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Monday, February 06, 2006

The battle for Lebanon

The Sunday riots in Lebanon became another Syrian attempt to overthrow the Siniora government and weaken the March 14 alliance. Aoun wasted no time. He seized on Christian anger over the destruction of their property and attack on their churches, and formed a counter alliance with Hizbullah that is aimed at isolating the anti-Syrian camp.

What Hariri and the main Sunni establishment naively thought would be a peaceful protest went horribly wrong. The Future Movement and Dar al-Fatwa made a fatal mistake that will probably cost them dearly in Christian circles. You just do not send hordes of angry Muslims into a Christian neighborhood to "defend" Islam and the prophet. The riots that ensued should have been foreseen. Syrian agents, Palestinians from the pro-Syrian PFLP-GC, and a number of Islamists elements from Tripoli and the Ein El Helweh refugee camps took advantage of the apparent laxity of the security forces and torched the building housing the Danish embassy, before spreading their unjustified anger to Christian churches.

Lebanese Christians were told to fear the extremist Lebanese Sunnis, who come courtesy of Saad Hariri. The Syrian smear machine has always accused Saad of supporting fundamentalists, and now the proof was presented in Ashrafieh. It is hoped that Lebanese Christians will see through these pathetic attempts to terrorize them and prostitute them to serve Syrian interests.

The strongly worded March 14 alliance statement today reflected the gravity of the situation. It came as Michel Aoun and Hassan Nasrallah were meeting in a church, where the former general continued to use his constituents as a jumping board to the presidency. The message was clear to Christians: Aoun is the only protector, and better Hizbullah than the fundamentalist Sunnis. Aoun has made his strategic choice: An alliance with pro-Syrian, Iranian-funded Hizbullah to support his presidential bid. There was no mention of the Hariri investigation or Syria's terror campaign.

The statement released by the March 14 alliance described the Sunday riots as a Syrian-engineered coup attempt to "turn Lebanon into a second Iraq." And I don’t think they were only referring to the violence and the spread of al-Qaeda types. The alliance read the Sunday events as an attempt to marginalize the Sunnis in Lebanon and put their fate in the hands of a few pro-Syrian extremist organizations such as the Syrian intelligence run al-Ahbash and the Jamaa Islamiya, as well as “al-Qaeda.”

According to the statement, Lebanon is now playing host to a group of Jordanian Islamists who have entered Lebanon and settled in the northern Akkar region. A large number of "Syrian special units" have also entered the country, accompanied by “non-Lebanese” elements from the PFLP-GC two days before the protests. Large sums of money were transferred by a “regional non-Arab state” (meaning Iran) to a number of pro-Syrian organizations and figures. And Syrian Intelligence has increased its activity and widened its presence in the north, where a large recruiting campaign is underway to build “special forces.”

For that, the March 14 alliance statement asked the cabinet to submit a complaint against Syria to the Security Council, and demand the Arab League hold an emergency session to look into this matter.

The list of demands is actually long. It includes: Lahoud’s removal; disarming all militant organizations that receive orders from the Syrian regime and intelligence, and investigate their sources of funding; sacking all security officials involved in the smuggling of arms through the borders and who have shown laxity in preventing riots.

The March 14 alliance meeting took a swipe at the Justice Minister and gave him one week to answer a list of questions regarding the fate of the investigations into the different bombings since October 2004, as well as the Madina Bank scandal and the oil for food scandal.

The most important demand, however, was asking the Lebanese government to spread its authority over all of Lebanon, send the army to the south, demarcate the border, especially in Shebaa, and “remove Palestinian weapons outside the camps, organize it inside the camps, and reject the existence of off-limit security zones on Lebanese territory.”

The March 14 alliance here is going all-out against Syria and its allies. Hopefully it is not too late. Months of wasted time spent coaxing Hizbullah and sometimes Aoun has cost them and Lebanon dearly. After the Sunday riots, Aoun and Nasrallah appeared to be pulling the rug from under their feet by announcing an alliance that reeks of hypocrisy and treason.

Reading a prepared statement, Abu Danab and Bassil stressed the importance of a national dialogue as the only way to resolve pending issues. They called for a consensus democracy to uphold the spirit of the constitution and a new modern
electoral law.

Hizbullah and FPM linked the disarmament of the Party of God to the liberation of the Shabaa Farms in response to UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

Nasrallah and Aoun, also appearing in public to cement their understanding, jointly pledged that Lebanese who had fled to Israel in the aftermath of the May 2000 liberation of the South would be treated 'fairly' by the Lebanese justice system if they chose to return home.

Aoun, for his part, renewed his demand for an audit of money spent by successive governments since the end of the war that allowed the public debt to spiral to US $38 Billion, one of the highest in the world.

In response to a question, Nasrallah said Aoun was a genuine candidate for Presidency, insinuating that the erstwhile rivals have discussed the potential successor to President Lahoud.
The above is nothing short of an attempt to rewrite the constitution to fit Hizbullah’s war goals and Aoun’s presidential aspirations. A “consensus democracy”, with undemocratic Hizbullah and opportunistic Aoun at the helm, appears like a strange hybrid of an Islamic state and a presidential democracy. One should not be fooled here. Regardless of the viability of this alliance, Aoun has just sold the country to Syria and Iran to become President. This alliance appears to be more than just between Hizbullah and Aoun. It is, for all practical purposes, with the Syrian regime. As I said above, security in Lebanon, Syria's terror campaign and the Hariri investigation were not even mentioned. Did Aoun receive guarantees from the Syrians through Hizbullah? Time will tell.

Nearly one year after the assassination of Hariri, attempts to reverse the positive changes in Lebanon are underway. Hizbullah and Aoun are now leading those efforts. With the battle against Siniora’s government now aiming to create a rift between Sunnis and Christians, the March 14 alliance and the Future Movement has to fight back not with complaints, but with action. At stake is the country’s independence and democratic future.

Addendum: My bad, the "understanding" does mention the Hariri investigation, however it does not mention it in the context of Syrian guilt. The "understanding" rejects the politicization of the investigation by Lebese elements, yet it ignores Syria's role in delaying and obstructing it, not to mention Hizbullah's shameful defense of the Syrian regime.

How does one build a modern nation on denial and "understandings" designed to keep one party's arms, and give the other party a presidency? Speaking of "consensus", where is it when a large number of MPs and Lebanese want to see Syria held accountable? Are they not part of that "consensus"? And who has been outside the consensus for the past year?

HA 's obstructionism and machinations are responsible to a great degree for the stalemate that Lebanon has been forced into for the last few months. Obviously none of this stagnation would have occured had the PM and his allies had the vision and the courage to oppose the inclusion of HA as a partner in the cabinet.

All what has occured is water under the bridge. What is important is whether the lessons of the recent past have been learned or whether the Lebanese affliction of putting ones head in the sand is going to continue.It will be a grave mistake to even contemplate a raprochement with HA and Aoun who appears to be willing to sell his soul for the presidency.

What we need are fresh ideas, new blood and courage to stand up for what is right; sovereignty; honesty; justice; democracy and modernity. That is a tall order that cannot be fulfilled by business as usual. If we insist on thinking in sectarian terms then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The clergy ; all the clergy; must be confined to dealing with spiritual religious matters. There is nothing that qualifies them to analyze and set political policy , social priorities or economic goals.The clergy are not going to shut themselves out of the power structure, we have a duty to shut them out of politics. That is a prerequisite for any meaningful change.If taking the clergy out of the political loop is not done then we have no one to blame but ourselves for the mess that is certain to ensue.
why is a 'Marxist' organization like the PFLP-CG defending Islam?

Ok no need to answer to this question guys :)
"Lebanese Christians were told to fear the extremist Lebanese Sunnis, who come courtesy of Saad Hariri. The Syrian smear machine has always accused Saad of supporting fundamentalists, and now the proof was presented in Ashrafieh. It is hoped that Lebanese Christians will see through these pathetic attempts to terrorize them and prostitute them to serve Syrian interests."

I have talked on MSN to my friends in Lebanon. Everybody is aware of the Syrian manipulation. Still, they are very (very, very, very) angry against the FM and the state because it failed to provide the most basic thing: security and protection.
unless something has happened in the past 7 hours (since that is when I read the news properly today), I think Aoun and Nassrallah specifically said that what they had was more of an understanding, and not an alliance.

ghassan, your last paragraph hits the nail right on the head. let's even take that further and say that some of the political leaders are responsible for propagating intense sectarian sentiments.
What positive things have been going over the last year? Do you actually read the news or do you think meetings and bullshiting is political action? I would give you a list of what has been really happening but I have no time.

Aoun and Nasrallah have an understanding, not an alliance, as they both stressed.

Hizballah undemocratic? Perhaps. But who in your opinion is democratic? al-Ishtiraki who are over represented in government and whose decisions are all taken by one man? Or al-Mustaqbal who want to impose their program (which consists of nothing but privatization) when all the government employees who are starting to feel the effect of this are trying to mobilize but remain unheard?

Keep on spinning your own stories but this "understanding" is the best thing that has happened over the last year. It was not cooked up overnight. It was properly discussed. It is clear. You might not agree with either parties, but at least they are practicing politics, not just shooting their mouths off. It would do others a lot of good to try and do the same rather than depend on the fact that they have a superpower behind them.
Well said Miss Amal!

Wake up Qays dude, there isn’t such a thing as the “March 14 movement”: it was just a publicity stunt engineered in Riyadh and (widely) distributed to the gullible masses by pliant Saudi-owned Lebanese media: LBC, Future TV, Al-Hayat, Al-Nahar…etc.

Have you ever read the works of mainstream (as opposed to say followers of O.B. Laden) Saudi theologians? Glorious thinkers whom King Fahd and his Lebanese-born courtier Rafic Al-Hariri both referred to as “the greatest thinkers of our time”: Nasiruddin Al-Albani and Abdul-Aziz Ibin Baz who wrote countless books and sermons discussing the operational practicalities of enlightening topics such as the final solution for Christians, Shiites and “secular dogs”.

Ironically, these leading Saudi “intellectuals” insisted on the imperative of starting with the Nasara who live and dwell on the Ummah’s soil…I guess the pro-Hariri fools who rampaged their way through East Beirut on Sunday were just “heeding the call”.

See wiki entry below for more edifying info on Saudi Arabia’s leading “Grand” Mufti and his Hariri-sanctioned “theology”:

In truth, Gen. Aoun has no natural inclination for the Farsi Imam corner per se…but, in relative terms, these guys have proven time and again to be MUCH MORE SECULAR than say faux sheikh Hariri’s Wahhabist handlers and their so-called “progressive” feudal Druze friends: unlike Jumblatti war criminals or Saudi thugs (and the Ottomans before them), the leaders of Amal and Hizbullah never ever killed a single Christian civilian…

Saint Luke (who happened to be a Syrian physician, just like Bachar but I’m digressing as usual!) once said that "a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor a corrupt tree good fruit; and nobody gathers figs of thorns, nor grapes of brambles."

At the end of the day, the current political situation boils down to a straightforward allegiance problem…and the fact of the matter is that faux sheikh Saad Al-Hariri and aspiring sheikh Fuad Saniura both hold Saudi citizenships and are literally on the Wahhabi state-terrorist payroll: they both sit on the board of directors of PUBLIC and private Saudi firms (oooops conflicts of interests!) and they both literally receive fat paychecks from Riyadh at the end of every month that Allah makes.

I guess you simply cannot bite the hand that feeds you…
- The hand that gives you money stolen from the Lebanese people by disinterested Saudi “investors”: Oger SAL, Solidere, Liban-Cell…
- The hand that gives you a job: Qoreytem, Oger SAL again, Bank Al-Madina…
- The hand that gives you a house: Beiut- The Grand Serail, Jeddah- facing the Wahhabi Grand Mosque, Paris- facing the Eiffel tower itself…for the Hariris always like to show some “hauteur”!!
Dude, why don't you try and run the Harriri propaganda campaign. You still use terms like "anti-Syria" etc. Do you still not understand post Syrian Lebanese politics?

Must we blame everything on Syria.

These Islamic fundementalists that rioted will be a force in Lebanon long after Bashar is gone. We need to isolate them and their patrons before their intolerance becomes contagous.

I completley agree - well said

A lebanese christian
What happened sunday was not an attack by one sect on another sect, but an attack on Lebanon by extremists looking to destabilize the country. I totally agree with Ghassan, sectarianism is spread by our politicians, but also by our bloggers its seems: all they seem to be talking about is "sectarian conflict". The good Dr Victorino also has a point: the March 14 alliance has very little to do with March 14. This is all terminally ridiculous, I am going to need to post something.

A Lebanese/Lebanese.
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Bird flu is also part of Syria's evil work. And Darfur yup… you guessed it, Syria again. Man give me a break, there is this inherent disease among some Lebanese to blame everyone but themselves which goes back to the civil war and beyond. It was the Palestinians, Syrians, Iranians, Israel, Muslims Christians, etc. But we (who ever that is) are innocent.

It’s a common disease in the rest of the region too (always blaming israel) please press eject on that CD player. Only when you learn to acknowledge your mistakes that you should deserve to blame others.


You should be smart enough to know that plenty of Lebanese do hold Lebanon, its politicians, and its people accountable for plenty of things--including many nasty elements of the civil war and Sunday's actions. But they will NOT hold themselves accountable for the assassinations of Hariri, Qassir, Hawi, Tueni, an attempt on Chidiac, and WHY should they?!? They also should not have to put up with bullying from a weak and desperate Syrian regime--Lebanon has enough problems.

Are you denying that Syrians were part of Sunday's actions? No one, including Kais, denied Lebanese involvement so why jump all over him? Many Lebanese were disappointed that other Lebanese chose to participate in such a stupid and dangerous protest but there are still foreign elements involved. Do you deny Syria's support for al-Ahbash, Hizbullah, and other dangerous elements in Lebanon?

Why don't you cheer for Syria's innocence on Landis' site?

Here comes the Syrian propaganda machine! They will point out that before we used to blame everything on Israel and the Palestinians, and now our favorite scapegoat is Syria!

But what you fail to recognize is that this time all evidence points to Syria, again and again and again!

For instance, the number of Syrian and Palestinians arrested after the attack on Sunday. Noone has commented on this! and why?

There is just a few idiots who copy paste the same posts on all the Lebanese blogs, in an attempt to convince us of the propaganda they vomit, and which they have been fed by their masters!

I see all your movements as a desperate attempt to try to take back your stronghold of Lebanon. I guess you are starting to feel a bit hungry? That's normal the billions that were sent every months to feed you, have stopped!

You are weaker then ever, and your desperate attempts to bring down Lebanon with you will fail!

Wait for the report by Brammertz in a few months!
« I see all your movements as a desperate attempt to try to take back your stronghold of Lebanon. I guess you are starting to feel a bit hungry? That's normal the billions that were sent every months to feed you, have stopped!
You are weaker then ever, and your desperate attempts to bring down Lebanon with you will fail!
Wait for the report by Brammertz [sic] in a few months! »

Sheikh Saad is that you blogging incognito under the Anon. disguise??
Bad boy: your Wahhabi medicine man had told you times and again not to interrupt your opiates cum lithium diet: I’m gonna have to report you once again to May Chidiac’s plastic surgeon- remember the one who did that (failed) brain implant job on you back in March of last year…
Another round of cervical surgery seems overdue!

As for Qays, he has the nerve to write following:
“…Speaking of "consensus", where is it when a large number of MPs and Lebanese want to see Syria held accountable? Are they not part of that "consensus"? ”…

...Without ever mentioning, of course, that these so-called parliamentarians were “elected” under the guise of an illegal redistricting law engineered by no other than the Middle-East’s most revered “friends of freedom”: General Hafiz Al-Assad and King Fahd Al-Saud.

Thank Allah and Zeus, Saad and Fuad are here today to perpetuate this great Arabian Saudi-Stalinist “democratic” tradition!

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one of you is enough, victorino.
Issam, you deliberately ignore the facts.

What was the Ahbash and the PFLP doing in this crowd?

How come police arrest so many Syrians?

The mainstream parties didn't want this to happen. They never expected it in the first place. The fact that the Muslim clerics belonging to dar el Fatwa did everything they could to stop this mob tells me that it wasn't the FM and the Lebanese MB who started the riot. It was the Ahbash, the PFLP, the Tawheed and all the Syrian that infiltrated the crowd.

There are widespread reports that people began to be infiltrated in Lebanon a few days ago, from the Syrian border.

Sorry pal, but when I see 1+1+1 I say three.


Then put your words where the money is!

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If Saad Hariri is a wahhabi, then HA aren't but the lebanese equivalent to the Iranian Basij. You take your pick of who is better. Anyways both are an important part of the Lebanese society and in short cannot be passed by. What remains is to treat the issues from a political perspective. But during the last year i saw Hariri committed to demarcating the borders, disarming the camps, stopping the syrian influence in lebanon... and I saw who stepped in at every step to block all this from happening. So why should HA and Aoun's "Working Paper" be considered to have any credibility. I am sorry but this is just another ploy by the syrians to take back Lenbanon. I just hope that the presidency that Aoun was promised is an enough price to sell out his country.
Qays mio, Anon 3.18,

The TRUTH (or shall I say "Al-Haqiqa" as they do in the Qoreytem collaborationist milieu) is not always pleasant to hear but, please, don't shoot the messenger.

I believe 'Issam and Miss Levant are quite right (and no, they're no electronic avatars of Dr V!): you're so adamant to blame it all on Syria/the Baath party/the Lattaquieh feration of ophtalmologists/Queen Zenobia...etc. that you deliberately choose to switch into what I call DENNIYEH DENIAL mode!

My Damascene blogger friend t_desco summed it up brilliantly at Josh's:

"... As As'ad AbuKhalil argues, the latest ICG report does indeed offer a possible explanation for the presence of radical Wahhabi groups from the North at the demonstration in Beirut.

Lebanon: Managing the Gathering Storm
Crisis Group Middle East Report N°48, 5 December 2005:

(In the highly competitive contests in the north) "Hariri also allied with Islamists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood.16 Aoun asserted that “the Hariri camp worked against me by funding and promoting Muslim religious fanatics in Tripoli”.17"

17: "Crisis Group interview, Beirut, 27 October 2005. Hariri paid $48,000 in bail for four members of the Dinniyeh Group of 200 to 300 Islamist militants who in January 2000 launched a failed attempt to establish an Islamic “mini-state” in north Lebanon. ...
After the elections, Hariri used his parliamentary majority to secure amnesty for 22 of the Islamists as well as seven militants detained in September 2004 on suspicion of plotting to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut. See Al-Mustaqbal, An-Nahar and The Daily Star, 10 June 2005, and below."

(Various groups) "note that one of the new parliamentary majority’s first measures was to amnesty dozens of Sunni militants, including seven detained in
September 2004 for plotting to bomb the Italian and
Ukrainian embassies in Beirut.91 During the elections,
Saad al-Hariri had paid some $48,000 as bail for four
of them, who were welcomed at a celebration attended
by Hariri’s ally, the current prime minister, Siniora."
International Crisis Group/Lebanon"

Since when a moron like Asaad Abu Khalil has become a source worth of being quoted?

Give me a break.

The guy has written a dictionnary on Lebanon's history and claim to be an expert on that subject yet he doesn't know what Karshuni is. This doesn't prevent him to pose as a linguistic expert and build linguistic theories on the Middle East.
...yet it ignores Syria's role in delaying and obstructing it, not to mention Hizbullah's shameful defense of the Syrian regime.

Are you serious Kais about this? What do you expect the understanding to say? For example:
"We HA and FPM agree that HA was defending syria"
Just to say that those who did the riots are lebanese is a big lie marketed by the 14-March-remainings gang.

The numbers speaks clearly!

416 arrested: 223 Lebanese, 138 Syrians, 47 Palestinians, 1 Sudanese.


I guess we should blame that sudanese, not pro-zarqawi saudi funded extremists!
The Hizbollah defends Syria and Iran because Damascus and Tehran helped the resistance in the south of Lebanon.
Vox, Abu Khalil is a political scientist. Where does he claim to be a linguist. Hey, lots not let facts in the way of anything.
Vox, if you disagree with A. AbuKhalil's ideas say so but don't call him a moron.

Scorning him in this manner is cheap, unimpressive and depreciates any arguement that you may have.

I can see that you ,like thousands of others , waste your time reading his blog.

Readers can compare your blog to his and decide who is the intellectually deficient one. There is definitely no comparison.

Anon. 3:18
The Muslims to whom you refer do not recognize any of the nationalities of those arrested, They want to recreate the Ummah and the Califate.

If it is true that there was intelligence about Syrian infiltration , then it just reinforces the arguement that the gov't was not doing its job.

Hmmm....from what I read here 'Issâm must surely mean "old sage" or "wise man" in ancient Qahtâni Southwestern Arabic, or in Pashtu or something

Nothing to add, nothing to subtract as Dr Vic Hugo used to say in the Halcyon days of real Republicanism- before Chirac and Cheney sold their soul to the Wahhabi hydra for fistful of petro-dollars!
Gee, vic... could you have worked any harder at making that silly babbling resemble something a smart person might say?
I thought this was some pretty solid analysis you would enjoy. Seems like Aoun had more than shame behind his condemnation.
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