Monday, March 17, 2008

Words

My work/projects are once again reaching a critical point that will force this blog to go into "reduced frequency" mode while I sort out the [other] important factors in my life. But before going I want to put up a two part essay I had prepared to mark the occassion of March 14th, 2008 [kinda like the two part essay I put up to mark the occassion travesty of March 8th, 2008]. The unfolding "conferences" and the "new dynamic" that is to be defined by these conferences prompted me to wait. Hopefully the post(s) will be up soon.

In the meantime, and as a prelude to my coming absence from the "scene", I wanted to take the time to draw the reader's attention to a cluster of posts I have particualrly enjoyed reading/viewing this week. Kudos to these bloggers, my friends, for their continued belief in the human spirit (in one form or other) and the ability to inspire change through words and not guns...

...words that seek to spread light even in the darkest recesses of the world where many have already been imprisoned for daring to think of freedom and to value themselves as freedom-deserving human beings...

...words that expose the lords of the darkened torture cells and the remote-control bomb for the cowards that they are...

...words that take those sometimes abstract notions of freedom, the right to life, and the rule of law and allow us to view the struggle to attain them through the lense of the personal and mundane...

...and words that remind us to be proud of our fight and never "be sorry" for ascribing to ourselves the right to demand freedom and priviledge to fight for it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Lets Give'em Something to Mullah 'bout

Many of you have seen reports of this disgusting travesty online already, but here it is anyway:
"Lebanese authorities have banned Persepolis...

...The animated pic, nominated for animated feature at last month's Academy Awards, is based on co-helmer Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical, bestselling graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the 1979 revolution.

Authorities likely want to avoid any potential fallout from offending pro-Iranian members of the Lebanese opposition, notably Hezbollah.

...

Ironically, the film was screened at two cultural centers in Iran's capital, Tehran, recently."
Remember, this movie has nothing to do with Lebanon, its about the reality of living through the coup that installed a theocratic dictatorship in Iran ... oh I forgot, they get to have pretend-elections:
"On March 14, Iranians will head to the polls to participate in parliamentary elections – or a charade, depending on who one asks. Over 7,000 Iranians declared their candidacy for a seat in the Majlis, Iran’s legislative body. However, more than 2,000 candidates, primarily from the reformist wing of Iran’s political scene, have been disqualified. This has essentially ensured a victory for conservative hard-liners loyal to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
Now click here for a trailer of the film you're not allowed to watch and remember to resist American hegemony.

PS - Don't pay any attention to the little bearded guys running around with guns and missiles and holding the country hostage on behalf of their bosses in Tehran and Damascus ... yup, just ignore them, movies like Persepolis are the real danger!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Arrest That Man!

I found this clip on YouTube the other day ... and the commentary in which it was featured, today ... the title says it all ...

Below is a cell-phone video clip of a member of Amal ... launching a rocket propelled grenade ... on the occasion of a broadcast by the head of Amal, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

News Bites: Assassination Station

Tribunal Watch

US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad said the International organization has completed all the arrangements for the International Tribunal...

...Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki -Moon has chosen 11 judges and the court registrars.
...He [Khalilzad] also pointed to the funds raised for the tribunal. “By March 6, 2008, the UN managed to obtain $29.4 million and commitments worth $21.3 million. This exceeds the required amount,” he added.

Khalilzad also noted the establishment of an administration committee for the tribunal whose members include France, Germany, Lebanon, Holland, Britain, the US and the UN General Secretariat...

...He noted the absence of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates from the committee, despite their participation in the fundraising process.
Also from NOWLebanon:
British judge appointed to Lebanon’s Special Tribunal...

...[Judge] Vincent [has] served as a judge at the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone between 2002 and 2005 and as a vice judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

Assassination Watch

From StratFor (via WCCR):
Syria plans to assassinate Lebanese Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, a Stratfor source close to Lebanon’s March 14 coalition leader Saad al-Hariri said March 7. Rifi, a Sunni from Beirut, reportedly has been involved in the fight against militant cells in Lebanon.
And if you're so inclined, you could check out this piece, also from StratFor (and also via WCCR):
Syria’s ruling al Assad family is experiencing an internal struggle, as the Feb. 12 assassination of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah in Damascus revealed. Syrian allies Iran and Hezbollah seem to have growing suspicions ... and Syrian President Bashar al Assad appears to be building a case against his brother-in-law, the director-general of Syrian intelligence.
Let us know what you think with a comment or two...or more!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Arab Eyes

In the wake of Tarek Mitri, our acting Foreign Minister’s, latest [outstanding] statements before his counterparts at the Arab League, and as the Arab world’s leaders arrive in Dakar, Senegal for the annual Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) Summit; I was reminded of another time when Mitri, the OIC, and the Arab League were linked to an effort to draw international attention to Syria’s proxy-war on the Lebanese state and its ruling Parliamentary majority.

Back then (June 2007), Mitri was busy presenting evidence of “Syria's involvement in every aspect of the ongoing terror campaign…” that ripped through the country throughout the summer of 2007. The idea was to present this concrete proof to the Arab League, to the OIC, to the UN, and to the UNSC; the objective, as was postulated then, was to garner support for effective international action to halt Syrian interference in Lebanon - such as the placement of International Monitors on our borders with Syria.

After all, when confronted with the domestic manifestations of what is a regional/international problem [Syrian and Iranian use of terrorist factions as tools of international/regional policy] we had acted – at a great national cost, no less.

And while a set of circumstances – composed of some countries’ wavering in the face of open threats by the Syrians [both verbal and practical] and a set of pressures and counter-pressures that emerged from Iranian-Saudi negotiations – prevented the achievement of the above objective then; the order in which the garnering of support proceeded is of importance, and may be at play once again.

The importance of the order lies in the need for Lebanon’s Parliamentary majority to assert both its Arab and Islamic credentials before an Arab/Islamic audience. It comes in the face of a continued propaganda campaign by Syria’s allies to paint the country’s government in the image of that other pesky neighbour of ours to the south. At no time was that image more glaring than on the screens of the Arab public’s television sets, with weekly terrorist bombings throughout Beirut and a military operation in and around a Palestinian camp. Biased reporting on the part of the Arab world’s most popular television network – which happens to be owned by a leading pusher of the Syrian/Iranian regional dossier, Qatar – drove the point home.

Today the idea continues to be to make Lebanon [or more precisely, the Lebanese government] look like Israel in the eyes of the Arab masses [Iran’s long-time target audience], and so there continues to be a need for us to pursue the defence of our sovereignty through a circuitous, and sometimes unreliable, route (this also explains our Presidential situation, somewhat).

Hopefully this time, however, with the [slow yet sure] image transformation Hizballah continues to undergo in the Arab public sphere – from Arab resistance movement to Shiite Iranian-proxy militia; with a Syrian regime exposed for its lack of intent in pursuing any compromise in Lebanon and, instead, posing a threat to other Arab states; and with even more reports on the porous nature of the Syrian-Lebanese border and the Syrian regime’s links to terror: The world will take a stand.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Have a Laugh

[Somewhat] in the spirit of the previous post, here is a video looking back at the July War from a self-critical and comical Canadian perspective.

Maximum enjoyment of this video is realized if and when you:
  1. French speaking/understanding (although there are English subtitles)
  2. Are not allergic to the Quebecois accent
  3. Realize the irony in the presenter’s case*

*As he presents a criticism of the media’s swallowing of Israeli media-lines while himself swallowing Hizballah’s media line (we are a humble resistance just defending our land [and not an Iranian proxy implementing a foreign agenda on Lebanese land and with Lebanese blood] – see previous post, for starters).

But on a more serious note, seeing all that destruction and devastation again brought back some weighty memories and feelings. Perhaps the people of the South and the southern suburbs of Beirut should be asking their elected representatives to ensure that we don't have a repeat of the summer of 2006 [obviously kidnapping Israeli soldiers and launching rockets didn't work].

Instead, however, those elected representatives are too busy thinking up ways of dislodging the country's elected majority - in order to ensure that the country remains a sanctuary for Iran's proxy-militia to take us to war whenever it pleases.

Canadians, in general, are known for their ability to take a step back and have a laugh at their own expense. Perhaps it is time for some Lebanese to take a step back and try to stop kidding themselves [about where the country is going, what kind of life their children can aspire to if Syria and Iran are able to impose to their will on us - once again].

Addendum:

You know, watching this video again I remembered how dishonest and insincere Hassan Nasrallah's statement, as to his reluctance to "order the operation" had he known that it would have led to war, was. Given the Israeli operations under way in Gaza and the Israeli public's horror at the Gaza kidnapping, it would have been, at the very least, a massive miscalculation and mark of incompetence for someone in his position to disregard just the possibility of such a retaliation - not to mention its highly increased likelihood.

And for those blind bastards who continue to claim that this was "an operation like any other the group had carried out in the past", I call on you to examine the key word in that statement: past. The operation that led to the start of the July War was the first major operation in the aftermath of the Syrian withdrawal. Regional balances had changed and an argument based on past circumstances therefore became inapplicable and void.

Hizballah acted because it received the order from Iran to alleviate the pressure in Gaza, it acted with the Syrians' consent as they simultaneously launched secret (exposed) peace talks with the Israelis, in the hope of securing their support for their return to dominance in Lebanon and in return for peace and favourable terms on the Golan. Hizballah acted because they, on behalf of their masters, treat Lebanon and Lebanese blood as a bargaining chip.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Putting Lebanon First: Part II

Oh, [Remembering] the Horror

...There is a regional conflict unfolding, and while most of us believe that "Lebanon First" is a fine notion indeed, some of us are finding it hard to see how keeping targeted Iranian weapons on our soil reaffirms that.

And yes, they are targeted and they are Iranian.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love it if Hizballah were to drop its regional affiliations/command-structure and pledge itself to the reinforcement of the Lebanese state and the bolstering of the Lebanese Army. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

After all, it’s not like it wasn’t tried before!

Recall that on the eve of the operation which catapulted our country into the July War [of 2006], representatives of the country’s various political groupings were due to hold talks on Hizballah’s integration into the Lebanese sate and Armed Forces and the establishment of a “Lebanon First” defence strategy. Before the meeting could take place, and in true “mail box” form, Nabih Berri (a staunch pro-Syrian and the Speaker of a Parliament made defunct by the threat of MP resignations and/or ‘street action’ by Hizballah [and the rest of pro-Syrian rabble] if National Dialogue talks, such as those that were being held right there and then, weren't held) postponed the meeting for a week during which the operation was launched. There has been no mention of Hizballah’s integration since.

But that was not the first time that Hizballah had clearly proven its lack of commitment/intent to wholeheartedly join in the country’s institutional framework and the political rejuvenation sweeping through in the wake the Cedar Revolution and the Syrian withdrawal.

No, that first time [for all intents and purposes] would have been on March 8th, 2005 – what I like to refer to as the official start of the [Syrian/Iranian] counter-revolution – when Hassan Nasrallah effectively took it upon himself to isolate Lebanon’s Shiite community from the national rebirth of the Independence Intifada.

But that was then. Today, on the eve of the 3 year anniversary of that horrific day, we find Hizballah vigorously engaged in scuttling the election of a (of any) Lebanese President [as such an election would reinforce the presence of a Lebanese state, thereby threatening their continued existence as the extra-institutional Iranian-proxy militia and organisation that they are].

Concessions have come and gone and our lot hasn't changed. So ahead of those celebrations of Hizballah’s first rejection of becoming [fully] Lebanese – and in light of the [not-so-strange] resemblance of the Gaza front of March 2008 to the Gaza front of June 2006 – perhaps it is best to remember Hizballah’s second (and far more violent) rejection of becoming [fully] Lebanese.

Saying that Israel is no friend of Lebanon is an understatement [if there ever was one], but believing that the only way to confront it [or just plain live with it] is by transforming our territory into a giant launching pad for Iranian rockets and keeping our land a chess board for that country's confrontations with the West is just plain dumb.

Saying that Israel is our enemy while saluting a Syrian regime which continues to target and kill Lebanese politicians, security as well as judiciary officials, and regular citizens is not only dumb but divisive and [dare I say it?] damn un-Lebanese.

Putting Lebanon First: Part I

Them Be Fightin' Words

Praise are in order:
An Nahar, citing well-informed sources in Beirut, said the Lebanese delegation [at the Arab League Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Cairo] suggested pointing out its view from the Lebanon crisis in which it considered that the "major problem" was not restricted to presidential elections, but was outlined by the Syrian-Iranian intervention in Lebanon.

The delegation argued that the Syrian-Iranian meddling began by encouraging rebellion, by providing anti-government Lebanese groups with arms and by continuing to press ahead with efforts to cripple Lebanon institutions all the way to the presidential void.

The delegation, therefore, insisted that the Arabs should deal with the root of the Lebanon crisis.
At the head of that delegation, and reading out its statement calling for the Arab League’s official recognition of what is unofficially obvious to all, was Lebanon’s acting Foreign Minsiter, Tarek Mitri, who took on the Foreign Ministry portfolio following the pretend-resignation of Fawzi Salloukh in December of 2005.

I actually got a chance to meet Dr. Mitri in person, some months ago, at an AUB Alumni Event organised in Montreal. Listening to him talk during the event one had a sense of the intellectual depth and forward vision with which he approached his recent foray into public service; and the zeal he could barely contain for confronting the obstacles he and others were facing in their quest to (re)build the state.

Indeed, behind the shaggy ‘do’ and jolly demeanour, Mitri was bristling for a fight. However, his intonations on the democratic duty of a country’s citizens to uphold the institutions of the state, and work through them, as opposed to undermining them, sailed comfortably over the heads of most the audience. And when an audience member was prevented from asking a question deemed “too close to political” by an over-zealous (in more ways than one) attendant at the event, Mitri insisted that he wanted to take on political questions.

But back to the point at hand...
[Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid] Muallem hit back at Mitri, accusing the Lebanese majority of inviting U.S. warships to Lebanon in a bid to attract international interference.
Ah, the old international interference quote. You know I always found it funny that a country which had occupied us for fifteen-some years, engaged in armed conflict on our soil, and dictated what conditions should be met if we're to have elections [Presidential or Parliamentary], should complain about foreign interference on our soil (never mind the validity of the claim itself).

Oh, and lets not forget the regime’s unabashed backing of Iranian-funded groups in Lebanon (Hizballah), Palestine (Hamas), and Iraq. But lets go back to that Hizballah thing for a moment...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

M14 Mantras

As we get closer to the official three year anniversary of the Cedar Revolution I hope to be putting up a few more pieces. For now, here is a poster designed by the March 14th group for the Feb 14th, 2008 commemoration of the assassination which launched the Revolution.


We will not remain without a president.

Syrian influence will not return.

We will not allow the army to be targeted again.

The Special Tribunal and international resolutions will not be stopped.

Not a single terrorist will remain on Lebanese soil.

No one will interfere with our affairs.

Not one person will be naturalized in Lebanon.

We will not be ruled by an extremist or a tyrant.

The constitution and parliament will not be raped anymore.

No weapons will remain outside the government.

Our borders will no longer be violated by Syria and Israel.

No Lebanese will harm another.

Our ambitions and dreams will no longer be stolen.

--

In defense of the state.

For the victory of Lebanon.

Courtesy of NOW Lebanon.

PS - For a balanced perspective, here is a link to an english translation of the Hizballah Manifesto as posted by Ace and Marillionlb. Enjoy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Blurbs and a Movie

Jeha concludes that nothing's going on while Tony proceeds in tearing a new one for another deluded journalist high on Hizballah's holier than thou propaganda machine.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some more UNIFIL info by linking to this interesting UN documentary video created in September of 2007 and documenting UNIFIL's deployment and role since Resolution 1701 ended the war in southern Lebanon.

Also, here is a quote from a press release on the UNIFIL Maritime Task Force (MTF) change of command we alluded to in an earlier post:
The MTF has since been assisting the Lebanese Navy in securing the country's 200 kilometres of coastline in order to help prevent the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon. ... So far eight countries have contributed naval units to the MTF: Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.

... Since the start of its operations MTF has hailed more than 13,000 ships and referred 70 suspicious vessels to the Lebanese authorities for further inspection.

...

Following today’s changeover, UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force will consist of the following vessels and crews:
  • Italy - 2 ships - Crew 305
  • France - 1 ship - Crew 153
  • Greece - 2 ships - Crew 290
  • Turkey - 1 ship - Crew 250
  • Germany - 4 ships - Crew 425
  • Spain - 1 ship - Crew 118 (from 15 March 2008)
As for our Presidential crisis - this stopped being about Lebanon the moment Hizballah and the rest of the Syrian goof-troop received their orders [from Syria and Iran] to reject and block the constitutional amendment and election that would have provided us with a "neutral" President.

Now we must await the results and consequences of their masters' [doomed-to-fail] attempts at strong-arming the international community before at least one of our democratic institutions regains its functionality.
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