Lebanese individuals might have been involved in Syria’s war from early days. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Aseer declared Jihad and went himself there couple of months ago with his fighters too for a show-off exercise, but permanent or independent Lebanese fighting battalion are not known to be present as of yet.
If I want to draft my cultural shock caused by Hezbollah on a chart, it would look to be at its peak now.
May be that shock started mildly in 2005 when Hassan Nasrallah thanked Bashar Al-Assad in public on March 8, just after the Lebanese protests at the time helped to push a foreign Arab army off the national soil.
Then the dramatic political events that caused the deadlock in the country afterwards pushed this chart up. Then it spiked around May 7th 2008 when Hezbollah attacked Beirut and Mount Lebanon for whatever reasons. Now, the chart is heading to infinity with Hezbollah’s fight in Syria.
arab spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Beirut, Hezbollah, Kamal Jumblatt, Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese Communist Party, Lebanese Left, lebanon, Nabih Berri, syria, Syrian Army, Syrian moukhabarat, Terrorism, YouTube, Ziad Rahbani
I am from a generation who loved Ziad Rahbani, growing up with his music, songs, shows, plays and ‘revolutionary’ appearances and quotes like most of the youth of my time.
I can nearly recite all his plays, which I think they were masterpieces and will be engraved in our cultural heritage. I can never forget Joseph Sakr’s great songs in Sahriyyeh, the revolution of Abbas and Fahed in Nazl el sourour (which suits our current mood by the way), the social struggles of both Thurayya and Zakariya in Bennesbe La Boukra Shou, the Western conspiracy and our sectarian disease in Film Ameriki Taweel, the broken Lebanese society in Shi Fashel and the stubborn Lebanese people in his last series of Bikhsous el Karameh wel Shaab el Aaneed and Lawla Fos’hat el Amal. I adore his music and songs whether were part of his plays or not. He composed the greatest music and anthems, not exhaustively, but I mention Mays el Reem, Prelude 83, Abou Ali, People’s Winds and The Revolution Anthem.
In an unsigned article, Al-Akhbar reported yesterday that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah told his cadres in a private gathering that the Party of God “has changed” and that its ultimate priority is to “protect Lebanon”, which is different to the 1980s priority of establishing an Islamic state. He also emphasised that they “must work to apply it”.
We can interpret these words in many ways, but let’s rewind to a previous 2004 statement by Mohammad Raad made to the writer Nicholas Blanford who recorded it in his book Killing Mr Lebanon. Although some anti-imperialist writers unjustifyingly discredit Blanford for being politically biased to Hariri, the book did show how Rafiq Hariri used his money to achieve political objectives i.e. what we call corruption. So page 190 says:
Raad hinted that the party could one day trade the Islamic Resistance for greater political influence, in which Hezbollah would capitalise in the numerical superiority of the Shiites.
When Raad was asked if the presidency should still then be reserved for the Maronites, he replied with a sly smile. Quite funny when the Maronites are on a totally different wavelength these days, with their main leaders asking to “correct the injustice” against their sect/Christians in the electoral law.
Are we near the time when Hezbollah trades his weapons with agreed privileges in a new state? Knowing they previously received generous financial offers but they declined them?
Should the Maronites stop asking for more like the current Orthodox Law proposal and come to terms with the hard reality that other powerful sects presumably look with envy to the top state position, top army position and biggest share of MPs in the parliament?
I think it’s a matter of time for these “corrections” to be raised, although now could seem a suitable time for Hezbollah to start the process with the electoral law currently being cooked.
When Benjamin Netanyahu called for an enforcement of a red line in regards to Iran’s nuclear project, he didn’t think the line could be as close to him as 25km, or indeed this close to Dimona nuclear site. The downing of the unidentified drone over Israel last Saturday marked that red line. It occurred less than two weeks after Iran’s announcement of the deployment of a domestic-built reconnaissance drone with a 24-hour flight capability.
The crazy kidnapping spree that took place this week and still ongoing is scary on all levels. It’s what a country like Lebanon needs to take back its glories. And I tell you that I never felt like that in recent history. It’s easy to blame the government, which I did, but let’s be realistic here. Two parties are responsible, Hezbollah which legislated this state of lawlessness, and Free Syrian Army which has given Al-Mokdad family the unnecessary spark.
As I write this post, Lebanese leaders start their discussions at Baabda Palace in the second session of this round of Lebanese National Dialogue. This round started earlier this month with more than a year of stoppage. Subject of today? Hezbollah’s arms!
Looking at the format of the meeting and the faces of the 17 participants or whatever the number is, I laugh out loudly (that’s LOL!). So Agob Pakradounian, Jean Ogasapian, Farid Makari and others are going to be the people to convince Hezbollah to give up his arms?
Sadegh Kharrazi, Iran’s former ambassador to France, has made some startling comments on the regional foreign policy of Iran. It seems he represents some Iranian circles that have some ‘hope’ with the current regime changes in Egypt, believing they can strategically align Iran with Egypt against Saudi Arabia. Kharrazi believes Turkey would too be included in this alliance.
This actually sounds counter-intuitive when Egypt, past and present, looks closer to Saudi Arabia than Iran. But the interesting bit is the reasoning given by Kharrazi, which gives little importance of Egypt’s position on Israel (or United States.) Continue reading »
Al-Akhbar has close links with Hezbollah, with Al-Amine considered the unofficial spokesman of the Party of God. I am not talking about the portrait of Imad Mughniyeh behind his desk, but rather his editorials.
He is a staunch supporter of Bashar Assad’s regime, but he goes out of his way sometimes, mostly in the wrong way, but I can’t fault him this time. This is what he gave us this time:
A cut version of this piece was published in The Huffington Post on 3rd April 2012. This is an extended version, which I chose to publish here. I hope they convey the same message!
Once considered to be one of the strongest non-state military factions in the entire Middle East, we are now witnessing the decline of Hezbollah. Though it may seem to be at the peak of its career of might, in reality the popularity of Hezbollah in the Arab world — the bedrock of its legitimacy outside its Shiite core — is at an all-time low.
There was a lot of talk recently on Hamas’ position on Syria. The position is almost available in the public domain now which is summed up as Hamas sympathizes with the internal legitimate demands of the Syrian people, and doesn’t tar the whole Syrian crisis with the ‘foreign conspiracy’ denial line as Hezbollah does.
“If you can’t beat them, join them” is a summary of Nabih Berri’s policy towards Hezbollah. Berri, who started his career with the CIA, always felt AMAL had certain parental privilege over Hezbollah, based on the fact that Hezbollah was born from the ranks of the Shiite movement AMAL. Their relation always passed through troughs and peaks, from militarily clashing in 1980s over influence within the Shiite sect, to being completely inseparable now.
Now both parties collude to politically destroy any independent political Shia voice, and win all the Shia parliament seats and the official state appointments. Historically, AMAL represented an extension of the Syrian influence, while Hezbollah represented the Iranian one, so their relation was very much facilitated by how well these two regional bosses were getting on.
After involving the Lebanese in unwanted regional matters, we were given yesterday another dimension of the armed resistance, a divine one. I am sure he wasn’t trying to convince secularists, Christians, Sunnis, Druze, non-religious and non-supporters of Shias, and all other religious groups…because it doesn’t matter anymore.
This is Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah for you, in a speech in a highly emotional Ashura eve:
Some Lebanese don’t want us to defend them, and they say they haven’t asked for our services. Well, we say we are not waiting for the Lebanese people to request our sacrifices; we do it because it’s a divine requirement.
It’s worth noting that he started his speech on how he is doing his best to stop a sectarian Sunni-Shia clash. Also, this morning in the central Ashura march in Beirut, he made sure to start his speech by expressing his Ashura condolences to the Iranian Leader Khamenei as the deputy of the awaited Mahdi (pretty divine, eh?)
Continue reading »
What an end for a story climax, the completion of challenge of the 2011 funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). It ended peacefully this time, with the least damages possible to all parties concerned, by the announcement of PM Najib Mikati on Wednesday 30th November 2011 that he wired the required $32m to the STL. No further details were given; he told us that he just did it! No news where the money came from and how. Rumours spread that it will be covered from donations, or from the High Commission for Relief (HRC) budget, or may be from some dodgy black box type account! Anyway, HRC denied the news that it was funding the STL from its budget, but I couldn’t think of a better relief to avoid a better disaster!
Continue reading »
I think last Friday’s speech for the Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah was one of the most important ones. It had some important (and destructive) subliminal messages, but because Nasrallah has become so anticipated recently, the coverage to the speech was less sizeable or even exotic. Take what he said:
any likelihood of a new Israeli war on Lebanon is considered a means of [intimidation]. Unless there is no plan for waging war on the entire region, we rule out the possibility of a war on Lebanon [in the near future].
Ok, let’s examine these words meticulously. Continue reading »
On Thursday 27th October 2011, Gunmen – arriving in 3 dark tinted windows Cherokee Jeeps – kidnapped three Syrian workers in Bir Hassan in southern suburb of Beirut (a Hezbollah controlled area). The cars used didn’t have any registration plates on them, and the gunmen were in civilians clothes with uncovered faces…and all this happened in daylight (all these are signs of over-confidence?).
One of their brothers, who reported the matter to the police station in Ouzai, told Lebanese channel MTV that he found a piece of paper on his signed by ‘the guys in the Party (of God)”. Hezbollah later denied any involvement.
Continue reading »
Lebanon’s civil war ended in 1989 with a collective agreement between the different fighting factions, aided by an international patronage from Saudi Arabia, United States and Syria. The agreement, which was annexed to the country’s constitution, was called the Taef Accord, referring to the area where the meeting was held in Saudi Arabia. Syria kept a strong influence afterwards until 2005, when its army withdrew from Lebanon.
At the time, the fighting factions compromised, accepted removing military presence and dismantling their militias structures, but they did that on one condition in return: sharing power. It was the easiest method (in theory) to stop the war, to hand power to the warlords. The civil war was actually a mini-global war fought by local pawns. It was fueled by the Lebanese internal divisions, but the United States, Soviet Union, Israel, Palestinians, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Libya had direct interests (or presence) in Lebanon’s war.
The Lebanese daily newspaper Almustaqbal reported today that the head of Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) General Michel Aoun referred to Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organisation’ in one of the Wikileaks cables (06Beirut413). Other media outlets reported the story referring to Almustaqbal, and one of them was Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) where I read this piece news (on their website).
Almustaqbal newspaper is owned by the political opponent and Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. If this is true, it will be a blow to the current alliance that exists between Michel Aoun and Hezbollah.
Actually, I read this cable before Almustaqbal, and soon after its release. I decided then NOT to blog about it, as I didn’t find anything unusual or already not available in the public domain.
There is a huge amount of spin added to the reporting on Wikileaks cables. Some journalists are taking some cables out of context to serve their political inclinations and objectives. This blog aims to uncover as many cables as possible, irrespective of the political party being damaged from the leaked cable. And consequently, Lebanon Spring will ‘name and shame’ any media outlet adding their own spin to the story.
Continue reading »
Israel’s war in July 2006 against Hezbollah and Lebanon has proven to be complete failure from strategic point of view to both Israel and the US. Although the war was initiated by Hezbollah through capturing two Israeli soldiers, but it became known later that the war was ready-made beforehand by Israel (like the 1982 full invasion to Lebanon which was provoked by an attack 2000 miles away on Israel’s ambassador to London!). Basically, Israel has not achieved its goal to destroy Hezbollah in the 2006 war (or even return its two captured soldiers!).
The 2006 war increased Hezbollah’s popularity within the Arab masses (although not necessarily within the in-house Lebanese), against their dictators public stances. The war allowed the Party of God to rearm and become stronger (as per various public speeches for its Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah)
We all know the reasons why Hezbollah is keeping its arms in Lebanon, despite the liberation of the South from Israeli occupation (except Sheba’s farms). This is directly related to an Iranian decision facilitated by Syria, so it’s much more than a matter of pure ‘national interest’. We, in Lebanon are too nice that we serve the ‘whole region’s interests’, and we have been doing so for almost centuries.
But it’s different when you hear it from the Speaker Nabih Berri straight to the American Ambassador. Anyway, this is what the US cable 01BEIRUT3057 released by Wikileaks told us. By the way, our politicians don’t tell us this in public, or when they stand for elections, although we know it, but they are proud to admit to the big powers that they are not masters of their own destiny, and they are just pawns for other ‘big powers’. Ironically, Nabih Berri accuse his Lebanese political opponents of being pawns to their American masters (which is true in some examples). Is this some type of schizophrenia?
Who said that CIA didn’t know where Imad Mughniyeh was, or what was his job, or didn’t have any hints!?
This is from Wikileaks 95BEIRUT2749 cable released 3 days ago, in its para 8:
for what it is worth, papers also report trends which suggest business as usual for Hizballah. The often inaccurate daily ‘Nida Al-Watan’ reported the re-election of Imad Mughniyah as the central security chief, with four assitants named Mustafa Badr Ad-Dine…
Have you noticed who was mentioned too? Yep, the suspect in Rafiq Hariri’s murder as per the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (as of 2011), Mustafa BadrEddine. What a coincidence!
Ironically, the partisan newspaper Nida Al-Watan was right in this reporting. The cable is written in a tone suspecting this report, with no further comment on Mughniyeh who was one of the most wanted men by the CIA at the time. For me, it seemed business as usual to the cable author.
It’s not clear why the US didn’t make big fuss out of it in Lebanon or with its government (in public), may be because they knew they can’t reach him in diplomatic means as they had to go via Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. And simply they may have waited for 9 years before they got him in their democratic way.
Photo from GlobalVoicesOnline
This is how it usually works : there is an STL (Special Tribunal for Lebanon) development, then Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah speaks, then March8 alliance repeats what he said, then March14 alliance refutes what was said. The ‘Zajjal’ party can last for a while.
But this time, Nasrallah accused March14 of targeting the Shia in his last speech last week, so the response came from Tarik Jedideh area in Beirut!
Lebanese daily The Daily Star was generous enough to offer a full article on a local committee called ‘The Federation of Associations and Local Influential Figures’, which I never heard off and I don’t know what they do in life, responding to Nasrallah’s speech.
I thought this was a light-weight source to be portrayed in an article, with a completely ridiculous title by The Daily Star: ‘Beirut’s largest Sunni neighbourhood criticizes Nasrallah‘.
Oh well, it seems this is where Lebanese politics is heading (or we are there now), Dahyieh against Tarik Jedideh!
Just on the same day, Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani urged rival political leaders to tone down the hate speech, Anyone listening? (I think he should check on his Mufti El Jouzou first though).
…and here we are, we asked for it, we got it; the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has just published the ‘secret’ details of the indictment of the suspects in Rafik Hariri (which were previously said to be Hezbollah members).
It will be ‘interesting’ to see how the two sides March8 and March14 will study the details, but it seems for me that the indictment focused only on the phone calls data analysis. This means that despite the analysis work which makes perfect sense in the ideal world, Hezbollah has another excuse to deny the whole indictment. In other words, and as far as an internal consensus on the issue, we are going nowhere with this indictment.
After the mysterious previous two explosions because of ‘gas canister‘ in Beirut Southern suburb, and ‘personal reasons‘ in Antelias, we got another one today in Shiyyah, this time because of ‘technical malfunction‘ in the exploded vehicle.
I know that faults in cars get them to break down, and stop working, not necessarily explode! Anyway, I don’t know whether it has any political relevance or not, but I ‘liked’ that:
Hizbullah and Amal members threw a security dragnet at the blast scene shortly after the explosion