Post Gemayel Prospects

It seemed clear before the Gemayel murder that President Bush was determined to thwart efforts to open up dialogue with Syria and Iran. The assassination will harden his resolve to isolate both countries and to "win in Iraq", as he insists he will. Instead, Washington seems intent on returning to the Palestinian problem to look for a way to defuse Arab passions and shore up Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Jordanian support in confronting Iran and Syria.

This strategy is bound to fail. Saudi, Egypt and Jordan have little interest in combatting their neighbors. They can do nothing to help Washington win in Iraq. And Washington has proven that it is incapable of solving the Palestinian issue, let along fooling Arabs into thinking it is serious about pressuring Israel to withdraw from settlements. Bush's strategy will only further radicalize the region, exacerbate the blood letting in Iraq, and speed up the decline of its influence in the region.

The Wall St. Journal writes that an estimated 800,000 mourners, turned out in Martyrs' Square at the funeral of Gemayel in a show of force in support of the beleaguered U.S.-backed government.

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora went on national television Thursday night appealing to Hezbollah and its allies to resume a national dialogue broken off earlier in the month.

"Dialogue is the only and sure path that guarantees results," he said.

But his government was pressing ahead with one of the issues that prompted the crisis — the creation of a U.N.-backed international court to try suspects in the Hariri slaying, which Hezbollah opposes. A government official said Mr. Saniora called a Cabinet meeting for Saturday to approve the court…

After Mr. Gemayel's death, Hezbollah put off its threatened demonstrations for now, but will likely feel the need to respond with a show of strength after Thursday's funeral rally.

Business and industry leaders announced they would go on a two-day strike beginning Friday to pressure politicians from both sides to sit down and talk to settle the political crisis.

But the bitterness dividing the country was on vivid display.

Shadid in the Washington Post writes:

"They wanted it to be a contest, so let it be one," Samir Geagea, a Christian leader allied with the government, told the cheering crowd in Martyrs' Square. "We are not afraid one bit. We shall not give in. We shall not submit until the crimes stop."

"We are the true majority, and you are the illusion," said Hariri's son, Saad, who has inherited leadership of Lebanon's Sunni Muslim community and allied himself with Jumblatt and Geagea. "To them, we say, leave your illusions behind and return to the truth, return to the idea of sovereignty, return to national unity and return to Lebanon." [Shadid ends on a bleak note, raising the posibility of renewed civil war or the division of Lebanon.

Slackman in the NYTimes writes:

With the exception of Damascus, General Aoun seemed to generate the most hatred among those who gathered.

“He split the Christian line,” shouted Fadey Ghazehli, 21, after spitting on a picture of the general. “He used to say he would disarm Hezbollah. Now he is with Hezbollah.”

Taken together, the reaction to Mr. Gemayel’s death could be a strategic boost to the government coalition, analysts said. “Morally, the government coalition has had a lot of gains,” said Oussama Safa, general director of The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, regarding the killing. “They defused the opposition. They revved up the March 14th coalition, which was dead.”

The WSJ qutoes Jumblatt:

Mr. Jumblatt said the assassination of Mr. Gemayel vindicates a message he took to Washington on a visit last month: Only pressure, not dialogue, can force Syria to moderate its behavior. The key, Mr. Jumblatt says he told Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Rumsfeld, the departing defense secretary, is the rapid establishment of a U.N. tribunal to judge Syrian officials and others implicated in Mr. Hariri's murder. 

"The main issue is the tribunal," he says. "There is no other issue. . . . This is why the Syrians are counterattacking in Lebanon. They want to topple the government because they know that somewhere they are responsible for the murder or murders."

Mr. Jumblatt says the U.S. has been right to try to promote democracy in the Middle East but wrong to snub the consequences — the rising clout of Islamist groups such as the Palestinian organization Hamas, which Washington denounces as a terrorist outfit. Without a Palestinian state alongside Israel, he says, the region will be doomed to an "an endless crusade" pitting Muslims against Israel and its supporters.

Democracy, he says, "is a risk worth taking . . . but the Arab world is becoming more and more radicalized because of Palestine."  Mr. Jumblatt, whose father and grandfather were assassinated, belongs to a clutch of veteran Lebanese politicians who have alternately fought and befriended each other for years and still command great influence, thanks to the loyalty of their various communities. The 57-year-old politician represents the Druze religious sect, an offshoot of Islam, whose members account for less than 10% of Lebanon's population.

These days, there are two basic, though highly unstable, camps in Lebanon: forces that back and are backed by Washington, and those, such as the Shiite Islamist movement Hezbollah, siding with Syria and Iran. The choosing of sides has led to some odd alliances.

Gen. Michel Aoun, a Christian former army chief who fled Lebanon in 1990 after armed clashes with Syrian troops and returned to Beirut last year, now stands with Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian groups. Mr. Jumblatt, who used to attend military parades in Moscow and was close to pro-Soviet Syria, has joined Syria's foes and blames Russian diplomats at the U.N. for initially stalling the Hariri tribunal.

"I don't hide my past," Mr. Jumblatt said in an interview in his ancestral mountain compound southeast of Beirut. "Yes, I've changed. I was pro-Syrian. OK. But I said, 'Enough is enough.'" Lebanon's politics, he says, "are a long, complicated story."

Mr. Jumblatt says he reminisced about the "good old times" with Mr. Rumsfeld when they met late last month at the Pentagon. When Mr. Rumsfeld visited Beirut in the early 1980s as an envoy for President Reagan, Mr. Jumblatt's forces shelled the airport. He was fighting at the time with a Christian militia run by Amin Gemayel, father of the cabinet minister murdered this week.

Mr. Rumsfeld, says Mr. Jumblatt, recalled the incident: "He told me: 'You were firing at me' . . . I told him: 'I'm sorry. At that time I was a warlord. Now I'm a democrat.'" Mr. Jumblatt says there was nothing personal, noting, "Our artillery was not very accurate." The Pentagon confirmed the meeting but declined to say what was discussed.

The former warlord says he now shares Washington's view that Iraq and the rest of the Middle East needed shaking up with a dose of democracy. "There was no way but for the Middle East to change," he says. But he faults Washington for ignoring the rise of Islamist groups as the only popular alternative to the region's dictatorial rulers. The U.S., he says, has to accept this and start dealing with Hamas and other groups inspired by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood,
which the U.S. calls terrorists.

Scott McCleod of Time Magazine writes:

The regimes in Syria and Iran are bent on undermining U.S. policies, including support for Lebanese Prime Minister Fuoad Siniora, who came to office in last year's pro-democracy Cedar Revolution. But a key reason for the U.S.'s setbacks in the Middle East is it's chronic refusal to wholeheartedly address the root causes of conflict, such as the lack of a negotiated end to Israel's occupation of Arab lands, the failure to establish a Palestinian state and Western support for repressive Arab regimes. Instead, Washington labors under the fantasy that its political and military strength alone can win the day. With that approach fanning an unprecedented number of crises in the region, amid the largest long-term deployment of U.S. military forces in Middle East history, it is past time for Washington to learn from its mistakes.

Early-'80s Lebanon ought to have served as a cautionary tale heading off the U.S.'s more recent adventure in Iraq. In 1982, the U.S. backed an Israeli plan to invade Lebanon and destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization, kick out Syrian troops and install a pro-Western, Israel-friendly government led by Lebanese Maronite Christian leader Bashir Gemayel. Israel drove out the PLO, only to start negotiating with Yasser Arafat after a Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza trip a few years later…

Lip-service aside, the Bush Administration has largely ignored the 58-year-old Arab-Israeli conflict, which provides pretexts for wars, feeds political extremism and bolsters authoritarian regimes. Syria's price for good behavior in Lebanon and Iraq is the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel for nearly 40 years. Labor governments negotiated towards that end with Syria, but the current Israeli government insists that the Golan is part of the Jewish State…

This summer, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described Israel's pummeling of Lebanon as "the birth pangs of a new Middle East." A return to the old Middle East, more like it. Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon, despite achieving few of its objectives. But U.S. support for Israel's bombardments gravely undercut the pro-American Siniora government to which Pierre Gemayel belonged and that now may not survive Hizballah's bid for greater power.  As I watch dramatic events in Lebanon yet again, the U.S. looks no more able to direct events than it was two decades ago when Pierre Gemayel's uncle lost his life and his father was deserted by Washington.

New York Newsday:

Internal strife within the Baker commission, outright opposition from President Bush and Tuesday's assassination of a cabinet member in Lebanon are complicating the prospect of U.S. overtures to Syria and Iran over Iraq, sources say.

Hoekstra drops visit to Syria

The current Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee is heading to Jordan and Lebanon next week in an effort to better understand issues in the volatile Middle East.

But Rep. Pete Hoekstra said he has dropped a planned trip to Syria from his itinerary following the assassination this week of anti-Syrian Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, who was gunned down in an assassination that many Lebanese blame on Damascus.

"With the assassination, this is a good time to just step back and not push the envelope," Hoekstra told the Ludington Daily News.


Flurry of Diplomacy to Build Alliance of Sunni Leaders;
Pressure Concerning Israel Could the Bloodshed Spread?

November 24, 2006; Page A1

WASHINGTON — As violence escalates in the Middle East, top U.S. officials are reaching out to traditional Sunni Arab allies in a bid to stabilize the region and build a coalition to contain Iran's Shiite regime.

Over the next week, President Bush is scheduled to visit Jordan, where he will meet with King Abdullah II and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Vice President Cheney is flying to Saudi Arabia, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is set to huddle by the Dead Sea with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, among others. Issues on the U.S. agenda are expected to include how to bring order to Iraq and how to check Iran's nuclear program.

The visits highlight the administration's longer-term strategy to build a broad alliance of Sunni Muslim states to offset Tehran's growing regional ambitions. Since the spring, the U.S. has sought to increase cooperation between traditional Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, including developing joint maritime patrols and a regional missile-defense shield for these countries.

In order to build such an alliance, however, the administration could be forced to shift its Middle East strategy in significant ways. Arab diplomats from ally countries are pushing Washington to be much more assertive in promoting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They are also expected to advise the White House to scale back efforts to promote democracy in the region, arguing that they could lead to more extremism.

The flurry of diplomacy and Washington's outreach to long-standing Arab allies underscore the Bush administration's growing concern over Iran's influence. Iran announced yesterday it was proceeding with a plan to build nuclear reactors. But in seeking to contain Iran, many Middle East analysts warn, Washington could find itself in the middle of the long and bitter split between Sunnis and Shiites.

"The whole rhetoric of containing Iran could spark competing extremism" between anti-Iranian Sunnis and pro-Iranian Shiites, says Vali Nasr, a Middle East expert at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. "Washington doesn't want to be seen as actively encouraging this."

In Baghdad yesterday, coordinated suicide car bombings and mortar attacks on the Shiite slum of Sadr City left at least 160 dead and hundreds more injured. Immediate reprisals against Sunni neighborhoods and against a revered Sunni shrine raised fears that the country was slipping further into civil war. (See related article.)

Regional leaders worry that bloodshed could spread to Lebanon, where political tensions have been rising in recent weeks. (See related article). Thousands of Lebanese took to Beirut's streets yesterday to protest Tuesday's assassination of Pierre Gemayel, a Christian cabinet minister who had sought to counter the political influence of Syria and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia. Many in the crowd blamed Syria for the slaying, a charge Damascus denies, and accused Hezbollah of trying to topple Lebanon's democratically elected government.

Growing Power

The roles played by Iran and Syria in Hezbollah's rise are regarded as evidence of growing Shiite power across the Middle East. While Syria's population is majority Sunni, its ruling Assad family is from a Shiite sect. Many Arab leaders fear a powerful Shiite axis taking shape between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Many Lebanese leaders have expressed concern recently that their country also could descend into civil war. Some contend that Mr. Gemayel's slaying is part of an effort by pro-Syrian forces to head off a United Nations investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The initial U.N. investigation implicated senior Syrian officials, an allegation that Syria denies. This week, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution establishing a tribunal to oversee the trial of anyone charged in that case. The Lebanese government has to consent to any trial.

How Mr. Bush responds to pressure on the U.S. to get more involved in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could affect Washington's relations with its Arab allies in the region, as well as relations between Sunnis and Shiites. Arab diplomats say countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates will find it difficult to publicly stand with the U.S. on Iran and on broad regional stability unless Washington pressures Israel on a peace initiative.

"The road to Baghdad runs through Jerusalem, and not the other way around," says one senior Arab diplomat in Washington.

There are signs that the White House may be coming around to this view. Philip Zelikow, a top policy adviser to Ms. Rice, said in a September speech that an "active policy on the Arab-Israeli dispute is an essential ingredient to forging a coalition that deals with the most dangerous problems" in the Middle East. A few days later, Mr. Bush told the U.N. General Assembly that he had asked Ms. Rice to lead a diplomatic effort to engage moderate leaders across the region to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their differences.

Previously, neoconservatives in the Bush administration had argued that peace in Israel could only be achieved through the removal of dictatorial regimes such as Saddam Hussein's, which funded militant groups targeting the Jewish state. Many Arab allies of the U.S. oppose that approach.

Arab officials are expected to push the Israel issue during their upcoming U.S. visits. President Bush and his top lieutenants hope to use the discussions to continue efforts to bring together Sunni Arab states to offset the growing regional clout of Tehran's Shiite theocracy. Sunni leaders in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries worry that Iran's rising influence could stir up their own Shiite minorities or other groups hostile to the U.S. and its allies.

Islam's split into Sunni and Shiite sects dates back to differences over who should succeed the prophet Muhammad after his death in 632. Sunni-based royalty and political parties have held power in most of the Islamic world since then, relegating Shiites to the political and economic minority. Iran's 1979 revolution brought to power a Shiite theocracy that rekindled regional Shiite political activism. Iran's influence increased when a Shiite-led government took over in Iraq after the 2003 ouster of Mr. Hussein, and through Iran's support of militant groups fighting Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

Many Arab and U.S. officials were alarmed this summer by Hezbollah's military strength in its fight against Israel. Tehran has supported the group for decades with funds and arms. Hezbollah's main goal has been fighting Israel, which invaded Southern Lebanon in 1982 and occupied it until 2000. But Iran has also viewed the group as a deterrent to the U.S. and Israel. Today, Hezbollah, with its extensive social and political networks and military capability, behaves in many ways like a state within Lebanon.

Leaders of Sunni Arab states warn that wars in Iraq and Lebanon risk upsetting the regional balance between Sunnis and Shiites. They have also voiced concern that their nations could be dragged into the fighting on behalf of militias or terrorist groups that share their religion. Civil war in Iraq could force Saudis to fight "shoulder to shoulder with al Qaeda," said Jamal Kashoggi, an adviser to Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al-Faisal, at a conference on the Middle East last week in Washington.

U.S. leaders will be traveling into the heart of the Sunni world. Mr. Cheney is set to arrive today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, where he will discuss Middle East developments with King Abdullah. In a visit hosted by King Abdullah II of Jordan starting Nov. 29, Mr. Bush is scheduled to hold two days of meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to discuss ways to stabilize Iraq.

On Nov. 30, Ms. Rice will kick off meetings with foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council members, along with Jordan and Egypt. They are expected to discuss how to deter Iran from meddling in the politics of neighbor countries and from developing a nuclear arsenal, say officials involved in setting up the meetings. Arab leaders are likely to bring up the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The visits come amid U.S. efforts to build a Sunni-based regional alliance. U.S. naval fleets have engaged in training exercises with several Persian Gulf countries. Last month, the U.S. conducted war games with Bahrain, Qatar, the U.A.E. and about two dozen other countries about 20 miles outside of Iran's territorial waters. The exercises were part of the Bush administration's Proliferation Security Initiative, which seeks to stanch weapons trafficking.

State Department officials such as John Hillen, assistant secretary for political-military affairs, have in recent months visited the six Arab countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, as well as Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, to work on revamping the region's security framework. Saudi Arabia formed the GCC in 1981 to coordinate economic and security issues among Persian Gulf states. Other members include Oman, Qatar and the U.A.E.

Mr. Hillen is pushing a plan to better integrate the U.S. into the GCC's security architecture. The plan calls for helping GCC member nations to develop regional maritime-security and missile-defense initiatives, to share intelligence, and to improve air defenses. The Bush administration wants to incorporate all GCC countries into its antiproliferation program.

Mr. Hillen maintains that the initiatives shouldn't be viewed as anti-Shiite. "In fact, the vast, vast preponderance of U.S. efforts in the region are oriented on making sure a majority Shiite government led by a Shiite prime minister succeeds" in Iraq, he says.

[Balancing Act] 














Many Middle East analysts are skeptical that Washington's containment strategy for Iran can work. Few Arab governments have militaries capable of confronting Iran on their own, and many people in the region are sympathetic to Iran's confrontational stance toward the U.S. and Israel. Ultimately, these analysts say, Washington may be forced to choose between pushing the nuclear issue with Iran and working with it on stabilizing Iraq.

Conflicting Messages

The U.S. itself has offered conflicting messages. A coming report from an advisory group led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton is expected to urge the White House to engage both Iran and Syria to help ease violence in Iraq. Iran has allegedly armed and funded Shiite militias that are fighting Sunni insurgents in Iraq. The U.S. has alleged that Syria has allowed al Qaeda and other foreign fighters to cross into Iraq.

Mr. Baker has said he believes Iran and Syria share Washington's interest in preventing violence in Iraq from worsening, and perhaps spilling over its borders. Some counterterrorism officials believe Iran shares the U.S. goal of combating al Qaeda and other militant Sunni organizations, which have a history of targeting Shiite communities.

President Bush and other senior U.S. officials have repeatedly cast doubt on the utility of seeking help from either Iran or Syria. Mr. Gemayel's assassination could further diminish Washington's interest in talking with either nation. U.S. officials have implied that Syria was involved in Mr. Gemayel's shooting, citing its alleged targeting in the past of anti-Syrian politicians.

The greater fear is that a U.S.-led Arab coalition against Iran could bring the region's tensions to a boil. Lebanon is seen as particularly vulnerable, and Sunni and Christian political parties in Beirut are worried by Hezbollah's moves to gain power. Some fear Lebanon could slip into a sectarian civil war like the one that ravaged the country in the 1980s.

Other countries could also be vulnerable to rising Sunni-Shiite tensions, analysts say. Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority lives in some of the kingdom's most resource-rich areas and has increasingly sought to expand its political influence. Afghanistan and Pakistan have endured sectarian violence in recent decades. And countries like Kuwait, a major oil exporter, and Bahrain, which has close ties to the U.S., are trying to preserve the uneasy balance between their Sunni and Shiite populations.

Lebanese Assassination may Impair US Mideast Policy

Lebanese Assassination may Impair US Mideast Policy Zaman Online – Istanbul,Turkey … Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria from Oklahoma University, underlined that US president George W. Bush blamed Syria and Iran for the murder. …

Comments (12)

Nur al-Cubicle said:

My feeling is that given the de facto and long-standing Syria/Iran alliance (that can be seen by perusing any timeline of ME events), there is little chance of pan-regional, bloody Sunni-Shia conflict except in Iraq over the Battle for Baghdad by mostly local actors. In fact, I often wonder if Sheikh Nasralla’s pin pricks vs. Israel weren’t crafted to build up interfaith solidarity. He certainly won a great deal of credibility by topping Israel’s hit list together with certain Hamas figures and launching a daring rade against an Israeli patrol, despite in insane Israeli response.

The Christians, well, they are spilt between Aoun and the Decembrists, er Marchists, and this is a crucial factor in preventing things from spiraling out of control in Lebanon.

But at the end of the day, aren’t we really talking about the battle for Jerusalem, which the Israelis are determined to win definitively, ejecting all Arabs? And the US course in that matter has been set and confirmed by Congress and every President since Nixon.

BTW, I have been following the opinion of former French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, who says that the Bush’s Greater Middle East intiative was/is flimflam to avoid the Palestinian issue. The area experts at the CNRS are even more extreme in their view and believe the plan was meant to destabilize _all_ Arab governments.

Now these are the opinions of the French, who are willing to see the US half-way. Imagine what the Arabs think! As you say, Josh, the President’s attempt to turn Arab states against Syria and Iran is doomed to failure. And you have to consider that by now, half the State Department and other agencies are dedicated to internally sabotage this Administration.

November 24th, 2006, 8:49 am


ivanka said:

Jmayel’s murder was an extremely convenient thing for the pro-US party in Lebanon. The same morning everyone was saying that it was a “matter of houres” before the opposition (Hezballa and Aoun) would start demonstrating. Well now such demonstrations have been postponed for at least a week. However my opinion is that they will happen. This assasination will have no influence on the course of events in the long run, I think.

Anyway, Jmayel’s death saved the Saniora cabinet for another couple of weeks. Let us see what happens. I really really feel not much will change in the long run but it is hard to know for sure right now.

November 24th, 2006, 5:10 pm


ivanka said:

And by the way, where are the articles by the Guardian and the Independent that defend Syria.

I think evidence against the 14 march people abounds. From the mufflers that were smuggled to the US embassy (the murderer used a muffler) to the fact that Geagea (someone with a long history in political assasinations) predicted an assasination to the fact that this murder served nobody better than it served them. It stopped the opposition from toppling their government.
The 14 march crowd has two week points :

-The Sunnis and the Phalangists can not remain allied forever. They are old enemies, their bases have very different ideological penchants (most Lebanese Sunnis are Nasserists.)

-They will fight each other over who becomes president. (Pierre was going to be a candidate). They have at least 5 different candidates and this will be an issue that will cause many frictions between them.

Finally the number of 800 000 people is ridiculous. There were at best several tens of thousands, at best.

p.s. Why doesn’t it shock anyone that the Phalange “party”, the Jmayel familiy party, is a fascist christian supremacist party responsible for many crimes during the civil war?

November 24th, 2006, 5:27 pm


Muslim Brotherhood said:

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November 24th, 2006, 9:18 pm


Enlightened said:


It shocks no body what the phalange or the other militias did during the civil war, or the behaviour of the syrian army post and civil war, that is not the point here!!

Gemayel was not tainted with his families history, nor did he have blood on his hands. His murder, and the murder of other politicians and journalists is not civilised behaviour pure and simple.

Your point about the fraility of alliances! political alliances always shift and are only formed when they are mutually beneficial hence the Phalange/Sunni/Druze axis at present. They simply want to regain their country back, nothing more nothing less.

What is happening in Lebanon post Harriri is an expression to reclaim the country politically from Syrian interference, The shiites who have always been politically and economically marginalized will always side with syria, I see no good outcome from this which ever way you analyse this.

The Sunnis were traditionally nasserists as you say , I can recall conversations of my parents generation longing for that Arab super state. But let me tell you as a descendent of the Lebanese NO SUNNI i know wants to be a part of Syria or under Syrian domination, the actions of the syrian army during the war has made them realise that it was better to abandon the idea of pan arabism. Many sunnis i know want no part of syria, The Baathist thieves and thugs have made sure of that.

While I can see from your tone that you love your country, it does ot absolve it of its past and current cimes. The majority of Lebanese just want to be left alone to chart their own course.

November 24th, 2006, 11:05 pm


Making sense of Lebanon « The Classroom and the World said:

[…] There has been a flurry of articles about the Gemayel murder over the last few days.  Joshua Landis does a good job of summarizing the coverage of the funeral.  Most people seem to assume that the murder was the work of Syria, and this assumption makes sense.  But Mark Levine and Jonathan Cook raise some other possibilities.  They both suggest that the murder might be connected to the U.S. or Israel, since this would help strengthen the Neo-Conservative argument for expanding America’s military presence in the region.  Although I’m not completely convinced by their arguments, they raise important questions about U.S. interests in the region. […]

November 24th, 2006, 11:12 pm


why-discuss said:

The 800,000 is absurb, I wonder from where NY times got that stupidity. BBC said it was less than 100,000. The boosting of the number is significant of the mouse that roar. Pierre Gemayel was a minor ministry, too young for the job and not particulary popular. His killing was symbolic. He was not well protected compared to Walid Jumblatt who is barricading himself in his mountain mansion when he is not visiting Bolton, Cheney and Rumsfeld, the faithful allies of Lebanon …
Lebanese civil war is the past. When you taste it once, you try all you can to avoid it at all costs.
Despite the roar of revengeful Hariri and Jumblatt, the governement will fall because hatred and egotism do not build a country, they destroys it and Lebanese have a sense or survival. Only the ones who talk moderately, Siniora, Aoun, Mikati, Hoss, Karame can save this contry. We should not allow vendetta seeking sons to bring this whole country to collapse.

November 25th, 2006, 1:46 am


ausamaa said:


In Hebrew, they call it CHUTZPAH. In Arabic they call WAQAHA.

“Syrian Crimes”????

“What is happening in Lebanon post Harriri is an expression to reclaim the country politically from Syrian interference”!!!!

Truly, enough is enough. YOU are destroying what you cal your country. And you are so dammed lucky Syria IS there to extend to you the life-line when you needed it, once and again. And you call it: Criminal Syria…!!!!

Want to know who the Criminal, traitorous, and the “stupid” also is?

It is You, and your likes. A person who apparently is of Lebanese origin, whose many countrymen have committed the most horrific crimes against thier own during not one, but many internal wars and feudal strife. You; the first nation in the area to practice slaughter based on the “religion” stated on a persons ID in recent history, the first thugs who introduced and conducted the most outrageous acts of ethnic cleansing against their own which (was stopped and the country was saved only through what you call SYRIA’s interference at a steep cost in Syrian Blood), a country whose Western-leaning minority conducted and gloated the atrocities committed against the unprotected Palestinians in Sabra and Chatila once their defenders were forced to depart, not to mention the continuous pimp-like readiness of some of its major factions to selling their country’s present and future for the highest bidder, to the chronic mental-disorder suffered as a self-inflicted denial of the historic and geographic facts of existing in a dominantly Arab/Muslim surrounding but continuing to believe that they belong to a higher European or Western civilizations whose basic values they are yet to comprehend, to being a country that survives on Arab tourism, Arab Aid and on Arab Revenue in the form of the salaries of its expats who have more than competed for the chance of working in the “backward” pre-dominantly Arab and Muslim Gulf countries but still refuse to acknowledge/admit that they belong to this nation.
When will people like you realize, that like it or not, you belong to this area and the area’s problems are yours same as the riches you seek to draw from it. When will you realize that LEBANON will remain a part of the Middle East forever? When will you really accept the natural fact that as long as you are a small country built on a fragile social coexistence, and without any special Economic, Military, Industrial, Scientific or any Particular source of supremacy in any effective field, you will always have to be an “underling” state and you will either be dominated by Syria or by Israel. The Arab East or the West. And the west is thousands of miles away, and the west had never “noticed” you until it needed to use you, knowing that part of your countrymen are always “in heat” to be used for the right price?

It will always be the ARAB REPUBLIC OF LEBANON. The Lebanon which all 10425 square kilometers of which are located in GREATER SYRIA, which is in turn located in the ARAB WORLD. When will you get that into your head and live with reality, not in a a long lost Phoenician-Atlantis myth whose past achievements compare even less than decimally to the achievements of the other neighboring civilizations.

And do you know why I said “Stupid” in the first lines? It is because even ISRAEL; the mighty foreign entity implanted in the area, and despite its being a regional super power is now realizing that it must find a way of being absorbed by its surrounding or it has to wither away, while You and your likes, who possess less than 1% of the Jewish influence and power, still dream of the “dirty” Confederacy of Lebanon that you wish to see, but which you never shall.

You sure are a very ENLIGHTENED person. I just thank God there are not many enlightened ones like you in Lebanon.

I am really sorry for having to confront you and your likes with such words. I even really regret wasting time commenting on your hallucinations. But enough is enough sometimes. And he who knocks on the door….should expects to get an answer. And I,for one, have had it this time.

November 25th, 2006, 4:02 pm


fady said:

boy aussamaa should be binladen with all the hate and anger toward the lebanese, must be a socialite from syria dreaming of greater syria still. Aussamaa, remember that if it was not for lebanon and the war you started, the people and regime of Assad would have died of starvation. during the war, our toilets and brushed the syrians stold from us to take back to syria. stand up and say something against the government and see what kind of freedom you have in syria.

November 25th, 2006, 9:02 pm


Enlightened said:

Seriously dude behave but:

You see Aussama this is the problem with us arabs ( you were wrong to assume my ethnicity and sense of belonging, yes ausamma i am arab, but i am not baathi!) we cant have a civilised conversation with out emotion or violence or cursing for that matter!

Furthermore , ( for re inforcement ) no one needs to remind me of my arabness! ( lolz I am arab and im proud! exhaling and puffin my chest), it is the first thing i tell anybody who asks me of my ethnic origin, please when you argue a point stick to the facts!

It is people like you who have been in this baathist slumber that have made Syria and the Middle east the rear end of the world.

I must commend the Syrian education system, it has produced a Professor in your case, spewing forth that vile Baathist doctrine. Wake up and smell the roses, you and your ilk are the reason that the baathists are still in power with your democracy, institutions and your very high standard of living. Thats why one million syrians work in lebanon because so called advanced syria cant provide enough jobs with its socialist economy!

Ausamma, left wing ideaology died with the berlin wall almost 26 years ago, Obviously there are a lot of walls still in syria, and a lot of bricks and brick head mentalities to dismantle!
and please have some respect you dont know my leanings other than me telling you . Ausamma my syrian brother professing your brotherly love for your brotherly lebanese. Let me tell you its an un requited love!

For all the Lebanes Stupidity as you call it, and lets face there was ( you see i can admit lebanese misgivings and mistakes) Syrias troubled history with slaughter ( ie Hamma, in lebanon etc ) there is a stony silence from the Syrians, Dont worry ausamma when us lebanese liberate our selves from Your Baathist Masters , we will come and liberate you and forgive your country from all the sins that your masters have commited in the name of arab brotherly love, and yes we will make a distinction we will come with freedom and roses and we will sip coffe together and talk about those politician bastards that have robbed us and forced us to emigrate to all parts of the globe because we couldnt feed or educate our kids.

Freedom is dear ausaama, sweeter than arab pastry, when you taste it, you will never forget the taste!

November 26th, 2006, 2:27 am


Wizart said:

Saad Hariri and Nasralla are on different planets.

I don’t see how they can sit down and make a connection although they’re both Muslims.

The entire political system is disfunctional.

No country on planet earth is run like this based on who’s Sunni, Shiite and’s a joke.

Wasn’t the Taif about getting rid of sectarianism?

It’s really amazing how easily people get distracted and lose sight of the basics.

Why don’t the Lebanese start with a clean sheet of paper and begin by firing all the politicians and writing and voting for a new constitution?


Rule number one. Keep religion out of politics.

Rule number two. Put rule number one in the constitution.

Rule number three. Uphold the constitution.

Why not hire impartial professionals to oversee this process?

November 27th, 2006, 2:44 am


Margaret Porter said:

What is happening is the US is trying to mess up more Arab lives so that Israel can survive. Mossad killed Hariri on Valentine’s Day, “true to form” for a mafia killing and they are assisted in their evil duties by Jumblatt and that scoundrel called “Hariri II” who is obviously on drugs. Look in that guys eyes and realize he was raised to be another Qadafi…another drugged out US “boy toy” raised well in Saudi and attending various US schools and institutions for his “training”. He is bad. Real bad.

Alas. They want to destroy Shi’ism. Is it any wonder? We know all the answers to their tedious questions and answer their lies with truth that eventually will be noticed the world around.

November 27th, 2006, 6:29 pm


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