December 29, 2006

Hezbollah’s Christian Allies

This is the second installment in a series. You can read Part One here if you missed it.

BEIRUT – While Hezbollah staged a mass protest and sit-in downtown Beirut with the hopes of ousting the elected anti-Syrian “March 14” government, I watched from the patio of a café across the street. Sitting at the next table were two men in orange, one with an orange hat and one with a scarf, which identified them as members of Michel Aoun’s (predominantly Christian) Free Patriotic Movement, the only non-Shia political party of any significance in Lebanon that dared form an alliance with Hezbollah.

Aounists at Paul.JPG

The two Aounists smoked cigars and calmly watched the crowd. A man at the next table scowled. Everyone else ate their lunch as though nothing was happening just 30 feet away. The dread of civil war hung over Lebanon like a pall. But if these people weren’t nervous, how could I be? It’s a cliché that fear is contagious. What’s less widely understood is that calm is also contagious. Then again, we were a self-selecting lunch crowd. Thousands of Beirutis were hiding in their homes, hugging their flags, and wishing they lived in a normal country.

I asked the two Aounists if I could join them at their table, if they would be willing to explain to a primarily Western audience why they formed a political alliance with an Islamist militia.

“Of course,” they both warmly said and gestured for me to sit.

“Pull up a seat,” said the man in the hat. “Can I buy you a coffee?”

The man on the left introduced himself as Jack (yes, that’s his real Lebanese name) and said he worked as a pilot for a major airline. The other was named Antonios. He worked as a tour guide in Baalbeck.

Aoun in Gemmayze.jpg
A portrait of Michel Aoun on a street in East Beirut

“So why are you with Aoun and Hezbollah?” I said.

“Aoun is honest and correct,” Antonios said. “Hezbollah in America is seen as terrorists, I know. I understand. But they are a large party in Lebanon and we have to live here with them. So we have to convince them to come back, to put down their arms and join the rest of us. We cannot do it by fighting.”

At least they don’t want to do it by fighting today. Another Aounist I know explained their strategy to me earlier in the year: “We’ll extend our hand and ask them to join us. But we can’t wait forever. If they refuse to disarm we’ll crack the shit out of them.”

“On the other side,” Jack said, “is the Hariri family which has governed since 1990 with and without help from the Syrians. They’re only interested in keeping the Ministry of Finance so they can pay no taxes and steal from us like they do through the cell phone companies.”

Indeed, Lebanon’s cell phone companies are the corporate equivalent of rapists. It costs two dollars a minute to call the United States from Beirut, and it costs 50 cents a minute just to make a local call. This in a country where the average salary is only 800 dollars a month. A member of my hotel’s staff told me a Mexican businessman who stayed with them recently had to pay four dollars a minute to call his wife in Mexico City.

Until the Syrians were chased out by the March 14 Movement, broadband Internet access was banned in Lebanon to prevent people from making free or cheap long distance phone calls using Skype or other Internet services. The ban has since been lifted, but Lebanon’s telecommunications infrastructure is still terribly behind the rest of the world and the region.

“Hariri spent 10 million dollars in the north on his election campaign,” Jack said. “But he stole that money from the government, from us.”

“Seniora should accept this and resign,” Antonios said. “We are voting with Aoun because he is honest and not corrupt. March 14 doesn’t want a man like that in charge of finance.”

I doubt most Aounists are aware of what happened to the left in Iran after the 1979 revolution. Liberals and leftists formed an alliance with the Islamists to overthrow the corrupt and dictatorial Shah Reza Pahlevi. After the Ayatollah Khomeini took power, though, first the leftists were liquidated, and then so too were the liberals. Soon enough only the rightist religious fanatics remained.

“I understand why you don’t want a war with Hezbollah,” I said. “But why does that mean you have to form an alliance with them? Do you really believe Hassan Nasrallah is your friend?”

Defaced Aoun with Gemayel.jpg
Several posters of Aoun are defaced, and placed among them is a portrait of the far more popular (among Christians) Bashir Gemayel, Israel’s Lebanese ally during the civil war.

“No,” Jack said. “He isn’t our friend. But if Hezbollah is truly a part of the government they will give up their arms.”

“Hezbollah no longer uses arms against Lebanese,” Antonios said.

This is almost true, but not quite. I found people in the South whom Hezbollah shot at with machine guns during the July War only a few months ago. But I hadn’t met these people yet at the time, and Jack and Antonios may have had a hard time accepting it even if I had told them about it.

“Hariri accepted Hezbollah’s arms back in 1990,” Jack said, which was of course true.

The situation was different then, though. Southern Lebanon was still under Israeli occupation. Hezbollah’s ideology and tactics may have been distasteful to most of Lebanon’s citizens, but foreign occupation was even more so. Hezbollah was given temporary support by the majority of the people of Lebanon for their struggle against the occupier.

Almost all that support evaporated after Israel withdrew from Lebanese territory. Hezbollah was supposed to disarm. Instead they kept their weapons and warped Lebanon’s delicate power-sharing arrangement -- the Shia have their own army while no one else does. This is why Hezbollah is widely detested in Lebanon and why claims that Hezbollah is a popular people’s movement are flatly ridiculous. Hezbollah is a well-armed parochial sectarian movement that is deeply offensive and dangerous in a country where every group is a minority and none are allowed to bully or lord it over the others.

That, of course, is not the only reason Hezbollah frightens most Lebanese. Hezbollah is also, as everyone knows, a proxy militia for Syria and Iran. The Aounists may have legitimate grievances against the “March 14” government, but they’re paying precious little attention to the wider regional picture.

Tony Badran, a Lebanese research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, calls Michel Aoun a “useful idiot.”

“Aoun's calculations fail to take in some dangerous regional realities. Syria is more than pleased to see Aoun attacking the anti-Syrian government. So is Iran, whose supreme guide, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, recently predicted the defeat of U.S. and allied interests in Lebanon. Wittingly or not, Aoun is serving these foreign masters for free.”

Michael Young, opinion page editor at Beirut’s Daily Star, thinks Aoun has doomed himself with his useful idiocy no matter how the crisis resolves in the end.

“The general knows he and his own are the weakest link in the campaign against Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. The Aounists cannot long endure an open-ended sit-in, both because they are not earning salaries to do so and probably because the looming holiday season threatens to melt their momentum. And there is something else: Aoun realizes that as package deals are unwrapped left and right to resolve the ongoing crisis, his chances of seeing the presidency diminish. Indeed, the latest basket of ideas from Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa includes a proposal for the March 14 coalition and the opposition to consent to a compromise president. If that process goes through, Aoun will not be the chosen one… can the general then convince Hizbullah and the Syrians that he's their man? If the Syrians are back in town by then, their preference will be for someone more controllable; and if they are not, this will mean that all sides must accept a compromise candidate. In neither case does Aoun fit the bill.”

The strangest thing about Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah, who is of course allied with Syria, is that Aoun was for years Lebanon’s most militant enemy of Syria as the prime minister and as a general in the army.

“Why is it,” I said to Jack and Antonios, “that Michel Aoun is now pro-Syrian when for years he was the staunchest anti-Syrian leader in Lebanon?”

“Aoun is not pro-Syrian,” Antonios said. “He just wants normal relations with Syria. We can’t fight Syria.”

Sure enough, Lebanon cannot fight Syria. Not militarily, at least, any more than little Kuwait could defend itself against an invasion from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Aoun, you could say, has surrendered to Syrian power, or at least acquiesced to it.

Only the West can or will at least try to keep Syria out of Lebanon.

“What do you two think of US foreign policy here?” I said.

“We love America, but have doubts,” Jack said. “They let Syria come in here in 1991 for help in Iraq.” Jack was referring to former Secretary of State James Baker, who green-lighted Syria’s invasion and overlordship in Lebanon in exchange for “help” during the first Persian Gulf War. How Hafez Assad lent any meaningful assistance in ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait has never been clear. Lebanese were sold to the Syrian wolf for a cheap price indeed, and Aoun constantly harps on this point to his followers.

“Now they put their fingers in here,” Jack continued. “They used the Syrian election law.”

The Syrians did write Lebanon’s current election law, and they did it strictly in a way that would benefit them. They gerrymandered the voting districts so that anti-Syrians were marginalized and pro-Syrians strengthened. Jack is annoyed that the US supported quick elections in post-Syrian Lebanon without first pushing for a new electoral law.

“The US will hand us over to the Syrians again for help in Iraq,” Antonios said. “That is what Washington is speaking of doing right now.”

Actually, the Iraq Study Group (headed by none other than James Baker himself) explicitly said Lebanon is off the table, that Assad cannot expect any American support for his little imperialistic adventures. But this detail has been lost in the wash, and I can hardly blame Jack and Antonios for suspecting the worst now that Baker is back.

Aoun Nasrallah and Franjieh.jpg
Michel Aoun’s portrait now appears with those of his former enemies, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and North Lebanon’s token pro-Syrian Maronite Suleiman Franjieh.

This isn’t the first time Michel Aoun made a tactical alliance with people who have little or nothing in common with him politically instead of trying to forge ties with more natural allies.

Aoun became prime minister in 1988, near the end of Lebanon’s civil war. He formed an alliance with Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad’s old Baathist rival, and openly declared war against Syria. The Aounists were the last militant anti-Syrians in the country. Nearly everyone else surrendered to Syrian domination as a way to resolve the intractable 15-year conflict. Aoun couldn’t hold the Syrians off, and he was exiled to France after his surrender.

The US used diplomatic pressure to help get him out of exile last year. But he never forgave the American government for green-lighting his defeat at the end of the war. He still harps on this point today, and so do his partisans, as though Syria would have been unable to rule Lebanon if it weren’t for James Baker – a dubious assumption at best.

Even so, the US does have the bad habit of being fickle with its friends in the Middle East. Many people in the March 14 bloc likewise are worried the US will abandon them to Hezbollah, the Iranians, and the Baath. Anti-American elements in March 14 will tell you that the reason they don’t trust America is not because they hate the US, but because Americans are unreliable allies who care only about themselves and not about Lebanon.

In any case, Aoun’s alliance or détente with Syria, like his alliance with Hezbollah, is mostly just tactical. He wants to be president more than anything else. He’ll do whatever he thinks he must in order to get it, and probably figures that once he’s in office he can do whatever he wants. Unlike the current Assad-appointed Syrian stooge of a president Emile Lahoud, Aoun would be beholden to no one. The man is a loose cannon and always has been.

Foreign policy, though, is not what most motivated Jack and Antonios. They kept steering the conversation back to corruption.

“According to the people ruling Lebanon,” Jack said, “money is the only thing that matters.”

“Nasrallah is honest,” Antonios said. “He takes care of his people. Sure he gets money from Iran, but everyone gets money from outside.”

This is most likely true. Say what you will about Hezbollah, they aren’t known for financial corruption. (UPDATE: Tony Badran deftly dissents in the comments.)

“Does Mr. Bush pay taxes?” Jack asked me.

“Of course,” I said.

“Hariri doesn’t,” he said. “This is justice?”

“No,” I said. “Of course it isn’t justice.”

“Seniora has been in government for 15 years,” Antonios said. “We have no medical scheme, no national education, 55 billion dollars in debt, and no retirement system. Why? 200 dollars a month is the minimum wage. We try to increase it, but they say they have no money. Then they spend 800 million dollars on a new company. This is why we are with Aoun. Our government is not a government. It is like we are ruled by a private corporation for the benefit of the boss.”

I liked these guys, and I sympathized with their positions and complaints. They aren’t terrorists or fascists or anything like it. They’re liberals, basically, although most of the “March 14” bloc parties are relatively liberal in a Middle East way as well. If the Aounists had more decent and respectable allies in their opposition to the government their rallies wouldn’t be considered a “crisis” by anyone in the international community.

Aounist Flag Downtown.jpg
A large orange flag from Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement flies over downtown

“Foreigners should stop sending money to Lebanon,” Jack said. “The government will just steal it. They should send someone like you here to watch exactly what happens to that money.”

“Thanks, guys,” I said and laughed. “But accounting isn’t really my specialty.”

The waiter came by the table.

“Do you want another coffee?” Antonios said.

“Get another coffee!” Jack said.

“I’ll have another coffee,” I said to the waiter.

Jack puffed on his cigar.

The opposition isn’t demanding absolute power in Lebanon. They’ll go home if the government gives Hezbollah, Amal, and the Free Patriotic Movement enough slots in the cabinet that as a bloc they’ll have veto power over government decisions. They want blocking minority status, which just goes to show you how much support in Lebanon Hezbollah actually has. Just giving them one part of a minority faction will sate them for now. If they really were a mass popular movement they would demand a lot more than that.

One reason they want veto power is so they can block the UN tribunal that will indict and punish the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Everyone knows the Syrians did it, and Hezbollah can’t have their patron in Damascus made into a formal pariah by the United Nations.

Why on earth, though, would the Aounists want to block that? The Aounists were a part of the “March 14” movement that ousted the Syrian occupiers from Lebanon after Hariri was killed.

“So, what about the tribunal?” I said to Jack and Antonios. “Do you really want to block the investigation?”

“We are worried,” Antonios said, “that [Saad] Hariri wants to use the tribunal to go after people whose faces in Lebanon he doesn’t like.”

I think I must have audibly sighed when I heard that. But these guys live in a part of the world where politics has always been a ruthless and murderous business. Political enemies really do disappear into dungeons. Voicing the “wrong” opinion in a newspaper column can get you car-bombed on the way to work in the morning. Foreign powers really do manipulate local governments for their own craven gain. Paranoia naturally thrives in environments like Lebanon’s, and I’m honestly surprised it isn’t an even bigger problem than it already is.

“We are not against anybody,” Antonios earnestly said. “We just support our country. We are normal people and we work every day.”

“Do you think there will be more war in Lebanon?” I said.

“No!” Jack said. “Not with ourselves, and not with Israel. I think there is a deal under the table between the Israelis and Hezbollah. Both sides lost and don’t want to do it again. The situation in the South is finished. If it happens again, Nasrallah will lose his case.”

I hope Jack is right, but I fear he is not. Hezbollah has restocked its arsenal. Hezbollah has made no formal announcement that its war with Israelis is finished. If Hezbollah wants peace or at least an armistice, they are keeping their intentions very much to themselves.

If Hezbollah increases its share of government power, more war with Israel is only that much more likely. And the more official state power that Hezbollah is able to garner, the more incentive the Israelis will have to attack all of Lebanon next time there’s war.

Jack and Antonios are in a terrible spot. At some point Hezbollah needs to be mainstreamed. But if they’re mainstreamed prematurely, Lebanon as a whole will be moved into Israel’s kill zone.

The alternative, though, is also quite grim.

“If Israel can’t deal with Hezbollah, how can Seniora and Jumblatt?” Antonios said. “We have to negotiate with them. If we don’t then we will divide on sectarian lines and we will no longer have a country. Look at that mosque next to the church.”

church and mosque beirut 2005.jpg

“We need this,” he said. “Christians need Muslims. And Muslims need Christians. That is what Lebanon is.”

Post-script: Please donate and help support independent journalism. I am not independently wealthy, and I have to pay all travel expenses out of my own pocket to bring you these dispatches. Your donation helps defray the costs of my trip to Beirut and South Lebanon, and may also go toward covering my next trip abroad – which is coming up soon in six weeks.

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All photos copyright Michael J. Totten

Posted by Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2006 12:23 PM

Comments

Enlightening as always. Thanks for sharing.

To defang Hizbollah will require the funding from Tehran be cut off. This may happen on its own, if one can believe the recent articles claiming Iran's oil infrastructure will completely collapse within 8 years. If that doesn't pan out, their threat will not be diminished unless the U.S. seizes the Iranian export facilities as has been bruited about.

It's a good point to make though, that the Lebanese have to live with Hizbollah regardless.

Posted by: TallDave at December 29, 2006 12:44 PM

It's always funny to hear the Aounists talk about Lebanon not being able to fight Syria. Not so much because they leave out the obvious flipside, that Syria is waging war against Lebanon, but that -- as your readers just read above -- it was none other than Aoun who declared a disastrous war against Syria, after declaring an "elimination" war against the main Christian militia at the time, the Lebanese Forces! The audacity is amazing.

Behold the genius of the dear leader: declare a war against other anti-Syrian Lebanese and then one against Syria afterwards (after everyone was ten times weaker)! In other words, the worst possible time to launch war, and now, the worst possible time to declare submission! Not to mention that with the Lebanese Forces militia, the General declared a war of elimination, but with Hezbollah, an openly pro-Syrian and an organic Iranian tool, he declares an "understanding"! It's simply too delicious for words. But then again, that's the brilliance -- and unspeakable hypocrisy -- of Michel Aoun. Oh and by the way, the General has a habit now of bashing France and the US, meanwhile, were it not for France and the US, he'd be six feet under now, courtesy of the Syrians.

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 01:05 PM

Excellent piece yet again.
Aoun and Friends are proof that America and Europe don't have a lock on "useful idiots."

Posted by: Scott Kirwin at December 29, 2006 01:25 PM

"How Hafez Assad lent any meaningful assistance in ousting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait has never been clear."

Sir,

Have to check my books at home for better info. Syria sent around 15,000 guys and lost 3. Some tank units, but I can't remember the total composition at work. Tank unit, IIRC. Not sure they ever did much, but they were put with the Arab units, who fought next to USMC areas (some were supposed to be integrated into other UN forces, but nobody wanted to fight alongside them considering their level of training).

Posted by: Spade at December 29, 2006 01:27 PM

Spade,

Did we really need those 15,000? It's not like Saddam would have won if they stayed behind in Syria.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2006 01:34 PM

YES! Im back..
Firstly, Spade,
Syrian sent tens of thousands of troops into lebanon in order to rescue who? Yes, the christians. Who sent them? America. When syria is following american agenda, they are peacekeepers, but oooo when they don't, gues what they become? You guessed it old bud, OCCUPIERS. Syria lost in lebanon 11,000 soldiers for the sake of Lebanon, not itself. They didnt have to go in their alone, if at all. But they did and they protected the christians. But then some people at the time were stupid, like Aoun, and raged war against the syrians. ANYWAYS, i am not justifying any of the syrians acts in lebanon, but my point is, America has never sacrificed a SHOE for lebanon, let alone anything else. Another thing is lebanon NEEDS syria. Partly become it is a big power in the region, its only neutral neighbour (unlike israel) and for socio+economical purposes too. Lebanon can survive withought the help of america, but can not withought syria.

"The Syrians did write Lebanon’s current election law, and they did it strictly in a way that would benefit them. They gerrymandered the voting districts so that anti-Syrians were marginalized and pro-Syrians strengthened. Jack is annoyed that the US supported quick elections in post-Syrian Lebanon without first pushing for a new electoral law."

And now Mr totten, to prove you wrong that hizbollah or the 8 march alliance are not syrian puppets. If they were, they would not dare change the election law. But NO, they are not puppets and now they are demanding for a new election law because the current one is flawed and does not represent the true majority. Lebanon should vote in one big block, its too small to be made into state-like constituencies. Thats one. Two, you said something about hizbollah only demanding for minority vito in government and that this shows they are weak and do not have a majority. Well, if you call the sit-in a Putsch when they only ask to participate, what will you say if hizbollah and co. wanted something more? Eh? And to prove you wrong again, they are now not demanding a national unity government, they want a new election law, collapse of government, and new parliamentary elections followed by presidential one. ENJOY buddy. I won't be surprised if you now call that a coup, but beware if you do, it prove what i said above to be true ;)

“We are worried,” Antonios said, “that [Saad] Hariri wants to use the tribunal to go after people whose faces in Lebanon he doesn’t like.”

I dont know why you said that you made an audible sigh when you heard this. Making that sigh infers your thinking its bullshit, but its not. Marwan hamadeh before yesterday claimed that hizbollah is inciting for his assasination just because al-manar, hizbollahs tv station, carried a responsive and double sided report (you dont see that much on the march 14 future tv do you ;)) taken from reuters which was taken from a well informed israeli news outlet about hamadeh having a link with the israeli assasination attempt of Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah during the war by aiding the intelligence agencied to find wthe whereabouts of the Sayyid. This report is an old one anyway. Back to the point, because hizbollah did this, hamadeh criticized them and attacked them verbally, as well as claiming they were phsycologically terrorising him (i don't get this, hizbollah failed to fire a single bullet throughout the crisis, so just for the sake of it mr hamadeh creates his own type of terrorism - very cheap) and that because of this he will be filing a complaint to parliament, justicw ministry, info minitry, the UN, and YES you uessed it, sir, the UN commission handling the international court case. So as you can all see, the UN commission is now being used to settle scores, blackmail or counterattack anyone they d(march 14) don't like the look of, not to sincirely find out the truth. A final word people, he also, along with jumblat the nutcase, claimed that hizbollah had something to do with the assasinations when even the governmental leaders denied this even though hizbollah claimed that they would be ready to be the first to be investigated. So now hamadeh wants hizbollah to be drawn into this case to further complicate the crisis. Nice!

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 29, 2006 02:07 PM

Michael, I'm afraid that you uncritically buy a little bit too much into the Hezbollah propaganda, appropriated by the Aounists, about their "financial cleanliness." It's all part of a carefully constructed mythology of indoctrination that has been in formation for over a decade.

It's nonsense. Let me remind you of facts. Hezbollah hasn't "put its hands on government money," the tale goes, but the tale leaves out that Hezbollah 1- hadn't joined the government before, and 2- has an entirely separate and parallel economy of its own, completely independent of state institutions and not subject to fiscal accountability!

Hezbollah receives hundreds of millions from Iran, money that doesn't pass through the Lebanese banking system! Nabih Berri doesn't have the same luxury in order to maintain his patronage system and still claim cleanliness!

Furthermore, left out are all the racketeering activities of Hezbollah, both in Lebanon and abroad, esp. in south and north America, as well as in West Africa. (This is not to go into the question of money from drug trade and other illicit activity.)

So, this myth is absolutely false. It's all predicated on the fact that they hadn't participated in government before. It's all part and parcel of the Hezb's carefully constructed program of being inside and above the system simultaneously. (This is the main reason why they will never disarm the way the naive Aounists think -- as relayed to you above. The point is to use the system to protect the weapons, and to use the system to stay above the system at the same time!)

Let me add another thing here, to highlight Aounist selective amnesia and hypocrisy. What about their other allies?! Is Berri clean? Are Talal Arslan and Suleiman Frangieh (who were both in the government under the Syrians, and who are feudal lords of their own rights -- since Aoun hates political feudalism!) clean, or better, poor?! And so on and so forth.

The Aounist populist phenomenon, and its predictable use of the "corruption" card is hardly new in the political dictionary. Look at south America and post-Soviet eastern European countries. You have the same phenomenon, where illiberal, anti-democratic, pro-Soviet politicians run on an anti-corruption campaign to nail the politicians that while democratic, may have corruption problems (though those are often systemic, and endemic to the society, ironically as a result of decades of previous practice, than just a problem of the politicians themselves).

I believe Ivan Krastev has written about this, and maybe Moises Naim as well.

The problem is that in Lebanon this is related to regional dynamics, threats to independence, and the maintaining of a state-within-a-state status for a private militia of another state with imperialist ambitions! Aoun would love to make it all a domestic issue -- as if we're in Norway -- but everyone with a brain knows it isn't.

Populist demagogy is what Aoun does. And let's not let that blind people to other realities and hypocrisies.

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 02:13 PM

If they care so much about corruption and dirty money why don't they care about Hezbollah's leading activities in the drug trade?

Posted by: Corinne at December 29, 2006 02:20 PM

Hizb lover:

I think these Americans sacrificed more than "a shoe" for Lebanon:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Beirut_barracks_bombing

But why let facts get in the way of praising "neutral" Syria....

Posted by: just the facts ma'am at December 29, 2006 03:20 PM

MJT,

Right on the money. But Aounists conveniently forgot one thing;

Since you are in the neighbourhood, you might want to interview the people from SOLIDA, who have a sit-in next to the ESCWA building. Many of thier children were kidnapped because they were Aoun supporters, a fact that Herr General now denies.

Note: It is an established fact that those 15,000 Syrians were useless back in Iraq. Most of the fighting was done by Americans, with some egyptian units pinching in...

Posted by: Jeha at December 29, 2006 03:27 PM

That was an excellent read, and I enjoyed it immensely. Informative, and carried the mood of a sidewalk political chat over coffee quite well.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 29, 2006 03:51 PM

Great post, MJT!

I must also echo Tony's comments here in that:

1. The hypocrisy of Aoun and his bunch when it comes to "cleanliness and corruption" is beyond belief. How easily they overlook their allies' corruption (Hizbullah, Berri, Franjieh).

2. Also, to echo Tony's comments: Hizbullah might seem to be above corruption, for the mere fact that they haven't been in government yet. And one also overlooks the fact that they pay no taxes on the billions they get from Iran. Hariri might not be paying taxes, but neither do Nasrallah and his goons.

3. Lastly and most importantly: We have much bigger issues at play here than corruption. If the Aounists cannot see that, they are beyond naive. If Lebanon ends up back in Syrian orbit, or worse, under the direct guidance of Ahmedinjad and Khamenei, they won't even get to bitch about corruption in sidewalk cafes. They'll end up "disappeared".

Guys, you need to gain some perspective here. I'm reminded of the saying about the guy bitching about his couch being uncomfortable while his house is on fire...Might wanna worry about the fire first and leave the couch issue for later...

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at December 29, 2006 04:21 PM

Nice post. Keep up the good work. A few points :

Tony Badran in the comments made a misleading comparison between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces.

Hezbollah's ideology is despicable but HA fought exclusively Israel (with a very minor exception : a small clash with Amal). While the Lebanese Forces terrorized their own Christian community for fifteen years. They formed death squads and went on numerous killing sprees and ruthlessly slaughtered hundreds of their fellow Christians. They imposed illegal taxes on the Christians, stole their daily bread and humiliated them at checkpoints. You should investigate their drug deals and the
massacres they committed in Ehden, Safra, the Mountains, Amchit and elsewhere. In terms of crime, nefarious fascist ideology and corruption, they are no better than Hezbollah.

This is the main if not the only reason for Aoun's popularity : the resentment of the Christians against the thuggish behaviour of the Lebanese Forces who used to control the Christian Street before Aoun came to power. You should have emphasized this in your article : Aoun's popularity is a result of resentment against LF thuggery.

It is true that Aoun is a useful idiot for HA but the Lebanese Forces are also useful idiots for the corruption of Saad Hariri and Saudi Arabia. They are offering the Wahhabi project a Christian cover and they got only one minister: the tourism minister.

Besides, notwithstanding the nutcase Aoun himself, the Aounists in general are decent, educated and peaceful fellows, while the LF base is mostly made of religious fanatics, bigots and illiterate street thugs.

Tony Badran's views are biased because he is a sympathizer of the Lebanese Forces. Keep that in mind when you quote him. The LF hate Aoun since 1989, because he tried to cut off their illegal sea ports and he denied them access to their sources of revenue from drug exports.

Posted by: Sandra at December 29, 2006 04:41 PM

"hizbollah lover", your reading comprehension skills suck ass. I was talking about Syria's contribution of troops to the UN coalition in Saudi Arabia to push Iraq out of Kuwait. Nowhere did I mention Lebanon. This was fairly obvious. Your next post shall be, "Mr. Spade, sir, I am sorry I misread your post and then published a long, uninteresting, and rambling post about something. Next time I will engage my brain before I engage my keyboard." You may then drop and give us all fifty push-ups.

Also, Syria is only a "big power" because Lebanon is so weak, and it is that way partly thanks to Syria (who naturally wouldn't want a stronger Lebanon). I think if Lebanon didn't have the Syrians (and by proxy Hez) dragging them down they could be the Eastern Med power. Lot of potential there (as much as Israel).

Totten: Probably wouldn't have meant anything if they weren't there. Their troops and equipment were pretty awful and nobody wanted to fight alongside them. UN thing. Looks nice for the "coalition" and that's apparently important. Anyway, they did lose 3 guys in the fighting, which isn't much, but still 3 guys. I like to give people credit even if I think there should be B-52s orbiting over their cities.

Posted by: Spade at December 29, 2006 05:43 PM

Sandra, if you're an ignoramus who knows nothing of which you speak, which you obviously are, then don't presume to know anything about me and whom I "sympathize" with.

Needless to say, not only is your statement stupid and baseless, it's actually wrong.

So next time, think twice before you open your mouth to utter such stupidity. Maybe next time, with some help from above, you'll realize that it's best to keep your mouth shut, as opening will result in the stupidity you subjected us to in your comment above.

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 05:54 PM

Yeah, Sandra, and that "small clash" with Amal lasted over 3 years. And before that, Hezbollah was in the "cleansing" business of areas it now dominates. Add to that some choice assassinations of Communist leaders and figures. Add to that a possible assassination attempt against Camille Chamoun.

Should I go on?

Again, take the advice I gave you right above, and repeat. Always repeat. In time, maybe you'll get the hang of it.

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 05:57 PM

Sorry, that was a typo, it's 2 years, not 3.

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 06:05 PM

And just a comment to put things in perspective. When we talk about "Hezbollah's activity during the Civil War" we have to remember, that unlike Amal, the PSP, the Phalanges, the Lebanese Forces, etc., Hezbollah wasn't formed until ca. 1982.

Aside from intimidation, breaking into and vandalizing bars, hotels and liquor stores (which they did again in Taboo bar just recently), assassinations, and such, by 1985, when Amal was fighting the Palestinians, already then Hezbollah intervened at times (not full out) on the side of the Palestinians.

That war lasted to about 1987. By 1988 they were at war with Amal for 2 years. By 1990 the civil war was over!

So basically, their role in the war, given when they emerged, is hadly as benign as the propaganda wants to make it. Who knows how it would've developed had the war not ended in 1990? They had just started to warm up!

Posted by: Tony at December 29, 2006 06:23 PM

These "Christians" are nowhere near being real Christians. They're heathen with a thin Christian covering, what the Bible calls wolves in sheep's clothing.

The Bible is very clear about people that worships crucfixes and the like:

Psalms 115:4 Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
Psalms 115:5 They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:
Psalms 115:6 They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:
Psalms 115:7 They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.
Psalms 115:8 They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

it's also the 2nd commamdment:
Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in
the water under the earth:
Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon
the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

So calling them Christian is wrong, even if they themselves call themselves Christian. The Bible calls them heathens, and what other way to define a Christian than to let God's Word decide who is a Christian or not. Anyways interesting article.

Posted by: Kristian at December 29, 2006 06:50 PM

Kristian, God keeps his opinion of people to himself. Why don't you follow his example and not presume to speak for him, mkay?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 07:14 PM

Kristian, what in the hell are you babbling on about?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2006 07:25 PM

just the facts ma'am

You idiot i already explained the barracks a million times, scroll up and read you dim wit.

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 29, 2006 07:51 PM

add my voice to tony and BV's.

considering the state of your comment section lately, michael, why don't you update the actual post (instead of just making a note of tony's dissention)? not everyone is going to wade through the comments, and the post as it stands may be misleading to those who don't know better.

Posted by: carine at December 29, 2006 07:54 PM

Josh, what God thinks of folks is pretty clearly stated in the Bible. God doesn't keep his opinions to himself. If he did, we'd all be in the dark as to what righteousness is.

Now, Kristian's point was that calling the LF Christians is inaccurate. Based upon their systematic, regular, and natural behavior, I'd have to agree. They call themselves Christians, but calling the sun, "the moon" hardly makes it so.

Is this a minor point about an otherwise interesting and informative article? Yes.

Posted by: InRussetShadows at December 29, 2006 08:09 PM

I'm more than a little curious at the claim, made by hiszbollah lover, that the Syrians lost, no mention of whether these are KIA, MIA or wounded, some 11,000 soldiers. Up until 1990 the most reputable figures could claim only 35,000 troops in the country while even the Syrians themselves noted that the withdrawal recently numbered some 14,000. That's a casualty rate of almost 33% over the long period of occupation. Frankly no army in the world could survive with those numbers of casualties. But then even Edward Said admitted that hyperbole was part and parcel of argument in the Middle East.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at December 29, 2006 08:21 PM

Russet, thus far God has had the courtesy avoid ruining the conversation on this weblog by posting his disproval of the 90% of humanity who doesn't think exactly the same things you do, please don't spoil his record by being rude on his behalf, OK?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 29, 2006 08:42 PM

Kristian, Your quotes as they are don't apply to a cross. They apply to an idol or image of God to which people worship instead of God. If the object refocuses a person to the path of God that they have forgotten, then it has a temporal use in Christian worship. One's own imagination will supply ones self with an image of God that is less than God. Then you will think you are either God in your form or a Servant of God. One path leads to greater sin, one path to a lessor sin.

In the end it's probably easier to judge a Christian by their work. If they are being nice to people and not harming anyone. Then that is a great job done in this lifetime. The distribution of religious artifacts is inconsequential.

Sorry to OT. I found the Auonist arguements and rebuttals by the commentators informative about the situation in Lebanon. Something I don't get from the free press in the United States.

Posted by: jd at December 29, 2006 08:53 PM

Hezbollah Lover,

I will not let you post here if you insist on insulting others. Almost everyone here will sharply disagree with your political views, and if you can't handle it you need to go somewhere else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 29, 2006 11:38 PM

Well written Mr Totten. One wonders how if the Lebanese government is stealing so much from their own country,imagine how much the Syrians are stealing from Lebanon? Lebanon is a cash-cow for the Alawite Mafia and they are not going to give up Lebanon without a big fight -simple as that.

Posted by: james just at December 30, 2006 12:02 AM

This is off topic but, Merva are you reading the comment thread? In another thread you said you were a film-maker from Lebanon and I was wondering if you knew the film-maker from the articles on Slate a few years ago.

The writer was visiting Lebanon (he loved it btw) and talked to an actress who had just finished a movie about America as the lead actress named Erica or something similar. What is the plot of that movie? Is "erica" a decent person or a whore or what? I read the article a long time ago, but it would be pretty sweet if you have seen the movie and let me know what it was all about.

Posted by: mike at December 30, 2006 12:35 AM

Last August I posted on the financial scams and extortions of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. My post asked far more questions than it answered. I would appreciate any answers that any of you may have about this. The post can be found at http://tbirdofparadise.blogspot.com/2006/08/hezbollah-does-its-funding-include.html Thanks.

Posted by: Bird of Paradise at December 30, 2006 12:57 AM

Have to check my books at home for better info. Syria sent around 15,000 guys and lost 3. Some tank units, but I can't remember the total composition at work. Tank unit, IIRC.

I was under the impression that the Syrian contribution was mostly artillery. The number you give re size sounds about right.

Not sure they ever did much, but they were put with the Arab units,

None of the arab units did much. There was a Kuwaiti ground force in on the liberation push, and the Saudis did some airstrikes, I think that's pretty much it for offensive arab military action.

who fought next to USMC areas

I'm pretty sure those were the Kuwaitis.

(some were supposed to be integrated into other UN forces, but nobody wanted to fight alongside them considering their level of training).

Yep. Alongside, in front of, behind... no western units wanted to be anywhere near those guys.

Posted by: rosignol at December 30, 2006 02:56 AM

Kristian, what in the hell are you babbling on about?

The Old Testament prohibitions on producing 'graven images' and the like. The intent seems to have been preventing idolatry, the rules are quite similar to the Islamic prohibitions on images.

These rules are largely forgotten or ignored by modern Christians, who tend to pay more attention to the New Testament than the Old Testament.

Posted by: rosignol at December 30, 2006 03:25 AM

IIRC the images were not to be of humans, or was it to include animals or living things? Guess George Eastman is doing 120,000 RPM in hell...

actually it irks me b/c someone gave me a menorah, actually a hanukkiah, that has figures of what look like lumpy children holding the candles. Can't decide if it is idolatrous or not, but haven't used it in years.

Posted by: nichevo at December 30, 2006 03:32 AM

IIRC the images were not to be of humans, or was it to include animals or living things?

Dunno. The christian holy books have been translated, edited, and re-translated so many times over the millenia that all I'm really certain of are the basics... the context associated with a lot of the rules have been lost.

Posted by: rosignol at December 30, 2006 04:12 AM

Jack and Antonios are not alone in a terrible spot.
Most Lebanese are.Corruption is the game in town.

Posted by: kinlitt at December 30, 2006 04:19 AM

Tony Badran should be banned for trolling and attacking personally others in this blog's comments section.

But then I don't think we can expect MJT to apply the same comment rules for his "civilized" friends that he uses for the terrorists.....

This blog is a joke....Tottie and his supporters are ignorant clowns. I will go elsewhere for educated commentary.

Enjoy your circus.

Posted by: Frank at December 30, 2006 05:20 AM

the only guarantee for the protection of the christian of lebanon is their alliance with the chiaa for the following reason:

1.both of them, the christian and the chiaa are minorities in the middleast of a sunni majority who are allies of the united states.

2.the saudi wahabist wants the control of the whole middleeast backed by the americans to face iran and syria the only non sunnis in the region which happens to be chiaa, so the famous claim and propaganda arrive: the axis of evil syria and iran who wants to destroy the power of the sunnis in the MEA and the nuclear weapon arguments
of course iran will have nuclear weapons like israel and korea and china and others but in no less then 10 years so iran is not that big threat for the world at the moment.
The only thing the american want from iran is the oil same story of iraq.
for god's sake where is the weapon of mass destraction in iraq or where is bin laden in afghanistan?
nothing but lies and you want us to beleive that america wants to spread the democracy in the middleast, of course they are St peter of today who wants to spread peace and justice in the world.
if they want to make democracy in the MEA, why dont they start from Saudi arabia the biggest totalitarian regime in the world?
why don't they protect the minorities in the
MEA the christians and the chiaa?

3. syria cant get back to lebanon, unless the USA want that, syria is very weak, but is very strong compared to the super weakness and passivness of saudi arabia the american puppet.
if u read history, syria entered lebanon and went out from it when ordered by the americans to do so.

4. if one community in lebanon wants to control everything she is defenetly signing her self-destuction and self banning, nobody in lebanon can bann anybody, and that is what the sunnis now are doing for themselves, they cant control lebanon by themselves they must work with the christian and the chiaa which are out now. and that's why charistians and chiaas are allies now.
they are forming a majority in lebanon against the controlling of the sunnis backed by saudi arabia.

as for hezbollah, their understanding with Aoun made it clear that syria will not return to lebanon, and no foreign interfence will take place on behalf of lebanon which means no for iran in lebanon.
and as a christian i beleive hezbollah because they prooved to be very honest and very indepedant and very lebanese.

Posted by: cynthia at December 30, 2006 05:22 AM

tony,
u seemed to be very nervous person, unable to accept other's point of view, so you want the ohter point of view to shut his mouth up, well you are a great supporter of democracy.

Posted by: ted at December 30, 2006 05:31 AM

Ted -
Tony Badran uses the Bill O'Reilly right-wing reactionary approach to debates. He yells, insults, and tries to intimidate the others to win his points.

He could only wish to be a democrat.

Posted by: Brad at December 30, 2006 05:36 AM

if they want to make democracy in the MEA, why dont they start from Saudi arabia the biggest totalitarian regime in the world?

Because that would be stupid.

The biggest totalitarian regieme in the world is either Russia or China, depending on if you're going by geography or population.

Saudi Arabia isn't even in the top 10... and more importantly, the Saudi government knows full well that the wahabbi militants hate them, too, and the Saudi government is discreetly cooperating with the US on reining in the militants.

Other governments, which are not cooperating with the US on matters related to reining in islamic militants, are a much higher priority.... which is how it should be.

[...]

and as a christian i beleive hezbollah because they prooved to be very honest and very indepedant and very lebanese.

You should study what happened to Kohmeini's non-religious allies once he siezed power.

Posted by: rosignol at December 30, 2006 05:41 AM

Ummm, to the very "cute" ted and brad, I'm afraid that your comment is useless. I wasn't harsh in response to someone who disagreed with my opinions. I couldn't care less if "Sandra" disagreed with me.

You'll note that my reaction was not about "opinion" but an unfounded claim that I was a Lebanese Forces sympathizer, and thus my views should not be taken seriously.

As a matter of fact, your silly comment about disagreement, tolerance and democracy and all that jazz actually applies to Sandra's comment, not mine. It is Sandra who dismissed everything i said based on a stupid, unfounded, and ignorant statement about my inner thoughts and political sympathies, both things she knows absolutely nothing about as she doesn't know anything about me. (The attack was also on her comment).

So next time before you wax all indignant and stuff, actually read what it is you're saying.

As for you agreeing with my views, I don't give a hoot really, so don't flatter yourself!

Posted by: Tony at December 30, 2006 05:53 AM

Long time reader (well kind of), first time commenter.

Thanks for the insight Michael.

Posted by: Drima at December 30, 2006 06:03 AM

rosignol,
"You should study what happened to Kohmeini's non-religious allies once he siezed power"

i have no problems trying and see what will happen, we are already living in hell, we have nothing to lose i assure you.
if it turned to be true the thing you are saying than we are soo unlucky, but i beleive that it will not end like the kohmeini revolution.

Posted by: cynthia at December 30, 2006 06:07 AM

Thanks for the response Tony.

But, unfortunately, you did personally attack Sandra by calling her an ignoramous and stupid in addition to telling her to shut up (just like Bill O'Reilly). That is not up for debate.

So the question is why are you so nervous (as Ted said)?

I think you do care about people that disagree with you. I think there are two issues.

Firstly, you need for other's approval probably stems from the fact your mother did not love you enough. When other's disagree with you, your mother issues and bitterness emerges and results in attacking others.

Secondly, I believe that since your political commentary is for hire (you have been in the employee of people such as Martin Kramer's Campus watch for years) that you realize that it is intellectually dishonest. You are upset with yourself because you pimp your intelligence out and, hence, you are generally rude and agressive with views that dissent with your's.

Whatever, it's your life.

Posted by: Brad at December 30, 2006 06:21 AM

Thanks for the response Tony.

But, unfortunately, you did personally attack Sandra by calling her an ignoramous and stupid in addition to telling her to shut up (just like Bill O'Reilly). That is not up for debate.

So the question is why are you so nervous (as Ted said)?

I think you do care about people that disagree with you. I think there are two issues.

Firstly, you need for other's approval probably stems from the fact your mother did not love you enough. When other's disagree with you, your mother issues and bitterness emerges and results in attacking others.

Secondly, I believe that since your political commentary is for hire (you have been in the employee of people such as Martin Kramer's Campus watch for years) that you realize that it is intellectually dishonest. You are upset with yourself because you pimp your intelligence out and, hence, you are generally rude and agressive with views that dissent with your's.

Whatever, it's your life.

Posted by: Brad at December 30, 2006 06:22 AM

Sorry...typo it's employ not employee.

Happy New Year all.

Posted by: Brad at December 30, 2006 06:24 AM

i have no problems trying and see what will happen, we are already living in hell, we have nothing to lose i assure you.

You're not in hell yet. When Iran decides it needs another 'crisis' to distract everyone from it's nuclear program, and Hizbullah starts firing missiles at Israel again, then you'll be in hell.

if it turned to be true the thing you are saying than we are soo unlucky, but i beleive that it will not end like the kohmeini revolution.

Revolutions follow a consistent pattern.

After the old order is overthrown, the revolutionaries consolidate power. Allies of convenience are purged, either killed or driven into exile, until one faction has complete control.

Posted by: rosignol at December 30, 2006 06:33 AM

Actually, Brad, or should I say Dr. Phil, once again you demonstrate your poor skills of reading.

I never called Sandra stupid. I called her statement stupid. And I called her ignoramus, in the sense of an ignorant person, because she is ignorant of my political sympathies, and everything else about me. I also didn't tell her to shut up (I'm not calling you dishonest for saying that, I'm just calling you someone with a reading deficit. It's pitiful really, but don't give up! Don't stop believing!). I said, that before she opens her mouth next time to say the kind of unfounded and stupid thing about something she knows nothing about (my inner thoughts and political sympathies), she should think twice, and then realize that in that case it would be best for her to not open her mouth and say such nonsense.

So I don't know maybe you missed the reading class while getting your degree in cheesy pop psychology.

A second statement of stupidity on your part: >>you have been in the employ of people such as Martin Kramer's Campus watch for years)<<

Wow Brad, so much crap in one place, how did you manage!? Maybe you and Sandra got together and decided to see who can read palms better? Or perhaps you were insulted that I called Sandra's comment stupid, and you thought only you deserve that honor. OK, granted. You win hands down.

1- Kramer has nothing to do with Campus Watch. Never has. Campus Watch is Daniel Pipes' project. (Do your homework Brad. This ain't cheese pop-psy school anymore, you're a grown up now).

2- I was never employed by Campus Watch. I have never received a dime from Campus Watch ("for years"!!! Such buffonery).

Let me explain it to you because, obviously they don't teach this at cheese pop-psy school. There's a thing called the internet. And when people write things on the internet, if it's accessible, it becomes public domain. And so, people can access it, and sometimes reproduce it, within certain limits. And so, an organization that's called Campus Watch keeps track of critiques of Middle East studies. I happened to be doing some of that. So Campus Watch quoted my public domain critiques, with full attribution. And... well, I'm afraid that's it Brad! Sorry, not as exciting as your Dr. Phil extravaganza, and certainly not as stupid, but there you have, not all of us went to cheesy pop-psy university.

And apparently, you'r quite slow Brad. So I'll make this easy for you and repeat what I said. Maybe this time, some adult will help you understand. I didn't take issue with Sandra over a matter of opinion. OK? Is that formulation readable, cause apparently you have a reading deficit. Let's try again: I didn't criticize Sandra's comment over a disagreement in opinion.

She made a categorical -- stupid and factually wrong -- statement about my thought process and political sympathies, and dismissed me based on that. Now chew on that for a month, maybe someday you'll figure it out.

Now, analyze that sweet pea.

Posted by: Tony at December 30, 2006 06:45 AM

Tony, nice try you O'Reilly wanna-be.

You're nothing but a hired hand for the right-wing. It must drive you crazy the Syrians kick the shit out of your country when they feel like it.

Enjoy those apples jokerman.

Posted by: brad at December 30, 2006 08:02 AM

Wow, great comment Brad! I mean you could've tried hiding the fact that you are an idiot who can't read who was just shown in public to be an idiot who can't read, but instead, being the idiot that you are, wrote something even dumber! Congrats!

Yeah, cause only right-wingers hate it when thugs hurt their country! Are you suggesting, Brad, that you rejoiced on 9/11?! You moron!

Could you have come up with a dumber retort!? What an idiot... But thanks for proving to the readers that your crow got shoved down your throat so deep, that all you could do, with all your Dr. Phil skills, is to come back with such a pathetically stupid statement as your last one!

Congrats, I didn't think you could be dumber. You learn something every day!

Posted by: Tony at December 30, 2006 08:12 AM

Re: Brad and Ted's Excellent Adventure

It is very sad that palm readers have been denigrated in all of this.

As far as shouting down opposing view-points are concernced, that has historically been the province of the idiot so-called left, who can't handle any kind of opposition. That's why Chumpsky calls opposition from people with bona fides leftist credentials, "Stalinists". Moreover, from the strictly big mouth varieties, Baathist Georgie Galloway is a classic idiot in point.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at December 30, 2006 08:24 AM

Tony, you have done nothing but reveal your intellectual insecurity with all your name calling.

Of course, I deeply mourned when my fellow Americans died in the tragic events of 9/11. But I laughed at how silly the anti-Hezballoh faction of the Lebanese looked when they completely fragmented in the wake of Hariri's death. That group could not organize their way out of a paper bag. Really after thousands of years of "civilization", and you were outplayed by Iran and Syria. Congrats, really, that was a great job.

Syria and Iran should just annex Lebanon and make the on-the-ground reality official.

As for ankhflhonsu, you sound like a real uniformed jerk. You have no credentials to be be allowed to comment on this forum. You're just a idiot with a keyboard.

Posted by: Brad at December 30, 2006 08:49 AM

Brad is banned for trolling.

Sorry, Brad. I know you think this is unfair because both you and Tony are hurling insults at each other. But you started it, you're lying about Tony, and he is a friend of mine, so you lose.

Hint: In the future, if you want to have interesting and productive arguments with other people, don't start with personal attacks, and especially don't attack people because of lies you yourself invent about them.

Bye.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2006 08:51 AM

Totten is a dictator

Posted by: bradly at December 30, 2006 09:08 AM

No, Brad, I just don't want my comments section looking like what you see at Little Green Footballs and Daily Kos. I have to kick one of you out, and you're it.

Future posts by you will be deleted.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2006 09:13 AM

By the way, Brad, you're the one who says others have "no credentials" to post on this forum.

Good riddance to you.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 30, 2006 09:26 AM
Totten is a dictator

Of course he is. This is his blog, you see. Put up and paid for with his own time, effort, and money. That means he owns it and gets to set whatever rules he chooses and take any action he sees fit to take.

You were thinking it was some kind of public utility?

Posted by: OregonMuse at December 30, 2006 09:40 AM

Unlike the current Assad-appointed Syrian stooge of a president Emile Lahoud, Aoun would be beholden to no one.

I doubt Nasrallah would agree.

Meanwhile, Auon and everyone else seems to forget that Lebanon is, under law, required to push for "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of 27 July 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State."

He is an international outlaw (whatever that means). I know - it means nothing. But it's depressing that a group that's required to be disarming is not only continuously arming, but "peacefully" occupying Beirut.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at December 30, 2006 09:46 AM

Brad...Brad...Brad

In the words of that great American, Bugs Bunny:

What a maroon!

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at December 30, 2006 09:48 AM

Cynthia posts 1.both of them, the christian and the chiaa are minorities in the middleast of a sunni majority who are allies of the united states.

God I love sectarian posts like that! Specially when the authors then claim to be for a secular Lebanon.

2.the saudi wahabist wants the control of the whole middleeast backed by the americans.

And then backed up by the typical paranoid conspiracy theories. It used to be "the jews want to control the world.". Looks like we've moved a step up to "the wahabis want to control the Middle East."

eyeroll

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at December 30, 2006 10:01 AM

Can't speak for the Aounist, but Khomeini's allies on the "left" were more or less communists, who were by no means liberal democrats. They were militant as well and they lost to the mullah in the ensuing power struggles. Most would form the MKO

Posted by: NM at December 30, 2006 10:15 AM

That was an excellent read, and I enjoyed it immensely. Informative, and carried the mood of a sidewalk political chat over coffee quite well.

For once I agree with dpu. I have more sympathy for the Aounists than I did before reading your article. I still think they're wrong, but I can understand why they do what they do.

It's hard for Americans to understand the Lebanese point of view - Lebanon is a very small country (approx. 4 million people?) - they have to shift alliances, make concessions, perform a sort of moral triage to survive.

Groups like the Aounists have good reasons for seeking refuge in apparently cynical alliances, even if these alliances are ultimately self destructive and opposed to everything they previously stood for. Larger, stronger Western nations (and political groups) don't have the same excuse.

Posted by: mary at December 30, 2006 01:37 PM

Aounists are well-intentioned dupes. Useful idiots. We have well-intentioned dupes (and dopes) like that in the West too.

Posted by: Carlos at December 30, 2006 01:49 PM

each time I read something here about Lebanon that just kills me :)

how come hariri and the hizb don't have to pay taxes?????

isn't that just ludicrous? is there a special law exempting some Lebanese from paying taxes?

i just don't understand ........

Posted by: tsedek at December 30, 2006 02:17 PM

Great piece, as usual.

Thank you, MT.

And now - a rhetorical question, based on the comment thread and especially the attacks on Tony:

How come anybody remotely pro-democracy, pro-Western or anti-(insert armed group here especially if it's radical), is automatically "right wing" (ie "bad") these days?

This doesn't make any sense to me, unless "left wing" is by extension, supportive of (armed radical group), anti-Western and anti-democratic. (Well, watching Galloway's antics a person would have to wonder?)

Isn't this just a way of shutting up people who have an idea, and besmirching them before they're allowed to make their point?

Why? What's to be feared from dialogue and an exchange of ideas, and maybe even some mutual respect? And what's wrong with moderation and civility? Isn't that at the very root of lawful society? Is it such a smart idea to be sticking labels on each other?

I get the feeling that we're all - not just Lebanon! - teetering on the brink - shouldn't we start trying to treat each other with more kindness - immediately?

Posted by: Sophia at December 30, 2006 02:58 PM
And now - a rhetorical question, based on the comment thread and especially the attacks on Tony:

How come anybody remotely pro-democracy, pro-Western or anti-(insert armed group here especially if it's radical), is automatically "right wing" (ie "bad") these days?

I think if your read the entire exchange, it was begun by Sandra alleged that Tony was pro-Lebanese Forces and therefore biased. Tony took offense and called Sandra an ignoramus and stupid. Further in the thread he is accused (once) of being hired by the right wing.

I'm not sure that qualifies to the automatic labeling that you mention. And, while I'm left-wing myself, I personally don't equate "right-wing" with "bad," I'm on good terms with several conservatives whose opinions I respect.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2006 03:35 PM

I don't think that DPU is representative of those who consider themselves left-wing, unfortuately.

I consider myself a reformed socialist and my reformation occurred precisely as a result of the behaviour by so-called left-wing types, of which Sophia speaks.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at December 30, 2006 03:51 PM

The dhimmitude of Christians in the Middle East is something to behold. The unmitigated cowardice of their craven existence would have made Shakespeare squirm. But he was busy writing tales about Shylock and noble Porsche. LOL.

Posted by: redaktor at December 30, 2006 05:05 PM

Great post, Michael! Thanks for that refreshing read this morning.

Posted by: harrison at December 30, 2006 05:13 PM

I consider myself a reformed socialist and my reformation occurred precisely as a result of the behaviour by so-called left-wing types, of which Sophia speaks.

Political ideology isn't a club that one changes because of the other members. It's a philosophy and a belief system. Plus, no matter what ideology one embraces, it has more than a few asshats in it, whether left, right, or middle. The trick is to remember that the asshats on the other side are just asshats, and are not representative of the cream of the crop.

I don't think that DPU is representative of those who consider themselves left-wing, unfortuately.

Thanks, that was nice. Uh, wait a minute... hang on, parsing the comment again... Yes! That was nice, thanks.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 30, 2006 05:32 PM

Something also needs to be said about one other myth, that Hezbollah doesn't behave like militias.

They actually behave far worse. For instance, it was recently revealed that Hezbollah's intelligence was gathering files on Christian students who were with the Lebanese Forces at the Lebanese university.

This kind of intelligence gathering against other Lebanese is a well known Hezbollah practice.

Then there's the intimidation. Be it the rallies, the speeches, and oh, yeah, the constant reminder that they're armed and no else is (with hilarious statements like, "we could take over the country, but we don't!") or, more recently, the bullying vandalism and rushes into Christian and Sunni areas for bullying.

All the above is typical fascist, brown shirt behavior. I could go on of course.

I don't know how people simply choose to glance over this and other issues and uncritically swallow Hezbollah propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Posted by: Tony at December 30, 2006 06:14 PM

what a silly guy this Rotten is. I can't beleive people would bother read this crap.

Posted by: sadiche at December 30, 2006 11:46 PM

Good points Tony, if you want to learn about propaganda read about Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda. But I believe that Lebanon all comes down to money, the rake off from Lebanon is too much to lose to give up for the Alawite mafia, everything else is just contratemps.

Posted by: James Just at December 31, 2006 05:09 AM

Tony,

That's hilarious! Extensive retorts considering you don't give a "hoot" about that guy's opinion.

Posted by: Ralph at December 31, 2006 05:33 AM

Yeah Ralph, super funny, but again like Brad you seem to have a reading comprehension problem. Personal claims about me are separate from opinions and points of view.

I correct the former, and don't give a hoot about the latter. For instance, if someone like you, e.g., disagrees with my take on Hezbollah, that would be a good example of me not giving a hoot about what you think (especially if you don't contest my data). But if you make a claim about who pays me, etc. It's a different story.

But hey, if it made you laugh, knock yourself out. And no need to thank me for teacing you something new today about the difference between opinion and personal attacks. Take it as my new year's gift to you.

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 06:25 AM

Yo' hello :)

Do you see me?

I'd like to have an answer to my above question.

Why don't the hizb and Hariri not have to pay taxes????

Is it just me being completely stunned about this fact???

Posted by: tsedek at December 31, 2006 06:28 AM

Well, tsedek, I don't know about Hariri not paying taxes. That could be true, but I don't know.

As for Hezbollah, I also don't know for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least bit. I don't know if you saw my note about how they have a parallel economy. But more than that, their areas are controlled, like gang turf here, where it's well nigh impenetrable for state institutions.

For instance, let me give you a recent example. The other day a police patrol came upon a few building violations in the Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut, and when they approached it, they were attacked. Again, gang style (but, um, not "militia"! So they're ok!).

Similarly, when the Prime Minister unveiled a plan -- a plan mind you, not a law -- for economic reform, Hezbollah did what they do best, which is what I told you above: intimidation. They sent people to the street and turned the thing into a sectarian issue. So the plan becomes about something far bigger and more dangerous. It's called blackmail. And so the plan was scuttled so as not to start a bigger fight. Of course, the Hezbollah cheerleaders who fancifully see them as some sort of proletarian vanguard completely ignore that Hezbollah is dead set against any sort of reform, as it would only damage its vast patronage network.

The same applies to taxes. Taxes need enforcement. But when you have your own security zone, well, you get the picture. (Same applies for collecting on electricity and utiliy bills).

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 07:14 AM

tsedek,
hariri is a lot more classy than hizbollah, they change the law for their own benefits (when hariri dies, they have changed the law so the taxes they have to pay in order to inherit the wealth to the heirs will be zero %, and this cost the governement 4 billion dollars of loss ) or they pay the taxes at full and then stealing them back by the curupted institutions.
hariri and its gang are professional theives but very classy.
i think tony forgot to explain to you about hariri the big theives or maybe intended to do so.
they say, that hariri intended to put lebanon under huge debt so he can exchange it later with the nationalization of the overly sunni palistianian refugies in lebanon, so he can change the demography of lebanon in his favor.
yes hariri wasnt at all saint as thye want us to think about him.

Posted by: robert at December 31, 2006 08:32 AM

Mmmm yes, when in doubt, fall on the stupid, illogical, incoherent and baseless conspiracy theory of "intentionally putting the country in debt in order to nationalize the Palestinians"! (And hey, Aounists are not sectarian! Never forget that!)

Wonderful! You see, this is why I love Aounists! They're just adorable!

I won't bother with the rest of the comment. The above is enough.

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 09:15 AM

I can't help but link to this.

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 09:31 AM

tony,
who told you i am an Aounist,
if i said and can be without predjudice that Hariri is corrupted to the bones does this mean "i am Aounist".
plz cant any non-Aounist see that Hariri is corrupted? unless he is blind by propaganda, thus unfurtunatly i cant do anything to proove him wrong, and even the pro-haririst know that he is corrupted and they still follow him.
by the way i am not sectarian either but i am sure that Hariri is not only sectarian he is a big extrimist but in a "classy way".
anyway, happy new year and this is my last comment coz i have to go to celebrate and wish to have more sane people in lebanon and in the world in the future.

Posted by: robert at December 31, 2006 10:25 AM

I never said you were an Aounist. The argument you made however, is a staple of Aounist propaganda. Not everything I say is directed at you.

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 10:32 AM

Thank you both for the answer, gentlemen!
I appreciate it.
It sounds very messy from here...
:(

Posted by: tsedek at December 31, 2006 11:53 AM

I thought this was a pretty good article. I mean, you'd have an easier time dealing with Lebanon if you were less quick to write definitive moral conclusions into your articles. (helping avoid a "mean bad guys, nice bad guys" incoherency), but I nitpick.

Iran didn't work out so well, but what does one say when a massive popular revolution drives out a dictator? "No, stop that, take it back"? Iran might have worked out better, meaning I suppose less political repression and more tolerated pluralism within the clerical regime, if not for the violent counterrevolutionary guerrilla warfare against the nascent regime within months and the invasion by Iraq within a year.

Posted by: glasnost at December 31, 2006 11:55 AM

Arguing about who is more corrupt, Hizballah or Hariri/Fouad Siniora, by way of anecdotes, misses the point. Hizballah takes in money and outputs services without getting noticeably rich. Very little of this money enters into official government institutions. You can take the part where it fails to transit through state institutions and call it corruption, or at the least, unlawful behavior. Also, Hizballah doesn't spend much money on Sunnis or Christians. But for Shiites, Hizballah successfully appears to be disinterested in personal financial gain, and effectively outputting services for intake of money. The postwar South reconstruction fiasco would be an example of that, or at least a perceived example.

It seems like Aounists believe, at least, that Hariri/Siniora takes in money and outputs relatively less services at greater personal profit. We don't have statistics to see which set of organizations/affiliations is pocketing more proceeds, but the corruption issue seems to be a maze of relative and imperfect competition.

The argument here is a lot like the argument, "who's the foreign puppet?" Hizballah, the puppets of Iran and Syria? Sunni puppets of Saudi Arabia? March 14, American puppets? Seriously, everyone's working with foreign backers, which is part, or even most, of the problem. The "puppet" argument is always there to be used when movements and factions fight for power in a weak country surrounded by larger ones. Foreign backing and/or coordination is no moral crime, (though it's often illegal!) or else conflict scenarios are littered with criminals. What matters is what is done with the backing.

I could say, using a frame of judgement, that the whole fight over the March 14 tribunal smells like a puppet fight to me, personally. American puppets trying to set up a long-run takedown of the Syrian government, and Syrian puppets trying to wreak havoc to hold them off. Now, America is definitely interested and creating incentives that the tribunal go forth, and Syria is definitely doing the opposite (as well as directly bumping Lebanese off). But is this simplification all there really is to the story? I don't think so. Some Lebanese really want Syria indicted, and some Lebanese really don't.

Me, I don't really think it makes sense for Lebanese priorities to be indicting Syria. If the US wants to indict Syria for Hariri's death, it should act like a man-state and hold its own trial. Lebanon indicting Syria is, basically, a declaration of war against the country. Doing that though, Lebanon is voluntarily stacking legal courts up against military force. It's only heroic if it works. I don't see it working.

Posted by: glasnost at December 31, 2006 12:26 PM

Instead they kept their weapons and warped Lebanon’s delicate power-sharing arrangement -- the Shia have their own army while no one else does.

Well, there's at least two armies involved - one being the Lebanese army. How's Shia recruitment in the Lebanese army going, one wonders?

“Aoun is not pro-Syrian,” Antonios said. “He just wants normal relations with Syria. We can’t fight Syria.”

It's a very similar situation to Russia and Ukraine. You can have an open show of defiance and oust a government cozy with the dominant regional power, but the dominant regional power will then ruthlessly punish and undermine you. It seems to be an almost irreversible fact of life with authoritarian states. At some point the active opposition from the regional power has to be ended - a deal has to be struck. Unless you can genuinely jeopardize or eliminate the regional power. In Ukraine, the democrat revolutionist has recently let the Russian puppet become his prime minister. Good? Bad? Surrender? Or, not as good as a completely successful revolution, but nevertheless better than a collapsed one?

Posted by: glasnost at December 31, 2006 12:38 PM
Interesting points, Glasnost. And, as a Canadian living beside a superpower, let me quote former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau about having a more powerful neighbor:
Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.
I imagine that it's much worse when the beast isn't as friendly or even-tempered, but you still have to deal with it. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 31, 2006 01:15 PM

Oh, we can't fight Syria but we can fight Israel, as Hezbollah wants (and does, without consulting anyone, including Aoun with whom he had a "memo of understanding")?!

Posted by: Tony at December 31, 2006 03:35 PM

glasnost and Tony,
I prefer my leader to be slightly corrupt, than devoted idealist. There's nothing wrong about mild corruption.
I'm not talking of course about a corruption on a scale of Yasser Arafat, of billions.
I'm sure that a mildly corrupt leader will protect his personal wealth, and by so protect me too.
If you look at Lebanese economy, there's the problem of huge debt, but don't forget that for a country that just not long ago survived a long war, it's doing not bad; sure better than Syria, Egypt, Jordan and and....
Mind that it was Syria to send workers to Lebanon ; show me a colonizer who goes to work for his successful colony.
So, I'm not judging weather Hariri was corrupt ; I don't know. If he managed to lift Lebanon from it's ruins, and kept some in his pocket, it's OK with me.

Posted by: Amir in Tel Aviv at December 31, 2006 05:11 PM

"and as a christian i beleive hezbollah because they prooved to be very honest and very indepedant and very lebanese." cynthia

"You should study what happened to Kohmeini's non-religious allies once he siezed power." rosignol

Yeee and whatever khomeini did (or murdoch claims he did) to the non-religious allies, thats him ok? cynthia is talking about hizbollah, not khomeini. There is a big difference between the two, one is a person, the other is a party, one is dead, the other isn't, one is iranian the other lebanese, and thats the biggest difference. Everyone knows that lebanon doesn't work with anyone excluded, even the super minorities.

Hizbollah and every lebanese knows this from history and from the revolt going on now in lebanon. BUT, the only difference between revolt and what is happening in lebanon is that the people do not want to OVERTHROW the government, they just want to join in. Now tell me whos more nationalistic or which lebanon works beter, the one that excludes everyone apart from itself and SOME very few minor CRIMINAL allies, or the one that wants participation and not replacements???

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 31, 2006 07:55 PM

DPU:
Not to change subject, but CANADA vs. US ?

Canadian population: 33,098,932 (about the same as California!)
U.S. population: 298,444,215

In fact, two countries about the same size but the populations differ. And, 'approximately 90% of the population is concentrated within 160 km of the US border."

Canada doesn't really have much to whine about. What if Mexico were their neighbor instead? Although Mexico is one of the wealthiest south of the U.S. border, about 8% of that population is still illiterate. What if those millions were streaming into Canada instead of the U.S.? Then they would have a REALLY SERIOUS health program crisis to be sure.

Lucky Canada again: "Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the US, which absorbs more than 85% of Canadian exports." One of the shortest routes to wealth, isn't it?

Posted by: JAS at December 31, 2006 08:18 PM

habeebi tony, trust me, for lebanon to survive, we NEED SYRIA. its a fact, you cant deny it and should live, acceptt it and let live. we are a small country. It is only logical and normal for us to befriend out neighbours, especially the powerfull ones. You agree with me that syria is a big and powerful state. Israel is small but VERY powerful. Unfortunately for us, Israel is an enemy state. Syria is not. We can not trade with any country east of our land exept through syria, not israel. we can not have any bussines deals with any neighbours, exept syria yet again because israel is an enemy entity, not state, i dont recognise israel as being a real state, although i do recognise it as an entity/force because if someone assumes their enemy does not exist, then when they are attacking you, you are indirectly claiming you were not attacked, which is not logic. ANYWAYS. i do not like the syrian regime or the way they handle things. they have many many MANY bad things about them. But the only reason i prefer them than israel is because they, in general, were and still are good to us and palistine. they are the ONLY arab country who THINKS of and SUPPORTS the palistinian cause, they allow all weapons to get to hizbollah and therefore without them we are completely defenceless, unless cyprus decides to become a military power in the region. they stopped our crazy civil war which killed 150,000 lebanese killed by the people of the same nationality! that lasted 15years! however much you dis syria, the syrians were clever enough to find a way to stop the civil war in couple of months, unlike us stupid lebanese who couldnt do it for 15 years and couldve bin higher unles the syrians got involved! while sharon was butcherin the people of beirut, syria was striving to protect it and as a result lost 11,000 of its own. even our national resistance didnt lose that much. hizbollah lost 3,000 and im guessing the rest lost the same number fighting ISRAEL only. syria also calls for arab unity, unlike the saudis and emiratis who want to stay the way they are in order to keep their regimes and their money. not to forget their full bellies. syria couldve LOOONG time ago allied with america against everyone america is against. believe me, lebanon would have been FINISHED. think about it. if syria follows the US and western ways, bashar would be a VERY powerful and diplomatically protected man, therefore so would his regime. his country will not have anymore US sanctions. his economy would prosper. his military capabilities will anything but grow and the list goes on and on. but no, syria chose the hard way, and are the only arabs to do so. they chose to stay arabs with honour, pride, dignity and patriotism, not only for syria, but for the arab WORLD. plz take a momment and think about it. withought syria, imagine how the arab world would be like, or at LEAST how lebanon would be like. ill give you a quik anser. they would be exactly like palistine, non existant on every map of the world. because just like the palistinians, when israel and US said their will be an embargo, jordan and egypt obayed without questioning. if syria were to be with THEM, the fate of lebanon would lie in the hands of everyone else exept the lebanese. thank you.

Posted by: hizbollah lover at December 31, 2006 09:31 PM

Bob, I just played the first few seconds of that last video with Bridgett saying that Iran is run by madmen who will nuke Israel at the earliest possible moment.

If that's true then there won't be any Persians alive in the next century. Iran is a country that not only won't survive a counter attack, it's a country that could blow over in a strong wind.

Notice that a small earthquake killed thousands in (appropriately named) Bam? Built to less than third world standards. When the Iranian government talked about rebuilding Bam, I didn't hear a single word about earthquake proofing it this time. Israel doesn't even have to hit Iran to destroy the pathetic place, they just have to shake the ground a little.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at December 31, 2006 09:32 PM

withought syria, imagine how the arab world would be like, or at LEAST how lebanon would be like.

Lebanon would prosper and be at peace.

The Lebanese civil war would never have happened if it were not for the Arab-Israeli conflict and all the asshole regimes (Syria, etc) that insisted on using Lebanon as their battlefield.

Israelis will leave you alone forever if you leave them alone. Israeli soldiers would much rather go to the beach, drink beer, and chase girls that fight you in Bint Jbail.

Syria, however, will not leave Lebanon alone until there is a new government in Damascus.

Arab "unity" is not all its cracked up to be.

Most Lebanese choose liberty instead of unity for good reason.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at December 31, 2006 10:31 PM

Tony said:
But hey, if it made you laugh, knock yourself out. And no need to thank me for teacing you something new today about the difference between opinion and personal attacks. Take it as my new year's gift to you.

Oh, I find your tantrums hilarious in more ways than one. As for your self-aggrandizing pedantism, it is plain pathetic.

As for disagreeing with your opinions, I will not bother to go there since you don't give a "hoot" if I disagree with you (very mature, by the way). Suffice to say there are enough problems with your "factual" evidence - overwhelmingly based on misinterpretation, rumors, and conspiracy theories - that it is not even worth engaging with. They wouldn't stand up in circles where they would be subject to scrutiny and fact-checking.

And no, I am not a Hizballah supporter. I just have disdain for sloppy thought, hypocrisy, and arrogance - particularly when unfounded. And that is not a personal attack, it is an attack on your opinions.

Posted by: Ralph at January 1, 2007 02:55 AM

Waht do you know about Lebanon anyway, Ralph? Tony has mastered his subject, and he makes a living thinking and writing about it. He is also Lebanese. You're just a guy named Ralph who hasn't demonstrated that he knows anything about the country at all. Show us what you got or back off. Hopefully you know a little more than what you've read in newspaper articles and on blogs.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 1, 2007 06:13 AM

Mr Totten, you are unable to see this, but your regional views lead you to an inibility to constructively and objectively look at Lebanon's internal issues. If you could, you would never champion the cause of the Futuremovemnt and allies. Why did you bother interview the Aounists, your conclusions are pre-written anyway, and you are so wrong on the clique Presidency and Aoun thing.

This is an example of ridicolous pre-concieved notions "Sure enough, Lebanon cannot fight Syria. Not militarily, at least, any more than little Kuwait could defend itself against an invasion from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Aoun, you could say, has surrendered to Syrian power, or at least acquiesced to it. "

not wanting to fight Syria after it's departure, and acquiescing to it are not the same kettle of fish. This is where your pre-concieved notions, almost identical statements to the Harriri propoganda machine, tend to show.

The majority of Lebanese know, that if Syria was to ever attempt re-occupation, it would be Aoun that would fight it, and Saniora, Jumblatt etc who welcome it with open arms.

Posted by: robert at January 1, 2007 06:30 AM

Hariri and Jumblatt would welcome the Syrians with open arms? Where on earth did you come up with that one, Robert?

The Syrians killed Hariri's father, and they'll kill Jumblatt too if they ever get a chance. Jumblatt is asking Washington to destroy the regime in Damascus.

It's not 1991 in Lebanon any more. Catch up!

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 1, 2007 06:37 AM

OK, mr totten, i really do not see the point of arguing with you because obviously somebody has mangled your mind up. Your so paranoid about syria, and iran, that you can hardly see whats infront of you. You sound like the same extremists that come on Al-Jazeera and claim they would stop terrorising the world until America is subjected to islamic rule. The only difference between you and them is that they are brainwashed/wealthy CIA agents whereas you're a reporter who can't see beyond his nose and who clearly searches very, VERY hard for people whose opinions are at least shared minimumly by SOMEONE in lebanon.

So, i have this to say. If you think you are doing any good to lebanese, i can assure you alot of us, includng myself are not very pleased. I seriously don't know where iran even came into the game, but i did notice they were being called by their names after their defiant stand concerning their nucleur projects. I really do not recognise one moment in history where iran ever posed a threat to the state of lebanon. They and syria are being criticized more than America and Israel who were responsible, DIRECTLY, for the destruction of lebanon as well as being the same culprits who fuelled the civil war by arming all sides in the conflict. I see iran as a saviour because they armed hizbollah who were more concentrated on one enemy and who refused civil war. Syria did not even know what lebanon was before the civil war, so as far as i know what you said about them in the above article is nothing but an opinion, not truth. Everyone here wants to know the truth of what happened. not what you THINK happened. And my friend the civil war was started because some people wanted the palistinians to stay in lebanon because they thought they were obliged to help because it was an Arab/muslim cause not just palistinian. Other said no, they are bad for the country. The other side saw that the negotiations were not going their way, so they started the civil war by opening fire at a bus in beirut holding lebanese shia muslim and palistinians in it. If you want to know more about the civil war, go check video.google.com and type in the war of lebanon and watch the videos, theyre very educational and i think you need to so your disturbed and grotesque view of things in lebanon is fixed again. PS syria entered to protect the christians during the civil war, the christians therefore allied with them but then because they realised that syrians were actually muslims too, the same people they were trying to fight in lebanon, they faught the syrians.

Back to the point, can you, toten, please post here what you think is a good formulae in whereall lebanese are winners. But this solution must concern lebanons government and their safety. So can you plz post that then ill post you my opinion. Please do not get carried away too much, because as far as we both know the mullas are not in control of lebanon and don't want to be, biggest proof is that hizbollah has never joined a government from before, 2005 was its first time after being literally begged to because they refused. Again now they are saying they do not want a hizbollah representative in a new national unity government, they would settle for allied or political figures who share the same view, pro-resistance.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 1, 2007 08:18 AM

Hezbollah Lover: please post here what you think is a good formulae in whereall lebanese are winners.

Democracy.

Disarmament of Hezbollah.

Disarmament of Palestinian militias.

Palestinian refugees are resettled outside Lebanon.

Israel hands the Shebba Farms to the United Nations.

A peace treaty with Israel, so that Israel never invades Lebanon ever again.

No foreign interference from Syria, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, or Israel.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 1, 2007 09:29 AM

Er... Michael,

Not only am I Lebanese, but I also study Lebanese history. Modern, not ancient, mind you. I would love to participate in your discussions but that would mean checking in on a regular basis and I don't have that much free time on my hands.

You startled me about Tony. See, I've never seen his name outside the Blogosphere. When you said he made a living "thinking and writing" I thought you meant it literally. But beyond a couple of pieces, I don't see anything written by him. So, I still have some faith in the better judgement of most people.

Wow, wouldja look at the time! I have to go now. Been fun talking to you.

Posted by: Ralph at January 1, 2007 09:37 AM

hello readers,
its my first time posting here but i wanna thank you Mr. Totten for such a nice blog.

i want to just talk a little bit about the topics you posted your last post:
Democracy.

1- Disarmament of Hezbollah.
Well... i dont know how to even start talking about this, however we shall always remember that hezbollah never ever said it tends to keep those arms forever. (or else proove it)
nevertheless, hezbollah has always said that this moment when hezbollah will disarm itself should happen in certain conditions which are:
a. the withdrawal of the israeli troops from shebaa farms and kafarchouba hills and the 7 villages.
b. the return of all lebanese prisonners. (no matter what they did)
c- the disarmament of palestini refugees in lebanon
d. equip the lebanese army with new weapons and technologies including anti-air systems and anti-naval parts so it can defend the country in case of an attack.

so as long as one of these conditions is not available plz dont expect hezbollah to disarm itself... why? well.. heres why:
lets say hezbollah disarmed... the next day the peacefull israeli army decides to attack lebanon (for any stupid reason exactly like in 1982) who will defend lebanon...? wouldnt they (the israelis) enter until beirut kill whoever they want steal leave take massacre watever and whoever they want??? who will stand in their face???
the lebanese army?
its helpless and it will take the IOF 2 hours to destroy all its barracks...
the people??
this is what the usa and israel want... take lebanon back to 1982...

well dear readers, we wont accept that we wont start forming our resistance again.... fight the invadors again... loose our youngsters again... no no i can garantee you it will not happen....

so for the time being... every person/state which demands the disarmament of hezbollah wants the destruction of lebanon! and that is a fact untill the 4 conditions i mentionned before are applied... then there will be no need for the weapons....

2-Disarmament of Palestinian militias.
i suppose its related to the 1st point

3-Palestinian refugees are resettled outside Lebanon.
thats for sure... noone wants their stay in lebanon

4- Israel hands the Shebba Farms to the United Nations.
its also related to the 1st point

5- A peace treaty with Israel, so that Israel never invades Lebanon ever again.
never! or at least not before 50 years or not before all arabs have signed a peace treaty with them.

-------------------------
finnaly about the article you wrote...
its really nice how you search for anything even if in this case 2 FPM supporters who have their own opinion and doesnt necessarly repreesent the whole party... to try and prove your point and that is that every1 in lebanon hates hezbollah...

anyway its your opinion but i wanted to make some points clear from the other point of view.

Posted by: Ali* at January 1, 2007 11:07 AM

Ali:

It is sad to see how deep-seated the most ridiculous propaganda about Israel is. Israel will loose all interest in fighting Lebanon as soon as it doesn't feel it needs to worry about the Katyushas (sp?). This should be crystal-clear to every thinking person. The fact that you think otherwise attests to the level to which you've been brainwashed to hate. A pity, you sound like an otherwise reasonable person.

Posted by: allpeaceallthetime at January 1, 2007 11:26 AM

allpeaceallthetime,

Actually, given the fact that Israel decided to drop cluster bombs in the final days before the UN ceasefire was to take effect, it's not hard to understand why some Lebanese would be so distrustful.

Posted by: NM at January 1, 2007 11:59 AM

NM,

If you don't want cluster bombs in Lebanon (and I don't want them either), then do what you can to make sure Hezbollah doesn't start yet another war with the Israelis.

When was the last time Israel dropped bombs on Egypt or Jordan?

You either want war with Israel (which means you get cluster bombs in your country) or you want a peace treaty. Which is it?

You can't have war and not get bombed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 1, 2007 12:06 PM

Michael totten,
"When was the last time Israel dropped bombs on Egypt or Jordan?"
plz tell me where is the democracy in egypt and in jordan i would rather prefer 100 times living in actual troublous lebanon than living under these 2 opressive regimes.

Posted by: Robert at January 1, 2007 12:58 PM

I'd much rather live in Lebanon, too, Robert. My point about Egypt and Jordan isn't that they're democratic (they obviously are not), but that they have a peace treaty with Israel and they no longer get bombed or invaded by Israelis because of it.

Lebanon needs democracy and peace.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 1, 2007 01:06 PM

MJt,
but you know very well that there a very important relation between democracy or totalitarity and stability, especially in the MEA.
Egypt and jordan have stability and one of the reason is because there is only one opinion and one point of view that is allowed to take place,
and this opinion must guarantee the interest of israel; and in the other hand it may not suit well the people of that country where the absence of accountability of the government may happen, and that's what is happening in Egypt and in Jordan.
i call for peace with Israel too but not on behalf of lebanon's interest, we should be both equal so no country would attack another.

Posted by: Robert at January 1, 2007 01:55 PM

Maybe Robert is trying to say that they can't have both democracy and peace because Muslims hate Israelis so much that they don't want peace with Israel.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 02:40 PM

'If you don't want cluster bombs in Lebanon (and I don't want them either), then do what you can to make sure Hezbollah doesn't start yet another war with the Israelis.

When was the last time Israel dropped bombs on Egypt or Jordan?

You either want war with Israel (which means you get cluster bombs in your country) or you want a peace treaty. Which is it?

You can't have war and not get bombed.'

Fair enough mr totten, then again show me ONE arab person who actually like kind abdullah of jordan, or mubarak of egypt lol. im talking in the arab world, not foreigners. THEN compare their popularity to that of sayyid hassan nasrallah and gamal abdil nasser! i think you will find a really huge margin. Then you should interpret these statistics into something that can be used to conclude from, it will tell you alot about what the arabs want, and dont want. the biggest thing they dont want is to live humiliated, occupied and especially not in peace with an enemy country which stole lands and is still in the habbit. the arab history is all of war and bravery and battles to prove they are men and fearless, strong etc etc i do not think they will think of being defeated by the zionists who have no history of having any kind of war hero in their history of existence. i will reply to your post of the solutions you think are most suited in lebanon in a post later on

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 1, 2007 03:30 PM

In that case, the future of Arab history is a modern war that will prove that war is just slaughter, that there is no such thing as honor, that teaching your children to believe that they are "humiliated" and "occupied" to make them hate, to make them killers is like torturing and killing your own children, and that west is right that the idiology that loves fighting is "fascism" and it's pure evil.

You don't believe this, but the [few] survivors of the wars that people like you will start will know the truth.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 03:38 PM

For clarity, I should have quoted the sentence I was responding to. Let me post that correctly:

the arab history is all of war and bravery and battles to prove they are men and fearless, strong etc etc i do not think they will think of being defeated by the zionists who have no history of having any kind of war hero in their history of existence.

In that case, the future of Arab history is a modern war that will prove that war is just slaughter, that there is no such thing as honor, that teaching your children to believe that they are "humiliated" and "occupied" to make them hate, to make them killers is like torturing and killing your own children, and that west is right that the idiology that loves fighting is "fascism" and it's pure evil.

You don't believe this, but the [few] survivors of the wars that people like you will start will know the truth.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 1, 2007 03:41 PM

"Democracy.

Disarmament of Hezbollah.

Disarmament of Palestinian militias.

Palestinian refugees are resettled outside Lebanon.

Israel hands the Shebba Farms to the United Nations.

A peace treaty with Israel, so that Israel never invades Lebanon ever again.

No foreign interference from Syria, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, or Israel." Proffesor J Totten.

This is your solution? I pity you if you think this will be done or that this will solve ANYTHING. But oh well, this is how far you can stretch your knowledge and i will respond, no worries.

OK. Democracy us lebanese and us in hizbollah are with you on that. Once we sell our democracy we also sell our dignity because we will have to be herded like a pack of sheep under a rule of a dictator, no lebanese would accept that, especially after all their sacrifices, and especially not hizbollah incase you were wondering.

You now come to an interesting point. Once Hizbollah disarms, what then? MOST of the population wants the weapons because they defend the country, they want the fighters because they are brave and strong as well as very very experienced, in fact, the hizbollah commando are now being called by strategic, political and military anylists as being the best in the region, or at least in the same level of that of the golani, the highest trained commandio special forces for israel which was blown the heaviest punch in the war. Therefore, totten, you are leaving lebanon weak and defenseless against the israelis, the syrians, the palistinians whom were prevented from attacking israel 4 times, its on the news go read it (so much for your ideology concerning hizbollah being fanatical and ruthless etc etc this just shows how much they respect the law, the lebanese government has elected that they are the national resistence and that all attacks from hizbollah are legal, from the rest illega, which is why in the ghajjar operation, no body in government said a word, but in the july war, all of government opposed because they were in on this war, think about it it doesn't need two to work it out), you have exposed lebanon to EVERY power in the middle east, including al qaida who could come and fill in the vacuum of power. Another thing. Why does it always have to be the muslim/arab side that has to disarm? why don't you disarm the IDF, yes it sounds funny doesn't it? It would also sound funny to the majority of lebanese when you tell them to disarm hizbollah, especially at THIIS time, when the threat of attack on lebanon from Israel, US and multinational forces is higher than ever. So, take your disarmament campaign to the IDF, disarm them and iguarantee you that every single resistance group in the area i.e. palistine and lebanon will follow suit. If you think that no once IDF disarms everyone will attack Israel, i will reply by telling you to look up history and you will find out that it is israel which invented pre-emptive attacks and it is israel that always decepts the enemy and the friend (the case of the american warship attacked by the IDF to try and blame it on jordanian terrorists, and which failed) and another case being the 6 day war, which was one war between israel and egypt, IDF people started to fire on each other from near the golan to involve syria and jordan so thats another example. So, disarm the IDF first, why does it always have to be us to do it first, not even first if they follow us maybe we would consider it, but we have to disarm while they RE ARM.

These militias with no doubt need to be disarmed, but thats once the lebanese security forces start to protect their camps and homes, not transmit information to the IAF on which house to target because leaderships may be in them. The security is also needed when in the past the IDF planned and covered the LF to surround, attack and massacre the palistinians, all of whom innocent and non combatant, in their thousands in a single hour. Sabra and chatila was a shock to the world, think about how they would feel not being safe in their own HOMES let alone their districts. Another double standard point i want to bring up. Why do you campaign against the palistinian armed people in lebanon who as everyone agrees have been harmed more than anyone else int he region, while you allow the settlers be armed? The settlers are in their "country" and they have a hell of a strong army, why doesn't that army protect the settlers of israel, why do they instead arm them when all they do with these arms is go around killing and harrasing palistinian farmers, labourers, fishers, shipkeepers etc etc. The settlers have never been exposed to any type of massacre as huge as sabra and shatila in their history, but if you believe they face a risk of attack from an enemy faction or state, then surely the palistinians have to be granted the same privalage, oh i forgot the arabs are less worthy of protection ;)

As for the resettlement of palistinians. Firstly i believe it is inhuman to turn refugees back in their hundreds of thousands after such an awful history of slaughter and massacres and after they have just learnt to re-ssetle. I do not think anyone has welcomed them more than the pro-palistinian lebanese have. In iraq they are now being attacked, in jordan and egypt they are being bent under totalitarian law and in syria they are being treated well, but not as well as in lebanon. BUT. since they are refugees, they can not claim any land, buy any land, claim any house or build or buy any house. Basically, they can just about own a car, let alone any bussiness etc. BUT, obviously we need to find a solution to the refugees because they are ocviously in poverty everywhere you find them, not only in the lebanon palistinian camps. But you bring up this subject as if some one in lebanon is responsible for this, especially the way you brought it up i felt as if hizbollah has been smuggling palistinians now instead of weapons, and i wont be surprised if this comes up on the news anytime soon, or if any political person in lebanon convicts them of this. But unfortunately for you totten, it isn't the muslims' fault or hizbollah or any other faction in lebanon, but rather the zionists' fault. They were the ones who drove these people out and never allowed them back. And someone wishes they have stopped this, but no. The subjection of palistinians to torture, massacres, sabotage, TOTAL besieging and unhumanitarian treatment alongside the silence of the long-time-ago-dead so called"international community" which i have lost every spec of faith for a long time. But once israeli soldiers are besieged in marjayoun in lebanon while trying to invade the country but were not good enough for the hizbollah hand-to-hand, the world calls it a crisis unfolding, or some next clever and impressive term. Anyway, these people are having thier homes demolished by the thousands a year, more of them being killed every year, and the number grows by the latter term. Stop israelis assaulting the palistinians to cause them to seeek refuge in order for israel to capture another chunk of land and claim it to be desserted, and once you say the palistinians own this, they will claim either bring us the maps or "where are the palistinians?" or say "well actually, this is beduin land which we have rented for 99 years" which was actually the case with the jordanian land captured in 1967 lol. It sounds ridiculous now doesn't it. I can carry on but i have my fiance waiting for me. so im gonna brief this out as much as possible.

OK. Im with you on that, but what happens to this land afterwards? who claims them after they are with the united nations? do we play a poker match to see who gets to keep it? and what about kfar chouba? and the 7 villages occupied since 1948? Mr Totten you are giving suggestions but not solutions. Its like saying, since manchester united is loosing so many games, we need to make the defense better. OK, this is a suggestion, but not the solution. We know we need to make changes, but what changes should they be i.e. in this case mayb buy a few better defenders etc In other words, your arguement lacks content, sir.

This would be insulting to 99.9% of lebanese. This was going to happen back in 1983 or 84 i think under the israeli (forcefully) made government, which tried to sign an armistice while the israeli IDF was in beirut, the first arab capital to be captured by the IDF.n An intifada like riot/protest started all over lebanon and it was cancelled. So this is going AGAINST the will of the lebanese and an insult to the martyrs and their families. Once israel becomes peaceful and fair as well as just, we will have no problem negotioting anything with them, but we will not negotiate with anyone and shake one deceptive hand while the other is killing palistinian brothers and taking our arab land. Period.

No foreign interference from Syria, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, or Israel

Well, who wants foriegn interference in lebanon? (question directed to lebanese) but once we have a weak country, especially if hizbollah was disarmed, obvoiously everyone will be interferring. But once the lebanese state is strong and powerful, no-one will get involved.

I am leaving now, but my final suggestion is once israel guarantees the release of prisoners (lebanese) and releases our occupied land, hizbollah merges in the lebanese army/security forces or is proclaimed as another unit in the army or a unit in the security services, taking orders only of government like CIA or better still an independent defence force, which was what happened with all resistant groups in france after the war with german army in ww2.

BYE

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 05:46 AM

Mr. Totten,

You have got to be kidding me. You wrote:

"Hariri and Jumblatt would welcome the Syrians with open arms? Where on earth did you come up with that one, Robert?

The Syrians killed Hariri's father, and they'll kill Jumblatt too if they ever get a chance. Jumblatt is asking Washington to destroy the regime in Damascus.
It's not 1991 in Lebanon any more. Catch up!"

This statement illustrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that your understanding of Lebanon and its politics is, at best, elementary. Hariri, Jumblatt, and company were sucking Syrian **** up until the moment that they realized that Syria was hightailing it out of the place. That's 2005, not 1991. And, I might add, it was Aoun who was vehemently opposed to Syria until the moment they left. Now with Syria gone, Hariri and Jumblatt are singing an anti-Syrian song to please their new masters, the west. And Aoun now desires normal relations with Syria because their occupation has ended. So, in short, you have Aoun opposing Syria until they leave, then seeking normal relations; and you have Hariri and Jumblatt sucking Syrian **** while they occupy, and then attack them when they leave. How you label Aoun as "pro-Syrian."?

Frankly, and I say this with the utmost sincerity, the most educated, knowledgable, and astute followers of Lebanese politics who read this piece of yours will conclude that you are on Hariri's payroll, as are so many other journalists in Lebanon. Have you ever interviewed Aoun? You state with broad conclusiveness that Aoun is fixated on becoming president. Do you know how many forms of a "deal" were offered to Aoun between 1989 and 1990 wherein he was offered the presidency of an occupied Republic, and flatly refused, preferring instead to live in exile than as president of an occupied corrupted government?

If you are not on Hariri's payroll, then your buddy Tony is filling your head with Kharra. You need to get yourself some new sources. The problem in Lebanon today is simple. Hariri and his lackeys, true to dictatorial form, want to appoint a president beholden to them. This type of beholden president is the opposite of what Lebanon really needs--a STRONG president to bring the christian half of the country back to the position it lost in 1990--as PARTNERS in Lebanon's governance, not as dhimmis to corrupt billionaires. It is sad, so very sad, to see Gemayel, Chamoun, and Geagea, people who fought for years to keep the Christians relevant, now doing everything in their power to keep Aoun--undeniably the democratically elected leader of the Christians--out of the post he was elected to.

As an aside--I noticed that you refer to the great martyr Bashir Gemayel as "far more popular" than Aoun. What is your basis for that? Aoun's party got 80% of the Christian vote. The Votes received by the LF--founded by Bashir Gemayel--was negligible. Why did Aoun get those votes? Frankly, because since Bashir Gemayel died, the LF has been corrupted into a gang of thugs and killers; AOUN is seen by the Christian street as carrying Bashir's mantle. Your credibility suffers greatly when you make such ridiculous statements of "who is popular who is not."

Aoun is not fixated on the presidency; However, Aoun is far and away the most popular Christian and the post should be his. So, the question is--WHY ARE OTHERS FIXATED ON KEEPING HIM OUT? The answer is clear. Because they either (a) they want to keep the Christians DOWN (Hariri and Jumblatt fit here) or (b) they would rather be Hariri's gopher and have a title, rather than let Aoun have it (Gemayel and Chamoun here.)

As to the "alliance" of Aoun and Hezbollah, spare me your FM bullcrap. Aoun is not, as you say, the only non-Shia to dare ally with Hizbullah. Rather, Aoun is the only non-Shia who HAS NOT. They all, my friend, allied with Hizballah during the elections, for the specific purpose of defeating Aoun. Where, exactly, are you getting your history from?

Yes, Aoun signed the MOU, and thank God for that. Do you realize, my friend, that Nasrallah--a islamic fundamentalist--went personally to a Maronite church to sign it? Do you know that Hezbollah members attended the Maronite Mass on christmas eve? How can you be so blind to the nation-building benefits that accrue when leaders of different political currents sit, talk, and arrive at understandings among themselves for the purpose of solving the country's problems, as Aoun and Nasrallah did? Is this not a better approach than that of Hariri and co, who cow-tow to the US and tell the US "yes, kick hezbollah's ass, to hell with them" and simultaneously, for the purposes of electoral gain only, and for no national good, tell hizballah that their weapons are sacred?

You have a lot to learn Michael Totten. I suggest you get started soon, and stop writing until you get a little more sophisticated.

Posted by: John Lennon at January 2, 2007 10:35 AM

John Lennon: you have Hariri and Jumblatt sucking Syrian **** while they occupy, and then attack them when they leave. How you label Aoun as "pro-Syrian."?

Oh please. Hariri and Jumblatt were the ones who forced Syria out. Aoun would not even be in Lebanon if they hadn't first done that. He would still be exiled in France.

If you want to convince people that March 8 is anti-Syrian and March 14 is pro-Syrian, I have to ask: is there a name for the alternate universe you inhabit?

Frankly, and I say this with the utmost sincerity, the most educated, knowledgable, and astute followers of Lebanese politics who read this piece of yours will conclude that you are on Hariri's payroll

You are hilarious. Thanks for accusing me of being on the payroll of Sunni Muslims rather than on the payroll of Chimpy McHitlerBurton and the Zionists. It's nice to encounter fresh conspiracy theories about me for a change.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2007 10:49 AM

HZB lover,
This kind of talk brings you closer to nowhere.
It only makes Israeli hard liners tougher.
You mentioned the report about the 4 Palestinian attacks that would be carried out from S. Lebanon last week, and were halted by HZB; do you think that Hassan stopped those attacks because he was worried about the well-being of Israelis, or because he knew exactly what will be Israel's response?
Both PM Barak and PM Sharon preferred to ignore HZB's continuous provocation during 2000-2006; and there were many, some 4 attacks annually carried out by HZB, directed at military and civil targets.
The international media didn't bother to report that because it was so 'no-news', or was considered as an internal Israeli problem. Both PMs implemented what they called "containment". With perspective, it turned to be a mistake.
Now Hassan is afraid. Early in July he called Olmert "J'did" PM ; now he's terrified of this J'did PM.
And it proofs what Israeli hard liners say, that Arabs understand nothing but force.

And BTW, 'Golani' is not a commando, but the most common Israeli infantry unit.
.

Posted by: Amir in Tel Aviv at January 2, 2007 11:54 AM

John Lennon just told you the lebanese history in a few paragraphs. You didn't answer, argue or reply to anything he said except the two comments you think are funny, and which to me are the most serious two.

ONE a corrupt journalist is one who deludes peoples mind, whether or not its true. Theres a saying, throw the stone, if it doesn't hit the target it'll wound someone standing behind. What this means is when you throw a lie at someone, he might not believe it but A) he will either get doubts or B) someone else will believe.

The National Conciliation, if you still remember, was when their was national dialogue between everyone in lebanon, every single political leader met, including sayyid hassan nasrallah was present, not his aides like usual. It was also the same period of time when hizbollah foiled an attempted assasination of the leader. Sayyid hassan didnt blame the government or any leader or any country, exept the zionist entity, even though alot of sources were claiming responsibility was behind one of the political leaders withing the government and parliament i.e. either LF, gemayyel or jumblat. Now when they have power, the government, they have the audacity to go as far as claiming that hizbollah even had a role to play in all political assasinations that occured or failed to work in lebanon. Yea right, so hizbollah planned to assasinate the same person who happens to be their leader?

I even agree with lennon when sayying that nasrallah and hizbollah are fundamentalist muslims. But not the fundamentals you have imagined in the west. Our fundamentalism is far into the positive spectrum, unlike al-qaida. I.e. we dont behead collaborators, our ideology tells us that a POW must be tried and treated fairly. It even tells us a slap on the prisoners' face is like a slap on an imams face, the most holiest people after the prophet. We take care of prisoners better than we take care of ourselves. They must be kept under the best conditions possible. Al-Qaida and the US run guantanamo + abu ghrayb are another story. We are also told that we musn't fire at wounded people or any runner-aways. If you recall how many IDF soldiers were wounded and sorrounded but never bombed or shot at, they could have been such easy targets for hizbollah but weren't targetted. If they were you would see triple the side of casualties the IDF claims to have sustained. Our ideology is totally different to what anyone in the west thinks it to be. Thier are blind fundamentalists and there are open minded, clever, smart and faithful ones whose heart aches for any lost souls, and we happen to be the latter, unfortunately for you and the US + Israel.

I will also, to back up my and lennons comments, be posting some comments by Jumblat and others from news report archives, to prove our points.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 12:05 PM

MJT,
i started reading your blog long time ago, and i noticed that you are very honest person even though i have a different opinion than yours in the lebanese politics.
i agree 100% with "john lennon" point of view, but what i dont agree with him is the way he approches you to try to make you understand his point of view. you really are doing a good job, however in my opinion you fall a lot of time under misconseptions and propaganda that is overwhelmingly lunched by the same people all over the world,coz sometimes if we leave our predjudice aside and see things in another way then we can understand everybodies point of view and without being judjemantal.
you have a very attractive style in writting and telling stories about people whom a lot of times i noticed are not really representetive but anyway it is fun reading evrything you write coz it is very honest.
and finally a lot of journalists in the world have started writing articles about lebanese politics the day Hariri died ignoring everything that happened before and they forget sometimes that before is the main reason for today, and this before started decades ago.
the other thing is that if we as lebanese were left alone and nobody interfered in our internel affairs i bet you that nothing bad would happen and we will certainly be happy together and prosperous.

Posted by: katia at January 2, 2007 12:34 PM

ur ideology tells us that a POW must be tried and treated fairly. It even tells us a slap on the prisoners' face is like a slap on an imams face, the most holiest people after the prophet.

Look at this picture of billboard in Southern Lebanon that Hezbollah errected, showing an Israeli soldier being mutilated (it's down the page so search for "Hezbollah showing mutilation of Israeli soldiers and warning of more")

You can't do it, you know, you can't convince anyone to allow the war you want so much. It's so pathetic to read this lies and whining like a little kid, "oh please let us kill the Jews, we'll be so goooood"

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 2, 2007 12:38 PM

MJT said: "Oh please. Hariri and Jumblatt were the ones who forced Syria out. Aoun would not even be in Lebanon if they hadn't first done that. He would still be exiled in France.

If you want to convince people that March 8 is anti-Syrian and March 14 is pro-Syrian, I have to ask: is there a name for the alternate universe you inhabit?"

Michael, when I was in college, I had a professor once tell me that unless you are an expert, truly an expert with absolute knowledge of a subject, you really are 99% of the time better off keeping your mouth shut, because someone, somewhere out there, is going to challenge you on a point that you are ignorant on, and your arguments will be defeated. Now, you are that guy. I hope you can accept defeat with humility and use this as an opportunity to augment and rectify your ignorance. Here are the facts:

Hariri and Jumblatt, along with Geagea, brought the Syrians IN in October 1990. They all conspired against the government of Lebanon to bring in the occupation of the last remaining outpost of sovereignty, i.e., the liberated areas of Aoun. In exile, Aoun worked tirelessly to kick the Syrians out. Hariri and Jumblatt worked tirelessly, up until 2005, to keep them in. Who ultimately kicked them out? The americans. And Why? Because General Aoun's activitists in the USA created something called the Syria Accountability Act, and crammed it down Congress's throats, and then crammed it down the President's throat. The Act changed American foreign policy to oppose Syrian occupation of Lebanon instead of accepting it. period. Hariri and Jumblatt opposed these activists in the US at every turn. These activists were threatened and intimidated, and their families in Lebanon were harrassed. It passed anyways. Hariri and Jumblatt accused these acitivsts of being Israeli agents. They arrested and interrogated their family members in Lebanon. So, here are the facts: AOUN kicked the Syrians out, not with Hariri and Jumblatt's help, but rather, in spite of bitter opposition sponsored by those two men. That's the fact. Swallow it. Then Hariri was killed, and Hariri Jr. and Jumblatt suddenly because anti-Syrian. When, in reality, they are simply anti-Assad, because their purported anti-Syrianism stems not from the best interest of Lebanon, but rather out of personal revenge and hatred of the man that killer Hariri Sr. Had they been truly "anti Syrian" for the interests of Lebanon, they would have been, as Aoun was, opposing Syria all along. So, as you can now see now that you have been told the facts, Hariri and Jumblatt are indeed pro-Syrian.... If they appear to be "anti-Syrian" in recent months, it is because they hate the current regime in Damascus. If a regime more to their liking comes to power, they will certainly have very little problem inviting that new regime to re-occupy "brotherly" Lebanon--especially if it means preventing a true nationalist like Aoun from getting power and uncovering their crimes.

So, as you can see, the Hariri/Jumbaltt camp is actually pro-Syrian as evidenced by their behavior over 15 years. In present times, they have become "anti-Assad." Aoun, as you can now see, is the true anti-Syrian DURING OCCUPATION WHEN IT WAS RIGHT TO BE ANTI SYRIAN. Now that occupation has ended, Aoun no longer sees any benefit to come to Lebanon from attacking Syria.

If you would like, I can continue this lesson in truth and accuracy which you should have learned on your own prior to spouting garbage all over the internet. as a journalist, you really ought to be more discenring, critical, and inquisitive about what you are being spoon fed by the Hariri PR machine.

Posted by: John Lennon at January 2, 2007 01:00 PM

those were mutilated during wars and battles, not when they were held as prisoners you dim-wit. Your too baffled to decide an orange from an onion.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 01:01 PM

Armed with massive amounts of Syrian-supplied Soviet weaponry, Jumblatt's militia began driving LF forces out of the Shouf in the fall of 1983. When Israeli forces pulled out of the area in August-September 1983, Jumblatt's forces overran sixty Maronite villages, slaughtering around 1,000 people and driving 50,000 out of their homes. in the mountainous areas east and west of Beirut. When Jumblatt's militia overstepped itself and attempted to overrun the Souq al-Gharb pass protecting the capital, Lebanese army troops commanded by Michel Aoun brought the offensive to a halt.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 01:02 PM

Jumblatt was handsomely rewarded for his wartime services after Syrian forces captured Beirut in October 1990. The Assad regime saw to it that Jumblatt received cabinet-level positions in successive Lebanese governments and that electoral districts were gerrymandered to ensure his reelection to parliament in 1992 and 1996. According to an informed source, Jumblatt used this political power to achieve considerable wealth. During each of the last three election cycles, he received around $5-7 million from candidates wishing to join his electoral coalition.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 2, 2007 01:03 PM

those were mutilated during wars and battles, not when they were held as prisoners you dim-wit.

Whether they were or not, Hezbollah boasting about it on a billboard flies somewhat in the face of the notion that Hezbollah militia are as humane and disciplined as you just said. Mutilation of even battlefield corpses implies a lack of discipline - posting billboards celebrating it is grotesque.

And, for that matter, a poor strategy, as opposition military personnel will be less likely to surrender.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 2, 2007 01:15 PM

John Lennon,

I am aware of what happened between 1990 and 2005. I mentioned some of this myself in my article. You do not need to "correct" me.

You ought to know as well as I do, though, that the political landscape of Lebnaon has drastically changed in the last year and a half. You stake out your political position as though that weren't the case. That is why I do not share your views.

We could have an interesting discussion about it, but only if you first stop lecturing me as though I don't know anything. You don't know me, and you don't know what I know and don't know.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 2, 2007 01:27 PM

You don't know me, and you don't know what I know and don't know.

Ow, my brain.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at January 2, 2007 01:31 PM

Oh, we can't fight Syria but we can fight Israel, as Hezbollah wants (and does, without consulting anyone, including Aoun with whom he had a "memo of understanding")?!

Tony:

I'd suggest neither.

How does excluding Hizballah from the Lebanese government make war with Israel less likely? As a precursor to their forced disarmanent? Who's kidding who?

You know what? Escalated military conflict with either Israel or Syria would most likely be less destructive for the average Lebanese than intra-Lebanese war.

The worst of all possible ideas are the West vs. Syria/Iran using your country as their personal puppetshow steel cage match.

Posted by: glasnost at January 2, 2007 02:28 PM

Excluding Hezbollah from the government?! They were in the government and they removed themselves! What are you talking about?!

You also contradict yourself. The point is that through Hezbollah, Iran/Syria are using Lebanon as their arena to settle scores with Israel and America. And the point that neither you nor many others realize, is that as long as Hezbollah persists in that strategy (esp. in blocking the tribunal and rearming in violation of UNR 1701, and government decision, which they doubtly would like to reverse), it might end up leading to a civil war anyway. And I'm not sure anyone in Lebanon thinks that the choice is either the devastating price from Israeli retaliation or the devastating price of a civil war! People want neither. You are presenting us with a false choice.

Posted by: Tony at January 2, 2007 07:25 PM

MJT said: "You ought to know as well as I do, though, that the political landscape of Lebnaon has drastically changed in the last year and a half. You stake out your political position as though that weren't the case. That is why I do not share your views."

Yes, the landscape has changed. Specifically, Syria has left. Wonderful. Thank God Aoun led the charge to kick them out, otherwise they would still be there.

So how, precisely, has this changed things? Answer: Those who were in power because they took orders from Syrian masters had to scramble, and scramble FAST, to figure out how to retain power post-withdrawal. That is what they care about--POWER, and KEEPING IT. You really have to hand it to these people. Whereas throughout history when a revolution happened, collaborators were dragged through the public square and hung upside down by their testicles, these guys actually managed to convince the relevant powers-that-be that they had a collective deathbed conversion and saw the light, and that they are now anti-Syrian. Not so anti-Syrian, mind you, that they had any problem at all in using an election law which was IMPOSED ON LEBANON BY SYRIA because this, of course, aided them in their bid to keep power. With a real, new, antisyrian electoral law, president aoun would have begun Lebanon's new golden age a long time ago, and negotiations for the ultimate disarmament of Hezbollah well underway.

So, as we can see, during the occupation, in order to keep power, everyone in the future movement attacked aoun as a pro-israeli because he dared to call for syrian withdrawal. Because that's what they had to do to get and keep power from their Syrian masters. Then, post withdrawal, these FM people, in order to get and maintain power, rigged the elections, grabbed power, and then attacked Aoun for being pro-Syrian. Hm, maybe they should make up their minds about who, exactly, Aoun takes orders from? It might go a long way in helping them make those attacks credibly.

Oh by the way, see my other comment attached to your 1/2/07 post regarding how the future movement DISSOLVED the constitutional council when it became evident that Aoun was about to successfully win his case and have the election results in the north overturned--which would have given him and his block majority control in the parliament. Yes, these FM guys really believe in democracy; they're not in it for themselves at all, no sir-ee-bob!

So--in short--what has changed? Syria left. Hariri, Sinoira, Jumblatt, and company are still doing and saying whatever they need to do and say to get and keep power. Aoun is still working for the best interest of lebanon, beholden to no one. And 99% of the journalists out there are attacking the wrong guy. What's that out there about the most things change....

Posted by: John Lennon at January 2, 2007 07:53 PM

Hey Totten,

You were sighted in a cafe in Hamra just three days ago. You are still in Beirut, you sneaky fellow ;)

Posted by: teh marbouta at January 3, 2007 03:31 AM

By the way the picture of the soldiers is that of ansarieh and those soldiers were sent to Lebanon to massacre Lebanese and believe me they were not here to ski or hike. Hizballah got them that day and they were either dead on the battlefield or emprisoned. And by the way some people are talking about the killing of Israeli soldiers by Hizballah, why don't these brave people tell us what these soldiers were doing in Lebanon for almost 20 years?and why on earth you don't feel ashamed (at least you did not mention it here) when Israel bombs civilian populations and kills young children?
To Amir from tel aviv, you really think that your governemnt did not ripost to what you call 3 to 4 attacks a year by hezballah? look t the facts 3 to 4 attacks a year that would make 24 in 6 years, According to the UN Israel crossed the blue line, either by land , sea or air, over 20 thousand times in 6 years. So who wasn't answering to the daily menace? You want us people to leave our land for occupation and be nice and understanding just because it is better when we are on TV. well guess what we don't give 2 sh*** for that, when our country is occupied we will defend it by all the means we have.
bye

Posted by: Amine at January 4, 2007 02:09 PM

You were sighted in a cafe in Hamra just three days ago. You are still in Beirut, you sneaky fellow ;)

I wish I were still in Beirut, but I'm not. Somebody in Hamra apparently looks like me, though.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 4, 2007 08:15 PM

Amir in Tel Aviv "You mentioned the report about the 4 Palestinian attacks that would be carried out from S. Lebanon last week, and were halted by HZB; do you think that Hassan stopped those attacks because he was worried about the well-being of Israelis, or because he knew exactly what will be Israel's response?"

What, you think you're clever? What you just said proved to me that somethings wrong with you. Go read the news, and actually concentrate and you will find out that these 4 incidents happened not in a single week, but on a stretch time period of 5 years, all in different times and occassions, im not gonna call you stupid, but rest assured i damn am thinking of it.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 5, 2007 05:40 PM

Amir in tel aviv "Now Hassan is afraid. Early in July he called Olmert "J'did" PM ; now he's terrified of this J'did PM.
And it proofs what Israeli hard liners say, that Arabs understand nothing but force.

And BTW, 'Golani' is not a commando, but the most common Israeli infantry unit."

LOOOOL, this is so funny. Yediot ahranot just reported today, 05/05/2007, that Olmert had a meeting with a bulgarian journalist. He told her that Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah is A big hero, that he's courageos and brave. He carried on to say that he fears nothing and is the man who most thinks about the future of his party and his country than any other person he knows. Your own PM is admitting Sayyid Hassan's characteristics are what i said above, and not a coward which was what he called him in the summer war, and afraid of NOTHING which contradicts what your saying, idiot.

Your own leader admitted this. Tell me just ONE TIME when any israeli zionist or neo-con PM as ever said this about any arab or muslim leader? NONE. For sayyid hassan who olmert says the only drawback about him is that hes a leader of a 'terrorist' group lol, this man gets the word of respect while every other nation which hasn't opposed or is at peace with israel has never recieved this comment. I've never even heard any israeli PM say this about any US president! But he says it to his enemy. You see, you israelis respect us lebanese and especially hizbollah withought even knowin it. You compliment us sub-consciously. For example, in the war all we ever called you was cowards and mice who happen to have the most advanced weapons out their while you lot called us TERRORISTS, but brave, enthusiastic and courageous ones who knew no fear and who used to make your soldiers mentally disturbed after and during the war. I seen it IDF geared up to look like a tank suddenly breaking down and crying at the sound of a twig snapping! lol

And it also seems you need to visit wikipedia.org and search golani. EVERYONE FLIPIN KNOWS THEYRE A COMMANDO UNIT. You're an israeli and you don't know it! An idiot you are.

Posted by: hezbollah lover at January 5, 2007 05:50 PM

The Truth Behind The Israeli Secret Services.

http://newhk.blogspot.com/ " Exclusive "

"Y'all gotta start thinking on a different level- like the CIA does. We're
through the looking glass. Here white is black and black is white."
Jim Garrison (Oliver Stone's JFK)

Introduction:

Perception is paramount to reality in the Middle East. Most of
the known, and some of the written, history is based on myths and half
truths. All parties in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and in the inter-Arab
conflicts, have engaged in spreading lies and dis-information, and
unfortunately most of these stick to the minds of the public. The party that
has most benefited from and made use of this fact has been, and still is,
Israel. It has been the main and most pervasive purveyor of lies for many
reasons, but the main one has been its strong influence, and sometimes its
actual control, of most main media in the west. Many Arabs do not trust
their own government controlled media, and often turn to foreign sources,
like the BBC World service and CNN, to get their information. Israel has
been extremely active since its inception and mostly since the 1967 war in
spreading the lies about its own prowess vis-�-vis the Arabs. One of the
most effective media campaigns has been the one to portray the Israeli
secret service, especially the Mossad, as a heroic group of dedicated and
patriotic men who are in direct war with the Arab hordes and international
terrorists. Most of the now-famous operations, like the Adolf Eichman
abduction in 1960, have been translated into best-selling books and
box-office hits at the cinema (Black and Morris, 501).

The truth behind the Mossad and other Israeli secret services is far more
insidious and unethical and it is a catalogue of crime, of murder,
internationally illegal acts, intra-organizational conflict, and inept
handling of sensitive operations. We will see evidence of this, particularly
the role of these services in the 1982 Invasion and in particular with the
Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, as well as the eventual Intelligence failure in
Lebanon. Then we will work on explaining the functions of the different
organizations, showing that not only can we expose them, but that it's
possible to counter them successfully.

The Role and Function of the Agencies

Although the Mossad has almost exclusively been the focus of the
world media, Israel actually has three main security services (Mossad, Shin
Bet, and AMAN), as well as one minor service (LAKAM), and one agency (AL),
whose existence is unconfirmed but highly plausible. The three agencies grew
out of the pre-1948 security organs that were attached to the main Zionist
organizations like the HAGANAH. Many recruits to the post-1948 security
services, were also recruited from the intelligence organs attached to the
other terrorist groups such as the Irgun and the Stern. The latter group
contained very competent operatives who made the transition from being
terrorists to being intelligence operatives (Raviv and Melman, 228)). They
were highly effective against the British Mandate forces, as they would be
later with their Arab foes. Secret work, mainly deception and murder, was
part and parcel of the general Zionist ideology, and it was a necessity
according to Ben-Gurion, for the service of the "Star of David" flag. Unlike
the CIA, which was established after the Communist menace became dangerous,
the Zionist leaders created the Israeli security agencies to pre-empt any
acts of the Arab foes. The Israeli security agencies were diabolically
ingenious until the Lebanese fiasco which began in 1982 and lasted until
2000. The intelligence failure in Lebanon, despite it being the most
intricate and confident of all covert operations, ended in disaster for
Israel, including the involvement in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre. This
is the reason why we will focus on this particular event after explaining
who these agencies truly are.

1- Mossad: (Hebrew:
HaMossad LeModi'in U'Letfkidm Meyuhadim. English: Institute for Intelligence
and Special Duties). Established in March, 1950. Dedicated to the gathering
of intelligence outside of Israel, preparing the target area for covert
special operations, running agents, monitoring the activities of the enemy
embassies and offices of enemy organizations, surveillance of anti-Semitism
(individuals or organizations), and spreading dis-information about the
enemy in the media. http://fas.org/irp/world/israel/mossad/index.html
(Mentioned 78 times in Kahan)

2- AMAN: (Hebrew:
Agaf Modi'in. English: IDF Intelligence Branch) Established in December
1953. Dedicated to the gathering of specifically military data, monitoring
enemy communication, analysis of satellite imagery, and running covert
special units and operations.
http://fas.org/irp/world/israel/AMAN/index.html (Mentioned 104 times in
Kahan)

3- Shin Bet, or
Shabak: (Hebrew: Sherut Habitachim Haklali. English: General Security
Services). Established in June 1948. Dedicated to the internal security of
the Israel and all occupied territories, recruiting informers and agents
among the enemy populations, interrogation coupled with psychological and
physical pressure on suspects i.e. torture, and the occasional
extra-judicial execution.
http://fas.org/irp/world/israel/shin_bet/index.html (Mentioned 8 times in
Kahan)

4- LAKAM: (Hebrew:
Lishka le Kishrei Mada. English: Scientific Affairs Liaison Bureau).
Established in 1957. A covert unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry.
Initially dedicated to the collection of info leading to the building of the
Atom bomb, obtaining blueprints for advanced military hardware, and running
overseas covert scientific operations in friendly countries. Officially
disbanded in 1986. http://fas.org/irp/world/israel/lekem/index.html

5- AI: (Hebrew for
Above). This is a highly secretive autonomous division of the Mossad. They
work under deep cover in the USA, without knowledge or approval of the US
government, and some times against its interests. They mainly spy on Arab
and other embassies, but sometimes they run operations against the US
government, like the Jonathan Pollard scandal in late 1985.*

The Secret Services Vs. The Arab World

Until the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the Israeli Security Services were involved
in hostile covert activities against the neighboring Arab states as well as
others who were of the leftist persuasion (Nasserist, Baathist, Communist,
and Socialist). As for the Arab regimes that were of Western persuasion,
such as Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, the Israelis relied on
their American and French connections to obtain intelligence and maintain
indirect political contacts. The majority of operations were successful due
to the atmosphere of hostility and mistrust due to the Arab Cold war between
leftist and conservative regimes. Nevertheless, the main targets were the
neighboring states of Egypt and Syria.

The Mossad in particular succeeded in placing deep cover Israeli agents, or
spies in layman terms, who managed to obtain highly classified and sensitive
political and military intelligence. The most infamous of these agents were
Wolfgang Lotz in Egypt and Eli Cohen in Syria. Both spies who were active in
the 1960's, provided invaluable information that was vital in Israel's
victory in 1967 (Raviv and Melman, 143). Another highly successful operation
was the defection of an Iraqi air force pilot with his MIG-21 in August
1966, which again was vital for Israel's "pre-emptive" strike a year later
(Black and Morris, 208). The MIG-21 was the most lethal of the Soviet
fighters at that time and its secrets were unknown to the US, and NATO until
Israel gave them the blueprints. This coup, along with some secrets obtained
from the Soviet Bloc, raised the myth of the Israeli Secret Services in the
West.

Nevertheless, the 1967 victory was the peak of Israeli achievements. After
1967, the whole picture in the region changed and a new threat was born.
That threat was called "Terrorism", and this threat became and still is the
bane of the Zionist military-intelligence machine. The Israelis had always
dealt with cross-border infiltrations from Egypt, Syria, and Jordan since
1948. The difference after 1967 was that the cross border attacks were not
sponsored by the Arab regimes but by independent groups, mostly under the
umbrella of the PLO. Prior to 1967, it was the Syrian and Egyptian borders
that were the most threatening, but after 1967 the attacks came from Jordan
and Lebanon. After the PLO was evacuated from Jordan in 1970, Lebanon became
the obsession of the Zionist decision-makers. So much that when Egypt and
Syria launched their brilliant and successful offensive in October 6 1973,
the IDF's AMAN and the Mossad were caught with their pants down in what was
known as the Mehdal, the Hebrew word for blunder (Black and Morris, 290).
Nevertheless, the "Terrorism Complex" still obsessed the Israeli
decision-makers. They retaliated against targets both in the Middle East and
in the West, and in particular against Lebanon.* When Menachem Begin, a
wanted terrorist himself, got to power in 1977, Israel decided to find a
solution to the "Palestinian Terrorist" problem once and for all. In his
cabinet he had a former soldier who thought he had the solution. That man
was called Ariel Sharon.

The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon

Lebanon has always been a target of attention for the Israeli secret
services since the 1948 War, although since it was not an adversary like
Egypt or Syria, it didn't get much attention. All that changed after the
1967 War, and intensified after the PLO moved from Jordan to Lebanon in
1970. From this point on, Lebanon was the focus of the Israeli secret
services (AMAN, Shin Bet, and the Mossad), who reallocated some of the
intelligence assets it had previously reserved to Egypt after the peace
talks began between Sadat and Begin in the late 1970's.

Once the Lebanese Civil War began, and a clear power vacuum appeared in
South Lebanon, where only the PLO had any nominal authority. Throughout the
mostly Shiite and Christian villages of South Lebanon, however, residents
were disenchanted with the PLO rule. As a matter of fact, Major Saad Haddad
was sent to the area to re-establish the Beirut government authority in the
area. When the 1975 breakdown of law and order occurred in Central Lebanon
occurred, none of the 3 intelligence agencies had any real assets to
activate in Lebanon (Black and Morris, 364). In terms of the very factional
and brutal nature of the Lebanese Civil War, it presented them with numerous
tempting opportunities equaled by the numerous dangerous risks. Unlike the
previous situations, the Israeli Intelligence Services were presented with
an unprecedented situation for which they had no prepared strategies.

As a result, none of the 3 intelligence agencies had any real plans to deal
with Lebanon.* Nevertheless, in 1975, the possibilities seemed endless and
infinitely more benign. In that relatively more relaxed atmosphere, the
Israeli government of PM Rabin initiated the 'Good Fence" policy, in which
then residents of (preferably Christian) villages were given access to jobs
and medical care in the Galilee. (O'balance, 65) Using tactics that they
perfected in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Intelligence agencies,
and specifically the Shin Bet, manipulated this seemingly benevolent policy
as a backdoor to Lebanon and a fertile recruitment ground to recruit
informers and agents (Black and Morris, 399). As 1978 approached, though,
the Mossad was focused on the Phalange connection, and intelligence in the
South was primarily run by the Shin Bet and AMAN, who began to have regular
meetings in Northern Command to run the Lebanese operations (Black and
Morris, 367).

The operations in Lebanon were of two tiers; One, were the operations that
were dedicated to obtaining information on the Palestinian organizations
that were based in Lebanon. This information was used for the assassination
operations in the pre-1978 period. An example of such operations occurred on
the 9th of April 1973, when 30 Israeli commandos landed at El-Ramleh
El-Beidah in Beirut, led by Ehud Barak, and conducted a three pronged attack
killing an unspecified number of Palestinian Fedayeen, including 3 major
DFLP leaders, and demolishing a PLO military facility (Katz, 50).
Intelligence was used even more ruthlessly in the Invasions of 1978 and
1982. The operations were mainly focused on locating the leaders and
commanders of the various Palestinian organizations, the counting and
locating of hardware, and to recruit or coerce people into acting as agents
or informers. The latter task was vital in the relatively easy task of
occupying of the refugee camps in the South. Many Palestinian witnesses we
met in the South have all emphasized the role of the informers in the
detection, arrest, and maybe even the execution or disappearance of
prisoners. The Shin Bet, or the General Security Service as it is officially
known, which is responsible for the security of the state of Israel [48
Lands] and all occupied territories, worked feverishly between 1978-1982 to
use the occupied Southern areas as a nest of agents and informers to be used
against the Palestinian organizations that were based in the refugee camps
in the South (Randal, 219). In a little publicized incident in South
Lebanon, the Israeli security forces oversaw a massacre by the FLA in the
village of Khiam in March 1978 after the IDF completed its occupation of
South Lebanon (Fisk, 137). This coincided with the preparations for the
(Peace For Galilee) Invasion by the AMAN, the intelligence arm of the IDF
who were using information from the Shin Bet's informants, as well as
reconnaissance flights by the IAF, to locate the targets for the Invasion.

The second tier was the initiation of contacts with Lebanese parties of all
sects, although they found the Christians more responsive, although mostly
reluctant, trying to find a fifth column within the cauldron of the civil
war that began in 1975. From an early stage, the three main services
differed in their (Lebanon Strategy). The AMAN, and later the Shin Bet,
favored a concentration on the South to clearly focus on the security of
Israel's northern borders. It was these two parties that worked together on
the establishment of Saad Haddad's renegade unit as a pro-Israeli proxy
militia in the South in 1978.

The Mossad were more concentrated on recruiting "allies" in the ranks of the
Maronite militias, especially the Phalangists and their leader Bashir
Jemayel, who were on the brink of defeat in the first year of the Lebanese
Civil War. Even after the Syrians intervened to rescue the Christians, the
Mossad maintained their contacts with the Maronite militia leaders. The
initiation of contact with the Israelis was not done by the Phalange,
however, but by Camille Chamoun's son, Danny. On September 1975 in Paris,
and via a Mossad Station in Paris, Danny Chamoun, son of former president
and leader of the Tigers Militia approached the Israeli Government for
assistance (Black+ Morris, 365). Qualitatively, the Chamoun militia was
better in terms of leadership morale and desire for an alliance with Israel.
Quantitatively, The Phalangists had the advantage of numbers. Eventually,
Bashir used his numerical superiority to exterminate his rivals in the
pro-Syrian Franjieh militia. On the 13th of May 1978 in Ehden (Southeast of
Tripoli), Phalangist militia men, under orders from Bashir Jemayel and
commanded by Samir Geagea, kill Tony Franjieh, who was the son of the former
president and the leader of the pro-Syrian Maronite faction, Sulieman
Franjieh. The Phalangists killed Tony, his wife and his daughter as well as
nearly 30 of his loyalists. (O'Ballance, 79) Not satisfied with slaying his
Maronite rivals, Bashir went on to slay his allies. On the 7th of July 1980
in Safra Resort near Jounieh, Phalangist militiamen launched a wide-scale
attack against Chamoun's Tigers. The battle ended with nearly 80 deaths on
both sides, including many innocent bystanders. Danny Chamoun, the deposed
leader of the Tigers, would later claim and insist that Bashir Jemayel was
encouraged to carry out this putsch by Israeli C-o-S Eitan (Schiff and Ya'ari,
29). By the beginning of 1982, Bashir had become the commander of the now
united Maronite militias, under the name of the Lebanese Forces (LF), who
were armed and trained by Israel. This sheer brutality and cold-bloodedness
endeared Bashir to the Israeli government, the IDF and the 3 agencies. In
fact after Sharon became defense minister after August 1981, he and Bashir
became good friends.

Underneath the whole amicability, there was a diversion in what was to
become of the Palestinians in Lebanon in the eyes of the LF and the IDF. The
LF held the banner of expelling the Palestinians from Lebanon, but in
reality the LF would have settled for the expulsion of the Palestinians from
Central Lebanon, especially Beirut. The IDF also wanted the PLO gone and the
Palestinian refugees moved to Jordan but it also would have settled for the
removal of the Palestinian presence from South Lebanon. In the end, the
arrogance and brutality of the two strongmen, Sharon and Bashir, would guide
them to a radical and final solution to the Palestinian problem in Lebanon:
Genocide.

In Central Lebanon, the LF had only one real adversary, the PLO, who
happened to be the sworn enemy of Israel, standing in the way of Maronite
controlled Lebanon. Syria was another enemy but Bashir was not going to
confront it on his own. So encouraged by the Mossad station chief in
Jounieh, Bashir wanted to provoke the Syrian Army into an attack on the
Maronites. During the election campaign, and after his victory, PM Begin
made many grandiose statements about preventing the "genocide of the
Christians" in Lebanon. (Morris, 504-505) The Israeli Government needed a
pretext to intervene in Lebanon and prompted Bashir to provide them with
one. The Ehden Massacre of one of Syria's primary allies in Lebanon was such
a provocation but the Syrians refused to fall in the trap. Bashir knew that
he needed a stronger incident to get the Syrians to attack the LF positions
to provide a pretext for the IDF to attack. Thus on the 1st of April in
1981, LF units attack and occupy Zahle, the strategic town on the
Beirut-Damascus Highway in the Bekaa Valley, provoking a massive response
from the Syrian Army. (Schiff +Ya'ari, 32)

On the 28th of April in 1981, the Israeli Cabinet met to discuss the Zahle
Crisis. PM Begin and C-o-S Eitan called for IAF strikes against Syrian
targets in and around Zahle. The majority of the cabinet and the Mossad
Director, Yitzhak Hofi opposed the idea. The loudest opposition came from
Saguy, AMAN Commander, who openly accused Eitan of encouraging Bashir to
incite the Zahle Crisis to give the IDF justification to intervene. Both
Hofi and Saguy suspected that Eitan was encouraging Bashir to pick a fight
with the Syrians in order to drag Israel into the Lebanese conflict (Schiff
+Ya'ari, 33). They were right. C-o-S Eitan, in collusion with PM Begin, left
the meeting to order the shooting down by of two Syrian helicopters, and
claimed when he returned to the meeting that the IAF has shot down "two
assault gunships". The truth was that the IAF had shot down 2 unarmed troop
carriers. Saguy predicted that Syrian President Assad will take measures
that can only threaten the IAF's air supremacy over Lebanese Skies. (Schiff
+Ya'ari, 33-34) Sure enough the next day the Syrians introduced 4 (SAM-6)
batteries to the Bekaa. On the 30th of April in 1981, PM Begin and C-o-S
Eitan ordered an IAF attack against the Syrian SAM's, but poor weather
prevented the attack. US mediation eventually defused the situation, but in
favor of Syria, which kept its SAM's in Lebanon and defeated the LF in
Zahle. (Morris, 506) This failure was followed by another attempt at
provoking the Syrians. On the 14th of December 1981, PM Begin announced the
annexation of the Golan Heights, Syrian territory that has been occupied
since 1967. Syria sensibly refused to respond to this blatant provocation.
(To Win or to Die, 265)

By the beginning of 1982, the 3 Agencies were hard at work planning the
Invasion of Lebanon, and the plans included 3 main elements: destruction of
the PLO infrastructure, the expulsion of the Syrian forces, and the
promotion of LF dominance of Lebanon. On the second week of January 1982, DM
Sharon led a large entourage on tour of Central Lebanon, including Beirut.
He met with Bashir Jemayel, who expressed support for the invasion but
refused to meet any of Sharon's demands. These included an IDF landing in
Jounieh and joint IDF-LF operations in West Beirut against PLO positions,
including the refugee camps. Sharon told Bashir, "We'll get to Beirut. Don't
you worry". He also met with the Maronite elders, Pierre Jemayel and Camille
Chamoun. Sharon returned from the visit more determined to invade Lebanon,
according to AMAN Commander Saguy.*(Black and Morris, 372-373) Sharon's
visit was followed by visits by C-o-S Eitan and other IDF and intelligence
officials, all of which included attempts at persuading the LF to
participate in the Invasion, especially in "mopping up" operations against
Palestinian targets. The visit that sealed the fate of Lebanon was on April
1982, when Northern Command OC Amir Drori led a team of high-ranking IDF and
IAF officers on an intelligence gathering mission. The LF Commander Fady
Ephraim and later Bashir Jemayel met with them. Once again the LF repeated
their insistence of refusing any joint operations or an IDF landing in
Jounieh. Despite this clear disparity between what the LF leadership was
saying and what Sharon expected them to do, the IDF was still poised to
invade. At the end of April, Northern Command OC, Drori reported that the
IDF had "the most thoroughly planned war in its history". This now included
built positions for the artillery, launch platform for tanks, complete
aerial mapping of the areas to be occupied with US-provided satellite images
of Syrian positions in Lebanon and Syria, and the activation of the informer
networks in Southern Lebanon (Schiff +Ya'ari, 54).*

With the necessary military information AMAN was ready, and so was the
Shin Bet who had lists of Palestinian activists and a web of informers in
all camps. The Mossad had handed the issue of diplomacy with the LF to
Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, laden with the illusion of friendship and
alliance with their Maronite allies. The Israelis had prepared well, but
they were not quite ready to occupy the politically complex country. They
went ahead anyway on June 1982.

Although at its heart, (Peace of Galilee) was Ariel Sharon's plan, but all
the power brokers in the Israeli military and security structures were
equally if reticently, committed to the Invasion. This fact needs to be
emphasized; DM Ariel Sharon with PM Menachem Begin's blessing and Rafael
Eitan complicity, was in complete control of what, at the end of April 1982,
Northern Command Operations Commander, Amir Drori reported to be the IDF's
"most thoroughly planned war in its history" (Schiff +Ya'ari, 54). The heads
of the 3 Intelligence Agencies, especially the AMAN's Yehoshua Saguy, were
all reluctant about the extent of "Peace For Galilee". Sharon made it clear
to all 3 heads that he was going to take the IDF and them to Beirut. This
reluctance to accept the Zionist-LF alliance was also apparent on the
Lebanese side. Pierre Jemayel, the Godfather of the Phalangist Party and
Bashir's father, was willing to let Israel do the dirty work in Lebanon, but
he was adamant in refusing an open alliance with Israel. On the Second week
of January 1982 in Jounieh, Pierre Jemayel told a shocked Sharon during his
first clandestine visit to Lebanon, "We are part of the Arab World. We are
not traitors. We are not like Saad Haddad."(Black and Morris, 373)

The AMAN and the Mossad, along with the Labor Opposition, would later claim
that they disagreed with DM Sharon, but typically never specifying what they
disagreed with him about. Our research shows, however, that the AMAN and
Mossad, along most Israeli politicians supported the plans to "eradicate the
PLO in Lebanon" (Schiff +Ya'ari, 66). The eradication of the PLO and its
terrorist infrastructure explicitly meant the destruction of Palestinian
refugee camps in Lebanon. The two points of contention, the relationship
with the LF and the war with Syria, had nothing to do with the PLO and the
Palestinians. Not once was the morality or military effectiveness of the
saturation bombing campaign and the mass arrests of all males, as clearly
defined in both versions, Little and Big Pines, debated in any of the
cabinet or military meetings before and during the Invasion.

In both books, Israel's Lebanon War and Israel's Secret Wars, we find plenty
of evidence that there was internal dissent against the (Peace for Galilee).
Especially in the ranks of the IDF, many Israelis were predicting that the
Invasion would end up in disaster since it was not clearly defined what the
military and political objectives were. Ariel Sharon was mainly responsible
for this confusion, but he was also responsible for getting the IDF and the
security agencies to join in despite the dissent. The conduct of the IDF and
the three intelligence agencies during the operation leading to the
occupation of West Beirut on the 15th of September, showed a diligence and
commitment that never wavered. The trail of death and destruction they left
behind certainly showed that despite the dissenting voices of some IDF
troops, like Dov Yermia and Avi Grabowsky, the majority of the IDF troops
acted with the brutality and cruelty that is their trademark.* Equally, the
intelligence agencies also acted without mercy, especially in their handling
of the refugee camps in the South.

The role of Israeli Intelligence in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre .

The words (cover-up) and Intelligence agencies go hand in hand. There have
been several scandals and cover ups in the history of the Israeli secret
services, like the Lavon Affair in 1954 and the Bus 300 Affair in 1984. No
scandal or misdeed, however, can compare with the enormity and criminal
dimension of the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre, and the cover-up that
followed. Nothing signifies the cover-up of the Israeli role in the Massacre
like the mysterious Appendix (B) of the Kahan Report, where many believe the
real role of the IDF and the 3 Secret Agencies is clarified. Nevertheless,
there is enough evidence from the testimonies of survivors, journalistic
reports, and political analysts to show the direct involvement of the AMAN
and Shin Bet in the actual massacre, as well as the complicity of the
Mossad. In fact, we can safely conclude what we already know to be true; the
Israeli government, its military and its intelligence agencies are directly
responsible for the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre.

The 3 agencies were involved in the period prior to the massacre but on
different levels and in different places. As has been mentioned above, the
Mossad was involved closely with the LF in central Lebanon. They had a
liaison office in Jounieh since the late-70's and had coordinated many of
the military and political moves between the LF and the Israeli government
(Raviv and Melman, 265). Senior Mossad officers attended most of the
meetings prior and during the Invasion. They also conducted many operations
within Beirut and participated in the horrifying bombardment of Beirut, by
sending coordinates to the IAF that pinpointed the leaders of the PLO and
their allies. Worse still, was their sending in of car bombs into West
Beirut. In relation to the S&S Massacre, the Mossad directors were aware of
the joint LF-IDF plans to remove the Palestinian refugee camp and the
transfer of their populations out of Beirut and maybe Lebanon altogether.
Although the Mossad Director, Yitzhak Hofi, was skeptical of the validity of
the alliance with the LF, the Mossad field officers were extremely friendly
with the LF personnel on the ground (Raviv and Melman, 268). Furthermore,
they were over-confident about the positive outcome of the Invasion. Sources
have told of the Mossad officers joyfully shooting their guns in the air in
the streets of Asharfiya with the LF men when Bashir was elected as Lebanon's
president (Schiff +Ya'ari, 233). Equally, this explains why the Mossad were
in a state of shock and near-despair when Bashir Jemayel was killed. Israeli
journalist Ehud Ya'ari tells of a senior Mossad officer, Nahik Navot,
hysterically digging in the rubble of the LF office in Ashrafiya looking for
Bashir Jemayel (The Lebanese War, episode 9).*

On the other hand, The AMAN and the Shin Bet were working on another level.
The former was specifically working on promoting Haddad's militia and
extended their zone of control. The AMAN even worked against any extension
of the LF control to the South, and all attempts by the LF to gain power in
Sidon during the summer of 1982 were thwarted by the IDF (Schiff +Ya'ari,
238-239). The Shin Bet played a quieter if not less malignant role. As with
all occupied Arab territories, the Shin Bet was in South Lebanon after 1978,
and followed in the steps of the IDF as they advanced towards Beirut in
1982. By the nature of their security role, the Shin Bet does not get
involved in fighting. There is no information of the Shin Bet were involved
in the Siege of Beirut, but Robert Fisk does confirm their presence in the
Cite Sportif on the 18th and 19th of September conducting interrogations
with suspected "terrorists" (Fisk, 366). There are also extensive records of
the Shin Bet in the oppression of the South until the final IDF withdrawal
to the security zone in 1985. Though mentioned 8 times in the Kahan Report,
it would seem that they only attended the meetings before and during the
massacre. They are, however, guilty after the fact since they were at the
Cite Sportif during the Massacre, and the informers that were identifying
people inside the Cite Sportif were, as is their Modus Operandi showed in
the South during the summer, recruited and run by the Shin Bet. Therefore,
and despite being implicitly cleared by the Kahan Report, the Shin Bet is no
less guilty of the crime of genocide in Sabra and Shatilla than the AMAN
that was implicated in the same report.

So why was the AMAN alone implicated in the crime, and its commander
Yehoshua Saguy dismissed? Other than being a scapegoat, it would seem
obvious that the AMAN was involved in the planning and maybe the carrying
out of the Massacre. It has to be clear that Saguy was opposed to the
alliance with the LF, and had objected heavily even before Sharon became
defense minister to any alliance with the LF. Like the Mossad who got too
close to the LF, Saguy and the AMAN had got too close to the FLA. Saguy
insisted that any future plans for an Israeli-allied Lebanon that would not
only forgive Haddad for his treason, but to also to reward him. Reports of
the meetings, including the seminal meeting between PM Begin and Bashir in
Nahariya in September 1st, show that the Israeli government and the IDF were
adamant in giving Haddad a significant role in the new Lebanese government
(Randal, 10). He was further rewarded after the Massacre when he was
re-instated into the Lebanese Army in late 1984 right before his death, and
his militia led by another traitor Antoine Lahd was maintained until May
25th 2000. He was rewarded but for what? In all likelihood, and as many
witnesses and reporters have stated, his forces participated in the Massacre
under orders from the AMAN. Therefore the Command responsibility falls on
Saguy for any atrocities committed in the South, or in Sabra and Shatilla.
Nevertheless, the exact details or "the smoking gun" are not available, and
are probably clear in the mysterious Appendix B. The simple fact is that the
AMAN was the most directly responsible Israeli Intelligence agency for the
Massacre, although all 3 agencies were equally guilty of the crime of
genocide since all 3 were involved in the planning and execution of the
Invasion of Lebanon, whose main uncontested aim was "the eradication of the
PLO infrastructure", which meant the destruction of the Palestinian Refugee
Camps in the Lebanon and the forceful transfer of its residents out of the
country. DM Sharon himself wanted them moved to Jordan where a "substitute
homeland" would be established for them after the Hashemite monarchy was
toppled (Schiff and Ya'ari, 43). Saguy knew of this and is not on record as
objecting to this goal.

In short, all 3 agencies are guilty in the crime of Sabra and Shatilla, if
on different levels. Their guilt is a foregone conclusion once the IDF
occupied West Beirut on the 15th of September, but the role of the AMAN is
far more insidious. The hypothesis is that the after the Bashir-Begin
meeting, Saguy's point of view prevailed. Sharon, Begin, and the IDF
commanders, Yaron and Saguy had realized that Bashir will not keep his any
of his promises, that there will not be a Lebanon controlled by the LF and
allied with Israel, nor will the LF or Lebanese Army expel the Palestinian
population out of Lebanon. Therefore, and as the Zionist pattern shows, the
Israeli leadership wanted to keep Lebanon divided, to punish the LF for
their betrayal, and to cause a mass flight of the Palestinians. The true and
tried method would be a Massacre that would first discredit the LF and
prevent them from unifying Lebanon under their control, plus causing a panic
in the ranks of the now undefended camps that would drive the Palestinians
out. The only problem was making it as ugly as possible but at the same time
keeping it quiet.

The Truth Exposed

For 19 years, the Israelis have managed to convince the world of
one of the biggest lies of the Arab-Israeli conflict and that lie was
embodied in the Kahan Report about the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre. The
basic line was that the Phalangists, crazed by the killing of their leader,
thirsty for revenge, attack the camps and slaughter their inhabitants. The
IDF and the 3 intelligence agencies, while guilty in trusting the
Phalangists to behave during the "mopping up" operation, were not guilty of
perpetrating the massacre itself. Furthermore, the Israelis went about
trying to convince the world that the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre was a
historical anomaly, and that it was more of an error in judgment on the part
of the Begin government. To add insult to injury, the Kahan Report did hold
certain government officials and IDF officers responsible, and it did
recommend their dismissal, but the focus was on DM Sharon and AMAN Commander
Saguy. With the February 1983 issuance of the Kahan Report, Israel declared
that its conscience was clean. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Ever since, many people have swallowed the Kahan Lie and
accepted it as the truth. So what is the truth? The decision to wipe out the
Palestinian presence in Lebanon was taken many years preceding the actual
Massacre, and was taken at the highest levels of the Israeli military and
security hierarchy. In conjunction with the Zionist plans and ambitions for
the Middle East, the Israelis were intent on not only destroying the
Palestinian organizations, but removing the whole Palestinian population out
of Lebanon, by transfer and/or murder. That in essence is genocide. In 1977,
when the Likud got to power in Israel, there were enough genocidal minds
coalescing and plotting. By early 1982, the plans were ready for the final
solution of the Palestinian problem; the eradication of the PLO and the
destruction of the refugee camps in Lebanon, the transfer of the Palestinian
refugees to Jordan and the establishment of the substitute homeland, and
finally the annexation of "Judea and Samaria", as the Israelis call the
Occupied West Bank. Unlike the rhetoric of the period, the alliance with the
LF was secondary and thus can be sacrificed. As for Syria, the Israelis were
probably considering defeating it in Lebanon, then contain it and complete
its defeat at a latter stage once Lebanon was secured. The AMAN and the Shin
Bet, as well as the Mossad to a lesser degree, agreed on all these points
which constituted the "Grand design" that (Begin Five) adopted.*

The Sabra and Shatilla Massacre was not an anomaly but rather an
inevitable conclusion to the Peace For Galilee Invasion. It happened because
the Zionist decision makers, strategists, and commanders among whom members
of the 3 agencies figured prominently, wanted to happen. To say that the
Phalangists or Haddad were responsible is to give these proxies too much
credit. They were mere fronts for the IDF and the 3 security agencies. Who
was Saad Haddad or Elie Hobeika without Israeli training and direction? How
can the AMAN, the Mossad, or the Shin Bet claim ignorance about the Massacre
while they claim to be the best Intelligence agencies in the world? How can
we accept that the Kahan Report was nothing more than cover-up? And lastly,
who other than the AMAN could have planned the brutal mopping up of the
Camps, whether those in the South or in Beirut?

The Sabra and Shatilla Massacre was planned within the Invasion
plan, and it appears under the name of Operation Spark, or Operation Iron
Brain. Its finer details were worked out between the 1st of September when
the alliance with Bashir collapsed, and the 12th of the same month when
Sharon met with Bashir. The LF was perceived as unreliable and that the
mopping up of the camps was to proceed with or without them. The AMAN could
rely on the SLA to get the job done, and it would assist them with IDF
special forces, or Sayerets as they are called in Hebrew. It is quite clear
that the Sayerets were in the camps as the former fighters in the camp have
told us, but we have not been able to identify which unit it was exactly.
But the presence of the Sayerets indicates clearly that the Massacre was
what is called in intelligence lingo a Black Operation, which is a secret
operation that is carried out by the intelligence agents and special forces
upon a decision taken by the Chief Executive and a few of his ministers.
Israeli Secret Services and the Sayerets have carried out many Black
Operations, including the Qibya Massacre of 1953, the attack on the Beirut
International Airport in 1968, and the assassination of Abu Jihad in Tunis
in 1988. During the 1982 Invasion, and according to IDF historian Samuel
Katz, the Sayerets were deeply involved in the military operations, who are
like all special forces in the world are made up of hard and brutal killers
who volunteer for the job and know exactly what it entails.* In short,
Israel's Secret Services' role in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacre is not
only undeniable, but is far more involved than what the Kahan Commission
stated. One day when Appendix B finally comes to light, this theory will be
proven, although it is clear that there is enough evidence to back it up. As
an epilogue, Israel's secret services, CIA & the Mossad, assassinated
Elie Hobeika in Beirut in 2002, using CIA & local witting proxies, in
what is obviously an attempt to conceal the truth about the Massacre. If
anyone doubted the involvement of the Israeli intelligence, this should
silence the naysayers. Mr. Elie Hobeika Never set foot at Sabra & Shatila
in September of 1982, nor had anything to do with that horrible crime, in
any way shape or form. It was an IDF operation with AMAN and MOSSAD
at the Helm.

Sources

1- Benny Morris. Righteous
Victims. Vintage Press; New York, 2001.

2- Dan Raviv and Danny Melman.
Every Spy a Prince. Houghton Miflin; Boston, 1990.

3- Edgar O'Ballance. Civil War in
Lebanon: 1975-1992. Macmillan Press; London, 1998.

4- Ian Black and Benny Morris.
Israel's Secret Wars. Futura Publications; London, 1991.

5- Jonathan C. Randal. Going All
The Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers, and the War in Lebanon.
Viking Press; New York, 1983.

6- Michael Jansen. The Battle of
Beirut. Zed Press; London, 1982.

7- Robert Fisk. Pity the Nation.
Simon and Schuster; New York, 1990.

8- Samuel M. Katz. Israeli Elite
Units since 1948. Osprey Publishing; London, 1988.

9- Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Ya'ari.
Israel's Lebanon War. Simon & Schuster; New York, 1984.

10- The Book of Alain Menargues, Albin Michel
Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban.
Du coup D'etat de Bashir Gemayel aux Massacres des camps Palestiniens.

http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2005/01/EL_KAREH/11828

http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2005/06/GRESH/12500

http://www.aloufok.net/article.php3?id_article=1660

http://www.libanvision.com/histoire.htm

http://www.polytechnique.fr/eleves/binets/xpassion/article.php?id=57&page=6

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  • The only source of information on this unit is available in former Mossad
    agent, Victor Ostrovsky's (By Way Of Deception). Judging by the general
    reluctance in accepting all the info in Ostrovsky's book by many
    intelligence analysts, we should be skeptical in affirming AI's existence.

*For more details on Israel's aggression against Lebanon see
http://www.futuretvnetwork.com/justice/israel_in_lebanon.html

  • Today, there had been no change in this confusion in the ranks of Israel'
    s intelligence agencies, where there is still no Lebanon policy, except
    perhaps "Stay out". (See Ha'aretz article Fighting Blind
    (http://www.moqawama.org/page2/f_iaggrr.htm) for more on the confusion and
    discord plaguing the IDF, AMAN, Mossad, and Shin Bet in the face of the
    Lebanese resistance.
  • Saguy is on record badgering the DM after the meeting with Pierre Jemayel
    about the lack of wisdom in the alliance with the LF. Saguy believed,
    according to the minutes of the meeting, that the LF will let Israel carry
    the load by itself. Most high ranking military officials in the IDF shared
    Saguy's low opinion of the LF.
  • Even at this juncture, Sharon's declared political objectives to the
    Americans and his own cabinet, and those known to and supported by Begin,
    Eitan, Shamir, and Arens were very different. Drori has his reservation.
    Saguy and Mossad Director Hofi are the only voices of dissent. It is worth
    noting that the duplicity, the collusion and dissent were all about a
    specific point; a wide war with Syria and/or the alliance with the LF, or
    Phalangists as they were known in Israel. Not one voice within the civilian,
    security and military circles spoke once against the "Eradication of the PLO
    infrastructure in Lebanon."
  • Dov Yermia, a reservist wrote a seminal book (My War Diary), which is a
    clear condemnation of the IDF's brutality and inhumanity during the 1982
    Invasion. Another soldier, Lieutenant Grabowsky, a deputy commander of a
    tank company near the Sabra and Shatilla camps, who testified before the
    Kahan Commission, was another well known dissenters.
  • See our website to read Navot's testimony to the Kahan Commission
    http://www.futuretvnetwork.com/justice/cab_8.html
  • The Begin Five were five individuals in the Israeli government who pursued
    the goals of this Zionist Grand Design and they were: Prime Minister
    Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Yitzhak
    Shamir, Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, and Israeli Ambassador to the US Moshe
    Arens.
  • The Sayerets are like all special forces in the world are made up of hard
    and brutal killers who volunteer for the job and know exactly what it
    entails. Such units work in total secrecy and are not trained to take
    prisoners or hold positions. They carry out what the Americans call "search
    and destroy" missions. Sayeret Matkal .
Posted by: HK at January 12, 2007 08:31 AM

Thank you for this article and for your own experience in Lebanon

GENERAL MICHEAL AOUN has found a way to achieve the 1701 U.N without a civil war!

we don't need any war on our land and the only solution to stop wars is a unity governement that represents all parties politicaly so that we can stop the arming in lebanon: sunna extremists like fateh el eslam and palestinians and HA and olde militia like geagea and walid joumblat!

ps: only HA had the balls not to fight inside lebanon and fighting only israel! while all others has killed civilians and leb army

LONG LIVE GMA

Posted by: † lebanese at August 21, 2007 03:15 AM

at least the 15,000 soilders have put a stop to israeli aggresion in Northern Lebanon in 1982. Lets assume that Hezbollah would disarm according to 1701 U.N Resolution. Who will protect Lebanon from further Israeli agression if a pro-syrian was to be the next president? After all i haven't seen the faces of the Army in southern lebanon until august 16,2006 two days after the cease-fire.

Thanks

Posted by: sam at October 13, 2007 12:12 AM

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Michael,

I enjoyed this piece. I've been reading your blogs as of late, and have quite enjoyed them. However, I think you need to get a sense of who or what Hezbollah is from a Lebanese Shi'a, such as myself. Maybe you've talked to many Shi'is about Hezbollah and you know everything there is to know, but I nonetheless would like to make a few comments.

I think it's very clear that if you and I were sitting in a room drafting the constitution of a country, we would both agree that military power should be in the hands of the state exclusively. However, we know that what "should" be the case is not always that simple in Lebanon. The problem is, Hezbollah is still deemed necessary to many people (the military arm of Hezbollah, that is). My mother comes from Bint Jbeil in the South and she gives me numerous accounts of the Resistance and how necessary it was for the people of South Lebanon.

I think the end goal of all Lebanese is to see Hezbollah disarmed. We all need that. But what we need even more is the opportunity for that to happen. What happens if Israel trots through the South again? Are you going to tell me they wouldn't do it? Of course they would. Israeli troops were in Lebanon in the late 70s, years before Lebanon was "officially" occupied. Usually when you hear about Lebanese occupation, you hear about 1982 when the Israelis took Beirut. No one gives a damn about the South. And before we bring up 1559, we should also know that selective morality of this kind has no place in Middle Eastern politics, when Israel itself has defied over 60 U.N. resolutions. Bring up 1559 would be ridiculous under such terms.

That's what Hezbollah is, essentially. They are people from the South who armed themselves against Israel. That's why they exist. Hezbollah is a product of Israeli occupation, and we all need to recognize that. Insinuating that Hezbollah should simply disarm is one thing, but it is only one thing. The Lebanese army cannot defend Lebanon against Israel. As has been seen with strategic wars of South Lebanon, weaponry is important, but so is knowing the territory and knowing how to fight. That's the only explanation for a handful of Hezbollahis effectively resisting Israel last summer.

But who knows, Michael? What happens if America and Iran settle their disputes? Of course, by "settle" I mean Iran bowing down to American pressure. You know as well as I do that America has been the enemy of Iran ever since it had a hand in overthrowing the parliamentary government in 1953 in favour of a dictator... then following that up with military and financial support for Saddam Hussein in his quest to make war with Persia. Since then the United States has been crippling Iran with sanctions.

You can call me crazy, but I'm more likely to believe that there won't be another major war in Lebanon. I don't think Hezbollah can risk it. I don't think we as Lebanese can handle any more. Muslim/Christian really isn't a problem in the streets. When we fled Lebanon for Canada our next door neighbours were Christians - the same Christians that our Muslims were fighting back home. We were best friends for years. In the street, we really have no problems. But for some reason, the schism becomes manifest at the political level. And we all know that the religions themselves have nothing to do with the disagreements; it's more or less people aligning themselves along sectarian lines because that is how they identify themselves.

Anyway, I have rambled. I only ask of you to please consider the Hezbollah question from a different angle, and see that they are part of Lebanon (hopefully their part will be more political and less military in the future). As a Lebanese Shi'a returning to Lebanon in the next year or so, I cannot say I hate Hezbollah. Do I want them disarmed? Yes, in principle. Am I frightened at the concept of Hezbollah being disarmed? Yes. I am frightened because I know what they have done for the South, and fear that losing them will give us nothing to defend ourselves with in the future. Am I pro-Syrian? No. Am I anti-Syrian? No. I think that anyone who makes one of these their political pillars is unhealthy. Those men you spoke to are very smart. We need neutral relations with Syria. We don't need anti-Syrian parties, or pro-Syrian parties.

Posted by: Husni Bourgi at December 20, 2007 09:36 PM

Bullshit!!! u r a total joke dude!! i m christian, aounist, and i support resistance against israel and syria... i support hizbollah in every step they take! we should learn how to free our land by our own hands

Posted by: Elie at December 29, 2007 08:44 AM
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