May 12, 2008

Jumblatt’s Men Set Back Iran’s Militia in Lebanon

By Lee Smith

Our friend and colleague in Lebanon Elie Fawaz writes in to remind us that The War for Lebanon has not even begun yet in earnest and Hezbollah's "victory" in Beirut is not all it seems:

"So, we know that Hezbollah's well-trained fighters are in control of most of west Beirut. The decision taken by Walid Jumblat and Saad al-Hariri not to fight back in Beirut, but rather hand most of their positions to the army ended any illusion regarding the sanctity of the "resistance"

Posted by Charles Chuman at 6:39 AM | Permalink | 65 Comments »

May 11, 2008

The Tea Boy

By Lee Smith

The other day the Obama campaign distanced itself from Robert Malley for his dealings with Hamas. Never mind the disingenuousness of a campaign that up until the day before yesterday when he was fired from the campaign said Malley was not with the campaign, even though a New York Times defense in his behalf said he was with the campaign. What is manifestly clear however is that Obama and his banished adviser/non-adviser share the same worldview. Consider this passage from a press release expressing his "support" for Lebanon.

bq. It's time to engage in diplomatic efforts to help build a new Lebanese consensus that focuses on electoral reform, an end to the current corrupt patronage system, and the development of the economy that provides for a fair distribution of services, opportunities and employment.

Yes, the problem with Lebanon is not the militia backed by Damascus and Tehran that who have squared off against almost every US ally in the Middle East. No, in the Obama worldview, the issue is about "the corrupt patronage system." What is more corrupt than the issues that instigated the current crisis: Hezbollah's efforts to, a, build a state within a state and, b, undermine the sovereignty of the Lebanese government? And what is a more unfair distribution of services than an armed party at the service of foreign parties?

Obama's language is derived from those corners of the left that claim Hezbollah is only interested in winning the Shia a larger share of the political process. Never mind the guns, it's essentially a social welfare movement, with schools and clinics!

Posted by Charles Chuman at 10:10 AM | Permalink | 27 Comments »

May 10, 2008

Lebanon

by Michael J. Totten

The third civil war has begun in Lebanon.

The first war was a short one. Sunni Arab Nationalists in thrall to Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to attach Lebanon to the United Arab Republic

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:01 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Lebanon

by Michael J. Totten

The third civil war has begun in Lebanon.

The first war was a short one. Sunni Arab Nationalists in thrall to Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to attach Lebanon to the United Arab Republic

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:01 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Lebanon

by Michael J. Totten

The third civil war has begun in Lebanon.

The first war was a short one. Sunni Arab Nationalists in thrall to Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to attach Lebanon to the United Arab Republic

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:01 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Lebanon

by Michael J. Totten

The third civil war has begun in Lebanon.

The first war was a short one. Sunni Arab Nationalists in thrall to Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdel Nasser wanted to attach Lebanon to the United Arab Republic

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 2:01 PM | Permalink | 58 Comments »

May 9, 2008

Terrific Lebanon Coverage

by Michael J. Totten

Lebanon always seems to explode when I'm somewhere else and can't get there. It is impossible to predict when it will happen, and the airport is always the first casualty. So I can't report first-hand. No one else can get there either. That didn't stop me from filing a medium-length piece just now for Commentary, which I will republish here when it goes up over there. In the meantime, check out Noah Pollak's coverage at the same magazine. It is excellent.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 4:20 PM | Permalink | 11 Comments »

May 8, 2008

Hezbollah’s Endgame? Pt. 2

by Lee Smith

David Wurmser, formerly Vice President Cheney's Middle East adviser, writes in to comment on Iran's role in the Beirut crisis.

"Iran has suffered some pretty serious defeats in Iraq, foremost is that the Shiites there kind of turned on Iran. May they not need to pull back and focus on their role as the champion of the Shiites right now, even at the cost of compromising their efforts to jump the Sunni-Shiite divide? They may actually be in no better a shape among Lebanon's Shiites as they are among Iraq's. Second, there were these really odd nasty exchanges between Zawahiri and Iran, which may have been born of Iran's desire right now to solidify its own role as Shiite champion.

"Ahmadinejad himself has presided over a fairly turbulent few weeks, as the principalist faction, of which he and the speaker of the Majlis are both part. That faction has descended into caustic bickering

Posted by Charles Chuman at 2:09 PM | Permalink | 23 Comments »

The Military Situation in Beirut

By Tony Badran (cross-posted at Across the Bay)

Fighting in Beirut has broken out between Hezbollah/Amal and Future Movement supporters. Here's a brief look at the military situation. For a political reading, see the post by Lee Smith below, and make sure to read the excellent quoted op-ed by Michael Young.

The tactics are reminiscent of the 1970s-80s war, with two essential differences: 1- the trigger is not the Palestinian guerrilla threat to the state, but Hezbollah's threat to Lebanon, and 2- the beginning fault line is to the west of the 1975 flash point.

The current areas of clashes are roughly along a crescent from Hamra and the vicinity of the Serail in the north down to Tariq el-Jdideh in the south, and the vicinity of Qoreitem (Hariri's residence) and Ain el-Tineh (Berri's residence) in the west to Ras el-Nabe' in the east.

The areas therein are mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, especially in the Corniche Mazraa-Barbour area, and the fighting has even touched on the Druze neighborhood northward, next to Hamra. The vicinity of the Serail has also seen some fire.

The armed clashes have included standards of the civil war: light and medium machine guns, grenades and RPGs (and, apparently, we're now seeing light mortars by Hezbollah in Ras el-Nabe' -- also a staple of the 70s-80s), and sniping, which was/is a highly effective tool to control opposing movements and neighborhoods in built-up areas.

The nature of the fighting, again, typical of the 70s-80s, involves control/blocking of access routes (using bulldozers, landfills, etc.), main roads and highways, control of neighborhoods (esp. those that are mixed), and control of strategic tall buildings (for sniping).

There's no clear report yet regarding casualties and the situation on the ground in terms of advances, if any, by the combatants and the control of neighborhoods. Interestingly, the blockages of roads has involved both parties. The coastal road leading to the south has been cut, in a message to the ability to cut off the communication between Hezbollah areas, isolating them in certain areas, should the fighting develop.

The Army is positioned at certain roads, and is attempting to open certain roads.

This is a brief synopsis and I'll hopefully have more as time permits.

Posted by Charles Chuman at 12:56 PM | Permalink | 2 Comments »
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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