Wednesday, June 13, 2007

S.N.A.F.U

In Lebanon these days, the Situation is Normal, in that it is All F..ouled Up… A county-wide case of SNAFU that raises more questions than answers.

How Did We Get Here?

To be sure, Syria had quite a lot to do with this mess, as in pretty much everything. This had officially started as far as “November 10th, 2005”, when “Bashar Assad informally declared war on Lebanon in a speech before his ‘parliament’” in which “he called Fouad Siniora a slave [of a slave] that takes orders from the United States, and accused him of turning Lebanon into a "factory" of anti-Syrian plots”.

But our current team of post-nationalists did little to oppose this “Lebanese-Syrian War”, and in many ways, they may have helped unwittingly worsen our predicament by making more compromises than the country could afford.

How United Are We?

I mean Really United. The kind that gets translated in deeds, not words.

On the “optimist’s side”, there is a large consensus in Lebanon. When similar attacks were made against the Lebanese Army in the 1970’s, the Lebanese society’s divisions were deepened, and few supported the troops. Today, even Sunni fundamentalists support the Army, except for those losers out in Londonistan… or Qataristan.

We used to say that only the Christians could have kicked the French out, and only the Sunnis could have kicked Syria out. Today, this mess appears to be a cross-sectarian affair (and both are bringing the French back in, BTW, the better to face the Syrians...). Even Hezb has had little choice but to offer his grudging support to the Army; yesterday, I heard some even use (for the first time, as far as I can tell) the word “Martyrs” to describe the… well, the Army’s Martyrs.

But the pessimists would be forgiven in they noted the cracks in this façade. The consensus may not be large enough, and two major cracks appear here, in addition to an existing one.

First, there remains one unsettling fact. Not to wish a bad thing to anyone, but since the Walkyries are blind “samplers”, why is the proportion of Shiite soldiers among the Army’s fallen martyrs far lower than their actual share of the armed forces? Actually, as of the time of writing, it was closer to 0%. This remains a question worth asking…

Second, why is Saad so hell-bent on placating Hezb and the Palestinians militias? Not that I am looking forward for war 2.0, but the compromises I fear will only hasten it. To all those who appear to look for peaceful solutions, he should remember what happened to the last member of an illustrious family; when gentlemen play with hoodlums, the game is Rugby, not Football.

Third, an older crack remains. Recall the army’s less than stellar behaviour in January. Today, the army is being remade “on the run”, thanks to the actions of a new chief of staff, but it comes at great expense of treasure, materiel, and most importantly; men.

Vis Pacem?

Recall the Roman adage; “Si vis pacem, Para Bellum”; if you do not want to get in a fight, you better not act scared. The road from l'umiliazione di Canossa to Munich is littered with inconsequential leaders who either overextended their power, or over-compromised.

We all want peace, and we all understand the wheeling/dealing required for compromise. But allowing the Fatah-du-jour & Co. to keep their weapons would be a compromission that few can tolerate.

Saad Hariri’s excessive focus on the tribunal and any pursuit of compromise risks not only alienating Christians and Druze, but also his own Sunni base. From a purely sectarian perspective, he now risks facing a Christian-Druze alliance with the Sunnis looking away in disgust. So far, he can still recover from his many mistakes, thanks to Siniora statesmanship.

But if he keeps on this road, a far worse “Bellum” could be thrust upon us all.





How Much More Can we Take? (Updated June 14th, 2007)

In the Latest in the assassination series, an MP was killed, his son, as well as other 8 people, among whom 2 star Football players.

The concern now is about reactions; all March 14th MP’s have been very vocal, stating that “they will not take this anymore”. Whether they act on this, and what it means, is less clear. But two salient things are clear;

1- They do not control their “street” anymore. When the Nahr-El-Bared events had started, the killing of the Islamist Abou Jandal in Tripoli was indeed some sort of “pre-emptive private enterprise”, unlike the official story. The “streets” are indeed boiling, and the only thing preventing an explosion, the dearth of weapons and ammo, is a poor lid on such a powerful kettle.

2- The media coverage did fan the flames of sectarian hatred. It did so in very subtle ways; while all Arab channels, even NTV, covered the assassination and paid homage to MP Eido, I noticed a couple of “oddballs” in my channel surfing. Al Jazeera only noted that “10 people were killed in Beirut, among which MP Walid Eido”, while focusing on the (albeit) grave Palestinian Civil War. More tellingly, Al-Manar had Nassir Quandil, an Al-Madina affiliate, berating the Minister of Justice for his alleged corruption, and they only broke to bring in Saad Hariri’s speech.

Time, and mostly the next few days, will prove whether I am right to be concerned about Sunni-Shiite violence. Time will also show where this will go. But if it escalates, we can only have ourselves to blame, regardless of the extent of Syrian involvement.

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A Note About Comments: A few commenters and I do not always see eye to eye. But we stick to a few well unspoken rules, some of which I have clarified earlier. I have had differences with other bloggers, but it never came to this because we all stick to simple democratic rules as I understand them, based on my understanding of the Golden Rule;

- [Almost] no “paste jobs”

- No insults,

- No sophistry.

Anything less will turn this forum into a mediocratic swamp (Not that I do not dip in it from time to time). Whenever I had been seen to stray away from those rules, I had been berated (GK can be harsh).

I feel it is better to hit hard early, rather than being forced to take harsher actions later. In this regard, I have deleted quite a few comments from those that have been insulting to one “side” or the “other”. One persistent individual had been particularly insulting of late, and increasing the stakes to racism. You may have noticed that since his last insults (which are no longer around… for now). I have banned him and deleted his comments, and will delete any comments that he makes from now on.

This is the best way for me to leave this forum as open as possible, as I feel I do learn a lot from it. But please, do not let yourselves be dragged along this path; Bait is only phonetically part of “Debate”, lest the discussion be taken over by the Nasser Quandils of the blogosphere and their verbal diarrhoea.

So, please ignore the stench; at least till I take out the trash.

15 comments:

Blacksmith Jade said...

I know my praises are becoming redundant, but what can I say, I think its an excellent post and I agree with every point (the points themselves were excellently chosen amid the flurry of media, propaganda, disinformation, and posturing static out there).

I haven't been able to post anything substansive for the past month or so due to workload at first, a fixation on minute-by-minute news reports later, and a badly needed vacation currently. But I rest well knowing bloggers such as yourself continue to beat the drums of reason, logic, patriotism, and clarity.

Keep it up, 'tis much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Hazbani
As an Israeli with far far away roots in Leb. can some body explain to me how exactly Senoniora is trying to mess with Syria?. But perhaps I know. The wolf was drinking from the river. A sheep came to drink and lowered his head to the water about 50 meters down stream. Cried the wolf: Dirty sheep you, are mudding my water ! wispered the sheep, b b b but s s s sir I am d d d drinking down s s s stream, j j j just as you t t told me, cried the wolf: Now you are realy messing with me you brutal terrorist!. And that was the end of the brutal, vicious terrorist. He deserved it, for not understanding the geostrategical interests of wolves.

ghassan karam said...

Can anyone explain to me the logic that Sam appears to be applying. How to the &*%$^ can Saniora be to blame for the murderous acts of our sisterly blood thirsty dictator.

Sam, no matter how hard you try, you will not be able to sell this biased illogical view as being a serious analysis by a neutral observer. Your loyalties are very apparent Sam, so you object to the Ba'ath as it is today but you think that it was grand yesterday? Come on give me a break. This is the time to either stand up for a state that is under attack by one of the last two bankrupt Stalinist dictatorships in the world or to just refrain from acting as a mouth piece for aggressors and victimizers. It is important that we show some respect for the dead and for a whole country that is being ransacked by thugs and gangs.

amir in tel aviv said...

"Fatah-du-jour" ... hehehihi...
Like you as always.!
.

moz said...

"Syria had quite a lot to do with this mess, as in pretty much everything."

A disappointing statement for one obvioulsy intelligent and articulate Is Syria the only country that would like to see chaos in Lebanon? Is Syria the only country out there that is plotting to use Lebanon to further their agenda at the expense of the Lebanese people?

If you think it is, then by all means, continue this mantra.

If you do not, then please consider the cover you are giving other countries to do as they will knowing people will just blame Syria.

ghassan karam said...

Sam, If you have been reading this blog , B2B and a few others for a while then you would know how critical I am of the performance of the current government but this does not imply by any stretch of the imagination that I will be willing to take the position of an apologist for one of the most ruthless dictatorships in the world and furthermore to take a purely political position when it is the very existence of the state that is at stake. In the current circumstances I have no tolerance whatsoever for apologetics. What do you think are the chances that random acts can result in such a tremendous concentration in the ideology of the victims? Is it 1 in a million? What about the timing and what about the benefit from such destablizing events? What about the threats by the young dictator next door to put the whole region on fire if the International Tribunal is formed? What about the smuggled arms and the documents that have been confiscated in Al Achrafieh... Yes you are right, I do not have a smoking gun but I believe that common sense and logic tells me that all of these people did not commit suicide and that all the assassinated were at odds with the policies of the Syrian Ba'ath. In many cases circumstantial evidence is enough for a conviction especially when the alleged perpetrator is not in a position to exonerate himself. The Syrian regime and all their cronies in Lebanon, Lahoud/Beri/Frangieh/Arslan and HA are accused of treason and murder and collaboration against the state. They will be judged guilty in the court of public opinion unless they can demonstrate their "Mowateniah".

Anonymous said...

Hazbani to Sam.
1. Burg like me is very critical of Israel. Do you think that we Israelies should blow his car to modulate his tone from bass to soprano?. Or silence him completely? I think silencing one Israeli or Lebanoni PM was much to much.
2. Burg did not move to France, why should he? he has it very good in Israel. Like many Leb. he has dual citizenship. Like many of them he prefers France.
3. A competition, about the length of the lines at the various visa givers doors, between Tel-Aviv and Beiruth is a futile occupation.
3. I generally do not do it, and I am not used to this syle here. In modesto Cal.there is a Lebanese who specialize in such debating style ( angery Arab ? ) We all have skeltons in the closet. But assuming you are Lebanese I should appologize to other Leb. on this blog by reminding you that in 1940-1970 there were at least 20.000 Jews in Lebanon who were ethnically cleaned, practically 100%, for no reason at all what so ever except being what they were. Between 1948 and 2007 the number of Palestinians in Israel, green line, more than tipled. Talking about wolves and sheep. Or about states that are not recognized by Syria.
4. If You believe that Lebanon, which I respect and admire, realy should be the tip of the sword of the Palestinian resistance in word and deed I can do nothing about it. But I do not think it is a very productive occupation. Also it does not seem to realy better the lot of the Palestians.
5. Sorry, realy, if I offended you or any body here. Like in tennis I send back the shots I get, if I can.

מקשקש said...

Sam 22:23,
Shame on you. Wolfowitz is Hazbani's brother? Because he is also a Jew? If a person told someone else, who happens to be an Arab, to "ask his brother Osama bin Laden," would you hesitate to call this person a racist? I wouldn't. And I won't hesitate to do the same here: you're a racist.

Anonymous said...

jeha,

I suggest you disable anonymous comments as well as comments by nonbloggers... The persistence of some and their racism, insensitivity and brilliant performance as apologists for dictators should be stopped...

moz said...

Absolutely anonymous,

Why not turn it into yet another anti-Syria, Team Seniora love in so it can be just another incestuous blog where a select few can just copy and paste their responses to each post as "Its all Syrias fault/I hate Syria/Did I mention how much I hate Syria/ Oh and Hizballah" *Delete as appropriate.

Is that the free speech we can look forward to in your Lebanon?

ali bm said...

Jeha, since u live in lebanon u should know that it is a long time practice of the lebanese army to position the troops close to regions from where they hailed. most of the Shi'is in the army are in the south as part of the 15,000 men deployment mandated by UNSCR 1701 (although what they are doing there that can not be done by a smaller detachment, no one can say) since there are no Shi'is in hailing from the north, the brunt of fighting fell on the predominantly sunni units positioned there. i believe that the leadership of the army sent most Shi'is to the south in order to minimize any friction.i also wonder at the posts i saw about Shi'i soldiers doing their minimum, how can they? aren't they under orders like everyone else? i doubt the authenticity of these comments as i know first hand that although the army lacks many things, discipline is not one of them.

ghassan karam said...

Ali BM
I am the one who made the comment about the Shiite soldiers doing the least that they can do without disobeying orders. That is the verbatim story that I was told by a "Meghwar" who has been at the Naher El Bared since day two.
As for the stationing of the army near to where the members hail from, I am not sure that that is so when it comes to the "Maghaweer" since this elite group is small. I could be wrong but I am told that most of the "Maghaweer" have been called to Naher El Bared. If that is so then the observation about the lack of Shiite casaulties might become more reasonable.

Jeha said...

I prefer to try and leave it as open as possible.

Ali BM, Ghassan,

I also heard similar stories, from decently reliable sources. My concern is that, while elite units are "integrated", this is not reflected on the ground....

But Ali's point cannot be dismissed altogether. It bring to mind another, indirect worry; the "main" soldiers in regions are from the "locals". So his point raises another question; why accept "joint patrols" in Saida? It is only because the army's already overstretched.

Reuters article said...

شمال لبنان أرض خصبة لمتشددين
14 حزيران 2007
يرى اسلاميون في لبنان أن من المرجح أن يظل التحدي الذي يواجهه لبنان من متشددين اسلاميين قائما حتى اذا كسب الجيش معركة ضد مقاتلين يستلهمون أساليب تنظيم القاعدة في شمال البلاد.
وهم يقولون ان الكثير من اللبنانيين ينددون بجماعة فتح الاسلام وأفرادها من المتشددين ولكن أفكارها تلقى صدى لدى الاسلاميين المتشددين مما يثير احتمالات بوقوع المزيد من العنف.

تظهر الاشتباكات التي وقعت في الجنوب بين الجيش وجند الشام وهي جماعة أخرى من المتشددين أن فتح الاسلام لها بالفعل مؤيدون مستعدون لحمل السلاح تضامنا معهم.

وربما يجري تجنيد المزيد في مثل تلك الجماعات بفضل انتشار فكر سني متشدد خاصة داخل مدينة طرابلس وحولها وهي المدينة التي اشتهرت طويلا بأنها مهد لكل طوائف الاسلام السياسي والمتشدد.

وقال فتحي يكن رئيس جبهة العمل وهي احدى أكبر الجماعات الاسلامية وهو داعية اسلامي إن جماعات متشددة ربما تحمل السلاح مرة أخرى ضد الدولة "اذا وجدت أن فتح الاسلام في ضائقة الان ويمكن أن تلقى مصيرها...يمكن أن تتعاون معها ويمكن حتى أن تدعمها خوفا من أن يأتي دورها."

ومضى يقول "هذه الظاهرة ممكن أن تلقى ترحيبا من كل القوى الاسلامية المتشددة ولو كانت غير (تنظيم)القاعدة." وقال انه لهذا السبب فان الوضع يزيد خطورة.
وتحدث يكن عن المدارس العديدة للفكر الاسلامي منها المدرسة السلفية المرتبطة بالافكار الوهابية التي يعتنقها أسامة بن لادن زعيم تنظيم القاعدة.

وقال يكن ان فتح الاسلام التي تهدف الى محاربة الولايات المتحدة واسرائيل ونشر رؤيتها للاسلام لا تضم قاعدة عريضة من اللبنانيين.

وأردف قائلا "لا أعتقد أن لها امتداد كبير عضويا انما قد يكون لها بعض الامتدادات معنويا وشعوريا" خاصة في شمال لبنان التي تمثل مركز الاسلام السني المحافظ وسط الخريطة الطائفية المتنوعة في لبنان.

يقود فتح الاسلام فلسطيني ولكن عشرات من المقاتلين اللبنانيين قتلوا أو اعتقلوا خلال الاشتباكات التي تعد الاسوأ منذ الحرب الاهلية في لبنان التي دارت من 1975 الى 1990 .

كما أن الجماعة التي يعتقد أن عدد أعضائها لا يتعدى مئات محدودة عندما بدأ القتال في 20 مايو ايار اجتذبت مقاتلين من دول عربية بما في ذلك المملكة العربية السعودية.

وقال ابراهيم صالح أكبر رجل دين في طرابلس ان ما حدث في لبنان يبرز مشكلة داخلية متأصلة وعقد مقارنة بين مشكلة فتح الاسلام ومشكلة أخرى واجهتها الدولة مع متشددين.

ففي عام 2000 لقي 40 شخصا حتفهم في معركة قرب طرابلس بين الجيش اللبناني وجماعة متشددة أطلقت على نفسها اسم التكفير والهجرة وقال ابراهيم "هذه الظاهرة تكرر نفسها."

ومضى يقول "ما يحدث ردة فعل المظلوم.. سببه مناخ المعاناة والاحساس بالدونية" وهو يربط بذلك بين التشدد والفقر وكذلك ما يراه شعبية متزايدة لابن لادن بين الشبان الذين يشعرون بالتهميش.

انضم العشرات من المقاتلين اللبنانيين والفلسطينيين الذين يعيشون في لبنان الى المسلحين المعارضين للوجود الامريكي في العراق بمن فيهم القاعدة والكثير منهم يقتلون هناك. والكثير من المقاتلين اللبنانيين من الشمال.

وقال عزام أيوبي من الجماعة الاسلامية وهي الجماعة التي تشبه جماعة الاخوان المسلمين في مصر "يعتبر الجميع منطقة الشمال أرضا خصبة لاي فكر اسلامي حتى أحيانا لو كان فكرا متشددا."

وأضاف أيوبي أنه مثلما تمكنت جماعة التكفير والهجرة التي تزعمها مقاتلون محنكون من أيام الاحتلال السوفيتي لافغانستان من تجنيد شبان في الشمال كذلك فعلت فتح الاسلام التي اجتذبت لبنانيين الى صفوفها.

وأردف أيوبي قائلا انه على الرغم من أن الكثير من رجال الدين السلفيين في لبنان لا يدعون الى العنف فليس لديهم سيطرة تذكر على أتباعهم الذين من الممكن أن يجتذبهم التشدد بسهولة.

وأضاف "المشكلة كما ذكرت هو عدم قوة هذا التنظيم مما يجعل امكانية كبيرة جدا لتسرب عناصره الى أفكار أخرى أكثر تشددا. هنا تكمن المشكلة مع التيار السلفي لو أنه كان يمتلك تنظيما متماسكا يمكن أن يضبط عناصره ويحول دون تسربهم.. عند هذه النقطة تكمن المشكلة الكبيرة."

وفي حين أن أغلب سكان طرابلس لا يترددون في ابداء دعمهم للجيش في معركته مع فتح الاسلام فانه عندما سئل شاب ملتح يرتدي زي السلفيين عن رأيه ابتسم ابتسامة ساخرة وقال "لا تعليق".

ghassan karam said...

Sam,
I wish that you would put your act together and stop acting like a delinquent juvenile.
It does not take talent to be a party crasher neither does it advance a cause to be a pest and keep on postine the same childish nonsense.Can you just clean your act ans stop being a pest. I am certain that no blog owner, definitely not Jeha, would bother to devote time and energy to create a blog had there not been a sincere interest in talking and communicating to others. No one will banish you if you are respectful of others and do not resort to cliches, unacceptable language and repeat endlessly the same silly vacuous phrases. If you cannot restrain yourself in order to behave responsibly then maybe you could just take a hike, what do you say?