Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mass rallies

Lebanon has been the scene of two gigantic mass rallies, the first on 22nd September 2006, organised by Hezbollah and its charismatic leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and attended by some half a million people, mostly Shia'a Moslems, and the second, organised by the leader of the "Forces Libanaises", a Christian formation attended by the same number of people, mainly Christians. Sadly, the Sunni Moslems of Lebanon have been marginalised, for lack of dynamic leadership.

The speech of Sheikh Hassan addressed itself to several issues; the first is that Hezbollah is here to stay as a strong political force without which Lebanon cannot be governed; the second is that the weapons arsenal of Hezbollah, which includes, according to Sheikh Hassan. some twenty thousand long range missiles, will not be surrendered and that Hezbollah cannot be disarmed or disbanded by force, and the third that the Lebanese army is not strong enough nor sufficiently well equipped to defend Lebanon; hence Hezbollah.

On the other side, the Christian rally which represented a reply to the Shia'a Moslem challenge, is intended to emphasize that the Christians of Lebanon are the "raison d'ĂȘtre" of that country and that without them, Lebanon would not have existed but would have been absorbed by Syria and that Hezbollah is no more than an instrument of Iranian-cum- Syrian politics in the Middle East.

It would seem quite evident that there is a deep rift in the Lebanese politic body, which sooner or later will turn into confrontation and probably civil war which, should it ever come to pass, will destroy Lebanon as a country within its present frontiers.

The Lebanese Government, on the other hand, finds itself between the devil and the blue sea. The Prime Minister, totally supported by the leader of the Parliamentary majority, Saad Hariri, is doing his best to govern the country and to proceed with the reconstruction of the total havoc created by Israel in South Lebanon and the southern outskirts of Beirut in its savage war on that country with United States encouragement and military assistance.

All this leads the Wizard to conclude that Lebanon, in its present frontiers, is doomed, and that its only hope is to reactivate the plan, presented in 1920 by the first High Commissioner over Lebanon, the General Gouraud, to create Lebanon on the basis of the historic "entente" between Druze and Maronites, namely the area between the Litani river in the south and the Nahr el Bared in the north. The Shia'a Moslems of the south and the Sunni Moslems of the north would return to Syria, with love from Lebanon.

Water under the bridge, you might say, but then all history is so much water under the bridge.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel removed the Gaza thorn from its side, but the Palestinian problem has not changed in character. The United States refuses to recognise the democratically elected Palestinian Government because Hamas, the dominating factor in this new Government refuses to recognise Israel. We believe that this policy is dictated by the fact that Israel refuses to recognise the Palestinians as a nation. The United States, or rather, President Bush and his sex symbol Condoleezza Rice have never condemned Israel, in word or deed, for its crimes against humanity or for its policy of confiscation and theft of Palestinian territory for the benefit of Polish, Russian or Ethiopian settlers herded as immigrants to Israel, a good many of them, such as the Russians, are not even Jewish. The object of this policy is to pre-empt any improbable future claim by the Palestinians to reclaim their lands and homes. Improbable because neither the Palestinians or for that matter, the Arab world, are likely within the forgeable future to become strong enough to defeat Israel militarily, and even if they were to become strong enough, the United States will rush to the rescue of Israel as it did in 1973, when Sadat's army dislodged the Israeli forces from the Suez Canal area and pushed them back towards Israel. The United States emptied its entire arsenal in Europe of tanks, heavy armour and equipment and air lifted this massive supply of weapons to Israeli forces in Sinai which enable Israel to mount a counter attack and to circumvent the Egyptian forces, ultimately leading to peace between Egypt and Israel.

All this is water under the bridges. In the words of Arthur Koestler to the Wizard over dinner one evening: "let us stop arguing about the rights and wrongs of the case. They are coming and there is nothing you can do to stop them." Koestler was right in his prophetic words.

Right or wrong, the Palestinian problem remains as a festering sore in the body politic of the Near East, and unless a just and equitable solution is found or imposed, the festering sore will continue to poison peace and stability in that part of the world.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Modus Vivendi

A "modus vivendi" appears to have come into being between Lebanon's Hezbollah and the rest of the country, such that the government of Fouad Siniora can devote its full attention to reconstruction, a prodigious feat by any standards.

Elsewhere in Palestine agreement has been reached between Hamas and the PLO for the formation of government of national union, which changes little as far as the rest of the world is concerned for the simple reason that Hamas does not recognise Israel. We may be permitted to ask, why should Hamas recognise a State guilty of crimes against humanity, not to mention the fact that that State has violated every rule of international law and every U.N.Resolution affecting that region of the world, a State which consistently pursues a policy which aims at the annihilation of the Palestinians, both as a people and as a nation.

It is much too late in the day to state that the Palestinians and the Arab world should have recognised Israel as a fact of life as of the date of the U.N Resolution of 1947 to partition Palestine into two states, Jewish and Palestinian, with Jerusalem as an International City. We recall having expressed the view at that time that the United Nations should be transferred from New York to the Holy City. Apart from the moral and religious authority of that City, such a move would have stabilised the whole region and prevented the successive wars hat have taken place. A voice in the wilderness, you might say.

The Arabs, it would seem, never learn. Abdul Nasser in 1967 demanded that the United Nations withdraw its forces stationed in Sinai between Israel and Egypt. No sooner done that the Israeli air force in a preemptive attack, destroyed the entire Egyptian air force on the ground in a matter of four hours. The so called six day war of 1967 should have been labelled that four hours war.

In the same way, Lebanon's national hero Shaeikh Hassan Nasrallah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, and in so doing exposed Lebanon to the most destructive air attacks in history. That Hezbollah did not, and in fairness could not have anticipated such a response does not change the fact that matters of life and death should be left to the constitutional Government.

The latest in what he described as "the comedy of errors" is the statement emanating from the German government that "the function of its troops" forming part of UNIFIL is to protect the security of Israel and its right to exist, a statement all the more ludicrous, when Israel can take, as it did in the past, all the Arab armies and beat the hell out of them. It could be that that statement was intended to atone for the atrocities of the Hitler Regime, atrocities which contributed significantly to the creation of the State of Israel, if we compare the trickle of Jewish immigrants to Palestine during the twenties with the massive waves of immigrants during the thirties.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Summing up

Now that the Israeli blockade of Lebanon has ended, the country starts to breathe again. Nothing was more eloquent of this new breath than a photograph published in the local press of a fisherman along the tyre Sidon coast with his net full of jumping fish, a rare sight during the war on Lebanon. In addition fifteen thousand elements of the Lebanese Army have completed their deployment of south Lebanon, up to the Israeli frontier in conformity with the terms of U.N.Resolution 1701. Once again we hear the sound of civilian aircraft flying over Beirut to land at the airport; on the face of it, a semblance of normality, we might say.

And yet no. The Lebanese government faces the same issues which led to the war: the Sheba'a farms, the exchange of prisoners and above all Hezbollah. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has made it very clear that Hezbollah has no intention of surrendering their arms, and hence a state within a state. This morning's papers carried a threat by Sheikh Hassan that if pushed further he will reveal scandalous reports regarding the Parliamentary majority led by Saad Hariri, the son of the assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The problem lies further in the fact that Iran and Syria, strong supporters of Hezbollah have no intention of abandoning that strong political card in their confrontation against the United Stated. So back to square one.

Last but nor least is the visit expected today of Toni Blair, Britain’s discomfited Prime Minister. As a tourist, he would be welcome, but as Prime Minister, his visit is not welcome, and he should have refrained from adding insult to injury.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bush and Islam

The latest to come out of the demented mind of President Bush is that Sunni as well as Shia'a moslems constitute a grave danger to the of the United States. In the same breath he accuses Iran of being the hot bed of terrorism.

Bush cannot understand, and if he were to understand, he will not admit that his cherished child,Israel, is the source of all the ills that beset the Middle East, and that he, Bush has sponsored, armed, abetted and encouraged the Israeli crimes against humanity in its war on Lebanon, and that Bush, not Al Qaeda, will go down in history as the biggest terrorist of them all. Afghanistan and Iraq, with a million dead, maimed and wounded, are an example of the terrorist policies of President Bush.

What does that ape of a man hope to achieve in his media attacks on Iran and now Islam? What victory is he trying to snatch out of defeat and the bankruptcy of his foreign policy. Israel's Olmert failed to provide him with that victory, and now he calls on Israel to maintain its blockade of Lebanon and at the same time, he blocks a meeting of the Security Council for fear that the Council will condemn the Israeli blockade as an act of war, in violation of U.N.Resolution 1701.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Once again :"What fools these mortals be"

General Aoun and Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, bosom buddies it would seem, have repeatedly demanded a government of national unity, a term which we fail to understand, because as a republic we should be governed by the majority and not by a consortium representing every dick, Tom or Harry. Aoun's demand can be explained by the fact that he cannot bear not to have a finger in the pie, and that his so called "courant" has not turned into a stream. This, however, is not the case with regard to Hassan Nasrallah, whose Hezbollah (Party of God) is represented by three Ministers.

We cannot understand why God should be saddled with the political affairs of Lebanon. Who authorized Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah to designate his party as the party of God, in the same way that the Jews regard themselves as The Chosen People of God ? We doubt that God was ever consulted in the matter. That being the case, is there any good reason why the Wizard of Beirut should not describe himself as the mouthpiece of God, and that his words are inspired from high above?

Amin Gemayel must curse the day when he appointed Genreal Aoun (officier mediocre in the archives of the French Military), as Head of Government three minutes before the end of his Presidential term of office. Amin Gemayel had been hoping till the last minute that Syria would agree to his second term as President. Syria did not, and General Aoun was born. As Head of Government, he found nothing better to do than to alienate Syria and to wage war on the Forces Libanaises, causing more destruction than fifteen years of civil war. We shudder to think what he might do if some day he becomes President, to which he aspires. He might decide to invade Israel.

In the meantime Kofi Annan left Syria, affirming that the Syrian Government would abide by the terms of U.N.Resolution 1701, and in particular paragraph one which stipulates that elements of the multinational military force would be deployed along the Lebanese Syrian frontier, presumably the southern end of it which abuts on Israel. The object of the exercise would be to prevent the flow of arms to Hezbollah, described recently by Sarkozy , a French Presidential candidate, as a terrorist organisation, on the ground that Hezbollah fired missiles on Israel. Sarkozy is either an idiot (so God help France should he ever become President) or an agent of Israel. Sarkozy seems to ignore that Israel spared no one in its air attack on Lebanon, destroying the entire infrastructure of the country, and that a French military contingent is in the process of building temporary bridges to allow the inhabitants to move from one area to the other. To use his own criteria, Israel is nothing but a terrorist state. To quote Shakespeare once again :"What fools these mortals be."