Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 24th, 2008

Note:  What were then called opposition movements are currently the government allies.

Did Hezbollah Make his Case between February 14 and March 14? What Case Does the Opposition Have? (March 16, 2005)

Since December of 2004, before Prime Minister Rafic Hariri resigned, I have been writing one or two political articles.  I had no inkling to have any of these articles published for lack of credibility based on the simple reason that the scarcity of my actions in the last 5 years could not enrich my profile to prove that I actually exist in this society.  I had though the urge to express my thoughts in this difficult juncture for Lebanon and the region.

I listened last night to a lengthy television interview with Hassan Nasr Allah, the secretary general of Hezbollah. The questions covered most of what are in people’s mind and the answers were candid, clear and pretty convincing.  That what interest the Bush administrations in resolution 1559 are the articles concerning the dismantling of Hezbollah armed wing and disarmament of the Palestinian refugee camps I agree fully with him.  That the heavy pressures of the USA on Syria meant to convince Syria on undertaking its bids in Lebanon I agree with him.  That the speedy troops’ withdrawal across the Lebanese borders is a decision of Syria to avoid any temptation to fall into the USA trap and end up losing Syria stability and the overthrow of the current Baasist regime is highly probable.  That the USA adventure in Iraq is in its final phase and cannot perform any better is palatable to me since most of the coalition allies have been withdrawing their troops in Iraq and the presence of any foreign troops in Iraq is no longer acceptable by the populations of the concerned countries.

            I have always believed that the only Lebanese political party to fear Syria was Hezbollah because Syria was the unique power in the region capable of dismantling the military wing of Hezbollah after all the attempts by Israel and the USA had failed since 1990.  Hezbollah must feel that a heavy load is off its shoulders and its political involvement in Lebanese internal affairs could become very timely and effective.  When Nasr Allah insists on dialogue among the different parties it would be a great mistake from the opposition forces to decline participation and stone wall any dialogue. Most probably, Prime Minister Karame will go ahead and form a majority government and get on with the task of securing the election on time.

            I argue that the only party to lose heavily from Syria departure is the Shiite Amal party of Nabih Berry, the head of the chamber of representatives. I can see this party vanishing under the Hezbollah umbrella. It is remarkable that the parties most to gain and worst to lose from Syria departure are Shiite. This is the largest religious sect that can also end up with one centralized political leadership to represent their interests.

            I agree with Nasr Allah that his evaluation for the necessity of organizing a demonstration in Riad Solh Square was highly important because the opposition forces have practically brain washed the population that all Lebanese have sided with the opposition stands and preconditions. Frankly, the mixture of the opposition forces is flammable and can explode the country with its chauvinistic and isolationistic tendencies. The dozens of Syrian workers killed in Lebanon were a clear message that the situation could get out of hand if the opposition is not reminded promptly of the real power centers. Contrary to the assertions of the opposition leaders I feel that the unity of the opposition will hardly last a week longer after the Syrian troops’ withdrawal.


If we analyze the composition of the opposition we can categorize it into 5 distinct groups. The first group, or Group 1, comprises the parties that symbolize the atrocities committed during the civil war and those who cooperated closely with the Israeli plans in Lebanon like the Kataeb of Amin Gemayel, The Lebanese Forces and the Ahrar. This group suffers from acute tunnel vision.  It considers that their undersigning of the Taef agreement was done under duress and never really believed in the application of this new constitution. The credibility of this group for what freedom, self determination and independence stand for is next to nil. They are the extreme in their isolationist and chauvinistic tendencies toward everyone except for what is occidental. Their practices of democracy and freedom of expression were lethal during their reign of terror in the civil war. 

At this juncture I can hear the loud voices of opposition leaders who might claim that any such criticism offer freebees to this weak and unpopular government.  That might be correct to politicians who have to take a firm position.  However, we can levy this same critic to writers, newspaper professionals and intellectuals who fail to describe and analyze fairly this unconventional political deadlock.  The last months gave these right wing political parties golden freebees to consolidate their political positions and spread freely their chauvinism and isolationism attitudes.  What these parties are gaining now it would be extremely difficult and expensive to extract from them when the application of all the articles of the Taef agreement are set in motion.

The second group is the Hariri partisans with a political line that is mostly of Arabic leanings, seeking the unity of all the Lebanese with an open Lebanon to the Arabic World affairs and they have a specific mission of discovering the assassins of Hariri and maintaining a ultra liberal economy. The third group composed of the Walid Jumblatt’s socialist party is ready to associate itself with the Hariri group, though it has been badly tainted during the civil war. Deputy Jumblatt, who is the main opposition leader, adopted the Taef agreement as the basis for dialogue with Hezbollah. The fourth group includes the intellectuals associated with a few members of the Kornet Chehwan gathering such as Nassib Lahoud and Samir Frangieh. Group 4 is close to the Hariri line but rely heavily on the Maronite Patriarch stands.

Group 5 represents the partisans of General Michel Aoun who refused to undersign the Taef agreement.  This group is the only opposition group from its inception and did not share the booties of the after civil war as all the other groups did.  I suspect the Aoun’s partisans are close to the Hariri partisans in their thinking but their hearts are not pro Arabic and very volatile when common interests with Syria are discussed. I believe groups 3 and 4 would readily align with the Hariri group positions not only on political affinity but mostly for financial support.

There are four other political groups aligned with the Hezbollah positions. The so called third force headed by former Prime Minister Salim Hoss insists that constitutional institutions resume their function and wants a stop to the demonstrations’ craze. The partisans of Suleiman Frangieh, a Maronite warlord in the north of Lebanon, are totally and unconditionally relying on Syria support.

             There are only two historically non sectarian political parties and strongly entrenched in all parts of Lebanon; mainly the communist party and the Syrian National Social party (SNSP).  The communist party was never invited to take part in any government and failed to take side for either the opposition forces or the Hezbollah gathering. It organized a twenty thousand strong demonstration on a Sunday. The communist party is about to be splintered one more time under this emotional climate because many of its leaders demanded to take a clear side at this junction, preferably for the opposition forces.  This party is welcomed to either side once it makes a decision.

The SNSP has deputies and participated in all the governments since 1991 with one minister out of thirty each time. It failed to galvanize the people on any issue and was practically marginalized.  The SNSP was staunchly against the entering of the Syrian troops into Lebanon in 1976 but has eventually delivered all its cards into the Syrian regime since then.  No side is about to accept this party at this junction and probably it is the only party that practically isolated itself from Lebanon of the future.

The communist and SNSP parties, the newly formed Democratic Left party, the partisans of Najah Wakim and the workers syndicates should naturally form a common front at this juncture. Unfortunately, their leaderships are conservative old guards and will fail to catch the momentum.  It is a fact that the application of all the articles in the Taef agreement will require a vast secular polarization that will be missing in our sectarian and feudal political fabric.  The light at the end of the tunnel is not about to shine any time soon.

What the opposition forces will have in common after Syria withdrawal? May be the common denominators would be the demand to find the assassins of martyr Hariri and the resignation of the heads of all intelligence and security agencies.  Their social programs are non existent and the application of all articles in the Taef agreement will become a serious point of dissension. What the other forces will have in common? May be demanding also to get to the bottom of the truth of who assassinated Hariri.

            The way I see it, after the Syrian withdraw from Lebanon, the political parties will sort themselves out into two main groups. The minority groups of the Lebanese Forces, the Ahrar, the Kataeb of Amin Gemayel, a few of Kornet Chehwan members and the main group of General Aoun will be raising the banner saying:

                        We want the Truth. Who Assassinated Hariri?

                        We are the freedom, self determination and independence fighters.

                        We demand the total application of resolution 1559.

All the remaining political parties will be raising the following banner:

                        We need the whole Truth.  Who assassinated our martyr Hariri?

                        Who is trying to assassinate our national unity?

                        Who is trying to kill the Taef agreement?


Note: As long as Israel is occupying lands in Lebanon and the US refuses to pressure Israel to desist waging offensive military campaigns then Hezbollah case stands!

More Than A Million Souls Flooding Downtown Beirut (April 2, 2005)

I let a friend of mine read about 8 political articles that I composed between December and March 16.  These articles expressed my opinions on the political and social discussions concerning the Lebanese people before and after the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri.  She expressed her concern that my positions are highly biased and that I did not write a special piece on this mammoth demonstration that Lebanon never experienced before.

            In fact I was very excited the day of the demonstration and was ready to participate with more than a million of my compatriots in this mass rally.  My nieces and nephews who were never interested in politics or ever listened to the news had already caught on these waves of vibrations that were electrifying most Lebanese from most religious sects and from the four corners of the country. People from all ages descended on Downtown Beirut in cars, buses, trucks, Pullmans and every means of transportations, parked their vehicles 10 kilometers away from the location of concentration, walked the way, chanted the eternal slogans of freedom, self determination and independence and waved the only flag.  The gathering was for 3 pm and by 11 am the highways were jammed packed and traffic was stopped in a stand still.  People poured from every route and all directions like rivers over flooding their banks.  In my town I watched students 13 years of age being horded in buses toward the gathering place and mothers loading their children with the Lebanese flag floating on their cars.

This tiny country with 4 million inhabitants were standing side by side and braving years of apathy and plans for immigrating as fast as they could and reclaiming their share of glory under the sun of proud people demanding self determination in their political and social affairs.  I guess Lebanon must go on the Guinness of world records as the country that gathered the highest proportion of its inhabitant to protest for liberty. 

Until a Homer, Horace, Virgil, Dante or Blake take on the task of giving the right dues for this demonstration of unity, my friend has to be contented by that much.

Six days prior to this gathering Hezbollah organized a mass gathering in Downtown Beirut with the explicit purpose of thanking Syria for 15 years of order and stability in Lebanon.  Syria was already withdrawing its troops after the international massive pressures on her to leave Lebanon and after a wave of persecution of Syrian citizens in Lebanon and the slaying of over thirty migrant Syrian workers.  There is no doubt that this counter gathering was intended partly to block Hezbollah from usurping any claim for constituting the majority of the Lebanese.  The secretary general of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasr Allah, insisted that the priority at this junction in the crisis is to start serious dialogue among all the parties with no preconditions.

This counter gathering sent the clear response that any dialogue entails the process of give and take and that hard choices have to be decided.  Many sections in the opposition forces had reached a consensus position that the disarmament of Hezbollah should be a Lebanese decision and all the articles of the Taef agreements need to be fulfilled.  Hezbollah has shown signs that it understand that the political climate has drastically changed and any dialogue should reach a satisfactory and long lasting agreements among most of the important parties. Unfortunately, a few parties in the opposition are already setting preconditions such as that dialogue on Hezbollah disarmament should take place immediately after the election.


These right wing parties are the least credible in their seriousness for any dialogue. I personally was not fooled by what these slogans of freedom, self determination and independence meant for many political parties knowing very well that their practical meanings are at odd with mine but my excitement did not abate.  The speeches of many right wings, sectarian and chauvinistic politicians were the least appealing to my ears, heart and mind but this was not the time for rational thinking.  The moment expressed clearly that everybody needed to let go of his fears, depressive moods and frustrated projects and just fly high and catch the dreams of any free man.

Actually, my friend suggestion for a special article was more concerned that I should act as an impartial reporter whose task is to find a balance among the protagonist attitudes and opinions.  I am not a reporter, not a newspaper writer, not a politician and not even a member of a political party.  I am not under any obligation not to be biased to the truth and positions that I believe and hold as right. My articles were basically targeting my citizens and thus things that may be right to do are not necessary doing the right thing. Never the less, I thank her for prompting me into dedicating an article for this unique and glorious show of unity and brotherhood. 

I have strong political and social positions and would not mind taking stands against chauvinism, sectarianism and petty politics that intend to fool intelligent citizens during highly emotional situations into believing their lies. As a matter of fact I am thrilled that thousands are frequently demonstrating in front of the USA Embassy in Awkar against the US Administration bullying pressures to dictate to us the next steps in our mass movements. Never the US has been even vocal for our freedom and self determination in the last 15 years and now its diplomatic representatives and congressmen have been shaking their butts in and out of Lebanon thinking that we adore their circus and their empty rhetoric about their modern concept of freedom and their lopsided notion of terrorism.  What bug me a great deal is that all these meetings with Satterfield and other US representatives did not explicitly shed any light as to the level of US commitments to the political and economic stability of Lebanon.  The fact that Israel is the junior partner to the USA in the Middle East we have to figure out what are the plans of the USA for Lebanon.

Lebanon has already stamped its mark on history as a free people.  Could Lebanon reap the fruit of its upheaval and direct its energy toward the well being of all its citizens?  The political turmoil of these past weeks is not very encouraging for a bright future and I hope another cry for unity and liberty for all be disseminated and we gather again for the long awaited popular convention and serious dialogue. We have already experienced 4 car bomb attacks on commercial, industrial and tourist centers and the investigations have failed to bring any relief for our anxieties.  No economic reprieve is looming. The wave of freedom and self determination is ebbing but the voices of moderation are not gaining any momentum either. The sad fact is that the new generation is still allowing the traditional politicians to usurp their voices and it seems that the new generation is not going to get any substantial rewards for its zeal and excitement if it does not express, now, clearly and firmly what future for Lebanon it has in mind.

Note: This category is a repository of older articles but still ever fresh in Lebanon quagmire.  For current articles check the category Politics/finance Today.

How could we get out of this impasse and have a running State?  (March 13, 2005)

One of the international commitments in the Taef agreement was the retreat of the Israeli troops from Lebanon which did not happen until 9 years later at the hands of the Lebanese resistance forces and the unconditional support of all the Lebanese to the resistance efforts. The international community wants Syria to withdraw within weeks so that you may compare its relative commitments toward Lebanon and Israel.

            I believe that the meanings of freedom, self determination and independence for the people do not correlate well with the politicians and the international interests in Lebanon.  The Lebanese politicians have very practical meanings for these terms which are more freedom and better leverage to dip deeper into the public funds through give and take deals and keeping the status quo indefinitely.  If Lebanon failed to navigate its interests with just Syria, how Lebanon is to be capable of navigating among the interests of a multitude of States? 

Syria could have helped us fulfill the essential social and political articles in the Taef agreement, mainly secularizing the public jobs, decentralizing the government by providing greater leverage for the regions to spend their funds, shifting the executive power from the President to the government and the election of a Senate body for the various religious sects so that the chamber of representatives be freed from any sectarian quotas but Syria failed in its commitments too.  Now, who will ever find the leverage and good will to fulfill all the articles of our new Constitution agreed upon in Taef?

            Lebanon was failed by the international community to promote these necessary changes and was left a weak and divided. How Lebanon is to grapple alone with sticky issues that it cannot overcome by itself?  The international community did not attempt to pressure Syria in fulfilling the priority articles in the Taef agreement that could have provided peace, stability and a viable political system. 

Our political leaders are manipulating our people with slogans and are avoiding to raising the important issues of what constitute the necessary conditions and foundations for true freedom, self determination and independence in any modern nation.

Self determination for Lebanon!  What a big joke our dreams are playing on us. Lebanon never enjoyed self determination throughout its history and even less in its over 60 years of independence.  In our present geopolitical societies only six nations could secure self determination if they chose to:  mainly, the USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil and eventually the European Union after the vote on the complicated Constitution. 

An independent Lebanon! So what! Luxemburg is independent and so is over 160 countries and small islands many of which nobody heard of or can locate on a world map.  With a few caveats: Lebanon is one of the first independent States to participate fully in the establishment of the UN charter and the only one to kick Israel out of its borders without negotiations or a peace treaty.  

Note: The UN has declared in October 2008 that resolution 1559 has been satisfied!


How can we implement UN resolution 1559 without a representative government? (March 12, 2005)

The Prime Minister Omar Karame was forced to resign under popular pressure and then was reappointed by a majority of the deputies. Karame asserted that he will refuse to form a government unless it includes the opposition parties because this volatile state of affairs demands a unified front in order to proceed with the investigations, divulge the truth of the assassins of Hariri, prepare for a fair election for the chamber of representatives and the execution of all the articles in the Taef agreement.  The opposition insists on its terms for participation in the government and the critical condition is the resignation of all the heads of intelligence and security services which the President refuses to accept. We are practically beyond the phase of Syrian withdrawal of troops and intelligence units across the borders of Lebanon because they are executing the articles of 1559 in a timely fashion.

So what about Lebanon?  The Syrian might get off the pressures of resolution 1559 by satisfying the articles attached to its part of withdrawing all its troops out of Lebanon but what about Lebanon?  How could Lebanon disarm Hezbollah and the Palestinian refugee camps?  President Lahoud refused 1559 in a lengthy television talk and refused to personally accept the preconditioned demands of the opposition on the basis that it will confirm that we have a presidential political system instead of a parliamentary one as the new Constitution was agreed upon in Taef.  In the new Constitution the real power is in the government as a whole and thus the President acceptance of the pre conditions would be unconstitutional.  The opposition responded by organizing a large gathering of over a million from most religious sects and from the four corners of the country.  This gathering was a practical response from a unified Lebanon on their demands for freedom, self determination and independence from any foreign tutelage.

            Certainly, the articles in the UN resolution 1559, especially those related to Lebanon, cannot be resolved in the near future but they do give directions to every Lebanese government in the future to continue discussions with Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority in order to reach a satisfactory resolution. This resolution is reason enough for every Lebanese government to confront the Arab and international community to press Israel into providing the guarantees for non aggression against Lebanon and facilitating the application of the remaining articles of 1559 resolution by speeding up the creation of the independent Palestinian State, withdrawing from the Shabaa area in South Lebanon an from the Golan Heights in Syria.  These are long term values for resolution 1559 that President Lahoud has to grasp.

            One of the main opposition leaders, Deputy Walid Jumblatt, is adamant on the necessity of evicting the President since he is a de facto head of all the intelligence and security services responsible for the reign of humiliation that Lebanon had to succumb to. Jumblatt claims that the prolongation of the presidency term for another 3 years is the crux of the problems; either the President resigns or there will be no unified front in any government and no reprieve for any political stability. Jumblatt is keen at repeating his father’s feat of deposing President Bechara Khoury in 1953.  Former prime minister and an opposition leader in exile in Paris, General Michel Aoun, wants to return after all the Syrian troops are out of Lebanon and personally participate in the election.

            A few politicians have voiced their desires for the heads of the intelligence and security services to resign by themselves and allow the dialogue between the President and the opposition forces to resume because they are the remaining cards in the President hands.  We are caught in a vicious circle between the notions that the people has spoken and how the Constitution could be applied for the continuation of power transfer. Saying that the people has spoken is not completely correct: there is another large chunk in the population that do not agree with the opposition stands although everybody has been raising the Lebanese flag and chanting the national anthem.

            I think we are in big trouble for years to come. The euphoric show of the opposition cannot last after the Syrian withdrawal and Hezbollah is not about to let down the President who has supported them through the difficult resistance period.  Any how, Hezbollah is not about to trust the rhetoric of the opposition that they are ready to participate in dialogue without preconditions.  May be another round of civil war is not highly probable but the international involvement and pressures do not augur well in the coming months.

            The fact is the international community did get involved before in our affairs and retracted from their commitments after their first failures and gave up easily.  The UN and the USA undersigned the Taef agreement and promised substantial economic and political contributions to set Lebanon on its feet.  Unfortunately, they forgot Lebanon completely for 15 years. The international community did not help Lebanon in its development and reconstruction plans and left Lebanon under the Syrian tutelage who shouldered the burden of reunifying and rearming the Lebanese army.  The bottom line is the Lebanese people who paid dearly for every semblance of a regular and routine life for the return of electricity, telephone communication, the airport, the highways and the reconstruction of Downtown Beirut.

            The only interests of the US in Lebanon are directly linked to its predicaments in Iraq. France has lost its prestige as a colonial undertaker in Lebanon and Syria and will not recover without the direct support of the USA; which means never!  The people are dreaming of a stable life within months:  how about many years before the new world powers sort out their interests and settle for what kind of Lebanon they can suffer to live with.

What Mortal Sins Did the Syrian Regime Commit? (March 9, 2005)

At this phase of the struggle, the million and some citizens who gathered in Riad Solh Square to thank Syria for the peace and stability that Lebanon enjoyed for 15 years are no different than the thousands who demonstrated for weeks in the Martyrs’ Square demanding freedom, self determination and independence from Syria.  They all waved the Lebanese Flag! Syria should have gotten the clear message all the way but it seems that a one party regime is not flexible or trained enough to recognize the deep feelings that the Lebanese are expressing.

Apparently, the Syrian regime is pressured into such a tight corner that it is happy to hold on rhetoric at the tip of the iceberg and fool itself into going back to doing business as usual.  Not only President Lahoud is rejecting the opposition demands for the resignation of the heads of all security and intelligence services but he is trying to mindlessly force a prime minister into our throats who resigned under the pressure of the people.  If the opposition is not willing to desist on its demands and throw away its legitimate victory by the people, why would the President commit the worst sin a serious politician shouldn’t attempt to do? 

Does the President want to sacrifice himself for Lebanon by being ejected in a grand way in order for Lebanon to demonstrate its self determination by acting in a grand way as a proof of its legitimate and rightful stubbornness?  If the President declares his recognition of the dangerous path he is taking then Lebanon would thank him immeasurably and anoint him as the most heroic and patriotic president so far. Unfortunately, I lean toward the notion that the President is taking a petty stand that would inevitably destroy whatever achievement he might have claimed.

Across the border there is a one party regime that has been enslaving 17 million people for over 50 years under slight variations. Such a dinosaur is not expected to change behavior in a peaceful process.  The damaging mistake the Syrian regime committed is to try governing a people across the other border that experienced extreme freedom, an understanding of freedom that goes as far as committing the worst crimes and slaughters in the name of the freedom to kill a fellow citizen on the basis of his identity card for sectarian reasons.  Please, don’t give me any slacks and try offering lame excuses that the 200 thousands Lebanese were killed by foreign elements during our civil war!

Instead of acting vigorously to implement all the articles in the Taef agreement the Syrian regime was sitting comfortably in Lebanon and waiting for the USA to remove its cover over its tutelage in Lebanon before reacting accordingly.  Obviously, a democratic state that value human rights and freedom of expression would have come to reason long before the international community reminds it to its responsibilities.  There are no doubt that dozen of humongous rodents in Lebanon and Syria, current opposition leaders and allies to Syria, in tandem and forming efficient and ruthless mafias were happily nibbling viciously at our public funds.  There is no doubt that these easy and uncontrolled machinations for grand thefts were a major factor for this lengthy stay in Lebanon and our humiliating situation. The old guards of the one party regime got lost in our Ali Baba cave and didn’t listen to storms and changing political climate forming outside. Yes, the Lebanese citizens paid twice for every service they difficultly received: we paid twice for electricity, for water and for communication facilities.


We overpaid for everything we purchased that was controlled by the government. Lebanon is the costliest country, not only among the surrounding Arab States but in the world.  All the 45 billion dollar debt that financial institutions were glad to lend our governments would require more than two generation wiping out.  What did Lebanon receive in return for a dept that would have reconstructed Germany after the war? 

A Downtown paid for by the Lebanese themselves and who cannot use it anyhow but to stroll in its street:  no working Lebanese can purchase anything from our high class Downtown shops, rent a small apartment or even park his car. What about the ten billion dollars invested on the electrical facilities with generators that keep shutting down and fueled by the wrong intended fuel and that keep us in the dark for days forcing us to rely on local providers? What about top of the line hospitals waiting for years to be staffed because the rodents have not yet agree among themselves for the rightful share in the deal? What about the Lebanese University, facilities and manpower, still not fully operational that has been losing ground to 30 private universities most of them not properly certified to operate?  What about our fixed telephone lines that most of us cannot afford to connect to?  What about our cellular communication services that is twice as expensive as the costliest in the world? What about the 5 billion dollars spent on relocating the Lebanese families into their original towns, a sum that could have relocated Taiwan into China, and still they did not care to return?  What about the billion allocated to the Southern villages after the withdrawal of Israel in the year 2000 and all we can see are the released Lebanese prisoners from the Israeli jails still demonstrating to get any relief?

Yes, Syria was allowed to rebuild the old Lebanese army and secure peace in Lebanon for 15 years; the million thanks are appropriate in this case.  Yes, the weakling Lebanon was demanding too much and too soon from a crippled regime barely able to reconcile with itself and its future.  Yes, Syria was all the time afraid from waves of liberty and freedom of expression to cross its insulated population but it should have tried to experience something that would have done it a great deal of good.

We should banish hatred for the kind and patient Syrian people and learn to shunt chauvinism, an inkling we are prone to do and our institutions are a million light year away to attack this behavior of ours.  The Syrian workers have demonstrated that they are the hardest and most diligent workers.  Lebanon was mostly rebuilt by the Syrian work force.  A million thanks for our brothers, friends and best allies in Syria.

It is time that our slogans for freedom, self determination and independence become more specific of what these notions means to us before the Syrian troops redeploy behind our borders.  The Syrians are withdrawing their troops and will complete this task shortly.  The demonstrators should start naming names of these fat rodents, demand their detention, putting them to trial, punished seriously and the money returned to the Lebanese citizens.  The demonstrators should use their gatherings to discuss seriously what Lebanon they dream about and what their expectations are.

Who Assassinated Former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005? (March 7, 2005)

Since the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, thousands of citizens have been gathering, every day and night, in Downtown Beirut demanding to know who assassinated Hariri.  Not many believe that the government has enough credibility to investigate properly this political crime. 

The UN has sent a team headed by a former Irish police officer and then later, the Lebanese government asked the help of several crime experts and investigators from Switzerland and Denmark.

So far, how the blast occurred and what kind of explosive was used is still not conclusive and pretty much vague and divergent.  The government is claiming that it was a suicide car bombing done by Abu Adass who sent a video to Al Jazira channel, one hour after the incident, claiming the responsibility of an unknown group. The government hinted that it analyzed genetically remnants of the perpetrator.  A political scientist, Dr. Nakash, believes that the video is real and that two similar simple terrorist techniques were successfully used in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Nakash produces documents published in the New York Times of many serious threats to King Fahd, owner of Al Arabiya channel and the main mentor of Hariri. 

Apparently, Al Arabiya was toning down information in Iraq that could damage the US presence there and Saudi Arabia bribed Alawi (Iraq’s prime minister) with two billion dollars to shut down the offices of Al Jazira channel and to crack down on the militia of Al Sadr in Najjaf, which Alawi did effectively.  Hariri was for some time following the political lines of Saudi Arabia in Iraq but had a change of position lately: Was it too late?

The Hariri’s deputies in the Parliament affirm that the detonating charge was planted underground and the material is so new that the labs have failed to determine its composition until now.  One of the surviving bodyguard claims that the street was clear and no visible obstructions was evident before the blast.

May be the people want to know but the powers to be, locally, regionally and internationally are not that excited to divulge the parties behind this barbaric crime, if we set aside all the rhetoric from President Bush, Chirac and the European Union.  It is hardly credible that any Lebanese political party is behind this assassination.

It seems that Syria has much to lose from the death of Hariri because of his wide range of connections and the many favors he enjoys with Saudi Arabia, the main financial backer of Syria and stabilizing power within the Lebanese political system. I am leaning toward an Israeli/USA connection for several reasons:

1) The next day to the assassination, Sharon dismissed or refused to extend the appointment of Yaalon as head of the army and appointed the head of Israel’s secret services to replace him. Was Yaalon against this assassination decision or was he not informed and expressed his position accordingly?

2)  Hariri failed many Israeli attempts to internationally cast Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and he succeeded in Europe and in France.

3)  Hariri was behind snubbing Israel for the failed May 17 agreement to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1983.

4)  Hariri was behind the April understandings in 1997, with the direct involvement of the USA, on the procedures of conducting war between Hezbollah and Israel.  This agreement seriously hampered Israel in waging its devastating traditional attacks on civilians’ targets in the South and carrying out mass detentions.

5)  Hariri was for the return of the Palestinian refugees to Palestine and could certainly block any UN resolution to the contrary.  The timing of the assassination was appropriate because Israel was under pressures to negotiate with Adu Abbass (The recently elected Palestinian prime minister).  Israel wanted a free hand to pressure Abu Abbass into a flexible understanding about the refugees’ problems and Hariri could very well exercise effective counter attacks when he was to return as prime minister after the April election.

6)  Israel has a history of eliminating every enemy to its plans of expansion and the timing was perfect because Hariri was no longer a prime minister, the political discourse within Lebanon was very heated for blaming Syria of the many current setbacks, especially for generating the UN resolution 1559.  The unfounded rumors that Hariri was behind this resolution could divert the guilt for the assassination to Syria for an extended period of time.

7)  Since Israel never makes such serious decisions before receiving the green light from Washington and France, it is obvious that the USA  and France governments had an interest in eliminating Hariri at this junction.  Hariri was to be reelected in April and be appointed prime minister again. 

Hariri was a heavy weight internationally;  his personal friendship with President Chirac of France was putting Chirac in a corner: Chirac had decided to connect openly with Israel and didn’t want any exacerbations with the US after the two States agreed on main critical diffculties, especially commercial and economical.  It was France that coaxed Bush Jr. for passing the 1559 resolution in the UN that demanded Syria to withdraw from Lebanon.

As newspapers in Israel rightly analyzed the situation: Syria is very probably not directly the guilty party in the crime, but Syria is certainly the party to pay the price and the consequences.  Bashar Assad gave Israel the proper ammunition and the excellent timing for his inexperience and his hubris responses to international pressures.   I am certain that it is the Lebanese citizens who are and will pay the price for years to come.

Note: I do differentiate between Near East (example Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine/Israel) and Middle East region (for example adding Iraq, Iran, and the Arabic Peninsula States) and George W. Bush Administration of Greater Middle East (adding Egypt, Afghanistan, and Pakistan).  It is not just a geographic expansion of influence but a fundamental strategic view among the superpowers.

A Regional Power in the Making in the Near East (December 18, 2004)

Turkey is the new pivotal power in the Near East in the coming decades. Turkey will be asked to exercise its beneficial influence in restoring peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.  It will inevitably join the European Union with the unavoidable important changes that Turkey will have to accept and undergo in matters of democracy, liberty, human rights and social and economical constraints.

This transformation of a powerful neighbor will transcend into a drastic transformation of the societies surrounding Turkey. The benefits are already materializing in closer ties with Syria, pressures on Israel to agree on a Palestinian State and greater normalization with Iran.  Turkey is obviously the main power that can provide autonomy to the Kurdish nationalism spreading among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey is the main power that can efficiently check US imperialism in the Middle East and any resurgence of Russia militarism. I have great hope in this new power amongst us, especially that the current Turkish government has proven to be far sighted and confident in its power and role in this region.

Since writing this excerpt Turkey felt the need to crawl in a cave and hibernate after surmounting the imminent obstacles to joining the European Union. Turkey thinks that it can relax for a while but it will quickly learn that it has to keep pace with the culture of Europe by struggling to catch up with lost time. Human rights problems are reemerging, demonstrations are being broken by brute force and its dialogue with Syria is not much evident except the frustration of Turkey from the US pressures ordering Turkey not to return the diplomatic visit of its President to Syria. Turkey’s involvement was badly needed in our current problems with the UN resolution 1559 and it failed in this critical moment to demonstrate its regional power. 

Note:  Turkey has failed miserably in being a power broker for a resolution to the Kurdish auto-determination struggle. Instead, Turkey opted to squander her financial reserves and earned good will by waging again a hopeless military campaign on the Kurds.




October 2008

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