Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 09, 2008

Another Imperial Lesson

Punch, LXXVI (March 1, 1879): 91

For some reason (a birthday gift to Israel?) the Bush regime found it convinient to have the March 14 people in Lebanon, Siniora, Hariri, Geagea, Jumblat, launch an attack on the March 7 folks, Nasrallah and Aoun.

The attack failed:

Hezbollah fighters, their guns blazing, seized control of west Beirut on Friday after three days of street battles with pro-government foes pushed Lebanon dangerously close to all-out civil war.
"There are no clashes anymore because no one is standing in the way of the opposition forces," a security official said as convoys of gunmen firing celebratory shots into the air and flashing the victory sign took to the streets.

Yesterday the Siniora government threatened to shut down Hizbullah's TV station. Today Hizbullah shut down Hariri's media outlets.

Why did the U.S. and March 14 expected anything different? Did they really believe they could beat Hizbullah into submission?

The natives just gave another lesson to the imperialists. But don't expect them to learn form it ...

This whole conflict in Lebanon is bad for the country and all Lebanese people. It seems to be impossible to get it resolved with so much interference coming from the outside.

In an interesting interview some weeks ago, the Lebanese Shia cleric Ayatollah Fadlallah explained:

What are the possible solutions to the Lebanon crisis?

I don't think there is a chance to resolve the crisis, which is in deadlock. Many Arab and Lebanese politicians succumb to the strategy of American policy; therefore, the issue follows American policy for movement in the Lebanese crisis and finding balanced relations between America, Syria and Iran.

Do you mean the solution depends on America's relationship with Syria and Iran?

[Nods] Yes.

Now how big are the chances for that to happen?

Posted by b on May 9, 2008 at 15:59 UTC | Permalink


I wonder if they provoked this clash to distract from the Olmert scandal? I haven't seen or heard much coverage of the bribery claims against the Israeli PM; is he in danger of being tossed out?

Posted by: Maxcrat | May 9 2008 16:10 utc | 1

According to eywitness reporting from Franklin Lamb in Conterpunch, Hezbollah has closed the airport and controls much essential territory.

He describes travelling around Beriut on his motorcycle and talking to the fighters, expecting to find other militias but instead the only thing he finds are Hezbolla groups.

As in the July 2006 war, one gets the impression that Hezbollah fighters prefer to depend on each other and fight in small groups and not hang around with Palestinians, Marxists etc. or even Amal fighters in close proximity. (There are no Palestinians to my knowledge involved in the current 'situation').

Around 10:30 am I came upon some fighters who said they were from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. (Frankly I had not realized they were still around). They appeared to keep to themselves.

Hezbollah guys' attitude is sort of: "Excuse us but could you take up positions a little distance from us, maybe down over there somewhere?" The message is clear: "Look, we know what we are dong and we are not sure that you do. You can endanger us by hanging around us. We would be grateful if you would do your thing somewhere removed from our location!"
It is difficult to avoid the tentative conclusion as of the moment that Hezbollah owns Lebanon and will not be dislodged by force. Again they insist that all they want is a fair share of the government and have no interest in "owning" Lebanon. They just are not willing to accept interference with their resistance activities against Israel.

It appears in order to calm the atmosphere in Lebanon right now and remove the berms of July 2006 rubble blocking the airport road as well as the evacuation of fighters from West Beirut and the Mountains, the Bush administration must order the reversal of Monday's Lebanese Cabinet decisions. It is widely believed that they ordered them and are responsible to reverse them and to accept a dialogue with the Opposition.

Posted by: jonku | May 9 2008 16:51 utc | 2

Again, my favorite Beirut blog: link [not so much news as art]

Posted by: beq | May 9 2008 17:17 utc | 3

I wonder if they provoked this clash to distract from the Olmert scandal?

Like Pat Lang I assume that the Olmert scandal is part of the plan. The neocons want Olmert out and Netanjahu in. Quite suddenly, after a Cheney visit, a U.S. witness comes forward to the Israeli police to talk about bribes he gave to Olmert ...

Simple coincidence? No way.

Posted by: b | May 9 2008 17:53 utc | 4

I have to say this move against Hezbollah was so fucked-up it beggars belief, maybe now that they have staged a coup in Beirut, this was the ultimate objective?

Evil Terrarists etc etc, how Nasrallah manages the coup will be interesting.

Posted by: | May 9 2008 20:58 utc | 5

OK, Hizbullah have taken West Beirut, where Hariri and Jumblatt are located. What about East Beirut, the Christian heartland? No news of that. H have hardly taken the whole country.

Posted by: Alex | May 9 2008 22:49 utc | 6

the planners & ideologues of the empire are getting dumber by the fucking hour

chinese state security is thus forced to do so little work, read a little flaubert & hawthorne, & just wait a little - it won't be long, now

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 9 2008 22:58 utc | 7

it wouild seem hezbollah is being very judicious in its response. not only did the agressiveness of hariri's posture create an open space for them that they easily occupied

it seems even on a practical level - they were supported by druze, christians (except the phalange) & sunni's & that when they held territory rather than escalating the situation - they demanded the govt supporters to give their weapons to the army

the govt acted with great crudeness & hezbollah responded with intelligence

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 9 2008 23:36 utc | 8

After reading some translations of his speeches, his interview with Seymore Hersch, I've come to the conclusion that Nasrallah is the about the only sane person operating in this mess. He's the only one I see as having a chance to bring a real peace, and a real social justice, to Lebanon.

Posted by: mikefromtexas | May 10 2008 0:02 utc | 9

Except that the Cheney steam rollers and meat wagons can't idly allow the political gamesmanship of Nasrallah to play out in a real coup, then Lebanon fold in on itself,
once the Empire turns the financial sanctions screws, the way Olmert's screwing Gaza,
any real revolution is DoA, a mere holding action, like Nigeria, an oilfield scrum.

The Lebanese have their own touchstones, their own talking points, their own teams,
but it's just political theatre of the absurd, 'seulement promettant de satisfaire
leurs appétits et stimulant leurs illusions'
. US:IL will be in ME for 100 years.
Probably 1000 years. It is all about the oil ... potable water ... and real estate.

The best the insurgency can hold for is stalemate within an internment camp setting,
so how is that Flaubert's, 'Je voudrais détruire tout!'? It's a failed state!
Faith-Based Liberalism Is No Different From Neo-Zionism

Posted by: Ron Tannenbaum | May 10 2008 2:44 utc | 10

This is rich,>Al-Qaeda has reportedly called on its operatives to go to Lebanon and defend what it called the Sunni community of the country.

Posted by: anna missed | May 10 2008 5:11 utc | 11

Nir Rosen in a good overview:

The Americans thought that they could pick a proxy and get him to rule Lebanon. But Lebanon is too complicated for them, and they didn't know that no single group can rule Lebanon. The Americans along with their Saudi allies backed the creation of sectarian Sunni militias in Lebanon, some of whom were even trained in Jordan. Their ideology consisted of anti Shiite sectarianism. But these Sunni militiamen proved a complete failure, and America's proxies in Lebanon barely put up a fight, despite their strident anti Shiite rhetoric. Now it is clear that Beirut is firmly in the hands of Hizballah and nothing the Americans can do will dislodge or weaken this popular movement, just as they cannot weaken the Sadrists in Iraq or Hamas in Gaza.

Jordanian training, which was provided to the Sunni militias in Lebanon, the Fatah militias in Palestine and even Iraqi security forces, has proven inadequate. Note that in Iraq, the Iraqi security forces are either sectarian death squads or are unable to fight, and rely on the Americans.

Say what you will about Hizballah and its allies, whether you sympathize with them or oppose them, it is clear that they cannot be dislodged, that they are an integral part of Lebanon and the Middle East. They proved this when they won the war of 2006 and proved this once again yesterday when they dispatched pro American and Saudi militias with ease and seized control of Beirut. If one dreams of a Hizballah without weapons, or a Hamas that does not engage in violent resistance, or any sort of peaceful resolution in the Middle East, then one has to begin at the beginning, with the Israeli occupation of Palestine (as well as a little bit of Syrian territory).

Posted by: b | May 10 2008 6:00 utc | 12

Philip Giraldi (former CIA) War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think

There is considerable speculation and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants. The camp that will be targeted is one of several located near Tehran. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was the only senior official urging delay in taking any offensive action. The decision to go ahead with plans to attack Iran is the direct result of concerns being expressed over the deteriorating situation in Lebanon, where Iranian ally Hezbollah appears to have gained the upper hand against government forces and might be able to dominate the fractious political situation. The White House contacted the Iranian government directly yesterday through a channel provided by the leadership of the Kurdish region in Iraq, which has traditionally had close ties to Tehran. The US demanded that Iran admit that it has been interfering in Iraq and also commit itself to taking steps to end the support of various militant groups. There was also a warning about interfering in Lebanon. The Iranian government reportedly responded quickly, restating its position that it would not discuss the matter until the US ceases its own meddling employing Iranian dissident groups. The perceived Iranian intransigence coupled with the Lebanese situation convinced the White House that some sort of unambiguous signal has to be sent to the Iranian leadership, presumably in the form of cruise missiles. It is to be presumed that the attack will be as “pinpoint” and limited as possible, intended to target only al-Qods and avoid civilian casualties. The decision to proceed with plans for an attack is not final. The President will still have to give the order to launch after all preparations are made.

Posted by: b | May 10 2008 7:26 utc | 13

Re #13

They have gone completely off the rails in the White House. It is the mentality of the Götterdämmerung, the mentality of the Berlin bunker. Their rule is coming to an end, so bring down the country with them.

The US has just been humiliated in Lebanon. Attacking Iran is not going to solve the problem. More, attacking al-Qods has no justification; it is not even a matter of halting the development of supposed Iranian nuclear weapons. There's not more than highly disputable crumbs of evidence for Iran arms in Iraq. Actually if I were the Iranian govt, I would ignore attacks on al-Qods camps. complain but do nothing militarily. The US is just going to look worse than ever.

The real comparison here between current US foreign policy and that of Nazi Germany, is the way that diplomatic solutions to international problems have been progressively abandoned, and replaced by military solutions. It is not a new observation, but it is very true. Of course, it is Israel which has been driving the policy, for decades (Moshe Dayan 1967: 'give the Arabs a bloody nose every ten years').

Posted by: Alex | May 10 2008 9:06 utc | 14

Actually if I were the Iranian govt, I would ignore attacks on al-Qods camps. complain but do nothing militarily. The US is just going to look worse than ever.
very solid approach, especially if the camps have been emptied already.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 10 2008 13:20 utc | 15

in fact Iran might consider publishing the exact GPS coordinates of the camp on their web-site just so some idiot doesn't screw it up. Remember the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade -- with "precisely smart weaponry".

Posted by: jony_b_cool | May 10 2008 13:36 utc | 16

First the Siniora retreat, then the claim that he will never retreat.

Lebanese army overturns measures against Hezbollah

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Lebanese army overturned on Saturday two government measures against Hezbollah that had triggered the group to take control of Beirut, and the military urged gunmen to withdraw from the streets.

The army said in a statement it was keeping the head of the security at Beirut airport in his post and that it would handle Hezbollah's communications network in a way "that would not harm public interest and the security of the resistance."

Lebanon's U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said earlier on Saturday that he was putting the two issues, which have sparked the worst fighting in Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war, into the hands of the Lebanese army.
Siniora, whose legitimacy is disputed by Hezbollah and its allies, said on Saturday Beirut was "besieged" and "occupied."
"Hezbollah must realize that force of arms will not scare us or make us retreat," he said. He reiterated a proposal already rejected by Hezbollah for resolving the crisis.

Posted by: b | May 10 2008 14:53 utc | 17

ô how i love the corruption of the english language

hezbollah are necessarily "gunmen" & people like hariri are "lawmakers"

narratives so crude they would have made raoul walsh or john ford, blush

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 10 2008 17:49 utc | 18

just a parenthesis, on the angry arab - someone mentions that robert fisk does not speak arabic - that surprises me & don't know whether that is an insult. i had always presumed a fluency given the historical materials he deals with

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 10 2008 17:52 utc | 19

Re 17, b, you are presuming there that Siniora has power to decide. I think that Siniora has about as much power as Maliki in the Green Zone. He is entirely dependent on the Americans now. The clash took place elsewhere, between HA/Amal and Hariri/Jumblatt. There were rumours he was going to resign. I would bet it was the US who told him not to.

R'giap #19: Re Robert Fisk's lack of Arabic. It surprises me too, but very common among Western Middle East specialists. As he has lived in the Middle East, now Lebanon, for some time, I would think he speaks Arabic, at least colloquially. None of his writings I remember, including the book, mention being accompanied by an interpreter. That failure to mention may have been a delicacy to avoid acknowledging the issue, but I don't think so. However he may not be able to read or write Arabic, a very different question, as learning standard Arabic (fusha) implies a considerable investment of time. In my memory of his writings, again, though I have not checked, he never cites the Arabic press. If that is correct, it is quite likely that he doesn't read Arabic.

If you are interested in the subject of Western ignorances of the Middle East, where one should be beware of what they say, a very high proportion of Western specialists on Iraq have never been in the country (or only under US military supervision). Juan Cole is the best known case, but I could cite many others.

Posted by: Alex | May 10 2008 19:21 utc | 20

“If we wanted to stage a coup, you would have woken up this morning in prison, or in the middle of the sea. We do not want that. It is a political issue, with a political solution through early elections.”

- Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, in comments directed tothe U.S.-backed Lebanese government, Al-ManarTV, 8 May 2008.

Posted by: | May 11 2008 0:52 utc | 21

that was me

& thank you alex

& as you point out a lack of arabic - in these times is not a secondary question

i detest ignorance but i think i detest ignorance dressed up as knowledge.

the knowledge of another culture is a heavy responsibility & it is to my mind the opposite of complicity

in fact it is a form of opening up to a human's proper contradictions. alabam is often lucid here on precisely those problems in the english language

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 11 2008 1:01 utc | 22

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