Elections, Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

A Return to Arms

It took them a while, but Lebanon’s March 14th coalition has finally gotten around to officially opting out of Najib Miqati’s government. Let no one imagine that this has actually made Miqati’s job any easier: it has been clear for the past several weeks that the major obstacles to this latest round of cabinet formation politics have nothing to do with the challenges that beset Saad al-Hariri’s effort in 2009. This time, it’s all about Michel Aoun and his desire to land the coveted Interior Ministry, which very few politicians — even among his own allies — are particularly jazzed about.

All eyes are on the parliamentary elections of 2013. With electoral issues (from districting to registration to long-awaited reforms like pre-printed ballots) in the hands of the Free Patriotic Movement, Jumblatt would have to worry about his own backyard, Berri would be eyeing Jezzine, and President Sleiman could kiss his chances to bless a successful “independent” Christian slate in the Metn goodbye. It’s not a little deal, hence the political gridlock.

So, now that Hariri and co. are out of a job, whatever do you suppose they plan to do with themselves? Answer: organize a huge rally downtown on March 14th protesting Hezbollah’s arms. On the face of it, it’s not a bad idea; revolution is in the air these days, and the unemployed and disgruntled youth of Lebanon’s cities have no decrepit dictators to rebel against. Sectarianism is too squishy a target, so weapons it is!

Here’s a question, though: which weapons are objectionable? Hariri’s latest speech left me a little confused on this score. On the one hand, he’s anti-weapons, but on the other, he’s pro-resistance. What does that mean? And what is he suggesting Hizbullah should do? Hand over its pistols, bowie knives, and slingshots, but hold on to its 9M133 AT-14 tank killers and C802 anti-ship missiles? Most Lebanese I know who have a problem with the “weapons issue” are not worried about being killed by a Hizbullah fighter firing an AK-47; they’re worried about their house being flattened by an Israeli F-16 retaliating against the Hizbullah fighter with the AK-47.

So let me just say that I’m not on the edge of my seat, awaiting the results of March 14th’s latest publicity gambit, the so-called “referendum on Hezbollah’s weapons”. It seems to me that this is a pretty straightforward issue to campaign on, and yet they always manage to sound like they don’t really know what they are in favor of.

I hope to have an interesting interview with Gary Gambill for y’all, later this week. In the meantime, let’s have some fun with a poll.

Discussion

220 thoughts on “A Return to Arms

  1. continued …

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 8, 2011, 3:50 pm
  2. Rani

    Where are you getting those facts? Fairy land
    In 1948 as documented by every historian even Israelis the Arab armies Limited their activities to the areas of PALESTINE that were destined to become part of the Palestinian state under the partition plan of the UN. The Arab armies did not unvade Israel to destroy it .
    It was the Israelis who invaded the parts that were not even destined for them that is how they ended up with most if the land.
    No matter how many times you repeat a lie it does not become truth

    Posted by Elsheikh | March 8, 2011, 3:56 pm
  3. Just for the record,

    The terrorist mullah regime of Ayran used today live amunition and tear gas against its own people.

    Would you, supporters of this entity of mullah-Iran, spare us your pontifications? You guys are ridiculous, particularly those ‘mullah-beatified’ among you.

    Posted by anonymous | March 8, 2011, 4:00 pm
  4. Apartheid cannot be fought through religion.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 8, 2011, 4:18 pm
  5. anonymous (203)

    who’s pontificating let’s see Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan Morocco Tunisia Algeria and Southern Sudan (the new country that idiot Bashir accepted so that he gets a pass from the so called international tribunal) anybody notice that his indictment on war crimes is not in the news anymore.
    Before you start talking about Iran and Syria (we know you do not support them so criticizing them earns you no point ) let’s see you starting to condemn and act against the above so called moderates in the Middle east. Those propped by Israel and its lone supporter in the world these days.

    In order to understand the scope of the change in the region go look up the new foreign minister of Egypt.
    Then read the Op ed pages of the new york times

    Posted by elsheikh | March 8, 2011, 4:26 pm
  6. How can anyone talk to hypocrites who do not know when they pontificate, which is ALL THE TIME? It is useless.

    Posted by anonymous | March 8, 2011, 4:32 pm
  7. This site has begun to attract some deranged people over the last few months. If they are representative of a sizable part of your local population, it would be advisable to go short Lebanon and long canned food.

    Posted by dontgetit | March 8, 2011, 4:49 pm
  8. elsheikh #205

    1) Two wrongs don’t make a right. Syria and Iran do not get a free pass simply because there are other bad regimes out there.

    2) Your argument is null and void. You say “let’s see you start condeming those moderate regimes.” I’m pretty sure a vast majority of us here have already done exactly that. We’ve been criticizing both the “moderate Arab regimes” as well as Syria and Iran. Not to mention the Lebanese confessional system and HA’s weapons. Some of us here have the brains to criticize BOTH sides as opposed to those here who continue to resort to empty rethoric like the one exhibited in your comment.

    Just look back through our comments and you’ll see that we criticize both sides because we know that just because we don’t like black doesn’t mean white is ok. Only silly people choose one side and are unable to see anything beyond “the other side is bad”.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 8, 2011, 5:38 pm
  9. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

    This says it all.

    No rational and humane person will condone or justify any criminal act, be it bombing of civilian targets, wanton assassinations that are indiscriminate towards “collateral damage,” or the random punishment of innocent civilians.
    No matter which country or party is the perpetrator, it is wrong.

    The most effective defense and assertion of identity and liberty has historically been the Ghandi-like approach. I have never seen it in action in the Arab world.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 8, 2011, 5:59 pm
  10. Saint and elsheikh, I am not an apologist for Israel. Yet, realism and a smart approach to what will get to the best peaceful solution to the benefit of all is the only way to achieve real progress. We have seen what hollow bravado and demonization of Israel achieve. Just look at Gaza as but one example. There are some who adopt the principled approach that sooner or later, even if takes a century or two, all wrongs will be redressed, Israel will no longer exist, and who knows what other utopia would rule the Middle East. We have seen what happens to those who espouse such a belief.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 8, 2011, 6:22 pm
  11. elsheikh –

    “pray tell me what was the trigger for the 1997 commando attack?”

    answer:
    August 8, 1997: Fighting broke out on the Israel-Lebanon border when guerrillas fired rockets into northern Israel and Israeli warplanes struck back

    “what was the trigger for the 1993 attack?”

    answer:
    July 25, 1993: Guerrillas fired rockets into Israel.
    July 27, 1993: Israeli guns and aircraft pounded southern Lebanon in reprisal for rocket attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas.

    HP’s post #191 was 100% right. You ask for unconditional withdrawal from the Shebaa farms. Let’s say the Israelis do just that. Who would they hand the Shebaa Farms to? UN, Lebanon, or Syria?

    re-read post #191 in its entirety, compare it to your #199, then may be, just may be, you’ll start to understand the definition of the term “pontification”.

    Posted by htj | March 8, 2011, 6:25 pm
  12. elsheikh wrote (205):
    “Southern Sudan (the new country that idiot Bashir accepted so that he gets a pass from the so called international tribunal) anybody notice that his indictment on war crimes is not in the news anymore.”

    This is an odd reading of history. Bashir accepted the referendum in 2005 as part of the peace deal. The indictment is not in the news because nothing is happening. That was always going to be the case. The court might issue an indictment but it doesn’t have its own police force. Bashir just has to watch where he goes on holidays.

    However, your position against the partition of Sudan is more extraordinary. Bashir should be condemned for his treatment of the south, not for his acceptance of its secession. The oil-rich south, from which the Bashir regime has pulled its wealth, is about the size of France and has only 50km of paved roads. Its infant mortality rates are staggering. The south has freed itself from the racial and religious apartheid of the Bashir regime. That is worthy of support.

    Posted by Jonathan | March 8, 2011, 6:33 pm
  13. HP,

    you have to be kidding me, I won’t get into mohammad al durra, rachel corrie, turkih flotilla protesting against an illegal blockage, Omar al-Qawasmeh an unarmed 65-year-old Palestinian man murdered in his sleep by the IDF in a case of mistaken identity. These cases won’t pass your litmus test because there was probably some provocation that excuses Israel.

    I also won’t talk about the Mansoori ambulance bombing during the grapes of wrath operation. Mind you an ambulance filled with women and children fleeing the fighting during the grapes of wrath operation in 1970′s era volvo ambulance. Although I’ve never heard of an ambulance outfitted with anti aircraft weapons I’m sure the IDF apache helicopter deemed my fellow villagers a threat too great to be ignored, and it would be ok just that one time to break international law for the sake of Israeli security. Again Israel was provoked by Hezbollah, and the people of south Lebanon should have been thankful that Israel was maintaining a buffer zone on their land.

    So lets get to your question
    “Name one offensive action by Israel that was not in response to a provocation. Just one.”

    I could use a plethora of Palestinian/Leftist sources but I don’t want to be accused of being biased so I will try to cite a few examples using an Israeli source as biased as it may be.

    “77 Palestinians who died following an infringement of the right to medical treatment in the Occupied Territories” Does the IDF not man the checkpoints? As an occupying force does Israel not have obligations under international law to the populace of that respective territory? Is leaving people to die at a checkpoint not an offensive action without a provocation?

    lets take this example “Soldiers’ gunfire wounds Nidal al-Hasumi on two separate occasions while he was collecting gravel near the Gaza-Israel perimeter fence, Summer 2010
    Nidal Sha’ban Muhammad al-Hasumi”

    HP tell me is collecting rocks a provacation, yea he should of probably learned the first time.

    Israeli navy shoots and wounds Muhammad Musleh, fishing off the Rafah shore, 5 October 2008
    Muhammad Jihad Rizeq Musleh

    Maybe his little fishing boat had a sophisticated cruise missle that could of threatened the Israeli navy’s boat

    IDF soldiers shoot 7 year-old to death in al-Yamun, Jenin district, March 2006
    Kamal ‘Izzat Taher Zaid

    I’ve seen some scary looking 7 year olds that could have provoked the Israeli military.

    http://www.btselem.org/english/statistics/casualties_data.asp?Category=21&region=TER

    http://www.btselem.org/English/Testimonies/Index.asp?TF=10

    Posted by tamer k. | March 8, 2011, 7:52 pm
  14. HTJ
    to correct your information

    on July 25, 1993, following Hezbollah’s killing of seven Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon, Israel launched Operation Accountability (known in Lebanon as the Seven Day War), during which the IDF carried out their heaviest artillery and air attacks on targets in southern Lebanon since 1982. The aim of the operation was to eradicate the threat posed by Hezbollah and to force the civilian population north to Beirut so as to put pressure on the Lebanese Government to restrain Hezbollah.[133] The fighting ended when an unwritten understanding was agreed to by the warring parties. Apparently, the 1993 understanding provided that Hezbollah combatants would not fire rockets at northern Israel, while Israel would not attack civilians or civilian targets in Lebanon

    As for the entire July story you can read it here

    http://www.chomsky.info/articles/199309–.htm

    Posted by elsheikh | March 8, 2011, 8:49 pm
  15. htj,

    In 1993 Israel was already aggressing against Lebanon, having occupied the South illegally for 17 years, in contravention of international law and UN resolutions. It was already killing, detaining and torturing Southerners on their own land. Does that count for anything in your dictionary?

    Posted by Saint | March 8, 2011, 9:02 pm
  16. “We have seen what hollow bravado and demonization of Israel achieve.”

    Seriously HP? Are you guys on this planet? And we are the ones disconnected from reality?

    Good night folks

    Posted by Saint | March 8, 2011, 9:04 pm
  17. Saint, just to be clear, we are not debating here history or idealistic solutions, but rather practical ways forward to acjieve the best outcome and best life/opportunity for the people of region. Within that prism:
    - what has Hamas achieved for its people?
    - what has Palestinian leadership achieved for its people?
    - what has HA achieved for Lebanon from 2001 to 2011?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 9, 2011, 9:44 am
  18. As we see in the revolutions taking place the problems in the Arab world are not created nor caused by Israel.
    Imagine, for the sake of argument, that Israel dude not exist. Then what? Paradise on earth in the Arab world?
    For too long now Israel has been used as an excuse by depots, tyrants, and fanatical extremist groups to perpetuate their power. The gig is up.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 9, 2011, 9:54 am
  19. Sorry for typos above. They ARE typos, courtesy “smart phone” autocorrect.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 9, 2011, 9:57 am
  20. @Honest Patriot

    LOL ! “As arabs have other problems than the zionist regime, then the zionist regime is not the problem”.

    HAHAHAH, that’s logic right there.

    Also, LOL at lebanese thinking that the biggest issue is their political system.

    Posted by noflasgnoanthems | March 14, 2011, 7:18 am

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