Monday, March 21, 2005

Lebanon Upheaval, 2 Men's Fateful Clash

This article by MacFarquhar yesterday is a must read. It adds meat to the bones of the emerging story. Hariri was getting too big. The Lahoud extension was not about Lahoud, but about Hariri, who was already beginning to push for sovereignty - or Hariri's Lebanon. As one insider here told me a few weeks ago. The extension of Lahoud was made because if he had stepped down, Hariri was on his way to becoming the effective president of Lebanon. His ambitions were already clear. He wanted Lebanon for himself - or for the Lebanese, whichever suits your outlook.

It still doesn't explain how Syria hopes to retain influence. How hard is Syria willing to fight? How hard is the US willing to push back? There seems to be no possibility of deal making now between the US and Syria.

Behind Lebanon Upheaval, 2 Men's Fateful Clash
March 20, 2005
The assassination of Rafik Hariri eliminated the one man potentially able to pressure Syria to release its grip on Lebanon.

"Bashar told him, 'Lahoud is me,' " Mr. Jumblatt recalled in an interview. "Bashar told Hariri: 'If you and Chirac want me out of Lebanon, I will break Lebanon.' " He was referring to the French president, Jacques Chirac.

In the month since Mr. Hariri was assassinated, members of Lebanon's anti-Syrian opposition have pointed to that Aug. 26 encounter in Damascus as fateful. Although opposition leaders acknowledge that they lack firm evidence tying Syria or its Lebanese agents directly to Mr. Hariri's assassination, they link that day to his slaying on Feb. 14.

"To tell you the truth, when I heard him telling us those words, I knew that it was his condemnation of death," Mr. Jumblatt said. (Read it all here without subscription)

Juan Cole argues the opposite of MacFarquhar. He writes: "The question of who killed Hariri is highly significant and it is important not to let our prejudices affect our judgment.

To the state of the case so far: 1) It seems likely that Hariri was killed by a powerful car bomb that pulled alongside his vehicle. 2) It seems likely that he was assassinated by a Palestinian radical Muslim fundamentalist named Ahmed Tayseer Abu Adas, even if someone else was driving the car. Mixing planners and "muscle" is an al-Qaeda modus operandi. 3) If Abu Adas was behind it, he made his motivation clear. He was striking at what he considered a major agent of Saudi influence in the Middle East.


At 3/21/2005 03:51:00 PM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

The assassination, with Bashar's approval, was by Syrian intellegence operatives using explosives from Hizbollah's supply received previously from Iran.
Reason for such brutal tactics:Hairi was getting too strong, the opposition was uniting and Lebanon had to be intimidated into submiting to Syria's continued presence. However, the tactic - old school arab autocrat stuff - backfired.The middle east has changed and Bashar's advisors are behind the curve. Far behind.
Just because Syria's Beruit intellegence offices were relocated to Syria's intellegence hq's for all of Lebanon in the Bekaa does not mean there are no operatives in Beirut or elsewhere.
More struggle remains.

At 3/21/2005 05:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work friend in america. Did you come up with all those by yourself or did you get hints from elsewhere. I congratulate you for being the first to repeat such items although the hizbollah part was interesting. I can only wonder what the US and the rest of the world are doing to you right now for uncovering the truth. I congratulate you one more time and it wouldnt hurt to take your head out of the american ass for a while to see the light.

Take care friend. Hope i see you on the television. "Friend in America" uncovers truth about hariri assassination.

At 3/21/2005 07:54:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

Excuse me, but Juan Cole is full of shit. NOTHING of what he said is even REMOTELY substantiated. EVERYTHING he quotes is discredited government propaganda, that doesn't need even half a brain to debunk. He's buying into government propaganda and that's his argument for critical objectivity!?!? Sure, there's no bias involved there! What a joke this guy is!

At 3/22/2005 01:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The media's explicit & implicit indications of Syria's involvement in Hariri's death always maps back to Mr. Jumblat's exciting interviews. I will spare you his bibliography now but two things: Up to 1989, he was a warlord responsible for Christian massacres in Lebanon. After Taif accord, he was part of the corrupted governments that led the country to its current miserable economic & political status. His claims that Mr. Hariri was his buddy who had no more faith in his allies and instead chose him as a secret keeper is disgusting.

At 3/22/2005 06:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 1:26
" His claims that Mr. Hariri was his buddy who had no more faith in his allies and instead chose him as a secret keeper is disgusting."

Do you really believe that Hariri didn't tell anyone else but these 4 MPs ?

Do you really believe that Chirac (his close friend) didn't hear this and probably more from him?

Do you really believe that Chirac and Bush (who have committed their countries along with the rest of the world) came to this conclusion based only on Jumblatt's statement?

You could go back to the words used in his statement right after he excused himself from forming a government (astawde3ou ellah loubnan....), and the flurry of ambassadors who visited him afterwards for epxlanation.

Do you really believe that the US, France, Russia, KSA, and Egypt ambassadors didn't hear the story from him and probably more?

give it up.....

At 3/22/2005 07:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MacFARQUHAR's article is the most comprehensive compilation of CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence implicating Syria in the assassination of Hariri. Let me add one more such evidence that MacFARQUHAR forgot to inlcude in his article: apparently Marwan Hamadeh, an international law expert, himself drafted UN Resolution 1559 under Hariri's close eye. That's why Hamadeh was targetted for assassination by the Syrian Mukhabarat in October.

But in spite of all of the above, I remain extremely puzzled: the article implies that Bashar must have given the orders to eliminate Hariri. But could he be so stupid?????? after all the warnings against such a move clearly given by the US, France and the UN only 2 days before Hariri's assassination??? Bashar has done some serious mistakes in the past, especially the blunder of extending Lahoud's presidency, but I doubt very much that he could have been so stupid or blind not to foresee the implications.

So who gave the orders then? I am convinced that this was done by the Syrian and/or Lebanese mukhabarat. But could anyone have given the orders without Bashar's knowledge? and if so, who and (more important) WHY?

Could it be someone high up in the Syrian regime (Ghazi Kanaan? Rustom Ghazaleh? ....) trying to embarrass Bashar and show his weakness in preparation for a coup? or could it be the "young guards" stupidty to protect their mafia interests in Lebanon? (back to your earlier blog which you sensibly removed).

Frankly, if it turns out that Bashar was the one who gave the orders, then I think this was his last stupid blunder before being kicked out of power by his own guard ('Old' or 'New') or by regime change!

At 3/22/2005 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one question, what does Syria benefit from Hariri's assassination?
Can it undo 1559? or will it accelerate the execution?
According to anon at 1:26, Syrians first acknowledged the intension to assassin Hariri to the rest of the world, waited until the US & the EU warned against his assassination then carried out the assassination. So in fact, the Syrian regime was fed up of holding power in Syria and decided to pull out dramatically in a suicidal scenario.

At 3/22/2005 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

Thank you 5:30 Anon and others for your comments. I hold yours in high respect. Several new remarks:
1. The assassination was too signifiicant to have occurred without Bashar's approval. It was proposed by Bashar's new appointees (who had displaced some of the old guard last Sept). These new appointees I have called the "new fools." They are very unskilled and insensitive to a changing ME. They only know the power of authoritarianism.
2. Now, if Bashar was only infomed, who is making the decisions in Damascus? That is the question I have been asking.
The old guard (very unlikely), the new fools, or who? The military is too divided, Intellegence unlikely.
3. Juan Cole's theory is too improbable. the motive is far too weak to support an assassination of this importance.
4. What did Syria hope to benefit from the assassination? The elimination of the one leader who was bringing all opposition groups together under the banner of nationalism. When the opposition becomes neutralized, Syria could stonewall the UN and the west (note the number of references in Syrian govenment speached & press releases to Israel's stonewalling UN resolutions - if they can doi it, so can we). Simple.
5. Blunders: Yes, the assassination strategy was a huge blunder. That's why 2 days later Bashar took away the leadership of Intellegence from the "new fools" and appointed a trusted relative. My theory is world events turn on blunders as often as on clear headed decisions. And it is the blunders that create the surprises. Sadam Hussein has the 20th-21st century record for consistently making blunders. One could say the US decision to invade Irag was made on the basis of intellegence estimates that were nothing short of blunders. The blunder theory has more credibility for me than the paranoia theory (conniving manipulations planned in secret).
Very good comments on this site.

At 3/22/2005 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Anton Efendi said...

I think there's an inherent contradiction in saying that Bashar has consolidated and centralized power and then saying that it was a blunder that he's trying to clean up.

In his mind it wasn't a blunder at all. Lahoud and the mukhabarat are Syria's foothold in Lebanon (I'll leave Hizbullah out of this for a second) as MacFarquhar correctly notes. Hariri was against them and was actively trying to consolidate a coalition internally (backed by UNSCR 1559) which would have gained enough seats in parliament to do away with the Lahoud/mukhabarat edifice. Lahoud was also linked financially to Bashar's family, the true and only center of power. As such, his elimination made perfect sense. It wasn't a blunder. The UNSCR had already been made. Hariri's death didn't create it. Hariri's death was aimed at eliminating the influential person of Hariri to weaken the Lebanese opposition. The retreat into the Bekaa was likely to have happened anyway. It's not a big deal. It remains to be seen if they will retreat completely before the elections. If they can ensure that Lahoud and the goons stay on, they figured the retreat will be an acceptable (and inevitable) price.

That's why they're fighting the international investigation tooth and nail (witness Sharaa's latest threat in today's an-Nahar. The investigation threatens to remove Lahoud and the mukhabarat, thus costing the Syrians their strongest coercive influence. Hizbullah is a different story. Hizbullah is beholden to more than just Syria. There's Iran and there's the Shiite constituency and Lebanese interior. Lahoud and the mukhabarat are not beholden to anyone except Syria. They have no constituency.

That's why Bashar must've really stressed to Mubarak that Lahoud mustn't be touched. Hence the bombing in Jdeideh. If you go on, things will get ugly. This is exactly what Sharaa's statement amounts to. Instead, they are trying to get an Arab investigative committee, which will ensure that Lahoud not be touched (hence Nasrallah's proposal a few days ago). The second step will be to screw around with the elections, or keep the troops in Lebanon until the elections are over to make sure to get a favorable outcome.

The Arab league however, despite being willing to back this scenario, will be helpless should the UN decide to launch an international investigation. They said as much anyway.

So what was the compromise? The Lebanese opposition will leave Lahoud and the Mukhabarat alone until a new parliament is elected after which they will remove them. But, they will continue to ask for the international investigation, and for the full withdrawal (fixed timetable) to make sure the elections don't get tampered with (plus international monitors). They know that the investigation and an honest election will be enough pressure to get rid of Lahoud and the mukhabarat chiefs, which is why Syria is fighting it tooth and nail. And it will become violent as Bashar has no option but to fight to the end for Lebanon.

The blunder, I think, is that Bashar figured that the Arabs wouldn't react the way they did. Internationally, it was already done. He also didn't bank on the internal Lebanese reaction either. Even if he continues to maneuver, and even if he gets a semi-favorable parliament, time is not on his side. It will be a temporary breather. In the end, he will lose the coerciveness which was the primary way he got things his way in Lebanon. That won't work anymore. The intl' community will continue to peck at him internally in Syria as well.

At 3/22/2005 12:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you sister Syria.

At 3/22/2005 01:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hariri was getting too strong !? how? where?

Based on the last municipal elections in Lebanon hariri and his tayyar al-mustqbal did not score particularly well . He even lost in Saida his hometown.

His prospects for the coming legislative elections were actually not that good , in light of the electoral law the maronite patriarch and the opposition were pushing for.

It is a custom in Lebanon and the region to mythify people once they are dead, especially if it happens dramatically. It is Incorrect to confuse the size of hariri's image before and after his assassination.

I tend to think that he somehow brought about his own death by being too outspoken about his fears of being assassinated. It might have actually highlighted the great oppurtunity for those who have a interest in creating chaos or instability in the region.

The US and it allies could never control Lebanon more than they can control Iraq with or without hariri and they know it.

Putting more and more pressure will most probably destabilise Lebanon and Israel, not Lebanon and Syria, so Bush concluded it is Best to tell the patriach and some of his hot heads to cool it off for now.

In the end , and once more , they will probably pay dearly for betting on foreign powers.

At 3/22/2005 02:40:00 PM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

I commend to everyone Tony's remarks at 12:01. Time will tell, Tony.
Also Anon 1:37 ... very interesting. 2 responses: Hairi was becoming a danger to Syria's control because he was bringing together all elements of the opposition and that made the opposition a political power that endangers Syria's hegemony. His ability at coilition building outweighs any apparent individual weakness at the polls.
As for America and its allies, there is no interest in "controlling" Lebanon (are you kidding?) but there is an interest in encouraging self determination by the people of Lebanon. Let's get the paranoia thinking out of our heads. America's influence is debatable enough without getting nonsense thrown in.
And I remind you America co-sponsored 1559 at Chirac's request who acted at Hairi's urging. Hairi then lobbied the UN to support the resolution. Hairi became a big danger to Syria's status quo in lebanon.

At 3/22/2005 03:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friend in America you must understand sarcasm right?

Secondly, someone correct me if im wrong but an international investigation team headed by the UN has completed its research? Am I correct about this? So Tony check your facts and then post.

Hariri hasnt really done much for lebanon per say, indebting it, creating chaos, and now this. The only good side he served was the gulf region who has successfully been able to purchase acres upon acres of Lebanese soil for their benefit. Funny eh? How much of Lebanon is REALLY lebanese? Isnt that a bigger problem i would fight rather than the syrians who steal a couple of light bulbs, doors and petty material and who WILL eventually leave?

At 3/22/2005 03:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friend in America you must understand sarcasm right?

Secondly, someone correct me if im wrong but an international investigation team headed by the UN has completed its research? Am I correct about this? So Tony check your facts and then post.

Hariri hasnt really done much for lebanon per say, indebting it, creating chaos, and now this. The only good side he served was the gulf region who has successfully been able to purchase acres upon acres of Lebanese soil for their benefit. Funny eh? How much of Lebanon is REALLY lebanese? Isnt that a bigger problem i would fight rather than the syrians who steal a couple of light bulbs, doors and petty material and who WILL eventually leave?

At 3/22/2005 04:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: I have asked around, and some people tell me that Marwan Hamade is a journalist by background, not an international law expert.

As far as Hariri is concerned:

1-He always felt better in power than in the opposition, so he was looking at an alliance that would make him Prime Minister again... But, parts of the opposition did not like his future program (they only agreed on 1559).

2-His money would have dwarfed everybody else in the opposition.

3-His ongoing tractations with the Head of the Hezbollah were not so secret the last six weeks before his death.

My conclusion: Wait for the Fitzgerald report to see for circumstancial evidence implicating foreign powers or local executants.

At 3/22/2005 06:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Luck on the foreign report. Doubt it will shed any light on the perpetrators. If you want a forgone conclusion, youll get one from this report. -BS

At 3/22/2005 07:25:00 PM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

I read a bomb went off north of Beirut today and another last weekend. Is this the beginning of planned "terrorism" so that Syria can claim without its presence Lebanon will fall back into civil war?
I sympathize with those who want Lebanon for the Lebanonese, including ownership of real estate. Then again, hasn't Lebanon been a playground for all of the middle east for decades? How do these get resolved?

At 3/22/2005 08:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't find a single source, pre-Hariri's assassination, that shows Hariri's fingerprints on UNR 1559. Everything I find points elsewhere. I did find Aoun whining in late January that Hariri was not vocal enough. Hardly the 'Hero Hariri defending the homeland' image being created from dust spewed out by the media and neocons of late.

And I seriously doubt that Hariri would be behind a resolution that demanded Hizballah disarm if he was trying to get popular votes in the country. That might win him the neocon Maronite vote, but would loose him quite a lot of other votes.

While the quaint theory that Hariri was behind UNR 1559, and Syria had him offed, is humorous, it lacks no credibility.

As for Syria wishing Lebanon fall into collapse, that is equally idiotic. They already have problems on their other border which causes them serious problems. Remember the Saddam-Barazani soccer match riot in Al Qamishli? Starting problems on a second border out of spite is unthinkable.

There is no large-scale organization inside Lebanon that wants Syria to stay. Hizballah only said 'go with our thanks.' They were not argueing for them to stay. Syria said they were going. Bashar knows damn well that a lot of other Lebanese (and the world) want them to go.

So stop the rhetoric.

Several of the more vocal here proudly proclaimed last week that Bush was going to announce last week that there was a cover-up from the highest levels of Syrian and Lebanese officials on the investigation...

A lie.

It must be nice to be able to write outright lies about Syria, and have no remorse, no consequence, and still post proudly as if one knows what the hell is going on.

At 3/22/2005 11:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

other voices

At 3/23/2005 01:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 16:42 GMT

Lebanon: Pro-Syrians speak

Pro-Syria supporters feel they have been misrepresented
While hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have marched on Beirut's streets calling for Syria to withdraw it troops and end its influence in the country, hundreds of thousands have also marched in support of Syria.
The BBC News website and spoke to three Lebanese who are either opposed to the pullout of Syrian troops or feel that the issue has been misrepresented.


Ahmed, 27, Beirut, Lebanon
I was at the pro-Syria protests.

There were enormous numbers there, the people are fed up with what the opposition is saying, that it is claiming to represented the majority when it doesn't.

I was embarrassed to go to the city centre and I was afraid of being accused of killing Hariri

We heard curses and bad words from the opposition supporters against us, they said all Shia are with Syria and everyone else is against them. But that is not true, there are many Maronites [Christian sect] and other Christians with us.

The atmosphere was reaching a point where everyone was about to explode. I was embarrassed to go to the city centre and I was afraid of being accused of killing Hariri.

Our protest helped re-establish balance and show there are other people in the country who feel the same way.

The opposition doesn't have the right to determine the future of the country, its views are very extremist and it used what we call the "earthquake" of Hariri's assassination to apply an agenda.

As for the Americans, it's not that they want civil war here, but we Arabs haven't forgotten what the US did in Lebanon.

Even if America had good intentions its possible involvement would create a disaster.

Eyewitness: Anti-Syria demos
Your views: Lebanon crisis

As for the [anti-Syrian] demonstration on Monday 14 March - we have many witnesses who saw the techniques they used to increase the numbers of people.

The protesters would stand far apart so they could cover a huge area or have people go in and out of the barriers repeatedly to show a continuous flow of people.

They wanted to show they deserve to be in full control.

The opposition groups agree on two or three things but there are splits, plus there are small extremist groups within each area of the opposition trying to take advantage of the big group to push their agenda.

This is dangerous for Lebanon, but overall, I think and I hope everything will be OK.

There are many leaders in the opposition who are very wise and good people, for example Hariri's sister, and many Christian leaders are very respectful. These voices will not accept a civil war.

They will be the voice of reason against those extremists and racists in the opposition.

Abed Abdallah, 27 from Lebanon, living in UK
The protesters are not succeeding in getting the troops out, they are creating feelings of hatred between Syria and Lebanon.

The Syrians never told us how to vote, they never told us 'you have to elect this guy'

How can you get the troops out if people are going to the demonstrations and spitting and swearing at [Syrian President] Assad?

As for the US, it wants a civil war all over again, so it can interfere and do whatever it wants. Why doesn't the US bring democracy to Saudi Arabia, or to Egypt?

I do not hate Syria. But why is the US so enthusiastic for Syria to leave when they originally wanted them there?

Whenever we Lebanese went to the UN to ask for help in our dealings with Israel, for example, the US would always veto it. Why? Because politicians in the US fear if they go against Israel they will not get elected.

And the opposition is creating another era of sectarianism. We had war for 25 years and occupation for 30 years. Now the White House apparently does not believe this is enough.

We don't hate the US, believe me. We hate their government's policies. I am a Muslim Arab but I am in no way fundamentalist. I respect all religions, all races.

But I have to be fair to my brother and my neighbour.

We have agreements with the Syrians, if we ask them to leave we should do so in a political manner.

The Syrian government has no interest in killing Hariri, even Hezbollah hasn't. The Lebanese see Hezbollah as genuine resistance, not as a terror group.

Ironically, the Syrians never told us how to vote, they never told us "you have to elect this guy".

Tariq Shams, 31, Nabateya, Lebanon
The relationship between Lebanon and Syria is based on vital mutual interests and a united national destiny.

It's in the interests of Lebanon to maintain the presence of the Syrian army - it is the first line of defence for both Lebanon and Syria in the Bekaa Valley

This was demonstrated strongly in south Lebanon during the war of liberation from Israeli occupation, when Syria backed the Lebanese resistance.

Before that there was a series of Syrian initiatives from the 1970s till today which aimed for a democratic settlement for the Lebanese crisis.

All this meant the creation of an integral relationship in different fields, such as the economy, defence and international relations.

I think all of this was beneficial for Lebanon. Peace in Syria means peace for Lebanon and vice versa.

It's in the interests of Lebanon to maintain the presence of the Syrian army - it is the first line of defence for both Lebanon and Syria in the Bekaa Valley.


Send us your comments on this story using the form below.

Your comments:

I think most Americans would wish the Lebanese people success in resolving their problems themselves, peacefully and free of interference from any outside powers whether Syrian, American or otherwise.
Scott Westwood, Port Orchard, WA, USA

Lebanon has earned the right for complete self determination. Syria in the past has been a welcomed stabilising factor, but there is a new dawn, a new era in the Middle East, one which it is hoped will bring peace and co-operation between its many nations.
David Georgiou, Princeton, NJ USA

What is truly amazing is how quickly it turned into a religious divide. Sunni/Druze/Christians on one side and the Shia who actually freed Lebanese soil from occupation on the other. Where were the Sunni/Druze/Christians when the real fight was on? I did not see anyone demonstrating for a free Lebanon when Israel was occupying parts of south Lebanon. Hopefully we will get a truly democratic Lebanon with representation in parliament mirroring the population. Do you think the Sunni/Druze/Christians will want democracy then? I bet you not.
Ibrahim Akar, Jwaya, Lebanon

It is not a question of being a pro-Syrian or anti-Syrian. There are some faces in the so-called Lebanese opposition who make you very nervous. Faces that were involved in the bloody civil war and new faces which classify a large section of "pro-Syrian" Lebanese as sheep. Such statements are considered racist in the civilised world. You cannot be a true believer in democracy with such a sectarian background. As a Lebanese who is also a British subject, I strongly believe that with the current schools of political thinking the Lebanese are unfit to have a viable democratic state. Some Lebanese think they are more equal than others.
Sabra, Beirut, Lebanon

Reading the comments of these Lebanese people is confirmation that reason and clear thinking does exist in the Middle East, and that left alone people can take care of themselves. Their comments were clear, factual and insightful as to how they see things, without being accusatory.
M. Clark, UK/US

I agree with all of the three writers. The USA must leave Lebanon alone. Talk of double standards, Saudi Arabia (America's best friend in the Middle East) has got no respect for human rights and democracy, so why should the Americans lecture the Syrians and Lebanese on democracy?
Colin Muchirahondo, Gweru, Zimbabwe

Pro-Syrian sentiments clearly shows how much damage the Syrian presence in Lebanon has inflicted on some Lebanese. They have indeed forgotten their national identity and are comfortable to be puppets to a foreign regime. It is ironic that all Hezbollah areas are actually free of Syrian soldiers and influence, yet they wish for them to stay, as long as it is not on Shia lands. They wave the Lebanese flag but hold pictures of foreign presidents during parades, which is a most disgraceful stand by some Lebanese at a time their fellow Lebanese are peacefully attempting to simply achieve freedom and independence. We can have normal relations with Syria with lots of brotherly love, but starting at the international borders.
Nader Wehbe, Michigan, USA

The Shia in Lebanon are indeed a majority, but they feel that they still need Syrian protection. Syria is glad to provide such role because it gives them "legitimate" influence there. Syria has always considered Lebanon part of Syria and Beirut has traditionally been the port city for Damascus.
Mateusz Minski, Boston, MA

None of the three people interviewed stated why Lebanon still needs to have foreign troops within in its borders but rely on past loyalties to justify current positions. The world changes - thank goodness.
Marcus, Hong Kong

It is a shame the opposition to keep arguing over things that are in the interest of their country. It is time for these people to look back at their country's history and think of where they would lead their country to. This is a matter for every Lebanese and not only a small group of people who think they are going on the right path, because they are leading a lot of innocent Lebanese with them in the wrong path.

It is unfortunate this had to come down to the Syrians leaving Lebanon under threat from the UN. The opposition, or a big part of it, has been begging Syria to straighten the relationship with Lebanon. They did not back off and kept insulting the Lebanese. The Assad regime left no other way for the Lebanese to seek freedom. It is unfortunate but this is how regimes and their puppets pay the price for their greed and mistakes.
Dan, Beirut

At 3/23/2005 10:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Clinton on Hariri's murder H

Bashar Assad ordered the death of Rafiq Hariri. Bashar Assad is in control of Syria.

People in the media should stop making up infantile excuses by saying the real power behind Bashar Assad killed Hariri. Assad is the power.

There are also people, who think you need to give Bashar Assad incentives to behave more responsibly, to make him stop supporting terrorists in Lebanon and Israel. This is nonsense. It took me almost eight years to understand that our way of thinking is not their way of thinking. Their way, I mean a country’s dictator’s way of thinking.

A dictator wants to stay in power. That’s all. A dictator doesn’t care about his population, war, peace. He only wants to stay in power. Everything else is negotiable.

At 3/23/2005 12:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To no name: 10: 35
Eight years to comprehend how the west cares about the peace and the population in the ME? Wow what an effort!!! So, now you understand how the US cares about Iraq and the people of Iraq.
Eight years of understanding the Palestinian-Lebanese (Real Lebanese Patriots) struggle against the expansionist Zionists. And now you call the last men standing in Lebanon terrorists?!
Eight years of close observation to all these given lesser Passes to the Syrian regime from the west and the US in particular! And now you adopt “their way of thinking” the democratic way!

Great Job

At 3/23/2005 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to: anon 12:02

I was merely reporting what Clinton said. I don’t agree with him labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization. They are in danger of turning into an enforcer to the Assad regime though. The people standing in Lebanon are those who are demanding a free, democratic Lebanon where ones idea and political affiliations should not get them murdered.

I am not sure what you meant with “adopting their way of thinking”. I opposed the war on Iraq, defended and still defend the rights of Palestinians, I spent my summers when I was a student doing volunteer work in refugee camps (Sabra and chatilla). If by “their way thinking” you mean that I want Lebanon to be free of Syrian influence, then yes! Having lived under the mukhabarat’s reign of terror and lived in Canada. I prefer their way of thinking.
If the Syrian regime cared about anything beyond their selfish interest they would have stopped interfering in Lebanese internal affairs in 1992. Most Lebanese would have been thankful and forgave the infractions committed by them during the war. But the crude forced extension of Lahoud mandate, and of course the murder of Hariri have totally alienated most Lebanese. Those who argue that the Syrians did not kill Hariri are living a fantasy. The record is pretty clear, Kamal Jumblatt, Rene Mouawad, the Grand Mufti, and Hariri all assassinated after fallout with the Syrian regime.

At 3/23/2005 01:33:00 PM, Anonymous Ibrahim (Ibouba) said...

The Syrian/Lebanese Intelligence Services have struck again: It is clear that the latest Kaslik bombing as well as the New Jdeideh bombing are nothing more than scare tactics. They're occurring at night to show people what the Syrian/Leb agents are capable of without inflicting maximum casualties. Obviously this is a message to the opposition to tone down its rhetoric. Since this message will not be tolerated by the opposition, they will probably escalate their attacks at one point or another to inflict more human losses (i.e. crowded daytime locations). And of course, the Lebanese security services will never find out who's behind these attacks because they'll be chasing their own tail.

At 3/23/2005 02:51:00 PM, Anonymous Ghassan said...

Can't say it better, "Annoymous at 10:35 AM!" Yes, the dictator’s way of thinking is: He wants to stay in power. That’s all. He doesn’t care about his population, war, peace. He only wants to stay in power. Everything else is negotiable! I lived in Lebanon under the Syrian occupation and saw their treatment! Also, I have been here in the US for more than 30 years and trust me I don't like to be humiliated even by my own family! I am not saying that the life here is prefect (I believe that it is prefect only in Heaven!) but do you like to live under mukhabart that are working as pimps and mafia? If yes, move to Syria!

At 3/24/2005 03:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon at 8:15 pm
If anyone knows who is behind the terror in Iraq, he would know who is behind Hariri's murder...

At 3/24/2005 06:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What terror are you talking about? The American induced reaction to their occupation?

At 3/25/2005 08:57:00 AM, Anonymous Friend in America said...

I don't know where my freinds Anon
8:15 and 3:16 are coming from. The fact that al Hairi urged Chirac to act, even meeting with him, and that America was then asked to join on sponsoring 1559 was well publicised in news reports released at the time. He literally went to the UN in New York and lobbied for its passage. The fact also is that Bashar personaly threatened al Hairi with physical harm if he did not back off (see the UN investigation report).
There also have been over a dozen statements by Damascus since the passage of 1559 that without Syria's control of Lebanon, Lebanon will fall back into civil war and thererfore Syria must stay. The best way to prove that is to have some violence. And that started this past weekend.
The UN's inspector's report has been released. It finds Lebanonese security fully infiltrated and totally controlled by Syrian intellegence, and the so called Lebanese "investigation" of the al Hairi assassination to be a totally inept bit of police work, with action taken by Lebanonese security that were the steps one would take if a cover up was desired. Now, who benefits from that? The assassins, of course. Who has the power to issue such an order? Not some 20 year old Palestinian student desiring to checkmate Saudi Arabia.
The evidence is still circumstantial but the conclusion is as obvious as the fingers on our hands.

At 4/02/2005 12:54:00 AM, Blogger Mike_Nargizian said...

I'm loving reading you, Tony and now Syria exposed. With Head Heeb its a nice rounded out version of real academic debate and give and take....
So why are you still at this point even showing any deference whatsoever to Juan Cole?
If you want a contrarian point of view I'm sure you can find it from an actually somewhat credible source?
Not an agenda driven partisan who is propagandish, academically dishonest and embarrassing to himself when his propaganda 'story telling' is exposed as sloppy poor 'scholorship'.

And I haven't even mentioned his abundant use of labels to try and shut out any criticism or opposing viewpoints. I believe that's what the Arabists accuse the "zionists" of.... lol....

Need I go on?



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