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Hizbullah leading Lebanon to civil war

By Abu Kais

Downtowncamp Hizbullah, Aoun and Syria’s parties are overstaying their welcome. The patience of Beirut citizens and Lebanese from the opposing camp is wearing thin.

LBC is reporting riots involving Sunnis and Shias in the neighborhood of Qasqas as I type this. The Lebanese army has intervened. (Update: The clashes were reportedly between a Hizbullah convoy passing through the area and Sunni residents)

Yesterday, around 300 Hizbullah members reportedly chased a man who hurled insults at Hassan Nasrallah and then fled towards nearby Ashrafieh. The Lebanese army stopped the advance of the militia on the Christian neighborhood and arrested the individual, who turned out to be a Syrian citizen by the name of Hamzah Mohamad Sadeq Ismail. Al-Mustaqbal described this as a Syrian intelligence attempt to create clashes, although one wonders what Hizbullah was thinking by sending 300 members to a Christian neighborhood boiling with rage.

Following a meeting yesterday with representatives from the Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese army, the Iran-funded militia has refused yet again to remove its tents and clear the main road leading to the Grand Serail. An-Nahar reported that Hizbullah’s information warfare division has been filming the area around the Serail. It is not clear what this means. A Hizbullah-Syrian attempt to storm the building was foiled on the first day of the protest, after an intervention by the Saudi King via Nabih Berri, who has promised to resolve the situation in a couple of days.

Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak sent two letters to Berri requesting an end to the blockade of the government building and to street protests. Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mubarak sent a veiled threat that "many Arab countries" will intervene if Iran continues to meddle in Lebanese politics.

Meanwhile, downtown businesses will reportedly file lawsuits against the organizers of the protest over revenue losses (LBC). Tents and portable toilets have transformed the Beirut center, a meeting place for people from all sects, into an open dump for paid militia types and their relatives, Syrian workers, and people high on Aounist psychedelics.

Speaking of abnormal mental states, angry Aounists today hurled insults at an LBC crew filming a mass Aoun called for in the downtown Maronite church where Pierre Gemayel’s funeral was held. The Lebanese army intervened to prevent the angry crowds from attacking the reporters. (LBC)

The Aounist mass was, to quote fellow blogger Mustapha, Aoun’s way to "flex his Christian muscles". Ironically, Aoun spoke against categorizing people as Christians or Muslims two days ago, during a pathetic attempt to justify the general Christian disinterest in hobnobbing with murderers and law-breaking types as the means for one failed former general to reach a high office.

The Siniora cabinet responded to Aoun’s Christian showing by holding a memorial mass for slain minister Pierre Gemayel in the government building that’s under siege by Hizbullah.

Siniora meanwhile told reporters today that he is staying in office as long as his cabinet enjoys the confidence of parliament. He called on Nabih Berri to act like a parliament speaker and not as the head of the Amal movement.

Hizbullah MP Hussei Hajj Hassan warned that Hizbullah’s objective will "evolve" if the "occupiers of the Serail don’t resign." Aoun lashed out at all world countries (minus Syria and Iran) for supporting the Siniora government. He called on the Syrian-appointed president and parliament (speaker) to look into ways to fire the cabinet.

But time is running out for Hizbullah and Aoun. The resentment towards them and their supporters is reaching dangerous levels. There have been many spontaneous protests in several Lebanese cities, and it is clear that there are people who will not sit and watch the militia and its Christian cover besieging their government and paralyzing the country.

Unless they plan on a military coup, I don’t see how they will succeed in toppling the government, which is enjoying the support of parliament, not to mention most of the world.

If they don’t end their occupation of downtown Beirut soon, civil war will come knocking.

Coup attempt in progress in Lebanon

By Abu Kais

Hizbdemo1

The (now partial) blockade of the government Serail remains in effect, with Hizbullah security agents refusing to remove their tents because “they only follow orders from Hizbullah”. Bearded Hizbullah singers are keeping teenagers and children entertained by performing songs about “Feltman’s government”, the “heroic resistance” and the “evil Zionists”. Hizbullah TV keeps the adults informed by playing news bulletins on loud speakers and on large screens. On the second day, yellow flags and balloon tubes are complementing the show of Lebanese flags.

Hizbullah is now referring to itself as “the Lebanese national opposition”.

The Sunni Arab regimes are up in arms– at least verbally and behind the scenes– over what appears to be a Shia uprising and blatant Syrian-Iranian attempt to take over power. Hizbullah leaders think that they can get away with a protest that outwardly looks peaceful, but is really a coup d’etat attempt by an armed Shia militia against the country’s legitimate government and Sunni leadership. Using the Shia community has succeeded. But using Michel Aoun as a Christian cover for this Shia intifada has failed. Many Christians stayed home, and Aoun had to justify his constituents’ lack of interest in this anti-government rebellion by playing it secular.

HizbaounThere is nothing secular about what transpires in downtown Beirut, precisely because this is Lebanon, the home of 18 sects that share power according to intricate coexistence formulas. Shia Nabih Berri and Hizbullah arrived to power through the same elections that Aoun and March 14 won. Regardless of what we think of the 2005 electoral law, they were elected according to a sectarian formula, and though they are supposed to represent the entire country upon their election, all deputies are viewed as their sects’ representatives. For that, it is unorthodox and quite dangerous for Hizbullah and Aoun to circumvent this confessional democracy by imposing their own kind of government on the Sunnis of Lebanon.

The ironic part is that Hizbullah claims the cabinet does not have legitimacy because it no longer represents the Shia sect. Even if we submit that this is true, and that the imbalance did not result from Hizbullah and Amal refusing to participate in a government they don’t dominate, Hizbullah and Amal cannot constitutionally claim that the Sunni leadership needs to change while still claiming to represent all the Shia of Lebanon. Not without new elections. The only way for them to find out if they deserve to stay is through elections, and the time for that has not come yet. The legitimacy that Hizbullah feel they have from their own constituents is the same that the opposing camp enjoys and that was given to them by their own constituents. Aoun and Hizbullah cannot demand “another Sunni” to replace a popular Sunni prime minister. They do not have that right in sectarian Lebanon. And nobody is stopping them from using the institutions to express and act on their grievances, if they indeed they’re national ones.

But then, Hizbullah never felt that they drew their legitimacy from elections– they are a religious party with followers who vote them into public office out of religious duty and/or intimidation. There are 150,000 Hibzullah "supporters" on the militia’s payroll (according to Walid Jumblatt). Their MPs, just like those tent dwellers who refuse to follow the orders of the Lebanese army, only answer to their clerical leadership, which answers only to the Wali al-Faqih (the supreme leader) in Iran. That is why Hizbullah can never be a fair player in Lebanese politics. Its political structure as well as its raison d’etre — a jihadist militia with a political agenda— prevents it from playing by the rules of democracy, let alone Lebanese democracy. Do not be fooled by Hizbullah members’ sudden love for the Lebanese flag. They were following orders. And that flag is interestingly never used on the coffins of their fighters. Nasrallah likes to use it to make his protest seem patriotic, or as patriotic as a March 14 demonstration.

Muftiserail

In reality, there is little difference between what Hizbullah is trying to do and what Syrian intelligence did when they had direct control of all Lebanese institutions. The Syrian regime kept the Sunnis of Lebanon in check by occasionally obstructing Rafik Hariri’s projects and sponsoring Sunni fundamentalists to weaken the Sunni Mufti. Hariri was killed precisely because he was going to openly join the anti-Syrian opposition in the country, bringing with him many in his community. Defeating him through elections did not work in 2000 because he ended up sweeping the vote. Killing him was the only option for Bashar, who wanted to “break the country over the heads of those who opposed his orders.”

And speaking of Syrian intelligence, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said yesterday that “armed Syrian elements” were stationed along one of the roads leading to the government building. Hizbullah reportedly had plans to storm the building accompanied by those elements, prompting Siniora to call the Saudi King to intervene. Other reports (LBC) said that pro-government groups were getting ready to move to the area to remove the blockade by force if necessary.

So what now? What is the next step for March 14?

This blogger recommended a march to Baabda. I think March 14 wants to discourage any form of street protests, so they will probably not resort to more street action. Hamadeh said that March 14 are considering going to parliament for another vote of confidence in the cabinet. They will probably get it, although Hizbullah yesterday threatened they would resign from parliament as well if their demands are not met (Aoun today denied it). Hamadeh also said that the parliament majority would try to form a committee to recommend Lahoud be put on trial.

Journalist Fares Khashan from the pro-Hariri al-Mustaqbal has a new plan for March 14 (nothing new here, we’ve been screaming some of these things for over a year):

1- Alliance with independent Shias.

2- Respond to Hizbullah allegations about the government’s role during the war.

3- Insist on a “basket of solutions” that takes into consideration the demands of the entire Lebanese population, and not just a quarter of it.

4- Work on trying Lahoud before the higher council through a petition signed by the parliament majority.

5- Resolve the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons. “Hizbullah is an army, and armies don’t demonstrate. By taking to the street to topple the government, they are staging a coup d’etat.”

6- Start thinking about the upcoming elections, heed the demands of the Shia independents in the South and the Bekaa and provide favorable conditions for their voters so that they’re not intimidated by Hizbullah’s weapons.

Finally, Khashan thanked the “besiegers” of the Grand Serail for “liberating Christians from the illusion of Aoun’s power, for freeing Lebanese from the prison of Hizbullah’s taboos, and for freeing Lebanese politicians from the prison of authoritativeness that almost made them forget that Nabih Berri is but the head of the Amal movement, with whom Rafik Hariri was upset before he was martyred.”

Update. Anton Efendi has an excellent post on Aoun’s "super genius".

One thing Aoun shares with Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah is complete contempt for the complex Lebanese system. With that comes a fundamental lack of understanding of and disregard for its deeply enshrined rules. That leads to devastating consequences not just on Aoun, or the Maronites, or the Christians, but the entire country…

With Sunni-Shiite tension running high, with Iraq and Iranian interference in the background, Hezbollah wanted to make sure to give its own attempt at a coup a non-Shiite face. Enter Michel Aoun, who was the only major speaker at the rally (his speech by the way was incredibly unimpressive and barely coherent)! An abomination in the context of Lebanese politics if there ever was one. Hassan Nasrallah had another engagement in his bunker, and was more than satisfied to see Aoun in that spot. Nabih Berri wanted no part of this. Not even Salim Hoss, the pro-Syrian former PM wanted anything to do with this.

He didn’t show up. Nor did a Christian leader from Zahle, who belonged to the Aounist bloc in parliament, come to the rally. I wonder why!?.

The breaking of a country: Hizbullah takes to the streets of Beirut

By Abu Kais

Hizbullahprotest Hundreds of thousands of Shias from the south have flooded two squares in downtown Beirut. According to LBC, the Christian participation is weak, with even lesser participation by Beirut Sunnis.

The Lebanese army had to redeploy units from the border with Israel to protect the Lebanese government building and businesses from possible riots.

In southern villages, mosque preachers called on people to join the demonstration. In the north, Michel Aoun supporters united with supporters of Bashar Assad’s buddy, Suleiman Franjieh. According to LBC and Elaph, they failed to mobilize enough Christian protesters. They probably heeded the calls of the Maronite patriarch yesterday who spoke against the protest.

In fact the Sunni Mufti, the Maronite Patriarch and the anti-Hizbullah Tyre Shia mufti have all spoken against "street protests". The Shia mufti, Ali al-Amin said the protest served the political interests of its organizers and not the people or the country. In a show of solidarity with the cabinet, the Sunni Mufti today led prayers in the government building (Serail).

The Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, yesterday addressed a group of widows and relatives of assassinated March 14 leaders, saying protests such as the one planned by Hizbullah never solved anything in Lebanon, "a country of 18 sects" that have to "live side by side". Following Sfeir’s speech, Pierre Gemayel’s mother told the assembled that "Any Christian who demonstrates on Friday will be digging Lebanon’s grave".

In reaction to the Sfeir statement, Franjieh said on Hizbullah’s TV that the patriarch must have been "turned on" by the widows and mothers who visited him.

It is no wonder then that many Christians stayed home after such insults were hurled at the patriarch– an act seemingly condoned by Aoun, who, in addressing the Shia Islamists and pro-Assad crowds, wore his secularist garb and delivered a boring and defensive speech.

"My conscience is clear," he began his speech. Many in the Christian community believe the former general sold his conscience for his presidential project.

Dwarfed by Hizbullah and Amal deputies on either side, he berated TV stations for differentiating between Christians and Shia in counting the number of protestors. Many stations reported that hundreds of thousands of Shias descended on the central district, as opposed to only "a few thousands" of Christians. He unsuccessfully tried to justify the smaller Christian participation by arguing that there is no difference between Christian and Shia since they’re all Lebanese. This is coming from the man who constantly brags about representing the majority of Christians and speaking in their name.

Aoun called on the cabinet to resign and PM Fouad Siniora to "be replaced by another Sunni with better knowledge of the Lebanese composition." He claimed that his criticism was not directed at the Sunni community.

Aoun inexplicably claimed he was not seeking to isolate the ministers (!) but wants to put the country on stronger foundations and restore the "free decision". He described any international support for the cabinet as "not friendly" and "conspiratorial". He did not comment on Hizbullah’s hijacking of decision making in July, or the Iranian-Syrian support that his Islamist ally openly brags about. Hizbullah’s 30,000 rockets were also absent from his speech.

LBC quoted protest organizers as saying they were planning on keeping groups in downtown Beirut on a rotational basis until the government resigns.

Hizbullah has convinced its supporters that the cabinet conspired against Hizbullah during the war.

Hezbollah has criticized Siniora’s cabinet over what it says was its failure to back Hezbollah during the July-August war with Israel. "The government was negligent during the war. That’s why we want a national unity government," Ali Aboud, from south Lebanon, told Reuters.

"We’re here to bring down the government. We, the resistance, don’t want any influence from the United States," opposition supporter Najwa Bouhamdan, 41, said.

Downtown businesses, which suffered great losses during Hizbullah’s summer season war, are not happy. It is unlikely that Shia villagers will frequent the posh nightclubs and restaurants. Many companies located in downtown will be forced to shut down.

The plan is to paralyze life in the country until the government resigns. Finance minister Jihad Azour has warned that the country stands to lose $70 million per day.

March 14 asked all its supporters to stay home and stay calm.

"This an attempted coup but we will remain strong… We will stay home, we will hang Lebanese flags … and when they decide to return to dialogue, we will welcome that…" said Walid Jumblatt.

He said the Lebanese army had to pull back some of its units from south Lebanon to beef up security in Beirut, wondering whether this would lead to pulling out all Lebanese troops from the south which could "hamper implementation the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force" in the volatile region bordering Israel.

"Maybe they don’t want to implement (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1701 and they don’t want to implement the Taef accord," which ended the 1975-90 civil war.

The Taef agreement called for reviving the 1949 armistice accord with Israel which bans both nations from using their respective territory for acts of war against each other.

Jumblat said: "They want south Lebanon to remain an arena for an open war so that it can be a commodity used for negotiations by the Iranian and Syrian regimes."(Naharnet)

He said dropping an article in the Hariri tribunal plan that would have classified the assassination as a crime against humanity provided immunity to heads of states such as Bashar Assad and Emile Lahoud. "This wasn’t enough for them… now they want to save the rest of the criminals."

Although they don’t admit it, Hizbullah and the pro-Syrian parties are going out of their way to sabotage the formation of the international tribunal, and this protest is one facet of it. The Shia ministers resigned right before a cabinet session tentatively approved the plan, and described another session that approved it following UNSC endorsement as "unconstitutional".

The plan needs to be approved by parliament, but the parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, is a Hizbullah ally and generally follows Syrian and Iranian orders.

The sit-in/protest official slogan is "we want a clean government."

Finally, this joke, courtesy of Assad’s representative in Lebanon, puppet-president Emile Lahoud, who is openly calling for civil disobedience.

Lahoud also accused Saniora’s government of being a puppet administration controlled by the United States and France. "It must be replaced, but what is holding it together is pressure from the United States and France," he said. I have received many death-threats, and feel betrayed by this government, but it’s my duty to be here, because if I went, believe me, it would be much worse," said Lahoud.

At the end of the interview, Lahoud said: "What I want for Christmas is a miracle: that Lebanon be left alone by external forces to decide its own future and live with a new government in peace. (Naharnet)

Update. The Hizbullah militia has laid siege to the government building, trapping the prime minister and cabinet ministers inside. Roadblocks were set up by Hizbullah members in what can only be described as coup d’etat.

The Lebanese army had to call Nabih Berri, and the Saudi King had to intervene through his ambassador, to "partially" remove the siege. Hizbullah "tents" are still on the roads, isolating the government building.

The Saudi king phoned the cabinet and spoke to all ministers one by one, affirming his support. The only countries NOT supporting this government are Syria and Iran.

March 14 is "watching and observing".

Hugging the flag

By Abu Kais

Tomorrow, Hizbullah’s orcs and friends will invade downtown Beirut in an attempt to topple the government.

March 14 is asking its supporters to hug their flags and wait for the storm to pass.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora delivered another pretty speech which I won’t quote, because I think it’s useless, given that the man will keep turning the other cheek until he ends up on Hizbullah and Assad’s cross.

My emotions are clearly running high. All I see in front me, as a Lebanese Shia, is Nasrallah’s face as he kidnaps my child into the servitude of his dark lords.

Earlier today, I published this post on my blog:

When Israel launched its retaliatory war in Lebanon this summer, some in Lebanon shouted: "We are all Hizbullah."

On Friday, Syria and Iran will launch an attack on Lebanon. They have recruited an Islamist militia armed and funded by an anti-democracy clerical regime. They have also recruited a mentally disturbed former army general with Napoleonic tendencies. They have recruited Palestinian refugees and Syrians languishing under a despotic regime.

They have recruited a “president” who thinks his duty is to call for civil disobedience against the very government he heads.

They have recruited Lebanese “citizens” brainwashed by theology and false messiahs.

On Friday, Lebanon will be attacked. Downtown Beirut will be sullied by the boots of Iranian, Syrian and Aounist orcs.

March 14 should not let this happen unopposed. If Hizbullah thinks it has the right to “defend” Lebanon any way it sees fit, then we have the right to fight for its future.

Downtown Beirut belongs to all. Do not let it be sullied by the defenders of darkness.

Beat them to freedom square. Form a human shield around Rafik Hariri’s site; Another Human shield around the government building; A Human shield around Samir Kassir’s statue; Human shield around Gebran Tueni’s An-Nahar; Human shield around the Martyrs’ statue.

March 14, mobilize the masses to Baabda. Resume the Cedar Revolution.

If they are all Hizbullah yesterday, today and tomorrow– we are all Lebanon, forever.

Very few agreed with my call. I don’t understand what we, Lebanese, are waiting for. More assassinations? Nasrallah thanking Syria again? My argument is this:

There are no available means in Lebanon to ward off Hizbullah and Aoun. They will not be stopped until an offensive is launched, and it won’t be through his cabinet or parliament. My family is there and I don’t want war to break out. It probably won’t. But giving them flowers and turning the other cheek won’t cut it. The army, security forces and the presidency cannot touch them because they are practically in control of all that. Let’s admit this for once. Siniora is completely helpless. There is nothing he can do, even if he wanted to. Take it from Berri. He goes with the flow, and the flow right now is towards Iran. With the US’s hands tied up in Iraq, I don’t see any other solution but to duke it out. I don’t mean war, but tit for tat, street for street, and [the presidential palace in] Baabda is the target. Enough with wasting time. They have made up their mind.

I am willing to be convinced that there is another solution. I just don’t see what it is.

Update. Lebanese blogger R from Voices On The Wind agrees: march to Baabda.

The lines are drawn, and its obvious who is about to cross them. I suggest that March 14 pre-empt any "opposition" moves and mobilize its own public to camp in downtown, in defence of the Siniora government. The Siniora government should prove that it is worth defending, by appointing new ministers to replace the resigned 6 and murdered 1 and then wait for the general in baabda to sign, which he won’t. At that point, it would be time to march to baabda… Take the initiative goddamnit…

Lebanese paper: Syria to kill 36 Lebanese politicians

By Abu Kais

The story of a Syrian suicide bomber blowing himself up at a border crossing was not the only bizarre story reported by the media yesterday. Another story was that of a new Palestinian faction breaking away from Fatah Intifada (Fatah uprising), a Damascus-based faction that split from Yasser Arafat’s main Fatah group in 1983.

More details emerged today, linking the new group, Fatah Islam, to a plot to assassinate Lebanese politicians.

According to the pro-Hariri newspaper al-Mustaqbal, the members of the new group were sent to Lebanon by the Assad regime to assassinate 36 Lebanese political figures. They were reportedly deployed in refugee camps in the north and in Beirut’s southern suburb (Bourj al Barajnah). Once in Lebanon, they were told to coordinate their actions with Fatah Intifada’s number two, Khaled al-Emleh.

Investigations with two arrested members of Fatah Islam apparently unveiled the plot, prompting Fatah Intifada to quickly disassociate itself from the new movement, which also quickly declared its independence from Fatah Intifada after using their offices for more than 56 days. Interestingly, the arrested members, a Syrian and a Saudi, identified themselves as Fatah Intifada members.

Fatah Intifada is practically run by Syrian intelligence, and has "bases" along the Syrian border, from which they occasionally shoot at Lebanese army soldiers if they dare approach their "territory".

Al-Mustaqbal said Lebanese army intelligence arrested the two members following their involvement in the killing of other Palestinian militants in the Baddawi camp in the north four days ago. They both carried Syrian passports issued in Damascus. They reportedly confessed to being members of a 200-strong group led by Syrian intelligence agent Mahmoud Kolaghasi.

Al-Mustaqbal also quoted journalists in the north as saying that the new group’s leaders are claiming independence from Syrian intelligence, although they admit to coordinating with them in the past over the sending of fighters to Iraq until Syrian intelligence, according to Fatah Islam leaders, "tightened the noose".

A Fatah official, Sultan Abu al-Aynayan yesterday told the Lebanese official news agency that this group was a "strange phenomenon" and tried to disassociate it from any working Palestinian faction. He said they are a branch of al-Qaeda who used Fatah Intifada as a cover until they broke away forming their own faction. He said they have enormous amounts of money and were supplied with weapons when they were part of Fatah Intifada.

"We assert that this group has no role in Lebanon but maybe they should be in Iraq or Palestine," he said.

Fatah Intifada also disassociated itself from the new group and said they belonged to al-Qaeda.

Walid Jumblatt today accused the Assad regime of creating a new cover to assassinate political figures in Lebanon. You will remember how many times Assad and his foreign minister warned the world that al-Qaeda was infiltrating Lebanon. I guess they know because they send them there.

Terrorist killed on Syrian border

By Abu Kais

Syrian-born Omar Hamra, a "tawhid and Jihad terrorist and military official", was casually crossing the border with Lebanon today with a suicide belt strapped to his waist, and nine different fake IDs. He ended up "exploding himself", according to the Syrian News Agency SANA.

An official source at the interior ministry said that on Tuesday at about 13,45 AM. and while the military official at al-Tawheid and Jihad al-Takfiri ( those who reject others faith ) whose name is Omar Abdullah and his alias is Omar Hamra, Syrian origin, 28 years old, was trying to cross the border at Jdaydeit Yabous point with forged papers; started to fire at members of the Syrian security forces from a war gun and tried to escape.

The source added that due to the process of pursuing Hamra ; he exploded himself with an explosive belt, the matter that killed and injured two members of the Syrian security forces.

Normally, Syrian law enforcement would think the bulge under his sweater was an oversized belly, typical of many bearded Islamists. On a normal day, they wouldn’t be able to tell which one of the nine IDs he produced is really him, and they would let him decide.

But today Omar was unlucky. Not only did he foolishly choose an official border crossing to smuggle himself, his belt and IDs– he just did not think they would stop him. What with all the help he received from the dark lord’s (a.k.a. Bashar Assad) agents? How could they?

So Omar ran. And the agents went after him, dodging his bullets. Kaboom.

It’s good he had that belt. Islamist heaven is better than that Syrian hell anyway, at least it’s a straight road.

Too bad, his final thought to himself must have been, the belt was only designed to kill one person.

Clap clap.

NY Times: Hizbullah Training Mahdi Army

By Abu Kais

After Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and Somalian militias (though some doubt the report), Hizbullah is now said to be training the Mahdi Army militia in Iraq.

A New York Times report today quoted an "intelligence official" as saying Hizbullah, with Iranian guidance, has trained between 1,000 to 2000 Shia fighters who traveled to Lebanon via Syria. These fighters reportedly came to Lebanon learn about "Weapons, bomb-making, intelligence, assassinations, the gambit of skill sets".

In April, Hassan Nasrallah admitted to giving Palestinian militants "financial, political and media support."

The intelligence official said the training was part of a "strategic decision taken sometime over late winter or early spring by Damascus, Tehran, along with their partners in Lebanese Hezbollah, to provide more support to Sadr to increase pressure on the U.S."

The problem with Hizbullah has always been its incompatibility with the Lebanese system. The above report may need stronger evidence, but the fact that this party is working hard against the disengagement of Lebanon from regional struggles is evidence enough. Also, Hizbullah would not be able to refuse an order by their supreme leader in Iran to get involved in Iraq, Somalia or any other part of the world. They can’t because they would be violating a religious duty.

I have quoted the following statement a couple of times on my blog. I think it sums up Hizbullah’s attitude and mission pretty well.

“Today, the resistance became greater than the Lebanese scene, its influence on the moral and mobilization levels reaching beyond the country,” said Hizbullah MP Mohammad Raad during a Hizbullah "celebration" in Nabatiyeh on Monday.

Ironically, Raad, in the same speech, said his organization was “defending” Lebanon’s "sovereign decision".

Hizbullah and Communal Coexistence

By Abu Kais

With Hizbullah reportedly planning “surprise” protests this week to topple the Siniora government, many, including Shias, are not surprised by how far the foreign-funded militia is prepared to take the country, and the Shia community, in what seems to be a political jihad against the state.

Masking Hizbullah’s “surprise” measures is a concern over the Lebanese constitution, which God’s self-appointed warriors claim to defend.

Following the Syrian-motivated resignation of two Hizbullah ministers and 4 of their allies, the argument du jour of the so called “opposition” is that the cabinet, a.k.a. council of ministers, has become unconstitutional because it violates a sentence in the preamble of the constitution. The sentence is:

There is no constitutional legitimacy for any authority which contradicts the ‘pact of communal coexistence

The argument is, of course, rubbish. The cabinet has the confidence of parliament (which includes Hizbullah members), and only parliament, not a militia, decides on the constitutionality of the country’s legitimate authority.

What Hizbullah is doing sets a dangerous precedent in the country: a pseudo-political sectarian entity allied with a foreign wannabe-power is manipulating the system and refusing to recognize the authority of the state if the latter does not succumb to extraterritorial demands.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the constitution that says a cabinet cannot continue to govern after the resignation of less than a third of its cabinet members. In fact, and upon becoming a deputy or minister, cabinet members are considered representatives of the entire nation and “no restriction or stipulation may be imposed upon [their] mandate by [their] electors,” let alone the party to which they belong.

In any case, the constitution was clear on when a cabinet is considered without power, i.e. “resigned”:

(1) The Government is considered resigned in the following circumstances:

a. if the Prime Minister resigns;

b. if it loses more than a third of the members specified in the Decree forming it;

c. if the Prime Minister dies;

d. at the beginning of the term of the President of the Republic;

e. at the beginning of the term of the Chamber of Deputies;

f. when it loses the confidence of the Chamber of Deputies based on the Chamber’s initiative or based on the Council’s initiative to gain the Chamber’s confidence.

(2) Ministers are to be dismissed by a Decree signed by the President and the Prime Minister in accordance with Article 65 of the constitution.

(3) When the Council resigns or is considered resigned, the Chamber of Deputies is automatically considered in extraordinary session until a new Council has been formed and has gained the Chamber’s confidence.

Hizbullah’s insistence that the cabinet has no authority is by itself an act of rebellion against the state. They have the right to argue for unconstitutionality– but as long as this cabinet is around, they are forced to recognize its authority because it has not resigned. Promised acts of “civil disobedience” amount to treason, especially when the country is on the verge of economic collapse because of a devastating war started by none other than Hizbullah.

Ironically, Hizbullah continues to support the Syrian-imposed president, Emile Lahoud, whose term was extended under Syrian pressure by a reluctant pro-Syrian parliament. Lahoud could be an accomplice to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and was the head of the Lebanese-Syrian security regime, remnants of which continue to terrorize the country.

One should keep in mind that Hizbullah has never recognized the authority of the Lebanese government. Its ideology is such that even Hizbullah MPs and ministers do not feel obliged to answer to the prime minister, the president or any official body in the country. After all, they have their own civilian infrastructure, which although fills a gap in some areas, indoctrinates Lebanese citizens with foreign ideologies and uses them as shields in political and military “struggles”, a.k.a. jihad.

Finally, here are other excerpts from the preamble of the constitution that Hizbullah likes so much today, but doesn’t bother to read in its entirety.

a. Lebanon is a sovereign, free, and independent country. (Hizbullah enjoys Syrian and Iranian hegemony, as well as financial and military support)

b. Lebanon is … a founding and active member of the United Nations Organization and abides by its covenants and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Government shall embody these principles in all fields and areas without exception. (UNSC resolution 1701 requires Hizbullah to disarm)

d. The people are the source of authority and sovereignty; they shall exercise these powers through the constitutional institutions. (Not militias)

e. The political system is established on the principle of separation, balance, and cooperation amongst the various branches of Government. (Hizbullah should learn to “oppose” through the institutions and not using and abusing the institutions.)

And yes, this one:

j. There is no constitutional legitimacy for any authority which contradicts the ‘pact of communal coexistence’.

It is not clear how Hizbullah, by hijacking an entire community and pitting it against the state’s legitimate authority, is really working to safeguard communal coexistence.

Welcome Abu Kais

I’m going to be out of town for a little while and will probably not be able to blog at my usual pace. Last time I was out of town, when I drove from the East Coast to the West Coast, I convinced myself that I could still keep up this Web site, but I couldn’t. So I won’t make the same mistake now.

Abu Kais, who writes the terrific blog From Beirut to the Beltway, will help me out. Good timing, too, since Lebanon is (tragically) a “story” again. Abu Kais is a Shia from South Lebanon, from Hezbollah country. He is not, however, even remotely a Hezbollah partisan.

Please welcome him and enjoy his reports. And be nice in the comments.

Thanks, Abu Kais, for lending a hand.

Childish Foreign Policy

Lebanese blogger Tony Badran is not too impressed with the New York Times lately.

The NYT editorial board amassed the entirety of its impressive foreign policy genius, and came out with this terrifyingly awesome statement:

Damascus must also be told that it will pay a high price — in scorn, isolation and sanctions — if it is found to have ordered Mr. Gemayel’s death, or the deaths or maiming of a half-dozen other anti-Syrian politicians and journalists. Hezbollah must be told that it will be shunned if it tries to grab power through further violence or intimidation.

Did they just say “scorn”? Oh snap! Wait, and they got away with “shunning” Hezbollah?! They could do that?! Damn… that is cold! Take that Nasrallah and Khamenei! How you feel about that?!

This is what a friend of mine calls “the kindergarten school of politics.” Bad boys to the corner! No friends for bullies! This editorial might as well have been written by a grade-schooler.

Tony is on a roll lately, and there’s plenty more where that came from.

UPDATE: Mustapha at Beirut Spring concurs that the New York Times is “infantile” and suggests Jim Hoagland as a man who “gets it.” (And he’s right, Hoagland does get it.)

To Hell in a Handbasket?

A chilling essay by Raja at the Lebanese Bloggers:

The Syrians feel pretty secure about Hizballah’s ability to hold its own against these waves of protest and fury. So they do what they need to, to gain any sort of advantage on the international playing field. Their message to the powers that seek to remove Lebanon from the Syrian orbit is obvious:

You see your precious little Lebanon… your example of democracy in the middle east… your prized example of religious co-existence (both christian-muslim and sunni-shi’a); I can light it up with the push of a button. And if you don’t talk to me… if you don’t deal with the Syrian state as the guarantor of peace in Lebanon, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

[...]

In such a tense and gridlocked situation, where all the major local parties are so intransigent towards each other, something is gonna have to give. An appropriate analogy would be two major tectonic plates pushing against each other incessantly until, at some point in time, all hell breaks loose – think of the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Read the whole thing.

Troll Alert

Someone has been impersonating me in the comments. That person’s comments have been deleted.

Hugh Hewitt Interview

Hugh Hewitt interviewed me on his national radio show yesterday about what’s happening in Lebanon now. Go here to listen. At the time of this posting, my interview is the third item on the list.

March 14 Wins the Day

Blacksmiths of Lebanon reported, and Naharnet confirmed, that Minsiter Hasan Al Sabaa has returned to the Lebanese cabinet after resigning last year in the wake of the Danish cartoon riot fiasco. The axis’s strategy to murder the cabinet just got a bit harder.

Meanwhile, my friend Carine (who sometimes appears in the comments) went to Pierre Gemayel’s funeral and posted photos.

War No More.jpg

Happy (belated) Independence Day to Lebanon.

UPDATE: Just a thought here…How different a country would Lebanon be if people at a “March 8″ rally (Hezbollah+Amal+Aoun) held up banners that said WAR NO MORE?

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