Friday, June 15, 2007

Presenting our Case

Today Lebanon takes to the Arab League concrete proof of Syria's involvement in every aspect of the ongoing terror campaign that has killed and maimed members from every walk of life and every religious creed in the country.

As the foreign ministers of the Arab League meet for an emergency session in Cairo today, Lebanon's acting Foreign Minister, Tarek Mitri, will present documents - including photographs and confessions - attesting to the undeniable links between Syrian intelligence services and a number of terror cells (including Fatah al Islam) busted in the country over the past week and months. The evidence will also point to active Syrian complicity in the smuggling of fighters and weapons across Lebanon's border, as well as Syrian intelligence services' active engagement in the planning and coordinating of bomb attacks in the country.

Lebanon's presentation to the Arab League should and will constitute a first step in an altered dynamic within which Lebanon will deal with the Syrian regime. After the Arab League there will be the OIC, and after that, the UN and the UNSC. The end goal being the placement of International Monitors on our borders with Syria.

The presentation will also dictate the terms under which Lebanon's government and parliamentary majority should deal with the offshoots of the Syrian regime in the country.

As I was typing this post the Lebanese Forces website reported that France's foreign minister had formally canceled the informal talks his country had offered to host between the various political players in the country. Another news flash on the Naharnet news website reported the kidnapping of three ISF personnel by Hizballah militants in the Bir al Abed southern suburb of Beirut, the patrol in which the three were traveling was reportedly intercepted by armed Hizballah members who stripped the security personnel of their weapons, interrogated them for an hour, and then released them. Meanwhile in Nahr el Bared today, four soldiers were killed by a booby-trapped corpse left by Fatah al Islam militants.

These events today, along with the assassination of anti-Syrian MP Walid Eido earlier this week, speak to a truth that underlies the internal situation in Lebanon today. Lebanon is not a country divided between two equally legitimate political factions. It is a country paralyzed by the actions of a group which operates outside the constitutional institutions of the country (read Hizballah), a group which imports and implements orders from Syria and Iran at the expense of the blood of Lebanon's citizens (read Hizballah, Amal, and the rest of the Syria's allies in the country who have at every turn attempted to provide cover for and detract blame from the militants who continue to kill our soldiers in the north), a group which stands idly by (and even seeks to benefit from) the assassination of our ministers and MPs, and a group which has been engaged in the worst kind of disinformation and propaganda campaign, dismissing any and all accountability in its reporting as well as in its actions.

No Lebanon is not a country with two equally legitimate factions, it is a country under attack both from the inside and the outside. While some work to establish viable defenses against these attacks, others work to undermine the state through which these defenses can function.


  1. Anonymous5:36 PM


  2. Yet Lebanon did not call for an emergency session of the UN Security Council to present these exact proofs and request an appropriate UN response. Why is that?

  3. I think they will, I think they are building towards that.

    But such things require a bit of delicate vis-a-vis the way they are presented. Although we know that Syria is behind all these attacks, its allies in Lebanon will continue to work against any attempts to hold that country accountable. In presenting this evidence, we should expect nothing less than a full mobilization of the opposition masses under the mantra that this "corrupt, Zionist-sponsored government is trying to pull Lebanon into war against Syria under Western orders".

    That is to say, Hizballah and the rest of the pro-Syrians will launch a very real attack on the state, similar to the Jan 23rd one, on the basis of the propaganda and disinformation those groups feed their citizenry.

    So we have to be careful. We have to present it to our Arab "bretheren", even though we shouldn't need to, we have to elicit support from all quarters of the Arab and Islamic world because at the end of the day that is the angle from which Syria and its allies will try to counter our attempts at defending ourselves.

  4. But such things require a bit of delicate vis-a-vis the way they are presented. Although we know that Syria is behind all these attacks, its allies in Lebanon will continue to work against any attempts to hold that country accountable.

    Yes, but by going to the Arab League before going to the SC, does that not confine the possible international response to Syrian activities? The Arab League is not likely to prescribe anything effective, in my opinion, unless it is willing to vilify Syria, which seems unlikely to me. I would have thought that this approach would work in favor of Syria rather than against it, but it's Lebanon's judgment call, and now that you've explained it I see it may indeed be the correct move.

    Yet isn't it the Iranians, not the Arabs, who stand behind the Syrians? Therefore I still suspect that pride - specifically the desire of Lebanese politicians to appear to be in control of events - is the primary motivation for seeking the Arab League first. The test will be if anything substantial happens on the diplomatic front within the next few days.

  5. BJ is correct about the way the UNSC operates and Siniora knows the rules. You will notice that when the UNSC meets, there is almost no discussion about 'what to do' - they just issue the decision. All of the discussion and decision process is 'off stage' - they do not go 'on stage' until they have reached accord and they each have their statements to read into the record. Lebanon is cutting through the 'red tape' by getting the Arab League behind them - this will greatly influence the UNSC members. The real problem is going to be Hezbollah as usual. Countries will not want to commit troops that Hez won't accept. Everyone remembers 1983. He won't accept Troops on the Syrian border. UNSC1701 allows for Lebanon to ask for more security anywhere it is needed but the Hez factor is a major concern.

  6. I guess we'll have to wait until this evenning to see if anything significant will come out of the Arab League meeting, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

    In either case, as I mentioned before, it is only a preliminary step on the road to real action.

  7. Let us see some display of spine. Mitri would have been a great Foreign Minister; too bad their earlier stupid deal with Hezb got us stuck with Salloukh... Still, I like Mustapha's idea of a "Stevenson moment", and I am looking forward to it.

  8. Arabic Coffee Pot9:31 PM

    The meeting got started not too long ago so lets see what happens!

  9. The Dailystar said this about the Hezbollah incident:

    The incident occurred in the area of Bir Abed, near Hadi Nasrallah Street, a Hizbullah stronghold, after police tried to detain several residents involved in a street fight. A number of Hizbullah members - without uniforms, but armed - surrounded the ISF men, confiscated their weapons and escorted them to the party's office, the sources said.

    The Associated Press reported that after one of the ISF members contacted headquarters and senior officers intervened with Hizbullah, the three were released. Hizbullah officials were not available for comment.

  10. Anonymous11:48 PM

    First, i would like to say that the Hezbollah incident is probably a begnin one, that is being blown out of proportions for no apparent reason except maybe for political advantages, anyway it wont be the first time that such incident occurs and won't be the last also!
    Second if the goverment has proof of syrian involvment, well good for them and all of us, if u think that the FPM is not interested in knowing the truth you are wrong!!
    Third, i do not see on LF site any reference to france calling off the meeting, or on any other site , if u can send me the link ?
    Fourth, you say:"Lebanon is not a country divided between two equally legitimate political factions. It is a country paralyzed by the actions of a group which operates outside the constitutional institutions of the country"
    How can you talk about the respect of the lebanese constitution, and the Siniora goverment is taking more and more steps against it:
    What about the conseil constitutionnelle, which is the highest authority in the country in that matter, which if they hadn't castrated it, it would tell you if hezbollah is working outside the constitution?!
    Regardless of political affiliation, can you denie this?
    Any critical, sane and educated person can undestand that...

  11. Anonymous, last time you were here you wanted to know about Iraq so I answered you, then you disappeared.

    Now you want to know about the Constitutional Council, how do I know you'll stick around to carry on a discussion on that?

  12. "First, i would like to say that the Hezbollah incident is probably a begnin one, that is being blown out of proportions for no apparent reason except maybe for political advantages"

    WHAT!!?? Are you insane or just slow?? If you want to live in a country where criminals and gunmen arrest the police then go to Iraq, this is Lebanon and we won't let it become that way!!

  13. Anonymous2:21 AM

    Well i see you are keeping track of your visitors, quite impressive!
    About that Iraki post, i had forgotten to read your comment,cause i have a lot on my mind, after all i was the one who requested it, but now that i have read it,and what followed it... i do not need to discuss it, and i don't want any answer for my previous post either...
    Thk. you for not contributing to anything with that site...

  14. FPM is convinced they will pick up 10 contested seats if they can just get the Constitutional Council up and running. Things are getting a little 'rocky' with FPM - lots of folks jumping ship - of course they are signing new members very quickly ... SNNP & Marada.

  15. Its not that impressive anonymous, just a click of a button.

    As for the constitutional council, there is a need to address the question, thats for sure, just as there is a need to address a series of long-term questions relating to the future of the country and the institutions on which it should be based.

    But I don't see how the FPM's actions to date, have sought to address these questions. Why didn't the FPM move to open Parliament in March by adding their voice to those calling on the Speaker to convene Parliament? Had they moved on that front, the country's MPs could have obtained a 2/3 majority to that effect, and questions such as the Constitutional Council could have been addressed in the proper venue.

    Unfortunately for all of us, it seems far easier for them to side with those who continue to operate outside the country's institutional bounds, and to criticize a government which has had to deal with a war, a series of assassinations, an insurgency in the camps, violent protests, and continued sit-in which continues to drain our economic and security resources. The source of all these woes being the same (figure it out).

    Are you following the point I'm trying to make?

    As for not contributing anything, you're entitled to your opinion but I (obviously) don't share it.

  16. Arabic Coffee Pot8:05 PM

    Naharnet on the Arab League Conference:

    Arab foreign ministers on Saturday urged Lebanon's feuding political camps to return to the dialogue table.

    The ministers also decided to form a delegation to consult with Lebanese authorities as well as regional and international parties to "work towards creating an atmosphere conducive to resuming the Lebanese national dialogue."

    The contacts will shed "light on terrorism, crimes, assassinations, arms trafficking and infiltration of armed men that Lebanon has been subjected to," the ministers said in a statement released after their talks in the Egyptian capital.

    The Arab ministers also urged "help for Lebanon to control its border with Syria."

  17. Arabic Coffee Pot4:37 PM

    Naharnet on ISF-Hizballah incident:

    Police on Sunday reportedly arrested four men in connection with a quarrel in the southern suburbs in which three policemen were briefly kidnapped by Hizbullah gunmen.

    The source said the four were seized following collaboration with Hizbullah's security committee.

    He said that Internal Security Forces have an "unflinching commitment" towards arresting those behind the kidnapping of the three policemen.

    The police patrol was trying to settle a quarrel between a number of people in the Hadi Nasrallah avenue in Beirut's southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold, when it was intercepted by armed Hizbullah elements.


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