Monthly Archives: September 2006

Poll

Since I am unable to actually mess around with the template/CSS, or embed javascript on my blog, I can’t add any “extras” except by linking to outside pages. So, if you have the time, check out the link to a poll in a new section I have added in my links list, to make it more convenient and accessible. I will be adding a new poll every 2 weeks or so.

The current poll: Who won in the latest round of fighting in Lebanon?

Expiration date: October 14, 2006

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Al-Akhbar: LF regains LBC

lf.jpgToday’s front page story on Al-Akhbar: The Lebanese Forces regains LBC (Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation)

An excerpt: “When Al-Daher [general manager and head of the operational board] attempted to control the issue, he began receiving contradictory signals from more than one side. Daily broadcasts on Geagea’s meetings and news, in addition to a daily talk by him. Technicians downing attempts at live broadcasts of Aounists’ celebrations, and others cutting off in an unprofessional manner reports in news broadcasts that pertain to those who oppose the Forces, especially on the Christian street. Then he [Geagea] worked on planting a large number of employees who were not pro-Daher in various sections of the station.”

Since it was launched recently, Al-Akhbar has become my favourite newspaper. In addition to the html version, the website features the daily paper edition in pdf format.

Unfortunately, only in Arabic. I have contacted the website team with a suggestion to add an English section. Hopefully they will take it into account.

UNIFIL

unifil.jpgUNIFIL, in its latest press release (today), boasts of providing veterinary care in South Lebanon. And in its Sept. 25 press release tells us of a man who was saved from drowning in the sea by an Italian ship that is part of the Interim Maritime Task Force (doing Israel’s bidding). I have no doubt that those who have received UNIFIL’s life-saving services are immensely grateful. But I do not see in the press releases anything about the kidnapping of more than a dozen journalists by Israeli soldiers yesterday.

But maybe if we repeat it often enough, we might believe it after all: what would we do without the UNIFIL?

One Village at a Time

leba0001.GIFWhile the Hariri and Junblatt clans, and their dog on a tight leash, warlord Samir Ja’aja’a, continue to bark about HezbAllah’s arms, Basshar al-Assad’s regime (but not the Saudi regime), and Iranian “interference” (but not American, French, etc. interference), the Israelis continue to steal water from the Wazzani river and transport fertile soil from south Lebanon to Israel. But it doesn’t end there. Encouraged by the (political) battlefront that its under-the-table allies have opened in Lebanon, the Israelis have been finalizing their take-over of the Lebanese town of Al-Ghajar, half of which was handed to Israel during the drawing of the Blue Line. The Daily Star reports:

The once divided Southern town of Ghajar, half occupied by Israel and half within Lebanese territory, appears to have been finally reunited under one flag. “Khalas, it is gone. It is a new Israeli town and they are even repainting it in Israel’s favorite colors, pink and yellow,” said 16-year-old shepherd Walid Ain Zat, who along with his two younger brothers regularly tends his flock of goats in the open fields near the border town.

Ghajar appears to be excluded from reports that circulated Tuesday announcing that Israel has withdrawn from 90 percent of the territory it held in the South after the recent month-long war on Lebanon.

“I guess no one will ever be coming out of or going in there again,” said Ain Zat, who wasn’t the only Southern resident to notice “changes” in Ghajar, such as the raising of an Israeli flag and an increase in the “pinkness” of its homes, a color often associated with Israeli settlements.

Israel seems to be using Al-Ghajar as a revenge card to make up for its losses on the battlefield. The UNIFIL seems to be towing the line and upholding the status quo, which favours Israel in Al-Ghajar. See, for example, Alexander Ivanko’s statement: UNIFIL is “working on a solution amiable to all the parties involved.” Amiable to all the parties involved? Either there is a Blue Line at this point, or there isn’t. Should the Blue Line collapse or be redrawn, the ceasefire would be rendered more volatile (if not completely irrelevant) than ever. But let’s not be overly appreciative of the Blue Line; it was, after all, a perfect case of reverse thinking. Its drawing was not a result of Israeli compliance with UN SCR 425; rather, the line was drawn in such a way to confirm Israeli compliance with the resolution. The line, as such, was drawn in a manner that would satisfy Israel. In other words, the Blue Line mostly adopted the line of withdrawal that was decided on the ground by Israel. Annan’s statement merely confirms such a reading. He insisted that the UN was not seeking to “establish an international border”, but rather attempting “to identify a line for the purpose of confirming compliance with resolution 425”. The implications of such a statement can be translated as follows: the line could’ve possibly excluded several Lebanese villages, placing them in Israel, and confirming that Israel had “withdrawn” from Lebanon. Al-Ghajar is just such a case.

In Al-Ghajar, they did what they did not do in the Israeli town of Misgav ‘Am: they divided the town into two. In “A practical line: The line of withdrawal from Lebanon and its potential applicability to the Golan Heights”, Frederic Hof quotes UN Chief Cartographer Miklos Pinther on the issue of dividing Misgav ‘Am: The language of the 1950 report had the ADL [Armistice Demarcation Line] going to the west of the [Israeli] town. The coordinates would have divided the place. We simply couldn’t verify whether or not the town itself had grown to the west since 1950 into Lebanon. It was very difficult terrain on which to work, so we simply decided in the end not to partition Misgav Am. The way we drew the line may have encroached a bit on [the Lebanese village of] Addaisseh, but not in a way that would establish an Israeli presence.” Hof points to the deliberate expansion of the Israeli town into Lebanon for the purpose of capturing high ground between Addaisseh and Houla. Moreover, he argues that “[t]o run a line straight through the place could have handed the architect of Lebanon’s unilateral withdrawal – Prime Minister Ehud Barak – a gratuitous political crisis punctuated, in all likelihood, by a local mutiny.” In this case, as in the case of Al-Ghajar today (and Ivanko’s statement on an “amiable” solution for all sides), the UNIFIL bowed to Israeli domestic and strategic considerations rather than an actual, objective delineation of the border.

So what is next? What will the UNIFIL do while the Israelis are still pumping water, transporting soil, arresting journalists and farmers, and officially incorporating the Lebanese side of Al-Ghajar into Israel? And what is the Hariri-led government doing? Siniora still places his hopes on UN resolutions, as if Israel has respected any of them: “Israel has to withdraw from all Lebanese land as outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, without any exceptions.” Israel for its own part insists that it will continue its overflights as long as 1701 is not fully implemented (as if it respects it – so which came first, the chicken or the egg? Lebanese violations [what violations?] or Israeli violations? Quite a Byzantine question), not to forget 1559, which is a purely Lebanese issue!! So Israel is demanding that Lebanon disband “militias” (I thought Israel never really accepted the term “militia” as applying to HezbAllah) on its own soil, and that Syria put an end to its interference in Lebanon, but what is this if not Israeli interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs and external relations with other countries?

Israel continues to occupy villages one at a time. All that this impotent Lebanese government can do is point to UN resolutions, as if pointing to UN resolutions has returned occupied Palestinian and Syrian lands! The latest experience has shown that diplomacy has never won and will never win with Israel. Nasrallah is aware of this, but he is also aware, given the current sectarian division of seats in the parliament, that he cannot really command a solid majority, even if Aoun supports him, unless he wants to risk deep fractures and possible civil war. So he calls for a “national unity government”. What national unity government??? You mean, more of the same. And how is this “more of the same” going to solve anything? Please enlighten us.

Linking

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The Victory Rally Speech

The English translation of Nasrallah’s victory speech (Sept. 22, 2006) (pdf)

This is your Lebanon – Episode I

The offices of Michel Aoun’s LFPM party (which is busy surveying damages in “Christian villages” in the south) in Msaitbeh were broken into and severely damaged, and a computer containing important information, such as a database of names of Beirutis who support the party, was stolen. The vandals spray-painted in blue colour (associated with Hariri’s Future Movement) various swears and threats, including one that stood out: “Hariri, warning, Beirut”. Following the discovery, security forces were called to conduct a survey of the damage and lift fingerprints, but a lone officer was sent to the scene…

In other news, world media is absolutely delighted with the 2000-strong gathering to commemorate warlord Samir Jaa’jaa’s gangs of mass-murderers. Sources from the area inform me that organizers deliberately closed roads to create traffic (I am sure that the neo-cons over at LGF will be delighted to expose this photo-op), and give the gathering an air of popularity. Needless to say, March 14 revolutionaries, including the thief and liar Marwan Hmade (using March 14 vocabulary, the head of the snake), and presidential hopeful Butros “I would kiss anyone’s ass for the chair” Harb (who has the rhetorical skills of my cousin’s 10-year-old son), and others were present… On that note, it seems that many Lebanese leftists are convinced that Butros Harb, however corrupt and politically inept he is, would be the better choice for the presidency (compared to Michel Aoun). They point to his “moderate” positions (what moderation? Skipping a rally that clearly represents more than 40% of Lebanon’s population while rushing to a gathering that does not represent more than 2% of the people is not exactly my idea of moderation, especially for someone who wants to be the president of the country, which includes that 40%!) and rhetorical “skills” (what skills?). I ask these leftists to come forward today and say the same things they were insisting on only a few months ago…

Meanwhile, the installation of water pipes diverting water from the Wazzani to the Israeli-occupied village of Al-Ghajar is now complete and the Israelis have begun routine pumping of water. The March 14-ruled government insists that it will sue Israel for the oil spill (which caused severe distress among Saudi oil tycoons because it poured cold, or oily, water on their vacation plans – though the war awarded the KSA [or rewarded it with???] a net gain of $500 million a day), but no word on demanding that Israel halt its water theft, or that it make reparation payments for the damage it caused to infrastructure and residential buildings, as well as for the ritual mass-murders that it perpetrated with American-made bombs that were shipped via the U.K. America is, of course, Lebanon’s great friend. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Those are your revolutionaries. This is your “cedar revolution”. Enjoy.