Lebanon

Muhanna Commentary on Wissam al-Hassan for NYT, Guardian

I’ve written a piece about the complicated legacy of Wissam al-Hassan for the NY Times global opinion page. I had written an alternative ending for the piece that didn’t make it in because of time constraints, but I’ll work it up into a new post and maybe publish it tomorrow.

Also, here’s something I taped for The Guardian earlier this morning (fresh with the sounds of the Brown University cafeteria in the background…)

**

The Many Faces of Wissam al-Hassan

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — The target of last Friday’s massive car bomb on a quiet side street of Beirut was a puzzling candidate for assassination.

True, Wissam al-Hassan was one of Lebanon’s most important security chiefs, the head of the powerful Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces (I.S.F.) and a major figure in the murky world of Lebanese intelligence. But unlike most other assassination targets over the past seven years, he was not a politician.

Lebanese security chiefs survive by making themselves valuable to many different parties. While Hassan was known for his close ties to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the Western-backed anti-Syrian political coalition known as the March 14th movement, he was also skilled at navigating the treacherous terrain between Beirut and Damascus. If in death he has become another totem in March 14th’s macabre pantheon of assassinated public figures, in life he was more complex, a key node within the web of shifting alliances that belie the divisions of Lebanese politics. (keep reading)

Discussion

29 thoughts on “Muhanna Commentary on Wissam al-Hassan for NYT, Guardian

  1. Elias,

    Thanks for this.

    Also:

    If in death he has become another totem in March 14th’s macabre pantheon of assassinated public figures, in life he was more complex, a key node within the web of shifting alliances that belie the divisions of Lebanese politics.

    You have a way with words second to none. Kudos.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 22, 2012, 11:57 am
  2. Shukran 3azizi Gabriel

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 22, 2012, 11:58 am
  3. Rare and always pleasing to read balanced opinions on Lebanese political events, especially for us on the outside. The accusation on Samaha still sounds preposterous today. Aside from the contorted logistics (sourcing explosives from Syria and not Lebanon, engaging in explosives traffic at 70 years old when you can have anyone do it for you) Michel Samaha always appeared an intelligent man with no history of violence (unlike a great number of Lebanese politicians roaming free – Geagea, Jumblatt, Nasrallah, Berri, etc). When Samaha was arrested, many were surprised by the lack of support from his allies. Today, many are claiming that it was the calm before the storm, with last Friday’s event in Ashrafiyeh being directly linked to the Samaha case, as the “revenge” of Al Assad for the arrest of Samaha. I find it hard to believe that the Syrian President would bomb out a neighborhood to avenge the arrest of a supporter. Believing so infuses sentiment to a relationship that was purely based on joint political and more importantly ideological interests. Samaha might have been a useful ally, but bombing Beirut will not bring him out of jail. On the contrary, it might even make matters worse for him. Believing that Al Assad feels sorry for his friend would be to recognize some humanity for a person who many will agree does not deserve it. And if it was to prove that he still has the upper hand, then the argument immediately dissolves itself by contrasting it to the extremely amateurish Samaha plot. Based on this reasoning, Syria and link to Samaha would appear unlikely

    Posted by nicolas | October 22, 2012, 3:46 pm
  4. So what is “extremely amateurish” about grandpa Samaha’s case? Is it the video showing him plotting the details? Or his phone conversations? Or offloading the bombs in his garage?

    But you are right, who in his/her right mind believes Assad would bomb out a neighborhood? For any reason!

    I wish the Zionists would just admit their guilt so we can be spared the agony inflicted by the “noovo analystes” who are more vulgar than the “noovo reesh”

    Posted by Vulcan | October 22, 2012, 6:47 pm
  5. I find it hard to believe that the Syrian President would bomb out a neighborhood to avenge the arrest of a supporter.

    Did I just read this? Really???

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 22, 2012, 7:39 pm
  6. Really guys, you are not being charitable. The Assads never bomb just a neighborhood. They bomb the whole city. Now even you must admit that it is hard to believe that Assad decided to bomb just a neighborhood this time. That is how I interpret Nicolas…

    Posted by AIG | October 22, 2012, 8:22 pm
  7. Nicolas does have a point… “I find it hard to believe that the Syrian President would bomb out a neighborhood to avenge the arrest of a supporter.” It would be pretty stupid and very unlikely that this event was motivated out of vengeance. The Syrian and pro-Syrian intelligence apparatus in Lebanon love to send messages and teach people lessons. There is no room for people who stand against them defiantly especially when they know too much, and this knowledge can be used to harm them, especially a prominent figure who holds power and can sway popular sentiment against them. Especially when this figure comes from a group that is being targeted relentlessly and proves to be a thorn in their side. The exact person who foiled an attempt to sow sedition and chaos making his own assassination an opportunity to sow chaos. In addition it targeted the symbol of the only powerful authoritative institute outside the orbit of pro-Syrian influence.It sounds like the perfect crime. Vengeance is not a motive but a sadistic bonus to a necessary and practical assassination……as were the assassinations before. There is no room for defiance.

    Posted by Maverick | October 22, 2012, 8:42 pm
  8. It’s tempting to understand the sequence of events in a mathematical
    logical kind of way. Nicolas is not the first. Probably you can get
    quite close to the truth by doing this, but of course it can just
    throw you right off, as one may not factor in enough variables to make a sound logical conclusion.

    I am now tempted to throw in the dummy variable â in any attempt to logically deduce what is going in Lebanon. â would stand for the mutually exclusive category President Bashar al-Assad has a screw loose/President Bashar al-Assad does not have a screw loose.

    Any logical assessment of what is happening in Lebanon would thus have to take into consideration whether or not Assad from time to time acts without logic and just for the hell of it.

    But what do I know, I am not an expert in econometrics, nor in psychoanalysis.

    Posted by Pas Cool | October 23, 2012, 3:53 am
  9. Thanks for the comments. As I said, outsider here, in no way an analyst, or a “noovo analyst”, nor pretense to be one. But don’t see why normal people can’t engage in the discussion if they’re interested in the subject, and interested in having their views challenged. I guess that’s the point of the comments section. Chasse gardee?

    Posted by nicolas | October 23, 2012, 4:52 am
  10. Nabil Nicolas? :D

    Posted by danny | October 23, 2012, 8:13 am
  11. Pas Cool,

    You know what I think, I think we hyper analyze a simple thing. People always say, he can’t be that stupid,it’s too obvious. After the nth assassination and assassination attempt, we still scratch our heads and think, no, it can’t be, he is not that rash, it can’t be that obvious. He is not that stupid. Well he isn’t, he just thinks everyone else is. And if you do have strong suspicions that it was Bashar and co., then that’s all it is-strong suspicions. They like that for two reasons,1) you can never prove it and 2) it makes you fear them.

    Posted by Maverick | October 23, 2012, 4:08 pm
  12. There’s always method to whatever madness.

    Posted by Gabriel | October 23, 2012, 5:02 pm
  13. Bashar does not have a screw loose. Everything about his behavior (and I’m not only speaking about his behavior towards and within Lebanon) has always been very consistent.
    People with loose screws are usually inconsistent and erratic. Bashar has never been erratic. His actions have always had a very simple explanation: Regime preservation.
    He is not the first – not by a longshot – ruler of a country or regime who has used the “Set something on fire then show everyone you are needed to put it out” method of making themselves relevant and preserving their regime. This has been done since times immemorial.
    Bashar’s own father carried out that approach systematically and consistently for 30+ years in Lebanon and the region as a whole. Bashar is simply practicing what he was taught by his father and advisors.
    Everything here is consistent with all that:
    – Sowing sectarian strife and presenting himself as the only guarantor of stability in Lebanon during the 1970s and 80s and 90s.
    – Sowing sectarian strife in Iraq post-Saddam while “cooperating” with the US anti-terror activities and convincing the international community that Syria was a much needed partner and the only safeguard against complete breakdown in the ME.
    – Sowing sectarian fears in Syria itself, and attempting to convince everyone that without his regime, Syria would fragment and be taken over by Salafis.
    – Attempting to destabilize Lebanon by sowing sectarian strife, in a last ditch attempt effort at convincing the world that without his regime, not only Syria goes to shit, but so does Lebanon (and hey, Israel! Do you really want that???)

    Anyone not seeing this pattern must be in serious need of a new prescription…

    The assassination of El-Hasan is perfectly consistent, when taken in context of previous attempts (some successful) at stoking sectarian anger in Lebanon. Be it previous assassinations. Be it the Samaha case. Be it the ongoing Bab-Al-Tabbaneh/Jabal Mohsen clashes, etc.

    Even though most of these patterns seem pretty obvious to me. They are generally hard or impossible to prove to disbelieving audiences. The exception there is the Samaha case. If there really is video and audio evidence, tying Samaha to Syria, where he can explicitly be heard or seen getting orders to “start trouble in the North”…not only is that a smoking gun. But it is also, by extension, when combined with the notion that Assad is pretty consistent and is not a nut job with a screw loose, put the other items I listed as becoming a lot more plausible.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 23, 2012, 7:35 pm
  14. An Open Letter to His Excellency, President of Lebanon, His Excellency the Prime Minister, all Members of the Lebanese Parliament, all leaders of Lebanese political parties and all Lebanese both in Lebanon and around the world,

    Firstly, I wish to regret the events of the Achrafieh bombing, and God rest the souls of all those killed in the event. This is a tragic event for Lebanon, particularly the families who have lost a father or mother, a son or daughter, a brother or sister.

    I am a Lebanese expatriate, born in Australia, with Lebanese citizenship. My father’s family left Lebanon over a century ago, my mothers, 40 years ago – therefore I have never lived in Lebanon. I have visited Lebanon, which I still consider my home, several times. I love it with all my heart and will never deny it as my home. Each day I work tirelessly to make a living in Australia and keep up with life, and keep my family fed and comfortable. I also work tirelessly to help the image of Lebanese in Australia – as many see us as a barbaric peoples thanks to a minority of the community who the media use to portray Lebanese here as ungrateful Australian citizens.

    I write to you in hurt for a country that I hope one day, me, like many other expatriates around the world, would be suitable enough to return to, make a living, raise a family in a decent and orderly society, and contribute to its development – but in the current climate, the country offers me nothing but a holiday destination, that I can only dream of living in.

    My first question is to all of you, why do the affairs of Syria, Israel and the whole region dominate political life? Rather than discussing the issues of our own country, the government is still discussing interference of Israel and Syria in the government, in political life, in day to day life. But what about the other more pressing issues that never get discussed by government, but would change the lives of Lebanese, such as:

    1. Finding the thousands of missing persons who were taken during the Civil War, and since;

    2. Responding to day-to-day issues such as traffic, public transport, social welfare and the like;

    3. Providing at least the basic infrastructure to help the economy grow, such as high speed and readily available internet, running electricity and clean water to all, a public transport network that connects the countries great cities, a proper sewerage system that does not damage our environment (and the list goes on);

    4. Actually implementing laws such as an electoral law, that does not serve the interests of a party, but rather, the electorate; and one that does not give rise to sectarianism, but rather, builds trust between sects so we don’t feel the need to protect our sects against others;

    5. Supporting our youth so they stop moving out of the country, by creating employment by investing with the private sector on large nation building projects such as mass transit systems, a second international airport, rebuilding Tripoli, and establishing a high speed nation wide internet network.

    Will any of the above ever be considered?

    My second question is, (if I do have the right to vote at the 2013 election from Australia), who do I vote for? As a Maronite, I have two options, the March 8 or March 14 alliance. There seems to be no alternatives. So do I vote for a party allied with another party who still holds weapons in the name of resistance (but nonetheless weapons that have been used in 2008 against Lebanese for political gain); or do I vote for the other bloc who are allied with Islamic extremists who wish to associate themselves with the Syrian crisis? My options are limited. Whilst I respect that each party has a political ideology, there just seems to be no choice for me, a young individual, who would prefer to vote for a party that will actually invest in nation building, invest in its youth, and make Lebanon a viable alternative for living, so maybe then I can consider coming home permanently, sending my children to a great Lebanese school and university, and allowing them to grow up in a tri-lingual word with the potential to use this as an advantage and become wordly people.

    I have such a deep respect for those young people in Lebanon who remain. I love seeing tweets and facebook posts with vision, with talent and with a hope for Lebanon by these young people. My heart breaks when I see tweets and facebook posts by these same people saying they can hear gun-shots, or saying they can’t wait to flee Lebanon. Why should they have these thoughts? Do you want them to join me, and the millions of other Lebanese around the world in becoming expatriates?

    To these young people, I hope you do remain, because you can use your vote to make change. I can’t (well not yet anyway).

    I haven’t lost hope in Lebanon, but as a citizen of our great country, I just ask of our leaders, that they reflect on the below, and try to re-set our leadership’s priorities (just a little bit, just to make our home a better place):

    1. Rather than trying to rid our government of Syrian intervention, or backing the downfall of the Syrian regime, why don’t we focus on building true Lebanese politicians with a national plan for Lebanon that does not make mention of any other country but Lebanon;

    2. As an expat, part of a body of people that bring $12 billion into Lebanon’s economy, I would really appreciate being able to have a say over who represents me in parliament. I would love to vote for the region my family come from – not because I want to keep its sectarian balance, but because this is where my family own property, stay and spend when we are in Lebanon. It is therefore in my interests that I vote for who will best meet my needs in this area.

    3. Can you make me WANT to move to Lebanon? I would really appreciate this. Life in Lebanon is great. I love the fact that I can walk down the street in Achrafieh, Hamra, Saida, Sidon, Tripoli, Batroun, Bcharre, Zgharta, Jezzine etc etc etc, and talk to anyone about anything. I can’t do that in Australia, because people would just think you’re have something wrong with you. But in Lebanon, our openness and love for other people is something I treasure and would love for my children to grow up in this environment.

    4. Have we thought of solving any of our problems diplomatically? Politically? Yes, I know. This will take such a long time. But why don’t we sit down with Israel (as against their very existence as I am) and set out an action plan for peace, the return of the Palestinian people, the demarcation of our border and the withdrawal of their troops from our nation. Yes, there are so many points of contention, and this could take decades, but patience is a virtue and persistence is the key. Or is violence the only answer? Just checking whether the former has been seriously considered? Or Is this too dangerous?

    5. When will there be serious attempts to build national infrastructure? Or will political bickering and disagreement over the smallest of matters mean that these items never get consideration???

    6. Why are party’s so sectarian based? Why can’t the 50-50 Christian/Muslim allocation in parliament be maintained (if necessary), but filled in with members from parties based on liberal, democratic, republic or labour-based parties. Parties with national not international interests? Is this possible? Can we ever have any serious parties with a sectarian mix? PS> I don’t consider March 8 or March 14 to be such, these are groups of parties that are either Pro-Syrian regime, or pro-Free Syrian Army. They are not groups they are Pro-Lebanese Mass Transit System, or Against-discrimination of women. Sectarian tendencies still seem to dominate.

    7. Finally, will I ever be able to move back home? A tear is bought to my eye trying to think this day will ever come.

    Anyway, I hope you’ve had time to read this amid all of the current chaos, but please put our people’s interests first. We have such a beautiful country, but we make it looks barbaric. We have such a beautiful culture, but we make it looks barbaric. We have history as good as the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, but we don’t give time for anyone to focus on these.

    Please work to make Lebanon a home where we can all re-consider whether we need to live abroad.

    I love Lebanon, I love you all, and I hope you can love us too.

    Best regards,

    Lebanese expatriate.

    Posted by Lebanese Expat | October 24, 2012, 1:06 am
  15. BV,
    While I dont disagree with your general premise that Syria has historically manipulated events in the nations around it in order to make geo-political gain (and what nation cant be said to have done the same), and while it has benefited in keeping its importance by playing the secterian strife game I think you are way off the mark in caliming they sowed secterian strife in all the cases you list.

    You seriously want to credit Syria with Lebanese secterian strife? Lebanon has had secterian strife since the Ottomans, long before there was a Lebanon or an Assad ruling family.

    Secterian strife in Iraq? Seriously? You dont think there would have been any were it not for the Assads?

    And I dont think he really has to go to any special effort to convince anyone that Salafists are the main driver behind the Syrian rebels, what with all the Al Qaida flags in rebel videos, rebel held towns being put under Taliban-like law (such as girls no longer being allowed to attend school) etc. Therefore it is quite a legitimate fear for most Syrians that they would be forced to live under Wahabi law should the regime fall. It may not happen but it is a possible eventuality, especially given who the main rebel backers are.

    As for the Samaha case and the Al Hasan assasination, it is a certain irony that in Lebanon the two sides can simultaneously shout “Syria” and “Israel” in accusation at anything and laugh at the other side for relying on that accusation for everything and anything that happens in Lebanon. Perhaps in both these cases, we would be better served to wait for evidence before jumping to conclusions.

    Posted by mo | October 24, 2012, 6:15 am
  16. Mo,

    Maybe I did not phrase that the best way that I could’ve.
    I do not claim that the Syrian regime is the root or only cause of sectarianism in Lebanon or Iraq.
    What I really meant is that it has been the Assad’s regime Modus Operandi to stoke sectarian fears and tensions and intentionally throwing lit matches onto existing powder kegs (for lack of a better analogy) in the hopes of starting fires that the Assads can then put a lid on (showing the world that they are much needed).

    Pre-existing sectarian tensions are one thing. I never meant to say that Syria is responsible for these.
    Intentionally lighting them on fire is another thing altogether. And Syria has been a master at doing exactly this for the past 40 years.

    Not to say that others (Israel, namely) have not played at that same game of sectarianism.

    This is why I brought up the Samaha case. Until now, it was very easy for each side to say “It’s obviously Syria” or “It’s obviously Israel” that’s behind this “conspiracy to fitna”.
    But with alleged audio/video evidence clearly pointing to Syria this time, it helps us decide once and for all that one of those “obvious” culprits is probably actually really a culprit (which some have been saying for years, going back to Kamal Jumblatt, Bashir Gemayel, and leading up to Hariri and the present).

    I mean, there is a pretty documented pattern. It is widely accepted that Syria was behind Kamal Jumblatt’s assassination. Could it have been Israel? Sure. I suppose.
    It is widely accepted that Syria was behind Bashir’s assassination too. Could it have been Israel paying off a known SSNP member to off the president-elect they worked so hard to put in power? That would make no sense. Really. But I suppose the conspiracy theorists could claim that Israel did it anyway.
    And the list goes on…So I don’t know. I’ve always been a fan of “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”…Unless of course it’s an Israeli chicken disguised as a duck…(eyeroll).

    You somehow never hear the reverse conspiracy theory logic applied…It is widely accepted that Israel and the LF are responsible for the Sabra/Chatila massacres. But wait! Perhaps it was really the Syrians behind it all along, in an attempt at placing the blame on Israel! (Howcome none of you conspiracy-reverse-psychology bozos never sing that tune?)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 24, 2012, 1:02 pm
  17. We don’t live in an era where audiovisual documents are an irrefutable proof of anything. Communist Russia was doctoring pictures back in the trotsky days. What have we seen from the alleged samaha evidence? A couple of blurred stills. If that was enough he would have already been indicted. Just to say that as usual, we don’t know.
    Nabil Nicolas Noovoo Analyst

    Posted by nicolas | October 24, 2012, 1:57 pm
  18. As I said, “Alleged”.

    But come on…It gets pretty ridiculous when we start accusing “dark cabals” of doctoring photos and videos too.

    I suppose, all the evidence of war in Syria can also be doctored up. All those photos and videos we’ve seen are just photoshop magic.
    Oh, and I while we’re at it, Hassan Nassrallah is an android operated remotely by Bibi Netanyahu. Wissam Al Hasan, Rafik Hariri are not actually dead, but hanging out with Elvis and Musa Al Sadr in some secret hideout. The explosion in Ashrafieh was just movie special effects…And i’m pretty sure Michel Aoun is actually an alien from the Romulan sector, who’s made to look human by video manipulation.

    Can you prove that anything i just claimed is actually wrong?
    No, you cannot.
    That doesn’t really make any of it true or even plausible.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 24, 2012, 2:34 pm
  19. “And i’m pretty sure Michel Aoun is actually an alien from the Romulan sector, who’s made to look human by video manipulation.”

    I can proclaim you were right on this one though.. :D

    Posted by danny | October 24, 2012, 2:54 pm
  20. Who’s On First?

    My father’s family left Lebanon over a century ago, my mothers, 40 years ago – therefore I have never lived in Lebanon. I have visited Lebanon, which I still consider my home, several times. I love it with all my heart and will never deny it as my home.

    Lebanese Expat,

    Lally, wants to know if this makes you a “Lebanese Firster”? I know Lally thinks you’re an “Israel Firster” if you care about Israel, so I assume this definition works for other countries. But maybe not…;)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 24, 2012, 3:06 pm
  21. Dictators feed on fear. And their actions are only rational in the psychoanalytical sense. It’s not easy to explain Assad’s supposed wickedness. My wife always liked him, even throughout the revent wars. I guess it’s his boyish appeal, his supposedly down-to-earth style. Me, I always claimed he’s like the massmurderer you have living next door. When the cops bring him in, everybody’s like, “No way, he was the sweetest thing ever. Little shy, but so courteous.”

    You can’t really understand Bashar from logic alone.

    Btw, Aoun is a Ferengi. Romulans I deem more cunning, less obviously in search for money and power.

    Posted by Pas Cool | October 24, 2012, 3:52 pm
  22. BV,
    Examples like Sabra and Chatilla are not the same since the accused like to actually brag they did it. But at the very least your premise is correct in as far that the Syrians usually came to the aid of any militia in Lebanon that looked like it was in trouble and switched sided accordingly during the civil war.

    But in terms of everything else you cant make a claim of it looks like a duck and walks like a duck because this being Lebanon you never actually get to see the duck. Its just someone saying its a duck very loudly and repeatedly. Furthermore, while any and all of your examples may be or were Syrian operations, we also live in a world were nations do operate false flag operations. So yes, we do have to be careful its not a chicken dressed as a duck.

    For example. when a massive car bomb killed 80 people in an attempt to assasinate Sheikh Hassan Fadllalah in the 80’s it was “obvious” to everyone it was Syria because of his connections to Hizballah. except Hizballah supporters said it was the US (and hung the infamous Made in America banner at the bomb scene). And guess what, it did turn out to be the US.

    Another thing I would say is this. In regards to the Samaha case, lets us not assume that A leads to B and B to C. In other words, lets assume he is guilty of bringing in explosives and assume it was on Syrian orders. That does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that they were to be used to sow secterian strife. They may very well have been intended for the rebels operating out of North Lebanon. Im just saying it may and the fact that it may is not so far fetched or conspiritorial.

    Posted by mo | October 24, 2012, 4:02 pm
  23. Mo,BV et al,

    We are restricting analysis to the sensational events, i.e. assassinations, bombings etc. But these events only epitomize the nature of the stimulus, like crests in a wave graph, but were not taking into account the rest of the graph. In normal times, or what is normal in Lebanon, there is heavy Syrian involvement on all levels, from politics to security to your daily issues, much greater prior 2005. This is why half the country or more who just “know” that the Syrian regime is behind all the bombings look to the other half in bewilderment, as if to say where have you been living all this time? Perhaps, some Lebanese felt the heavy hand of the Syrian regime more than others, depending on location and other factors. Some in their own villages, even in their own clans feared speaking out against the regime in case a family member was paid by a moukhabarati. I don’t know if there was this prevailing secrecy blanket in the south of Lebanon or Hizballah dominated areas compared to other places in Lebanon, if there wasn’t, then this could explain some disparities.
    Ordinary people got kidnapped, bashed, tortured, even killed for openly standing against the regime in defiance. This is not something new or exclusively Assad-Syria, a brief look at 20th Century dictatorships from Eastern Europe to Latin America reveal exactly the same phenomena. The existing culture was put your head down and go about your ordinary lives and we’ll leave you alone, but be sure if you so raise your head ever so slightly, you will be punished. Many, many have felt the indignity of being trampled on even in one’s own home, and many have known someone who went missing for daring to raise his head.
    So when an assassination occurs targeting an anti-Syrian figure, it is only natural that one is inclined to point a finger, not because of proof beyond doubt, but rather to finally reverse all those years of indignation and pain suffered by the hands of Damascus. Whether Bashar has his finger prints at the scene of the crime or not, the people don’t care, as far as theyre concerned the crimes over the years are plenty, and these assassinations are icing on the cake.

    Posted by Maverick | October 24, 2012, 4:41 pm
  24. Very well said QN. That is a good point that I did not really touch on in my “quick to conclusions”, pseudo-analysis. :)

    Mo. Your logic makes no sense. You now are telling me it is a foregone conclusion that the USA was behind the attempted assassination of Fadlallah. Says who? Hearsay? Were you actually in the room when the plans were hatched? How is that any different from what we’re doing here? Speculating?
    As far as I know, no one officially got caught on video planting the Fadlallah bomb. And even if they were caught on video, according to you, video can be doctored. So really. Using your rather “loose” standards for the burden of proof, no one can ever prove anything. Which brings me back to proving that Hariri and Kamal Jumblatt are probably alive and well and hanging out with Elvis. You really couldn’t prove otherwise.

    Having said all that, and on a more serious note: QN brings up an interesting point. Those of us who lived in Lebanon during the 80s know from personal, first hand experience, the way the Syrian regime operated. We probably can’t prove things to you, because you’re not likely to take our word (as you refuse to take anyone’s word, it seems), but we KNOW. We were there. Most of us have had some kind of firsthand experience with the intimidation, the abductions, the threats, and some of us, much worse.

    As I said, it’s a Modus Operandi. To me, even when I can’t prove something beyond reasonable doubt, in a court of law, i can indeed apply the “if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” approach. I can base my speculation on previous behavior.

    Does my opinion stand in a court of law? Of course not. But I am not the STL, or the UN. You guys don’t give a damn what I think, and beyond my expressing my opinion, there is no actual consequence. My saying “Syria did it” does not get anyone put in jail. So really, I do not HAVE to prove anything to anyone in a legal sense. All I can do is say that to me, it seems rather insane and outside of rational thinking to look too far beyond past behavior and obvious motives.

    A simple analogy, of the homespun variety:
    A store owner in Hamra, let’s call him Abu Sami, notices some items missing of his shelf, after a local neighborhood kid appeared to loiter in the area. Abu Sami suspects the kid of shoplifting. But keeps his thoughts to himself.
    The next day, the same kid walks in, spends 5 minutes in front of the same display, and after he leaves, some items are missing again. Abu Sami confronts the kid and finds the stolen goods on him.

    On the 3rd day. The kid comes in again. And some items are stolen again. Abu Sami attempts to confront the kid. The kid says “It wasn’t me! I hate stealing! I’m a good kid! Just ask my mom! It must be someone trying to set me up. In fact, I believe it is your own son Sami trying to set me up. He never liked me.”

    Is it possible that Sami is going through an elaborate ruse to set up this kid? Sure it is.
    But guess what…I am a lot more likely to deduce that this kid, a known thief, who was previously caught red handed, was really the thief. And I’m a lot less likely to believe him when he tries to convince me that Abu Sami’s own son is stealing from his dad’s store in an attempt to frame some kid.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 24, 2012, 6:22 pm
  25. Maverick, I think that can also be said about the South and the HA circles and the reason they always and in many cases irrationally, point at Israel when something bad happens in Lebanon.
    I have heard people there seriously accusing Israel of training a cat that once mauled a newborn!

    Few years ago people were falling ill and fainting in Nabatiyeh (supposedly from nerve gas, or too much frakeh?) when they spotted Israeli wedding balloons violating our airspace.

    Also guys FYI the Americans didn’t land on the moon, It was all staged somewhere in a Hollywood studio. Those gringos I tell yah, they love false flagin :)

    Posted by Vulcan | October 24, 2012, 6:23 pm
  26. And the biggest conspiracy of all is that QN is none other than Maverick!

    Posted by Vulcan | October 24, 2012, 6:29 pm
  27. Maverick, I think you put your finger on the tendency to blame here:

    “Whether Bashar has his finger prints at the scene of the crime or not, the people don’t care, as far as theyre concerned the crimes over the years are plenty, and these assassinations are icing on the cake.”

    It’s understandable that should be the case among those who suffered under the approved-by-foreign-powers yoke of the Syrian apparatus; proof be damned. It’s also understandable that Lebanese communities with history of cooperation with the Israelis refuse to accept their former (?) partners’ culpability for actions targeting Israel’s Lebanese (and/or their own sectarian) enemies, despite any obvious benefits to Israel of destabilization in Lebanon.

    In a way, the above tends to encourage foreign elements to believe that Lebanese factions can be manipulated to serve the outsiders’ purposes. The fact that things rarely work out as envisioned doesn’t seem to discourage the plotters.

    The fact that the rigorous insistence on motive, evidence & proof of guilt is institutionalized in the West. That unquestioned default position is also the basis for much of the utter disbelief from outsiders scratching heads at the seeming disregard for what “we” consider absolutely essential in the making a case.

    Too bad that we Americans don’t hesitate to eviscerate our own values when it comes to applying them to the far abroad. Geopolitics trumps all; we’re sending in the FBI to that end.

    BTW, there are some French intel folk familiar with Wissam who scoff at the case made that Grandpa Samaha was a logical pick to tootle around Lebanon distributing ordnance:

    (Bing translation)

    “The French and American intelligence services knew him very well. This summer, its service has been at the forefront in the arrest of former Minister Lebanese pro Syrian Michel Samaha, accused of preparing attacks to destabilize the Lebanon. A charge greeted with skepticism by some members of the intelligence in France community, including.

    “Samaha was much too clever to let himself embark on such an operation”, said an agent, who rather privileged track handling by the service of Wissam el-Hassan. It is not the first time that it dipped into such mounting: after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the ISPs (that of w. el-Hassan) service had already manufactures a fake witness a charge against Damascus, in the person of Zouheir Ziddiq, with the collaboration of other services in the region, which are found today as accidentally engaged in the fight to topple Bashar Al-Assad in Syria.”

    http://blog.lefigaro.fr/malbrunot/2012/10/la-famille-de-wissam-el-hassan.html

    Posted by lally | October 24, 2012, 6:45 pm
  28. BV,

    Who says? Erm the Americans did. The BBC even had a documentry with actual agent that ran the show.

    I dont need your word on Syrian behaviour in Lebanon in the 80’s and 90s as I was there also.

    And you analogy is flawed. It would be more accurate to say that the shop keeper confronts the kid after seeing the kid steal from other shops and stuff goes missing from his shop. That is my point, although I agree the likelyhood is high it does not equal guilt. And while we are not talking about a court of law, and frnakly were not even talking about you but the people who live in Lebanon who think the same. It would be a shame if all this anti-Syrian backlash (and the political hay being made of it) got people killed and it turned out it wasnt Syria but say Fath Al Islam getting revenge on Hasan for stuff hes done to them, no?

    Posted by mo | October 24, 2012, 6:51 pm
  29. Mo,

    You’re kind of proving my point. You say “Who said? The BBC said!”. So just because a western media outlet (which the naysayers refuse to believe, 9 times out of 10, if you recall) says something it makes it true?
    Can you prove to me that the BBC didn’t just hire some actor off the street to make those confessions? You can’t….So if i were to play stubborn as so many in Lebanon seem to like doing, then i’ll reject that BBC story as a bunch of “western-zionist propaganda” and refuse to believe any of it.

    I’ve already said that I agree with you in that we can’t prove anything, and in a court of law, my suspicions mean absolutely nothing.
    But this isn’t a court of law. I’m entitled to form my own opinions and suspicions based on what I deem “reasonable logic, based on past behavior”.

    I also recognize that the naysayers are entirely entitled to their opinions of conspiracy theories. All I’m saying is that it makes them look rather silly, IMHO. When people start picking out theories of people faking their own death, and whathaveyou, we get in the realm of Elvis sightings and Alien abductions. And the level of discourse among us sinks and makes it rather uninteresting to have a discussion.

    I’m more than happy to have interesting discussions with people. That is why I come here, after all. But you won’t find me having discussions with the folks who claim to have seen Elvis on a spaceship, somewhere near Reno. I laugh and walk away.
    I enjoy having a good talk about politics here in the US, with knowledgeable and opinionated people (even ones I disagree with). But when I come across people who start ranting about Obama being a muslim communist who’s working for the UN to take Americans guns (and believe me, I know a few people who honestly believe that). You know what I do? I avoid talking politics. I nod, smile, and change the subject.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 25, 2012, 6:04 pm

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