December 04, 2006

Syria and Hizbullah to intensify offensive

By Abu Kais

The Hizbullah supporter that was shot dead on Sunday may or may not have been shot by the Sunni residents of the Beirut neighborhood of Qasqas. The area is infested with pro-Assad Ahbash (Sunni) Islamists, and I would not put it past one of them or some Syrian intelligence operative to have pulled the trigger—similar to what happened during the airport road riots when a young man was shot in the back by a mysterious bullet in an apparent attempt to turn people against the pro-government Internal Security Forces (ISF). In fact, and following the clashes, security forces arrested three Syrians who were throwing rocks from the roof of a building overlooking the area.

Some reports suggest that groups of Hizbullah and Amal members stormed the Sunni area (Naharnet), intensifying the clashes with the Sunni residents that erupted following the passing and subsequent stoning of a Hizbullah convoy on its way to the southern suburb. Many stores and businesses were torched during the ensuing riots.

Regardless of what really transpired, the above should be grounds enough to declare a state of emergency in the country. The following provides more reasons. I urge you to take it with a grain of salt since I have no way of corroborating it, though I will interject to try to relate some of the information to recent events.

According to al-Seyassah, weapons are pouring into the country through the Syrian border, accompanied by terrorist groups run by Syrian intelligence. Fouad Siniora has been advised by world capitals to shut down the border with Syria to prevent a "catastrophe".

Thousands of Syrian reservists and hundreds of intelligence agents who were naturalized during the Syrian era have entered the country and re-organized themselves. According to a diplomat from the Gulf quoted by the Kuwaiti paper, weapons are being "distributed like candy" and Syrian intelligence has returned to posts it had evacuated in 2005.

Tens of trucks reportedly delivered explosives to Hizbullah warehouses in the southern suburb. Parking lots in Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and Baalbeck have been transformed into workshops to booby-trap cars, in an apparent prepapring for a full scale civil war in the country. (If this is true, the Saudi King's warning that he will not let Lebanon turn into another Iraq suddenly makes sense). Al-Seyassah claimed that Hizbullah moved some of their rockets to Beirut for possible use against security forces protecting the Grand Serail.

In another report, al-Seyassah detailed the sending of thousands of Syrians and Palestinians into Lebanon by the Assad regime (which, incidentally, has openly declared its support for the efforts to topple the government) to incite the demonstrators and enflame conflicts. The Assad regime also instructed its Lebanese mouthpieces to intensify verbal attacks against the Sunni mufti, Maronite patriarch, and the government. It also ordered Hizbullah to keep its blockade of the Serail.

You will recall the Syrian who was arrested saturday, the three sunday, and Hizbullah's refusal to end their blockade. And as if on cue, Suleiman Franjieh, Wiam Wahab and Talal Arslan launched despicable attacks on the government and March 14 sunday. The strange report about Fatah Islam I blogged about a few days ago about also makes great sense in light of the above information. You will also recall how Syrian agents were planning to accompany Hizbullah during its planned storming of the Serail on Friday, which was discovered and foiled after the intervention of the Saudi King.

According to al-Seyassah in its December 3 issue, Hizbullah will next move to occupy the Beirut airport by erecting tents on the runways to further isolate the government and stop the visits by European and Arab ministers showing their support. (Notice how Aoun saturday lashed out at Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the US, France and all countries for supporting Siniora. Also, how can we forget the time Aoun told Siniora that there he will not have time to pack his bags when his day to resign comes, or when the general threatened to burn down the Serail).

Furthermore, the report claims that Nasrallah has issued an order to Shia officers in the internal security forces to resign their posts and join "the opposition". The Lebanese internal security forces are currently the only forces entrusted with and trusted to protect the Lebanese cabinet. The Lebanese army's loyalties are at best unknown, though it is unclear whether they would support a Hizbullah coup of the scale described by al-Seyassah. Incidentally, in an address at martyrs' square sunday, Franjieh praised the Lebanese army, claiming it was "on our side".

Like most Lebanese, I hope that the above is not true. But the dots are connecting easily. It does appear, however, that what is being cooked for Lebanon and its government is far more serious and dangerous than many would like to believe.

Posted by Abu Kais at December 4, 2006 06:11 AM
Comments

Arms, bombs, terrorists all pouring into the country from Syria.

Good to see that UNIFIL is doing it's job. Well done France.

Posted by: Mertel at December 4, 2006 07:06 AM

Quoting Al Seyassah is really a shot in the dark, there's no need to add more rumors Abu Kais.

Posted by: Lira at December 4, 2006 07:45 AM

Lira,

I did say to take the report with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Abu Kais at December 4, 2006 08:47 AM

Arab savages!

Posted by: Johnnypop at December 4, 2006 08:52 AM

Abu Kais,

What do you think are the odds here of a civil war, UN intervention (heh), etc?

Oh yeah: Great that France is concentrating so much on those dastardly IDF recon flights. Unarmed camera equipped aircraft are a much bigger threat than syrian arms.

Posted by: Spade at December 4, 2006 10:00 AM

Speaking of the French UNIFIL forces, I read a couple of reports about France.

At this point there are over 700 no-go zone where the police can't enter in France and casualty rate for French police and emergency workers is higher than that of American soldiers in Iraq.

The French are so fucking useless that they have the same problem Lebanon has, and without having a single excuse. Unlike Lebanon, they could have security pretty easily.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 4, 2006 10:48 AM

The French are so fucking useless that they have the same problem Lebanon has, and without having a single excuse. Unlike Lebanon, they could have security pretty easily.

They are obviously unsuited for the mission. Who would be a better choice?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 11:00 AM

How about the Saudis? Bandar could replace the French. After all he was a pilot, no?
Poor Lebanon...................who is going to come to your rescue?.............

Posted by: diana at December 4, 2006 11:11 AM

They are obviously unsuited for the mission. Who would be a better choice?

Israelis! _

Just joking.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 4, 2006 11:12 AM

Darn I forgot that this site filters out the carot character (that I used to make a Japanese style smiley).

From now on it's :) or ;) instead.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 4, 2006 11:13 AM

double-plus-ungood,

France COULD be perfectly suited to the mission. It's not a question of troops or TOEs, but ROE's, rules, and commanders.

Stick a regiment of the FFL there, with armor and air and tell them "Stop the smuggling or arms, disarm Hezbollah, keep the Isrealies on their side of the line. ROE: Hot weapons, cleared to fire when fired upon. Other than that have fun." and it'll be solved in a month. There will be casualites, there will be some nasty fighting, and the FFL will probably do the things the FFL often does, but it'll be fixed.

Like most things, the problem with the UN forces in Lebanon is not their being unsuited to the mission, but their UN masters being unsuited to the mission.

Posted by: Spade at December 4, 2006 12:17 PM

"Al Seyassah"??
WTF? This is the infamous Kuwaiti propaganda sheet that had come up with the 1990 Gulf War canard of "Baathist-piercing-incubators-with-their-Baathist-bayonnets"!

Thruth is that in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, modern anthropologists can find many members of the Wahhabi/Islamic fundamentalist branch of the same mafia family who participated willfully in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq while preaching a Pan-Islamic gospel of hatred towards “infidel pigs”- consistency has never been the forte of Neocon thugs be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim!

Today in Beirut, an alliance of secular opposition groups bringing together Shiites, Christians as well as moderate Sunni parties is trying to topple the government of Fuad Saniora, a sinister assortment of pro-Saudi Islamist thugs and notorious Christian neo-Nazis known as the “pro-Western March 14” movement.

This is what the Israeli Press has to say about Lebanon’s Prime-Minister, Fuad Saniora:

"Backing for Saniora also came from France, Britain, Italy, Germany, and from
Arab leaders including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas, according to a statement from Saniora's office."

These enlightened Israeli journalists don’t tell us if Prime Minister Saniora received a cheering message from President Karzai of Afghanistan or Marshall Pétain of France!

Reading the Israeli press (suddenly full of articles praising Lebanon’s “democratic” government!), we also learn that over the weekend, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak expressed concern that a military coup might take place in Lebanon.

A highly ironic statement if you consider that El Colonel-Presidente-for-life Mubarak owes his current job to a series of coups that brought his military clique to power 45 years ago… As they say in Texas, denial doesn't just run through Egypt!

Posted by: Dr Vic Vega at December 4, 2006 12:19 PM

I meant to say:
"...the same Neocon mafia family"

Posted by: Dr Vic Vega at December 4, 2006 12:21 PM

Like most things, the problem with the UN forces in Lebanon is not their being unsuited to the mission, but their UN masters being unsuited to the mission.

The "UN Masters" are the UNSC, which includes the US. And if the intent of the mission is to simply have a war with Hezbollah and disarm them, I don't see any reason why France would have to do it. Israel was already attempting to do that.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 12:22 PM

About France and the UN and UNIFIL.

I have to agree that it's mostly a question of mandate. The actual troops are quite capable of taking care of the problem, if casualties are not an issues, and politicians gave them carte blanche. It doesn't matter if they're French or British or Indian.

The issue is a bit more complex than that though. Lebanon is a sovereign nation (supposedly) and France can't just go in with carte blanche. They have to play by the rules of the UN, and of the Lebanese government, like it or not.

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 12:48 PM

Today in Beirut, an alliance of secular opposition groups ("Dr Vic Vega" - I assume the same person as "Arnold Vega" who has been posting here?)

Alliance of secular opposition groups...yes, of course, everyone's got Hezb all wrong!

bringing together Shiites, Christians as well as moderate Sunni parties

Read some of Abu Kais' and Mustapha (on Beirut Spring)'s posts - 95% of the protestors are Hezb. Shiites bused in for the occasion

is trying to topple the government of Fuad Saniora

well, at least you got that one right!

a sinister assortment of pro-Saudi Islamist thugs and notorious Christian neo-Nazis

Are we talking about the same country here?

These enlightened Israeli journalists don’t tell us if Prime Minister Saniora received a cheering message from President Karzai of Afghanistan or Marshall Pétain of France!

Marshall Petain...you mean the guy who was president of Vichy France and died in 1951? Looks like Dr Vega needs a doctor. I've made the mistake of taking you seriously. It won't happen again!

Posted by: Dirk at December 4, 2006 01:58 PM

AK, you did mention that grain of salt however there are readers who only wait for such rumors to construct their rhetoric.

I hope my message got through,
Respects

Posted by: Lira at December 4, 2006 02:13 PM

Lira,

With all due respect, the readers you are referring to don't really need these rumors to spout their rhetoric, they make it up on the go (see the comment by Doctor Vega back there, for example).

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 02:23 PM

I would like everyone to please read this article:

http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HL05Ak02.html

To get an unbiased view of what is going on in Lebanon right now.

Posted by: Omega80 at December 4, 2006 02:51 PM

Syrian regime apologist Sami Moubayed writing in Damascus is what you consider unbiased Omega? Sure. Go on believing that. I never claimed I was unbiased. But please, don't insult our intelligence by claiming that guy is.

Posted by: Abu Kais at December 4, 2006 03:04 PM

Hahahaha!

I started reading your article, Omega80, and couldn't stop laughing. Unbiased??? you're kidding, right? Nice try!

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 03:06 PM

It would be helpful to those of us without detailed knowledge of Lebanese politics and history if the elements of the Asia Times article could be rebutted or clarified.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 03:14 PM

I'm not sure why people are complaining about the Frogs now. Everybody knows that UNIFIL was sent in as human shields to protect the Hizb from Israel. Everybody said from the get-go that they had no mandate to disarm Hizb or stop arms smuggling and that they weren't even going to try. I just can't understand why everybody is shocked, shocked to discover that UNIFIL is a bunch of useless sods.

The Hizb and Syria-Iran (Syran?) will take over Lebanon and no one, least of all the UN, will do a damn thing about it.

It is highly likely that Lebanon will develop into the next hot front, after Iraq, in the slowly-developing-unstoppable-momentum Shiite-Sunni civil war.

Saudi Arabia is threatening "massive intervention" in Iraq (ha!) on the side of the Sunnis if things keep getting worse. This will surely devolve into an Iran-Saudi war.

Should be interesting, anyway.

Posted by: Ephraim at December 4, 2006 03:55 PM

I'll give it a shot. But I already know someone's gonna pipe in and argue facts based on their own fantasy world (kinda like Arnold's stuff yesterday). Here goes:

  • First off, there is no way this article is "unbiased", when it clearly sets out to be hostile to PM Siniora. That's the very definition of BIASED.
    (This hostility to Siniora is clearly visible throughout the tone of the article).
  • But what if Sulh had been alive on December 1, 2006? Would he have approved of what is happening in Beirut? Living Sunni ex-prime ministers have supported the anti-Siniora demonstrations, including Salim al-Hoss (who was Siniora's instructor at the American University in Beirut), Najib Mikati and Omar Karameh.

The implication that some long-dead statesman would have supported these demonstration is outright idiotic. It's like me saying "Well, if Abraham Lincoln was alive today, he'd have supported President Bush."
The "living" sunni PMs all support the demonstrations (although none of them has bothered to actually attend) because they are all pro-syrian. Duh! The anti-syrian PMs in recent memory were killed...That kinda makes this stat a bit skewed, no?

Although Siniora, like them, is a Sunni (from Sidon), he has nevertheless alienated scores of Lebanese politicians since coming to power in July 2005. The March 14 Coalition that supports him accused all independent Sunni leaders who were not supportive of the late prime minister Rafik al-Hariri of being the creation of Syria. Hoss, for example, is by no means a creation of Damascus. Nor is Omar Karameh, who inherited family leadership in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, from his brother Rashid and his father Abdul Hamid (both former prime ministers).

Siniora's alienated "scores of Lebanese politicians"? Really? Who? Aoun and Hezbollah and the pro-Syrian crowd? Well again, duh! He didn't really "alientate" these guys to start with. They were opposed to him from day one. He stands on a different platform than they do (anti-syrian versus pro-syrian). This is like saying "President Bush has alienated all the Democrats". Well, again, what do you expect? They're on opposite platforms!
And the author expects me to believe that Omar Karami is not a "syrian creature"? Puleeze! This is the guy who has been handpicked by Damascus time and again to counter Hariri. And we're expected to believe he's suddenly an indepdendent patriot just because the author says so?

Then we move on to the fine sectarian politics:

Karameh and Hoss, who have supported the anti-Siniora movement, believe that Lebanon cannot survive if it continues in a confrontation with Damascus to please the United States. Nor can it survive if it alienates Sunnis who are not supportive of the late Hariri. Among those supporting the movement are Druze leader Talal Arslan and Maronite leader Sulayman Franjiyyieh, in addition to Karameh, Hoss, Mikati and the two paramount Shi'ite leaders, Hasan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and Nabih Berri of Amal.

So now apparently, even though Hizbullah claims to speak for ALL shia, they also want us to believe that not all Sunnis support Hariri? That's bizarre logic right there. Framing the conflict as sectarian and then contradicting oneself by claiming the sunnis are divided.
And then it gets even better. Apparently, Hoss,Mikati and their ilk, (Which i might add are people who have zero popular support in Lebanon) are telling us that we shouldn't confront Damascus to please the US. Where is that coming from? Where is anyone speaking of confronting Damascus? All I've heard from Siniora is that Lebanon wants clean relationships with Damascus on an equal footing. All the while Syria has been sending intelligence into Lebanon, assassinating politicians, letting arms flow through its border with Lebanon, hurling insults at Siniora and at our country, refusing to exchange diplomatic relations with Lebanon (which Siniora asked for), refusing to acknowledge in writing (for the UN) that Shebaa is actually Lebanese (all the while claiming verbally that it is, to justify Hezbollah's weapons as resistance)...and the list goes on...Yet somehow, this is all SINIORA's fault? It's outright INSULTING to read this stupid article.

"Anti-Siniora craze"? It's a craze now?

Then we go into the "Siniora's cabinet did not include Aoun and Franjieh"...argument.
Why should it? These guys lost in the parliamentary elections. Aoun was offered posts in cabinet, but refused to join, because he didn't get the defense ministry. He chose to stay in opposition. How is that Siniora's fault? Siniora should have bent over backwards and given him the defense ministry just because?
Sleiman Franjieh didn't even manage to get re-elected in his own district. Why would he deserve a post in cabinet? Just because?
Hizbullah was given cabinet posts, and chose to use them as obstructionists, by walking out evertime there was a vote on the Hariri tribunal. And now they wanna whine about being excluded?

Lame! Move on! Nothing to see here. This article is about as biased as can be.

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 03:57 PM

Thanks, BadVilbel. Is the article's speculation about Aoun's hopes of a presidency credible?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 04:06 PM

Aoun has wanted to be president ever since he got a taste for power, back in 1988, when he was appointed interim PM.

At the time, he had a pretty solid populist backing, among Christians, but also among a lot of Sunnis and some Shias, for taking what seemed to be a very patriotic stance (wanting both Syria and Israel out of Lebanon, true sovereignty, end to militias, etc.)

After Syria took over Lebanon, he spent 15 years in exile in France, fighting for the expulsion of Syria from Lebanon (putting his ideology strongly in the same camp as what is now March 14).

The problem is, today, after his return from exile, he decided to break ranks with March 14, because (and this is my opinion here), he feels he has a better chance at making president if he plays in the Syria camp. Needless to say, his turn against everything he used to stand for, and his alliance with Hizbullah has diminished his popularity immensly. I don't have actual numbers of facts, but empirical evidence seems to be leaning towards him not having much support amongst sunnis really, and having much lower support among Christians (his main constituency) than he used to.
i think his political moves of late have all but sealed his fate as fairly irrelevant (although Omega80 and his ilk will argue till they turn blue in the face, that this is not so) and doomed any chances he had at ever becoming president.
Anton Efendi has a pretty good writeup on Aoun's latest moves over at Across The Bay. Go read it.

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 04:14 PM

...because (and this is my opinion here), he feels he has a better chance at making president if he plays in the Syria camp.

That's what the Asia Times article said as well. Lebanese politics is certainly, uh, well, complicated.

Is it true that Siniora used to be part of the pro-Syrian bloc?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 04:18 PM

bv,

The problem is, today, after his return from exile, he decided to break ranks with March 14, because....

Maybe he also felt he didn't want to join the growing ranks of Syrian-made Lebanese Christian martyrs?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 4, 2006 04:22 PM

SoCal,

Yeah. Not to mention that it's been rumored that one of the conditions of his return to Lebanon from exile was to play spoiler. In other words, the Syrians were more than glad to have him come back to Lebanon, to divide Christian public opinion and sow discord. (I believe Syria was still "in charge" at the time the General came back).

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 04:27 PM

I believe Syria was still "in charge" at the time the General came back

Wikipedia says "He returned to Lebanon on May 7, 2005,1 eleven days after the withdrawal of Syrian troops"

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 04:34 PM

I stand corrected.

Did you read the rest of the wikipedia entry? It seems to be fairly accurate. Read the sections "Return to Lebanon" and "Political Strategy" (which do a fairly decent job at explaining why and how he broke with March 14).

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 04:38 PM

Did you read the rest of the wikipedia entry?

Just buzzing through it now. Interesting stuff.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 04:40 PM

Hehe. Reading the wikipedia entry, I find some fine examples of hypocrisy and "flip-flopping".

He argued that this government did not have a unified vision for the country, and would lead to political crises in the future. For example, the government declaration was advocating, at the same time, the right of Lebanon to resist Israel and the necessity to abide by all the United Nations resolutions, including UN resolution 1559.

Those resolutions call for disarming HA.

He opposed attempts of this coalition to overthrow the President Lahoud through a popular uprising, and to elect another president who would be controlled by this coalition. He argued that any change in regime should be undertaken according to the Lebanese Constitution.

Yet here he is today, trying to overthrow a PM by taking to the street.

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 04:42 PM

Yet here he is today, trying to overthrow a PM by taking to the street.

I'm unfamiliar with the Lebanese constitution. Should the protests remain peaceful, albeit disruptive, but attempt to get the government to resign, would that be constitutional? That's how it would work here in Canada (Westminster system), and such a thing has been attempted before. It's messy, but legal.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 04:49 PM

The government can resign, sure. But it doesn't HAVE to.
The government can also be removed by a vote of no confidence in parliament.

The point is here not so much whether protests are constitutional (they are, as long as they are peaceful). It's more that Aoun made it a point to say "The street is not the way to go" when some parties wanted to demand the president resign. He argued that removing a president by popular protest would set a dangerous precedent, and that we should just let the president finish his (arguably illegal) term (read up on that if you dont know what i'm talking about).
That line of thinking was well and good for Aoun, when it served his purposes. Now that he wants the government gone, he has no problem going to the streets and trying to accomplish it by popular demand. Seem very principled to you?

Posted by: BadVilbel at December 4, 2006 04:57 PM

That line of thinking was well and good for Aoun, when it served his purposes. Now that he wants the government gone, he has no problem going to the streets and trying to accomplish it by popular demand. Seem very principled to you?

Nope, but then again, isn't this the same strategy that was used by the March 14 movement last year? And wasn't Siniora a minister in the previous pro-Syria government?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 06:54 PM

Hi BV,

You did an excellent job with the article. I have no tolerance to read such crap, so I applaud your patience. I was very intrigued by your comments about Aoun. I had stated in a previous comment that Aoun used to be a hero to me when he was PM in 1988 and went on TV calling Assad (the father not son) a "jackass". It may sound childish and silly to Westerners, but it was unprecendented in Lebanese politics. I was a teenager at the time and I belived him to be a patriot and a hero. I blamed Geagea and the Lebanese forces for destroying Lebanon in the 1989 war. I can't tell you how surprised I was shortly after Aoun's return to Lebanon. He had us fooled for 16 freaking years. Now I know that he is just a mercenary who had pimped Lebanon for the presidential seat. I can no longer say his name without spitting anymore. Geagea on the other hand appears to want what's best for Lebanon and has become a true moderate. As you said, Omega80 jumped to the attack when he read my statement. I don't know any real Aounis, but I was wondering if they feel as betrayed as I do with regard to Aoun, or will they still blindly support him regardless. Franjieh lost his seat, maybe Aoun will too. Any insights?

Thanks much.

Posted by: Maya at December 4, 2006 07:19 PM

March 14 used popular protest to demand the withdrawal of a foreign occupier (the Syrian army). That's it. They never used street protest for any change in government. They didn't even protest to get the president to resign (which in retrospect, I think they should have, given his term was illegally extended).

There is a BIG difference in my mind, between the two. The popular protests of March 14 were aimed at a foreign army, not at the Lebanese state and its institutions.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at December 4, 2006 07:19 PM

March 14 used popular protest to demand the withdrawal of a foreign occupier (the Syrian army). That's it. They never used street protest for any change in government.

Ah, okay, that's different. I thought the intent of the protests last year was to get the gov't to resign.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 08:00 PM
...consistency has never been the forte of Neocon thugs be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim!

One wonders what, in the above context, the word "Neocon" could possibly mean. What would a Muslim "Neocon" be in Lebanon? Someone who used to be a Socialist but is now an Islamist? Does this really compare to the American scene where Democrats were disappointed by the overly leftward drift, in their view, of their party and sought to influence both Democratic and Republican presidents with their ideas concerning the spread of Democracy abroad? Can the spread of Wahabbi Islam really be compared to the spread of Democracy? One allows the other, the other does not.

Posted by: Abu Nudnik at December 4, 2006 08:32 PM

March 14 used popular protest to demand the withdrawal of a foreign occupier (the Syrian army). That's it. They never used street protest for any change in government.

I think that this is, to say the least, a self-serving interpretation. The resignation of Emile Lahoud was high on the list of March 14's demands. They just didn't get what they wanted.

Not that I'd cry any tears to see Emile Lahoud gone, because, unlike some other unpopular Lebanese movements, he doesn't seem to have any non-Syrian base of support.

double-plus-ungood, weren't you just reading the wikipedia article?

The Pro-Syrian government was also disbanded, accomplishing the main goal of the revolution.

and:

When Omar Karami failed to form a government, he resigned for good on April 13, 2005, and elections were called for the period of May 29 through June 19, 2005.

Those are citations.

I continue to see the two sets of protests as very similar. It can be argued, correctly in my opinion, that Lahoud and Karami's Syrian backers were more aggressively interventionist inside Lebanon than Siniora's Western and Israeli backers. (Then again, the Mossad has been taking out targets in Lebanon for a decade and more). Nevertheless, as Syria's political violence killed Lebanon's pro-Syrian government, Israel's political violence has crippled Lebanon's anti-Syrian government.

Posted by: glasnost at December 4, 2006 09:08 PM

Glasnost, did I hear you correctly? You think the Mossad is behind the killings of the anti-Syrians political leaders in Lebanon? Really!!!! You are posting on the wrong website then. You ought to be on Al Manar. You'll be preaching to the choir there. I guess it is pointless to even have a discussion with someone so delusionnal. I have better things to do with my time. Lord, help us...

And FYI, Emile Lahoud's term was unconstitutionnally extended thanks to Syria's heavy handedness. The March 14th supporters wanted to correct a wrong and demanded that the President of Lebanon respects the laws of the country he is supposed to govern and not break them. Imagine if President Bush decides to extend his term in 2008 and remain in power for another 3 years. That is exactly what happened in Lebanon.

Posted by: Maya at December 4, 2006 09:39 PM

Hello,
There are interesting posts and comments here, but I am interested in some basic information. I read that there are something like 18 groups or sects in the Lebanese political system. Is this true? Is there a "scorecard" that could describe these groups and what their motivations are in this crisis? This might take a bit of time so if you have to pick, I am more interested in getting an answer to this question:

What do Iran, Syria and Hizbullah really hope to accomplish? Lebanon, I have heard, is a beautiful place but a fractured, angry Lebanon would be a monumental headache to rule. And for what?! If you look around the world, the trend is for countries to get smaller and ethnically simpler: Europe lost its colonies, the USSR fractured, East Timor split off, even the UK seems to be devolving. The age of empires is done, why would Assad think a larger Syria would make his life easier? It hasn't yet, that is for sure.

I have always been interested in the Middle East, but I just don't understand it; any help would be much appreciated.

Posted by: Keith at December 4, 2006 09:50 PM

You think the Mossad is behind the killings of the anti-Syrians political leaders in Lebanon? Really!!!!

You may want to reread his comment. I don't think that's quite what was said.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 4, 2006 09:57 PM

Hi Keith,

I'll try to answer some of your questions by sharing my perspective a bit. First, Syria has never recognized Lebanon as a sovereign country, ever. In fact, it refuses to establish an Embassy in Lebanon or allow Lebanon to have an Embassy in Syria to get that point across. Syria has tremendous economic and strategic interests in Lebanon. You can think of it as a mafia that makes money off of all the businesses in Lebanon. Furthermore, the Assad-baathist regime is a dictatorship that governs its citizens through terror. It is basically a state police and you cannot sneeze in Syria or the Bekaa Valley without the Syrian intelligence service getting wind of it. Syria, therefore, cannot afford a free democratic Lebanon because it fears that it may encourage its own citizens to rise up. Syria is a majority Sunni country run by a very small Alawite group that no one likes. The Alawites consider themselves Shia but the Shias consider them heretics. As for Iran, Ahmadinutjob wants to expand his theocracy into Iraq and Lebanon. Controlling Lebanon would put him on the border with Israel where he can launch his proxy war using Hizballah as his personal army and the Lebanese territory as his platform. It is actually believed that the main reason Iran gave Hizballah the green light to attack Israel this summer is to divert attention from its nuclear proliferation program. Think about it, the timing was impeccable. It happened right before the UN meeting to discuss the Iranian problem in August. It also served as a deterrence to Israel from launching any attacks on Iranian nuclear sites. It is also believed that Syria and Iran got emboldened by the US weak or non-existent reponse to the nuclear proliferation program in Iran and North Korea. Once they have nukes, I have no doubt Tel Aviv will be their first target. Ahmadinejad said that over and over and no one seems to be taking him seriously.

Lebanon, as you stated, is a tiny country with over a dozen different religious sects. It has been doomed by its geography as it is caught in the crossfires of competing regional interests between Palestine, Israel and Syria. It would have been better off if it was a tiny Island off the coast of Mexico or something. And also, like you said, it is a very beautiful country that enjoys a very dynamic and well educated population. I am one of those that were born during the civil war and grew up knowing nothing but a war torn Lebanon. Running into the shelters in the middle of the night during the bombardement was part of my childhood. When I see the 19 year old thugs in downtown beirut dragging their country kicking and screaming into another war, I just want to cry. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into. They are doing Syria's bidding by digging Lebanon's grave.

Posted by: Maya at December 4, 2006 10:29 PM

Hi double-plus-ungood

I was responding to this statement. If I misunderstood him/her, then my apologies. It is still not clear to me then what killings he was blaming on the Mossad.

(Then again, the Mossad has been taking out targets in Lebanon for a decade and more). Nevertheless, as Syria's political violence killed Lebanon's pro-Syrian government, Israel's political violence has crippled Lebanon's anti-Syrian government.

Posted by: Maya at December 4, 2006 10:34 PM

Excellent summary, Maya.

PS: I was also one to grow up during the civil war, much like you. And that's exactly why people like us are so angry at the idiot thugs who are trying to drag us right back into that.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at December 4, 2006 10:45 PM

Thanks Maya. That helps me understand things a bit better. It is very sad though.

Posted by: Keith at December 4, 2006 11:18 PM

According to al-Seyassah in its December 3 issue, Hizbullah will next move to occupy the Beirut airport by erecting tents on the runways to further isolate the government and stop the visits by European and Arab ministers showing their support.

I doubt that would be very effective. The jet wash from a jetliner will throw vehicles a good distance, all it would take is a low pass over the runway and the tents would be blown away. Along with whoever (or whatever) was in them.

http://www3.youtube.com/watch?v=JNA379QzxYY

Of course, this assumes someone really wants to be in Lebanon and is willing to risk causing some damage to do it.

Posted by: rosignol at December 5, 2006 01:57 AM

Propaganda?

Then read Charles Malik's latest piece: http://lebop.blogspot.com/

He is usually anti-Aoun.

It seems like people are starting to get it.

Posted by: Omega80 at December 5, 2006 01:59 AM

Starting to get what?

That Hizbullah is unwilling to work peacefully within the system to achieve their goals, and is willing to threaten a return to the bad old days to get what they want?

I got that some time ago. What I don't get is what everyone else in Lebanon gets from going along with turning Lebanon into Hizbullahland.

Posted by: rosignol at December 5, 2006 03:18 AM

Heard mention of events on the BBC world service.

"Anti-government protesters" featured prominently, Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran were not mentioned.

Why do so many people seem to have such a high opinion of the BBC as a news source?

Posted by: rosignol at December 5, 2006 06:12 AM

Rosignol:

You just have to remember what Ewen MacGregor said in the film "Trainspotting"about the English:

'I don't hate the English; they're just wankers.'

I guess the BBC does such a good job masking their wankerness with their very serious-sounding pseudo intellectualism that the vast unwashed masses get carried away with the important-sounding verbage.

Do check out The Guardian if you want some real pseudo-intellectual tripe, especially of the high PC left-wing freako variety.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at December 5, 2006 06:44 AM

Glasnost, did I hear you correctly? You think the Mossad is behind the killings of the anti-Syrians political leaders in Lebanon? Really!!!! You are posting on the wrong website then. You ought to be on Al Manar

You did not hear me correctly.
That's not what I said. I said,

Then again, the Mossad has been taking out targets in Lebanon for a decade and more

I didn't implicate the Mossad in Rafik Hariri's death. The Mossad kills pro-Syrians. Syria kills anti-Syrians.

Posted by: glasnost at December 5, 2006 08:06 AM

...then the fact that the recent assassinations have largely (entirely?) targeted anti-Syrians would strongly suggest that whoever is doing it is not the Mossad.

As you say, 'Syria kills anti-Syrians'.

Have any pro-Syrians been assassinated recently?

Posted by: rosignol at December 5, 2006 08:51 AM

Have any pro-Syrians been assassinated recently?

Last couple of years? Yes. I don't have the page A23 stories lying around, and I'm not going to bother finding them. Take that as you will.

Posted by: glasnost at December 7, 2006 11:38 AM

"page A23 stories?" "not going to bother?" Guess they can't have been very important then.

Don't worry, I have no doubt Hez will take over, just as you probably desire. Nobody has the will to stop them.

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