May 12, 2008

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

By Lee Smith

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

"So, we know that Hezbollah's well-trained fighters are in control of most of west Beirut. The decision taken by Walid Jumblat and Saad al-Hariri not to fight back in Beirut, but rather hand most of their positions to the army ended any illusion regarding the sanctity of the "resistance" – that it would never turn its weapons inward, for now its hands are dripping with the blood of innocent Lebanese. But it's different in the Chouf where Jumblatt's forces bloodied Hezbollah.

"The Chouf is calm now after fighting over the weekend in which forces belonging to Talal Arslan, part of the Hezbollah-led opposition, jumped sides and joined alongside Jumblatt's men. As the Progressive Socialist Party website reports: 'The free people of the Shouf roll back an attack by the Iranian militias causing severe casualties in lives and equipment.'

"Hence, Jumblatt sounded more assertive last night on LBC news because he knows he got the upper-hand in the Chouf battles (Reuters is reporting at least 14 Hezbollah gunmen killed. Meanwhile, the PSP website is claiming 32 Hezbollah fighters killed and 250 wounded.). He was willing to hand his offices over to the army to deflect some of the tension and because he wants to avoid a civil war."

In short, what happened in West Beirut was a given. According to a report from the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, this coup had been planned well in advance and its mastermind was the recently assassinated Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh. The government may in fact have forced Nasrallah to show his hand at a time of its choosing, not his. Hezbollah's walkover in Beirut came as a surprise to no one; nor did the performance of the army, except perhaps the Bush administration which must now reconsider the amount of money it has spent on equipment and training for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

As for the pro-government fighters in Beirut, contrary to most press accounts, there are no Sunni "militias" in the capital. Rather, it is mostly defensive armament, private citizens with small arms defending their families, homes and property. So it is hardly any surprise that Hezbollah managed to overrun Sunni neighborhoods easily. But that is merely one small part of Lebanon, and while the attention of the foreign press has focused on fighting in one sector of the capital, events throughout the rest of the country suggest that Hezbollah's "rout" is illusory. Tony Badran, drawing on various Lebanese accounts and his own reporting, offers this account:

"After taking over West Beirut, Hezbollah tried to move to the Shouf, where there are two Shiite towns, Kayfoun and Qmatiyye. Hezbollah is trying to link them up to the Dahieh through the Karameh road, which links Dahieh to Choueifat-Aramoun-Doha-Deir Qoubel-Aytat-Kayfoun and Qmatiye, so that it can make encroachments, maintain access routes and not allow the Druze to surround the two Shiite towns.

"That was the plan, but Hezbollah got a severe beating in the Shouf. They were not able to penetrate anything, relying instead – for the first time in the current fighting – on artillery/mortar fire. To no avail. Yesterday alone we heard that seven Hezbollah fighters who tried to infiltrate got killed.

"Hence, Hezbollah burned its Druze ally, Talal Arslan. Whatever tiny following Arslan had before this, it's safe to say it has been seriously damaged. Witness for instance the fate of Syria's little Druze creation, the pitbull Wi'am Wahhab, who, it is rumored, has taken his followers (which on a good day may actually reach about 100) and left the Shouf altogether.

"Meanwhile in Northern Lebanon, the pro-opposition Alawites are being slammed by Sunnis in the Baal Mohsen area. Similarly, Sunnis in the Akkar area in the north attacked and torched offices of the SSNP, Baath party, Hezbollah and Aoun, killing a good number of SSNPs. As with Arslan, we see a parallel development, former PM Omar Karami, a Sunni who is at the same time trying to support Hezbollah while shoring up his Sunni bona fides. So he lamented the "deep wound" that has occurred between Sunnis and Shia, and told Hezbollah that if this becomes a sectarian fight, then we have two choices: to either stay home, or fight with our sect.

"So far we've had the luxury of not seeing this sad charade play out in the Christian areas. Sleiman Frangieh has been inconspicuously quiet these last few days. Michel Aoun, on the other hand, can't help himself. So, while there are rumors that he might be urging Hezbollah in to East Beirut, others are watching to see if Nasrallah will attempt to do with the tiny Shiite communities in Nab'a, Metn, and Keserwan/Jbeil, what they did with Qmatiyye and Kayfoun.

"And so, the Party of God has achieved the 'great victory' of conquering a few Beiruti streets, terminating the credibility of the army, hastening the prospect of its disintegration, and damaging beyond repair for the foreseeable future, the Shiites' ties to the Lebanese social fabric."

Hezbollah and its allies have won one small battle in a war that has just begun.

Posted by Tony Badran at May 12, 2008 6:39 AM
Comments

There is only one word, in Arabic, to desribe Jumblatt and it is "sharmoot".

The man is a political pimp. He will take which ever side he thinks holds the upper hand, sometimes he will support both sides at the same time. He fought along side the Syrians, now he is against the Syrians.

Recently he made strong statements against Hizb'Allah and then later said that Hizb'Allah must be protected, that they are the only real resistance in Lebanon.

As to the Chouf, you think Jumblatss forces could do what the Israelis couldnt? I suggest you reasses that view.

Besides, this time next year Jumblatt could be the newest face on the Hizb'Allah side. You never know with that tart.

Either way the man is a monster with the blood of women and children on his hands. Too bad most of the leaders in Lebanon come from similar stock.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 7:35 AM

Micheal, these were not "Jumblatt's Milita" but common people who're tyring to protect their homes and towns from the filth of HA.

Salute to the Druze heroes in the Aley and Chouf mountains for dealing these Iranian thugs a great lesson. HA is good at fighting while hiding behind women and children and entrenched tunnels, but in the battle of real men, they get slaughtered like the pigs they are.

As for Marc's comment above, you wouldn't be calling Jumblatt such names if you didn't fear the man. That's right you should fear him because he's exposing your leader and your like for what you really are - traitors and Iranian-brainwashed thugs.

Posted by: realist000 Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 8:20 AM

Why is it that Hezbollah are "Iranians" but the pro-government forces aren't "Saudis" or "Americans"?

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 8:27 AM

Daniel E,

Because the pro-government forces are not the result of Iranian revolutionary guards who created a party to extend the reach of Iran? Because the pro-government forces are not the result of billions of dollars of Iranian investment?

They are Lebanese parties allied with external forces, not Iranian parties allied with Lebanese forces.

Posted by: Burger Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 8:39 AM

Daniel,

To add to Burger's answer here's why HA is a real threat to Lebanon. For those that still belief this entity its truly a resistance movement or just out to better the livelihood of the ‘impoverished' Shiite community, to put it mildly, you’re being too simplistic in your thinking and analysis.

I think HA is not interested in creating their own State or taking over Lebanon, at least not yet. They’re too clever to know neither option will be allowed to succeed. HA learned a great deal from the cunning tactics of the Syrians to make such rash decisions.

Even with 30 years of occupation the Syrians allowed MP’s to be “elected” and Lebanese Presidents to be “appointed”, just to fool or silence the critics into thinking Lebanon’s political institutions are functioning. Though the Syrians long term strategy of systematically dissolving the Lebanese institutions was very much in full gear.

This is the same strategy HA been employing. They want to keep the Lebanese State barely functioning, whether with a government of their liking or a feeble government too weak to even challenge their own ultraistic motives. HA knows they can’t afford to disturb the delicate sectarian balance or the external players, all this while continuing to grow their own military, political and social infrastructure separate from the State (hence the latest charade of power and arrogance against messing with their own private phone network).

If HA’s strategy goes unchecked a day will come when HA dominant force simply will overwhelm the State and becomes the de-facto Lebanese State. That’s why this government, with all its shortcomings, can not afford to lose this struggle.

Posted by: realist000 Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 8:52 AM

Daniel,
To add to the above, HA raised the pictures of Bashar Asad (President of Syria) when they took over the medical clinics of the Future Movement.
One of the HA leaders said that Jumbullat went too far when he suggested the expullion of the Iranian Ambassador!

Posted by: GK Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 9:09 AM

I'm not disputing that Hezbollah are armed and funded by Syria and Iran. I just don't see why this makes them Iranians anymore than American and Saudi funding of the government makes them Saudis and Americans. If Hezbollah had a couple of hundred members it would be a plausible assertion but like Michael Totten mentioned they're a quarter of the country. Iranian revolutionary guards can only train and equip, they can't make people support Hezbollah.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 10:17 AM

Looks we have a new al-Sahhaf in the making.

Posted by: Joe Rushty Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 10:34 AM

I AM FROM AYTAT IAM SURE THE PERSON CALLING HIMSELF MARK KNOWS WHERE THAT IS. WE TAUGHT the Iranians a lesson they won't soon forget. the mountains will be their grave yards. we will fight them with sticks and stones if we have to. the Druze are the pride of Lebanon. we won;t disappoint you, we are armed and ready.

Posted by: AYTATI Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 12:23 PM

Aytati,
May Allah protect you! More people will join you soon! Just be steadfast!

Posted by: GK Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 12:27 PM

Please read this and share with every so people know what's taking place in Lebanon TODAY.

Lebanon's '300' heroes (by Walid Phares)
http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2008/05/lebanons_300_he.php

Daniel, I think this article might give you an solid answer why HA is considered an Iranian entity.

Posted by: realist000 Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 12:42 PM

Walid Phares also claimed that Rafiq Hariri was a "wahhabi" supported by Saudi Arabia. If he also wants to portray Hezbollah as foreign agents I wouldn't agree but at least it's a consistant position. This isn't an issue for me of whether they're good or bad. It's an issue of being able to understand the events fully. In my opinion, saying that Hezbollah are Iranian agents is like saying the govt's of Saudi Arabia or Jordan are American agents (as al-qaeda claim) because they receive aid from America and that the internal factors of those countries are irrelevant to understanding them.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 1:41 PM

Walid Phares also claimed that Rafiq Hariri was a “wahhabi” supported by Saudi Arabia.

As a Saudi citizen who had his citizenship bestowed directly by the Saud royal family, and as someone with a number of valuable and influential business interests with them, I suspect that is a tempting argument to pose.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 1:57 PM

Oh nice use of classical history by Phares there. If the Iranian shi'ites represent Oriental despotism does that make the Sunnis part of the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian tradition now?

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 1:58 PM

Nobody in Lebanon has anywhere near enough power to defeat Hizballah on the battlefield. The best any other "militia" can do is show everyone how brave they are.

None of the other groups are

a) trained and financed by Iran

b) veterans of a 20-year conflict with Israel

It's no contest. Neither Israel nor the U.S. can help them out, either.

The key lies in Europe and the Arab world. If Lebanon's neighbors made a serious effort to isolate Iran and Syria and stop the flow of weapons to Hizballah, things would probably be a lot better.

But we have people in the comments section who don't think Hizballah is really so bad.

Obviously, there are plenty of Americans willing to give in to Hizballah. So how can we realistically expect the EU, let alone most Arab countries, to oppose them with all their might?

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 3:15 PM

The key lies in Europe and the Arab world. If Lebanon's neighbors made a serious effort to isolate Iran and Syria and stop the flow of weapons to Hizballah, things would probably be a lot better.

In terms of the Arab countries I'd say Iran and Syria are pretty isolated. On the other hand Iran's getting all its equipment from Russia and doing significant oil deals with India.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 3:30 PM

Daniel E. I'd say Iran and Syria are pretty isolated

Not militarily isolated. If the U.S., EU and the rest of the Arab world agreed to shoot down Iranian planes carrying weapons to Hizballah, it would all be over soon.

The point is, there needs to be unity.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 3:35 PM

But we have people in the comments section who don't think Hizballah is really so bad.

A good word on this from the Angry Arab today: "I am not pleased with the exuberance that is exhibited by some leftists toward the developments in Lebanon. I believe that the radical left, or the revolutionary left, should be careful in evaluating the situation."

Hezbollah is not a nice organization. Important to keep in mind, no matter what one's politics.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 4:08 PM

If the U.S., EU and the rest of the Arab world agreed to shoot down Iranian planes carrying weapons to Hizballah, it would all be over soon.

Yay sanctions.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 4:13 PM

Not militarily isolated. If the U.S., EU and the rest of the Arab world agreed to shoot down Iranian planes carrying weapons to Hizballah, it would all be over soon.

Well if we assume they're delivering them that route then the only arab country that would matter is Iraq which has neither the capability or probably the desire to help blockade Iran.

Aside from that, this is only important if we're talking about Katyusha rockets and other larger weapons which don't seem to be relevant to the current situation. There's no way you could stop most of their equipment getting in.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 4:15 PM

DPU: Hezbollah is not a nice organization. Important to keep in mind, no matter what one's politics.

It is also not a leftist organization. It is a radical-right fascist organization.

In some ways these "left" and "right" labels don't apply to Hezbollah, but in the most important way they do. Remember what happened to the leftists in Iran who sided with Hezbollah's creators, the current regime in Iran, during the 1979 revolution? They were liquidated, and they the first against the wall after the regime of the Shah was taken down.

But some people will never learn. It's easy to be a stupid leftist who supports Hezbollah as long as your only passport is not Lebanese.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 4:36 PM

Despite the efforts of the '300', Lebanon is toast. Christians should leave while they can. Everyone else make sure your women have their burkas ready. I hope I am wrong.

Posted by: RecoveringHog Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 5:15 PM

Everyone else make sure your women have their burkas ready.

Arabs do not wear burkhas.

Also, lots of Hezbollah supporters, and plenty of these masked gunmen, are atheists. This about sectarian supremacy much more than it is about religion per se.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 5:39 PM

Everyone else make sure your women have their burkas ready.

Arabs do not wear burkhas.

Also, lots of Hezbollah supporters, and plenty of these masked gunmen, are atheists. This about sectarian supremacy much more than it is about religion per se.

True... but the more dominant hezbollah becomes, the more islam will play a dominant role in society.

Religious zeal could trump all the tribal, clan and party ties which caused the previous civil wars.

Posted by: RecoveringHog Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 6:18 PM

(Michael Totten) Also, lots of Hezbollah supporters, and plenty of these masked gunmen, are atheists. This about sectarian supremacy much more than it is about religion per se.

How are you using the word, "sect," here?

I can understand how an atheist individual might calculate that his chances are better if he starts kissing Hezbollah's behind now, but how can you be an atheist and part of the Hezbollah "sect," which tends to frown on atheism.

Posted by: Snippet Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 6:42 PM

A clip of Hariri's non-existant militia in action

http://youtube.com/watch?v=p-eAjQYae5w

Posted by: Joe Rushty Author Profile Page at May 12, 2008 8:54 PM

Snippet: How are you using the word, “sect,” here?

The same way the Lebanese use it themselves. "Atheist," "agnostic," and "non-religious" are not sects. Sect is a functional ethnicity and has nothing whatsoever to do with religious belief as such.

"Shia" in Lebanon works the same way "Jew" works in Israel. It doesn't matter if you are religious or not. The only thing that matters is the religious background of your family.

No one is officially atheist in the Middle East. You are a Christian atheist, a Jewish atheist, a Shia atheist, etc. In the U.S. I am an atheist, and in Lebanon I am a Christian. These are identity markers that cannot be erased.

It works the same way in Iraq, and in the Balkans.

Lots of Hezbollah supporters are atheist "Shias." If the group becomes too explicitly Islamist, it will fall apart. That is much less the case, and possibly not at all the case, with the Mahdi Army militia in Iraq.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 12:27 AM

Snippet: how can you be an atheist and part of the Hezbollah “sect,”

Hezbollah isn't a sect. Hezbollah is a party and a militia. The leadership is Islamist, but not all the members and supporters are. Islamic law is not enforced in areas Hezbollah controls in South Beirut and South Lebanon. Women can and do wear whatever they want, etc., even in small Hezbollah-controlled Shia villages.

Hezbollah is about power and supremacy for Shias in Lebanon and "resistance" against Israel. Their objective is to turn Lebanon into a garrison state dominated by them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 12:32 AM

I don't believe that Shi'ite women cover their faces by any means, anywhere.

If the group becomes too explicitly Islamist, it will fall apart. That is much less the case, and possibly not at all the case, with the Mahdi Army militia in Iraq.

That's the point I was trying to make earlier. The model of an organisation that's half fundementalist/half communal representative is much closer to SIIC/Dawa then it is to Sadr's group.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 2:54 AM

(Michael Totten) ...The only thing that matters is the religious background of your family...

Thanks for that explanation. Very interesting.

It doesn't look like very fertile soil for democracy.

Posted by: Snippet Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 4:15 AM

Hezbollah's walkover in Beirut came as a surprise to no one; nor did the performance of the army, except perhaps the Bush administration which must now reconsider the amount of money it has spent on equipment and training for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Which doesn't mean that money was wasted: My take here.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 5:27 AM

From Barry Rubin's Lebanon to West: Wake Up Fast!

"...What Spain was in 1936; Lebanon is today.

Does anyone remember the Spanish Civil War? Briefly, a fascist revolt took place against the democratic government. The rebels were motivated by several factors, including anger that their religion had not been given enough respect and regional grievances, but essentially they sought to put their ideology and themselves into power. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy backed the rebels with money and guns. The Western democracies stood by and did nothing.

>Guess who won? And guess whether that outcome led to peace or world war...

..Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn't help them? Every Israeli speaking nonsense about Syria making peace; every American claiming Damascus might split from Tehran; every European preaching appeasement has in fact been engaged in confidence-breaking measures.

Hizballah doesn't need to win a military victory but only to show it can win one, using that position of strength to try to force its demands on the moderate government. . The government has already accepted Michel Suleiman, Syria's candidate for president. But Hizballah and the rest say this is not enough: they want veto power over everything.

The goal of Hizballah, and its Syrian and Iranian backers at present is not the full conquest of Lebanon--something beyond their means--but to control the government so it does nothing they dislike: no strong relations with the West, no ability to stop war against Israel, no disarming Hizballah's militias or countering that group's control over large parts of the country, and certainly no investigation of Syrian involvement in terrorism there.

Why, three years after Damascus ordered the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri do investigators dawdle, having edited out the names of top Syrian officials they blamed for the killing in their initial report?...

Israel bombed a nuclear reactor being built in Syria. Rice reportedly opposed the action. The world yawned...

...The battle isn't over, which is all the more reason for real--not just verbal--international action. Hizballah has made its point for the moment, that it is the most powerful and to it every knee must bend. Yet without serious political and diplomatic support for Lebanon's government and real costs inflicted on Syria and Iran, the battle will be lost eventually.

For all those in the West who don't like Israel, then at least help the people you pretend to like. Back the Lebanese government with real power and aid, covertly or overtly, those battling the radical forces in Lebanon."

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 7:49 AM

There is only one word, in Arabic, to desribe Jumblatt and it is “sharmoot”.
The man is a political pimp... As to the Chouf, you think Jumblatss forces could do what the Israelis couldnt? I suggest you reasses that view.
Besides, this time next year Jumblatt could be the newest face on the Hizb'Allah side. You never know with that tart.

Uh-oh, sounds like Marc was having a bad case of the Mondays.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 7:52 AM

maryatexitzero: Sounds like Marc was having a bad case of the Mondays.

"I believe you'd get your ass kicked saying something like that."

-Lawrence in Office Space

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 8:18 AM

“I believe you'd get your ass kicked saying something like that.”

F*kin' A..

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 8:58 AM

In some ways these “left” and “right” labels don't apply to Hezbollah, but in the most important way they do. Remember what happened to the leftists in Iran who sided with Hezbollah's creators, the current regime in Iran, during the 1979 revolution? They were liquidated, and they the first against the wall after the regime of the Shah was taken down.

From the Angry Arab yesterday:
The radical left should keep a distance from an organization (i.e. Hizbullah) with which it does not share an ideology--a religious fundamentalist one at that. Today, I kept thinking of the leader of the Iranian Communist Party who sang the praises of Khumayni only to be forced to appear on TV (after the revolution) and make Stalinist-style "confessions". He later was executed as were other communists.
I think that there is a common mindset on the right that imagines that if someone does not agree 100% with one's opinion, then that someone holds a completely opposite opinion. This leads to thinking that anyone critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East is a fan of Hezbollah. Not so. Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 9:30 AM

Mary

Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them?

The last time the US tried to help, some 200 Marines were killed in a terrorist blast. Most Americans have had enough with helping highly dysfunctional countries full of horribly bigoted people. Let the Lebanese risk their own lives cleaning up their self-created crap.

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 9:45 AM

Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them?

I have to admit being a little perplexed by this one. Are you of the opinion that no one should risk their lives for freedom unless someone helps them?

I can't really imagine the US founding fathers saying to the French "Well, if you're not going to help us throw off the British yoke, you can't expect US to risk our lives."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 9:54 AM

Boojum - As Elie Fawaz described in this post, some Lebanese are fighting Hezbollah - and they have won some battles. If they're trying to clean up some of the crap that they (and the Iranians, the Syrians and the Saudis) have created, we should help them.

We could at least publicize their efforts and their victories. Our media doesn't even do that. Anderson Cooper, MJT and other reporters have described how Hezobllah controls the media, but sources like AP continue to omit news that Hezbollah doesn't want us to hear.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:11 AM

DPU: This leads to thinking that anyone critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East is a fan of Hezbollah. Not so.

Well, obviously. But there is a serious-sized chunk of the left that supports Hezbollah. I have met some of these people, and they are ferociously stupid. Hell, even Angry Arab of all people had to tell them to get their ideological shit together.

Anyway, the U.S. doesn't have much of a foreign policy on Lebanon, and hasn't for a long time. The Bush Administration is letting it fester and throwing it over the wall to U.N. troops who stood around with their dicks in their hands while the next war was prepared right in front of them.

Pardon my language.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:24 AM

Why should Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christians risk their lives when the West doesn’t help them? I have to admit being a little perplexed by this one.

Because they would lose. Fighting a war you know you can't win is dumb. If the most powerful military in the Middle East (the IDF) can't beat Hezbollah, why should anyone think the weakest (various Lebanese forces, some which barely even exist) could possibly do it?

The flip side of that is that Hezbollah cannot conquer and rule all of Lebanon. No one in Lebanon is strong enough to hold it together. Anyone who seriously tries will get creamed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:30 AM

Hell, even Angry Arab of all people...

I think that Angry Arab is the most likely person to tell the left to get its collective head out of its ass, so I'm not sure why "of all people" was used here.

The Bush Administration is letting it fester and throwing it over the wall to U.N. troops who stood around with their dicks in their hands while the next war was prepared right in front of them.

Yeah, big surprise there, eh?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:31 AM

The flip side of that is that Hezbollah cannot conquer and rule all of Lebanon. No one in Lebanon is strong enough to hold it together. Anyone who seriously tries will get creamed.

Then the 64,000 dollar question is: do you think Hezbollah will try to do this? Or will they display some smarts and try to get some more allies? Are they making a military play for all of Lebanon right now? Or trying to destabilize the opposition enough to start deal brokering?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:33 AM

DPU: I'm not sure why “of all people” was used here.

Because his fan base is almost exclusively Arab and/or leftist.

Yeah, big surprise there, eh?

Ha, ha. No. I remember Bosnia. Heck, I was just in Bosnia. They hate the UN here in Kosovo, too, though for completely different reasons.

Then the 64,000 dollar question is: do you think Hezbollah will try to do this?

No.

Or will they display some smarts and try to get some more allies?

They aren't getting any more allies. They have already lost some, and they'll keep losing them if this continues.

But they'll still be (domestically) unbeatable, and their opponents will still be unconquerable as a whole. I think pretty much everyone in Lebanon understands this. I never met anybody who didn't. That doesn't mean they won't slug it out, obviously, since that is what they have been doing.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:40 AM

Because his fan base is almost exclusively Arab and/or leftist.

But he hates everyone, Michael, including the left.

They aren't getting any more allies. They have already lost some, and they'll keep losing them if this continues.

Yeah, but what are their long term plans? They don't appear to be stupid when it comes to strategy, so I'm curious as to what you think they plan on doing to accomplish their long-term goal (which I assume is dominating Lebanon politically).

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:44 AM

Ha, ha. No. I remember Bosnia. Heck, I was just in Bosnia. They hate the UN here in Kosovo, too, though for completely different reasons.

No, I was referring to the Bush administration and incompetence. But I repeat myself.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:45 AM

Any actions that the Bush administration in the US might decide to take are complicated by the current situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. These days even giving Iran or Syria a dirty look is grounds for parts of the US left to jump up and down and scream, "Warmonger!"

Posted by: junior Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 10:51 AM

These days even giving Iran or Syria a dirty look is grounds for parts of the US left to jump up and down and scream, “Warmonger!”

So? Since when has the Bush administration been guided by what the left says?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 11:01 AM

DPU: But he hates everyone, Michael, including the left.

That's true. His blog is aptly named.

DPU: I'm curious as to what you think they plan on doing to accomplish their long-term goal

As long as they get to do whatever they want, they'll have enough power to call it good. But in order to get to that point, they have to shoot up the joint and terrorize their opponents into submission.

They have started a war. Watch for radical Sunnis who have been docile to go on a rampage. It is going to get very ugly in Lebanon. My only questions are, how bad and how quickly?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 11:10 AM

As long as they get to do whatever they want, they'll have enough power to call it good. But in order to get to that point, they have to shoot up the joint and terrorize their opponents into submission.

That would then imply that you think they will fail. Is that the case?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 11:27 AM

DPU - "So? Since when has the Bush administration been guided by what the left says?"

Not guided, but there's still a need to at least attempt to work with the party that holds the majority in both houses. Bush is in his last year in office. The legislative bodies are both held by the opposition party. And the opposition party has made it clear that they intend to stall a number of important functions until after the presidential elections in the hopes that their man wins. So Bush has to be somewhat more restrained if he wants to get anything done. Mentioning judges or the Colombian Free Trade Agreement in the House of Representatives isn't a good idea these days.

I'm guessing that doesn't mean that Bush won't necessarily drop a cruise missile or two on a particularly significant Hezbollah target (if the Lebanese government agrees to it). But it does limit his options.

As noted by others, of course, much of the lack of options is probably of his own making as a result of his neglect of Lebanon. I suspect that his desire for a peace agreement in Israel has caused him to avoid putting enough thought into what to do about Hezbollah.

Posted by: junior Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 11:32 AM

So Bush has to be somewhat more restrained if he wants to get anything done.

I though you were referring to leftists yelling "warmonger"? Has either branch praised Hezbollah or Syria recently? Or objected to support of their opposition?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 11:40 AM

much of the lack of options is probably of his own making as a result of his neglect of Lebanon

Was George Bush responsible for babysitting Lebanon?

Posted by: Boojum Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 12:54 PM
House of Saud to the rescue:
Saudi Arabia warned Iran that its support for a ``coup'' in Lebanon by the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group will harm relations with Arab states.

``Iran is supporting the coup that happened in Lebanon and this will affect Tehran's relations with Arab states, if not Muslim states as well,'' Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said today in a televised news conference.

He accused Hezbollah of planning the attack on Beirut and using political issues as an excuse to start the violence. ``If this wasn't pre-planned, I don't know what is,'' al-Faisal said.
Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 12:58 PM

No, the left in America has done none of those things to my knowledge, but they do play the role of the opposition party to a fault and criticize any and all actions/inactions taken/not taken, and resist/promote anything the administration tries to do/not do. And given that they do control the legislature, he can't afford not to listen to them if he wants to get anything done with his last year in office.

He had the luxury for 6 years of not having to listen to them, which in hindsight was probably a bad thing. That doesn't excuse the fact that the opposition is still in "minority" mode, and is spending most of its time antagonizing Bush and overall not being very responsible with their branch of government.

Posted by: SeiginoRaikou Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 1:01 PM

DPU: That would then imply that you think they will fail. Is that the case?

If they avoid trying to rule and occupy the entire country, I think they can succeed in doing pretty much whatever else they want. No one can stop them. I'm also expecting quite a lot more violence from here on out compared to what we're used to seeing. If they do try to seize the entire country (and I doubt they will), there will be even more violence.

Peace is over either way, especially if they get cocky and start shooting Israelis again.

Sigh.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 1:09 PM
House of Saud to the rescue, part 2:
JERUSALEM – With U.S. approval, Saudi Arabia in recent months provided weaponry to militias associated with anti-Syrian Lebanese opposition leaders to bolster them against the Hezbollah terror organization, informed security officials told WND.

The information follows five days of heavy street clashes pitting anti-Syrian gunmen against Hezbollah forces in and around Beirut that has reportedly left 54 dead and much of the country paralyzed.

It also follows a public dispute the past few months between Iranian-allied Syria and U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia, both seemingly vying for more control in several Mideast arenas.

The Saudi weapons were provided to militias associated with Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Parliament Leader Saad Hariri, and former president Amin Gemayel, according to security officials.

I know, WorldDailyNet, but still... Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 5:08 PM

House of Saud to the rescue

At their worst, the Sauds are genocidal. At their very best, they're completely ineffective.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 6:59 PM

Charles Malik reports Hizb is trying to hunt down Jumblatt's men in Chouf right now. Lebanon has no functioning justice system. If Hizbollah is allowed to succeed in this, won't that establish the principle that "Hizbollah justice" must be applied throughout Lebanon, not just in their own sectarian areas?

That would be an astounding political victory over all the other sects in Lebanon. Of all the events that call for the Army's intervention, perhaps this one is the most important to prevent a return to full-blown civil war.

Posted by: Solomon2 Author Profile Page at May 13, 2008 9:54 PM

It is also not a leftist organization. It is a radical-right fascist organization.

In some ways these “left” and “right” labels don't apply to Hezbollah, but in the most important way they do.

Labels are important, but meaning drifts over time. There was a time when "liberal" meant in favor of individual rights, rather than collective rights.

Socialist Internationals - Communists, were fighting National Socialists - Fascists, in WW II. Both were anti-individual collectivists, more left (=socialism, social security, national health programs, etc) than right.

Liberal individualists were also fighting, the US & UK share of the Allies.

Michael -- class based socialism can become as fascist as national based socialism, or even theological based socialism, depending on where the decisions about people are made. By the individual, or by "the people"; the elite, some form of socialism.

America today stands, imperfectly, for the individual, along with capitalism (personal contracts with corporations) and free markets (people free to buy and sell as they decide, rather than the elite).

Leftists are against capitalism, against free markets, and mostly against America. They may not all be friends of Hezbollah (tho some are), nor even friends of friends, but they all see that Hezbollah is anti-Americans, so they're 3rd kind of friends. Their American enemy's enemy.

It's the anti-war (=acceptance of genocide) Left that says Darfur is not a genocide, that less than 5000 American deaths in Iraq means Op Iraqi Freedom has already failed, that implicitly requires 30 minute victory with no lives lost or else all is doom that has stopped Bush & imperfect America from being more pro-active in support of freedom.

I think Hezbollah is getting afraid of Bush success in Iraq, and a future Sunni "Beirut Awakening" modeled on that of the Anbar Sunnis. And if Bush's Saudi friends are willing to front a pipeline of weapons & training to Sunnis in Lebanon, then it's really unlikely Hez can win much more.

Splitting the country before a civil war seems the most likely way to minimize deaths.

Michael -- How many Lebanese deaths must be there be before you'd say, in retrospect, that an earlier split would have been better?

Couldn't Beirut follow Cyprus' Nicosia and be split, with a non-Shia part modernizing and separating from the Shia South?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at May 14, 2008 6:47 AM

I think Hezbollah is getting afraid of Bush success in Iraq, and a future Sunni "Beiruit Awakening" modeled on that of the Anbar Sunnis

Don't you mean a Shi'ite Awakening? In Anbar it was a majority of nationalist Sunnis fighting a minority of radical fundementalist Sunnis. Trying to split the Shia mass away from Hezbollah might only work when most Shias see Hezbollah as working against their interests.

Posted by: Daniel E. Author Profile Page at May 14, 2008 8:24 AM

Tom Grey: How many Lebanese deaths must be there be before you'd say, in retrospect, that an earlier split would have been better?

Splitting Lebanon would kill a hell of a lot of people. Shia areas are not contiguous. Their "capital" is in the suburbs south of Beirut, and their other regions are in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

If they were contiguous and wanted to leave, I would say fine. Go. Build your own Gaza and see how you like it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at May 14, 2008 2:14 PM

Truly you are very misinformed about the reality on the ground in Leb'nan. First, as the Los Angeles times has recently reported,
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-security12-2008may12,0,6458359.story , Harari's sunni militia, Secure Plus, has been on the receiving end of u.s. training in Ordan paid for courtesy of the Saudis. Unfortunately for them western military tradition is rather poor when it comes to light infantry, the sort of fighting called for in Leb'nan, whereas Iranian light infantry is considered to be hands down the best in the world. The army has secured all twenty of the alleged non-existent Sunni militias arms caches in west Beirut. Second, contrary to your speculations about what is going on in the Chouf, you should truly read what Jumblatt himself has publicly stated. Namely, that his forces have been routed, that he is surrendering all of his heavy and medium weapons( mortars, machine guns, anti-aricraft cannons, rpg's, etc ) and that he takes full responsibility for the deaths of pro-hizballah Druze that were killed by the again allegedly non-existent PSP militia. The battle of the Chouf is over, it lasted less than 24hrs, as a direct result there are only three Druze militias left functioning in the country and they're all allied with hizballah.

And of the future? Hizballah has offered generous terms for a cessation of military action; rescind the two pro-israeli anti-hizballah dictates, that is all, and the ruling team have already accepted the terms without reservation. Unofficially, it has been accepted by all sides that all non-allied hizb-allah militias will be disarmed and all pro-hizb-allah militas will be incorporated into their reserves; the saraya. No doubt a few pro-al-qaeda salafist will continue to horde weapons in defiance of this gentleman's agreement by lebanese, but then again that's what the security services and the lebanese army are for; dealing with foreigners and the mentally insane. Business may now return to normal.

Posted by: Azr@el Author Profile Page at May 15, 2008 8:38 PM

Iranian Militias? You have GOT to love the open sectarianism in such a statement! I guess the Jumblatt crew are the "American Militia"?

Sometimes reading anti Shi'ite/Hizb'Allah stuff here reminds me of an al Qaeda communication.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 21, 2008 9:01 AM

It is also easy to be a "stupid rightist" who supports dubious "pro-democracy" forces in Lebanon, and other places, whilst their money and arms gets shifted to Sunni radicals who will end up using them against American and Western influences.

What do you expect when American arms and funds are going to people who were known mass murders during the civil war? Amazing when the leaders in DC think that the genocidal mass murders in Lebanon today are the countries' best hope for democracy.

That is EXACTLY what is happening in Lebanon today.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at May 27, 2008 1:13 PM
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