Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hafez Assad

The inevitable Northern Middle East strategic block

(Report #30); (October 21, 2009)

 

 

            There would be much turmoil within the next five years in the Greater Middle East.  There is this inevitable trend toward forming a strategic and economic bloc in the northern Middle East region of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq.   Turkey and Iran are the main regional powers with the means to drive this trend to fruition.  Saudi Arabia is in line to supporting this bloc which will secure to the monarchy a new lease on life and not relying exclusively on the US Administrations.

            To prevent this new emerging bloc many superpowers are in a frenzy to obstruct this natural trend in economic and financial stability.  For example, this week the south eastern region of Iran witnessed a terrorist attack that decapitated the military leadership of the paramilitary Pasdaran or Guardian of the Islamic Revolution.  Iran is blaming Pakistan to facilitating the movements of the Sunni “Jund Allah” with full backing and finance from Britain and the USA. Personally, I tend to see indirect coordination of the Iranian regime in that attack: decapitating the paramilitary organization is the first phase into disbanding an organization that is no longer the guardian of the revolution but the military backer of the retrograded clerics working on maintaining their hold on the political climate in Iran.

            Another example is the terrorist blasting of a couple of ministries in downtown Baghdad.  This attack followed the signing of full diplomatic relation with Syria at the instigation of the US and France.  In retaliation of Syria cozying up with Maliki of Iraq without Iran’s full consent a prompt response sent the appropriate signal; Maliki promptly broke diplomatic ties with Damascus under lame excuses.  Syria got the message clear and loud not to cooperate with France, the US, or any regional power without prior coordination with Iran.  Syria is not about to ruin its internal security for any baits extended to it by the Western powers.

            The Arab Emirates are under pressures to kick out all Islamic Chiaa immigrants, starting with the Lebanese.  Israel is constantly pressuring the US to get militarily involved in Iran. Turkey is in excellent terms with Syria and Iran: it has canceled an air exercise with Israel and the US that was intended to cross the borders of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq; it is an exercise for Israel to take this alternative air route to blast Iran’s nuclear power stations.  Lebanon is unable to form a government for 4 months; it is waiting for green light of the new strategic block that is now backed by Saudi Arabia.  The US, Israel, and Egypt are counter blocking any unity government in Lebanon.

            The trend toward forming a strategic and economic bloc in the northern Middle East region started in 1979 as the Islamic revolution in Iran came to power and the Shah went to exile (Only Sadate of Egypt accepted the Shah to take political refuge in its land). Thus, the first clue goes back to 1979.  Iran of Khomeini, Syria of Hafez Assad, and President Bakr of Iraq decided on a rapprochement of Islamic sects (Sunni and Chiaa).  Saddam Hussein was chief of security and Vice President of Bakr; Saddam hated the Chiaa as well as Hafez Assad his archenemy to the leadership of the Baath Party.  At the instigation of Saudi Arabia and the green light from the USA Saddam deposed Bakr and swiftly executed all the Iraqi Baath members who supported this entente; these prominent members of the Iraqi Baath were mostly Chiaa. At the time the Saudi Defense Minister Sultan and the Interior Nayef (Sultan’s cadet brother) hated the Chiaa and were worried for their obscurantist and salafist Wahhabit Sunni sect. Thus, Saddam and the Saudi monarchs joined forces to destabilize Iran of Khomeini.  Many regional States, the US, France, and Britain would not allow a strategic and economical block in the Middle East to be formed of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. Thus, Saddam was encouraged to invade Iran. After two years, Saddam had to retreat his troops from Khuzestan.  Iran wanted this war of attrition to resume as an excuse to clean and re-structure its Islamic regime; (this nonsense war lasted 8 years).  

            The second clue is after invaded Kuwait in 1990.  Saddam’s regime was publicly terribly weakened; the Chiaa in southern Iraq and the Kurds in the north were threatening to destabilize Saddam’s regime.  The US wanted to help Saddam by any means to prevent Iran from taking hold of Iraq and joining forces with Syria (Iran’s ally).  The short-term strategy was to give Saddam an external activity or a semblance of war to re-unite Iraq on a national excuse.  To that effect, the US lured Kuwait to pressure Iraq into refunding 50 billions in war loan.  Saddam amassed his troops on the borders with Kuwait. The unstable Saddam wanted to believe that he got effective green light to conquer Kuwait. Bush Senior formed a coalition and forced Saddam to retreat from Kuwait. Saddam was defeated and the US and coalition forces could easily enter Baghdad. The purpose of this war was not to depose Saddam but for Iraq to be a buffer zone between Iran and Syria.  Saddam was permitted to crush the Chiaa insurgency in the south and the Kurdish upheaval in the north. Turkey strengthened its relationship with Syria and Iran. Syria was given bait for a mandate over Lebanon. Moubarak of Egypt was ordered to accept the deal and help put an end to the civil war in Lebanon. These hot regions needed to be pacified while the US and Europe tends to bigger problems: the proper dismantling of the Soviet Union, stabilizing Europe, and overseeing the financial globalization.

            The third clue is the massive occupation of Iraq by the US troops in 2003. (Read my post “Why the massive occupation of Iraq?”).  After 9/11/2001, the US demoted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan but did nothing to finish off the job and stabilize Afghanistan: the US Administration had other strategic plan than worrying about Sunni salafist Al Qaeda “terrorism”: it was contained in northern Pakistan.         

            At the time of the invasion there was no nuclear program in Iraq and the Bush Junior Administration knew that fact.  Iraq had resumed the development of two other means of mass destruction: the biological and the chemical arms. Saddam Hussein prevented any further inspections by the UN for two years because he had these two arms programs functional.  Thus, the US employed Russia and France to misinform Saddam: Russia would displace and decontaminate the presence of the biological and chemical arms that it had supplied Iraq in return for vetoing any pre-emptive attack by the US in the UN.  This maneuver was effective and the inspectors found no arms of mass destructions in Iraq. It was when the US was totally confident that Saddam had no arms of mass destructions that it invaded Iraq; Saddam had nothing to counter the massive offensive of the US forces, especially that the officers in the field of the Iraqi army had no power but to wait orders from central commands:  that was how Saddam restructured his army since 1980 to prevent any army rebellion to his regime.

            Why the US had to completely occupy Iraq?  Saddam could have been deposed in many ways without any military invasion or at least a partial occupation of south Iraq with Chiaa majority and the north with Kurdish majority. Why the US did not invest one more year in Afghanistan to stabilize this country before turning on to Iraq?  Why the US failed to get out after Saddam his entourage were finished?  Why this occupying force is still there after seven years of the invasion?  The US wanted its physical presence in Iraq to prevent the formation of the Northern Middle East Block. Turkey was against this invasion and did its best to prevent the US troops crossing its territory to northern Iraq.  Syria and Iran played cats and mouse with the US to harass its presence in Iraq.

            Thus, deposing Saddam without US military presence in the field meant that Iraq will quickly link with Iran; the other bonus was to control oil production and distribution of the second largest oil reserve to put the squeeze on the giant economic power of China. This “pre-emptive” intervention didn’t turn right: first, radical Islam increased and proliferated even further; second, it was the catalyst for the severest financial crash ever, and it alienated Turkey. 

            What are the scores at this junction?  The Saudi Arabia click of (Sultan, Nayef, and Bandar) is deposed and Saudi Arabia is seeking stronger ties with Syria.  Turkey is increasingly improving its ties with Syria and de-linking with its former “strategic” ally Israel. Iran is recapturing its initial strategy of uniting the Islamic sects.  Pakistan will cooperate fully with Iran to stabilize Afghanistan and save the unstable State of Pakistan deeply involved militarily to crush the Taliban brand in northern Pakistan. Thus, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Armenia are changing their policies to join this bloc as allies if not partners.

            The trend is already inevitable and it cannot be stopped with the world economy and finance state in such disarray.  It is the movement of political leadership in the four States that is the driving force and not simply individual leaders. By the end of 2011 the US is to remove all its military troops from Iraq. During this period, the US, Russia, France, and Britain will coordinate efforts to keeping Turkey and Iran on tip tow; Syria and Iraq are to be frequently destabilized.

Why the massive occupation of Iraq? (October 12, 2009)

           

            The crucial main question is unanswered yet: why the US had to completely occupy Iraq?  Saddam could have been deposed in many ways without any military invasion or at least a partial occupation of south Iraq with Chiaa majority and the north with Kurdish majority. The second question is: Why the US did not invest one more year in Afghanistan to stabilize this country before turning on to Iraq?  The third question is: why the US failed to get out after Saddam was finished and his entourage exterminated; why this occupying force is still there after seven years of the invasion?

            At the time of the invasion there was no nuclear program in Iraq and the Bush Junior Administration knew that fact.  Iraq had resumed the development of two other means of mass destruction: the biological and the chemical arms. Saddam Hussein prevented any further inspections by the UN for two years because he had these two arms programs functional.  Thus, the US employed Russia and France to misinform Saddam: Russia would displace and decontaminate the presence of the biological and chemical arms that it had supplied Iraq in return for vetoing any pre-emptive attack by the US in the UN.  This maneuver was effective and the inspectors found no arms of mass destructions in Iraq. It was when the US was totally confident that Saddam had no arms of mass destructions that it invaded Iraq; Saddam had nothing to counter the massive offensive of the US forces, especially that the officers in the field of the Iraqi army had no power but to wait orders from central commands:  that was how Saddam restructured his army since 1980 to prevent any army rebellion to his regime.

            The first clue goes back to 1979.  Iran of Khomeini, Syria of Hafez Assad, and President Bakr of Iraq decided on a rapprochement of Islam (Sunni and Chiaa).  Saddam Hussein was chief of security and Vice President of Bakr; Saddam hated the Chiaa and also Hafez Assad.  At the instigation of Saudi Arabia and the green light from the USA Saddam deposed Bakr and swiftly executed all the Iraqi Baath members who supported this entente; these prominent members of the Iraqi Baath were mostly Chiaa. Thus, Saddam and the Saudi monarchs joined forces to destabilize Iran of Khomeini.  Many regional States, the US, France, and Britain would not allow a strategic and economical block in the Middle East formed of Iran, Iraq, and Syria.

            Thus, deposing Saddam without US military presence in the field meant that Iraq will quickly link with Iran; the other bonus was to control oil production and distribution of the second largest oil reserve to put the squeeze on the giant economic power of China.

            This “pre-emptive” intervention didn’t turn right: first, radical Islam increased and proliferated even further; second, it was the catalyst for the severest financial crash ever, and it alienated Turkey.  The trend is for Turkey to become the fourth State to joining the Greater Middle East strategic and economic block.  Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Armenia are changing their policies to join this bloc as allies if not partners.

            There would be much turmoil within the next five years to prevent this new emerging bloc.  For example, Iran blasted a couple of ministries in downtown Baghdad in retaliation of Syria cozying up with Maliki of Iraq without Iran’s full consent; Maliki promptly broke diplomatic ties with Damascus under lame excuses.  Syria got the message clear and loud not to cooperate with France, the US, or any regional power without prior coordination with Iran.  Syria is not about to ruin its internal security for any baits extended to it by the Western powers. The Arab Emirates are under pressures to kick out all Chiaa immigrants, starting with the Lebanese.  Israel is constantly pressuring the US to get militarily involved in Iran. Turkey is in excellent terms with Syria and Iran: it has canceled an air exercise with Israel and the US that was intended to cross the borders of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq; it is an exercise for Israel to take this air route to blast Iran’s nuclear power stations. . The trend is already inevitable and it cannot be stopped with the world economy and finance in such disarray.

Radical Islam: the critical decade (1977-1989); (October 11, 2009)

 

            Sadate of Egypt visited Jerusalem in 1977 and spoke at the Knesset and sighed a peace treaty with Israel.  The Arab and Islamic world is angry.  The Arab League rejected Egypt as member for ten years. The Moslem Brotherhood movement in Egypt stopped cooperating with Sadate and an extremist faction proclaimed “Takfir wa Hejrat” which means repentance and refuge from the urban centers and isolation into communities for the Moslems abiding by the Charia. 

            The religious dogma of Sayyed Qotb whom Nasser had hanged in 1966 resurfaced with acute power.  Qotb was studying in the USA and returned to preach that Islam has been weakened because it has forgotten the notion of “Jihad” and is cooperating with the infidels the “monafikeen” or hypocrites whom the Prophet Muhammad lambasted for being ready to rally with the Jews or to returning to “Jahiliya”; thus, Qotb encouraged Jihad against the Moslems consorting with the policies and traditions of the infidels.

            A retired Palace Guard in Saudi Arabia, Juhaiman Otaibi, got wind of the message of “Takfir wa Hejra” and started Friday preaches in that vein: He warned the Moslems that 1979 is the 15th century of the Moslem Hijra and that the most awaited Mahdi is coming to unite Islam.  A Yemenite from Assir, Abdallah Kahtani, who broke up from his master Ben Baz (still the formal actual cleric to the Saudi Kingdom), became the theologian for Otaibi.  The Egyptian Muhammad Elyas joined forces and the recruits of these three leaders invaded Al Kaaba in the autumn of 1979 and captured it.  The Saudi monarch paid the French paratroopers to retaking Al Kaaba; hundreds were massacred in that fight.

            The “Royal Family” in Saudi Arabia got the message clear and loud; Saudi Arabia was slightly inching from the Dark Ages before it re-sank even further in the darkest of ages.  The two monarchs Khaled and Fahd were staunch Wahhabits and hated the Chiaa sect. The minister of the Defense was Sultan and his cadet brother Nayef was the minister of the Interior, and their half-brother Bandar from a Sudanese mother was the eternal Ambassador to the USA.  This trio had vast contacts with Sunni radical Islamic Pakistan, Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and they financed the El Qaeda; they even asked the US to dismantle their bases in Saudi Arabia in order to keep the face of radical Moslems toward the widespread feeling in the Arab and Islamic World. It is to be understood that the Saudi sovereign fund is practically cash money for the US Administrations to use when the US Senate denies any funds to the Executive branch.

            In 1977, the Islamic forces in Iran were virulent and sympathized with the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood movement.  The US, France, and Britain permitted the overseas Iranian parties against the Chah to organize and demonstrate: these three States wanted to put the squeeze on the overbearing Chah of Iran because he was leading OPEC and had increased oil prices 160% within a couple of years. I recall that during my study in Oklahoma the Iranian parties kept constant demonstrations and gathering all of 1977 until Khomeini came to power in 1979.  There were the Khomeini movement, the Islamic Moujahedeen Khalq, and the secular communist leaning Fedayeen Khalq.  What the Western powers started as a simple squeeze ended up in catastrophe: The Chah decided that the game is over and didn’t even put up a fight before the superpowers planned a counter-attack.

            In 1979, Iran of Khomeini, Syria of Hafez Assad, and President Bakr of Iraq decided on a rapprochement of Islam (Sunni and Chiaa).  Saddam Hussein was chief of security and Vice President of Bakr; Saddam hated the Chiaa and also Hafez Assad.  At the instigation of Saudi Arabia and the green light from the USA Saddam deposed Bakr and swiftly executed all the Iraqi Baath members who supported this entente; these prominent members of the Iraqi Baath were mostly Chiaa. Thus, Saddam and the Saudi monarchs joined forces to destabilize Iran of Khomeini.

 

            President Sadade was becoming a dead weight for the USA Administration; the Vice-President Housni Moubarak received the green light from the US to cooperate with the Moslem Brotherhood to eliminate Sadate. Lieutenant Islambouli, brother of Muhammad Elyas who invaded the Kaaba, shot dead Sadate during the yearly military parade.  Moubarak pleased the Moslem Brotherhood for a year and tightened the application of Charia and froze the peace treaty for a short while.

            The Saudi Monarchs financed and instigated Saddam to invade Iran in 1980. The US disturbed the electronics of a plane carrying the entire Iranian chief of staff inspecting the Khuzestan which crashed with no survivors.  After a swift advance in Khuzestan the Iraqi troops were halted, defeated, and then retreated into Iraq by 1982.  During that war Iraq received all the military logistic, support, and aerial intelligence from the USA, France, and Britain. France sold Saddam a nuclear reactor that Israel would bomb in 1983.  The US supplied Saddam with bacteriological and chemical arms of mass destruction. Iran wanted the war to continue in order to re-structure its political system and thus this insane war lasted till 1989 before Khomeini died.  The leaders of the strong Iranian movement for entente between Sunni and Chiaa were blown up during a convention; among the dead was Ayatollah Montazeri.  Rafsanjani, later to become President of Iran, hated the Sunni sect and made sure to arrive 15 minutes late to the convention: he was the right hand man of Khomeini at the time.

            With the Chah out the Soviet Union was encouraged and then sucked in militarily into Afghanistan; the same process as the US was gradually sucked in Viet Nam.  Iran of Khomeini arranged a deal with the Soviet not to interfere in the North and West of Afghanistan with Chiaa majority. Saudi Arabia recruited radical Moslem Sunnis from around the world to fight communist Soviet Union; Pakistan was the State to supply arms, logistics, and training to the Moslem “mujahideen”.

 

            As the Soviet Union was disintegrating in 1991, the US and Europe were busy with a new world order and intentionally forgot radical Islam for an entire decade.  Radical Islam got under way in organization and proliferation and performed many operational activities in Indonesia, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, Chechnya, Pakistan, India, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia (the Khobar bombing of the hotel where the American aviators had residence) to end up with the 9/11/ 2001 attack on the Twin Towers.  During the decade, after the dismantlement of Russia, the US Administrations toned down every terrorist’s activities to its public opinion in order to focus on world financial domination and the restructuring of Europe.

Uncontested Palestinian Leader: late Yasser Arafat (Abu 3Ammar); June 15, 2009

 

            Known as Yasser Arafat; code-named “Abu Ammar”; full name Muhammad Abdel Raouf Arafat Al Koudwa Al Husseiny was born in Jerusalem in 1929.  He studied civil engineering at Cairo and worked in Kuwait. In the summer of 1965 he started guerilla activities inside Israel with ten feddayins, among them the future leaders Khalil Wazeer (code-named Abu Jihad; assassinated in Tunisia by an Israeli air raid), Salah Khalaf (code-named Abu Ayad), and Abu Ali Ayad (died in battle fighting the onslaught of the Jordanian army in 1970). 

            After the defeat of the Arab armies in June 1967 Arafat decided to take matters into his own hand: the Arab States can no longer be counted on to reclaim the Palestinians right to a homeland and the return of the refugees since 1948 (date of recognition of Israel as a State).  Arafat set out to organizing the Palestinians into a resistance force called “Hurricane” (Al 3asifat) and resumed incursions into Israel at higher rates. An acceptable resolution would be a secular State on the West Bank with East Jerusalem as Capital.  He would repeat: “As I liberate a single square meter then I would raise the Palestinian flag.  One day, a boy or a girl will hoist the flag in Jerusalem” Arafat insisted that “we may differ as Christians and Moslems on many issues but we are unified on liberating Jerusalem and consecrating it our spiritual and political Capital” Jerusalem was the cornerstone in any negotiation of more importance to him than the “right of return” of the UN resolution 194.  In fact, during the Arab Summit in Beirut 2002 Arafat was ready to accept the Saudi proposal of “land for peace” that did not mention the right of return.  Luckily, the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud was adamant on including this cause since the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon question is “a time bomb ready to detonate anytime”.

            The uncontested Arab leader Gamal Abdel Nasser recognized that the nascent Palestinian resistance activities are reactions to the failure of his leadership and he met with Arafat. Gamal Abdel Nasser gave Arafat’s organization political cover to preserve control of Arab politics and introduced Arafat to other Arab State leaders. Thus, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1968 which included many Palestinian factions such as the national and Marxist faction of George Habash and the splintered faction of Nayef Hawatmed.  Syria would later include another faction with a military wing called Al Sa3ikat (Thunderstorm).  Arafat was the leader of the largest faction called Fateh (Conquest) and thus was elected Chairman of the PLO; Arafat was to hold the purse or the treasury of this organization to keep all factions in line.

            King Hussein of Jordan defeated militarily the PLO in 1970 and the resistance fighters fled to Lebanon.  The Egyptian leader forced the hand of the Lebanese government to allocate a strip of land in south Lebanon called “Al 3arkoub” from which the PLO could wage guerilla attacks on Israel.  This was a top-secret deal; Deputy Raymond Eddeh would persist in the parliament to divulge the details of the deal at no avail.  Thus, the mostly Shi3a Lebanese citizens in south Lebanon were caught in between the military retaliations of Israel, the exactions of the PLO and the non-existence of the weak Lebanese government in that region. South Lebanon was de facto controlled and governed by the PLO.  The Lebanese army controlled every resistance movement in the south before 1970 but relinquished its hold after that secret deal.

            The PLO quickly established political and administrative headquarters in the Capital Beirut and was immersed deeply in Lebanon internal politics. The Palestinian resistance fighters occupied all the Palestinian camps and transformed them into bunkers. Israel didn’t mind the transformation and the involvement of the PLO in Lebanon’s politics. Israel goal was to displace the Lebanese citizens from the south and then conquer it. In fact, thousands of citizens in the south moved to the southern outskirts of Beirut in Haret Hrik, Ghobeiry, and Dahieh.  These areas would become the “belt of misery” and shantytowns.

            In April 1973, an Israeli commando (headed by Ehud Barak) assassinated three Palestinian leaders in Beirut Kamal Edwan, Kamal Youssef, and Abu Youssef Al Najjar; it failed to locate Arafat.  In May 1973, the Lebanese army was encircling the Palestinian camps and Arafat took refuge in Embassies.  Arafat had a sixth sense on personal dangers and he did sleep in Embassies when the tough got going.  His best strategy for avoiding detection and maintaining security is to be “unpredictable”; thus he frequently moved from one residence to another and never informed anyone of his displacements, even his driver or bodyguards.

            Arafat highly valued Medias and used it tot the hilt. He also lavished on and befriended the sheikhs of mosques so that their Friday preaches increase his positive exposure. Arafat was not that good in rhetoric but his charisma and large smile compensated greatly on other verbal deficiencies.

            Arafat was super patient, like fish hunters.  He didn’t mind waiting for years until his enemy is caught in his nets.  He fundamentally used persuasion and then extending financial bait and then blackmailing when everything failed.  Arafat could focus under extreme dangerous situations and keep his cool for the sake of his surrounding assistants. He slept a few hours on early morning and then had siesta after lunch.  He extended aid to the needy and took excellent care of the martyrs’ families.  He owned only two military suits.

            Arafat read every piece of mail and replied in details.  He carried a small booklet and noted down information; he once said “if one of my small notebooks is published monarchies would disappear and Presidents fall.”  Arafat was feared by Arab leaders because of his wide connections and the vast intelligence he had on each one of them; thus, the PLO coffer was replenished on demand.

            Arafat visited India PM Indira Gandhi. A guru asked Arafat “How many Palestinians are there?”  Arafat replied 8 millions. The guru retorted “I have 9 million followers who worship me as their God.”  Arafat said with a large smile “The difference is that every one of the 8 million Palestinians thinks that he is indeed God”

            On November 1974, Arafat delivered a speech to the UN assembly and offered two alternatives: the olive tree or the gun.  He also talked to the UN General assembly in Geneva on December 1988 and declared his willingness to end armed struggle and the recognition of Israel; the USA decided then to recognize the PLO.

            Arafat played a central role during the Lebanese civil war that started in April 13, 1975.  He tried to maintain a balanced position in the tag of war between Hafez Assad of Syria and Sadat of Egypt at the expense of the Lebanese civilians.  The leftist Lebanese organizations relied on Arafat for logistics in arms and ammunition and he controlled them completely.  Arafat once declared in Ramallah around 1998 that he was the de facto governor of Lebanon for over 20 years, even before the civil war. Lebanon would have been saved 13 years of mindless civil war if Arafat had decided to relinquish Lebanon to Syria and dealt with Israel in 1977 instead of 1993 for part of Palestine as he was forced to do later.

            After the signing of the Oslo agreement with Rabin, Arafat returned to Gaza on July 1994.  He signed an agreement for the return of the West bank in September 1995.  Rabin was assassinated by one of his body-guard. Netanyahu refused to go along with the agreement but finally submitted to the USA pressures and returned Hebron (Al Khalil) after the negotiation of Wy River in 1998.

            On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon entered the Masjed Akssa during the tenure of Ehud Barak PM.  The second intifada started.  Ariel Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February 2001 and he invaded Ramallah (headquarter of the Palestinian Authority, al mukata3a) and encircled Arafat in his quarter. George W. Bush said to Sharon “Leave Arafat to God” and Sharon relied “I will give God a nudge”

            Arafat had food delivered through Israeli check points. He suffered acute ailment and knew that he has been poisoned by small doses.  Before being hospitalized in France Arafat said to his personal physician Ashraf Kerdi “The Zionists got me…”  Mohammad Dahlan (Fateh officer) told Arafat “When you are back your authority and power will remain intact” Arafat replied “In that case you are coming with me to France”

            Mahmoud Abbass replaced Arafat and refused to have an autopsy performed.  Arafat managed to hold together an organization of many factions for 40 years by centralizing the disbursement of the financial import he secured from the Arab States and from investment.  Arafat struggled hard to keep the Palestinian decisions independent of the vagaries of the multiple Arab States leaders’ interests of abusing of the “Palestinian cause.”  Probably, most of Arafat’s “peace deals” with Israel emanate from the disunity of the Arab States toward a strategic plan for checking the Zionist plans.  Arafat had to juggle Arab States priorities concerning their proper interests. Arafat sculpted an image of Palestinian resistance by wearing the special “koufieh” headdress and the military attire. He forged a logo for the Palestinian cause.

How Superpowers behave toward the smaller States (June 1, 2009)

 

The ex-French Foreign Affairs, Hubert Vedrine once told Lebanon ex-President Lahoud: “When our relations with the US Administrations are closer to cooperation than competition we communicate our information to them but they fail to return the honor.  When our relations are fine then the US tends to horde the solution.  When world politics deteriorate then the US asks us to resolve the problems on their behalves, on conditions that the signing of any agreement is done in Washington, DC.

Bill Clinton insisted on the sick and dying Hafez Assad for a month to meet him in Geneva in February 2000 on the ground that a deal is ready for the return of the occupied Golan Heights.  The two Presidents met in March.  Clinton knew very well that Assad is not ready to negotiate for less than 100% on the returned land. Clinton proudly declared “Ehud Barak is willing to return 98% of the Golan Heights”.  The meeting was over in ten minutes.  Clinton lost a golden opportunity for peace in the Middle East.

Madeline Albright, US Foreign Affairs during Clinton tenure, met in Beirut with Lebanon’s Salim Hoss PM in September 1999.  It was the first high ranking US emissary in 16 years.  Without preambles, Albright ejaculated “The USA wants the two highjackers of the TWA of 1985; the USA wants the perpetrators for the blowing up of the Marines headquarter in 1984; the USA wants those who demolished the US embassy in Beirut and the one who assassinated our Ambassador” Our Prime Minister retorted “When the TWA was high jacked I was subjugated to an assassination attempt and three of my bodyguards died.  At the time of this civil war Lebanon witnessed 150,000 civilian victims’ dead and over 400,000 severely injured” The same Albright confronted President Lahoud to desist demanding an accurate demarcation line (The Blue Line) on the southern borders after Israel withdrew in May 24, 2000.  

The Syrian young President Bashar Assad described the superpower games saying “The first fundamental principle is that superpowers and especially the USA try hard to convince the smaller States that they are too weak and need urgent aids.  They claim that the smaller States have practically no “products” to transact.  They insist on “market demand and offer” and barely care about State values or the logic of Statehood.  The second principle is that superpowers care to the extent they need to resolve a problem.  It does not matter the level of rhetoric or the squeeze of economical and financial embargo on the smaller State; once a superpower is in need then everything is forgotten and relations resume normally.”

 

In October 2000, Hezbollah took prisoners three Israeli soldiers in the Shabaa Farms and then lured the retired Israeli Colonel El Hanane Tanenboum to Beirut.  Israel had withdrawn from south Lebanon unilaterally in May 24, 2000 but had failed to vacate the Shebaa Farms. Albright demanded the release of the Israeli prisoners and Ehub Barak gave an ultimatum of 4 hours. Lahoud answered the US Ambassador Satterfield “Consider the 4 hours have ended.  I will not negotiate the release of the Israeli prisoners” Lahoud was in strong position because the Lebanese army was not on the borders so that Israel could not exercise any pressures on the President and Lahoud won his bet and Israel refrained temporarily from any incursions.

Foreign diplomats and officials view the problems of Lebanon from the outside in; they never consider the precarious social and political conditions of Lebanon.  Emile Lahoud refused to deploy the army across the Litany River since he was appointed army chief in 1989 and then President of the Republic till July 2006 when Hezbollah agreed under UN resolution 1701 to withdraw his military presence behind the Litany River.  During all these years the international community and the Arab States had constantly pressured Lahoud to send the Lebanese army to the borders with Israel.  Lahoud kept steadfast and never obeyed any of these orders and he was completely right; he had said: “As long as there are no guarantees that Israel will not violate Lebanon’s integrity and security then the Lebanese army will refrain playing the police force and antagonizing our resistance to easing Israel’s security at the expense of jeopardizing Lebanon internal security.” (To be continued)

“Shock and Steadfastness” by Kareem Bakradouny (May 30, 2009)

Note:  This is the second part of my book review.  The first part was excerpts of Lahoud as Army Chief

Lahoud was elected President of the Republic by the majority of 118 out of 128 deputy votes after revising an item in the city of Taif Constitution. Item 49 in the Constitution denied candidacy to any a high ranked employee before resigning his post for a period. General Lahoud was elected President on October 15, 1998 and his first public oath in the Parliament said: “The President of the Republic is the only official to swear allegiance to the nation and to obey the law.  Thus, since I will be under the Law then I expect everyone else to emulate my subordination to the Law of the Land” President Lahoud had a program of fighting corruption and made it clear and loud in his speech that didn’t mention the ex-President Hrawi or the ex Hariri PM in any sections of the speech.

When ex-President Hrawi urged Hafiz Assad to change his choice Assad said: “The Lebanese public polls selected Emile Lahoud for President and I want him there” The Syrian President had complete confidence in the former Army Chief that he will first, resume his policy of strengthening and unifying the Lebanese army and will refrain from drawing the Lebanese army in internal infighting such as with Hezbollah and thus save the Syrian army any uncalled for problems, and second, that Lahoud will never contemplate unilateral negotiation with Israel.

Hafez Assad was not concerned with the Lahoud’s program for drastic reforms and fighting corruption.  Thus Lahoud had to deal with a rotten political system in Lebanon that constituted an insurmountable barrier to change: the Taif Constitution robbed the President of valuable powers that were transferred basically to the Prime Minister and the cabinet combined.

Hariri had proclaimed three months ago that “I will return Prime Minister whoever is elected president to the Republic” Hariri had returned from a long trip visiting important capitals and secured assent to be accepted as Prime Minister but only 83 out of 128 deputies selected him directly and the remaining deputies allowed the President to vote for them.  Cocky Hariri went publicly asking that another round of consultation takes place because he wanted as many representative votes as the President of 118 deputies.  Lahoud reacted by publicly accepting Hariri refusal and appointed Salim Hoss as prime Minister with 95 deputy votes. This tactic of Hariri backfired as he realized that Syria could easily deal with another Prime Minister.  Hariri was positioning himself for a vaster role as co-partner in the coming Middle East peace accord that he sincerely believed was almost agreed on.

It was a tradition since independence for the newly elected President of Lebanon to pay an official visit to France first of all.  Chirac was highly displeased that Lahoud did not mention France contribution to the April 1996 agreement to localize the confrontations in south Lebanon and for not consulting him on the government that excluded Rafic Hariri.  Consequently, Chirac took it personally and canceled the appointment for a formal visit to France.  Later Chirac was pressured to dissociate France interest in Lebanon from his personal animosity with Lahoud and the Francophone convention took place in Beirut in 2000.

In June 1999, assassins of the extremist Sunni movement “3osbat al Ansaar” killed four judges within Saida Court House and fled to the nearby Palestinian camp of Ain Helwi.  Lahoud understood that it was a trap to inciting the Lebanese army to start a war on the Palestinian camps and instead Lahoud focused on encircling the camp to apprehend the assassins.

As this nasty trap failed to divide the government then Israel launched destructive raids on Lebanon’s infrastructure targeting the electrical power plants and water pumps. Lahoud asked the Lebanese to contribute to a bank account in order to support the State treasury to rebuild what was demolished; (I remember that I contributed $100 while in the USA).  The Lebanese overseas contributed 50 millions dollars to that fund.

The president of the Parliament Nabih Berri told Lahoud “You are an excellent soldier but lack political acumen”.  Lahoud replied “If I managed to become Chief of the army and President of the Republic with lack of political acumen then how my path you have unfold if I was much more clever in politics?”.  In another moment Berri told the author “Lahoud plays it dumb but he is aware of all the political details and smarter in politics than most Lebanese politicians.  For example, Lahoud retains General Jamil Al Sayyed, Director of the General Security in Lebanon, in all his discussions with foreign personalities so that Al Sayyed would testify to the Syrian officials.”  Berri had no liking for the strong Shiaa man Al Sayyed.

Lahoud finally met with Rafic Hariri in the summer Palace of Beit El Dine after months of avoiding face to face encounter. Lahoud told Hariri “From the first moment I knew that you wanted as much weight among the deputies as I obtained in my election for the presidency so that you may force on me your conditions. I kept the honest and performing high officials that you appointed and will dismiss anyone that is not up to his responsibilities.  I intended you to be my first Prime Minister but I was in no mood to be subjected to any conditions.  I know that you are spending lots of money on the media to ruin the image of this government but this not the way to behave with me.”  Two days later president basher Assad paid Lahoud a quick visit to Lebanon and publicly supported the president and Hoss PM.

President Lahoud decided to spend part of summer in the Presidential Palace in Beit El Dine and for that purpose had to relocate the bust of Kamal Jumblat off the entrance and waited for Walid to ship it somewhere else at his own responsibility. Walid said “I will never forget what Lahoud did for the duration of my life!”  Walid Jumblat tried scare tactics on Lahoud by assuring him that the Syria President is terminally ill and that his son Bashar will not succeed his father Hafiz and that General Hekmat Shahaby and Abdel Haleem Khaddam will take over the regime.  Lahoud retorted “Bashar will be the next appointed President and I am trying my best to take on the responsibilities of the President and to recapture the dignity of the State under one leader”  Jumbalt said “I don’t like the military”.  Lahoud replied “I don’t like the militias”.  Once, Lahoud saw on the TV Hoss PM meeting Jumblat who was in jeans.  Lahoud sent his assistant to inform Jumblat that he will not be welcomed in the Presidential Palace if he ever arrives not wearing a tie.   President Lahoud comprehended that Walid Jumblatt’s attitude, as his father Kamal, amounted to a historical trend of blaming the Christian Maronite sect for having robbed the Druze out of the leadership of Mount Lebanon.

In November 1999, the French Foreign Affairs Hubert Vedrine had a lengthy discussion with President Lahoud.  Vedrine had toured several capitals and his impression was that a resolution of the Middle East crisis was less ripe as he expected.  Ehud Barak of Israel was sending tactical contradictory messages hoping for starting any kinds of negotiations with either Lebanon or Syria so that he won’t have to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon and give Hezbollah the impression of defeating Israel by acts of resistance.  Barak would not pronounce on the complete withdrawal from the Golan as requested by Hafiz Assad and President Lahoud would not negotiate without Syria approval. Consequently, Barak was forced to withdraw from Lebanon without any pre-conditions because Israel was in fact paying a high price in Lebanon for insisting on keeping the Golan Heights.

Vedrine and Lahoud discussed the Palestinian problems.  Vedrine was offering the suggestion that Lebanon refrains from adamantly proclaiming that every Palestinian in the refugee camps should leave Lebanon  and just be satisfied maintaining the Constitution requirement of the Palestinian rights to return.  Lahoud stated that the Palestinians procreation is three times faster than the Lebanese and constitute now 10% of the population or 400,000 and this fact is a highly “explosive bomb” that has the potential to destabilize the Lebanese social and political fabrics. Lahoud confirmed that the Palestinians in the camps are suffering a harsh life but arms in the camps are no longer directed toward Israel since the Oslo Agreement.  It appeared that the financial compensation was already settled among the donating powers but the potential Palestinian State would be small and economically fragile to sustain the relocation of all the Palestinian refugees.

“Shock and Steadfastness” by Kareem Bakradouny (Book Review, May 25, 2009)

 

This Arabic/Lebanese manuscript “Sadmat wa Soumoud” is of 518 pages and a report of the period of former Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.  The author and politician Kareem Bakradouny is the biographer of Lahoud since he acceded to chief of the army in 1992. Bakradouny met with Lahoud every Friday from 1992 to 2007. The meetings were held first in the Kaslik swimming club till the assassination of late Rafic Hariri PM, and then at the Presidential Palace. Before heading to a meeting, Bakradouny would wait for the call and then they would talk in a small room facing the sea.  The author hand wrote the discussions and sometimes he would record them.

Bakradouny decided to postpone the military period of Lahoud for another volume. The book is divided into three parts each of three chapters.  The first part is “The Road to the Presidency”, the second part “Period of Cohabitation (with Rafic Hariri PM)”, and the third part “Period of Calamities”.

 

“Shock and Steadfastness” takes you from unifying the army, internal political struggle, the liberation of south Lebanon in May 24, 2000 and the negotiations for confirming the “Blue Line” on the border with Israel, the confrontation with the Moslem extremists in the district of Donnieh, the logic of statehood versus market requirements, the beginning of a string of assassinations, the pressures of the US Bush Jr. Administration, the roadblocks for extending the Presidency tenure three more years, the assassination of Rafic Hariri, the July War of  2006, the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon, the string of assassinations, and the ceremony for leaving the Presidential Palace.

            Emile Lahoud used to never wear any coat or jacket during the coldest seasons until a friend was once shocked to see him swimming and asked him “Have you got hit on your head as a kid?”  Since then Lahoud wears a simple black leather jacket in winter time. Lahoud’s breakfast is a piece of banana and a cone of ice cream for lunch.  The main eating session is dinner.  Lahoud records on a tape the topics that he wants to approach in a discussion or matters to follow up on.

            President Lahoud ascended the military ranks normally and was the first Chief of the army who ran the tiny navy. He was appointed Chief in November 1989 after General Aoun was forced into exile to France.  General Lahoud had the task to re-unite the dismantled army after over 15 years of civil war; he combined the regiments so that they represent all the Lebanese sects and ordered the regiments to relocate every 9 months to different parts of Lebanon so that every soldier knows his country.  He negotiated the best deals for arms, medicine, and insurance.

            General Lahoud refused political deals with President Hrawy and Rafic Hariri PM for transferring officers and followed the strict military procedures.  Any high officer who refused to obey orders for the re-organization of the army was dismissed and Syria never tried to pressure Lahoud to rescinding his orders.  The billionaire Rafic Hariri used to offer the army cash money every month but General Lahoud refused saying “The State is responsible for the budget of the army” so that he can exercise his functions without undue political pressures.

            There was an international decision to contain the Islamic resistance in south Lebanon and General Lahoud refused to confront the army with the resistance fighting the Israeli occupiers.  President Hafez Assad of Syria decided to meet Lahoud for the first time; General Lahoud told Hafez Assad “I am re-building the army to resist Israel and my conscience refuses to fight those who are fighting Israeli occupation” Since that meeting the political pressures on Lahoud faded away and he could focus on the re-organization of the army and freeing the resistance from political pressures and its freedom of movement in areas not in the army control.  When Israel bombed Lebanon for 7 days in 1993, General Lahoud ordered to return fire and Israel stopped its shelling.

            Lahoud was elected President of the Republic by unanimity after revising item 49 in the Constitution that denied a high ranked employee candidacy before resigning his post for a period.  Lahoud asked the Lebanese to contribute to a bank account in order to support the State treasury; (I remember that I contributed $100 while in the USA).  He had a program of fighting corruption but the political system in Lebanon was a insurmountable barrier given that the Taef Constitution robbed the President of valuable powers and the power was transferred basically to the Prime Minister and the cabinet.  Rafic Hariri controlled the new powers were bequeathed on the cabinet combined. (to be continued)

The first war on Iraq

I was finishing my PhD program at the University of Oklahoma at Norman when Bush Sr. declared war on Iraq. The USA lead a war on Iraq in 1991 with a vast network of alliance. Saddam Hussein of Iraq mindlessly invaded Kuwait because Kuwait demanded its loans to be repaid after the armistice with Khomeini of Iran.  The savage war of Iraq against Iran, instigated by the US, France, and Saudi Arabia, lasted 8 years and cost over one million casualties on both sides; both States were ravaged and bleeding economically.  The Arab Golf States funded Iraq’s war and the US and France provided the military supplies.

I sent ten articles to the Oklahoma University Daily (the student daily) and only two were published after my persistent visits to the daily.  At the time I wanted to learn writing newspaper articles professionally and getting familiar with the publishing business. I thus had volunteered work at the university daily.  The work room in the Oklahoma Daily started to recognize me as I entered to pressure for my rights to be published.  The excuse was that there were hundreds of articles demanding attention, but it was not true: The mood was to totally support the US policies and no deviant opinions were to disseminated. I didn’t support Saddam’s invasion but I had a distinctive position on how the war was managed and carried out.

Dr. Foote, one of my advisor, complimented my article on the Palestinian plights: all the Palestinians residing in Kuwait and who were well established there for many years were kicked out of Kuwait; simply because Yasser Arafat was forced to taking position with the dictator Saddam.  Dr. Foote didn’t like my second published article where I lambasted the US forces to turning the Arab/Persian Gulf to a mazout lake; Saddam had ordered all the oil wells in Kuwait burned and the refineries were pouring oil in the gulf as the Iraqi troops withdrew.

My advisor Dr. Purswell was confident that Saddam had no chance of winning this war because of the terrible imbalance in war equipments and technology; Bush Senior had managed to put together a wide alliance against the nitwit Saddam Hussein.   Even Syria was part of the contingent; in return Hafez Assad of Syria got sole mandate in Lebanon for over 15 years.  It was a lousy time for political activities on campus; the Iranian students who had frequently marched and demonstrated against the Shah had vanished from the campus after the Khomeini take over of power.

The mood was to getting a job because the US was experiencing a recession and joblessness was increasing.  The climate was to be quiet but I managed to organize a couple of demonstrations within campus.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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