Saturday, February 28, 2009

Election Anxiety - Part I

Liars at Least

Earlier this week Al Akhbar, a Lebanese daily, published what it claimed was an interview with John Hannah, a former top aide of US Vice President Dick Cheney. News of the interview [especially given some of the more outrageous statements attributed to the interviewee] aroused a fair sense of suspicion among political and journalistic circles in the country. This suspicion was heightened given Al Akhbar's strong links to pro-Syrian/pro-Hizballah elements within [and without] Lebanon's intelligence community, and the paper's status as a prominent component of the pro-Syrian/pro-Hizballah machine in Lebanon.

In 2005, after the Cedar Revolution secured a pro-sovereignty parliamentary majority, and as the assassination campaign against the critics of Syria in Lebanon raged on, An Nahar, the country's leading newspaper and a bastion of the pro-sovereignty movement, became a central target. Two of its leading journalists, Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni (an MP as well as owner/editor of the paper), were assassinated. Meanwhile, Al Akhbar offered journalists inflated salaries and bonuses to abandon the An Nahar organization. One had but to look east for the sources of these "poaching funds".

As the wiretapping controversy was unfolding earlier this year, Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (a leading M14 party), held a press conference in which he detailed the role played by wiretapping in the assassination of Tueni, as well as that of another pro-sovereignty MP, Antoine Ghanem. Geagea went on to describe how, on several occassions over the past 4 years, he would discover his telephone conversations reprinted verbatim on Al Akhbar's pages.

As such, the revelation that the interview purportedly conducted by Al Akhbar with Hannah was a complete fabrication comes as no surprise - but tell that to, the official website of the recently re-branded pro-Syrian/pro-Hizballah FPM, which prominently ran the fabricated Al Akhbar interview. In a real interview with NOWLebanon, Hannah declares:
... I have never in my life sat for an interview with anyone from al-Akhbar ... These lies were published with the clear intent of harming those forces in Lebanon that are struggling on behalf of the country's independence and sovereignty ... Lebanese independence and democracy has many enemies. I think these forces are also trying to take advantage of the fluid situation in Washington now with a new administration in place, still formulating its policies. People in the Middle East and in Lebanon are excited but also nervous and uncertain about what to expect. But for Lebanon, it must be said that the initial signals from the new administration are quite positive with supportive statements from both the President and the Secretary of State, and a total commitment to the international tribunal. That was very bad news for Lebanon's enemies.
In his NowLebanon interview, Hannah hinted as to the motive of Al Akhbar's editors in printing the fabrication, linking it to anxiety in the pro-Syrian/pro-Hizballah camp ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections. Writing last month, in the wake of the FPM campaign to discredit the President; his support for a pro-sovereignty agenda and parliamentary bloc; and any potential candidate that might act on that support, we highlighted the prospect for increased and intensified violence should Hizballah and Syria perceive an electoral defeat for their Christian allies.

Several days after that post was put up, Mohammad Teaini and Lufti Zeineddine received fatal injuries in beatings handed out to them, as well as dozens of other February 14th ralliers, by supporters of pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon. The attacks came in the wake of higher than expected turnout by Christian supporters of the pro-sovereignty movement, for that commemorative rally. In the predominantly Christian districts, where the upcoming electoral battles are expected to be "hot and heavy", bombs and grenades were discovered outside of the offices of M14 Christian parties. Earlier this week, in an incident harking back to the Syrian occupation, gunmen belonging to [the village idiot troupe known as] the Marada and the SSNP (of course), setup roadblocks and checkpoints along a stretch of road in northern Lebanon infamous for its Syrian moukhabarat checkpoint, and the car thefts, assaults, and disappearances that used to accompany it.


  1. Anonymous12:45 AM

    Trashbag paper Al Akhbar with more disinformation ahead of the elections

  2. Anonymous4:36 PM

    how would you see the situation if march 8 won, and how would that affect the new cabinet,legislative authority taking into consoideration that centrists won 10 seats?


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