Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Heading Down A One Way Street

I have nowhere near enough time to write a proper post these days, but the waters in Lebanon are churning and something has to be said! So here's a quick look at the news, events, and rumors making the rounds in the country over the past several days.

Accountability Avenue

I'll start with the now infamous "Islamisation of Lebanon" incident, which led to a whirlwind of controversy, showboating, and PR crisis control, in the country over the weekend.

Now I want to be very clear about one thing: putting the whole separation of church and state issue aside for the moment (who ever said we were living in a secular state?), there is nothing wrong with the Council of Bishops - or any other party or interest group for that matter - criticizing the legislative or executive branches of government. After all, it is through such criticisms that governments are held accountable to the voters who got them elected (alongside those that tried to not get them elected).

But accountability is a two-edged sword, and any side willing to engage in the kind language and accusations leveled by the bishops last week must be able to backup their claims with credible facts and evidence - something the bishops fell a little short of last week.

Speculation Street

Meanwhile the beat goes on in Nahr el Bared, three weeks since the Minister of Defense declared victory there. But where some may now view the minister's statement with ridicule, this blogger speculates that its prematurity might have been the result of a tactic employed by the minister to try and put pressure on the Army's politically-aspirant-Chief to bring a quick end to the conflict. A conflict that has lasted almost twice as long as last summer's July War (the commemoration of which begins today), and an end that would free up those units trapped in the North, fighting the Fatah al Islam infestation, in preparation for the next Syrian assault-by-proxy due to be launched in the coming weeks.

And launched it will be! That according to the various rumors, editorials, blog posts, and various other media snippets making the rounds over the past two weeks.

While some of those snippets have limited themselves to the now-obvious prediction of the launching of a second government by Syria's allies in the country, others have indulged the notion that the summer could result in yet another war along the country's southern border with Israel. This time, the speculators hold, the true source of the missiles that will rain down on Israel's north will not remain unscathed.

But while some choose to scoff at the doomsayers, events on the ground all seem to be adding fuel to the speculative fires.

Take for instance, the Arab League's decision to engage in an historic visit to Israel, aimed at promoting the Arab Peace Initiative launched by the League in 2002 and standing in direct contradiction to Syria's efforts to peddle a scheme that would essentially allow Israel to deal with the Golan on its own terms in return for Syrian hegemony over Lebanon.

Despite the Arabs' criticism of the Israeli PR frenzy over the visit of the Egyptian and Jordan FMs representing the League, it is nonetheless a significant diplomatic coup for the Israelis. A coup the Arabs will not have handed over without some significant payback from a nation that has been all too comfortable with an autocratic Syria for the past 30 years.

But where the above might hint of overreaching, events on the ground continue to proceed along the same chilling path. While Syria continues to augment its allies' stockpiles and capabilities in Lebanon, it has also moved to a heightened rhetoric against the US Ambassador in Beirut. And when it comes to Iran - Syria's main backer and partner on the Lebanese front - where attacks against multinational troops have come, attacks against their embassies have never been too far away.

Its not like they haven't done it before, the question is: will they be held accountable this time?

Wrong Way

And so we come back to the bishops and accountability. While the "Islamisation Crisis" may now be subsiding, the effect of a certain bishop's adoption of the "Aoun rhetoric" has left the Church scrambling to shore up its neutrality. Leaving one to wonder as to the timing of the bishops' airing of those grievances, less than a month from by-elections that could prove to be the catalyst for a series of unfortunate events.

That is in the future, however, and today is a day to remember the past. A day when we should be asking: Who is holding Hizballah accountable for its actions one year ago today? Who is holding them accountable for trying to place limits on our Army's actions inside its own territory? Who is holding those Hizballah-sympathetic officers in the Surete Generale and Army itself accountable for their refusal to follow orders on our borders and on our roads? Who is holding Syria's allies in the country, those who continue to sing its praises to this day, accountable for the weapons, fighters, and assassins it continues to smuggle across our border? Who is holding Michel Aoun accountable for providing Hizballah and the rest of the pro-Syrian clique with the political cover they have exploited for over a year now?

Oh, and who is holding the government responsible for canceling a holiday?


  1. Anonymous7:36 PM

    It's funny that you say that Aoun provided Hizballa with political cover. It's as if without Aoun, hizballa would be annihilated.
    Wake up. Hizballa is 40% of the Lebanese population. You have no choice but to recognize that fact and deal with them an equally important party as the christians and the sunnis.
    Hizballa needs the Syrians for their supply of weapons. Hizballa needs their weapons to be recognized as equal and change the balance of power.
    Until everyone in Lebanon recognizes that the shia are equal to all other groups, Hizballa will have to maintain their relationship with Damascus.
    Aoun understood this and chose to recognize the shias. The Saudi sunnis are telling Saniora and company not to recognize the shias. So what do we do? Recognize or fellow Lebanese and come to an agreement or play blind?

  2. Why does it have to be Hizballah or nothing for the Shiites? Why does it have to be a fundamentalist party with strong links to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or obscurity?

    Those are the choices Hizballah has forced onto the Shiite community. This argument that there can be no Shiite political presence in Lebanon without Hizballah (and their arms to boot!!) is ludicrous.

    We can all come together as equals, within the guidelines of the state, and without either side carrying illegitimate arms.

    PS - If you follow the link on "political cover" then you'll see exactly what I meant.

  3. kheireddine12:37 AM

    Anonymous, Hezbollah is not 40% of the population, ie all the shiites. Yes, they have a strong popular base but saying that all the Shiites are Hezbollahi is insulting to them. There is moderates among Shiites however the tandem Hezbollah-Amal exercised a monopoly on the comunity after 2005 elections.

  4. Anonymous1:09 AM

    If that is all you are holding this govt. accountable for, this band of theives, turncoats and murderers then your loyalty is obviously with them and not the nation.

    And the statement "Those are the choices Hizballah has forced onto the Shiite community" shows that you have not and never will try to have an understanding of those politically opposed to you. No one forced anything on anyone. Before Hizballah there was Amal. Amal never ever enjoyed the popularity of Hizballah even though it DID try and force the Shia community to love it. WE love Hizballah because they have done what cry baby Saniora, throat slitting Geagea, and tea serving Fatfat could never do. They have stood up to their oppressors, and done so with using their power for corruption and theft of the people.

    I very much respect your calls for independence and soverignty and I would dearly love this country to be allowed to have an army that can take on the Israelis. What I do not respect is your leaders, who have all to a man contributed far more to the destruction of Lebanon than what you want Hizballah to be held accountable for, Your leaders who to a man have shown that they do not wish to sacrifice for their country but rather that their country sacrifice for their wealth and their power.

    The man I support had $500 million in his hands last year and is STILL paying the loan for his house (that n longer exists). How many mansions do the men you support own and how much of my and your tax money or foreign aid get stolen to pay for them?

    When you want to start holding people accountable for crimes against Lebanon, why not start with those you support; It would be more honest

  5. Anonymous2:00 AM

    1) As long as Sunnis, Shia and Christians do not abide by the common law of a country, there is no country.
    2) Make peace w/Israel. Don't let yourself be abused by Syria , Iran, etc.etc.Both, Lebanon and Israel could become the financial power houses of the ME.
    3) Peace is much more rewarding than continous power fights, were the only ones that benefit are the "death merchants"

  6. kheireddine3:08 AM

    @Anonymous 6:09PM

    Please, spare us the clean hands BS. Hezbollah is getting money from Iran. They triggered the war last summer and result: 1300 people killed, the Lebanese economy destroyed etc...Hezbollah is a state within the state & that has to stop! Please stop that BS about fighting Israel. Maybe the Israelis were clumsy in the war but they were not defeated. The ones who were defeated were the 1300 Lebanese citizens who were killed and those who had their houses & businesses destroyed. Hezbollah long term project is in contradiction with the Lebanese national interest; establishing an Islamic republic in Lebanon is not possible. Lebanon is still 40% Christian and a lot of Muslims are secular.

  7. Smith

    IMHO Your are crediting Elias Murr too much with your "ruse" hypothesis. Are we sure he can tie his own shoes?


    Can we please stop the your-guy-is-more-corrupt-than-my-guy argument. The question right now is how to get back to a "normal legal secure" place, so we can deal with corruption etc.

    Just because your guy is not/less corrupt does not mean he is automatically doing the right thing today. He could still take us to hell.

  8. Hey Josey,

    Hehe yeah the Elias el Murr part was an idea and I said I was speculating that he might have been thinking along those lines... :D

    ...but you never know!

    As for the Holier-than-though arguments:

    Look, nobody said I was madly in love with Hariri, Jumblatt, Geagea, etc...

    ...nobody even said I was supportive of their political/economic/social/constitutional programs in their entirety - they're not even supportive of each others' programs in its entirety.

    What I am for, however, is the setting up of defenses against Syria which has been kidnapping, torturing, and murdering Lebanese for decades. I understand that the residents of the South have beef with Israel, everyone in the country understands that and has come together as a country to oppose Israeli aggressions (even when it was Hizballah's fault).

    BUT, those residents of the South and the southern suburbs who support Hizballah must also acknowledge that their fellow Lebanese were subjected to a Syrian occupation and should support them and the state in its efforts to setup viable defenses against them.

    The impetus is on Hizballah and Nasrallah - who praised Bashar like a girl with a crush - to put their countrymen before anything else. So far they haven't done that.

    ...As for the other arguments...they tend to get circular...but don't be too narrow in your definition of corruption - after all, isn't implementing another country's foreign policy agenda with the blood of the residents of the south a form of corruption?

  9. Fully agreed Jade,

    BTW my comment on "the holier than thou" was addressed to the commenters, not to you.

  10. You guys should probably cut and run from the south. You KNOW Hezb is going to go after Israel again, possibly as early as next week. The UN threw the morsel of the Sheba farms hoping to appease Hezb but you all know that's not what the gripe is about. And sooner or later it is going to cost Lebanon big time...AGAIN.

    I wish you all luck, I hope it doesn't happen but the cards are all coming out the wrong way for Lebanon and your worst enemies dwell among you (and that's not just Hezb)

  11. To Mr. Anonymous who so dearly loves hizbullah and Mr. Nassrallah; "When you want to start holding people accountable for crimes against Lebanon, why not start with those you support; It would be more honest
    " Please make it clear to me, is encouraging people to blow themselves up a crime, for that matter: is encouraging your sons and/or children to commit suicide attacks a crime? No matter what the cause please teach me if this one "activity" (among many of your dearly beloved hizbullah "activities") is a crime so we can persue your wisdom by holding people accountable for their crimes, starting with that. Or would you like to contradict yourself some more. No please do, it IS funny.


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