Wednesday, August 23, 2006

We Are Not Here To Stay: Look In The Mirror

Let's face it: from a realist point of view, Iran has power and is exercising it to the utmost.

Just when we thought the Italians pledged to head the UN military delegation into our southern borders, they rescinded that commitment today. If Iran was not powerful right now, would we all, including the Americans and Europeans, be waiting for that important date of August 31st, the day the UNSCR has scheduled a discussion on Iran's nuclear program? No.

Syrian President Assad can talk as much as he can, and Saudi and Egyptian press can retaliate for Assad's insults to their leadership as much as they can, the truth of the matter, none of these countries is a power to contend with.

I am sick of reading editorials instilling fear in us that the Syrian regime has a plan to re-occupy Lebanon. Again, let's face it: the Syrian regime is weak. For the past two years, the regime has been isolated from diplomatic relations, one of its major sources of income, namely its access to Lebanon, was closed, and many of those implicated in late Hariri's assassination had their accounts frozen. And if Syria really had power left to exercise, it would have intervened militarily during the one-month war on Lebanon.

Syria does not have power in its own right, it gets it from Iran. Long gone are the days when Syria during Hafez Assad's time was an Arab power, crucial in every way on the regional level. All what the Syrian regime has right now is a couple of crude speeches and relations with rogue fundamentalist groups (Al-Qaida) used as a threat against Lebanon and for destabilization purposes in Iraq.

The sad part is that Lebanon yet again has been chosen as the "convenient" place to pick the fights in. I read somewhere yesterday in a Lebanese newspaper someone asking why Israel hits a truck carrying arms to Hizbullah on Lebanese territories and not before it enters Lebanon. This is an important question.

It's as if there is an understanding amongst all powers that if Syria is hit, Iran will be pushed to respond. Remember a couple of months back Ahmadinejad's visit to Damascus? I believe this is when an Iranian-Syrian Entente was forged and a pledge was made by Iran to come to the rescue if Syria is hit or Hizbullah is threatened to disarm.

The fear to bring in Iran directly into the conflict shows that it's a power in its own right. Who wants a direct confrontation between Israel and Iran where a nuclear bomb becomes a solution Israel resorts to as a defensive mechanism? Arab countries would not like to intervene militarily in such a case, even when pushed to do so, and would consider it a failure that the Persians are directly fighting on their turf . The Americans would see their New Middle East Project crumbling even further with no chance of revival.

It just seems to me at times the whole situation in our part of the world is bleak. There is no true counterweight to Iran in the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has an arsenal of weapons and rockets that it never uses and when it wishes to, it usually relies on the Americans and British to fight their wars for them. Egypt and Jordan also have to contend with their internal threats, Islamic fundamentalism and what not. They have signed peace with Israel and perhaps do not have the capacity to face up to Iran.

So how more convenient could Lebanon be? Lebanon could keep Iran at bay; Iran can influence Hizbullah, fund Hamas, militarily back the Syrian regime, and intervene in the Iraqi war and peace equation: that's all better than inviting Iran inside the Arab House.

Our part of the world is a mess. I don't know where to start from. I guess it's this quality in us Arabs, where we like to eschew the difficult questions to a later time. It's time for the Arab leaders to look in the mirror and stop pretending that they are here to stay.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Lirun said...

hi doha

wow thats pretty grim..

hoping your thoughts are mere paranoia.. but fearing there may be more to them than that and yet still hoping for peace..


exaedron said...

Just when we thought the Italians pledged to head the UN military delegation into our southern borders, they rescinded that commitment today.

I don't know where you get your info, but you didn't make a good service to your cause here. Italy has not rescinded anything nor recessed. NO italian news resource is reporting anything like this, on the contrary we're still willing to come, and the PM is continuously confirming this.
Please beware these mistakes, the situation looks already messy as it is...


chuck said...

i look at Israeli news channels and it looks the same from here.
analysts say that the war in lebanon is about to restart, expanding to include syria as well, and iran is rushing to have an atomic bomb, and seems verry kin to use it too.
i hope these days would show me otherwise but as it looks now, the future looks grim...

Chas said...

People are returning home .. mothers are being re-united with their sons ... friends are finding their friends and making sure they are ok ... people are helping each other where they can. The dead are being laid to rest and their communties are mourning them. Already people are starting to rebuild.
In Lebanon, the majority of people that were displaced were Shia .. I did not here one tale of them being turned away when they sought shelter.
There is a human factor in war, no matter what the pundits and rabble rousers may say.
Asad has demonstrated, more than any other thing during this conflict, that he is a coward. He knows that if the conflict arrives inside Syria, no matter what the outcome, his regime would not survive.
If his army goes into action, the most likely result would be its complete humiliation. Would he risk sending then to fight UN peacekeepers and the Lebanese army on Lebanese soil?
Hezbollah may have had tacit support from a majority of Lebanese while it was fighting Israel, but if it chose to side with Syria in such a conflict it would be torn apart, both from within and without.



Chas said...

let's not panic guys :)

MAZe said...

I have been reading a book about the Middle East... and the crux of it:

The cradle of civilsation is still welcoming mat to all aspiring emperors...

Fares said...

Looking for a good Syrian General

Aaron said...

Bravo on your insight. That's all I can say. Fortunately, it doesn't look like any side really wants to rush back to the state of chaos we had before. However, if the UN keeps dragging it's feet or is scared by Syria (why?) -- it will gradually slip back into another bloody hell.

True Facts said...

Excellent article at:
In Bashar Assad's Syria, a growing passion for war

Yigal Amir said...


Maggie said...

One can only hope that there is a possibility that Lebanon is allowed to live in peace. Her real enemies are Iran and Syria. As a concerned Australian with Christian Lebanese friends (they are a strong presence in my parish), I hope that it is possible to disarm Nazirellah. It is the only way for peace to come to Lebanon.

At one point in time the Christians were in the majority in Lebabon, but the Islamists have proved themselves to be a foe of anyone who refuses to be subjugated to their will. Amongst the people I have met is a woman whose parents were Armenian. She remembered the time that the family lived in Lebanon, during a past war, and she spoke about the constant fear of being bombed. She, and her friends continue to feel afraid when it comes to entering a suburb here in Sydney that is dominated by a mosque. To these women it is a very real fear. It tells me more about the horrible situation that existed than anything that has been on the news lately.

I remain concerned that the numbers of alleged civilians killed in Lebanon has been inflated. I would suggest that the figure should be at least halved. However, the deaths of civilians in a time of war is regrettable. The problem with the latest skirmish is that avoiding civilians was not always possible. I have also checked out how Hezbollah have made up various stories such as the hit on ambulances outside of Qana. What is certain in the story, is that the ambulance was not hit by the Israelis. The hole in the roof was not made by an Israeli rocket. The most logical explanation of this story is that the ambulance crew lied and that the purpose of the lie was to set up Israel to take the fall for a false war crime.

Nazrellah remainse a scourge to the freedoms of the Lebanese people. He was making threatening statements prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Did he not claim that ordinary Lebanese were the tourists? Beware, this man wants to take over Lebanon so that Iran can impose Sharia upon the whole of the population, so that all who refuse to bow to Islam will be forced to be Dhimmis. Is this what you want for Lebanon?

No one wants war, except the hawks who see themselves as great military leaders. I cannot comment upon Israel was right or wrong in taking on Hezbollah over the illegal kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, and then lying about what happened. Nazirella deliberately engineered the situation with Israel so that the Israeli's had to retaliate and were put into a bad light.

The voice of the majority of Lebanese Arabs deserves to be heard too. You are providing that voice. Keep it up.

Fearless said...

The article in The Times:
Hizbullah act as if they are the masters of Lebanon- not the elected government. They decide who is welcome into the country- not Seniora. For the you are either with us, (namely Hizb) or you are not welcome. Who is to blame for the death of children in Lebanon if not Nasrallah himself who tries now to shift the blame to Blair. Who had decided, out of the blue, on 12th July to attack Israel in the service of his foreign masters. An act of war of crossing the UN recognized border ( blue line) and killing inside Israel 12 soldiers and kidnapping 2 while firing Kastyucha rockets into Israel asc a diversion. We do not need rockets and other weapons. We have no external enemies but internal ones that want vto provoke another war by even now smuggling Hizb people and arms into the south with the influx of returning refugees.
You are endangering us and not- as you falsely pretend- defending us. You set Lebanon back 20 years. We do not need your staged photo ops of handing out Iranian dollars to people to shout Yaish Nasrallah.

The Times August 24, 2006

Hezbollah warns Blair: you're not welcome in Beirut
By Richard Beeston in Beirut and Sam Coates

TONY BLAIR’S peace mission to the Middle East appeared in jeopardy last night after Hezbollah declared that the Prime Minister would not be welcome in Lebanon because of his support for Israel during the war.
A senior member of Hezbollah’s politburo has told The Times that Mr Blair should stay away from the country because he was “up to his ears in the blood of Lebanese women and children”.

British officials are confident that Mr Blair would be welcomed by the government of Fouad Siniora, the Prime Minister. But Hezbollah, which has emerged as the real force in the country, has stepped up its attack on Britain in recent days and Mr Blair would risk an angry reception from its supporters if he visits the country.

Dozens of foreign leaders, including the Emir of Qatar and the French Foreign Minister, have been welcomed to Lebanon since fighting began on July 12. But last month Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, was forced to return to Washington after she was told that she would not be welcome in Beirut because of the Bush Administration’s support for Israel.

Mr Blair, who is expected to return from holiday in the next few days and is planning to spend the Bank Holiday weekend at Chequers preparing his Middle East mission, now faces a serious dilemma. He can travel to Lebanon and risk facing a hostile reception, or he can bypass Lebanon and restrict his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. He would then face the charge that his peace mission has avoided the very country at the centre of the conflict.

Mr Blair has been keen to visit the region since the G8 summit in St Petersburg last month, when he offered to help American peace efforts in a conversation with Mr Bush, in the President was overheard to greet the Prime Minister with “Yo Blair”.

When fighting broke out, Britain followed the US by refusing to call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. The policy infuriated many in the Arab world, particularly the Lebanese Shia Muslim community, which took the brunt of Israel’s bombardment. One diplomatic source admitted that Britain “got off on the wrong foot” by appearing to support Washington and tacitly allowing the Israeli offensive to run its course.

Last week Britain tried to improve relations when Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, made a short visit to Beirut and doubled British aid to £12.5 million.

But any hope that Mr Blair might be able to repair the damage was thrown into doubt after Ghaleb Abu Zeynab, a member of Hezbollah’s politburo, told The Times that the people of Lebanon did not want Mr Blair’s help.

Speaking in an interview at Hezbollah headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut, he said: “Blair is not welcome in Lebanon. I am not speaking on behalf of Hezbollah but all the Lebanese people. They do not want someone who cried crocodile tears to visit their country.

“He is up to his ears in the blood of Lebanese women and children. He is not welcome here. He is a killer. He killed a whole nation, not just individuals,” he said. “What you see around you (the destruction of the southern suburbs) is the result of Blair’s policy. We do not want to see him.”

Downing Street said yesterday that the Prime Minister still hoped to visit the region, but no date had yet been agreed. Officials refused to be drawn on which countries he hoped to visit.

Mr Blair indicated before his holiday that he was keen to revive the “road map” for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He said: “It is my intention to visit the region, in particular Israel and Palestine, over the coming period and to consult those there and of course members of the Quartet on the best way forward.”

This is not the first time that Mr Blair has been told to take a back seat in the peace process. Mark Malloch Brown, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, said to the US and Britain that as “the team that led on Iraq” they were poorly placed to take a leading role in diplomatic efforts in Lebanon.

Norman said...

"There is no true counterweight to Iran in the Arab world" Sounds like someone finally fricking woke up. I am positive the Arab world is just thrilled that any day now it will living under the hegemony of a Persian nuclear threat; a much, much greater threat than Israel or the USA could ever pose. Iran intends on really taking over !! You Arabs should go to the Wizard of Oz and ask for a brain.

Lirun said...

norman.. did you really vote for bush?!

Norman said...


Lirun said...

where is that wizard when you need him..


Norman said...

To answer the question...I am very proud that I voted for Bush. Put aside the Middle East issues for a second, there is no doubt that if the Democrats were in power on 9/11, the US economy and hence the world economy would be in a disastrous depression. The only thing that saved us from a tremendous economic disaster after 9/11 was the Bush policy of lower taxes, an idea hated by the liberals and democrats.

backward said...

norman, the arabs already have nuclear bombs. They're made in pakistan with petro dollars.

zalame said...

The UN track is hopeless. The only way to avoid the next round of useless bloodshed is for the Lebanese and Israeli governments to be brave enough to start peace-talks, now.

Sadly, living in this region for so many years, I don't even dream of that as a plausible scenario.

Dimitry said...


Let's go one step further, and assume Lebanon and Israel sign a peace treaty. How exactly is this preventing the next round?

Lirun said...


whats going on buddy? you think a peace treaty is of no use to us?

im actually very happy that our jordanian and egyptian borders are secured through treaties and would very much dislike any worse alternative..

how sceptical can you possibly be?


Dimitry said...


I let reality to dictate my levels of skeptism. Our borer with Jordan was pretty safe even before the treaty, and I don't concider the Egyptian border to be safe on the long run - at all.

But that's beyond the point. I was speaking specifically about Lebanon. The Lebanese governemnt isn't the de-facto sovereign in South Lebanon. How would a treaty with Beirut prevent the next attack by HA? Might as well reach a treaty with Micronesia.