Monday, February 18, 2008

What Now

Last week was typical of Lebanese and Arab politics; there was an assassination, but nothing else really happened. For all the mobilization and the firing speeches, the rival mass demonstrations/commemorations proved to be little more than pissing contests by the local "Alpha Males".

Alpha Male

It is now clear that neither “side” has what it takes to follow through their rhetoric. Case in point;

1- Two years ago, after it shied away from storming the Serail, the Hezb-axis let its demonstration fizzle in the tent-swamp. It was clear, even before “day one”, that Hezb could not have followed through anyway. So why start at all?

2- This Valentine, having succeeded in making yet another show of force, those who claim March 14th did not rise to its true spirit, and failed to push through a presidential election. It was clear that they could have easily pushed through, and forced their backers to accept the fait accompli. So why not follow through?

The logic of confrontation does not allow for much Goldilocks logic, and the chest pounding can only go so far; you either fight to win or you don’t fight at all.

So, if either of the two sides acts like their main aim is the other’s defeat; Why don’t they follow through on their rethoric?

And if they really can’t follow through; why don’t they compromise?

Led by Marionettes

Whatever their individual merits, those who “lead” either side are acting like marionettes, reacting to outside events with little initiative of their own. But as we are not the only ones being misled; our puppeteers are much diminished, and they may also have strings of their own, as shown by last weeks’ assassination of Mughnieh.

The whodunit part is unclear, and some even draw interesting parallels with Abou Nidal’s demise in Iraq, but Tony’s many threads do clarify that debate. But regardless of the “man behind the myth”, Mughnieh was far from a retiree.

Aside from the debate, the raw facts still reveal a lot. Regardless if the “Butler did it” or not. Regardless of Mughnieh actual role in Hezb, or the “über terrorist” label that was bestowed upon him (… w’zkirt! eh staha Rambo!). The fact is that the assassination “uncovers” both Syria and Iran’s units in the area.

1- “They” could have killed him in Lebanon, before he crossed in Syria. But “they” chose to do so in Syria, and not just anywhere. And this has two implications.

The First implication is internal; they chose one of the most secure sites in the country, and close to a few other “key” locations. Such impunity may indicate that the infiltration of the Syrian regime extends beyond Khaddam and Kanaan; in his self-gratifying housekeeping, Bashar missed a few spots.

2- The Second implication is external. Syria always claimed it “collaborated” with the United States in its war on terror. It’s going to have a hard time wiggling out of this one, and there’s much egg on the face of any Presidential Candidate willing to engage the regime and their illustrious advisors… this is especially the case since Mughnieh was on Interpol’s list. His presence in Syria exposes the Syrian regime’s lies and obfuscations and weakens it further on the “Arab front”. Crucially, it creates doubt in the mind of its Iranian allies/paymasters at a critical moment in their “regional expansion”. At the very least, it will be hard for his regime to argue for a place at the table in the future. At worst, the Iranians will now be pondering hard their future investment prospects. The Syrians will miss those supports on the long run, since few Americans can now seriously consider “engagement” as an option. And as they look for alternatives, pity the neighbourhood, and its weakest link; Lebanon.

3- Iran has officially embraced Mughnieh. To its supporters and clients, this was the honourable thing to do. To others, this was yet another proof of its duplicity. Either way, Iran’s foreign minister’s eulogy can now serve as a documented proof of Iran’s “support of Terror”, thus proving the American’s leitmotif.

4- Hezb has now confirmed that Mughnieh had been its true leader all along, and thus undoing all their past “branding” workAnd even worse. This will prove to be a dreadful mistake; aside from a few peccadilloes in Lebanon, the world’s officialdom has implicated Mughnieh in attacks against the United States, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, global warming… OK, that last one may not stick... But the fact remains that, whether it is all true or not is beside the point; at this stage, he is now guilty until proven innocent. And since “jesmo labbiss”, and he is not around to clarify matters and clear his name, military-security bureaucracies will grind away unhindered.

Say AAAA…llah!

Consider this apparently innocuous snippet, which may soon be recurring with alarming frequency;

This week, the FBI sent a notice to 18,000 police agencies warning them to remain vigilant about [Hezb]. ABC News has learned that [Hezb] has maintained a sizeable presence in the United States. In fact, at one point last year, the FBI had more than 200 active cases involving suspected [Hezb] members [As in “card carrying members”, eh?].

To those neo-sectarians amongst us, know this; All Lebanese look alike. Whether we are Druze, Maronite, Orthodox, Sunni, Shiite, Scientologist, Devil worshippers… We will be branded a potential terrorist. And a foreign connection is no protection, especially if you are born in Beirut, or carry a recognizable Lebanese/Arab name.

Now that Nasrallah has declared war to the world, we Lebanese will ultimately pay the price of his embrace of Mughnieh, much like the Palestinians paid the price of Arafat’s embrace of Saddam. I am not sure if Palestine will ever be "liberated", but if you though the July war was bad, we’re in for an upgrade, and maybe even a helluva ride down memory lane.

Many in the Lebanese Diaspora will find this out the hard way. But at least, we will all be in treated "equally";

We'll all be standing in the same line-up

1 comment:

R said...

agreed... and whats worse is that many foolish M14 leaders have branded him a martyr or offered condolences and the like, thereby making our life in the diaspora possibly even harder...