Friday, November 25, 2005

A Rational Debate About Hizballah's Arms

Politics aside, let us focus on policy today.


What are the most contentious policy issues in Lebanon today? In other words, what is the essense of the political tension that Lebanon is experiening today?

  1. Lebanon's "contribution" to the Palestinian cause
  2. Lebanon's defensive posture against "Israeli aggression"


I highlight these two policy issues because they should be dominating political discourse in Lebanon today. Hizballah represents one side of the debate. Future leads representatives of the other side. Hizballah's argument is that its weapons assist the Palestinians in their goal to establish statehood and reclaim Jerusalem. It also argues that its military capabilities are a deterrent against Israeli aggression towards Lebanon.

My take on those two policy issues is different. Moreover, whereas some on my side of the aisle are shamed into silence by the other side's incessant call to do “whatever it takes” to help Palestinians, and prevent Israeli aggression, I say no! There are better ways to protect Lebanon and to help the Palestinians, and that healthy debate can only help those two policy objectives, rather than harm them.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that Hizballah's arms are meant solely to further those two policy objectives. Fellow blogger Anton at Across the Bay, Hani G. (who writes in this blog), and others have argued that Hizballah's arms have as much to do with local politics (inter-sectarian politics) as it does with national defense issues and the Palestine-Israeli conflict. I concur with that argument and with Hani's claim that Hizballah appears to want something in return for giving up its weapons. I also believe that Hizballah has a role to play in Iran's regional designs and that its weapons are an essential component of those designs.

Let's go back to policy though. Lets go back there because it is important that an effective and valid counter-argument to Hizballah's claims about the necessity of its weapons exists. For Lebanon to arrive at effective policies, there must always be at least two opposing sides on any policy issue. No one side must be shamed into silence because all will suffer from bad policy decisions, not just those who make them.

1. Are Hizballah’s weapons helping the Palestinian cause?

Hizballah's argument is that Lebanon should remain at a state of war with Israel, and utilize Hizballah's military capabilities rather than the Lebanese Armed Forces in conducting that war. The public reasoning it gives to Lebanese for relying on guerilla rather than conventional warfare is that the Israeli Armed Forces would wipe out the Lebanese state; but that if only Hizballah attacked Israel, then Hizballah will be targeted for retaliation, thereby sparing all other Lebanese.

Hizballah's arguement concerning the utility of violence

First we need to tackle whether military operations in general actually help the Palestinian cause before we deal with the type of military operations that are most suitable. In my opinion, violence does not help. It no longer helps, because there already is an international consensus for Palestinian statehood as well as some formula of joint-sovereignty over Jerusalem. Violence, rather than improve the Palestinian position on the bargaining table, has gradually eroded it. First we had Rabin, then Perez, then Netanyahu, then Barak and now we have Sharon. Israeli offers to the Palestinians progressively got worse with each of these leaders. The more violence Israeli society experienced, the more right-wing they voted.

I do not want to go into the details of the Oslo Accords and Palestinian-Israeli negotiations because a ton of literature already exists about them (from all perspectives). What I do want to get across is that there is no more need for violence. The entire world has come to an agreement that the Palestinians will get their state, which will share sovereignty over Jerusalem as well as control the West Bank and Gaza. Violence only prolongs the pathetic status quo.

Hizballah's argument concerning the means of conducting warfare.

Remember, Hizballah claims that its guerilla operations to assist Palestinians will spare the Lebanese state and people from violent retaliation by the Israelis. I also beg to differ in this regard. Any military activity conducted from or on Lebanese soil, no matter how limited, is damaging to all Lebanese becausem, at the very least, it scares away business activity from Tripoli to Tyre and Beirut to Ba'albek. This business activity could potentially have helped improve socio-economic conditions for hundreds, if not thousands, of Lebanese. Consequently, even though Israelis conduct most of their retaliations in Southern Lebanon, and attack "suspected Hizballah bases," Lebanon in its entirity feels the consequences of those strikes.

Recent history has also shown us that even though Hizballah suffers the burden of most Israeli retaliations, the Israelis do retaliate directly against the Lebanese state, and other Lebanese entities. I need say no more than point to Operation Grapes of Wrath, during which more than a hundred civilians were murdered in a UN compound, and power infrastructure throughout the country was targeted and destroyed by Israeli aircraft.

In conclusion, it appears that both of Hizballah's arguments for maintaining its own military capability and autonomy cannot stand on their feet. If the organization has other arguments, then I urge someone to bring them on the table so that we may have a rational debate concerning the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and Lebanon's role in that conflict.

2. Do Hizballah's Weapons Enhance Lebanese National Security?

One of Hizballah's relatively new arguments for maintaining its weapons is that they deter the Israeli state from violating Lebanese sovereignty and from acting belligerently towards Lebanon. They argue that since Lebanon does not have a "shield" to protect itself from the Israeli "gun," Lebanon must also have its own "gun" pointed at Israel - a gun that the Israelis have no "shield" against. That Lebanese gun, they argue, must be Hizballah, since it has proven its mettle against the IDF by expelling it from southern Lebanon. Only if Lebanon possesses this particular gun will the Israelis think twice about violating Lebanese sovereignty and conducting illegal military activities on Lebanese soil.

Hizballah makes a stronger argument here than it does in its Palestine-Israeli argument. However, it crumbles in the face of demands that Hizballah merge with the Lebanese Armed Forces. The only difference between then and now is that there will be one chain of command that will ultimately lead up to the President of the Republic of Lebanon. Furthermore, unlike operations intended to “help the Palestinian cause," all states have the inherent right to protect their sovereignty, and consequently, the Lebanese Armed Forces will have the obligation to retaliate against any violent assault on Lebanese sovereignty to the best of its abilities.

Let me take this argument one step further. The Lebanese Armed Forces must also defend Lebanon from Syria. The duty of an Army is to prepare for all eventualities and have the means to deter all potential adversaries. For God's sake, the Canadian Armed Services have plans drawn up to defend against an American invasion!!! I don't know how much that would help, but it's still there! Therefore, allow me to recommend the following:

  1. Hizballah should join the Lebanese Armed Forces
  2. Once that process is completed, the Armed Forces should redeploy some of the short range missiles targeted at Tel Aviv to the Bekaa and redirect them at Damascus.

Concluding Remarks:

I have attempted to rationally debunk the three or four arguments Hizballah articulates for maitaining the status quo with regards to its weapons. Let us all assume that Lebanese policy is concocted only after rational deliberation. Therefore, let us debate the issue rationally as Lebanese, without emotions and sectarian prejudices. We would all be better off if politics in our country was conducted under such conditions. At least under these conditions Hizballah would have either already disarmed or convinced the majority of Lebanese of the necessity of maintaining its military capabilities.

28 comments:

Hani G. said...

:-) You're right, maybe they would have disarmed, who knows??! With bros like these who needs Israelis??? (Says a Hizbollah supporter)

Thanks for the above Raja, but what are the standards set in place that make your average Palestinian in a West bank town or in a Lebanese refugee camp for that matter, think that there isn't a need for violence any more?

Regarding your comment about the Gun and the shield and Israeli's having to think twice before attacking Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah actually clarrified Hizbollah's stance in his speech today.
He said that while the Israeli's continue to violate Lebanon's airspace with their reconnaisance flights and spy planes, they dare not fly helicopters into Lebanon. He believes that in itself is a shield against any targeted assassinations. That his fending of that particular Israeli resource is triumph in itself.

Of course my natural contention was which targets could he be referring to???
Also, had there not been Hizbollah on Israel's northern border then Israel wouldn't have a need to assassinate any of their leaders.
Right????
Yes, but that thought didn't last, because as the past has taught us, there will always be a reason to bully Lebanon and there will always be someone who poses a threat to Israel residing in Lebanon.

If not Hizbollah, then I'm sure some Palestinian faction will fit the bill. We'll keep going around in circles. What was Israel's excuse to obliterate Beirut in 1982 killing 17,000 Lebanese civilians in the process?? The PLO. There will always be an excuse.

We must deal with Palestinian weapons in Lebanon before dealing with Hizbollah. I hope we can speak about this in the next blog as I feel we are yet to tire ourselves of this topic, although they are related.

Anton Efendi said...

Bullshit, that's the greatest lie. HA doesn't want anything IN RETURN for its arms. That's wishful and wrong thinking. The notion that HA's arms are meant to bargain something for the SHIITES is dead wrong. HA did everything it can to LIMIT Shiite participation and to monopolize the Shiite vote. Opening it up means HA has to fight competitors, meaning its Parliamentary share diminishes, meaning it doesn't have to be included in cabinets anymore. A coalition with other shiites can work, without making it seem as if the entire sect is isolated (which is what HA is doin now), etc. etc. Once HA gives up its arms, it loses the only concrete constant it has. Everything else is variable.

No, dear friends. HA wants to continue EXACTLY as is. TO be able to veto, dictate, and threaten and blackmail. Period. That's it. It doesn't have the political or the demographic weight to achieve what it can achieve through the weapons: control over an entire sect, and a veto on all political decisions.

I've linked to Bshara Sharbel's reaction to Nasrallah's latest move, andhow close it was to mine. His latest on Nasrallah's infuriating insulting speech, that proves that the weapons are directed at NO ONE BUT the Lebanese, is also worth looking at.

Stop kidding yourselves. We are back at March 14th, only without the momentum, with the 2000 law passed, and HA in the cabinet. Whatever may have been Jumblat's idea, and Saad's approval of it, it has proven a disastrous failure. We're back to square one, with HA outside the Lebanese consensus, and at war with it. The funny thing is that the only people kidding themselves were the March 14 political players! Nasrallah ALL THROUGHOUT never ceased to call everyone else traitors and to threaten everyone and call them Israeli agents.

HA's banking on the fact that no one in Lebanon wants war. It's the cheapest kind of blackmail, but it's a dangerous gamble. If Nasrallah is threatening to take the country to war, he should be careful what he wishes for. It will be on his hands.

Anton Efendi said...

I won't enter the Israeli-Palestinian issue on principle. But like you said, things are moving there beyond the drama. The focus is no longer on Israel vs. Palestinians. The focus is now on internal Palestinian dynamics. Israel will in all likelihood withdraw unilaterally from most of the West Bank, and the rest will be settled in details, as to the final borders and the state of Jerusalem and whether there would land swaps or what have you. So HA's logic is about 10 years old.

Secondly, with regards to the "effectiveness," ... my ass. HA went to kidnap soldiers to bargain with, instead it lost THREE to the Israelis!!! It was a TOTAL embarrassment under ANY standards. A little Yeshiva student alone picked-up three kills with his rifle. Who are we kiddingat this stage? HA requested for the cease fire!! Israel killed HA with the 2000 withdrawal. It gave HA a nice holiday golden era and it's now over. Now they can't even make a hit on a post in Shebaa. That's effectiveness!? besides, is anyone even listening to Nasrallah?! This is NOT about defense, he's talking about TRADING PRISONERS. If there is an armistice, the entire "defense" issue would be settled. Israel would no longer have a pretext to violate airspace, and HA won't shoot anti-aircraft fire at it (that's their "defense").

HA's weapons have ZERO Lebanese value. They have Syrian value. They have Iranian value. And they have HA value AGAINST THE LEBANESE, not Israel.

Let's be honest afterall... If Nasrallah is already calling us traitors, then the least we can ask for is to be honest. He has no problem expressing his mind. Let's cut the bullshit already.

Anton Efendi said...

Their "effectiveness" was under different circumstances. When they would strike SLA or IDF with suicide bombers or IEDs and hit patrols, killing and wounding bunches at a time. It's a different setting. Now Israel is no longer in Lebanon. The notion that HA should be armed in case Israel reoccupies Lebanon as it did 27 years ago is ludicrous! The way Nasrallah is talking and even Hani is as if we're living in the 80s. It's the epitomy of dishonesty.

Ba3den pardon, bil izin ya3ne. But the notion that HA will give in its weapons in return for something should insult anyone with a brain. Shit, let's say geagea decides that hey, I want to get out more from this deal, and I can't muster any political or demographic power to do so. So, you know what? I'm going to regather all the weapons of the LF, you know, to "protect Lebanon" and the "christian community." And if you dare touch them, we'll burn the country down. Would ANYONE take him seriously!? Are you kidding me?!

We've been through this before. The political class played this game with the Palestinians before. It led to disaster. Nasrallah knows exactly what he's doing. He's playing on everything we've managed to build through blood and threatening us to flush it all down the toilet. He knows no one has the heart to do it.

Hani G. said...

Ok Anton Effendi, you're stating problems here. Do you have any solutions??

What do you suggest Lebanon does? Snatch the weapons by force?? Are you ready to watch Lebanon fall into yet another civil war?

You criticise Nasrallah for his speech antics yet you do the same with your threats against Hizbollah.
You speak as if they are not Lebanese. You see things from a perspective different to Hizbollah supporters and you wish to enforce it upon them. This isn't reconciliation!

When I mention giving them something in return I meant the Shiite supporters who have suffered much and not neccesarily HIzbollah as an organisation.

Ya Effendi, I doubt any of our sufferings as Lebanese comes close to that of the Shiites, on a community level.
I won't even get into that now.

Your reservations about Hizbollah are the same as mine, but you have clearly taken them a step further into an extreme. I understand these reservations and all I say is try to understand those of the Shiite community.

Your belief that Israel will cease its illegal activities in Lebanon only when Hizbollah ceases to exist is wrong ya to2borni. You think they fly the length and breadth of Lebanon only to spy on Hizbollah's activities? Will there not be another reason once Hizbollah as a military entity has disintegrated?

What we must do now is try to get closer to them and understand them better. Don't patronise them for they have proven to be better than that and don't accuse them for we can't deny their achievements in the face of the enemy.

Hizbollah also need to understand that the Lebanese have reservations with them and our differences are real.

I sincerely believe that Hizbollah don't want civil conflict and that they are just buying time now.

In a few years time Anton Effendi, you may find yourself getting all worked up about another threat besides Hizbollah.

JoseyWales said...

Raja, Hani

a) I find it interesting and telling about the distorted nature of this whole debate that you put Leb's contribution above Leb's defensive posture against Israel.

We have been programmed and beaten into submission that we need to do "all" we can about the "cause", without saying what "all" means. Without saying what it means for other Arabs (basically nothing). And without asking what do the Lebanese (oustside Hezbo) think about it.

I suspect that even the most rabid supporters of the "cause" in the blogosphere will want to draw the line somewhere before losing "all" or "everything". But they love to lecture the rest of us, while pretending they're "oh-so-totally-committed".

I, for one, do not want to give neither life, nor limb, nor even 1 cent to this cause. That is my right and I don't even have to explain it.

Now you can all disagree and call me names. However, the Lebanese have to be heard on this issue, after a rational debate. And people like me (perhaps in the minority, perhaps not) cannot be shut down on the the basis of being traitors or agents or whatever.

If Lebanon chooses Nasrallah's way, so be it. But we are very far from that.

b) Raja is right the "plausible deniability" thing does not work anymore. Sooner or later Israel will get fed up and bomb the whole of Lebanon (especially when there are no more Syrians to blame, sort of).

c) As to Hani who says:

What do you suggest Lebanon does? Snatch the weapons by force?? Are you ready to watch Lebanon fall into yet another civil war

Duh! Hani, that's what we heard before 75, about the PLO and their arms. "Oh quiet now or else we'll have a civil war." Guess what, we had a civil war.

We can certainly pressure HA via non-violent means (propaganda, isolate them politically, threaten with referendum, see other posts.)

Let's not fall into the Arab trap: a problem is difficult? Let's do nothing about it. Or write a poem about it.

Also Hani: enough about the victim crap: "Oh they were victimized" so now they can do anything they want? (PLO, Hezbo now). That is not debate. That is patronizing and asking for huge trouble.

Raja said...

Tony, Hani and Josey,

in the beginning of my post, I said let us put politics aside and discuss the policy issues that Hizballah seems to use to justify its weapons in public discourse (Josey, I placed the "Palestinian cause" first because it is first in Hizballah's rhetoric). Once I articulated their arguments, I went about and systematically debunked them.

I saw this entry as an exercise... an exercise of rational debate. My initial conclusion was that if policy in Lebanon was formulated only after rational debate, Hizballah would already have disarmed. Of course, they haven't because the reality is very different.

Hani, let me just say that I disagree with you on one major point. I do not believe that Israel will continue violating Lebanese sovereignty once it does not feel threatened. My favorite example is Syria. The Golan is quiet... Israel is quiet. Syrian air space is as easy to violate as Lebanese air space since most of that country's air defense systems are leftovers from the 1973 war. Furthermore, I have to add that once Hizballah is disarmed, I fail to see why another similar group with similar objectives and means should emerge in Lebanon. If your prediction is accurate, then I can only feel disheartened.

Anton, let me just say that whereas Hani seems to exaggerate Israel's belligerency you focus exclusively on Hizballah's negative aspects. Frankly, I hope that both of you are wrong. For the sake of all Lebanese, I hope the both of you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

Nice Tony!

Anonymous said...

"Ba3den pardon, bil izin ya3ne. But the notion that HA will give in its weapons in return for something should insult anyone with a brain. Shit, let's say geagea decides that hey, I want to get out more from this deal, and I can't muster any political or demographic power to do so. So, you know what? I'm going to regather all the weapons of the LF, you know, to "protect Lebanon" and the "christian community.""

Wctually, I think that they should talk about it. I don't really want the LF rearm themselves, I don't want to go back to the 80's, but just give a little lesson to the Hezbollah. Two can play this game.

If the LF want to help the HA in liberating shebaa, then why not ?

JoseyWales said...

Raja,

My "order" observation was just that, and not a personal jibe. I wasn't aware that HA placed Palestine/Jerusalem on top if its agenda. We have been brain-washed with this issue that it is not even a question. Of course it should be.

I agree with your all your arguments, and you are right we need to frame the debate, if we can. No one else seems to want to.


The debate is not as framed by the Arabist/Al Jazeera and others.

I.e. not "Are you with Israel or the PA?" Nor "Are you in favor of the Palestinians getting their rights?" Irrelevant questions.

BUT "What are YOU, mister Lebanese citizen, willing to pay: in tax money (specific amount or percentage), AND risk to your LIFE and PROPERTY to get "stuff" for the Palestinians?" Let alone wasted time and opportunity for your children's future, if anyone cares about that.

Ditto with HA weapons. Like you say the Golan is quiet, even without peace. The armistice agreement also worked fine for Lebanon before the 1970's, whan the army was in charge in the South.

Everybody wants to forget about that, and play "romantic resistant" (students and leftists), or "I want to stick my head in the sand" (businessmen and politicians), same as with the PLO in the early 70s.

Lazarus said...

"there is no more need for violence". So true. How do we explain that though to people who don't agree?

Now, assuming that HA joins the Lebanese armed forces. I agree with your Golan Heights analogy, but for the sake of argument. let's assume that for the first few weeks after HA joins the army, Israel still violates Lebanese airspace. Wouldn't it be more dangerous for the army to retaliate (which would make it an official lebanese attack) than for HA to do so as an "independent" entity?

That is one of the arguments that supporters put forth. Timor Goksel also said that here.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

Then don't retaliate, strike a deal with the Israelis, official or throught US/EU chanels. Not attack on Israel, no violation of our sovereignty. Why do we always have to go with the violent solution ? Are Hezbollah supporters war-addicts? (Yes)

There's a French proverb: "on ne peut pas avoir le beurre et l'argent du beurre". You can't have the butter and the butter's money.

This means that Hezbollah cannot destroy the economy and ask for more economic help for the Shia regions. If Hezbollah only plan is 'operation mayhem', then they cannot ask for national solidarity. Then the people who vote for them are on their own. You break it you own it (and you pay for it). When they will pay for all the trouble the country is going through, once they will allow the state to collect the bills in the Shia regions, then they may be allowed to continue their childish war if their foreign masters wish so.

Hezbollah may think then the rest of the Lebanese are only there to be used as human shields or to finance their political fantasies, but it's not the case.

Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

And no the HA's militia shouldn't be merged with the army. Because these units would be under the controls of Nasrallah, not the army. I don't trust an army that is infiltrated by the HA. This militia must be dissolved, period. End of debate.

Hani G. said...

Vox I don't know what else to say Man. You have solved the puzzle and we should have no problems now...Cheers!

Josey my comment still stands whether you think its Homer Simpson material or not. So what is your suggestion?? Feel free to indulge how you suggest we solve the Hizbollah issue.

Josey you don't want to understand this cause (Hibollah's) because you completely closed your self from it by choice, but then do you expect them to listen to you and respect your demands?
I can't understand your reasoning at all.

Also please spare me the stable country shouldn't have a state within a state speech, it is basic rhetoric and its repetetive. We have a problem on our hands and there needs to be communication between us (Lebanese).
A rational debate indeed, which you also accepted Josey, but on what basis? On a basis of "No one else seems to want to" as you claim???
I'm sure you won't be the first in and last out of a scheduled debate.

Anton Efendi said...

I have no time to debunk your beside-the-point response, but you make it seem as if HA has been begging people to dialogue, and everyone is yelling war at them! My good man, EVERYONE in Lebanon bent over backwards and kissed their ass for 7 months now. All they got in return was calls that they were all traitors, that anyone who dares open the idea of disarming them will be killed, and that they are the be-all of true nationalism. They have shot down the international resolutons that the rest have called for. Shot down the international tribunal. Shot down the Prime Minister. Shot down the Parliamentary majority. Shot down any calls for border demarcation. Shot down any calls for disarming pro-Syrian factions outside the camps, and denied that weapons were being smuggled to them. Backed Asad at every chance. And took the country to the brink with a unilateral attack on Israel, after the Asad speech. And put red lines before the supposed "dialogue" even started.

We owe them asbolutely NOTHING. They owe us EVERYTHING. So your nice apologia here doesn't impresse me in the least bit. Spare me.

Anton Efendi said...

ANd by the way, for all the "Effectiveness", if it weren't for Seniora and the American ambassador, and the UN people and such, the three bodies wouldn't have been returned. Just a reminder next time Nasrallah decides to curse them out and anyone who associates with them.

Israel could easily have said no. Remember that next time you go macho.

Anonymous said...

Hezbollah is pro-dialogue. As long as dialogue means meaningless and endless talks that are not supposed to yield any practical results.

JoseyWales said...

Hani,

How about answering a couple of arguments, instead of psycho-analyzing me?

Anton Efendi said...

hehehe

أميركا أحبطت خطة سورية

لاستدراج إسرائيل في لبنان


»السياسة« ¯ خاص:
أكدت مصادر لبنانية على صلة وثيقة بدوائر الخارجية الاميركية ل¯»السياسة« ان اتصالات حثيثة وثيقة قامت بها واشنطن خلال الايام الاربعة الماضية مع رئيس الحكومة الاسرائيلية ارييل شارون ووزير دفاعه شاؤول موفاز لوقف اطلاق النار على الحدود مع لبنان ونزع اي ورقة تصعيدية من يد »حزب الله« بما في ذلك ورقة شهدائه الثلاثة والاسراع باعادة جثامينهم الى الاراضي اللبنانية.
وكشفت هذه المصادر ان معلومات وصلت الى الادارة الاميركية تؤكد حصول اتفاق بين القيادة السورية من جهة وقيادة »حزب الله«
من جهة ثانية لتفجير الوضع الامني على طول الشريط الحدودي مع اسرائيل وذلك لتحقيق امرين اولهما اشغال مراكز القرار في العالم والرأي العام الدولي بانهيار الهدنة غير المعلنة بين لبنان واسرائيل وبالتالي فتح الجبهة الجنوبية على كل الاحتمالات بما يصرف الانظار عن مجريات التحقيق في اغتيال الرئيس رفيق الحريري وتمييع قضية تسليم المطلوبين السوريين للجنة الدولية وثانيهما زيادة حدة المأزق الاسرائيلي الداخلي الناجم عن انفصال شارون عن حزب الليكود والتحضير لانتخابات مبكرة.
واوضحت المصادر نفسها ان واشنطن وضعت هذه التقارير التي وصلت اليها امام المسؤولين الاسرائيليين طالبة نزع فتيل الانفجار وبالتالي عدم الاستجابة ل¯ »حزب الله« في دفع الاوضاع في الجنوب اللبناني نحو الانفجار والتصادم المفتوح مع القوات الاسرائيلية خصوصا ان المواجهة لم تقتصر هذه المرة على مزارع شبعا وانما تعدتها الى معظم الشريط الحدودي, وطلب المسؤولون الاميركيون من القيادة الاسرائيلية تفويت الفرصة على سورية ومراعاة اولويات المرحلة الراهنة وهي استكمال التحقيقات بشأن جريمة اغتيال الحريري.
وربطت المصادر اللبنانية معلوماتها هذه بما جرى اول من امس اذ ما ان تم تسليم جثامين الشهداء الثلاثة الى حزب الله وتبريد جبهة الجنوب حتى اعلنت دمشق عن تسليم المطلوبين الخمسة لديها للمثول امام لجنة التحقيق الدولية في فيينا.

Anton Efendi said...

Has anyone seen Ibrahim al-Amin's piece in As-Safir 5 days before the HA operation?! He detailed it in advance! It shows just how much HA and Syria misread international dynamics.

Hani G. said...

Ya jame3a we seem to be comparing oranges to apples here.

You also seem to focus on the ills of Hizbollah the organisation and you miss their almost 1 million supporters in Lebanon which I believe is a more important dilemma.

sam said...

I propose to look at the problem from a different perspective. HA's problem is a grave one: they are an extremist religious armed militia supported by a lot of people because they perceive it as the most beneficial to their community (shiite). And many lebanese find that normal, that members of a community decide on who they want to lead them, without having to think about how it affects the rest of the country. So is it not the Lebanese sectarian/community/quota political model that is at the core of the problem? I'm not saying that it is feasible to replace it right now, but all the above comments didn't even mention that.
I also think that any solution to the HA problem (whether disarming them by force, or political isolation, or referendum etc) should be followed by a debate about the solution to the bigger problem: As long as the Lebanese state does not take up its responsibilities in protecting the rights of its citizens -- the weakest and the poorest -- their right to a decent education, career orientation, security protection, sustainable development etc., the sectarian leaders will continue to grow stronger as a replacement, and to have the support of their respective communities no matter how "bad" these leaders behave, and no matter what the consequences to the country as a whole.

Sam

Anton Efendi said...

Spare me the cliches, dakheel ijrek... stop running around in circles.

I don't have time now. I'll come back and address this nonsense later.

Hani G. said...

Lah Lah ya Effendi ma tiz3al..:-)

Khod wa2tak....

sam said...

Hey wait a minute. Before you say anything anton, I'm not saying that the problem is mainly social. I am aware of Iran and Bashar's plans, Hizbollah's manipulation of the shiite community, and the delicate situation for the rest of the Lebanese politicians. But the community model is part of the problem. On the long-term, to prevent similar scenarios it may be beneficial (if it's not too costly) to reconsider it.

Sam

Anton Efendi said...

Then why is this "problem" not replicated in any other community? That was part of the question I asked before. This is double talk (not necessarily on your part). We've seen it in Hani's response. We start with one issue, he gets cornered, it becomes then an issue about Shiite poverty. Well, have you been to Tripoli or Saida where people (not Shiites) have had to move into Palestinian camps in order to benefit from UN benefits and get cheaper rent? I'd say slightly worse than Dahiye. Have you been to places in Dawra and Sin el-Fil? Have you been to Dinniyeh and Akkar? OK, then spare me. The Shiites are not a unique exception. They're just the only ones with an party armed to its teeth.

And I think Vox pointed this out, but you can't tell me they should continue to have a grip on the South and southern Beirut, mount operations at will, draw devastating responses (which we were spared this time due to Seniora, US, France, and UN which Nasrallah cursed out) that affect the country. The notion that "the government shouldsend services" is a stupid remarks on so many levels. First it reeks of the worst kinds of socialism, which our system never extended to ANYBODY, not just Shiites. But if you're talking about infrastructure, and development, how can anyone do any such thing when HA does not allow anything down there and keeps the area in a state of war!? You want development? Disarm HA. Not the other way around. But here's the silliness. They have NEVER made taht argument. Again, HA's concerns are not what you're trying to make them out to be.

Stop jumping back and forth. You have nothing but cliches. If not Shiite poverty, which is completely beside the point, it's Israel will continue expanding, which is nonsense. It's such a silly hypothesis, that I can counter with another unprovable prediction: Syria will also slide back into the country. Therefore, I must arm everyone in Mount Lebanon to avert such a possibility. It's a stupid proposition.

Now I've said before in a comment on this very blog that indeed the Shiite community must be itself reached out to. Here's why HA wanted the 2000 law, to make sure to shoot down any alternative, any competition. To completely monopolize the Shiite voice. And they only dream of having 1 million supporters. At best, when they emptied out the Dahieh and bused people from the south and the bekaa, and brought palestinians and several other pro-Syrian parties to Riad el-Solh, they had about half that. I've quoted on my blog statistics based on the elections of 2000 I think (or 1996, I can't remember) where, at the height of their popularity, and with an alliance with Amal, and all their electoral machine, they managed, combined, to get slightly above 50% of the Shiite vote. If we say that they have the bulk of that, say 35-40% of it, that means that they alone don't even have the votes of the entire Shiite community as a whole. Now this might change, depending on how much the Shiites fall into the trap laid out by HA (which is similar to the one Bashar is putting foth to his people) and identify Shiite interests with HA interests. HA has killed diversity in Shiite representation, and decided to run its own show. By so doing, it's isolated itself, and if the Shiites fall into that trap, they will isolate themselves from the rest of the country. Bitching about social conditions every time HA's weapons are discussed won't help at all. There are civil ways of social activism. No one in the country blackmails the government and the rest of the people to call for social conditions to be improved!! You enter into politics, you lobby, you make alliances, you advocate, you create a lively political atmosphere. Right now, you have the EXACT OPPOSITE in the Shiite community. The 2000 law made sure of that for this time around.

Diversity in the various communities is the key. Not the abolition of the system. I've said that in the comment on this blog that I made a little while ago. You manage to have both integrationism and consensual government. This way you open the way for cross-sectarian, and inter- and intra-communal alliances. This way the sectarian nature means nothing except to give a sense of broad participation and representation for everyone, regardless of numbers.

Now, you have problems with the level of Shiite representation? Fine. Many share that. You don't go about addressing it through blackmail and bargains for weapons! The a priori condition is to drop the weapons. No one enters a discussion where one party has a gun on the table and the other has a pen and a notebook! HA only knows blackmail and intimidation, and playing on people's fears (as I explained above) because it's a deeply undemocratic party.

You don't need to threaten with deconfessionalization (as they cheaply do in order to keep the weapons. and by the way, if a census is held they will be deeply disappointed, so will everyone else, because EVERYONE in Lebanon has an inflated sense of numbers!). The Taef stipulates bicamericalism. A bicameral structure can address both Shiite representation, and maintain the power sharing formula.

But all this is non sequitur unless the party drops its weapons. So you ahve it all backwards. It's not address Shiite concerns (which is not what HA is saying! HA cares about HA period.) then disarm or in order to disarm the party. It's disarm the party, open up proper Shiite participation, and that by itself, through propoer communication and political action, and intra and inter-communal alliances (not isolation and diktat as HA has it now), it will lead naturally to a broad national consensus on how to move forward with a redefined social contract.

Right now HA is killing the social contract, moderation, centrism, diversity, and consensus. What you may think is the Shiites' greatest assest is actually their greatest liability and impediment to a prosperous future. It's precisely HA's triumphalism that's the Shiites' problem.

sam said...

Man you're preaching to the choir. I never said that social justice or sth is a prerequisite to the disarmament of HA, nor did I say that poverty is the reason for shiite support for HA. And I didn't even say that the whole Lebanese system should be changed. I said some debate on the Lebanese political process should be done after the HA problem is solved, and may be useful in preventing similar situations. I sincerly hope (as you suggest) that everyone in the other communities would spit at a leader who proposes a return to arms. I have no idea how to solve the HA's arms problem, and I hope they disarm ASAP. Back to your "worst kind of socialism" remark, I just think that it would be "kinda nice" to have a silly concept like preservation of certain (basic) rights no matter what your sect etc.. And as you said "diversity in the various communities is the key", I just thought the government could (in the future i mean) help that out with a little nudge, by relieving the sectarian leaders of some of their roles...

Sam

Anonymous said...

"So you ahve it all backwards. It's not address Shiite concerns (which is not what HA is saying! HA cares about HA period.)"

Who suffered most when Syria closed its borders during the summer? Wasn't it the Shia farmers?

What was HA's position on the bordure closure? They didn't criticize Syria, but the Lebanese medias and the 'traitors'.