May 21, 2007

Violence in Beirut Continues

Naharnet reports (no link yet) that a "huge blast ripped through Beirut's Verdun district at 10:50 p.m. Monday, gutting several apartments and storefronts."

This, I believe, is the first time since Syria's withdrawal that a terrorist bomb has exploded in a Sunni area. The others have been in Christian areas.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari laughably says the terrorists in Northern Lebanon -- who are still battling it out with the Lebanese Army -- are Al Qaeda and that they are fighting for the UN tribunal to punish the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It will require a gullible mind indeed to believe Al Qaeda has taken up the cause of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at May 21, 2007 05:12 PM
Comments

Well...can the Lebanese army take these guys?

What happens if they can't?

Posted by: alphie at May 21, 2007 07:21 PM

I'm sure Fatboy Nasrallah and hizbo will soon be gathering up all their missles and rushing to protect Lebanese sovereignty.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at May 21, 2007 07:29 PM

Btw Michael, your article on Kouchner and others like him is in my opinion very important.

There appear to be very few on the left who have the courage or the intelligence to break out of the politically correct stranglehold that is destroying any vestige of humanism left in those vehicles.

Hitchens is probably the best example that I have come across but I'm not sure if he still describes himself as a leftist.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at May 21, 2007 07:46 PM

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari laughably says the terrorists in Northern Lebanon -- who are still battling it out with the Lebanese Army -- are Al Qaeda

Hey, at least he didn't say they were Yahood/Mossad.

Posted by: SoCalJustice at May 21, 2007 07:47 PM

Is that so farfetched, Ankh?

Who could Lebanon really call on to send them an army now?

The U.N.?
N.A.T.O.?
America?
Turkey?
Egypt?
???

Posted by: alphie at May 21, 2007 07:58 PM

Alphie, I think it is far-fetched as it would bring them into conflict with the machinations of their local Syrian controllers.

As far as intervention goes, I do believe that the Lebanese government is asking for military support, albeit supplies, but it wouldn't be the first time that someone has intervened, if all hell breaks loose.

You noticed, of course that no one asked hizbo for help, and it is eerily silent from that corner.

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at May 21, 2007 08:10 PM

Ankh,

If Hezbollah did offer up an opinion or some troops, would you applaud that?

Posted by: alphie at May 21, 2007 08:15 PM

alphie, I think the French would do it, if not just the Christians but also the Sunnis asked for it. Any attack on French troops might mean a repeat of what happened in the Ivory Coast a few years back, when the French wiped out all of their provacateur's offensive firepower.

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 21, 2007 08:27 PM

Alphie

Actually yes, because I would love to see them bloodied and weakened in a situation where some other flavor of islamist extremists would identify them as an immediate target.

Certainly not because I believe they are the Lebanese cavalry.

That's an egregious lie that should now be totally clear to even the most naive of Lebanes

Posted by: ankhfkhonsu at May 21, 2007 09:56 PM

Looks like they caught one of the guys who put the bomb in Verdun.

Next up: Gemmayze, Zouk, Jounieh.

Posted by: El Hombre at May 21, 2007 11:20 PM

One important point that was clear yesterday is that the population in the camps isn't turning against the Army for shelling them, which was an extremely dangerous risk. On the other hand, the Fatah-Islam bastards are taking the population hostage and shooting at those trying to leave.

Posted by: El Hombre at May 21, 2007 11:24 PM

MJT,

One reason for the high army death toll; many soldiers were "caught" when on permission, and some were slaughtered in their sleep.

Whoever stands in the way of the Army now, Hezb or otherwise, better think twice; much of the fighting was due to locals supporting the army... Fath Al-Islam initiated an uprising, against itself.

Posted by: Jeha at May 22, 2007 02:06 AM

From reuters (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L22165814.htm):

Crowds gathered at the Palestinian refugee camp of Beddawi, 9 km (five miles) from Nahr al-Bared, demanding a ceasefire and shouting slogans against the Lebanese army and government.
Hazma Qassem, a mosque imam in Beddawi, said people had at first opposed the militants who had attacked Lebanese troops.
"But we are now against the army after the scorched-earth policies it has been using and the massacres against women and children," he said. "The battle will be open on all the Lebanese lands if there is not an immediate ceasefire."

That isn't good. One could ultimately see a Lebanon vs. Palestinian camps war, very similar to what's happening in Israel: Palestinian areas turned into big prisons that are pounded as necessary.

Posted by: El Hombre at May 22, 2007 02:28 AM

I haven't seen much news about this, but surely the Palestinians aren't trying the old "we initiate something and then immediately demand a ceasefire" routine stunt on Lebanon, too?

Didn't they learn anything from how well that's worked down south?

Who are the participants this round? Any background locals can give greatly appreciated, please make it clear which bits are unconfirmed rumors.

Posted by: rosignol at May 22, 2007 04:16 AM

Want a local rumor from multiple sources on the ground?
Here goes:

There is talk that the police disarmed an explosive device last night in Mansourieh and caught one or 2 of the perpetrators there, in the act.

That would make 1 confirmed arrest and 1 or 2 unconfirmed arrests in regards to the bombings in Beirut.

As for the stuff in Tripoli, read Jeha's blog. He's got it all covered.

Posted by: El Hombre at May 22, 2007 04:22 AM

Looks like it's gonna be another summer of war...

Posted by: mertel at May 22, 2007 06:59 AM

I have just been in Lebanon for months making a documentary about Hezbollah. Be clear about this people (especially Jeha).... the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah were co-operating whenever I saw them in the same place....

In the new Hezbollah security zone north of the Litani, the Army were manning roadblocks to protect Hezbollah positions where they were digging mysterious new bunkers and levelling off missile firing area.

In the south, a commander from near Bint J'beil said he considered the army "part of the resistance" and told how they'd (HA) sometimes leave a cache of old weapons and call the Lebanese army, who'd call Unifil -- who in turn would get terribly excited by the "discovery" of Hezbollah weaponry.

He told me that the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah always co-operate with one another in the South -- that Hezbollah were waiting to back up the Army during an Israeli incursion in Maroun al Ras in February.

I spoke to lebanese Army intelligence who said that they saw Hezbollah as a still vital part of Lebanon's defence strategy.

So I don't see the lebanese Army and Hezbollah going toe to toe any time soon.

Posted by: Microraptor at May 22, 2007 07:32 AM

One reason I can think of why HA won't join the fight is because it probably wants to avoid to be seen as a participant in an overt Shia'a-Sunni conflict, a-la-Iraq.

The Lebanese Army is going to have to take care of this by itself (which is how it should be) and do it quickly or risk an escalation in other Palestinian camps. If they can't take care of a bunch of 100-or-so thugs, then what chance do they have against anyone else?

Posted by: Z. at May 22, 2007 08:10 AM

The Palestinians in the refugee camps are paying the price for allowing the cancer of Fatah to grow in their midst without excising it immediately and RUTHLESSLY. They are learning the same lesson the Lebanese did when they allowed Hizbollah to take over south Lebanon. Now, no nonsense about how the Palestinians or Lebanese had no choice, 'cuz they were outgunned or sumsuch. If you have a cancer growing in the body, you excise it right away, no matter how painful, else it will KILL you.

Posted by: Kevin at May 22, 2007 09:40 AM

The Palestinians in the refugee camps are paying the price for allowing the cancer of Fatah to grow in their midst without excising it immediately and RUTHLESSLY.

The Arabs in the camps have the excuse that they might suffer if they did so. Yet those who lived in the camps and now live in the West or travel around the middle east doing terrorist fund-raising have no such excuse: if some spoke out against the terrorists, much external funding for them would dry up. The argument that your relatives at home might get hurt eventually reaches the current stage, where the risks to them of speaking out or not are approximately equal. No, it appears to be PRIDE more than fear that drives the Arabs to their destruction.

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 22, 2007 09:55 AM

One could ultimately see a Lebanon vs. Palestinian camps war

Again. But this time there is no Israeli Army nearby for the Palestinian Arabs to run to for their protection.

Posted by: Solomon2 at May 22, 2007 10:00 AM

I wouldn't trust Assad's interpretation, either, but if you see Assad's regime as essentially secular Shiite, and Al-Quieda as first and foremost a Sunni fundamentalist organization, it does indeed seem possible that Al-Quieda wants to punish Assad for killing Hariri. Assad was a Shiite ruler who killed a Sunni boss.

I'm not sure Al-Zawahiri was a fan of Hariri, either, but this sort of thing serves as an example that people should remember about Iraq - kind of like Satan 300 years ago, people see Al-Quieda everywhere these days. Anyone wants wants to call themselves Al-Quieda can automatically become Al-Quieda, and if someone else can call you Al-Quieda, you're also Al-Quieda. The motives and goals of the people being called Al-Quieda may not be what you'd assume they'd be.

Posted by: glasnost at May 22, 2007 10:22 AM

Apparently, evidence has already been aired showing that this was precipitated by the Mossad.

http://www.styleforum.net/showpost.php?p=526162&postcount=4

Posted by: Invetigator at May 22, 2007 10:27 AM

glasnost: Assad was a Shiite ruler who killed a Sunni boss.

Alawite aren't Shias. They split off from the Shias long ago and are arguably more like Christians now than Muslims despite their origins.

Some Shia cleric (I forget who) issued a fatwa recently dubbing the Alawites Shias. This was about politics, not religion. Historically the Alawites have been allies with the Christians because they needed to protect each other from Muslims.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 10:41 AM

microraptor, your post is probably closest to reality. why would anybody wonder that the so-called lebanese army sees hezbollah as integral part of resistance? what would they do without it, fight?

i am glad the israeli/mosad blame has popped up, although it worries me that it was not as instantaneous as one expects these days (makes a lot of sense for the israelis to feed fires that were just estinguished). NOTHING that ever happens in and to the arab world has anything to do with their own choices and actions. is there any wonder that they are in the state they are?

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 11:22 AM

"Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari laughably says the terrorists in Northern Lebanon -- who are still battling it out with the Lebanese Army -- are Al Qaeda and that they are fighting for the UN tribunal to punish the assassins of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It will require a gullible mind indeed to believe Al Qaeda has taken up the cause of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon." professor MJT

This is not factual information. Sorry to break it to you, but it was Russias UN ambassador that said what is happening in Northern Lebanon is an attempt to pressure the UN to push for a chapter 7 resolution concerning the international tribunal.

He therefore implicated a 'third party' - just like AlJaseeras Ghassan Bin Jiddu reported yesterday.

Please correct your information MJT.

Posted by: Shamelessnesnsesnenses at May 22, 2007 11:37 AM

I'm sure Fatboy Nasrallah and hizbo will soon be gathering up all their missles and rushing to protect Lebanese sovereignty.

No they won't. Their weapons are only to be used against one entity - you know who that is. So don't bet on your rediculous predictions. It takes much more than this cheap trick to fool Hezbollah.

Posted by: shamelessnesnensnens at May 22, 2007 11:38 AM

But this time there is no Israeli Army nearby for the Palestinian Arabs to run to for their protection. "

Huh, how funny. You clearly haven't heard of Sabra and Chatilla.

Do us all a favour; brush your teeth and go to sleep, you have school tomorrow - kid.

Posted by: shamelesnesslesesenennsnnensns at May 22, 2007 11:46 AM

Mike, there might have been another one recently, but the name that comes to mind for me is Imam Musa al-Sadr, the founder of Amal, who issued a fatwa to that effect in 1973.
Link

Some Shia cleric (I forget who) issued a fatwa recently dubbing the Alawites Shias. This was about politics, not religion.

Anyway, I'm aware of the doctrinal gap, but my point was that in the crucible of regional sectarian hatred, Alawis become effectively Shiites to fundamentalist Sunnis.

The quickest way to destroy Assad's regime would probably be to bribe him and his lower hierarchy into attempting to genuinely seal the Syrian border with Iraq. The accumulated salafists would then turn on him instead. And that, in a nutshell, is why Israel isn't interested in overthrowing Assad right now.

Posted by: glasnost at May 22, 2007 12:04 PM

hey, shameless (what a fitting name!)

have you heard of the civil war?

and what is exactly hezbollah than an entity? at least israel is a state and there are no private armies inside it to direct their arms to the hezbollah entity.

last time i checked hezbollah started a war without checking with the govt of lebanon, and then they put a siege to it. and iran and syria had nothing to do with it.

it's you who need to go 2 sleep.

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 12:05 PM

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=265

Posted by: glasnost at May 22, 2007 12:10 PM

Shamless (aka Yo Yo): Please correct your information MJT.

I will do no such thing. You need to improve your reading comprehension. Go read the article at the link again.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 12:22 PM

glasnost: Alawis become effectively Shiites to fundamentalist Sunnis.

Regardless of the dubious and unfounded fatwa, fundamentalist Sunnis view Alawite blood as licit.

I'm not saying you're wrong about your view here vis a vis Sunni extremists and Alawites,, I'm just adding that the Alawites aren't really Shias, despite the fact that Ali is central in their religion. They are very far removed from Islam and are really their own phenomenon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 12:26 PM

hey, galsnost,

is that the ass-ad licking landis? if so, when god distributed stupidity he stood several times in line.

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 12:51 PM

at least israel is a state and there are no private armies inside it to direct their arms to the hezbollah entity. fp

Really? Have you heard of the settlers? Yes, them. They are worse than a private militia. They are state-sponsored militias, who are allowed to carry, bear and use their arms without being prosecuted when they do. They attack palistinian workers, farmers and the likes on a daily basis.

last time i checked hezbollah started a war without checking with the govt of Lebanon fp

Last time I checked, the government is fucking up the country without asking the Lebanese and Palistinian refugees who are suffering more than they did during the Israeli war - also because I know most Lebanese would like to end this politically in fear it might escalate. New facts are coming in on an hourly basis. First the terrorist group was 200 men, now its nearly a thousand. There is a third party involved provoking both sides. Syria is implicated even though they've bulldozed all border cross-ins into lebanon to avoid any recruitments and weapons to flow to these terrorists. Meanwhile the US is championing the government to carry on with this and escalate even further. Seniora is asking for US assistance. The Arab world is also offering their assistance. Next we will hear Israel is carrying out airstrikes to provide the Lebanese Army back-up. Then all of a sudden marine peace-keepers will be back to kill the palistinians Israel forgot.

then they put a siege to it fp

Finally you say something less dumb, but still dumb enough. 1) Lebanon was never beseiged by Hezbollah - what Israel did is called a seige. 2) Whats Hezbollah did could only have happened through popular support - therefore you have to criticize half the Lebanese population - if not more - for doing that. Then why don't you go a step further and order them to apologise for their acts of peaceful democracy. Then maybe you can reform the constitution and abolish the article where it says 'the source of power should always be the people'.

"I will do no such thing. You need to improve your reading comprehension. Go read the article at the link again." MJT

Any bullshit could be linked to a website as a source. I stumbled across a website talking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, then across another pro-nazi site calling all non-aryans lesser beings and and and...If someone wrote about it, it doesn't mean it's true. You're the one who needs to improve his reading comprehension because if you actually READ the website properly, you would know they are right-wing anti-syrian and pro-government. Thats the crap you expect from these idiots.

PS regarding your view on alawiites, you've gotten them confused with Druze. It's druze who are closer to christianity than Islam, and an offshoot of shia Islam, not Alawiites. They are regarded as muslims and consider themselves muslims, only they have a different theory of what happened, just like any other sect in Islam. The only reason they seem to be outcasted, is because they are a minority. Extreme sunnis are called heretics by shia and vice versa, it doesn't make neither excludable from Islam. That maniac, baha' sultan (i think) is an x-alawiite. She wouldn't be talking about Islam if she doesn't consider her religion as a muslim one (concidering she talks from a muslim perspective, or x-muslim...)

Posted by: shameless yoyo at May 22, 2007 01:15 PM

how many times did you stand in line for stupidity when god distributed it?

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 01:57 PM

yo-yo,

Equating Jewish settlers to Hezbullah is a bit of a reach. It's true settlers are armed, but only with small arms (pistols and rifles). Settlers do not form a militia independent of the Israeli law, nor have they ever drawn Israel into a war.

Posted by: Zak at May 22, 2007 02:20 PM

This entire dustup has been engineered by the Israelis to deal with Gaza. The Mossad has finally realized that an Arab army can be used to liquidate Palestinians in a way that the Israeli army cannot. After the Lebanese army gets battle tested and blooded in Tripoli, they will be used to put down Hamas and Fatah in Gaza. In exchange, Israel will keep the lid on Hizbollah until the Lebanese army has enough experience and training in anti-guerilla tactics to take on Hizbollah. What the Israelis haven't counted on is that the Arab league will catch wind of this Mossad plot and put the Zionazis out of business by topplin Siniora and March 14 before the Lebanese army can come back home..

Posted by: investigator at May 22, 2007 02:27 PM

The recent events have had a chilling effect on the (already tepid) enthusiasm of some security council members for the Harari tribunal:

Some UNSC members toughen Hariri tribunal opposition after flare up in
Politics 5/22/2007 12:42:00 AM

Lebanon UNITED NATIONS, May 21 (KUNA) -- Some Security Council members toughened their opposition to an American, British and French draft resolution that would establish a special tribunal to try Lebanese former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassins.
"To add the tribunal to what we have seen on TV, we would need to have our heads examined. We were for going very slow to start with. Now we are even slower," South African envoy Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa told reporters.
Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin said the fighting between Lebanese army and Fateh al-Islam militants "complicates everything." The co-sponsors of the draft resolution were "confident" the council would act before the end of the month.
The issue moved to the council after the Lebanese failed to establish the tribunal according to the constitution.
A Lebanese delegation of legal experts, which arrived here on Saturday, met with UN top legal aide Nicolas Michel earlier today.
Syrian envoy Bashar Al-Jaafari said earlier today there might be a linkage between the fighting in Tripoli and the talks in the council on establishing the Hariri Tribunal.
"I would like to remind the media that every time there is a meeting in the council to deal with the Lebanese crisis, there is some kind of trouble somewhere in Lebanon," he said. "This is not a coincidence." (end) sj.bs KUNA 220042 May 07NNNN
from here through here Posted by: Bruno at May 22, 2007 02:35 PM

Ok, I'm tired of the stupid bullshit around here.

Anyone who posts anti-Jewish conspiracy theories will be immediately banned for trolling, starting with "Investigator" above.

If the excessive jackassery continues to annoy me I will add another bannable offense to the list.

Anyone who does not like this policy is more than welcome to scream about the Zionazi's collaboration with the Lebanese army on their own blog.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 02:46 PM

Sorry, Michael. Investigator above was me. The post was a joke and I thought the conspiracy theory was sufficiently absurd and transparent to be an obvious joke. I guess if it were funnier it would have been more apparent.

Posted by: dontgetit at May 22, 2007 04:20 PM

dontgeit, the fact that your parody sounded exacly like the real thing says more about the conspirazoid mentality endemic to the Middle East than about your supposed unfunniness.

Posted by: Bruno at May 22, 2007 04:27 PM

dontgetit,

What Bruno said. I can usually spot this sort of parody, but I have met people in the Middle East who are actually that crazy for real.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at May 22, 2007 04:38 PM

for some reason i trust this than a yoyo nonsense:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.hezbollah20may20,0,910940.story?coll=bal-oped-headlines

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 04:41 PM

A very cute story. Do you even know who Amine Gemayel is, and what he did for those people to be so angry at him? Do you know why Hezbollah wants (not is) to take the property compensation being handed by government? (the government has till now delayed any payments - none have been made so far - who used to be the president of the reconstruction project of the government resigned in september claiming that the government was intentionally delaying the repayments to weaken Hezbollah as well as try to get away with some pocket money) etc etc etc

-Amine Gemayel invited the Americans, French and Italians to 'control' the war in Lebanon, only for the French to side with the Christians and the Americans with the Israelis, and the Italians with no-one (which is why only the American and French barracks were attacked in 1982 - and not the Italins')

-Hezbollah's Wa3ad reconstruction company for the Dahiyeh ONLY, is telling the government under permission from an overwhelming number of the people who lost their homes in the Dahiyeh to give the compensation money so that they could rebuild the destroyed buildings. In Dahiyeh there are no houses, you can't just compensate people for every flat they lost, otherwise the owners of the building will be left with insufficient money to build another building (since most of the apartments are not his anymore) and the people on rental will be left homeless. This way Hezbollah builds the new apartment flats and simply places everyone back into their homes and gives the bildings back to their owners and allow the people on rent back to their rental flats paying the same price as before.

The truth is no-one denied that Hezbollah started as a mini-revolution. They publicly claimed they wanted an Islamic state - just like Samir GaeGae wanted to split lebanon into federations, with the largest one being the christian federation. Just like Amine Gemayel's desire was to create a christian majority and rule of the west in Lebanon and the list is endless. Just like the communist parties wanted a communist state and so on - there really is no point to single out Hezbollah - no-one claimed they are angels or even close.

My argument goes that they are better off, more efficient, more reliable more desciplined, more respected, more sensible, much more honest, less corrupt etc than every other party in Lebanon - both the military and political parties. Whoever here claims Hezbollah did not inform the lebanese people or government that Hezbollah will abduct Israeli soldiers is mistaken. Hezbollah made sure as soon as the new government was formed in 2005, they released a document calling on all the actions of the resistance as lawful. Then Nasrallah on a million occassions told the Lebanese and the leaders there would be such act and warned them to respond if they have any objections. In October 2005 he also attempted to kidnap soldiers - even though that operation failed, no-one in the governement said anything of it - but rather backed them. Nonsense that Hezbollah took the people and government by surprise and without permission is bull***t.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7dJTll12nY

Posted by: shamelsesnesnesnensss at May 22, 2007 05:44 PM

well, let's have the whole world into a caliphate, coz those islamists are more efficient, disciplined, honest, etc. hitler was honest and efficient too, yet nobody believed him either.

i ask again, how many times you stood in line?

Posted by: fp at May 22, 2007 06:15 PM

Settlers do not form a militia independent of the Israeli law, nor have they ever drawn Israel into a war.

Wrong on both counts.

Posted by: glasnost at May 23, 2007 10:13 AM

From John Cole:

State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Lebanon’s government had asked for additional funds as fighting intensified, but declined to name an amount or predict when a decision would be made on the request.

Huh. Given the property damage from the recent Israel war I think one could call our existing aid something akin to life support. God knows if we can afford to essentially throw $12 billion in c-note bricks out the back of a low-flying cargo plane we can afford to next-day air some sort of aid to the Lebanese. I’m fairly sure that Israel would appreciate it.

What’s going on? Let’s ask Seymour Hersh.

Last March, Hersh reported that American policy in the Middle East had shifted to opposing Iran, Syria, and their Shia allies at any cost, even if it meant backing hardline Sunni jihadists.

A key element of this policy shift was an agreement among Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, whereby the Saudis would covertly fund the Sunni Farah al-Islam in Lebanon as a counterweight to the Shia Hezbollah.

[...] When asked why the administration would be acting in a way that appears to run counter to US interests, Hersh says that, since the Israelis lost to them last summer, “the fear of Hezbollah in Washington, particularly in the White House, is acute.”

Posted by: glasnost at May 23, 2007 10:48 AM
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