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Monday, November 06, 2006

Darkness everywhere

I read Michael Totten's latest article on what's happening in Lebanon, and I find myself screaming at Lebanese President cream puff Fouad Siniora because I do not understand how he fails to see that he and everyone else who wants a Free Lebanon have so many interests in common with Israel. It's against Lebanon's interest to ally with the Arab world against Israel! The only dispute we have with Lebanon is that they house Hezbullah (the trumped up Sheba Farms dispute is actually between Lebanon and Syria).

The Syrian ambassador to the US said this is “ridiculous.” Pay him no mind. He also said “We, in Syria, respect the sovereignty of Lebanon.” Syria won’t open an embassy in Lebanon. That would force the Baathists to admit that Lebanon does not belong to them.

Street demonstrations by Hezbollah may not sound like that big a deal. Street demonstrations are a part of the democratic process, after all. They certainly are preferable to a coup or a violent insurgency.

Hezbollah, though, is a terrorist army as well as a political party. We’re not talking about a Free Mumia rally or a Million Mom March here.

Nasrallah is threatening "street demonstrations" because the state won’t reward his minority Hezbollah bloc with more power in a “national unity” government. They lost the election, but Nasrallah thinks that shouldn’t count. They “won” against Israel. That’s what he thinks should count.

Most Lebanese fear and loathe Hezbollah precisely because they fear Nasrallah points his guns at Beirut and Tel Aviv at the same time. Nasrallah’s current belligerence proves they’re correct.

Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Murr – who luckily survived an assassination attempt last year – takes seriously Nasrallah’s threat to flood downtown with angry Hezbollah supporters from the dahiyeh and the south. He deployed 20,000 troops of his own into the streets of Beirut. Beirut is less than three miles wide. You can walk across downtown in five minutes. Imagine 20,000 troops in that small an area.

Lebanese Forces political party leader Samir Geagea says if protests degenerate into riots "we will be there to back up the security forces anywhere and we put ourselves under their command."

They are right to be worried. Recent "street demonstrators" in Beirut burned the Danish embassy and violently tore apart the U.N. building downtown. Shortly afterward someone fired rockets at a nightclub across the street from the U.N., most likely to demonstrate that even the most “secure” part of the city built and all but owned by the Hariri clan can be assaulted with impunity by shadowy forces. During the war against Israel Nasrallah threatened his political opponents with violence. Defense Minister Murr would be derelict in his duty if he did not send in the army. Even Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, Nasrallah’s closest Lebanese ally, is worried now about what Hezbollah will do.

The Israelis may have temporarily depleted Hezbollah’s arsenal stock, but it makes little difference. Syria and Iran are arming them all over again. (For God’s sake, didn’t the Israelis know that would happen?) [Yes, of course we did. But our government was so anxious to get out of the debacle that they caused this summer that they would have signed anything. Bush and Condi gave up on Olmert - for good reason - and all he wanted to do was to get the IDF out of there as soon as possible. CiJ]

Someone most likely from the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis attacked an army barracks with hand grenades twice in the last three weeks. Charles Malik says sectarian clashes are a routine occurrence and are rarely mentioned in local or international media. I’ve received anecdotal messages by email that suggest this may be the case.

If Israel is almost back to Square One – they’re at Square Two at best -- Lebanon is at Square Negative Three.

British military historian John Keegan says another war in Lebanon is inevitable. I fear he must be right. The last one, in hindsight, was inevitable. I should have known that at the time when I went to the Hezbollah dahiyeh south of Beirut. Their state-within-a-state reeks of fascism, terrorism, and war. The next round is just as inevitable as the last one. Hezbollah was finally thrown off the fence, but none of the war’s principle causes have been resolved.

There’s a case to be made that Lebanon is at war even now, not only with Israel and Syria but with itself. As Bart Hall put it at Winds of Change: “Peace is the absence of threat not the absence of conflict.”

Read the whole thing. The Keegan article (which I believe originally came from the London Daily Telegraph) is also worth your while.

I keep meaning to tell you this. Two State Department hacks were here last week and asked Olmert to stop the overflights of Lebanon that Israel uses to watch for Hezbullah weapons. I don't believe the overflights do much good (it's not like they're stopping Hezbullah from re-arming) but I hope Olmert isn't foolish enough to stop them:
Two Bush administration officials demanded that Israel Air Force overflights of Lebanon be halted, saying that such flights undermine the standing of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

The two U.S. diplomats, David Welch and Elliott Abrams, held short meetings Thursday with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

The meeting with Olmert was dedicated to preparations for his visit to the United States and his meeting with President George W. Bush in 10 days' time.


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