Hezbollah’s Media Relations

Don’t miss Michael Totten:

Michael Young has a terrific article in Reason magazine about the collateral damage (as he put it) in think tanks, academia, and the media after the assassination of Hezbollah Commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. He zeroes in on leftist icons Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein for their full-throated support for the Syrian- and Iranian-backed terrorist […]

Lebanon's Terror War

Captain Wissam Eid was murdered by car bomb in East Beirut by someone who wasn’t happy with his investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He had compiled evidence linking the Syrian state to that killing.

Abu Kais writes at From Beirut to the Beltway:

You know the situation is desperate when the man investigating unsolvable crimes is mysteriously assassinated in broad daylight. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, yet those measures are no where in sight. The killing machine continues unabated, amid useless condemnations and grandiose and meaningless announcements about the future of the country.

Very few of us knew Wissam Eid. He worked in the police’s intelligence unit, reportedly in counterterrorism. Terrorism in Lebanon is the nickname for acts sponsored by Syrian intelligence, and their contractors in the fundamentalist world. Wissam was probably involved in Lebanon’s “war on terror”, which, mind you, was never officially declared.

[more from Michael Totten]

Syria invades Lebanon (part 2) again

A land grab proportionally equivalent to a foreign power occupying Arizona.

As of this minute, Syria occupies at least 177 square miles of Lebanese soil. That you are now reading about it for the first time is as much a scandal as the occupation itself.

The news comes by way of a fact-finding survey of the Lebanese-Syrian border just produced by the International Lebanese Committee for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559, an American NGO that has consultative status with the U.N. Because of the sensitivity of the subject, the authors have requested anonymity and have circulated the report only among select government officials and journalists. But its findings cannot be ignored.

A scandal indeed. BTW, Michael Totten published the first alert.

Syria Invades Lebanon

Meanwhile, the Syrian government is evacuating its citizens from Lebanon in advance of…something they expect to happen after July 15, 2007.

Michael Totten

…The sources said Syrian troops, backed by bulldozers, were fortifying positions “in more than one area” along the Lebanese border, erecting earth mounds and digging “hundreds” of trenches and individual bunkers.

This happened immediately before I left town for two days. When I returned I was surprised to find no mention of this whatsoever anywhere else in the media. I assumed the story had to be false. How could Syria invade three kilometers into any region of Lebanon without triggering a diplomatic and media storm?

So I emailed Michael Young, opinion page editor at Beirut’s Daily Star, and asked him if the story was nonsense. “It is true,” he said, “but the problem is that the 3 kilometers are in isolated areas, so that it isn’t making headlines. However, the UN will be discussing border issues this week, I think, and that will be brought up. The Syrians are ratcheting up the pressure, but with the attack against UN troops in the south, they are, as one UN official put it, playing with fire.”

If Israel sent the IDF three kilometers into Lebanon and started digging trenches and building bunkers it would make news all over the world. But Syria does it and everyone shrugs. Hardly anyone even knows it happened at all.

Syria can, apparently, get away with just about anything. I could hardly blame Assad at this point if he believes, after such an astonishing non-response, that he can reconquer Beirut. So far he can kill and terrorize and invade and destroy with impunity, at least up to a point. What is that point? Has anyone in the U.S., Israel, the Arab League, the European Union, or the United Nations even considered the question?

"Everyday Jihad"

“Everyday Jihad” is an example of the kind of scholarship 9/11 should have produced.

Interesting commentary by Michael Young on Bernard Rougier’s new book “Everday Jihad”.

Bernard Rougier is the kind of scholar of political Islam that 9/11 should have created. A Frenchman who teaches political science at the Université d’Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, he is fluent in Arabic and is willing to supplement his theoretical knowledge with analytical creativity and intrepid reporting. His “Everyday Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam Among Palestinians in Lebanon” looks at a fascinating, under-investigated microcosm of the Islamist landscape.

This looks very interesting, but probably a specialist’s book.

Farewell Fatah al-Islam

Gabriel Schoenfeld describes how Lebanon is fighting to expel their Palestinian terrorists.

“A crime of especial notoriety,” is what the Guardian called it in 2002 when Israel entered a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank city of Jenin to root out terrorists who had organized a suicide bombing that killed 29 at their seder tables in a hotel in Netanya on the first night of Passover. In all, 52 Palestinians, almost all of them terrorists, died in this supposed genocide, while Israel, in a costly effort to to conduct itself in the most humane fashion possible, lost 23 soldiers of its own.

In Tripoli right now, the Lebanese army is pounding a Palestinian refugee camp with tank shells and other heavy weapons far less discriminating in their lethal effects than anything fired by Israeli ground troops in Jenin—and many Lebanese are cheering them on. The choir of Europeans and American leftists who routinely champion the Palestinian cause is strangely silent—or maybe not so strangely silent. Perhaps their real interest lies not in defending Palestinian rights but in bashing Israel—and Israel, of course, is not engaged in this particular fray.

Pratfall in Damascus: When a dilettante takes on Hizbullah

…Perhaps Pelosi and other foreign officials will understand this simple equation one day, after again failing to persuade Assad to sell Hizbullah out. Unfortunately, foreign bigwigs come to town, their domestic calculations in hand; then they leave, and we’re left picking up the pieces.

Michael Young, opinion editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star explains in more depth the consequences for Lebanon of Pelosi’s clowning:

We can thank the US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for having informed Syrian President Bashar Assad, from Beirut, that “the road to solving Lebanon’s problems passes through Damascus.” Now, of course, all we need to do is remind Pelosi that the spirit and letter of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions, as well as Saudi and Egyptian efforts in recent weeks, have been destined to ensure precisely the opposite: that Syria end its meddling in Lebanese affairs.

Pelosi embarked on a fool’s errand to Damascus this week, and among the issues she said she would raise with Assad – when she wasn’t on the Lady Hester Stanhope tour in the capital of imprisoned dissidents Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, and Anwar Bunni – is “the role of Syria in supporting Hamas and Hizbullah.” What the speaker doesn’t seem to have realized is that if Syria is made an obligatory passage in American efforts to address the Lebanese crisis, then Hizbullah will only gain. Once Assad is re-anointed gatekeeper in Lebanon, he will have no incentive to concede anything, least of all to dilettantes like Pelosi, on an organization that would be Syria’s enforcer in Beirut if it could re-impose its hegemony over its smaller neighbor.


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Pratfall in Damascus: Nancy Pelosi's foolish shuttle diplomacy

Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

Today’s Washington Post editorial could have said much more about the cascading Pelosi blunders — but foolish is an excellent one-word summary…

foolish: adjective (of a person or action) lacking good sense or judgment; unwise

HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that “Israel was ready to engage in peace talks” with Syria. What’s more, she added, Mr. Assad was ready to “resume the peace process” as well. Having announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. “We expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace between Israel and Syria,” she said.

Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with no such message. “What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does not contain any change in the policies of Israel,” said a statement quickly issued by the prime minister’s office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told Ms. Pelosi that “a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel.” In other words, Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel’s position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad’s words were mere propaganda.

…As any diplomat with knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr. Bush’s military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi’s attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish.

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Michael Totten interviews Walid Jumblatt

Not to be missed:

I met the wizened Druze warlord and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt during Hezbollah’s ongoing slow-motion putsch to topple Lebanon’s government. No other high-profile “March 14” leader matches Jumblatt’s fierce opposition to Syria’s Assad regime, its Iranian patron, and its Hezbollah proxy militia. He spends most of his time in his castle at Mukhtara high above Beirut in the Chouf mountains, but he took time out between meeting members of the Socialist International at his house in the capital to meet me for coffee in his salon.

…“Do you think if the Assad regime is removed by force,” I said, “that Syria would have the same kind of problems Iraq has?”

“I don’t think so,” he said. “They don’t have the same problem like Iraq. They don’t have an ethnic problem in Syria. Not all the Syrians are Muslim Brotherhood. You have the Muslim Brotherhood, you have the Arabs, you have the Turks, you have Turkmens, you have the Kurds. I think Syria is a different phenomenon than Iraq. And you have also the army. Syria of course is now robbed, is captured, is kidnapped by Bashar and his clique.”

…“Does the Shebba Farms really belong to Lebanon,” I said, “or is this a Syrian ploy?”

The Shebba Farms is a tiny area occupied by Israel that is recognized by the United Nations as Syrian land, as a part of the Golan Heights. But Hezbollah claims the Shebba Farms are Lebanese as a justification for their violent “resistance.”

It is a Hezbollah ploy. When Israel withdrew from South Lebanon in 2000, Hezbollah didn’t raise the issue of the Shebba Farms until after the United Nations approved Israel’s full withdrawal. Hezbollah requires some outstanding issue between Israel and Lebanon, legitimate or manufactured, as an excuse to exist as a state-within-a-state and an illegal warmongering militia.

The same goes with the Syrians. Totalitarian rule based on the “Emergency Law” is supposedly necessary because of the unending war with Israel to retrieve the Golan. Israeli withdrawal from occupied territory knocks out the supports from underneath terrorist and Arab dictatorship propaganda. Assad can’t have it, and neither can Hezbollah. There always has to be more to demand.

“Officially speaking [Shebba Farms] doesn’t belong to Lebanon,” Jumblatt said. “It’s up to the Syrian government to acknowledge officially that Shebba Farms is Lebanese, to sign with the Lebanese government a document. This document should be sent later on to the United Nations. In such a case Shebba Farms would be Lebanese. But Shebba Farms is not Lebanese.”

On the Top Floor of Lebanon’s Civil Society

I asked Eli questions like these because he knows the Lebanese “street” better than almost anyone else in the world. He is paid a lot of money at his consulting firm for his advice, and he has hard data to back up what he says. He is not just mouthing off, and what he says comports well with my own readings of the country after living there and visiting several times.

Fascinating! Michael Totten interviews Eli Khoury, CEO of the advertising firm Saatchi and Saatchi. I learned more about Lebanese politics here than anything I’ve seen in the MSM since the March 14 Revolution.

No excerpts – just get over to Michael’s site and read the whole thing. Then hit Michael’s Paypal button.