Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Briefing

I've been forwarded the following briefing from my Lebanese friend - now a refugee. I thought I would put it on my blog. I should note, perhaps, that my friend is carrying out PhD research on Shi'ite political parties in Lebanon and so is particularly well informed about what is going on.

At the risk of looking rather cowardly, I want to add, also, that I don't necessarily agree with everything in this briefing. The views expressed here are those of the writer... and etc.

The Unjustified War on Lebanon

"During the first days of the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, questions on the timing, reasons and purposes for the seizure of the two Israeli soldiers were raised inside and outside Lebanon prompting many hypothetical arguments. Many directed their fingers of accusations towards Hezbollah. There are those who promoted the idea that Hezbollah is a tool by Iran and Syria in their war against Israel, hence making Lebanon a proxy battleground for the conflict between Iran and Syria on one hand and Israel on the other. On the other hand, there are those who support Hezbollah and believe that the nature of Israel's assault on Lebanon makes no doubt that Israel is a US agent having the mission to enforce the US agenda of the 'New Middle East'. Before examining these different claims and propagandas, it is important first to stop briefly at the background of the aggression.

On July 12, 2006 the Lebanese resistance movement represented by Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers. Immediately afterwards, the secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah declared that he is ready to swap the two soldiers for the Lebanese prisoners in the Israeli prisons. He stated that the seizure operation was limited in scope having one purpose only: to achieve an unconditional exchange of prisoners similar to the previous exchange processes in 1998 and 2004 by means of indirect negotiations. He stated that the operation is not intended for any escalation with Israel, however should Israel decide to escalate the situation, the Hezbollah will have no option but to defend the country. Few hours following Sayyed Nassrallah's speech, Israel launched its war of aggression on Lebanon.

When Israel launched its aggression, almost everyone expected it to hit the Hezbollah targets only since the operation was carried militarily, meaning militants against soldiers. Instead, Israel's aggression was launched against the entire Lebanese state making civilians and infrastructure legitimate targets. The aggression was on the airports, ports, bridges, tunnels, roads, media stations, residential areas, red cross, fire brigades, emergency relief centers, petrol stations, factories, mosques, food and medicine lorries, hospitals, civilian cars, motorcycles and even United Nations headquarters. Across the south, the Bekaa and the Dahieyh (Beirut suburb), families piled into pickup trucks and cars heading toward safer places after Israel dropped leaflets warning the residents to leave their towns. Soon however they found out that the Israeli air strikes had hit all the crossings. With no exit or way out, many were trapped in their areas.

The areas which have been constantly targeted are inhabited mostly by the Shiite community, something that made many wonder whether this aggression is on the Shiite community rather than on Hezbollah. This impression stems from the fact that the majority of the Shiite community in Lebanon is in support of Hezbollah; this is confirmed for instance by the results of the local and national elections as well as by the number of the masses that attend the Hezbollah rallies. Hence the feeling has been that Israel is punishing the Hezbollah supporters and audience.

For those who have limited knowledge on Hezbollah and very briefly, Hezbollah in Lebanon and in many parts of the world is seen as a legitimate resistance movement fighting Israel for the liberation of the Lebanese occupied land. In fact, Hezbollah is a mass movement and an active political party well-represented in the Lebanese society, parliament and government. In addition to its resistance wing, Hezbollah has an effective organization that offers a wide range of social, economic and cultural services.

As to the claim that Hezbollah is fighting on behalf of Iran and Syria, the argument is that Hezbollah took this step in an attempt to lift the pressure off the Iranians with respect to their uranium enrichment and/or allow the Syrian troops to re-enter Lebanon in an attempt to stabilize the situation similar to what happened in 1976 when the Lebanese president, Mr. Suleiman Franjieh, called on Syria to enter Lebanon to stop the war. Hezbollah does not ignore its relationship with Syria and Iran. Religiously, Hezbollah follows the theological teachings of Ayatollah Khamenei. Ideologically, it follows both Iran and Syria particularly with respect to the ideology of resistance to Israel. This does not mean however that Hezbollah should be considered as being Iranian or Syrian just like one cannot consider communists in the world as Soviets. Hezbollah is purely Lebanese and this has been confirmed by Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah and the Lebanese government. According to Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah, most of those currently engaged in the fighting against the Israelis are from all over Lebanon. Common sense makes us question whether it is possible for someone to risk his life just for the sake of bringing Syria back to Lebanon or to lift the pressure off Iran for example. Hadi the son of Sayyed Nassrallah is himself a martyr who was killed in action against the Israeli forces. For Hezbollah, the fight against Israel is a fight of dignity and duty, a fight for rights, a fight for the liberation of the Lebanese occupied lands and the Lebanese prisoners of war and a fight for freedom.

The US on the other hand labels Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The reasons for such a categorization is directly related to the American vision of the "New Middle East" which the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has lately been stressing on during her diplomatic efforts in finding a settlement for the Lebanese crisis. Though Ms. Rice did not disclose any information on what she means by the 'New Middle East', any observer of the political situation in the Middle East would be able to pick on certain issues.

There is no doubt that the American vision of the 'New Middle East' is an agenda that involves the following points: transforming some regimes in the Middle East to become allies of the US as well as good neighbors with Israel at the time when Israel still occupies Arab lands in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, refuses to implement the UN resolutions, and violates the Lebanese and Syrian territories; settling the Palestinians in Lebanon and therefore making the United Nation resolution 194 which grants the Palestinians their right to return to Palestine void, and forcing the implementation of United Nations Resolution 1559 which calls on the disarmament of Hezbollah, thus putting an end to any deterrence against the Israeli violations of the Lebanese territories since 1961.

The American administration is aware that its agenda for the Middle East cannot be achieved as long as there is an active opposition resisting such an agenda. Facts on the ground show the zero tolerance that the Americans have towards the resistance movements in the Middle East. It is not a secret that the Iraq war did not lead to the expected results set by the American administration. Today instability and violence reign in Iraq and the Americans find themselves under the fire of the Iraqi insurgencies. They accuse Iran and Syria of supporting some insurgencies against their troops in Iraq making it difficult for the Americans to achieve their vision for Iraq. Today, Iran is considered by the American administration and its allies as the symbol of resistance in the region. It is perceived as the main sponsor of the resistance movements in the Middle East such as the Badr organization in Iraq, Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon. What is more disturbing for the Americans is that these movements are represented in their respective governments having been democratically elected by the people. At the same time Iran is becoming a nuclear power which would enable it to become a major power in the region, a factor of concern for the US, Israel and their allies.

Hence the Americans are in a dilemma: On one hand, they want to see the 'New Middle East' taking place but that requires getting rid of all the obstacles or forces that oppose its agenda. On the other hand, the Americans are in no position to get into another meddle. They are already involved in Iraq, Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territories. A direct confrontation with Iran would only inflame the region and stir up its allies such as Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Badr organization. Instead, the Americans have decided to go after Iran's 'long arms' first which ultimately would weaken Iran. Since 2005 we have been witnessing the US attempts to force its agenda of a "New Middle East": it almost managed to isolate Syria following the assassination of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik in which Syria is allegedly implicated; it has given the Israeli government the free reins to suppress Hamas in Palestine; it worked on stirring up the sectarian divisions in Iraq; it almost managed to provoke internal divisions in Lebanon, and now it has mobilized all its resources and influence in the world to allow Israel to get rid of Hezbollah the last opposition to its agenda of the "New Middle East". However, the facts on the ground show how far such an agenda may be from reality.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese people are asking the following questions: Why is it that the whole world moves when 2 Israeli soldiers are kidnapped but nobody bothered to take action when Israel kidnapped two people, Cheikh Obeid and Cheikh Dirani from their homes in Lebanon and imprisoned them for more than 10 years? Why is it that the international community condemns Hezbollah for crossing the blue line at the time when according to the UN inspectors in Lebanon and since 2000 Israel has violated the Lebanese territories 11782 times? Why everyone still believe in the United Nations which is constantly constrained and paralyzed by the American Veto? Why according to Bolton the US ambassador to the United Nations there is no ethical comparison between the victims of Lebanon and those of Israel insinuating that those of Israel are much more important than those of Lebanon? And how come Hezbollah is labeled a terrorist organization when the masses all over the world particularly in the Arab world are overwhelmingly in support of Hezbollah, raising the party's flag and Nassrallah's pictures? Finally the people of Lebanon are waiting for someone to answer this particular question: in today's world is the law judging the strong or is the strong ruling the law?"

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