, 2008, 5:21 pm

 
 

ausamaa said:

CWW,

Well, thanks, and I stand corrected. The Bush Iraq Conquest has not resulted in the Death of a million Iraqies, but only in the death of a few tens of thousands of Iraqies.

Thank you for clarifying this disputed point!!

February 15th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Jason said:

Norman,

I see what you’re saying. But I think Nasrallah is very logical. That’s why I think he will give lip service to Mugniyah’s martyrdom, but, ultimately, he will not risk his legitimacy by avenging his death. Too many people presuppose that Mugniyah played a central role in the leadership. Without going into too much analysis, I think Nasrallah wants to distance himself from the actions Mugniyah was given credit for in the name of Hezbollah. And by Hezbollah not responding to this act with violence, will be a testimant to the groups evolution from an international focus to a resistance focus. Which is why Nasrallah mention that Israel had violated the “terms of the agreement” by attacking outside of Lebanon-Israeli proper. I could be totally wrong and Hezbollah could respond, but I don’t see it happening.

February 15th, 2008, 5:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

It’s amazing to me that there are people on this blog who would defend a man like Moughniyeh. Nobody has been questioning his involvement in the hijacking of a civilian airliner or his involvement in an attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina. Nevertheless, a few people on the blog think that they should take the time to defend a man who killed hundreds.

CWW –

Welcome to the Middle East!

This is a part of the world where no one is criticized or held in contempt unless they are Jewish.

And of course, the issue of targeting non-combatants, firing from civilian neighborhoods, and inflating death counts is always a tiny little footnote never worth considering.

Why-Discuss asks:

Would you defend Olmert or Perez if they were murdered by a car bomb?

No, we only defend (or not even mention) a “resistance” fighter who:

… was a terror icon of the 1980s and 1990s, linked to the killings of hundreds of Americans, French, Jews and Israelis in bombings and airline hijackings over two decades.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080214/ap_on_re_mi_ea/syria_militant_haven;_ylt=AnYheTjPOhZMzMAdWI9zih5w24cA

PS –

Iraqi Body Count doesn’t distinguish between deaths caused by American forces, terrorists, or insurgents.

They also do not estimate deaths caused by the preceeding Baathist dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

February 15th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

ausamaa said:

HP,

Yup, that was a “bad” one. But they deserved it. Dont you think? But you are right anyway. We can be more “civilized” in speach. I will try, but we dont all have the cool nervs which thoughtful and responsible honest patriotic soles like you do! Being on the receiving end of bad things from those claiming sanity and reason does not leave one much nerves to contol. Ask mini Harriri and Jumblat who I take to be your idols!

February 15th, 2008, 5:54 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T said:

QN thinks in cliches. If you want to joke around- humor is, by definition a necessity – you have to be funny. Or creative- QN’s MIA on both counts.

T, I will work harder to make you laugh. It will be difficult, given your strange sense of humor, but I’ll try. My preliminary diagnosis is that you are afflicted with what George Orwell, in the 1940’s, averred to be a typical malady of intellectuals: namely boredom. For you, it doesn’t really matter if something is or isn’t true, what counts is how cliche or timeworn it is. The spicier and more risque, the better… who cares if its true?

Let me know when something tickles you.

February 15th, 2008, 6:05 pm

 

CWW said:

I wouldn’t defend Olmert or Perez because they haven’t done anything wonderful or amazing that I know of. But, assassinating the elected leader of a state is very different from killing “a terror icon of the 1980s and 1990s, linked to the killings of hundreds of Americans, French, Jews and Israelis in bombings and airline hijackings over two decades.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080214/ap_on_re_mi_ea/syria_militant_haven;_ylt=AnYheTjPOhZMzMAdWI9zih5w24cA

February 15th, 2008, 6:09 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa said:

I will try, but we dont all have the cool nervs which thoughtful and responsible honest patriotic soles like you do! Being on the receiving end of bad things from those claiming sanity and reason does not leave one much nerves to contol. Ask mini Harriri and Jumblat who I take to be your idols!

الله يخليك يا أسامه

If you want, I can create another nickname on SC called mini-Hariri, and you can heap all of your criticisms on him, ok?

😉

February 15th, 2008, 6:12 pm

 

Nour said:

CWW,

None of us really know anything about Imad Moughniyeh other than the accusations of the US and Israel. If he was behind the Resistance against Israel, then there is no doubt that people in Lebanon and the Arab World are going to have a lot of respect for him, as the resistance was successful in expelling Israeli terrorist thugs from Lebanon.

As for the Israeli “elected leaders”, elected or not, they were criminal, murdering thugs who are responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more. To award them a higher degree of respect merely because they were elected is ridiculous.

February 15th, 2008, 6:21 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Heck no. Mini Hariri is not that significant. But thanks any way, you are very considerate.

February 15th, 2008, 6:24 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Nour,

Sorry habibi. 😉 My fault.

Everytime I respond to you or Idaf, I find myself defending individuals or ideas that I’m not completely invested in, much less that I “idolize”, which Ausamaa accuses me of. As I said (and as Alex re-emphasized), Hariri was not a saint. Fine. And it sickens me to see his picture all over Beirut, and his name on our airport, and to hear some of the stupid comments made by his son, week after week, in his father’s name.

But this does not mean that Hariri was not a great man. The million people that turned out on March 14 ’05 (which was, like the March 8 rally of 05, maybe the only time the reported numbers matched the actual ones) … those people were not paid to show up. There was a genuine outpouring of national grief, and this signified, to me, that Hariri had come to occupy a different position than all of the corrupt politicians and petty zu`ama who came before. Again, HE WAS NOT A SAINT. But he was not someone that you can dismiss so easily.

please explain to everyone what Beirut looks like outisde of the limited area in and around sa7et el-nejmj. It is still a heap of garbage, chaotic buildings, impoverished people, etc. Please tell what the northern areas next to Tripoli look like, where people are forced to live in tin houses and where fundamentalism is rampant due to the disastrous economic conditions there. What Hariri did was build a few structures here and there.

I don’t know what tour bus you got on, ya Nour, but this is simply untrue and I think you know it. Maybe you didn’t visit or live in Lebanon during the war, as I did. Maybe you don’t have a real picture of the transformations that Hariri wrought in the country. This is the only explanation I can think of for your bizarre characterizations, unless you are politically motivated, which is also possible.

He did not improve Lebanon. He did not change its institutions. He did not attempt to reform or change the Lebanese sectarian system, as it suited him perfectly well. Sure, he paid for many people’s education, but all tribal leaders do that, and that is in fact a negative value not a positive one. Assad also paid for the education of thousands of people. Saddam educated many more people than Hariri could have dreamed of. The whole point of doing that is to create a relationship of patronage between the leader and the subject. A true accomplishment would be to build a state where advanced education is available to all citizens.

I love these kinds of criticisms, because they display one of the great ironies of modern Arab discourse on progress and democracy. You are impugning Hariri because he did not … transform Lebanon enough! Lebanon, with one of the most complex, quarrelsome, vitriolic, cynical, divisive political classes in the Middle East?! Yes, you are right, habibi. He failed miserably at transforming Lebanon into the model country that you are imagining, and which exists in a galaxy far far away. Yes, he failed at endowing it with strong stable modern institutions like universal education, and health care, and social security, and eradicating poverty, and extremism, and turning it into a first world country… in fifteen years. Yes, you’re right. But does this make him like Assad and Saddam? If you actually believe that, then … wow. I’m speechless.

Why-Discuss said:

He destroyed the soul of downtown Beirut to make it a poor satellite of an chic european capital, rejecting the melting pot atmosphere that was making the lebanese of all classes feel close to each other in the Borj. He has consacrated the class and religion split.
How many factories did he build? How many cultural centers? How many theaters? How many institutions did he create?

Excuse me? Hariri “destroyed the soul of downtown Beirut”???? There was no downtown!!! It was a lunar landscape of smashed buildings and rotting carcasses! Hariri didn’t destroy downtown, the militias and Israelis and PLO and Syrians did!! Do you actually imagine that it was going to magically grow back into the “melting pot atmosphere that was making the Lebanese of all classes feel close to each other”??? Wake up! The guy could have done much worse: he could have put a huge Walmart there, or let it turn into another Kaslik with Romanian and Russian brothels on every corner, as I’m sure plenty of other zu`ama would have done.

As for how many factories, cultural centers, theaters, and institutions he created, the answer is: quite a few, but not enough. He would have created many, many more, if he had lived. He had 15 years, and several rather pressing needs to attend to, like… roads, hospitals, infrastructure, etc. Guess what, he also did not create a Lebanese space program, nor did he get around to building that nuclear power plant that we had been asking for. And, what the hell happened to the world-class orchestra and ballet troupe that he promised us?! What a worthless, useless man. I don’t know what Hassan Nasrallah saw in him.

I seriously wonder sometimes how we are going to lift ourselves up in this region, if we slander and backbite even those people who try to make a positive difference for their people.

February 15th, 2008, 6:38 pm

 

CWW said:

Nour,

You wrote:
“If he was behind the Resistance against Israel, then there is no doubt that people in Lebanon and the Arab World are going to have a lot of respect for him…”

I would hope that most in Lebanon and the Arab world wouldn’t have respect for a man that hijacks civilian airliners and bombs community centers. Interestingly, the EU which does not list Hizbollah as a terrorist organization, lists Mougniyeh as a terrorist.

February 15th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa,

As you could glean from QN’s post just above this, no one in leadership positions in Lebanon is my “idol,” no one (and this similarly applies to QN – as he often stated). I have always expressed great admiration for the discipline and erudition of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah although, in the same breath, I have lamented his fanaticism and unwillingness to turn his brilliance towards effective purely political action without the militia activities. The one exception in the M14 crowd is Fouad Siniora. I do have a lot of respect for Prime Minister Siniora, and have often said so, not because I have any entrenched political position – I don’t – but because he always acts as a statesman in his language and body language. He has commanded tremendous respect worldwide for his effective explanation of the grievances that HA has against Israel, for putting a human face on their “resistance” despite their constant sabotaging of anyone trying to redress their image. Like it or not, he is really the one who effectively negotiated, against all odds, an end to the cruel hostilities that the Israeli army imposed upon the Lebanese population (despite their protest that they did their best to spare civilians). It was not Syria – which cowardly stayed out of the fight, it was not any of the Arab countries – which watched and protested but did not put any of their real assets at risk, it was not HA – whose “Divine Victory” claims are as ridiculous as Saddam Hussein’s claims of victory after Desert Storm. It was Siniora’s effective diplomacy and inspiring some level of confidence by the Western world that Lebanon could be governed by a true statesman.

Ausamaa, I am not aligned with any party in Lebanon and I am as apolitical as they come. I left Lebanon 27 years ago and am comfortably settled in the U.S. while engaged in one of the best areas that keeps one away from human fanaticism: science and technology. What you are getting from me is the objective impression of anyone with the perspective on the events that comes from distance and even-keeled weighing of interests. I am confident I speak for a very very large silent majority. If you are able to keep the discourse factual and objective, not to mention civil, I believe you will be much more effective in advocating the positions that I think you want to defend.

Of course if, on the other hand, you really do have a need for unleashing verbal wrath, then I think QN’s suggestion of creating a mini-Hariri handle on SC that you could then freely unleash on (without obscenities please) is, I concede, a good idea.

Amen to QN

February 15th, 2008, 6:49 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Qifa Nabki,

“It was Siniora’s effective diplomacy and inspiring some level of confidence by the Western world that Lebanon could be governed by a true statesman.”

And stupid me, I thought Siniora was a mere naieve but over-ambitious and disposable Accoutant who was conned -or sucked into past the point of no return- to do Saudi/Bush bidding in Lebanon by the smarter ones in Hariri/Jaja/Junblat trio.

السنيورة؟؟؟ يعني انت جيت تكحلها, رحت عميتها

الله يهني سعيد بسعيدة!!!

February 15th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Ausamaa, you mean HP. I didn’t say that. 😉 Yalla, change it while you still can.

Sorry HP. (and thanks)

February 15th, 2008, 7:40 pm

 

Shai said:

Personally, whether Moughniyeh was a terrorist or a hero is, I think, irrelevant. He was a major player in the ongoing war in the region, orchestrated and led some of the events that involved many deaths, including operations outside of Israel-Lebanon (Argentina, for instance) and, as such, probably knew that his days are numbered. The sad part is, that now many innocent people are likely going to suffer (perhaps die), as the cycle of blood and vengeance continues.

If HA assumes Israel did it, and if Nasrallah will want to make good on his promise, then some response internationally is probably in the making. If 3, or 4, or 50 Jews “suddenly” lose their lives one morning while sitting in their offices in some odd building, we can guess what Israel will do, especially as Nasrallah has already voiced his pledge (interpreted or not) for revenge. Unfortunately, our bitter and endless war has placed us in a continuous bloody cycle of cause-and-effect, which will not go away until some brave leaders walk that scary path towards peace.

February 15th, 2008, 8:42 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Shai,

The current rumor is that our misunderstood terrorist friend, Moughniyeh, accidentally killed himself with his own bomb (unfortunate martyr work hazard).

If so, do you think the Israelis can breathe a sigh of relief or would you recommend they continue to watch the border as closely as they have in the past?

The “cycle of violence” is tricky even when your enemy kills himself.

February 15th, 2008, 9:01 pm

 

ausamaa said:

ما هو بخزي العين انتو الأتنين بتشبهوا بعض متل الأخوة أ ي ج و أكبر بالاس ما تواخذوني دخيلكن

February 15th, 2008, 9:06 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Shai,

We can lament the endless cycle of violence, BUT… If HA takes it out on innocent civilians then it’s not a balanced response now, is it? As many have indicated here on this post, HA is likely to be much more disciplined and much smarter than to have civilians as their targets. They may have in the past – when they sent rockets into Israel – but indications are that they have learned and continue to do so. If there is retaliation, and it is not obvious that there will be, then it is likely to be a military target or a value target of political significance. The imbalance in civilian-to-military deaths in the 2006 summer war is a testament to HA’s progress in graduating (steadily) to legitimate military targets.

Having said that, we are all awaiting in awe the promised definitive revelation that has been promised from the professional investigation by Syria. While it is clear to any objective observer that indeed Syria is one of the suspects in Mughnieh’s death, even assuming it has nothing to do with it, the kind of blind confidence exuded by Moallem about their soon-to-be success in identifying the culprit is stupid at best, deviantly cruel otherwise…. a bit reminiscent of the communications minister of Saddam at the beginning of the 2003 Iraq war…

February 15th, 2008, 9:08 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa,

I may admire QN and share many of his views but I’m not even close to his level of erudition and eloquence (at least in the areas discussed in this forum). I’m sure there are things we differ on and I’m sure I do one-up him in some area (maybe only one 🙂 ). However, you do seem to have a special unifying effect on many of us, like a catalyst that enables a miracle of resonant concordance.

We all still like you, though, especially that Alex has testified that you are a nice person.

Some day we’ll have turkish coffee together on the Corniche… and you can then let us have it in person.

February 15th, 2008, 9:15 pm

 

Alex said:

CWW

Another thing I hope you consider … people change sometimes.

I am not an expert on Moughnieh’s life and his alleged role in the different attacks and hijackings. BUT … if we remember that many prime ministers of Israel used to be “terrorists” when they were young … then maybe you should be more understanding that a popular Lebanese figure was not treated like a terrorist anymore for things he did 20 years ago.

And … please understand that the number of casulaties of HA’s “terrorism” in the 80’s is a small fraction of the number of dead Iraqis and dead Lebanese … the past three years .. which is a bit more fresh in people’s memory too (2003 to 2008)

February 15th, 2008, 9:22 pm

 

Shai said:

Honest Patriot,

In our region, there is no such thing as a “balanced response”. There never has been, in my mind, and there probably never will be. In order to do such a thing, you have to first respect your adversary. If we had that here, then there would have been peace in the region 60 years ago. The hatred and suspicion all sides have towards each other is, unfortunately, the main hurdle to peace. While these exist and grow, each side uses any of its means to punish the other, and never takes the principle of reciprocity too seriously. But I do agree that there’s a good chance HA will target a high-level profile (Israeli/Jewish) in the coming weeks or months. But, if for some reason it is unable to get one, it may still choose to punish some easier target, like innocent Jews somewhere around the world. I agree with Alex, though, certainly enough innocent Arabs have died at the orders of our own generals as well… hence the cycle. We always get back to where we started.

February 15th, 2008, 9:59 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Honest Patriot

It is a strange thing to say that “I” seem to have a unifying effect on “many of us” here as you have “honestly” and “patrioticaly”(!) put it. I would have thought that such an role would have been accorded by the “many of you” to AIG and AP.

I was wrong as usual!!!!

February 15th, 2008, 10:00 pm

 

ausamaa said:

Honest Patriot

It is a strange thing to say that “I” seem to have a unifying effect on “many of us” here as you have “honestly” and “patrioticaly”(!) put it. I would have thought that such a role would have been accorded by the “many of you” to AIG and AP.

But I was wrong as usual!!!!

February 15th, 2008, 10:00 pm

 

Nour said:

CWW,

The fact of the matter is that we still don’t know anything about Moughnieh other than what the Americans have accused him of. We don’t really know if he was responsible for the attacks they claim he masterminded. However, even if he were responsible for those acts, he still would have a lot of respect in the eyes of many in the Arab world due to his ability to force the occupation to withdraw from Lebanon and to successfully thwart an attempted Israeli invasion of Lebanon in July, 2006.

February 15th, 2008, 10:20 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ausamaa,

Well, for some reason, your post showed up twice. [So maybe you have a “doublifying” effect on us, beyond unifying…. {OK – maybe this is a bad joke}]
And, as far as AIG and AP, no one said they don’t have a unifying effect also,…, except this time on a different group which of course includes you.

Nonetheless, while I think AIG and AP bring a much needed “other opinion” on this blog and while I also think that they deserve a lot of credit and respect for engaging as they do in this forum ( I don’t think they are saboteurs, as some do ), anyway, having said all that, I do have one persistent beef to pick with AIG (and maybe with AP – not sure), and this is that I can’t get them to make a definitive pronounement against the major damage caused by continuing to build new settlements in occupied territories. To me this is a clear indication of the persistence of a very fanatical and fundamental influence within Israel, an influence which is just as bad, and probably worse, than the fanaticism on the Arab side. I condemn both fanaticisms. I invite AIG and AP to do the same (Hint: this is a test).

I don’t subscribe (as you might suspect) to the theory of throwing Israel in the sea, or of saying that the only peace comes when full right-of-return is granted so that demographics take care naturally, in time, of the elimination of what is now Israel. No matter who was right and wrong in 1948, it’s now 60 years later. Move on or stay stagnant or even worse drown in quicksand. Look to the future where the energies of the youth and the wise in every ME country is put to use in improving the standard of living, education, and well being of the people instead of expending it all on a continued and neverending exercise in hatred.

The outline of a final peace settlement are known. Only religious fanaticism is in the way – on both sides. And, if you ask me, if a person truly has religious faith, then they would not be fanatical. They would be the first to call for separation of religion and state and for the institution of fair and democratic regimes. Now, I better stop because I’m slipping into the utopia “thing” I’ve been cautioned against and accused of (correctly) in the past. The ME, granted, is much more complicated than that…

February 15th, 2008, 10:24 pm

 

norman said:

Did Syria blame Israel officialy?.

February 15th, 2008, 10:29 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Norman, not yet. HA blamed Israel. Syria is investigating, with a promise that it will definitely have all the answers very soon. Catch your breath.

February 15th, 2008, 10:37 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Mon cher ami Ausamaa,

Here’s a distilled (by Naharnet) transcript of an interview with Monsieur Saniora; can you tell me if there is something there you disagree with ? Et merci en avance…

(Read from the bottoms up — sorry)
Premier Fouad Saniora Interview 15 February 2008
11:00 Saniora interview ends.
10:58 The Lebanese don’t want a war which they experienced and suffered from in the past.
10:57 I call for electing a president followed by launching dialogue between the all Lebanese parties.
10:56 Lebanon can’t be built except through constructive and continuous dialogue between its factions.
10:55 I say to FPM leader Michel Aoun and Nasrallah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri : “Do what is best for an independant, Arab, free, diverse Lebanon.”
10:52 Should the Arab summit be held without Lebanese participation? I leave the decision for the Arabs.
10:50 Electing a president before the upcoming Arab Summit is essential.
10:31 The Arab initiative stripped the parliamentary majority of its ability to impose its policies and the opposition of its ability to block decision-making but they rejected it.
10:30 Did the resistance battles’ shift to the streets of Beirut ?
10:22 Lebanon can’t be governed from Syria or against it.
10:19 Lebanon is an independant country and must be dealt with accordingly.
10:17 We demanded Syrian troops withdrawal from Lebanon but not to replace it by American or Iranian or French or Israeli hegemony.
10:13 We seek excellent relationships with all Arab nations and on top the sisterly Syria.
10:12 We don’t want Lebanon to become an arena for regional conflicts.
10:11 We oppose launching an attack on Iran but we reject its attempts to dominate Lebanon.
10:10 We have deep-rooted cultural and historical relationships with Iran.
10:09 We must contribute in brokering a historical reconciliation between Iran and the Arab world.
10:03 Hizbullah is contradicting itself by labeling the government as “illegitimate” and demanding financial compensation for the damages of the July war at the same time.
09:49 I believe that Nasrallah’s so called “open war” declaration was misinterpreted.
09:48 Hizbullah Leader Hassan Nasrallah’s “open war”declaration on israel is not in Hizbillah’s nor in the Islamic and Arab causes’ interests.
09:45 We want excellent relationship with Syria and we respect Hizbillah’s sacrifices.
09:44 Our internal disputes are in Israel’s interests.
09:38 What I did during the July war was to serve my country and I don’t regret any decision I took.
09:30 I don’t know who chose the Lebanese judges of the international tribunal and I don’t even know their names.
09:26 I am keen on maintaining the extreme transparency of the international tribunal.
09:24 We want the international tribunal because we seek justice and not revenge.
09:17 Lebanon’s presence is an Arab, Islamic and international need.
09:16 Saniora said that the government will stay as long as it has the Majority’s confidence.
09:00 Premier Fouad Saniora interview aired

February 15th, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

Enlightened said:

Alex;

I can recall I asked you an earlier question regarding the use of appropriate language and the level of decorum in here, and which Honest Patriot takes up further.

You chose to ignore my question and you skirt around the issue wit HP, which leads me to believe that you are being less than impartial when it comes to foul language used by some, and tolerate it when it is used by others. There is a term for this Alex and its called Double Standards.

February 15th, 2008, 11:37 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Ya ‘Skandar, Enlinghted ma3o ha2’, ya 3aybishoom 3alayk for not removing the obscene language section from the earlier post. It’s in this thread; just search for it. 7halass ba2a.

February 15th, 2008, 11:44 pm

 

Alex said:

Enlightened,

Really? … “skirt around the issue”??? double standards?

Where were you when I removed Offended’s comments few days ago?

Where were when I removed about 5 comments by Abraham last month?

If I may suggest another term for your consideration: “balance” … I don’t act immediately, but instead I watch for trends … if a specific commentator here is consistently leaving bad comments or seriously upsetting many others, then I will remove his comments and send him an email to explain.

I did send a few people here emails… discretely … without you noticing.

The problem is that some of the others like AIG and G seem to be very uncomfortable registering here with a proper email … so I can not complain to them privately … I had to do it on this blog.

And you seem to forget how many times G insulted me, and Joshua. for the first few months I used to reply sarcastically and ignore him. But then it got worse and it got … really boring.

In the case of AIG, I suggest you count how many times different people here said “Alex please block him … you should not be this tolerant”

So instead of blocking his IP address, I limited him to 5 comments per day… which is more than the number of comments that you or Ausamaa leave here on the average.

I think I was fair enough and I think even though you are relatively balanced in your opinions (Pro/anti Syrian regime’s positions)… you are much more sensitive to any questionable words, or actions from Syria’s side .. or as I can see here, even from those who are “pro Syria” on this forum.

As for Ausamaa’s comment … it was certainly bad and Ausamaa accepted the blame in a subsequent comment.

Ausamaa … please never use that kind of language again.

February 16th, 2008, 12:04 am

 

Alex said:

HP Habibi … can I explain to you something? … If I edited the bad parts of Ausamaa’s comment (and I only read it after I read your link to it) .. then your comment would have linked to a perfectly clean message and it would look like you did not have the right to criticize Ausamaa.

You want me to do that? .. I will do it right now.

February 16th, 2008, 12:09 am

 

offended said:

Yeah, my comment was removed and I felt disgraced.

But I didn’t question the fairness of the moderators.

Salamz

February 16th, 2008, 12:26 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex Yah Habibi; I am not that sensitive,whether I hear questionable words from Syria’s side I can take them with out getting into a hissy fit! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARTICULATE AND CONSTRUCTIVE DEBATE AND USING FOUL LANGUAGE. The worst i can recall i did was calling Imad Mustafa a Liar which got all you pro syrians in a hissy fit.

I am aware of AIG, and all the personal attacks , if You can recall the worst was Fares attack against Josh! But Alex my suggestion even though Ausamma accepted the blame you would have been best served to delete those few words.

End of story.

February 16th, 2008, 12:44 am

 

Alex said:

Elightened .. please read what I wrote to HP above and you and him might want to tell me if I should remove Ausamaa’s words .. and that would be a better end of story. : )

February 16th, 2008, 1:17 am

 

Enlightened said:

Alex its all ready a closed chapter there is a new thread! Lets move to the next thread! 🙂 🙂

Its far more interesting!

February 16th, 2008, 1:41 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Dear Alex,

First please do accept (at least) my and (probably) Enlightened’s most sincere appreciation for your efforts and the quality of your (probably benevolent) work here. I do understand your concern about our comments linking to a perfectly clean message if you were to remove the obscene portions from it. I appreciate that point. May I however suggest a perfectly easy solution to this. Keep most of Ausamaa’s message, and for the 2 or 3 obscene words just put a bracket saying [adjective removed by moderator b/c of obscenity intolerance on this blog] or something along those lines. Then you can post a comment saying you took care of the “bad” words in that post.

I recognize this is extra work for you but I think you should realize that my insistence in this case (as well as Enlightened’s) is really due to the pretty obscene words used in Ausamaa’s message in question (the “f” words) and which evidently demeans this whole blog in a very negative way.

With respect, appreciation, and gratitude to you and to my long lost friend of beautiful Beirut days Joshua.

February 16th, 2008, 2:21 am

 

Enlightened said:

HP : Thats all that we intended, just have the offending words removed, that is all, none of us had a problem with what Ausamma had to say. Its his prerogative to bellow his opinion. No one needs to be silenced, I concur with you that the language demeans the blog, but enough said.

The next thread is on and it will prove interesting.

Alex have a arghile!

February 16th, 2008, 2:50 am

 

Alex said:

HP,

done.

cheers.

Enlightned,

I don’t smoke.

February 16th, 2008, 2:54 am

 

norman said:

Alex,
that explain your good health.

February 16th, 2008, 3:04 am

 

ausamaa said:

WOW..

And all the above took place while I was sleeping!

Ok, but what sort of words should I use when refering to the likes of Mini Hariri, Waleed Junblat, and Samir Ja’ja? The Three Muskateers, the Three Stooges, the Ugly, the Uglier and the Ugliest? I will keep a dictionary handy anyway because if you mention those name without some sort of a “prerogative” attached to them, many will not be able to remember who they are.

And please, cool scholars, you do the same also when You refere to certain people as Terrorists, Regime Stooges, etc,…etc… Tralllla.. See, some good may come out of this in the end! If you are really that sensetive and considerate towards the feelings of others.

And dear all, now I know what using Qamees Othman really meant..

February 16th, 2008, 7:45 am

 

why-discuss said:

QIFA NABKI
“Excuse me? Hariri “destroyed the soul of downtown Beirut”???? There was no downtown!!! It was a lunar landscape of smashed buildings and rotting carcasses! Hariri didn’t destroy downtown, the militias and Israelis and PLO and Syrians did!!”

After World war II the destroyed downtown of WARSAW was rebuilt exactly as it was because the Polish knew it was the heart of the city and psychologically they tried to erase the idea of the war by resuscitating the center of the city. Hariri did exactly the opposite, he resuscitated Gucci, Versace and Armami but not the heart of Beirut and he has divided the city in ghettos where there is no common space for all classes and religions to meet.
Roads, airports and hotels do not suffice to heal the wounds of the war. He did not undesrtand that: his moto was let’s erase everything and build a business and tourist city… This is what he did and we see the results now. The occupation by the “tents” of downtown is also a symbolic reclaiming of that space, but maybe such psychological issues fly above you.

February 16th, 2008, 8:40 am

 

why-discuss said:

CWW
“I wouldn’t defend Olmert or Perez because they haven’t done anything wonderful or amazing that I know of. But, assassinating the elected leader of a state is very different from killing “a terror icon of the 1980s and 1990s, linked to the killings of hundreds of Americans, French, Jews and Israelis in bombings and airline hijackings over two decades.”

Olmert and Perez are responsible fo the death of hundred civilians and resistants lebanese as well as israelis in 2006 war, They did not do anything as spectacular as Mughniyeh???”nothing wonderful???

Beeing the elected leader does not clean him of all his crimes:
Hitler was the elected leader of a state and he was a mass murderer that carried the whole german nation to become accomplice to his crimes.
Would you regret if some of his victims took revenge of him and killed him?

February 16th, 2008, 8:48 am

 

T said:

QN,
I pegged you accurately early on and will stick with my appraisal. You are a waste of time and not too perceptive or bright and trite.

Alex,

You may have to be punished for the sexist term “skirt” around the issue. This could be harassment towards the women on the blog-are there any? Annie or Nur Al Cubicle- any feedback? I hope this doesnt open a whole new line of (red herring) controversy on the blog.

February 16th, 2008, 9:27 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

T – You speak as if you were an authority or an accreditation body whose “pegging” of bloggers represents an official certificate. If you think QN is “not too bright” then, my friend, that’s just fine b/c the last thing QN needs or should care about is your blessing. QN’s intellect speaks for itself to anyone past a minimum threshold of education. Nor is your attempt at humor anything but a revelation of your benign and simplistic mind colored as it seems by some obsessive (probably youthful) thoughts. And if indeed your raising of “a whole new line of controversy on the blog” is not an attempt at humor, but a serious claim, then, young fella, you have serious problems of immaturity.

February 16th, 2008, 9:41 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Why-Discuss,

Roads, airports and hotels do not suffice to heal the wounds of the war. He did not undesrtand that: his moto was let’s erase everything and build a business and tourist city…

Beirut was a tourist and business city long before Hariri came along. As for Versace and Armani, yeah, those stores are annoying, and the downtown is a little too chic for my taste. But what are we supposed to do? Mandate that storefront no. 17 on Shaari3 al-Masaarif has to be a falafel joint, and no. 26 has to be a cobbler, and no. 52 has to sell mna2eesh? Come on, this makes no sense. We’re living in a different time. Cities are changing, the region is changing. Downtown is prime real estate, and if people are going to pay top dollar, then what are we supposed to do, tell them to go to hell? Certain areas are going to become high-class, and other areas are going to become popular. We should be happy that Hariri actually did set out to recreate the district as it existed in the late 19th/early 20th century. They restored the Ottoman-era architecture, and even went to the old French factory which produced the street lamps, dug up the old dies, and made the same lamps again. Other politicians would not have bothered doing this.

There are other areas of Beirut that have taken the place of the old Aswaq district, in terms of the social mingling that you talk about (e.g. Hamra, the Corniche, both of which received major renovations, also thanks to al-Hariri).

As for ghettoizing the city, this is exaggerated criticism on your part. Beirut (and Lebanon as a whole) has always been sharply divided in terms of class and religion. Why do you blame Hariri for this?

February 17th, 2008, 2:22 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T said:
QN,
I pegged you accurately early on and will stick with my appraisal. You are a waste of time and not too perceptive or bright and trite.

Now hold on a second, T. I thought I was only supposed to work on being funny. You want me to be funny, and perceptive and bright, all at the same time?

My friend, I don’t think I can manage that. Or at least, I can’t promise that my efforts won’t be a waste of your time.

What are your thoughts, by the way, about a solution to the M14/Hizb crisis?

February 17th, 2008, 3:16 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN – Run for President of Lebanon, we’ll all vote for you. Yalla, shoo natir ?

February 17th, 2008, 3:29 am

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP,

I’m trying to run for president, but these stupid politicians can’t agree. Hariri and Jumblatt are whispering in my left ear, and Aoun and Berri are whispering in my right ear, but they all talk about my being the real consensus candidate. Yeah right.

Sincerely,
Gen. Michel Suleiman

I mean, Qifa Nabki.

February 17th, 2008, 3:41 am

 

T said:

Honest Patriot,

Why dont you mind your own business and let QN stand up for himself? Does he need you to run to? Anyone discussing ME politics and Syria in 2008 who doesnt know who AIPAC is and their influence, is none-too brite- (QN was clueless on this issue) and is not truly “well-informed”. No matter what his SAT scores or status university may be.

I mean that is- well- really, really unbelievable.

Why dont you return to Lebanon and help build your country over there?

February 17th, 2008, 2:11 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Anyone discussing ME politics and Syria in 2008 who doesnt know who AIPAC is and their influence, is none-too brite- (QN was clueless on this issue) and is not truly “well-informed”.

T, let me explain something to you.

I don’t know who you are or where you are from, but based on things you have said, it seems that you are American, and that you’ve had military experience.

You remind me of quite a few such specimens who, at some point in their life, come upon the realizations that … (gasp):

a) AIPAC wields a huge degree of power upon American foreign policy…
b) Israel handles American intelligence gathering in the ME
c) The American-Israeli love affair, coupled with the imperialistic designs of America, are the causes of most of the systemic problems of the region.

You are subsequently so blown away by these revelations becaues you’d never heard them before! You make it your neverending quest to view every issue through this singular prism. The reason that these revelations were so powerful to you in the first place was because they were very likely the direct opposite of what you were taught while growing up in America. You think that you have discovered the truth that nobody else knows except for the elite few and that you must speak it to power.

Let me tell you something, T. While few in America might be aware of these great revelations of yours, they are our bread and butter in the Middle East. I was taught to say “@!#% Israel!” and “The Jews control the world” and “America is the great satan” before I could say ga-ga goo-goo. This great insight that you claim to be bringing to my attention is something that is ingrained in my subconscious, got it? I don’t need some American ex-grunt to enlighten me. While you were pledging allegiance to the flag, eating Cheerios, and playing football on Thanksgiving, I was watching my neighborhood getting bombed by huge shells from the USS New Jersey while the Israelis were bombarding West Beirut.

Don’t tell me about AIPAC.

But I have news for you, T. There is life after this great revelation! There are possibilities for analysis that go beyond America America America Israel Israel Israel AIPAC AIPAC AIPAC. It’s time you started listening instead of preaching.

And you never answered my question.

February 17th, 2008, 4:19 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

T, you said to me “Why dont you return to Lebanon and help build your country over there?” and “Why dont you mind your own business and let QN stand up for himself?”

For the second question, QN clearly doesn’t need me one teensy wheensy bit to defend him and/or otherwise explicate any of his arguments. I have no pretenses there and hope I didn’t come across as such. I was simply commenting on my perception of your post. The transparency of your approach angle begged for articulating my reaction — which I’m certain is shared by many a reader of this blog.

As far as returning to Lebanon and help build my country over there, I’m afraid the very specialized skill set I have is of no use to Lebanon, at least at this time. I had tried to stay in my youth but ran through so many incidents (while being 100% neutral and uninvolved in hostilities), one of which almost took my life, that I had no choice but to seek survival elsewhere and await – if it ever happens – a chance to either return and serve, or be supportive in other ways. In any case “my country” is now the U.S. and my patriotism includes voting for the right people who can advance the cause of peace and separation of religion-and-state in the ME while redressing the wrong that was inflicted on the Palestinian people who, regrettably, have managed to persistently make the wrong choices in defending their cause. This redress need not include the elimination of Israel. While you “discovered” AIPAC and their influence, remember that they play by the rules and compete through intelligence and prowess. The Arabs need to know to play the same game and make their case through persuation and competence, not through terror.

February 17th, 2008, 5:01 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Sorry to see QN that even you think that Israel and the US are the MAIN problem. I didn’t take you to be in denial also. The problem is not Israel or the US. It is Arab society and the way it is organized.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it can never lead to solutions. The Arabs need to change themselves but as long as they point fingers at others and never at themselves, why do it?

February 17th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG,

I didn’t read QN’s post the same way you did. He never claimed that “Israel and the US are the MAIN problem.” [Re-read his last paragraph].

On the other hand, my persistent criticism of the terrible choices that Israel makes by continuing to build settlements in occupied territories is one that you don’t seem to want to address. That makes us sorry to see. Giving peace a chance should involve more than just waiting.

February 17th, 2008, 5:11 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,

Perhaps I read too much into his point C:
“c) The American-Israeli love affair, coupled with the imperialistic designs of America, are the causes of most of the systemic problems of the region.”

In retrospect after the six day war, Israel should just have left the West Bank and Gaza and the Sinai unilaterally. But in fact it was impossible to do.

First, the Arabs made the major mistake of agreeing on the “three nos” in Khartoum. That threw Israel into a several year spin. Imagine yourself an Israeli politician, what do you make of that? The concept of unilateral withdrawal was not yet imagined and all Israel wanted to do was discuss new arrangements and even this was impossible. And notice, that there were NO settelements then and the Arabs refused to discuss ANYTHING.

Second, emotions always lead to trouble and it was not possible for any Israeli government to give back East Jerusalem. Nobody could forsee the Messianic Judaism aspect that the six day war created and that was at the heart of the settlement movement. You have you crazies, we have ours and in many cases they are the most motivated and it is difficult to stop them, especially in Israel in which most governments are coalitions of several parties and concessions need to be made to small parties.

Which brings us to the situation today. The main problem is the right of return and not the settlements. Since we cannot agree on the right of return, why bother with the other issues?

February 17th, 2008, 5:27 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

“Since we cannot agree on the right of return, why bother with the other issues?”

Hmm, AIG, that doesn’t quite compute. Even the US administrations have consistently asked for a stop to the settlement movement, in the same breath that they reassure Israel that they will “never” abandon it by agreeing to the right-of-return to Israel proper.

There sure are “crazies” on both sides. However, the moderate Arabs need help to widen their support among the masses, and the settlements sure don’t help but instead play into the hand of the “crazies.”

As far as point “c” in QN’s post, I have to believe that it is not necessarily a point he is adopting but more of a reflection of what the perception is. But, lest T gets on my case again, I should refrain from interpreting further other folks’ posts and stick to expressing my own opinion. I still think that, in a broad view of the whole situation (across many decades), it is now the turn of an Israeli “Sadat” to create a breakthrough. I have a hunch this is bound to happen sooner rather than later. But that’s just a hunch.

February 17th, 2008, 6:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG,

The main problems in the Arab world today cannot be fully addressed by the regimes that control the region. And they are huge, structural, systemic problems… mostly having to do with the legacy of colonialism disrupting the natural evolution of Middle Eastern societies. (Contrary to all those who argue that there is something inherently “Arab” or “Muslim” that is antithetical to democracy, modernity, etc.)

I think I’ve said before that our primary problem is not Israel. In fact, here’s a quote from a response to Abraham, a couple weeks ago.

I disagree with you that Israel is our biggest problem. Our biggest problems are the following (in no particular order):

1. Economic stagnation
2. Unemployment
3. Poverty
4. Illiteracy and educational backwardness
5. Censorship and limits of free speech
6. Police states
7. Religious extremism
8. Lack of opportunities for our huge youthful populations
9. Etc.

But in the near term, Israel and America are most definitely our biggest problems, simply because they occupy 90% of the emotional life of Arabs and Muslims worldwide. As long as there is an unjust occupation in Palestine supported by the world’s only superpower, there will be people who are willing to die fighting it and regimes happy to take advantage of it. And as long as America is not serious about thinking creatively and strategically about how to solve the region’s problems by truly understanding them and pressuring its allies to address them, then yes… America and Israel are our biggest problems.

February 17th, 2008, 7:09 pm

 

Shai said:

QN,

I never read/heard your take on the idea of peace between Israel and Syria prior to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which, as you correctly state, seems to be the root of the problem between the US/Israel and the Muslim world. It is my personal belief that Israel should now back off and even declare a “time out” on formal talks with the PA. The Palestinian people now have to work out their own issues, and when they are united again, we should resume talks (possibly even with Hamas). But until then, can we not reach a peace agreement with Syria? Will that not trigger similar agreements with Lebanon, Saudi, etc., which might actually produce “positive” pressure on the Palestinians to once and for all decide on their demands vis-a-vis Israel (and decide what compromises they’re willing to live with, and what ones they’re not)?

February 17th, 2008, 7:47 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

T,

If you were in “prep” in the mid-90’s then what makes you think you’re older than me? While you were enduring the abstract Israeli strangulation of the US (?) I was enduring the very real Israeli strangulation of Lebanon. Maybe this is when my vision became so limited.

🙂

I enjoy debating with you, even if I have to endure your insults in every post. You dig up interesting things.

And I’m starting to understand why you’re so defensive; people calling you crazy, idiotic, foolish, etc. That’s not cool.

Keep up the good work. (And remember, we’re on the same side)

February 17th, 2008, 7:52 pm

 

T said:

QN,
Its not being called idiot for being wrong or mistaken that I mind. That is fair & square. Its being called idiot even when I’m on target that bugs me.

Do you understand the frustration of years of being scammed by the Israelis- only to have them use those American bombs that we pay for to kill Americans in Lebanon in 2006? No concern about if US citizens got out alive during that war?

Israel’s ugly exhibition of disloyalty and ingratitude for years of American largesse was irrefutable. They are a nightmare.

February 17th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Do you have figures on Americans killed in Leb 06?

I know many who tried to leave, without much luck, but no stories about actual casualties.

Of course, Bourdain was there, but he was lounging by the pool in a hotel near Jounieh… waiting for the Marines to bail him out.

February 17th, 2008, 8:22 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,
Sorry, that is too much double speak for me. You start by saying the US and Israel are not the problem, and then end up saying they are. And most importantly, you do not see the regimes and PEOPLE as responsible to solving the problems but again say it is the US and Israel’s responsibility.

It is an Arab problem that Israel occupies 90% of the emotional space. It is not an Israeli or US problem. How about by starting to reduce the size of Israel in the emotional space to less than 50%?

What colonialism are you talking about? The Ottoman one? Certainly it is not the western one since before it the Ottomans made sure that the Arab world remain extremely backward.

February 17th, 2008, 8:35 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Shai,

Nice to hear from you again. The reason you’ve not heard my take on the idea of peace between Israel and Syria prior to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is because it is a sensitive subject. : ) Coming from a Lebanese, any talk of pursuing a separate peace is automatically suspect, especially to my dear Syrian friends on this blog. Such talk reeks of wishy washy nationalism, insufficient regard for the Palestinians, and a self-serving approach to the problem.

But not everyone thinks this way. Alex, for example, does not. And I mostly agree with him. Syria needs to lead rather than follow. And Lebanon will be able to easily surmount its obstacles and follow suit. The Israelis (and Syrians) need to be given a taste of what an effective peace is like, because that will create the incentive to pursue (on both sides) a just solution for the Palestinians. If the Syrians are visibly rewarded for effectively “moderating” Hamas and Hizbullah (and if both the average Syrian and average Israeli sense this reward), then this will create something for both sides to lose. It is important to create this sense of “something to lose”, in any such conflict. This is, in fact, the problem in Lebanon today; the Shi`a have nothing to lose, and everything to gain from challenging the corruption-infested ways of the political class.

February 17th, 2008, 8:38 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

I’m sorry I don’t fit into the box that you put me in. : ) I never said that the US and Israel “are not the problem”; I literally said “I disagree… that Israel is our biggest problem.” Nor did I ever say that it is the “US and Israel’s responsibility” to solve the problems. Again, I literally said: “As long as there is an unjust occupation in Palestine supported by the world’s only superpower, there will be people who are willing to die fighting it and regimes happy to take advantage of it.”

The responsibility to solve our problems is our own. But it is extremely difficult to turn our attention to these issues in a serious way while the Arab-Israeli conflict lies at the center of political life. For every ‘liberal’ who can see past this monolith, there are 10,000 others who can’t.

As for colonialism, I was referring to both the European colonialist project and the Wahhabi intellectual colonialism of the 20th century. The Ottomans can be blamed for many things, but they did not disrupt the basic social, economic, and legal structures of the pre-modern Islamic world in the way that the Europeans did. Nor did they annihilate a centuries-long tradition of Sufism as the Wahhabis did. Both these developments have had major repercussions on contemporary Arab life.

February 17th, 2008, 8:59 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

QN – time to fess up: how old are you? and what is your (I guess academic) practice?

February 17th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
Are the settlements a problem in getting to peace? I don’t think so. In 67 there were no settlements and peace could not be discussed. If all the settlements were removed, there would still not be peace because the right of return issue cannot be solved.

The settlements are just a reminder to the Arabs what happens if you don’t negotiate peace early. You may lose more land.

February 17th, 2008, 9:42 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, the settlements are not THE problem in getting to peace but they ARE an obstacle (sort of a blocking agent, or “anticatalyst”) freezing any thaw that begins to develop.
They do send a direct as well as an indirect message regarding rights to the land and submission to the Israeli extremists’ agenda. The ARE a problem. I’m not saying dismantle them now, but stop expanding. I’m sorry you don’t see how negative an impact they have on those of us who are either moderates or true supporters of a just peace.
Study carefully QN’s posts.

February 17th, 2008, 9:47 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP,

I told you already, I’m a general in the Lebanese army, trying to become the president of Lebanon!

February 17th, 2008, 9:54 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
I believe you when you say the expansion of the settlements has a negative impact on you specifically and on moderates generally.

Israel even agreed to freeze settlements as part of the road map. I think only the ones in the Jerusalem are, which Israel does not consider settlements are being expanded. This makes sense as these settlements will not be returned or be part of the Palestinian state. If Olmert stops building those, his government will fall.

February 17th, 2008, 10:18 pm

 

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