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Monday, September 25, 2006

All's not hunky dory in Hezbullahland

For those who missed it on Friday, Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared in public for the first time since July at a 'victory rally' held in Beirut. Nasrallah, under heavy guard and speaking behind bullet-proof glass, thanked God for what he called a "divine victory" against the Jewish state. 800,000 people were estimated to have attended. Of course the reason Nasrallah appeared in public was that the IDF promised not to assassinate him (please don't ask me why - maybe they couldn't find a pilot willing to do it on the Eve of Rosh HaShanna).
In his first public appearance since Israel launched its massive offensive against Hizbullah on July 12, Nasrallah called for the formation of a new government, repeatedly attacking Saniora's administration, which he called weak and unable to protect Lebanon from Israel.

"Tears don't protect anyone," the black-turbaned cleric said in a jab at Saniora, who wept several times in speeches during the Israeli assault as he pleaded for international support.

Nasrallah said giving up weapons now "under this government ... means leaving Lebanon exposed before Israel to kill and detain and bomb whoever they want, and clearly we will not accept that."


Meanwhile, Deputy-General Guy of the Givati Brigades currently patrolling southern Lebanon said Friday morning that even if Nasrallah attended the Hizbullah victory rally later that day, the IDF would not attempt to assassinate him.
But today there was a different rally north of Beirut and it also drew tens of thousands:
An anti-Syrian Christian leader dismissed Hizbullah's claims of victory in its war with Israel as tens of thousands of his supporters rallied Sunday in a show of strength that highlighted Lebanon's sharp divisions.

The rally north of Beirut came just two days after a massive gathering by Hizbullah that attracted hundreds of thousands. The two sides have been at sharp odds over the future of the Lebanese government ever since this summer's Israeli-Hizbullah war.

Samir Geagea, a Christian former warlord, scoffed at Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's declaration that his guerrillas achieved "a victory" against Israel in the war.

"I don't feel victory because the majority of the Lebanese people do not feel victory. Rather, they feel that a major catastrophe had befallen them and made their present and future uncertain," he said.

Hizbullah's fight with Israel sent its support soaring among Shi'ites. But a large sector - particularly among Christians and Sunnis - opposes Hizbullah and resents it for provoking the month-long fight by capturing two Israeli soldiers on July 12.


"When we find a solution to (the issue of Hizbullah's) weapons, then it will be possible to establish the state as it should be," he said.

Geagea, who strongly backs Hizbullah's disarmament, implicitly accused the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group of running "a state within a state" in south Lebanon.

"How can a state be established while there is a mini-state (within its borders)? How can this state be established while every day arms and ammunitions are smuggled (to Hizbullah) under (the state's) nose?" he said.


He led the Lebanese Forces - the country's most powerful Christian militia during the Lebanese civil war. Israel backed his militia during the war, and during the Israeli invasion in 1982 to expel Palestinian guerrillas.
Is Civil War destined to return to Lebanon?


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