Arab Politics, Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14, Syria

Justice in the Bazaar

The Syrian-Saudi negotiations over the fate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) are a persistent topic in the Arab press these days. According to an interview with Saad al-Hariri which will appear tomorrow in al-Hayat, an agreement about how to mitigate the STL’s repercussions has already been reached, and is just waiting implementation on the Lebanese scene. For background on this issue, I recommend reading the International Crisis Group report, as well as a recent opinion piece by Michael Young.

It will be interesting to see how the Syrian-Saudi agreement is unveiled and presented to the Lebanese public. The gist of the “concessions” expected of Hariri is straightforward: he will be required to help distance Lebanon from the Tribunal in some fashion. Whether this involves going so far as to end Lebanon’s cooperation with and recognition of the STL is uncertain, but we can assume that he will, at the very least, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the STL’s proceedings, and categorically reject the validity of any indictments against members of Hizbullah.

On the other hand, the question of what concessions (if any) will be extracted from Hizbullah is much more perplexing. Unlike Hariri — who has already made some initial concessions  — Hizbullah has not indicated that it will budge from its maximalist position of rejecting the STL as a Zionist plot targeting the resistance. In the International Crisis Group’s discussion of the “contours of a possible deal” (see pp. 28-29) there is no hint at what price Hizbullah and its allies might pay to make the STL become a distant memory. The formulas presented are all essentially March 14 concessions.

The current situation reminds me of an encounter I had several years ago when I was living in Morocco, studying the music of the great chaabi ensemble, Nass el-Ghiwane. I spent the first couple months of my stay in Fes, where I befriended a rug merchant named Ahmad who owned a small shop deep in the old medina.

Over the course of the year, I bought several rugs from Ahmad, which I gave as gifts to friends and family members. As one might expect, each purchase was preceded by a long bargaining process, accompanied by cups of mint tea and endless amusing discussions about history, religion, and politics.

As I neared the end of my stay in Morocco, I set off to visit Ahmad with the intention of buying one last rug from him. It was a beautiful piece: a large, hand-knotted crimson rug with faint tracings in an eggshell color, hanging on a wall in the shop. I had been eyeing it covetously throughout my time in Morocco, but the asking price was well above my budget: $400, which was at least four times more than my piteous, penniless self had previously spent on any other rug in his shop.

When I came to him and expressed my interest, he smiled knowingly and replied: “Of course, ya habibi. Name your price.”

I gritted my teeth and said, almost apologetically, “I’ve got a hundred dollars. Can we make a deal?”

As it turns out, I was telling the truth. I had no more than one hundred dollars left in my savings, but Ahmad didn’t know that, and so he assumed that my offer was  part of a routine bargaining strategy. He thereupon settled into his familiar protestations about the value of the rug, the craftsmanship, and the great loss he would incur by giving it away for such an insultingly low sum.

Over the next two hours, Ahmad’s asking price fell steadily as we chatted in our usual meandering way. My offer, however, remained the same: “One hundred dollars. Take it or leave it.”

As afternoon turned to evening, a group of Ahmad’s friends assembled in his shop, watching this negotiation with amusement. Finally, Ahmad gave up. “Ok. One hundred dollars,” he said. “But you have to buy me a pack of cigarettes.”

I started to insist that I didn’t even have the money to buy him a pack of cigarettes, when his brother leapt to his feet, grabbed me by the arm, and led me outside.

“You will go buy him a pack of cigarettes,” he hissed at me, pressing some of his own money into my hand.

I was baffled. “Why? What does it matter?”

His brother shook his head and left me in the street holding a couple of coins for cigarette money.

It took me a while to understand this strange exchange, but it eventually became clear. The symbolic value of the pack of cigarettes was more important to Ahmad, in the context of our bargaining process, than the $100 I paid him at the end. Why? Because it represented something above my original offer. It was more than what I had originally offered to pay. Even if it was only a paltry amount, and even if the whole bargaining process was an elaborate charade, the fact that he had extracted something from me that I hadn’t been willing to pay was a necessary condition of a successful transaction.

This is not so different, I would suggest, than the position that Hariri finds himself in today. He has already brought his “price” down by exonerating Syria and recognizing the existence of “false witnesses”. He has also exonerated Hizbullah’s leadership from any connection with the crime and offered to help sell the narrative that the perpetrators were rogue elements. All that’s left is for him to join his opponents in claiming that the STL was infiltrated by Israel and that his father was the victim of a Zionist plot.

That he can probably do. But I would argue that he needs something in return — the proverbial “pack of cigarettes” — or else, I believe, he will not be able to contain the fallout of Sunni humiliation and frustration that will result from the lopsided transaction.

This doesn’t mean that any paltry concession by Hizbullah will be enough to enable Hariri and his government to sweep the STL under the rug. Depending on the nature of the evidence in support of the indictments, selling at such a low price — with or without a pack of cigarettes from Hizbullah — may be more politically damaging for Hariri than simply resigning from his post. But in the absence of some kind of meaningful concession from Hizbullah, it is hard to see what kind of solution Syria and Saudi Arabia could possibly have in store.

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176 thoughts on “Justice in the Bazaar

  1. Elias,

    Your perspective is indeed incisive but I must say in this case ‘What if it turns out to be true…i.e that GWB and Israel used this opportunity presented by the murder of senior Hariri to get rid to two constant thorns on their side, HA and Syria, which looks very likely, looking at how things have turned out one step at a time’. These are one of the few entities in the middle ease that haven’t totally submitted and become vassal states ‘YET’ like the ‘moderate’ states’ of Egypt,Jordan and ofcourse KSA. Lebanon would be but for HA!!

    The second point I intend to make – and please don’t be offended by it or take it personal, is your being in US and looking out for potential Job opportunities preventing you from making the point I make earlier?. Obviously, even at Harvard, that like of thinking won’t take you far…you know what I mean 🙂

    I’ll post another unrelated comment in a seperate post.

    Posted by Visitor | January 6, 2011, 9:53 pm
  2. I have to disagree with these points in regards to the analogy. He didn’t exonerate Syria; The leaks from the investigation did. He merely confirmed their validity. The same is true of the “rogue” elements scenario (which Hizballah will not accept anyway).

    Recognizing that some people whose testimony the initial investigation had taken as fact that turned out to be fabricated is also not a climb down in his “price” as a fact is a fact whether he was willing to accept it or not.

    In fact, I’m willing to bet that distancing Lebanon from the tribunal will not be the “concession”. I agree that for any agreement to work there will have to be a lowering of the price and the packet of cigarettes in return. The only way I can see any agreement meeting this criteria is that Hariri agrees to the investigation of the “false witnesses” and states that Lebanon will no longer support the STL until it investigates the Israeli angle.

    The cigarettes? Could be that the opposition drops its demands to know where the famous $11 billion missing dollars are or maybe they stop standing in Solideres way in trying to steal the St.George….

    Posted by usedtopost | January 6, 2011, 10:04 pm
  3. Strangely enough, I find myself partly in agreement with the initial part of UTP comment, but in total disagreement with QN’s gist of his post.

    Since QN has opened the speculation bazaar, I’ll make my own speculations and give my reasoning.

    The fact that Hariri has shown naive statesmanship since he took charge in forming a government is well known and I agree with Ghassan when he argues that Hariri failed initially in giving in to forming such a colourful cabinet.

    But with passage of time Hariri has shown some signs of political maturity as someone learning on the job. If you carefully analyze his last interview, you would conclude that the real bazaar bargaining has already taken place behind the scene. In the Middle East, you cannot make political bargains in the open. So on this issue, I am sure QN missed the mark.

    It has become clear over the last few months that some consensus among the speculators has become evident. Those who are negotiating in the bazaar (S-S and lately Qom) DO NOT have the means to deliver on their promises. That would weigh the odds in favour of the French-Syrian overtures of which some leaks have been made public recently. I am still referring to a naharnet report quoting an Israeli newspaper of a possible deal. The offer of Hizb to allow Hariri to form his own security apparatus has been privately rejected and now he is making his rejection public. He is saying PUBLICLY: take it or leave it.

    What does that mean? Taking QN’s analogy of having only $100 in the bank in order to buy his carpet, Hariri is saying (according to that leaked deal of naharnet) HA has to agree to disarm in order to go forward. Someone still has to buy a pack of cigarettes. Any guesses?

    Posted by anonymous | January 6, 2011, 10:55 pm
  4. My reasoning behind the last paragraph of my last comment is as follows. Hizb. was offered a deal on STL in return for disarming. Hizb. responded by offering Hariri a security apparatus and disarming only Palestinians outside their camps (according to naharnet Israeli story). Looks like the counter offer did not make it to the final ‘bargain’ making deal.

    Posted by anonymous | January 6, 2011, 11:11 pm
  5. There is one (and only one) key phrase in QN’s piece: ” Depending on the nature of the evidence in support of the indictments…”

    As our GK has repeated ad nauseum but with inevitably commentators making circuitous arguments that always required yet another reminder from GK, the STL is not a bunch of amateurs nor is it a clique of “zu3ama a la Libanaise.” It is a body of investigators and jurists of international caliber poring for many years over some of the most sophisticated evidence and analyses.

    Let’s wait and see.

    This doesn’t mean that — regretfully and despairingly — the folks in Lebanon won’t make a mockery out of it and revert to the sad years of 1990-2005 when there was no independent Lebanon as far as foreign affairs (or even many internal affairs) but a satellite of Syria (and maybe an occasional orbiting or two around Saudi Arabia). The resigned will conclude that, hey, at least there will be internal peace. Sure, but at what price? The inevitable price of the continued emigration of anyone with the means to do so and who has a modicum of longing for true liberty and civilization.

    It’s depressing to say the least.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 7, 2011, 12:41 am
  6. “…the STL is not a bunch of amateurs nor is it a clique of “zu3ama a la Libanaise.”


    I conclude from your quote that Hariri was bluffing when he offered HNA to agree to restrict upcoming indictments to ‘undisciplined’ members of HA in order to avoid political fall outs. I also conclude he was setting up bait for HA, perhaps in coordination with STL, to fly this balloon as a feeler. The purpose of the bait was to put HA on trial in the court of public opinion. If HA bites the bait, it confirms its guilt, notwithstanding the nature of evidence as QN said. In this case only those who were involved in the behind-the-scene negotiations after that offer was made would know if guilt was or was not confirmed.

    In any case, if a deal were to be made, people can say justice was or was not served depending on the price. Wouldn’t the end result be similar to a plea bargain scenario?

    What would the price in your opinion be that would still serve justice in this case, if a ‘deal’ were to be made?

    Posted by anonymous | January 7, 2011, 1:32 am
  7. There is a crucial difference between the situation of the STL and the Bazar.

    In your case, it was obvious that neither you gave any value to the passage of time. In the STL’s case, the very bargaining process gives leverage to March 14, because it means that we’re getting closer to the indictment.

    It is now obvious that Hezbollah dreads the indictment itself, for reasons that we are still waiting to find out. The closer we get to the indictment, the more I expect Hezbollah to concede.

    It is my prediction that March 14 will walk out with much more than a pack of cigarettes.

    Posted by Mustapha | January 7, 2011, 6:15 am
  8. Mustapha, thats a poor reading of the situation.

    You are making the mistake that Hizballah’s worry over the indictment is the consequences to itself.

    Do you stop to consider what the STL can actually do to an organisation that has for nearly three decades been at the top of the list of targets for the West? What can the STL do that the CIA, Mossad,the IDF, the Marines, the Saudis and even the Syrians could not to the party itself? Anyone who thinks that they are going to surrender a single bullet let alone give up their arms over this is going to be gravely disappointed.

    March 14 should consider themselves fortunate if they are offered the pack of cigs.

    Posted by usedtopost | January 7, 2011, 6:49 am
  9. Anonymous, hmm, I don’t quite see the logical principles behind your inferences in 5. My venting intended, perhaps unsuccessfully, to rise about all the fray of the local politics and posit, as GK has done repeatedly, that facts matter and until we know what these facts – the evidence – are/is those of us who seek to have an objective opinion are quite disgusted by the politicking going on.

    Someone and some group plotted to and killed Rafiq Hariri. If compelling evidence can point to the responsible party then we should all reserve judgment until such facts are revealed. Speculating about the motive behind the assassination is fine. Enough has been written about what that motive could be if the culprits were Israeli, Syrian, HA, or some combination. The preemptive protestation and obstruction of the investigation by some parties are suggestive – but not proof – of guilt or at least worry of some kind.

    The fact is that whoever the guilty party is/was, they are no friend to Lebanon nor to its future, at least not to an independent, prosperous, non-confessional, modern, and successful Lebanon, striving in time to become a beacon of prosperity and coexistence and success in the Middle East.

    I’m not saying any more in my venting above and frankly, I’m disgusted by the type of bargaining going on. If HA/Syria are guilty then all the arguments against them over the past 5 years+ are very true. If Israel is the guilty party, then, the very fact that they have been able to pull off something like that means that HA and Syria are doomed to abject failure in their struggle with Israel and should really pack their carpet and “go home,” leaving to more open minds the task of putting some strategy and government in place for the two countries. Either way, it does not bode well in an objective assessment of that country and that religious movement.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 7, 2011, 7:07 am
  10. Usedtopost,

    Oh yeah? Then why all the hullabaloo by the Hezb and all the insane, obviously defensive, attacks on the STL and the obsession with finding a solution BEFORE the indictment comes out?

    Hezbollah is hiding something, and they’ll pay much more than a pack of cigarettes to keep it hidden.

    But if you must know, here are some of the arguments on why the Hezb is afraid of the indictment:

    Posted by Mustapha | January 7, 2011, 8:24 am
  11. I love it when no one agrees with me. 🙂 Those are the best posts.

    Will respond to everyone later.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 7, 2011, 9:05 am
  12. Everyone seems to be focusing on the price of the cigarettes (i.e., the concession from HA). But this is only half the question. We also don’t know exactly what the carpet is (i.e., what Hariri’s exact concession will be.) Most of the Arab press has assumed that an agreement will be a taswiya, or settlement of the internal crisis. But as QN points out in the article, the most likely outcome will be one that “mitigates.” In the circumstances, the demands of the parties are too complicated to allow for anything but a modus vivendi.

    Indeed, the outlines of the general agreement may already be right before our eyes: Hariri might simply agree to distance himself a bit from the STL, and not go after HA as an institution or Syria as a country, or the top leaders of either. It’s no wonder that HA has not offered any public concessions – for the reasons that Mustapha indicates. They fear that any sign of weakness could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Thus, in the agreement, they may not make anything that looks like a concession. The concession may be simply making an agreement, which will save them face when they do not use maximalist tactics later.

    Whatever is going on behind the scenes, the agreement seems unlikely to “settle” the situation in any way. But it might offer some reassurance that no one will burn down the bazar.

    Posted by Hummusbilahme | January 7, 2011, 9:37 am
  13. @ usedtopost #2

    I believe that what we have already seen from Hariri does amount to a substantial set of concessions. On what basis did he exonerate Syria? What leaks from the tribunal? Is there any precedent whatsoever for Hizbullah acting in Lebanon (let alone with an operation of this magnitude) without Syrian knowledge and (direct or indirect) complicity? Hariri had no privileged knowledge that ruled out Syrian involvement, and yet exonerated the Syrians anyway.

    As for the rogue elements thing: yes, that is a major concession as well. As Nasrallah said himself, the likelihood of a Hizbullah cell operating without the approval of senior command is next to nil. If there’s strong evidence of culpability by Hizbullah operatives, then chances are the orders came from the top. So Hariri’s willingness to sell the narrative of rogue elements is indeed a concession.

    The only way to argue that none of these things are concessions is if you believe that the STL is based on fabricated evidence planted by Israel. If you think that the investigation has yielded legitimate evidence, then I don’t see how you can interpret Hariri’s actions as not being concessions.

    @ mustapha #7

    I disagree with you. Hizbullah is not worried about the emergence of the indictment because it knows that it has no power to stop it from being revealed. Hariri and Saudi Arabia cannot make a call to the Hague and tell them to burn the results of the investigation.

    What Hizbullah will do is simply claim that whatever evidence is presented is fabricated and based on Israeli espionage in Lebanon. They’ve already made this argument countless times.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 7, 2011, 11:18 am
  14. Do people in Lebanon really believe that Hizballah killed Hariri? To me it sounds totally unbelievable. It is far from clear whether Hizballah really wanted Hariri dead. I don’t doubt that they could have killed him if they had wanted.
    My problem is the Abu-Adas video. Do people really believe that Hizballah kidnapped a sunni salafist, forced him to act on tape and then disposed of him and replaced him with a shiite suicide bomber?
    To me it sounds like the PLO blaming all of Abu Nidals murders on Israel. (Israel of course, did it’s share of killing Palestinian leaders.)
    This was Mehlis opinion but he assumed a vast conspiracy of 5 Syrian and 4 Lebanese security agencies plus al-Ahbash, SSNP and PFLP-GC was behind the killing. Ironically the only “pro-Syrian” faction in Lebanon that has never figured in any of the 11 UNIIIC reports is Hizballah.
    Add to this the confessions of the Nab’a gang I would be very surprised if the salafists weren’t the ones who carried out the murder.
    Of course both Syria and Hizballah may well have been somehow indirectly involved (supplied explosives, etc.) or have known about it beforehand without warning Hariri.

    Posted by Göran | January 7, 2011, 11:27 am
  15. Mustapaha,

    The hullaballo is what the intentions are after the fact to the country. But I read your article, where are the arguments? Its worried about its reputation? Seriously, I think everyone has made up their mind one way or the other already so I doubt anyone is going to be swayed after the fact. And furthermore, do you really think that after everything, they are going to give up their weapons so that their reputation statys intact?

    This isnt a question of guilt or innocence. Neither of us is going to e able to prove anything to the other. This is about the fallout and the intentions of others. If Hizballah believed that the court was going to run its course, try some people in absentia and leave it at that I doubt they would be bothered.

    Posted by usedtopost | January 7, 2011, 11:28 am
  16. NeverStopsPosting.

    LoL. You really are loyal to the Hizb.

    I think HN will always be worried about his image. Not so much in Leb, because for the most part people have either made up their minds or will always make political settlements.

    But in the wider Arab world and Middle East, he most certainly risks projecting the image that he leads a pariah organization. Any street credit for being the valiant defender of the weak against Israel will be lost and very quickly forgotten.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 7, 2011, 12:19 pm
  17. QN:

    Merits of the analysis aside, the post is extremely well written and delivered. The pictures are stunning and the story telling impeccable.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 7, 2011, 12:25 pm
  18. Anon:

    From previous post, the example I drew from capital punishment is to rubbish the notion that laws only get passed based on popularity contests.

    This idea that “leadership” reflect the people when passing laws is nonsensical, and leadership certainly has to step up and ruffle a few feathers.

    Given that all posters here parade as being non-sectarian, then if one assumes they reflect wider Leb society I doubt the leadership would face much opposition.

    If not, all opinions shared here are non-sensical.

    The only other possibility is that people are just dishonest and what they write on these forums are not an honest reflection of their views

    Posted by Gabriel | January 7, 2011, 12:46 pm
  19. Hariri exonerated Syria in the same manner he offered HNA the deal on prosecuting ‘undisciplined’ members of HA. He referred to political accusations of Syria. He did not say Syrian may not have been involved. Such individuals may still be named in any upcoming indictments along with HA members. We still have to find out how high up the hierarchy they turn out to be.

    The so-called ‘false witnesses’ issue is a double sword issue. Accusations of fabricating witnesses are used by both camps. The only difference is on how to deal with it. No one, on either side, will pay even a stub of cigarette for that not to mention a pack.

    Anyone who argues that HA is not scrambling for a deal is either blind or using HA official line of projecting the false image of being ‘invincible’ based on its ability to bully and issue ultimatum after ultimatum. No one knows exactly when the indictments will be issued. HA has, since September last year, repeatedly predicted indictments to be issued by certain dates and at the same time issuing ultimatums based on that date as the deadline to make a deal. In fact no one but HA and Berri, by proxy perhaps, are making such predictions. For the record the latest predictions made by them was before the end of this month, and of course demanding a deal before that date or the ‘end of the world’ beyond it.

    It looks like the only one who is sleeping an extra hour a day is the one who kept his mouth shut for the last few months. On the other hand we’ve seen public appearance after public appearance of the chief of HA that us entertained for hours with fantastic stories of levelling accusations left and right supported by ‘irrefutable’ evidence.
    And as a follow up on Hariri’s interview, Berri and Fneish are extremely unhappy and made it clear. Hariri on the other hand took a plane to NY.

    Posted by anonymous | January 7, 2011, 12:49 pm
  20. Gaby 18,
    Politicians in democratic states do care about public opinions before voting on certain laws.

    I made the distinction between laws that have existential impact and laws that someone can live with even if he/she does not support.

    “Given that all posters here parade as being non-sectarian, then if one assumes they reflect wider Leb society
    If not, all opinions shared here are non-sensical.

    The only other possibility is that people are just dishonest and what they write on these forums are not an honest reflection of their views”

    Some are honest, some are using the forum to present the argument of certain groups and some are bewildered by the complexity of the Lebanese psych which often exhibits extreme forms of hypocrisy. The Lebanese are very well trained in this ‘art’.

    Those who lived outside the country for quite sometime are perhaps the ones who are quite often honest. That, of course, doesn’t negate honesty from those commenting from inside Lebanon.

    Posted by anonymous | January 7, 2011, 1:13 pm
  21. If one thing has been consistent about HA is that doesn’t compromise its interests, particularly if they are in conflict with the Lebanese state. So for HA to engage in backroom negotiations to help save the country from a looming disaster is silly at best. If the party to engage in some kinda bargaining seems odd at first, unless HA perceives it as a clear and present threat to its interests.

    As someone mentioned for a party that stood up to CIA and Mossad military plots, just to name a few, sure they’re not worried of some legal outfit — especially when HA considers itself too holly to be touched by a man-made law.

    This leads one to believe that the indictment is probably based on a very incriminating evidence, otherwise why would HA resort to this level of rhetoric and threats. They could have easily ignored it as another Israeli-concocted plot and refused any negotiations.

    Posted by mlk | January 7, 2011, 2:15 pm
  22. Ah yes. The typical “Arab style” bargaining, with where it’s a matter of honor to extract anything from the other side….
    This mentality does explain a lot about many things in the Middle East.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 7, 2011, 2:28 pm
  23. I gotta agree with mlk #21 and Mustapha.

    HA is afraid of something. I’m not sure what, but something. To think that all this bargaining is for the sake of Lebanon is quite naive (they didn’t bargain for the sake of Lebanon in May 08, did they?)
    HA, has, in fact, only ever bargained when it wanted something it could only obtain through bargaining and not through the force of its guns. It’s in HA’s nature to act that way. HA has never stopped from taking what they wanted for free, pack of cigs be damned. The only time they’ve ever offered a pack of smokes is when they’ve had something to lose.

    Spin it as you may, I think Mustapha is on to something here.

    As a sidenote, I don’t think this bazaar means much at all. We’re losing sight of the bigger picture here. In the grand scheme of things. In 5 years time. Lebanon will still be where it’s been for the past 60 years. In turmoil. There is no REAL solution forthcoming, no breakthrough. Just more back and forth with new slogans and new “issues du jour” for us pundits to debate.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 7, 2011, 4:19 pm
  24. “The only way to argue that none of these things are concessions is if you believe that the STL is based on fabricated evidence planted by Israel. If you think that the investigation has yielded legitimate evidence, then I don’t see how you can interpret Hariri’s actions as not being concessions.”

    This argument made by QN is false. He is still assuming that Hariri is speaking on behalf of the STL – contradicting his next paragraph of the same comment (13)

    All these acts by Hariri can only be understood in light of political considerations dictated by his new position as a PM. No one has access to evidence yet. If you want to take Belmar on his own words, he made it clear on at least one occasion, the evidence is ‘solid’ and ‘legitimate’.

    It is quite legitimate, in fact a duty, for a PM, in order to govern to consult, with a party which has so much power on possible means of averting impending ‘disaster’. Even STL made it clear it will name individuals and not organizations or States. This was the gist of Hariri’s offer to HNA. What is wrong with that from the point of view of STL? Of course, we know HA will not dissociate itself from any member as QN knows quite well. But that is an HA problem not an STL or Hariri problem.
    It is mind boggling to jump to conclusions so quickly and suggest an Israel role in fabricating evidence in the same paragraph.
    Similar reasoning applies to his so-called concessions to Syria. Did anyone ask himself why there had not been visits by him to Damas?

    (Please QN do not release the other comment which did show the monikor)

    Posted by anonymous | January 7, 2011, 5:31 pm
  25. The point all of you are missing about this negotiation is that the cigarettes and the rug were real and the deal irrevocable.

    Contrast this with the Hezbollah March 14 deal. What can Hezbollah give that it cannot take back when it wants to? Anyone has an idea? Who can force Hezbollah not to re-neg? No one.

    What can Hariri give Hezbollah that is valuable? Would Hariri distancing himself from the tribunal help Hezbollah in the Sunni world if the evidence is strong? And if it is weak, why would Hezbollah need Hariri as Mustapha says.

    My assessment is that any deal would not stand the actual indictment. If the indictment is weak, Hezbollah would re-neg on whatever it promised, and if the indictment is strong, whatever Hariri “gave” them will not help. Everybody is just going through the motions so as not to be seen as doing nothing.

    Posted by AIG | January 7, 2011, 6:24 pm
  26. Good point, AIG.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 7, 2011, 7:10 pm
  27. Should the Hollywood script to this political thriller be written by Robert Ludlum or John Le Carre ?

    I already have a Title for it … “The SS Doctrine”.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 7:21 pm
  28. BV #23,
    A state of conflict will not be able to become the new equilibrium. It must eventually give way to a synthesis that will become the new hegemon until its antithesis evolves to become a major challenge. This means , at least in my mind, that the next 3-5 years would be very decisive for Lebanon because I firmly believe, as we have stated ad infinitum, that Lebanon is at the proverbial fork in the road. If that is so then there are only two majo options. Either have the forces of “darkness” 🙂 gain the upper hand in a decisive way or have the syatem evolve towards a more modern, responsible and democratic state. Since I am what you might call a neo Hegelian of sorts, I never fear change because it often is for the better. That is why I still am very hopefulthat there will be better tomorrows in Lebanon despite my strong opposition to the whole current political class.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 7, 2011, 7:27 pm
  29. Well, on this front we’re gonna have to disagree Ghassan 🙂

    I don’t see why you see a proverbial fork here. How is today’s situation any different at its ROOT (i know the cosmetic differences abound, but look deeper) than it was in the 70s, 80s or 90s?
    If you’re hoping that at some point, Lebanon will transition out of the La Ghaleb La Maghloub formula, you are sorely mistaken. That’s not gonna happen. We will remain under the thumb of regional powers with neither power taking over entirely through their proxies. Even at the height of the Syrian hegemony of the 90s, there was still a proforma and tacit approval by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and everyone else on how the game should be played. The balance shifted somewhat after 2005. The ebb and flow will continue with this side pulling and that side pulling.
    But you will never have a HA-only government. There will always be the matter of sectarian balance to maintain (even if for show, like in the 90s), there will still be this or that “Saudi/American” actor on the scene.
    There will still be the threat of a war with Israel (and a war will occur at some point, be it a 2006 or a 1982…)
    There will always be a disregard for the law and the constitution with new “agreements” and accomodations made depending on the above mentioned ebb and flow of power (be it Taif, Doha, etc)
    There will still be the occasional armed skirmishes. The populace and the ignoramouses will still be armed to the teeth and waste their time bickering and fighting over petty stuff while the overall nation remains paralyzed in terms of economic development and progress.

    Mark my words. Save this post somewhere on your hard drive. And let’s revisit in January 2015.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 7, 2011, 7:41 pm
  30. Nasrallah is going to have to choose between Lebanonizing and Arabizing the Shi’ites … and Iran. The latter will not sit well with Lebanese or Arabs.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 7:44 pm
  31. It’s become obvious, through wikileaks, that Arab leadership is seeking an end to the Israel issue through a comprehensive regional peace deal.

    Iran is violently opposed. What makes it a problem for 80 million Iranians, is a bit beyond me.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 7:52 pm
  32. 2015 is fine by me. I have made this wager /agreement a few times over the past few months.
    IObviously I am not satified whenever Lebanon acts, as it always has, as a client state. One can argue that sa’ad Hariri has transformed Lebanon into a quasi Saudi client state and that this status is not that much different than Being an Iranian client stae, a Syrian client state, a french client state … I am totally opposed to that notion of dependence and subservience but it is also only fair to suggest that some masters are less demanding and less exploitative than others:-)

    I do not believe , for a moment, that the Saudis would have agreed to sell the carpet for a pack of cigarettes unless this is a very special and unique pack that would imply as a minimum that Hezbollah agrees to start integrating its armed wing/militia into the Lebanese forces As any of the regular readers of this blog know , I am not a fan of any of the Arab regimes but what we are confronted with at this point is not whether Iwe approve of an absolute monarchy or whether we prefer a cruel dictaor. We have at the moment to deal with the world as it is and not as we would like it to be. I am still convinced that the Saudis are not gullible enough to settle for a meaningless pack of cigarettes but I will bet that they are the ones that agreed to a much more demanding exchange. Time will show that neither the Saudis with their good intentions nor the Syrian/Iranian front with their demands for a settlement in favour of Hezbollah will be able to influence the ultimate decisions of the STL. All of this will be nothing else but waisted efforts and valuable time that could have been applied more productively for the benefit of everday citizens of each of the states concerned.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 7, 2011, 8:03 pm
  33. Hassan Nasrallah is no carpet dealer … and Saad Hariri is in no need of a packet of cigarettes and vice versa.

    There’s a new Iranian Shi’ite agenda.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 8:05 pm
  34. Everybody who is anybody, knows that having Nuclear strike capability gives you the magical ability to speak more softly while carrying a big stick.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 8:21 pm
  35. However, beyond Iran’s and Hezbollah’s agenda to paint what most people within this region know has been a short-changing of the Palestinians on behalf of the creation of the Jewish Israeli state by the Europeans (and I wonder where they will stick Europe’s Romas in) … what else is their “enlightenment” based on ?

    They readily assemble European cars for Iranian consumption.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 8:40 pm
  36. I am not optimistic change will take place in Lebanoon. It will be more of the same.

    I do not give a time frame. I will reconsider when the Syrian and Iranian regimes fall.

    Posted by anonymous | January 7, 2011, 8:42 pm
  37. It wasn’t the Americans that created and divided the Middle east. It was the “old world” that did. The American came in to do business.

    The Americans did not migrate to America because the Holy Lord was born there. They went there for economic prosperity.

    On the other end you have a bunch of people that can’t get a girl this side of life convincing ordinary horny folk that there’s an orgy waiting for you on the other side if you sacrifice your life to killing non believers.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 7, 2011, 8:57 pm
  38. To – GK #32
    “One can argue that sa’ad Hariri has transformed Lebanon into a quasi Saudi client state and that this status is not that much different than Being an Iranian client stae, a Syrian client state, a french client state … I am totally opposed to that notion of dependence and subservience but it is also only fair to suggest that some masters are less demanding and less exploitative than others:-)”

    Trust me about your abiding faith in the less demanding master!. Wait till the bulk of sunni population is transformed by the salafi/wahabi creed into animals the rest of Lebanese cannot live with. Then they will come after the rest – both Shia and Christians kafirs. Remember Pakistan? 🙂

    Posted by Visitor | January 7, 2011, 10:28 pm
  39. Hi All:

    Bad Vibel:

    I have to concur with your argument, and disagree with Ghassan ( I have read many of Ghassans arguments on the beltway over the years) and would paint him as a eternal optimist. There is no fork in the road here, Lebanon wil continue to be weak, its citizens divided along confessional lines, its future paralyzed by a lack of genuine will towards political reform, and finally always prone to outside interference

    However I would not worry about 2015- this year perhaps 2012 summer at the latest- Israel’s long planned follow up for 2006 will be unleashed. All us emigres looking and taking a keen interest- Dont plan any holidays.

    Pity the poor Lebanese!

    Posted by Enlightened | January 8, 2011, 12:03 am
  40. Enlightened.

    Has the “trigger” for Operation Do-Over been chosen yet? The current Israeli theories of choice ie HA will “take over Lebanon” and/or start a diversionary war are both unlikely; the former would be a particularly difficult sell to the international community outside of the beltway. The latter scenario is much more manageable.

    Posted by lally | January 8, 2011, 2:34 am
  41. I have the impression most readers do not agree with the analysis of the main post. Yawn.

    Enlightened, You are referring to the recent change which took place in the Mossad?

    Posted by anonymous | January 8, 2011, 5:59 pm
  42. Peterinduai,33

    Shiisim is a Muslim and Arabic movement, not Persian or Iranian. The Imams who started the Shiia reform movement were Arabs, not Persian. It was the Persian who converted to Muslim, initially, and shiiA Muslim eventually, not the other way around. There is no way for any shiia to ever become a Persian. Persians practices every religion duty in Arabic, not Persian.
    Politics aside, your comment does not make any sense, since there are much more Persians trying to learn Arabic, then Arabic learning Persian.

    Posted by prophett | January 8, 2011, 6:58 pm
  43. Sorry,I left out the big(D)in your name,

    Posted by prophett | January 8, 2011, 7:01 pm
  44. AIG

    Let’s go back to the deal that Hariri allegedly proposed to Nasrallah: “You recognize the legitimacy of the Tribunal’s investigation and the evidence that links Ghamloush (or whomever) to my father’s murder. In exchange, I will agree to sell the narrative that these were rogue elements. More importantly, I will end my government’s cooperation with and support for the STL, and will use my international contacts to try to find a way to bring the investigation to a close.”

    In that deal, the goods being exchanged are also real and hard to revoke. The problem with such a deal, as you say, is that it could be easily undermined if the evidence supporting the indictments is very strong or very weak.

    My sense is that the Syrians, Saudis, Hariri, and Hizbullah have some sense of what kind of evidence the STL has by now, or else they would not have finalized a deal behind the scenes. They may be stalling for time and pretending to get things done, or they may know what cards the STL is holding and so are operating on the basis of that knowledge.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 8, 2011, 9:29 pm
  45. Prophet,

    You have to excuse the ignorance and typical Arab racist tone painting all the Shia as Iranian agents or having their loyalty in Iran.
    In Lebanon it seems the elite Maronites and Sunni’s main problem is that the Shia no longer being the poor peasants who they can oppress at will instead they are now a force to reckon with .
    Sadly this is the bare truth of Lebanon, for a while we were fooled that it was all about justice freedom sovereignty and independence as it turns out it’s just another tactic in the Bazaar of racism and sectarianism.
    As I said many times I am not an advocate of HA and I encourage full peace with our Israeli neighbors but it’s nice to see HA as powerful as they are now just to keep those rotten racist bigots in Lebanon on a short leash.

    Posted by V | January 8, 2011, 9:41 pm
  46. “… More importantly, I will end my government’s cooperation with and support for the STL, and will use my international contacts to try to find a way to bring the investigation to a close.”

    This part of the alleged offer is a pure QN patent par excellence. I wonder how that fares with HNA recognizing legitimacy of STL proposed at the beginning of the paragraph. Hariri’s initial offer to HNA definitely did not include such offer.

    Any one outside STL higher circles knowing anything about the evidence is pure speculation and conjecture.

    Anyone following speculators for the last four months must know by now, the alleged deal brokered by S-S and which Hariri referred to in the interview is concerned with maintaining stability until and after an indictment is issued. That is the deal which Hariri referred to as having been finalized. HA on the other hand does not consider a deal is finalized until provisions to deal with STL itself are included. This is the part where the negotiators have no means to deliver on their promises. The negotiating parties are in a state of Modus Vivendi as someone accurately pointed out.

    Here’s one to start a more interesting speculation. Hariri’s trip to NY was to tell the King the other party rejected the deal.

    Posted by anonymous | January 8, 2011, 9:56 pm
  47. Anonymous

    We don’t know what the offer contained. Nasrallah may have been making up the whole thing, and Hariri himself actually denied it.

    The point of my response to AIG was that it is not that hard to imagine a deal that can contain some kind of substance.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 8, 2011, 10:07 pm
  48. Actually we know what the deal was. It was made public at the time and shredded to pieces by the media and HNA himslef:

    “STL will issue indictments of undisciplined members of HA. HA itself will not be referred to in the indictment.”

    Posted by anonymous | January 8, 2011, 10:25 pm
  49. It was made public by who? 🙂 By Nasrallah himself. Hariri denied it. So we don’t know for sure what all the details were.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 8, 2011, 10:29 pm
  50. V,

    Are you saying HA are not “racist bigots”?

    How is the Lebanese public school system? Does it strive to unify the different sects (sunni, Shia, christian, druze)?

    What about the Lebanese army?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 8, 2011, 10:35 pm
  51. Ya QN,

    HNA does not lie as many people would immediately jump at your throat if you suggest such felony.

    Would this be his second lie after his 2006 war?

    Hariri did not unequivocally deny HNA’s story. Only Ammar Houri implied a denial in a very confused sort of way.

    Posted by anonymous | January 8, 2011, 10:47 pm
  52. V, 45
    This is from some one who is, as secular minded as, any Lebanese could get. Born to a shiia family myself, I find it very offensive and very ignorant, when the loyalty of Lebanese Shiia is being questioned. Although my previous statement sounded contradictory, the sad reality of the Lebanese sectarian society is that, your sect/faith is part of your identity-at least the perception of your identity by others. People identify you by your faith or sect much more than you identify yourself. lol
    One could easily sense the bigotry and the generalization of some of the comments that discus politics of the Middle East, and especially when it comes to the connection between Persia and the Shiia sect. Many people choose to ignore history of Shiism, and narrow it (Shiia history) to post Iranian revolution for cheap political reasons. They also choose to ignore the fact that Iran, under the shah, was still a predominantly shiia society, yet no one had ever accused the shiia of Lebanon of being Persians then. Only after the rise of the shiia community from poverty, weakness and illiteracy, ignorant or racist people suddenly “woke up” to the false reality of “Shiia’s loyalty” to Iran.
    No doubt in my mind , that HA and Lebanese shiia , generally drew lots of support from Iran’s new form of government, but this support, in no way ,will make the shiia loyal to any state, other than Lebanon. Those who died defending and liberating south Lebanon died on Lebanese soil, and for the sovereignty of Lebanon, not in Iran or for Iran.
    Among other factors, the dysfunctional state of Lebanon, along with the civil war, and the interference of different countries in Lebanon’s affairs, made it easy and possible for the Iranians support to take hold, and become acceptable by the Shiia themselves. It took a long time for most Shiia to even accept the support, and the influence of Iran. Yet, I believe that the greatest majority of Lebanese shiia, including most HA Supporters, realize that there are huge cultural differences between Iranians and Lebanese Shiia. Sharing the same faith and the same sect will never be enough to feel one and the same.
    No matters what people say regarding the influence of Wilayt Al Faqieh; that influence is, and will always be limited.

    Posted by prophett | January 8, 2011, 11:54 pm
  53. AP,
    Historically in the Arab world the Shia have been marginalized and the victims of racism, oppression and persecution. In fact I think they have much in common with the Jews and should make great allies in this sea of darkness called the Middle East.
    There is no public system in Lebanon that strives to anything let alone unify. Lebanon is utterly a failed state and a failed society on all levels.

    Posted by V | January 8, 2011, 11:56 pm
  54. V

    are you an anti-iranian racist?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 12:00 am
  55. QN,

    This is the alleged deal you cite:
    “You recognize the legitimacy of the Tribunal’s investigation and the evidence that links Ghamloush (or whomever) to my father’s murder. In exchange, I will agree to sell the narrative that these were rogue elements. More importantly, I will end my government’s cooperation with and support for the STL, and will use my international contacts to try to find a way to bring the investigation to a close.”

    The deal is not internally consistent.
    1) If Hezbollah recognizes the legitimacy of the tribunal how can Hariri distance himself from the STL? What could be his reason if even Hezbollah finds it legitimate?
    2) The STL will go on whatever Hariri does, so how can he deliver what he promises?
    3) France and the US have gone on the record supporting the STL strongly. Can Hariri really afford to dis them? I think not.
    4) Who is going to buy the “rouge elements” statement if the “elements” are ones acknowledged and praised by Nasrallah in the past. For example Mugniyeh.

    In short, both sides are selling what they don’t have.

    Posted by AIG | January 9, 2011, 12:29 am
  56. Gabriel- you are an idiot

    Posted by V | January 9, 2011, 1:15 am
  57. V.

    What’s with the gentility.

    You didn’t answer the question… are you an anti-Iranian racist?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 2:06 am
  58. Lally said:


    Has the “trigger” for Operation Do-Over been chosen yet?

    Lally I am not privy to any military matters, but having studied and read relentlessly on the Arab/Israeli wars, and the Israeli/PLO conflicts, the realist in me tells me that if I were in the Israeli Military leadership, I wouldn’t allow this build up to continue, with out taking decisive action- whether this includes total and utter devastation of the South or another occupation aka 1982-2000. Militarily , it does not make sense for the Israeli’s to allow this to continue. My preference however that we can all conclude a peace treaty- sooner rather than later.

    Your preferred scenario for the “trigger” ie the HA takeover of Lebanon, I don’t think is doable either, I hasten to add the the M14 movement would be rather silly to give another pretext or reason (aka the independent communication lines)to allow HA to take to the streets with its gunmen again. I personally feel that HA has positioned itself very well politically, and strategically. It has enough leverage politically and militarily to outmanouvre anything the M14 movement or Lebanese government, put in front of it!

    Anonymous- no I wasn’t referring to the latest change in the Mossad! Maybe Meir Dagan is now heading up that secret Iranian project who knows?

    Posted by Enlightened | January 9, 2011, 4:25 am
  59. Enlightened, welcome back!

    AIG @55 “In short, both sides are selling what they don’t have.”

    Hmm, welcome to the Middle East. No, wait, you’re already there and know about it. If 2006 is considered by HA a “victory” why do you find the reasoning suggested by QN unrealistic and inconsistent? It may be inconsistent but that’s not because of QN’s reasoning but because of the way things are done in that strange land. Since then did reality and reason guide the discussions and actions of folks there?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 9, 2011, 5:49 am
  60. “Since when” instead of “Since then” in the last sentence above.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 9, 2011, 9:15 am
  61. HP,

    Your argument (and QN’s) is still false for a very simple reason. If the STL was part of an alleged deal HNA would not have spent so much effort, time and resources on his public appearances attacking it. He wants the end of the STL, and he wants Hariri to do just that for him – simple.

    We know now the alleged deal is not finalized from the point of view of one party because the STL was and is still not part of the ‘deal’.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 11:30 am
  62. Anon:

    But if the STL is not “part of the deal”. Then Hariri can’t do much about ending it, short of pulling out all the Lebanese portion of the funding.

    After all, what’s to stop the STL from simply making all it’s findings public.

    I think the best HNA can hope for, is that the story is minimized. That Hariri distances himself from the STL, that Arab TV channels don’t fan the flames of the story.

    Then with enough people simply reflexively saying the whole thing is some Western-Israeli conspiracy (even if they know otherwise internally) would at the very least be some way out.

    I still don’t see how HNA can afford though not to treat the STL seriously and go for a legal challenge of the charges (where he will successfully- we are told by some posters- give a thorough refutation of the charges laid). The above scenario will hang like the sword of Democles over his head.

    Or maybe he’s biding his time (at the risk of angering the Sensitive Shia). Maybe the ascendant Crescent (Syria-Iran-Lebanon-Iraq) will simply challenge the Saudi position for years to come. And as Dubai’s Peter points out, what better way to back that proposal than with some Nuclear warheads.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 11:44 am
  63. Prophet:

    Putting aside the small details (and yes they are small details) of whether the Shia political strand started off being “Arab”, the truth is, its oomph and power was sustained, nourished, fed in Iran. Not 20 years ago, but starting 1500 years ago with the Abbasids.

    Without the power of empire behind it for centuries (sustained by principally Persians), the Shiite movement would be an liberal minority like the Aga Khan’s Ismailis.

    Now since I’m still trying to wrap my head around this statement:

    — There is no way for any shiia to ever become a Persian. —

    The MAJORITY of shia are in fact PERSIAN. So they hardly need to become Persian.

    — Persians practices every religion duty in Arabic, not Persian.–

    ALL Muslims Sunni, or Shia practice their religious duties in ARABIC. This is true for Turks and Indonesians and Indians and Pakistanis. This is because the core religion has a superiority complex that leads it’s followers to believe that “Arabic” is God’s gift to the planet.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 11:54 am
  64. V

    My apologies. I didn’t have the energy to address the following drivel you contributed:

    — You have to excuse the ignorance and typical Arab racist tone —

    Typical: exhibiting the qualities or characteristics that identify a group or kind or category

    So let’s deconstruct. Typical “Arab” racist Tone. I take it you’re either

    1) not an Arab. Hence insufficient info to determine proclivity to Racism

    2) Or you’re not a Typical Arab.

    3) Or you’re a Typical Arab who is Racist.

    — racist tone painting all the Shia as Iranian agents or having their loyalty in Iran. —

    Since when has suggesting loyalty to “Iran” been a “Racist” suggestion. The suggestion that of course the Arabs view the Persians as Racially Inferior.

    If so, why give credit to the notion by supporting it. After all, you seem to suggest that showing loyalty to Iran is tantamount to showing loyalty to a Lesser Being, hence giving credit to the Notion that the “Arabs” are racist towards the Shia, by comparing them to a racially inferior group called the Iranians.

    Hence my rhetorical question.

    On the topic of Racial stereotyping. I have yet to meet an Iranian, who when you in jest call them an Arab, does not take offence to being called an Arab.

    And believe you me, I have a lot of Iranian friends!

    I humbly end this post with the suggestion that if you are 1) Lebanese, 2) Arab, 3) Shia, then for the sake of communal harmony, refrain from such acerbic characterizations of “Arab” proclivity to Racism. Otherwise, you may find that you inadvertently feed the same narrative that some of the Shia haters try to peddle!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 12:08 pm
  65. Gaby 62,
    That’s irrelevant to the discussion of the thread. We are not discussing what HNA can or cannot get. There is an alleged deal that QN put forth as the main post with a colorful analysis.

    Gaby 63,

    Your information about history is deficient. The Abassid’s were not a Shia state. The Shia was and still is a political movement since the early days of succession. There was not a Shia state in history except for the brief period of the Fatimids, who were later proven heretics by both Sunnis and Shia (This is somewhat confusing but you will know soon why). Iran was a Sunni state (almost 100%) until the 15th century when Ismail Al-Safawi (who descends from the Mongolians) began again a political movement to convert by force the people of Iran to Shiism. Iran is still up till today over 35% Sunni. I mentioned in a previous thread that these Sunnis have no right to build their Mosques or schools and have no MP’s in Parliament. If you compare their state to the Shia in the Arab world, you would see the hypocrisy of those who claim the Shia are mistreated by the Arabs.

    There are over hundred groups that emerged through history that can be described as Shia in the sense that they claim allegiance to the Ahl Al-Bayt. About four or five survived to the present. The Iranian brand which believes in the twelve Imams has become the most dominant.

    Generally speaking, ordinary Shia know very little about their creed except their duty to believe in the holiness of the infallible Imams descendant of Ali (and even their divinity in the sense that they have the power to intercede on behalf of the follower with the All-Mighty and that they are in the same category as the prophets and even angels) or the twelve Imams. They pray as ordinary Muslims, perform Hajj and fast Ramadan. However, if you venture deep into their scholars’ writings (which they call Marjaa and every Shia must have a Marjaa to emulate or he/she is an outsider) then you will find their contradictions even with the Qur’an itself mind boggling. For this reason main stream Muslims look with suspicion to these Marjaas and declare them heretics quite often. As for ordinary Shia, the position of mainstream is that they are Muslims who are following blindly those who quite often lead them astray. Not all Marjaas are in this category. For example the late Mr. Fadlallah diverged from the main Shia creed and he became a star in the Arab world and a villain among the Shia. There is also the current Ali al-Amin and others. This state of affairs is remnant of the middle ages when the Fatimids were in power and they spread the philosophy of esoterism (or Batinism). The Batinis in essence say what they do not really believe. Does that remind of any group that is still alive and in Lebanon? The esoterics also coined to the world for the first time the term ‘assassin’ which derives from the Arabic word Hashshasheen. They gained fame with the daring assassinations that they undertook and the term was coined by the Europeans to describe them. Does that ring a bell of current state of affairs? The past may not be very far away from the present.
    In my opinion, the so-called Shia-crescent is overblown and so is the issue of Nuclear Iran. When and if it comes to that, the Pakistani Nukes actually belong to SA being the bankroller of the project.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 12:49 pm
  66. Anon:

    I’m not here to give history lessons, or to write historical tomes. Of course the Abbasids were not Shia. But the forces behind them were (and their base was present day Iraq and Iran). This arrangement continues to the present day. Hence the reference to the Abbasids as a point in history

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 1:03 pm
  67. Just as a note of continuation.

    I don’t like to get into “religious” discussions, and statements such as

    ” then you will find their contradictions even with the Qur’an itself mind boggling. For this reason main stream Muslims look with suspicion to these Marjaas and declare them heretics quite often. ”

    Are in my view quite unacceptable. For one, all religions are self-contradictory. So when one sect practices takfir against another on account of contradictions, it is not an acceptable state of affairs. Especially because such “Takfir” is the guise under which religious freedom is suppressed.

    On the note of Sunni and Shia. There was no “Islam” at the onset of the spread of “Islam”. Hence there was no Sunni or Shia. There was poltical argumentations, political difference, etc. There were warriors expanding and gaining territory.

    But the philosophical schools of thoughts, the sort of discussion where ideas were formalized, a legal framework placed, etc. only really started emerging much later (9th century on).

    On the STL point. I’m not sure I follow. I still don’t know what your theory is of what is going on behind the scenes.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 1:14 pm
  68. — In my opinion, the so-called Shia-crescent is overblown and so is the issue of Nuclear Iran. When and if it comes to that, the Pakistani Nukes actually belong to SA being the bankroller of the project.–

    So why have the Saudis expended so much money and effort trying to contain Iran?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 1:25 pm
  69. Gaby,

    How can you give lessons of something you clearly seem not to know anything about?

    The Abassid Caliphate was a full fledged Sunni State and so was Iran at the time until as I mentioned there was a political movement to convert people to Shiism which is still ongoing. In fact the Abbassids were at odds with the Shia groups who were present at their time. These groups were not Iranians

    It took over 5 centuries to create the current base of both Iran and Iraq who adhere to Shiism due to the Safawi movement. If dates mean anything to you, the movement started shortly after 1500 when the Caliphate was transferred to the Ottomans. The Savavid dynasty did not want to submit to the Turkish authorities. For your information, the Turks sacked Tehran on at least one occasion for that purpose.

    So where does the reference to the Abbasids fit in you argument? The Abbasids were long gone by that time.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 1:28 pm
  70. Gaby,

    Your information is vey deficient and you’re contradicting yourself big time.

    This is a subject that takes the efforts of hundreds if not thousands of specialists to deal with. You are not going to get anywhere to scratch its surface from the looks of it.

    If you do not like to get involved in a subject of religion, then stay away from it. I too do not like to talk about it. When you open such a subject you should be willing to be more recipient than what you seem to be capable of.

    You want to go back to STL? then close the subject and go back and read.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 1:38 pm
  71. Anon:

    I really was in no mood for this, but here goes.

    — The Abassid Caliphate was a full fledged Sunni State —

    The Abbasid ruled from 752AD to 1258AD.

    How do you describe them as a “full fledged Sunni State”.

    What is Sunni? Followers of the Sunnah. When were the hadiths compiled?

    The followers of Muhammad at his time did not go around labelling themselves as “Sunni” and “Shia”. These are descriptions you give them. I don’t think in his time Ali would have guessed as to how holy a figure he’d emerge to be!

    The Abbasid oversaw the empire in which the Sunni schools of thoughts emerged. But even with them it didn’t start that way. It started off being Mu’tazali (and they were suppressing the now standard Sunni schools), together with a whole bunch of Shiite schools.

    Within the Islamic empire that existed at the time (Amawi to the West, and Abbasid to the East), most people who would describe themselves as “Shia” lived in the areas of Iran and Iraq.

    This was the reason for my reference to the Abbasids.

    As for the continued point on the Safawis. OK. But that doesn’t change anything. The Shia didn’t just appear in 15th century Iran because some character forced everyone to become Shia. There was already a strong presence, and a presence that had been there for many centuries!

    As for the alleged crimes of the Safawi and his successors against the Sunnis, don’t you think you’re being a little unfair? It’s not as though the Sunnis in their spheres of influence were not eradicating groups of different thoughts!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 2:06 pm
  72. AIG, Anon, et al

    Let me try to un-muddy the waters a little bit. This is what we know:

    (1) The Syrians and Saudis are negotiating some kind of agreement about how to “deal with” the STL. We don’t know what this means yet. We don’t know if they can force their Lebanese allies to do what they are told, and we don’t know what the scope of the agreement is. What we do know is that some kind of negotiation is taking place.

    (2) We also know that the contents of this negotiation are being communicated to Lebanese parties by the Syrians and Saudis themselves. Hariri’s interview in al-Hayat clearly indicates that he knows what the S-S agreement involves. Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah’s statement today indicates that Hizbullah is also in the loop and appears to be satisfied with where things are going.

    (3) For both Hariri and Hizbullah to be satisfied with the progress of the S-S negotiations, then we have to assume that either:

    (a) The whole thing is a facade and no negotiation is taking place but everyone is pretending to be satisfied.

    (b) The negotiation is real and both sides are comfortable with the general outlines of the agreement, and are just ironing out the details.

    Now, what could this agreement possibly entail? It’s very hard to answer this question without knowing what kind of leverage the Saudis have over the STL and what kind of game Syria is playing vis-a-vis Hizbullah. We also obviously have no idea about what kind of evidence the STL is going to produce. But we do have a sense of what, at the very least, March 14 and the Saudis could offer Hizbullah and the Syrians (and I’m quoting here from the ICG report):

    (i) “…the Lebanese government or parliament could request the Security Council to bring the STL’s work to a close once indictments have been issued, invoking the need to preserve domestic tranquility and peace…”

    (ii) “the government could decide, or parliament could vote, to cease cooperating with the tribunal, again for the sake of national stability…”

    (iii) “The government or parliament could condition future cooperation with the STL on changes to its mode of cooperation. Of these, the most important might be to forsake the possibility of conducting trials in absentia – a procedure that, in any event, would have the demerit of indefinitely dragging on the process without hope of closure or genuine accountability. The STL also might be asked to look at the possible impact of the so-called false witnesses issues as well as alleged Israeli infiltration of the telecommunications sector.”

    (iv) Alternatively, Lebanon could formally raise doubts regarding the indictments and freeze its cooperation with the STL pending completion of its own investigation into such matters.”

    (v) “…Lebanon could continue cooperating with the tribunal while expressing serious misgivings regarding the basis of some of its

    The major question is: what can Hizbullah offer in return? That’s the question that I’m raising in this post. It seems that the “rogue elements” option was floated early in the S-S negotiation process, and Hizbullah basically rejected it. Maybe that was a mistake, because they don’t really seem to have much room to maneuver at this point.

    I accept that the deal I hastily outlined in the comment section above is internally inconsistent, but I don’t think that one should necessarily conclude that no deal is possible and that the whole thing is a facade.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 2:18 pm
  73. FYI, the Abbasid empire was ruled, during the 10th and 11th century, by the Buyids, who were Shiite.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 2:24 pm
  74. Anon:

    — The Abbasid ruled from 752AD to 1258AD.

    — How do you describe them as a “full fledged Sunni State”.

    Before you jump on me again, I meant how do you describe them as Sunni in say the first 100-150 years of their presence, when the schools of thoughts were not institutionalized.

    As for me and the topic of religion. I don’t mind getting into it. What I meant was that I didn’t write that blurb to Nabi and V on account of starting a religious discussion, only to address the rather natural relationship betwen Shiism and Iran and to suggest that this linkage goes back to the earliest days of Islam.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 2:35 pm
  75. Gabriel I also have no energy or time for hypothetical questions or useless linguistic gymnastics to avoid the obvious.

    Here it is again:
    Painting the Arab Shia as Iranian agents or loyal to Iran is meant to portray them as traitors to their Arab countries. it originates from hate, contempt and racism.

    It’s not the CIA or the Mossad who are blowing up themselves in Shia houses of prayers in Iraq.

    Unlike others here my opposition to HA is not based on hate for the Shia.

    Posted by V | January 9, 2011, 2:57 pm
  76. V:

    The “Arabs” who are blowing up themselves in Shia houses of prayer (actually they are not all Arabs)… are not doing it because the Shia have close relations to Iran.

    They don’t do it for political reasons. They do it for incomprehensible religious ones.

    Whether in Iraq or in Lebanon, the fact remains that amongst those religiously inclined, the Shia have very close ties to Iran. There is nothing racist about this statement.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 3:12 pm
  77. The parties in Lebanon are free to strike any deal between them They always had that privilege. But to suggest that they can agree between them what the STL can do and cannot do is preposterous.

    If for one reason or another, the expected STL indictments are to create Lebanese internal instability due to the fact that one faction wishes to continue its blackmail of a state and even the international community then the Lebanese are free to make any arrangements between them in order to contain such a possibility but there is nothing that they can do or that Saudi Arabia can do to change either the indictments or the international judicial process. If that is allowed to occur then that would go down as one of the worst steps in international jurisprudence ever taken. It will not happen.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 9, 2011, 3:13 pm
  78. V says:

    “Unlike others here my opposition to HA is not based on hate for the Shia.”

    And know who is it that is generalizing? 🙂 I am sure you meant “some” instead of “others”.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 9, 2011, 3:23 pm
  79. Gaby,

    Let’s make it as short as possible in order to close it and go back to the main subject. The schism between Sunnis and Shia goes back to the early days of succession and its causes were purely political often supported by religious arguments. Both Sunnis and Shia claimed adherence to the Sunnah from early on. The formalism of the schools of thought took sometime to finalize. In the meantime the struggle went on politically with the Sunnis (or let’s put it this way: those who did not consider the descendants of Ali to have any special claim to the Caliphate and to them the issue is open to consultation) often claiming victory in the political arena. You may be interested in reading how these groups evolved from the very early days but you need to have good mastery of Arabic and the patience. If you are interested let me know and I’ll provide you references to online material.

    The Buyids rule lasted for a very short period of time when the Abbasids Caliphate was in its final days. They were Fiver Imams or Zaydis who are considered the closest to mainstream Muslims among all the other Shia groups. It can also be explained in terms of the struggle over power with the Turks who were ascending at the time. We all know the Turks eventually gained the upper hand during which time the Saffawis appeared in Iran and started their movement.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 3:25 pm
  80. QN,

    I doubt there can be an SS deal without Iran.

    It must be an SSI deal.

    One might have to look not at what Hezbollah has to offer, but what Iran could in the wider scope of things.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 9, 2011, 4:15 pm
  81. The trade off could be Iranian transparency into its Nuclear program for Saudi/Syrian assurances HA remains unharmed by the STL.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 9, 2011, 4:30 pm
  82. “I doubt there can be an SS deal without Iran.

    It must be an SSI deal.”

    While we’re at it, let’s not exclude France, America, Russia, Turkey.

    It must be a SSI-FART deal.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 4:33 pm
  83. QN 72,

    Your comment point one by one:

    1) The parts of the deal that are being leaked indicate negotiations are going on for the purpose of maintaining stability in Lebanon. There are also indications of a wider scope involving making the state functional as per Taif provisions which foresaw the elimination of all paramilitary arms from Lebanon. This means based on the Naharnet story suggesting a French role, the price to burry STL is the arms of HA. This is the price of the ‘plea bargain’ scenario I alluded to in my first comment. Otherwise, no deal on STL itself. I must add I said I’m speculating in that comment.
    Houri himself when supposedly denying the initial offer to HA said the STL was not discussed. That could mean many things: indictments were discussed, ‘undisciplined members’ of HA were discussed, exonerating HA itself were discussed. And yet Houri may still be right: STL itself was not discussed in that meeting.

    2) Yes, But we also know from last interview of Hariri and later pronouncement by the other party that there is no deal at the moment. The aura of confidence that HA officials would like to keep conveying is typical HA propaganda. They are caught in their own ideology of ‘invincibility’ in which any small concession would mean defeat. Thus they continue to inflate expectations.

    3) No need to assume there are negotiations. Because we know there are negotiations. But both your sub clauses a) and b) are false. No one is satisfied yet. Again: Modus Vivendi.

    I would have left the ICG report completely out of this. It is simply the wish list of the Assad regime. I mentioned in the previous thread, Mrs. Arbour was in Damas, Syria during the preparation of the report. She wrote an exact copy of the official line of thinking in that capital. Dismiss, please.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 4:55 pm
  84. Turkey ?? Part of a Lebanese equation?

    You just pissed off the Armenian electorate. Not to mention the Orthodox.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 9, 2011, 4:57 pm
  85. Anonymous 83

    You go to great lengths to point out when I make the slightest speculation, and yet your response to me is full of speculation! 🙂

    1) If the sole purpose of the current negotiation is to maintain stability in Lebanon, then this in itself is significant.

    2) Where do you get the notion that there is no deal at the moment from Hariri’s interview? He basically said that the Saudis and Syrians reached an agreement before Abdullah went to New York, and yet the opposition has yet to execute its required steps.

    As for the ICG report… what do you mean that it is the wish list of the Assad regime? That is a little bit simplistic, in my opinion. There is a wide gulf between what the ICG is arguing and what the Syrian regime has called for publicly (via its mouthpieces like Wi’am Wahhab, Sami Moubayed and others).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 5:20 pm
  86. GABRIEL 63,
    I know this is not related to the thread.
    I’m not an expert on shiia history, but there are some basic, well knows historical facts that are commonly known. So I need to correct some of your “historical facts”
    I know this is not related to the thread, But I wanted to make some historical corrections to your information.
    Shiism didn’t start with the Abbasids. The Abbasids never were officially shiia even though the founder, and first chaliph was a descendent of the prophet (Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (566 – 662), one of the youngest uncles of Mohamed)
    The emergence of Shiia started right after the death of Prophet Mohamed, this movement reached its peek at the battle of Karbala. The Karbala battle which resulted in the murder of Imam Hussein was a marking time of official emergence of Shiism as a separate Muslim sect.
    The Abbasids, did support the shiia, used the murder of Hussein for their own political reason, but they were not really shiia per say. They did sympathies with the family and supporters of Imam Hussein, and they were outraged, just like the majority of Muslims at what transpired at Karbala.
    As for the majority of shiia are Persian, this may be true because of the large population of Iran, but it is not because of the Persians started Shiism. Iran converted to Shiism about 500 years ago. So Shiia sect was around for more than 900 years before Iran became Shiia, so your suggestion that “the Shiite movement would be a liberal minority like the Aga Khan’s Ismailis ‘, is irrelevant.
    The point that I want to end my comment with is this; Shiia sect started by Arabs, not by Persians. The fact that there are more shiia in Iran then in Arabic countries has nothing to do with the origin of the movement at all.
    There are shiia in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and many other countries. Just like Sunni sect, it’s all over the world, but that does not mean that Islam started by (Pakistanis or Indonesians.. etc) , just for the simple reason that Indonesia has more Muslims than Saudi Arabic or Egypt.
    One last piece of information; all of Iranian clergymen who wear the black turbine are Arab descendent of the prophet Mohamed. Otherwise their turbines would have to be white.

    Posted by prophett | January 9, 2011, 5:31 pm
  87. Sorry for my bad editing,I’m on the run this weekend. strike repeated sentences “I know this is not related to the thread, But I wanted to make some historical corrections to your information.”

    Posted by prophett | January 9, 2011, 5:34 pm
  88. QN 85,

    May be I didn’t make myself clear enough. I was only speculating about the part relating to the Naharnet story which implied STL price equals HA arms assuming a French role in the negotiations. By the way we know Assad dined with Sarkozy and he (Assad) came back to Damas in support of STL indictments showing solid evidence. But somehow, Dr. Shaaban contradicted him shortly thereafter.

    The other part, I was not making any speculations. The stability part has been repeated over and over in the media. There are also reports for provisions to make the state functional etc… which by the way may tie with the French connection.

    Why do we not have a deal right now? First Hariri made the interview in order to throw the ball to the other side. That was very obvious. We also know the government does not meet for well known reasons relating to ongoing negotiations. We also know Berri refused to agree to Hariri appointees in the ISF. What else is there that doesn’t imply there is no deal?

    As for ICG, I was not referring to Mobayyed or any other mouthpiece of Syria. All those items (recommendations) that you quoted from ICG were floated in the Lebanese media over the last few months, specifically media connected with HA and/or Syria.

    I must go now, because I didn’t get my intake of caffein for the day yet. But, I’ll be back.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 6:07 pm
  89. Nabi,

    LoL. I don’t know why you and Anon are so hooked on details. I don’t see where anything you wrote contradicts anything I wrote. Where did I say Shiism was started by the Persians?

    On that note, perhaps we should even refrain from using words like “Persian”. The foot soldiers of Babylon-Persia must have had a very complex ethnic makeup: Persian, Arab, Ashuri, Greek, Turko-Mongolian. But if we start dissecting things to minutia, we’d never be able to communicate a single idea!

    The reference to “Abbasid” was I think especially relevant since the Muslim empire went from being one ruled exclusively by Arabs to one that over the next coming centuries was ruled by non-Arabs who came from the general vicinities of Iran-Iraq-Steppes.

    On your note on Pakistanis, etc. There is a difference. Indonesians, subcontinent etc converts to Islam were primarily consumers of the religion. Sure the mullahs come a dime a dozen from those countries now, but their refernce points are ancient texts written over a thousand years in the schools in Baghdad etc.

    The “iranians” on the other hand had an integral role in the development of Shiite thoughts, jurisprudence, theology, etc.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 6:51 pm
  90. One of the questions relating to the Saudi-Syrian deal is the Saudi component. The Saudis have a poor track record of seeing things through in Lebanon — although they have had their moments (Taif I suppose) — and it is not clear me how secure the current rapprochement with Syria is. Abdullah made a big decision to mend fences with Bashar two years ago because he recognised that he could not afford a repeat of the half-men jibes when Israel was pulverising Gaza. This was a wholly reactive, tactical and opportunistic move and was inconsistent with the Saudis’ visceral opposition to Iran. The Saudis are persisting with their joint initiative with Syria for the sake of Lebanese stability, but it is not clear whether they have properly thought through the consequences. Crucially the Saudis have very little actual leverage, although of course global leaders will all listen sagely to whatever the Saudi king says and profess to take heed. This initiative is very much Abdullah’s personal mission, as evidenced by his decision to entrust much of the work on the ground to his son Abdelaziz, one of the more obscure Saudi royals. With Abdullah sick in New York and quite possibly on his way out, the Saudi pillar of this supposed joint initiative does not look very secure. All of which suggests to me that the deal is an ultimately doomed exercise in damage limitation.

    Posted by Zubaida | January 9, 2011, 7:05 pm
  91. Zubaida,
    Your conclusion is arguably the only thing that makes sense.
    Whether it is Saniora or Jumblatt or even Saudi and Syrian officials there is a unanimity that the STL indictment is a done deal. Nothing will change that. The STL was set up to investigate , indict and then hold trial and it will do that. The Saudi-Syrian sponsored or is it dictated proposals to maintain internal peace in Lebanon as a result of this investigation is nothing else beyond what you have rightly concluded: “damage control”.
    It has been clear to this observor for months that the damage , if any, is not to be felt by March 14 who stand to gain from the indictments but it is Hezzbollah and its masters who have to worry about “damage control”.
    March 8 will not get any cooperation on lessening the potential expected damage for free. It has to pay a price.What that price will be , we do not know yet, but a price will be paid. One likely option which I have mentione d often is to loosen its control over its militia and a serious move to allow the state to exercise its power over many areas that are currently outside the reach of the state.
    If the SS proposals succeed in bringing about internal stability and a resolution of the conflict that has plagued Lebanon for the past 5 years then we should all be grateful for the STL .
    I have my doubts that the SS proposals will succeed but if they do then the STL would have been the trigger and in that case it would have accomplished two things:
    (1) Investigated the assassination of the former PM Rafic Hariri and brought the accused to justice
    (2) Forced the Lebanese parties to arrive at an accommodation to govern more effectively.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 9, 2011, 7:30 pm
  92. Zubaida

    There was a news item recently about how one of the Saudi princes reportedly told Hariri that he had to give up the STL; Hariri of course denied it. I can’t recall which prince it was…

    At any rate, your point raises the larger question of what Saudi policy will be in Lebanon once Abdullah dies. My sense is that most of the powerful members of the ruling family (and particularly the Sudairis) are even more virulently anti-Hizbullah/Iran than Abdullah.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 8:06 pm
  93. Upbeat Syria sees Lebanon solution this month
    Damascus officials expect meeting of rivals to announce deal prior to Tribunal indictment
    By Hussein Dakroub
    Daily Star staff
    Monday, January 10, 2011

    BEIRUT: Syria is optimistic that a Saudi-Syrian-brokered agreement to resolve Lebanon’s months-long crisis will be implemented later this month, an Arab diplomatic source said Sunday, a move that is likely to defuse political and sectarian tensions over indictment in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

    Speaking to The Daily Star after meeting with senior Syrian officials in Damascus, the source said Syria believed a U.N.-backed court’s indictment into Hariri’s killing being issued this month was unlikely, a move that is expected to give the Saudi and Syrian mediators more time to clinch a deal from the rival Lebanese factions.

    “The agreement worked out by Saudi Arabia and Syria has been accomplished. Only technical aspects of the deal are left to be finalised, including a crisis of deep confidence between the feuding parties,” the source said.

    The source said efforts were under way to arrange a meeting later this month between the March 8 and March 14 factions with the presence of Saudi and Syrian representatives at which the accord would be made public.

    In a further signal that the Saudi-Syrian bid was heading toward smooth sailing, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz will leave New York for Morocco on Jan. 21 to pursue his convalescence following back surgeries, the source said. He added that Abdullah’s presence in the Moroccan city of Agadir was expected to help the king’s son, Prince Abdel-Aziz, shuttle easily between Damascus and Beirut as part of the Saudi-Syrian contacts.

    However, the source warned that Saudi Arabia was coming under “heavy U.S. pressure” not to proceed with the deal being thrashed out with Syria. “There are American fears that the Saudi-Syrian agreement will eventually lead to the abolition of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” the source said.

    The source also cautioned that Syria would pull out of the agreement with Saudi Arabia if the S.T.L.’s indictment was released before the announcement of the agreement.

    Syria’s reported optimism, coupled with Speaker Nabih Berri’s statement that January is a “decisive” month for the Saudi-Syria mediation bid, came as Prime Minister Saad Hariri was to meet again in New York early Monday (Beirut time) with the Saudi king to discuss the Riyadh-Damascus contacts on Lebanon.

    Hariri met late Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has met with the Saudi king on what was described as a “courtesy” visit following his recovery from back surgeries in New York last month.

    Clinton discussed with Abdullah and Hariri rising tension in Lebanon over the forthcoming indictment at separate meetings in New York, U.S. officials said.

    Clinton reaffirmed strong U.S. support for Lebanon’s independence and for the work of the U.N.-backed tribunal that is investigating the assassination of Hariri’s father, said a source who attended the half-hour meeting between Clinton and Hariri at a New York hotel.

    Asked whether the Lebanese prime minister also supported it, the source replied, “That goes without saying.”

    The source added that Clinton had also expressed strong support for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon, a phrase often used to imply criticism of attempts by neighboring Syria to exert control over Lebanese affairs.

    Clinton herself made no comment to reporters other than to praise her meeting with Hariri as “excellent.” The United States has repeatedly underlined its commitment to Hariri’s government and to the tribunal.

    Before meeting Hariri, Clinton held a 45-minute meeting in an adjacent hotel with the Saudi king. No details of their talks were available, but State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said before the meeting: “Certainly, she will emphasize to the king, as well as to the prime minister, our support of the democratic government in Lebanon, as well as our ongoing support for the Special Tribunal.”

    Hariri’s national unity Cabinet has been paralyzed for months by political tension and the rival factions’ dispute over the controversial issue of “false witnesses” linked to the U.N. probe into Rafik Hariri’s assassination. It has met only once since November 10 and it failed at its last meeting on December 15 to settle this issue when the March 8 ministers demanded a vote for referring it to the Judicial Council, the country’s highest court, prompting President Michel Sleiman to defer the session.

    In an interview with the Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat last week, Hariri said Saudi Arabia and Syria had reached an agreement to resolve the Lebanese crisis several months ago, but its implementation has been held up by Hizbullah and its March 8 allies who have failed to carry out their share of the deal. Hariri’s remarks drew a quick response from Berri and a Hizbullah minister who rejected Hariri’s accusation.

    Hizbullah M.P. Ali Fayyad said the March 8 camp has done its share of a solution for the crisis and was ready to help in implementation. He warned of U.S. attempts to obstruct the Saudi-Syrian solution. “The current stage is not one to score points or to engage in negative rhetoric … A solution is in the interest of all the Lebanese,” Fayyad told a rally in the southern village of Majdal Slim.

    M.P. Mohammed Hajjar of Hariri’s Future parliamentary bloc said the Saudi-Syrian bid sought to prevent a military explosion in Lebanon and the overthrow of Hariri’s Cabinet. “We in the Future Movement say there are firm and known things. The tribunal will remain and the indictment will be issued on time. Security is ensured, undermining stability is forbidden and the toppling of Hariri’s Cabinet is also forbidden.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 9, 2011, 8:35 pm
  94. Here’s a relevnat story that you can either trust or mistrust based on how much you think the media is objevctive in its reporting. The report is based on so-called official Syrian sources who have access,

    Notice that it all relates to crisis management issues such as so-called ‘false witness’ or the more bizzare case raised in Syrian courts by Mr. Sayyid. Notice also the bizzare excuse presented by Syria on why it (Syria) is stalling on the issue. If things are to be done according to Syria’s wishes in this case, then any one in the future can follow Sayyid’s lead and open a case in Syria and then force the Lebanese government to do what Syria dictates.

    Of course there is reference to Taif, Doha and national governement but there are no clear answers on these issues. These seem to require ‘divine’ intervention from higher authorities.

    The scapegoat is always ready. In this case, the Americans are the villains who are preventing the ‘poor’ Lebanese, the ‘sincere’ Syrians and the ‘magnanimous’ Saudis from living happily ever after.

    Those Sadairis are not just anti-Hizbullah, they are also anti-rapproachment with Syria with conditions as they are viz-a-viz geopolitics. This may explain the awkward behaviour of the Saudis in the last two years. I do not believe, however, that the King decided to make up (against the Sudairi wishes) with Syria just because a ‘novice’ made reference to half-men. That issue was easily taken care of by professional media ‘moguls’ on payroll.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 8:36 pm
  95. QN,

    I saw your DS story after I posted my last comment.

    It looks like the same source is speaking in both cases but the interpretations of the reporters are slightly different.

    The part about arranging a meeting and finalizing a deal before the end of the month is a continuation of HA and now Syria’s issuance of ultimatum after ultimatum coupled with predictions of indictment dates. This has become a well known manoeuvre, and it seems to be the only manoeuvre left in their (Syria/HA) pockets. As the dates of the ultimatums come and go, the credibility of the party(ies) behind it becomes less and less.

    I can count at least four or five such ultimatums since this whole saga began, and I assure you they were always accompanied by prediction of a date of indictment.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 8:48 pm
  96. GK,
    I stand corrected. I should have said the “few others or some” and that is what i meant. I certainly know your position is never motivated by hate for anyone.

    Posted by V | January 9, 2011, 9:13 pm
  97. GABIE,89
    I’ll be very brief. NOW (thanks to you) ,I figured out why anon and I always clash, lol

    Your statement: “The “Iranians” on the other hand had an integral role in the development of Shiite thoughts, jurisprudence, theology, etc” IS SO WRONG.
    With All the details I put out (WHICH YOU HATED, LOL), you come back with this statements? Read my previous comment and yours (63) again, please, and you will realize how wrong you are.
    Iran began converting to Shiia about 500 years ago (around 15th century). It took almost 200 years (mid-seventeenth century) for the majority of Iran’s shiia to convert to shiism. It was The Safavid dynasty, which made Shi’a Islam the official state religion in the early sixteenth century (way after the maturity of the movement)

    Shiia sect was fully developed 900 years earlier. Iran’s influence on Shiia thoughts, jurisprudence, and theology is close to nothing. Persians converted to shiism, shiism is not Persian or Iranian; it’s a sect of Islam which had been started by the descendent of the prophet (not this one though. lol) right after his death.
    Btw, I am avoiding the current thread,

    Posted by prophett | January 9, 2011, 9:46 pm
  98. Prophett 97

    “I’ll be very brief. NOW (thanks to you) ,I figured out why anon and I always clash, lol”

    I hope you also figured out that I see you eye to eye, and that I put the Shia in the proper historical perspective without prejudice. What you said seems to be exactly what I said.

    Take care.


    You need to make a clear distinction between what came to be known as the Shou’oubiyya problem (المشكلة الشعوبية) and the other subjects of Islamic sects and schools of thought.

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 10:19 pm
  99. Does anybody think that the attacks on the churches in Iraq and Egypt are going to entice the Christians to ask for Thieu own Arabic Christian state ?,and Is that something being pushed by Israel and the West to justify Israel as a jewish state .

    Posted by Norman | January 9, 2011, 10:36 pm
  100. anonymous,
    Although we disagree most of the times, I never questioned(YET,LOL) your intellectual honesty.
    I take it that you meant “eye to eye .” on Shiia history, I was hoping that you meant “eye to eye ” on all my(converting you to my ) views, lol
    Take care.

    Posted by prophett | January 9, 2011, 10:42 pm
  101. Nabi:

    Just who developed this shia Islam 900 years earlier?!? I’m not talking about the battles and Karbala and ali and hussein. I am talking about the people who took the stories and wrote the books.

    I don’t have the energy for these arguments. Perhaps wiki will come in handy to you and Anon.

    The Persians were not just involved in theological developments (sunni and shia), but poetry and the sciences as well.

    As for Safawi, why do you suppose he focused on Shiism. You think it was out of love for ali and hussein and 3antar! Or is it more likely he honed a sect to exercise his own authority against the Ottomans to his West, and to build his own empire.

    History is not just words and dates in books. There’s context to it.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 9, 2011, 11:08 pm
  102. “I take it that you meant “eye to eye .” on Shiia history, I was hoping that you meant “eye to eye ” on all my(converting you to my ) views, lol”


    Of course that’s what I meant – history. I made myself clear sometime ago on the other point of which you have hopes about. I always maintain my individuality. So the most one can hope for is on a case by case basis. I see very little value in an orchestra singing the praises of a maestro!!!

    Posted by anonymous | January 9, 2011, 11:20 pm
  103. On the role of Muslim Shiites from Jabal ‘Amel in Lebanon in the consolidation of Shiism in Iran, you can read:

    Stefan Winter, The Shiites of Jabal ‘Amil and the clerical migration to Iran, in The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman rule, 1516-1788, Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 20-

    Posted by NR | January 10, 2011, 1:02 pm
  104. Gabi,
    I don’t intention on repeating myself, nor do I want to stretch this discussion any further, knowing you have no stomach for it.I just want to clarify what seems to confuse you about my views on this topic.
    You ask:
    “Just who developed this shia Islam 900 years earlier?!?”
    The answer is that, it was not the Persians who developed the Shiia school of thoughts.
    Persian INFLUENCE on Shiia theology was limited to almost nothing during those 900 years. Persians clergymen had to learn from Arabs Shiia of Iraq OF Najav,and jabel Amel.
    Persian’s influence on poetry and literature etc. is obvious and well recognized on Islamic and Arabic culture.
    You are right that the Safawis embrace of Shiia was not for the love of Ali or Hussen, it was, for their own interests only.

    Posted by prophett | January 10, 2011, 1:40 pm
  105. Nabi:

    I’m not Muslim, nor Shia. So at some level none of this makes any real sense to me either way.

    You know more.

    Here’s one name I pulled out from the link:

    — Of the four authoritative resources of the Shiites, two are written by Shaykh Tusi. These two basic reference books are: Tahdhib al-Ahkam and Al-Istibsar. Both of these pertain to Hadiths of Islamic Jurisprudential decrees and injunctions.

    In the beginning of the link, it says:

    — Shaykh Tusi (Persian: شیخ توسی), full name: Abu Jafar Muhammad Ibn Hassan Tusi (Persian: ابوجعفر محمد بن حسن توسی), known as Shaykh al-Taʾifah (Arabic: شيخ الطائفة‎) was a prominent Persian scholar of the Shi’a Twelver Islamic belief.

    Here’s a google map view on where the chap was born:,+Iran&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=36.368578,79.013672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Tus&ll=36.597889,45.527344&spn=36.588087,79.013672&z=4

    Moving on to the Sunnis, another supposed “Persian”:

    — He was, perhaps, best known for authoring the hadith collection named Sahih Bukhari, a collection which Sunni Muslims regard as the most authentic of all hadith compilations and the most authoritative book after the Qur’an.

    The Persian influence on all aspects of the Islamic empire is so profound, that quite frankly, I’m a little startled that you believe that short of contributions to art and poetry and science, they had little influence on religious matters.

    But as I said in the beginning: I’m not a Muslim, nor am I a Shia. So the importance of those characters is not immediately obvious to me.

    If the information I pulled from Wiki is incorrect, may I humbly suggest you write to Wiki and become part of the global wiki community to ensure correctness of data.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 10, 2011, 3:42 pm
  106. Boutros Harb interview on MTV Lebanon for those who have access

    – Tamer

    Posted by tamer k. | January 10, 2011, 3:43 pm
  107. Gabi, 105.
    Being a non religious Muslim does not prevent me from being, modestly, knowledgeable of certain aspects of Islamic history. That being said, I DON’T claim to be an expert on Islam, or Islamic history.
    I think I can see where, you have misunderstood my point of view.
    You are referring to the Persian influence and inputs-which is true and profound- on Islam in general, and confusing that, with the influence of the Persians on Shiia Islam in particular, which is very limited.
    I never said that Persians influence on Islam (prior to conversion of Iran to Shiism) was not profound, and frankly I never denied that. Yes Persian influence on all Arabic/Muslim aspect of life, RELIGIOUS and others is profound during the period where Iran was all Sunni Muslim.
    All I was saying is that Persian didn’t have any influence on Shiism during the first 900 years of Shiism. Persian contribution to shiia theology came in after the conversion of Iran to shiism. By then, Shiia school of thought had already been established, so I insist that their influence on Shiia thoughts is very limited. Persian basically adopted shiia thoughts as they had been.
    I will add, though, that Iranians adopted many practices, which didn’t exist in Shiism, and until this day , are not adopted or practiced by the greatest majority of non –Iranian Shiia.
    The late Sayed Fadlalah, clashed with Iranians many times over these added practices, and took lots of heat , because of the positions He took.
    I hope that I was able to clarify the misunderstandings we seem to have had.

    Posted by prophett | January 10, 2011, 5:29 pm
  108. In the spirit of QN’s original post….

    … what’s my packet of cigarettes?


    Posted by Gabriel | January 10, 2011, 6:23 pm
  109. lol Gabie.
    How about two packs?

    Posted by prophett | January 10, 2011, 7:15 pm
  110. Prophett/Gabriel,
    I would like to maqke two points:
    (1) Najaf has been the center of Shia religious thought ; the marjaiah; for a while. Qom, in a sense is a late comer. Al Sustani is still the highest ranking cleric/imam of the Hawza.

    (2) Qom is vying for leadership especially after the 1978 revolution and the adoption of the ideas of Ayatillah Khomeini.

    Yes Shia jurisprudence did not evolve in Iran but Iran has become the most powerful and influential center of Shiism under the Islamic Republic.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 10, 2011, 7:57 pm
  111. Ghassan 110,
    Thanks for the input. this is the point I was trying to make,that Shiia school of thought was well established before the conversion of Iran into Shiism.
    As for “Iran’s most powerful and influential center for Shiism”, I would only agree with your statements if you meant that influence politically, but not theologically.Wilayt Al Faqieh is (and will continue to be)still the main obstacle for Iran’s theological influence and dominance.

    Posted by prophett | January 10, 2011, 8:09 pm
  112. I leave this topic with the following wise words from none other than Ibn Khaldun:

    الفصل الثالث و الأربعون: في أن حملة العلم في الإسلام أكثرهم العجم
    من الغريب الواقع أن حملة العلم في الملة الإسلامية أكثرهم العجم لا من العلوم الشرعية و لا من العلوم العقلية إلا في القليل النادر. و إن كان منهم العربي في نسبته فهو أعجمي في لغته و مرباه و مشيخته مع أن الملة عربية و صاحب شريعتها عربي. و السبب في ذلك أن الملة في أولها لم يكن فيها علم و لا صناعة لمقتضى أحوال السذاجة و البداوة و إنما أحكام الشريعة التي هي أوامر الله و نواهيه كان الرجال ينقلونها في صدورهم و قد عرفوا مأخذها من الكتاب و السنة بما تلقوه من صاحب الشرع و أصحابه. و القوم يومئذ عرب لم يعرفوا أمر التعليم و التأليف و التدوين و لا دفغوا إليه و لا دعتهم إليه حاجة. و جرى الأمر على ذلك زمن الصحابة و التابعين و كانوا يسمون المختصين بحمل ذلك. و نقله إلى القراء أي الذين يقرأون الكتاب و ليسوا أميين لأن الأمية يومئذ صفة عامة في الصحابة بما كانوا عربا فقيل لحملة القرآن يومئذ قراء إشارة إلى هذا. فهم قراء لكتاب الله و السنة المأثورة عن الله لأنهم لم يعرفوا الأحكام الشرعية إلا منه و من الحديث الذي هو في غالب موارده تفسير له و شرح. قال صلى الله عليه و سلم: تركت فيكم أمرين لن تضلوا ما تمسكتم بهما: كتاب الله و سنتي. فلما بعد النقل من لدن دولة الرشيد فما بعد احتيج إلى وضع التفاسير القرآنية و تقييد الحديث مخافة ضياعه ثم احتيج إلى معرفة الأسانيد و تعديل الناقلين للتمييز بين الصحيح مم الأسانيد و ما دونه ثم كثر استخراج أحكام الواقعات من الكتاب و السنة و فسد مع ذلك اللسان فاحتيج إلى وضع القوانين النحوية و صارت العلوم الشرعية كلها ملكات في الاستنباطات و الاستخراج و التنظير و القياس و احتاجت إلى علوم أخرى و هي الوسائل لها من معرفة قوانين العربية و قوانين ذلك الاستنباط و القياس و الذب عن العقائد الإيمانية بالأدلة لكثرة البدع و الإلحاد فصارت هذه العلوم كلها علوما ذات ملكات محتاجة إلى التعليم فاندرجت في جملة الصنائع. و قد كنا قدمنا أن الصنائع من منتحل الحضر و أن العرب أبعد الناس عنها فصارت العلوم لذلك حضرية و بعد عنها العرب و عن سوقها. و الحضر لذلك العهد هم العجم أو من هم في معناهم من الموالي و أهل الحواضر الذين هم يومئذ تبع للعجم في الحضارة و أحوالها من الصنائع و الحرف لأنهم أقوم على ذلك للحضارة الراسخة فيهم منذ دولة الفرس فكان صاحب صناعة النحو سيبويه و الفارسي من بعده و الزجاج من بعدهما و كلهم عجم في أنسابهم. و إنما ربوا في اللسان العربي فاكتسبوه بالمربى و مخالطة العرب و صيروه قوانين و فنا لمن بعدهم. و كذا حملة الحديث الذين حفظوة عن أهل الإسلام أكثرهم عجم أو مستعجمون باللغة و المربى لاتساع الفن بالعراق. و كان علماء أصول الفقه كلهم عجما كما عرف و كذا حملة علم الكلام و كذا أكثر المفسرين. و لم يقم بحفظ العلم و تدوينه إلا الأعاجم. و ظهر مصداق قوله صلى الله عليه و سلم: لو تعلق العلم بأكناف السماء لناله قوم من أهل فارس. و أما العرب الذين أدركوا هذه الحضارة و سوقها و خرجوا إليها عن البداوة فشغلتهم الرئاسة في الدولة العباسية و ما دفعوا إليه من القيام بالملك عن القيام بالعلم. و النظر فيه، فإنهم كانوا أهل الدولة و حاميتها و أولي سياستها مع ما يلحقهم من الأنفة عن انتحال العلم حينئذ بما صار من جملة الصنائع. و الرؤساء أبدا يستنكفون عن الصنائع و المهن و ما يجر إليها و دفعوا ذلك إلى من قام به من العجم والمولدين. و ما زالوا يرون لهم حق القيام به فإنه دينهم و علومهم و لا يحتقرون حملتها كل الاحتقار. حتى إذا خرج الأمر من العرب جملة و صار للعجم صارت العلوم الشرعية غريبة النسبة عند أهل الملك بما هم عليه من البعد عن نسبتها و امتهن حملتها بما يرون أنهم بعداء عنهم مشتغلين بما لا يغني و لا يجدي عنهم في الملك و السياسة كما ذكرناه في نقل المراتب الدينية. فهذا الذي قررناه هو السبب في أن حملة الشريعة أو عامتهم من العجم. و أما العلوم العقلية أيضا فلم تظهر في الملة إلا بعد أن تميز حملة العلم و مؤلفوه. و استقر العلم كله صناعة فاختصت بالعجم و تركتها العرب و انصرفوا عن انتحالها فلم يحملها إلا المعربون من العجم شأن الصنائع كما قلناه أولا. فلم يزل ذلك في الأمصار الإسلامية ما دامت الحضارة في العجم و بلادهم من العراق و خراسان و ما وراء النهر. فلما خربت تلك الأمصار و ذهبت منها الحضارة التي هي سر الله في حصول العلم و الصنائع ذهب العلم من العجم جملة لما شملهم من البداوة و اختص العلم بالأمصار الموفورة الحضارة. و لا أوفر اليوم في الحضارة من مصر فهي أم العالم و إيوان الإسلام و ينبوع العلم و الصنائع. و بقي بعض الحضارة في ما وراء النهر لما هناك من الحضارة بالدولة التي فيها فلهم بذلك، حصة من العلوم و الصنائع لا تنكر. و قد دلنا على ذلك كلام بعض علمائهم من تآليف وصلت إلينا إلى هذه البلاد و هو سعد الدين التفتازاني. و أما غيره من العجم فلم نر لهم من بعد الإمام ابن الخطيب و نصير الدين الطوسي كلاما يعول على نهايته في الإصابة. فاعتير ذلك و تأمله تر عجبا في أحوال الخليقة. و الله يخلق ما بشاء لا شريك له الملك و له الحمد و هو على كل شيء قدير و حسبنا الله و نعم الوكيل و الحمد لله.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 10, 2011, 8:21 pm
  113. Gabie,
    I’m so impressed you can understand jk

    Posted by prophett | January 10, 2011, 8:23 pm
  114. This is really getting into the realm of the absurd. So what are we trying to prove here? Ibn Khaldun is of great eminence no doubt. But I was able to come up with a list of at least 150 medieval personalities of purely Arab descent who contributed tremendously and innovatively in almost every domain. I am not going to waste my time typing – past is past – but I’ll just mention two names for the record for those who seem intent on pursuing the absurd. Ibn Rushd is one of them and Ibn Tufayl is another one. That should be sufficient for now.

    In any case, Ibn Khaldun is also right in his other observations. In 10 years time, those Bedouins who were Ibn Khaldun’s ancestors destroyed simultaneously two of the most sophisticated empires of the time and left a legacy that is still alive up till now. I still cannot understand how they could do it with all their backwardness. It is also reported, still confirming Ibn Khaldun’s observation, that Haroun al-Rashid used to address the clouds as such: go and rain wherever you wish. The taxes of your produce will surely end up in my treasury.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 12:49 am
  115. Ya Nabi:

    Don’t laugh. Even I’m surprised I could understand that!


    It has been proven! The Persians were behind everything. From Ghazali to Tabari to Bukhari. Next time the Sunni Arabs pick on the Shia telling them they are Persians in disguise, the Shia will dutifully respond:

    (1) You wish you were Persian.
    (2) All your (Sunni Arab) teachings came from the Persians
    (3) The Arabs are 7ameer.

    As for Ibn Tufayl and Ibn Rushd. Unless you exhume their bodies, and demonstrate a hamito-semitic bloodline expected from the Inferior Arab race, we shall henceforth assume they are of Andalusian bloodlines, hence the brains.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 1:15 am
  116. Interesting indeed.

    Have you been kicked out from the Emirates, by the way?

    It must have been a very bad experience for you.

    I feel so sorry for poor little Gab. He might have spent some lonely nights in a dungeon on new year eve.

    But you still came back feeling being part of a ‘superior race’ as a consolation prize.

    Oh, what a poor little …

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 2:18 am
  117. Anon:

    LoL. As it happens, yes I was! I was caught with my pants down copulating with a desert camel. They sent me straight to the airport!

    Tell me something though, in one fell swoop you came up with over 150 names of pre-eminent medieval scholars and the two you list are born in Cordova and Granada? Still, did you really, I mean really, have to stick that adjective “pure” when describing their “Arab” descent. How did you know their blood was not tainted by Berber or Allah-forbid Iberian blood.

    This is a strange development. First few posts here, I thought you were a comedy act, what happened to your edge?

    Maybe that anti-Persian rant you threw in some eons ago was not you being facetious after all. Do you have some deep hidden hatred for the Persians?

    And is the “Arab” thing your sensitive point?

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 3:03 am
  118. No, you tell me something.

    Do you have any problem with the Arab race,whether it comes in a PURE form or in a MIXED form?

    Or should I really ask after you’ve made a clear and obvious confession?

    Next time you venture into some land inhabited by Arabs, make sure you keep your pants up.

    I do not need to tell you anything more than what I said. Actually, I feel you’re not worthy of being told anything from now on.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 3:34 am
  119. Gabriel Says:

    January 11, 2011 at 1:15 am
    Ya Nabi:

    Don’t laugh. Even I’m surprised I could understand that!


    It has been proven! The Persians were behind everything. From Ghazali to Tabari to Bukhari. Next time the Sunni Arabs pick on the Shia telling them they are Persians in disguise, the Shia will dutifully respond:

    (1) You wish you were Persian.
    (2) All your (Sunni Arab) teachings came from the Persians
    (3) The Arabs are 7ameer.


    Gaby, I was born into a muslim family,however I am a practising humanist. I havent laughed for over 18 months, but your quote made me almost fall out of my chair with laughter!

    Nice one, I for one appreciated the humour!

    Posted by Enlightened | January 11, 2011, 6:11 am
  120. Enlightened,

    You must know then what Ibn Khaldun was really talking about.

    Could you explain, please? (In English)

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 8:48 am
  121. Anon:

    To appreciate the humour, you will first have to drop that virulently racist chip you carry around.

    Until then, no amount of paraphrasing, in English, Arabic, French or Swahili will help much.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 11:04 am
  122. Really, then may be you should volunteer and translate that passage of Ibn Khaldun to everybody. I understand Enlightened is humoured by your lack of such understanding, as I was.

    And Enlightened knows best what he meant, but humoured I was.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 11:25 am
  123. Anon:

    Kindly re-read Post #121.

    The Joke’s been on you for quite a while. The Ibn Khaldun passage is quite irrelevant.

    Either way, you’re the king of Internet Links, no? (see #79).

    If you’re bent on reading an English translation, here goes:

    You will, I am sure, find this website a gem.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 12:01 pm
  124. Look, I find it a waste of time going in circles. I know what Ibn Khaldun is saying.

    So, I’ll make it easy for you and not bother you with a complete translation.

    I need you to show me and everyone else, where do you infer from that passage that you quoted that what Ibn Khaldun said implies, as you said in 115, the Arabs (of the present or the past) have learned their Religion (or even just the Sunnis) from the Persians.

    I need to warn you that any Muslim with very basic knowledge can blow that notion out of your head in a flash of a second.

    So show me your logic.

    Otherwise stop insisting on your absurdity, which by the way is the second one you started so far in this thread.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 12:23 pm
  125. It appears that the so called SS efforts have not born any fruits. The “opposition” is currently meeting to decide what to do next.

    Why was it so difficult for people to realize that the STL cannot and will not be affected by whatever machinations the local parties agree to?

    I do hope that cooler heads will prevail and that HA and its allies will pull out of the cabinet in order to force a return to a single colour government.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 12:58 pm
  126. No one disputes the fact that many Muslim scientists and philosophers were born outside the Arab world. Nothing new or wrong with this. However, many of them flourished under Islam in Arab capitals and wrote in Arabic the lingua franca of their time (in this sense they can also be considered Arabs). The question is why? It is because Muslim Arab rulers of the “golden age” (unlike dumb and illiterate rulers of our times, including the one who was appointed Prime Minister of Lebanon who does not know how to read one line of Arabic without making people laugh at his ignorance)championed science, arts, poetry and literature. At the time no one cared about the silly notions that we are reading in this thread. And as the Prophet Mohamad (PBUH) said: لا فرق بين عربي وأعجمي إلا بالتقوى

    Posted by NR | January 11, 2011, 1:07 pm
  127. Hizbullah will not leave the government. They knew from the beginning that the illiterate Saad Hariri is both playing with time and fire.

    Posted by NR | January 11, 2011, 1:10 pm
  128. I repeat, please re-read Post#121

    — I need you to show me and everyone else, where do you infer from … bla bla bla…

    I didn’t make that assertion anywhere in #115. But as per Post #121, until you remove that anti-Persian racist chip from your shoulder, you wouldn’t be able to see that.

    Post #115 was a joke. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that I don’t really believe the Arabs are 7ameer (despite Ibn Khaldun’s very low opinion of them!). Had the tome been written by a Westerner, some Edward Saidian anti-orientalist Sensitive type would have charged it with racism.

    The point of #115 is to succinctly and humourously convey to the poor traumatized Shia that they have nothing to apologize for if “Persians” contributed to their theological developments (which in fact they did). That they don’t have to have a complex about proving the faith is “Arab”. Or in fact that they need to justify themselves at all. Judging by your bravado, maybe I was wrong, and they have every reason to have such a complex!

    — I need to warn you that any Muslim with very basic knowledge can blow that notion out of your head in a flash of a second.

    Ya Habibi. Don’t warn me. I’m not frightened I can hold my own.

    If any Sunni here wants to contest that Bukhari or Tabari or Ghazali (all Persians) are important “theological” figures, by all means, they can do so.

    But the real question is not why I brought up those names, which was to address the broader point that neither group should really feel the compulsion to prove their “Arabness” or to thump their nose on the other group.

    The real question is why, when I did make the point, you went into a raging fit of anti-Persian jealousy and insisted that you know over 150 “Purely Arab” scholars.


    You know my field is in the sciences, and even I’d be hardpressed to think of 150 prominent scientists even when I have a selection of thousands!

    But I suppose I’m not in the same intellectual league as you!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 1:23 pm
  129. @ NR 126,

    What would you do given the circumstances?

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 11, 2011, 1:34 pm
  130. Gabie,
    There is no need for me to warn you because I think you are a “MUTANABI” yourself…You make me proud…. You will be fine I guarantee. lol
    On a more serious note, I’m satisfied with my humble contribution to this debate. I have no interest in debating the whole Arab/ Persian complicity. I intentionally limited my input to answer the original question of “Persian contribution” to the Shiia school of thought.
    No one should have any complex about the past, or about who contributed to the Arab culture or who didn’t. No one can deny the contributions of Persians and others into Arab literature and culture, and to Muslim theology in general.
    I doubt that any Arab wishes to be Persian at all .Arab/Persian animosity will always play a role in Arab Iranian relationships, despite the sharing of the faith, or the same sect. The average Iranian looks down on a Arab Muslim regardless of his sect, be it Sunni or Shiia.
    I rest my case. LoL
    Let’s follow the failure of the SS

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 3:27 pm
  131. One more thing, Arabs should give up this belief that they have a monopoly on Islam and its history.

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 3:30 pm
  132. Ghassan,

    There always will be the day dreamers…and we have a few on this blog. The fact that they think HA/Syria are somehow above the international laws show how diluted and delusional they are. Syria tried to pull another fast one by lying; procrastinating and having the proverbial cake and eating it too!
    Obama might be have baked when it comes to international and especially Middle Eastern nuances…but the State Department is still run by the same folk who got burned by Syria’s double talking in previous years. Let’s hope that “once bitten twice shy”.
    I would not pay any relevance to the musings of Lebanese news rags.

    Please stay tuned to the regular lapdogs of Syria/Iran to start the orchestra humming…Aoun, Wahhab, Franjieh, Arslan…Yalla start!!
    NR Says:

    January 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Hizbullah will not leave the government. They knew from the beginning that the illiterate Saad Hariri is both playing with time and fire.

    NR…The “illiterate” Hariri seems to have outsmarted and outfoxed your paper tiger who hides in a hole. What relevance do you think HA has if they constantly trying to bully everyone? They are nothing but an illegitimate militia bordering on a terrorist entity.

    Posted by danny | January 11, 2011, 4:01 pm
  133. prophett says:

    “The average Iranian looks down on a Arab Muslim regardless of his sect, be it Sunni or Shiia.”

    What is the basis for the above? Does that mean that you think that the above does not apply to Arab non-Muslims and why? There ought not be a place for such generalizations in a civil discourse.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 4:06 pm
  134. Ghassan,125.
    You are right,The SS Rocket blew up on its launching pad. I never had much hope. The whole SS dialogue was designed to pass the holiday season, and buy time for the indictment to come out.
    The optimism of the opposition was all fabricated, so that they would lay the blame on Hariri and the United States when the announcement is made.
    I think the American procedure of indicting first and, then bargaining a deal is in process. In the United States, prosecutors never make a deal unless they indict first.
    Indicting HA and putting the pressure on , makes more sense for Hariri and the united states , to negotiate , then to negotiate before the indictment.
    I’m not predicting a deal, but I’m predicting a process of serious negotiations after the indictment, lead by the United States.
    I gave myself the right to speculate as much as anyone else on this thread.

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 4:09 pm
  135. Ghassan,133
    I think it applies to Muslim Arabs more than it applies to non Muslim Arabs.
    An average Persian assumes most Arabs are Muslims, unless someone identifies himself/Herself as non Muslim Arab, then the attitude changes a bit. I admit that I may not have any documented bases for that.
    The animosity and the racist fallings between Persians and Arabs are mostly with the Arabs before Islam. Arabs are as guilty of that.

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 4:18 pm
  136. Correction:
    Last sentence should have said:

    The animosity and the racist fallings between Persians and Arabs have existed before Islam. Arabs are as guilty of that.

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 4:28 pm
  137. It seems I was right about the “deal”. Next step, March 8 leaves the government. After that, Lebanon muddles along for about 1-2 years with Hariri in charge of a caretaker government until another Doha like agreement. For what its worth, I believe the chances of war are very slim.

    Posted by AIG | January 11, 2011, 4:43 pm
  138. AIG,

    ” I believe the chances of war are very slim.”

    Do you mean an internal war or are you talking about a Lebanon Israel repeat?

    I think the Israeli war on Lebanon is fast approaching.

    Posted by V | January 11, 2011, 5:04 pm
  139. Do we anything about this meeting?
    What they’re discussing?
    Anny annoucements?

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 5:10 pm
  140. ‘ALMUTANABBI’ said in 128,

    I didn’t make that assertion anywhere in #115 The term assertion here refers to my asking almutanabi to show how the Arabs learned their religion from the Persians in my previous comment to him.

    He also said in 115
    “(2) All your (Sunni Arab) teachings came from the Persians
    (I am overlooking of course ALMUTANABI’s fowl language

    AlMUTANABBI is LYING in an open forum.

    WE also know the real Mutanabbi was accused of lying and that’s how he acquired the title. So Prophett might be on to something here.

    He (ALMUTANABBI) also said in 128,

    If any Sunni here wants to contest that Bukhari or Tabari or Ghazali (all Persians) are important “theological” figures, by all means, they can do so.

    Sunnis would say these persons have made contributions, however, the major schools of thought including hadith compilation, Jurisprudence and theology were already formalised. Major manuscripts were written in all fields and are still in circulation up till the present forming the basis of all schools of thought. The authors were well known Arabs.

    That is all you will get from me on this absurdity of yours. You want to learn and be intellectually honest go and search on your own further back in history than the times of those you think Sunnis learned their religion from.


    The Arabs do not claim to own the history of Islam. But rest assured they will allow none to come and tell them how to interpret their religion as well as the history of that religion.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 5:34 pm
  141. anon says:

    “rest assured they 9the Arabs)will allow none to come and tell them how to interpret their religion as well as the history of that religion.”

    So Islam belongs to the Arabs and no one has a say in interpreting it? And I always thought that one of the great appeals of Islam is its universal message. So the Protestants had no claim to interpreting Christianity since Christianity did not appear in Europe? These are ideas based on either exceptionalism or superiority.
    ( I am not sure which is worse? :-))

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 5:48 pm
  142. AIG,
    In an effort to get back to more immediate Middle Easter developments I would like to hear your take on what is being increasingly branded as “Fayadism”. Do you think that his pragmatic approach of building institutions one step at a time will force the hands of Israel to acknowledge the “existense” of the Palestinian authority as an independent state that needs not present a security concern to Israel?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 5:52 pm
  143. Aakh aakh aakh.

    Won’t you stop Anon. Noone really cares about your drivel.

    If any Sunni here wants to contest that Bukhari or Tabari or Ghazali (all Persians) are important “theological” figures, by all means, they can do so.

    Sunnis would say these persons have made contributions, however, the major schools of thought including hadith compilation, Jurisprudence and theology were already formalised.

    Really? Just contributions? That’s it?

    He was, perhaps, best known for authoring the hadith collection named Sahih Bukhari, a collection which Sunni Muslims regard as the most authentic of all hadith compilations and the most authoritative book after the Qur’an.

    So dear Anon. I am not an expert on Sunni Islam. But if you take offence to the above statement, take the issue up with scholars at Al-Azhar or some other renowned Sunni institution of your choosing.

    Until such time you get a certified response that the above statement is none-sense, I humbly suggest you put a sock in it.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 5:54 pm
  144. V,

    Both a civil war and an Israeli-Lebanese war are not likely in my opinion. These wars cannot be calibrated and controlled any more and the side that starts them cannot know where they will end.

    Israel has no interest whatsoever to go to war as it cannot improve the almost absolute quiet on its Lebanese and Syrian borders. As for Hezbollah, what can it gain from a war and how can it limit the downside from it? Besides, can it really afford the Shia from the Jnoub being refugees in other areas in Lebanon with the Sunni-Shia consequences of the STL?

    The Syrians don’t want a war either because it would hurt any pretensions they have of getting foreign investment which they require to keep their economy afloat and become another Tunisia. The Saudis never want a war. This leaves the Iranians, whose interest is to keep Hezbollah as reserves in case they are attacked.

    The chances of war are very slim. Not that someone cannot make a mistake, but no one has anything to gain from a war right now.

    Posted by AIG | January 11, 2011, 6:00 pm
  145. Oh yeah? Well my penis is bigger than yours!

    Geez. Guys. Can we cool it down with the pissing contests? You people arguing about Sunni vs. Shia and Persian vs. Arab sound ridiculously childish.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 11, 2011, 6:05 pm
  146. GK,

    I think Fayadism is certainly much better than any strategy the Palestinians used before. It will work, if Palestinians unite behind it. However, it seems Fayed is seen by most Palestinians as a collaborator and not a true leader.

    Posted by AIG | January 11, 2011, 6:07 pm
  147. Anon, Ghassan,
    No one can claim that Islam is for Arabs, and that they are the only ones qualified to interpret it. As far as I know, NO Arab school of thought ever made that claim.
    Many great Muslim scholars were non Arabs, especially Afghanis, and Persians, and Pakistanis.
    It is also good to note that, because of language differences, it’s always easier for Arab scholars to emerge and become more known than non Arabs. Mother language is important, but it is not always a barrier.

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 6:12 pm
  148. GK 141,

    In a sense you are correct. But the analogy with the Protestant movement is incorrect. In fact anyone can interpret Islam since it came to existence, unlike the case of the Church prior to that movement. The question is would that interpretation pass scrutiny particularly from Arab quarters? There is perhaps a sense of feeling of superiority that appears to be so to an outsider. But the real issue is that in the conscience of the mainstream Arab, Islam is a faith that defines his total world view and, I would say it is more an issue of guarding this view as a matter of religous duty than a feeling superior to others. (However, the Arabs are extremely proud of their history and their way of life. In fact early Arabs considered their life in the desert the noblest of all ways of life. This feeling is not limited to post Islam and in no way is a feeling of superiority to others).

    Having said that, non-Arabs did interpret Islam and their interpretations were accepted by the Arabs in the sense that those interpretations conform to orthodoxy.

    Posted by anoymous | January 11, 2011, 6:13 pm
  149. GK 141,

    In a sense you are correct. But the analogy with the Protestant movement is incorrect. In fact anyone can interpret Islam since it came to existence, unlike the case of the Church prior to that movement. The question is would that interpretation pass scrutiny particularly from Arab quarters? There is perhaps a sense of feeling of superiority that appears to be so to an outsider. But the real issue is that in the conscience of the mainstream Arab, Islam is a faith that defines his total world view and, I would say it is more an issue of guarding this view as a matter of religous duty than a feeling superior to others. (However, the Arabs are extremely proud of their history and their way of life. In fact early Arabs considered their life in the desert the noblest of all ways of life. This feeling is not limited to post Islam and in no way is a feeling of superiority to others).

    Having said that, non-Arabs did interpret Islam and their interpretations were accepted by the Arabs in the sense that those interpretations conform to orthodoxy.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 6:14 pm
  150. AIG
    Mr. Fayyad does not appear to be very charismatic, at least not as a politician. However I would not be surprised if the efforts to build institutions and change the quality of life would create more avid supporters for his efforts especially if he can demonstrate to the Palestinian public that he is not an Israeli tool as many seem to think.
    I would like to see him step up the challenge to the Israeli state a notch by gradually adopting pragmatic well thought out policies of civil disobedience. I think that he can coordinate such efforts with the Israeli left. In your opinion, as a stakeholder ,is that a dream or can such a step be accomplished?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 6:16 pm
  151. B.V.

    Please. Bigger than mine, most likely. But bigger than Anon’s… 7aram 3aleik. He’s an Arabian Stallion!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 6:27 pm
  152. Dearest Anon:

    I took up your offer to do a little research on my own. I have discovered that Wikipedia is a virulently anti-Arab, and an anti-Sunni website.

    I think you should report it to the Highest Sunni Authorities!

    Sunni Muslims view the Six major Hadith collections as their most important. They are, in order of authenticity [1]:

    1. Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam Bukhari (d. 870), includes 7275 ahadith
    2. Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875), includes 9200 ahadith
    3. Sunan al-Sughra, collected by al-Nasa’i (d. 915)
    4. Sunan Abu Dawood, collected by Abu Dawood (d. 888)
    5. Jami al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 892)
    6. Sunan ibn Majah, collected by Ibn Majah (d. 887)

    “After this period commences the age of the authors of the six canonical collections of Sunni hadith, all of whom were Persian. The authors of the six collections are as follows:

    1. Muhammad b. Isma’il al-Bukhari, the author of the Sahih Bukhari, which he composed over a period of sixteen years. Traditional sources quote Bukhari as saying that he did not record any hadith before performing ablution and praying. Bukhari died near Samarqand in 256/869-70.

    2. Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Naishapuri, who died in Nishapur in 261/ 874-5 and whose Sahih Muslim is second in authenticity only to that of Bukhari.

    3. Abu Dawood Sulaiman b. Ash’ath al-Sijistani, a Persian but of Arab descent, who died in 275/888-9.

    4. Muhammad b. ‘Isa al-Tirmidhi, the author of the well-known as Sunan al-Tirmidhi, who was a student of Bukhari and died in 279/892-3.

    5. Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Nasa’i, who was from Khurasan and died in 303/915-16.

    6. Ibn Majah al-Qazwini, who died in 273/886-7.”

    Who knew! Turns out the “Persians” penned ALL the authoritative Hadiths, bar none!

    I’m sure they consulted far greater Arab masters for peer review. You know since the Arabs would never allow anyone to interpret their religion for them.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 11, 2011, 6:45 pm
  153. “The Hedgehog Review” a periodical published by the University of Virginia has 4 interesting essays each dealing with a separate issue of whether Religious Pluralism Requires Secularism. Each essay is relatively brief and easy to follow. I bring this up only because of the seminal nature of the Lebanese problem and in light of the recent proposal by minister Harb regarding rpossible prohibition on real estate transactions between members of different religious communities. I hope that some of you will find these articles of interest.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 7:19 pm
  154. Love the way Ghassan changed the subject,lol
    Every one is reading….

    Posted by prophett | January 11, 2011, 7:33 pm
  155. Mutanabbi 143, 150, 151,

    I suggest you take a trip and spend couple years in Cairo, Medinah or other similar cities and seek professional help. You will find answers to your questions.

    I said in 140 that’s all you will get from me in this forum. Subject is closed as far as I’m concerned.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 8:07 pm
  156. According to Al-Akhbar, opposition ministers withdrew from government.

    If you believe the newspaper, part of GK’s wish came to pass. But more accurately AIG’s speculation scenario for sometime to come seem the most likely.

    Could you please provide a link for those papers?

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 8:34 pm
  157. anon,
    I just double checked and all the essays are found by clicking on the Fall2010 issue of the periodical at:

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 8:39 pm
  158. timbeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrr!!!!

    March 8 set to topple Hariri’s Cabinet

    and Hariri is expected to meet Obama soon!

    things get interesting in Lebanon

    Posted by tamer k. | January 11, 2011, 8:40 pm
  159. Well nothing unexpected! So they will burn tires and occupy buildings or squat downtown??? Let’s hope the HA just completes the coup d’etat and go ahead with their W of F fiefdom!

    Posted by danny | January 11, 2011, 9:14 pm
  160. Danny,
    I have been saying essentially the same thing for a long time. HA needs to make up its mind. They either want to play the democratic game in which case their rightful position is the opposition or they want to take over by force. HA cannot form a cabinet in Lebanon since no major Sunni is willing to take over the role. I do not think that HA is willing to take over by force because then they might be giving Israel an excuse to start a devastating war. I am still of the opinion that HA has seen the zenith of its power and the indictments will only chip at its popular base and diminish its appeal otherwise they would not have fought them so hard.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 9:25 pm
  161. I think all along the Saudi-Syrian initiative was marketed as a way to stabilize things “after” the indictments were handed down. The one of the few “concessions” that Hizb was willing to make or bargain with was keeping Hariri as PM. Hariri in his now famous Al Hayat interview confirmed this by saying that a new government was not part of the S-S initiative but also had a very clear but overlooked statement in there when he said, to paraphrase, ” I could care less for being PM” I really think that is the statement that pissed off the opposition.

    Furthermore, am I the only one who is intrigued to find out that among the Lebanese chieftains invited to Paris by Sarkozy at the end of January is Najib Mikati. I really did not see how he fit amongst the others invited (Amine Jmayel, Franjieh, Gaegae, and Jumblatt)

    So: the cabinet collapses, a vacuum occurs for a couple of months, Mikati is brought in to hold things together as PM while the tribunal is taking place, and a neutral or a neutralized government takes hold much like the one in 2005 after Karami resigned. This may not be a bad scenario after all…..until the guilty verdicts come in.

    Posted by MM | January 11, 2011, 10:04 pm
  162. Hey guys,

    Don’t you think we are entitled for a new post from QN since it is becoming clear there is no deal and no bazaar? We did work hard after all to prove just that.

    Posted by anonymous | January 11, 2011, 10:12 pm
  163. The theater of the absurd goes on in Lebanon. Stop to think about how funny a comedy sketch depicting a situation similar to what is going on in the Lebanese cabinet would be.
    Part of the ministers are simultaneously members of the government and the opposition at the same time. That would be similar to the role wherby they would ask themselves questions and provide also the answers.
    Such a structure is unworkable simply because of the laws of logic and science; one cannot be and not be at the same time unless one is a member of Hezbollqah, Amal or the FPM.
    Even the Harlem globe trotters did not come up with such a comedic sketch; maybe they did :-). Certain members of the basketball team would pretend to belong to a certain squad by wearing its colours but they will threaten to score for the opposition unless they get the ball every time:-) For how long can this farce go on? Well, it has been going on for too long and only because the Lebanese people have let both sides get away with murder, blackmailand have demonstrated over and over again the inability to governand the lack of a backbone. It was not only Saniora that desrved the term jellyfish, all of March 14 seem to belong to the same specie whose vertebrae has failed to develop while the other side get to behave like mafiosi.
    Pox on both houses. One side wishes to annul the results of what its people have done while the other side is reliant on foreign made decisions just as much as its accusations of the opposition. March 8 pulled out of the previous cabinet and held the whole country hostage until Qatar showered the principals with money in order to resolve the standoff. How long did that resolution last? Until the ink used to write the Ministerial agreement dried. This time around, however, it is March 14 that has refused to either call for ministerial cabinets or do the people’s business. But that is the real problem isn’t it? None of the parties has a clue about what democratic rule is all about. If they did then they would not be acting so selfishly, so immaturely and each asif he is a feudal lord. Maybe they are or at least they think of themselves in that way, that is why the last thing on their mind is the people’s business. Will we ever get the courage and act responsibly to fire the whole lot starting from the unconstitutional President down to every MP and political appointee.
    But even that would not be enough. If we are to truly act as a modern stateand hold our representatives accountable then we need to do at least one more seminal thing. Create a huge wall that separates the state from the religious institutions. Let the Patriarch, the Mufti, the Imams and the Sheikh El Akl worry about saving souls and serving the spiritual needs of their flocks.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 11, 2011, 11:32 pm
  164. WE DEMAND a QNION Piece on all the behind the scene negotiations that went on from the beginning of the SS (read Same S#%*) initiative all the way to the final blow dealt to it in NY

    Posted by V | January 12, 2011, 2:42 am
  165. I thought, and indeed still think, that QN was spot-on with this post. Much is being demanded by HA, but no concession is being made. I thought the packet of cigarettes would be the “false witnesses” issue. But then, as the “deal” unravels, we hear this:

    ‘Among other things, the March 8 ministers want the Cabinet to stop payment of Lebanon’s share toward the financing of the S.T.L., withdraw the Lebanese judges from the tribunal, end Lebanon’s cooperation with the S.T.L., and prosecute the “false witnesses” linked to the U.N. probe into Rafik Hariri’s killing, the source told The Daily Star.’

    So, in other words, we demand these concessions and offer nothing in return.

    Of course, we don’t know what was on the table. Certainly not weapons… but control or influence over key posts and institutions perhaps? Perhaps HA really didn’t put anything on the table at all. Not even the now-proverbial packet of cigarettes.

    Posted by Jonathan | January 12, 2011, 7:59 am
  166. Gabriel: Anonymous:

    Let me explain my situation with the humour! Clearly it wasnt what Ibn Khaldoun was talking about! I neither care nor take any notice of what was written close to 700 years or whatever was written a long time ago.

    Clearly though, the humour for me was, one of the tenets of Islam was a social contract not only amongst the community or how it related to other communities. Clearly the faith was intended to promote a brotherhood amongst men- regardless of their creed or social standing and definitely it made no heed of ones ethnic standing. Clearly I found the argument quite funny. It should matter ones ethnic or religious creed.

    Anonymous what I think Gaby was trying to tell you, that the Persians had a significant impact on the Islamic faith- and history tells us they did. It matters not how and why this happened, what matters or should matter to most of us as expatriate Lebanese is the virulent mudslinging and defamatory way that “most” Lebanese try and dehumanise the other side!

    I think- we should move on from this, I respect what Gaby has to say- and some of what you have had to say has some credence, but sometimes healthy debate should exclude even the slightest hint of racism- its conduct unbecoming in this day and age!

    Posted by Enlightened | January 12, 2011, 8:33 am
  167. Il shout both of you some ciagrettes – Marlboro red as every red blooded smoking Lebanese yes?

    Posted by Enlightened | January 12, 2011, 8:35 am
  168. QN,

    Recent developments are confusing me! I am unable to make sense of it considering that the conditions seemed to have been ripe for the success of a deal.

    I must say it was my understanding that the deal would involve light concessions on both sides where the bottom line of the agreement would be to maintain stability in Lebanon in light of the indictments without either side having to budge too far one way or another. Would be interested in reading your assessment of the S-S deal failure! :S

    Also, would be interested in reading what others think of this. Has HA been successful in placing the blame on Hariri et allies (incl. US) for the failure to reach an agreement and any possible repercussions that would have?

    Posted by Douna | January 12, 2011, 8:35 am
  169. Hi guys. I’ve been traveling. Will try to post something from the road in a bit.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 12, 2011, 8:41 am
  170. New post up.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 12, 2011, 9:58 am
  171. Thanks for you comment Enlightened. I did see Gaby’s point of view and I am well aware of the Persians contributions as well as others to Islam. I tried several times to sway him from pursuing such discussion but he kept pushing the limits to absurd heights. His latest comments further show his insistence despite the obvious fact of his limited knwoledge about it. He insisted on his folly even after proven wrong on a previous absurdity of his.

    So, I’ll leave him ‘puzzled’ with his Wiki material until he shows some serious efforts, or until somebody is willing and patient enough to show him that those he mentioned were actually faithfull followers of the previous generation(s) of scholars and relied on their writings. In most cases they reproduced what was available into new books with diffrent names. Surprisingly, the early generation(s) publications are still available.

    Posted by anonymous | January 12, 2011, 11:54 am
  172. Gee Anon,

    You’re like the Energizer bunny. You keep going and going and going.

    Not even the Always Right Hassan Nassrallah exhibits such arrogant confidence.

    Whatever happened to “any Muslim with a very basic knowledge will blow that notion in less than a second”.

    Apparently it’s been morphed to: “You need to go study for 2 years”.

    The shame.

    And don’t you worry, I am not puzzled.

    — or until somebody is willing and patient enough to show him that those he mentioned were actually faithfull followers of the previous generation(s) of scholars and relied on their writings. In most cases they reproduced what was available into new books with diffrent names. —

    Out of charity. I’ll educate you a little. Since you obviously know absolutely nothing about your history.

    The point you raised above is so patently obvious, it hardly needs mentioning or a trip to Cairo.

    By their definition, that is what the “Hadith” is. And who else could possibly have relayed the stories except the people who were in the immediate vicinity of Muhammad at his time. And would could those people possibly have been, but Arabs.

    Yes, the earliest “Hadiths” were written mostly by Arabs. This is natural. Of the 4 major Madhabs, one, the Hanafi, was done by a non-Arab. Their work predated that of the collection I listed above.

    But these details are all quite irrelevant, and nonworthy of discussion. They are like the passage from Ibn Khaldun that you got fixated on- which was equally as irrelevant.

    Your problem Anonymous, is that you go around life carrying a racist grudge. This grudge informs how you read and understand history.

    Like I told you in Post #121. You simply cannot understand the humour until you drop that racist attitude.

    And as I will repeat here, contrary to what you assert in Post #170. You did not see my point of view . Read it, maybe yes. But understand and appreciate it.. most definitely not.

    This is because at your core, you are racist.

    In Post #141, GK repeated this charge against you, by suggesting your ideas are based on either “exceptionalism” or “superiority”.

    You should not consider any of these observations as flattering.

    I see in your above drivel that you are still actively minimizing the importance of Persian contributions, when you repeat such rubbish as the quote I listed above. As if all Bukhari did was to plagiarize existing work, stick it in a book and take credit for it.

    Under normal circumstances, I would have simply ignored your ignorant remarks (as I was doing early on in the conversation- your lack of depth of knowledge was evident already).

    But I strongly believe that the problem with Lebanon is that it is populated with people like you. People full of themselves, arrogant as well as ignorant. Which is perhaps the ugliest trait of all.

    And in that sense, I humbly disagree with BV, who interpret this exchange as a “pissing contest”. The subject matters are quite irrelevant- Arab/Persian, Sunni/Shia, but the type of supremacist, racist, tribalist mentality that you embody is precisely the problem that Lebanon faces.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 12, 2011, 1:53 pm
  173. Mutanabbi 172,

    You’re not in a position to lecture anyone after making such an out of place ‘humour’.

    You’re also incapable of discussing the subject or even contributing any positive input to it.

    Twice disproven twice inbsistant – That is a good sign of a real hyocrite.

    Others can speak for themselves and are in no need for your childish interpretations. May be it is time to rely on your own and be judged independently. Already you have been chastised by quite few among them are those you consider are supporting you. Actually, in my opinion, they were sick of both threads that you started, as I was.

    If you think you were humorous, think twice before you offer anybody such humor in the future.

    Posted by anonymous | January 12, 2011, 7:28 pm
  174. Anon:

    Wow, the Energizer Bunny battery still has some juice.

    In the off-chance that there’s still a little juice left… (+ nothing worse than letting a good jibe go to waste!)

    Twice disproven twice inbsistant – That is a good sign of a real hyocrite.

    What is this expression? I’m trying to make sense of it.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 12, 2011, 9:10 pm
  175. Almutanabbi was accused of being a liar, then he became a real hypocrite in his next incarnation by insisting on his lies beyond reason.

    A kid will understand that and admit it. A hypocrite will not. Why should I waste a second with you from now on?

    Posted by anonymous | January 12, 2011, 10:43 pm
  176. Anon,

    I can handle insults, but I cannot deal with the butchery of the English tongue!

    A hypocrite is someone who holds beliefs that they don’t really believe in. Do you actually believe that I don’t believe what I say?

    I am also not very clear on what I allegedly lied about (on the other hand, I can demonstrate quite easily where you lied- a number of times!).

    Look, no offence, but neither your original expression “Twice disproven twice inbsistant …” nor this explanation make much sense. I seriously doubt any kid would actually understand it, let alone admit to something they don’t understand.

    If your intent is to make a jibe. Put one together that’s at least applicable.

    As for wasting time or not wasting time, that’s your choice. I won’t lie, I find your about-face intriguing. And although I think your knowledge is warped, that you’re a tad racist, etc. When you’re on fire, you’re on fire, and you’re pure entertainment. I also find you’ve become a little subdued (with others) since this exchange, and I can’t help but feel that maybe I was too harsh with you. At the very least, whether or not you engage with me, you should keep that edge.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 13, 2011, 12:42 am

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