Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Interviews, Israel, Lebanon, March 14

An Interview With Gary Gambill

Gary Gambill, current editor of Mideast Monitor and former editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, is one of the sharpest commentators on Lebanese affairs. His analysis is always meticulously well researched and well written, and I’ve enjoyed reading him for years. This interview was conducted over email. Please feel free to respond with your own questions, and perhaps Gary will take some time to engage the readership in the comment section.

In other news, I’ll be giving a talk about Lebanese electoral reform at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, this Thursday at 12:00 PM. Feel free to stop by if you’re in the area. And finally, check out Jesse Aizenstat’s iPad ebook about surfing and politics in the Middle East.

**

QN: In your recent article, Dreaming of Damascus, you argued that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could not sign a peace deal with Israel because this would undermine the legitimacy of his Alawite regime in a Sunni-majority country.

GG: Well, I argued that the unique sectarian composition of Syria’s regime makes it less politically capable than a representative government of making peace with Israel. One of the problems with writing op-eds is that one doesn’t have the space to clarify everything, so let me underscore a few points:

First, I’m not saying Assad doesn’t want a peace treaty with Israel – I suspect he would sign one if the expected gains outweighed the political risks.  But what what are the political risks of accepting the terms currently demanded by Israel (breaking with Iran, an end to all direct and indirect support for anti-Zionist movements, trade relations, an occasional bouquet of flowers, etc.) for an Alawite-dominated regime in a majority Sunni country?

Second, my hypothesis is essentially structuralist. The constraint on foreign policy I’m postulating is generated primarily not by the preferences of either the Alawite minority or the Sunni majority (neither of which strikes me as more averse to peace than Egyptians, Jordanians, or Palestinians), but by the fact that a regime dominated by the former is governing the latter.  The Assad regime has long managed Sunni resentment at being ruled by an Alawite-led regime (which we all know is common, particularly among the religious) by advancing regional causes that resonate with Sunnis (particularly anti-Zionism).  This is why Al-Qaeda and non-Syrian branches of the Muslim Brotherhood have been friendly to Assad, and it is partly why Syria has been so stable.  A strategic realignment away from the rejectionist axis would make the regime more vulnerable to internal and external subversion.

Third, my substantiation of the argument is essentially deductive.  There haven’t been any other cases of heterodox Islamic minorities governing Sunnis in the modern era, so we have only the Syrian case to look at. The empirical data from this one clinical trial is consistent with my hypothesis (the Assad regime has, justifiably or not, repeatedly declined whatever terms happen to be acceptable to Israel at any given time), but it’s also consistent with other explanations of Syrian behavior.  Although I lead the article with the claim that Assad “can neither be bribed nor intimidated into making a ‘strategic realignment’ until he first reconciles with the Syrian people,” I’m not saying that the sectarian power imbalance in Syria is the only determining factor.

QN: How would you explain Assad’s repeated attempts to get Israel to negotiate on the Golan, as well as the assessment of many of Israel’s top military advisors that Assad is serious about pursuing peace? Is he just playing the process and fooling even the most hard-nosed of his enemies?

Well, clearly Assad derives enormous benefits from the process of negotiating with Israel, irrespective of the outcome, so his desire to negotiate does not itself reveal much about ultimate intentions. Even if we take him at his word that he wants a settlement, he has said little publicly to suggest that he would be willing to make the kind of strategic realignment demanded by Israel even if it is willing to withdraw completely from the Golan.

Of course, Assad has every right to insist that normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel not automatically entail full-blown friendship (a demand that is certainly not typical of most peace settlements).  I just don’t think he’s going to get his way.  He doesn’t have his father’s international credibility, and he played a far deadlier role in sponsoring terrorism against Israelis.  He’s going to have to show them the money to get the Golan back, and I don’t see him doing that anytime soon.

QN: In Syria’s Triumph in Lebanon: Au Revoir les Ententes, you argued that Syria has returned to dominance in Lebanon.  How is the present state of affairs different from the conditions that obtained in the 1990s and early 2000s?

GG: Regional and international toleration has always been a critical enabler of Syria’s domination of Lebanon, and the attitudes of all the major external players are gradually reverting back to form.  The fact that Western and Arab governments have stopped criticizing Syria’s conduct in Lebanon (apart from its transshipment of weapons to Hezbollah) and embraced the contrived fiction that Assad is “mediating” between Saad Hariri and Hezbollah is eerily reminiscent of the days when they pretended there wasn’t an occupation (the word itself was literally absent from American official statements on Lebanon until 2003).  Continuing American antagonism  toward Hezbollah suits the Syrians just fine – their value as a “mediator” is enhanced if Hezbollah isn’t getting along with the international community.

Internally, most Lebanese political elites are seeking amicable relations with Syria (even as many denounce Hezbollah).  The lack of uproar over the recent disappearance of four Syrian political dissidents in Lebanon is really sad.

Syrian troops haven’t returned, but that’s the beauty of it for Assad.  Domination without (or nearly without)  occupation is exactly what Assad was trying to achieve in 2001-2004 with the drawdown of Syrian forces and the elevation of President Emile Lahoud over Hariri.

QN: Are there any opportunities for Lebanon to gain a credible measure of sovereignty over its affairs?

What is “sovereignty” in a country as divided as Lebanon?  If you mean a government that asserts its prerogatives in accordance with the “will of the people,” Lebanon has the most sovereign state in the Arab world – it performs exactly as the country’s democratically elected leaders intend it to.  The problem is that the “will of the people” is fractured and contradictory.

The Lebanese people will have to take it upon themselves to strive for something higher.  The demonstration against sectarianism in Beirut earlier this month was a hopeful sign, but a few thousand people is a far cry from the kind of popular mobilization needed for the Lebanese to follow in the footsteps of Egypt and Tunisia.

QN: Who killed Rafiq al-Hariri?

GG: I’ve been very careful not to play into the Syria-bashing that has been in vogue in Washington, and I have serious doubts as to whether Syria was involved in some of the subsequent assassinations frequently attributed to it (especially Pierre Gemayel and Brig.-Gen. François al-Hajj).  But in my view the Assad regime was almost certainly responsible for the Hariri killing.  I’ll explain my reasoning step by step:

1. It would have been virtually impossible for anyone outside of Syria’s extended network of clients and proxies to cleanly pull off such a complex operation in the heart of Syrian-occupied Beirut.  There certainly was no precedent of uninvited guests operating at anywhere near this level of sophistication under the nose of the Syrians.  Israel probably could have pulled off the hit, but not cleanly (hundreds of former Israeli agents rotting in Lebanese prisons today testify to its sloppy covert ops).  If the Israelis did it, there would have to have been a conspiracy on the part of both the UN investigative commission and at least some Lebanese security officials to bury evidence pointing in that direction.  That seems wildly implausible to me.

2. It’s virtually inconceivable that elements inside this network would have taken it upon themselves to kill a leading Lebanese political figure without say so from Syrian intelligence officials in Lebanon, and virtually inconceivable that the latter would have given the order without authorization from Assad.  There is no precedent of either, and it’s difficult to plausibly reconstruct what factional interests might have been served by “rogue” operators killing Hariri.

3.   The behavior of Jamil al-Sayyid and other top Syrian appointed Lebanese security officials after the killing simply isn’t consistent with the frenzy of activity one would expect in the wake of an unapproved killing of such a major figure.  These are the same guys who once sent tanks through the streets of Beirut because of a false rumor that Aoun was returning from exile.

4. The telecommunications evidence that Hezbollah members were conducting surveillance of Hariri before and during the assassination is pretty damning once you closely examine the methodology (e.g. “collocation” of cell-phone signals).  Hezbollah would not have gotten involved without Syrian collaboration.

5.  The Syrians had by far the strongest motive of anyone for wanting Hariri dead.  Hariri was quietly coordinating with the emerging Christian and Druze opposition with the intention of crushing pro-Syrian loyalists in the 2005 elections, as well as with French and American efforts to pressure Syria to disengage from Lebanon.  Hariri got killed right at the moment when everyone was wondering what in the hell the Syrians were going to do about Hariri.

Am I ABSOLUTELY certain that the Syrians killed Hariri?  No. Am I absolutely certain that the Libyans killed Musa Sadr or that Geagea’s Lebanese Forces killed Prime Minister Rashid Karami?  Or for that matter that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK?  No.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  Let’s also not pretend that every other government in the Arab world wouldn’t resort to murder in fending off serious political challenges.  Recently leaked Egyptian State Security files indicate (if authentic) that the Mubarak regime carried out the Alexandria church bombing in a clumsy attempt to strengthen its pretext for tyrannical rule.

QN: You’ve argued that the STL (and the UNIIIC before it) was compromised by the blunders of Detlev Mehlis.

GG: Yes.  Mehlis either was duped into staking the credibility of the UNIIIC on dubious witness testimonies in his first interim report to the Security Council or knowingly attempted to pass off unreliable witness testimonies as solid evidence.  So he was either incompetent or unethical.  All hope of a judicial process that would be broadly perceived by the Lebanese people as impartial and just was lost on his watch, which is a shame because his successors seemed to have pulled it together.  The upcoming indictments are, according to all indications, based on compelling evidence that has in no way been tainted by the missteps of Mehlis, but they won’t be perceived as such by a great many Lebanese of all sects.  Don’t be surprised if Hezbollah one day erects a statue of the German prosecutor.

QN: What kind of effect, if any, will the published indictments have upon the political arena in Lebanon, particularly if they do name members of Hezbollah?

GG: It’s difficult to say.  On the one hand, incontrovertible evidence of Hezbollah’s involvement is a glaring violation of its long-standing pledge not to use violence to settle domestic political disputes.  This is a much more serious violation of its so-called “purity of arms” than its route of Sunni and Druze militias in May 2008 (which at least was in defense of a fiber optic telecommunications system unquestionably vital to its military struggle against Israel).  The late Hariri made no secret of his desire for peace with Israel and unquestionably encouraged his foreign allies to intercede on his behalf with Syria, but he cannot be said to have posed a clear and present danger to the “resistance” – killing him was out and out murder even under Hezbollah’s own moral code. I myself was VERY skeptical of the allegation when Der Speigel first broke the story of Hezbollah’s involvement in May 2009, but the evidence now appears indisputable.

However, Hezbollah’s saving grace is the fact that large numbers of Lebanese (85% of Shiites, 54% of Christians, and 21% of Sunnis, according to one recent poll) don’t accept the legitimacy of the tribunal.  Moreover, there has been a long lead time between confirmation of Hezbollah’s rumored indictment last summer and the indictments themselves.  People have had a long time to adjust to the news and draw their own conclusions, so unless the indictments contain a surprise we don’t know about, the worst may already be over for Hezbollah.

QN: How do you assess the current position and identity of the Free Patriotic Movement? How durable is the alliance between the Aounists and the “Resistance camp”?

GG: I haven’t been paying close attention to the inner workings of the FPM as of late, but I expect its alliance with Hezbollah to endure for quite some time.  Aoun’s decision-making, from his choice of election partners in 2005 to his alliance with Hezbollah the following year and subsequent reconciliation with Syria, has been largely driven by the constraints and opportunities afforded by the positions of other players.  The refusal of March 14 to accept his presidential candidacy (despite the fact that his party won over two-thirds of the Christian vote in the 2005 elections) made this alignment an inevitability.  Any other Lebanese politician in his situation would have done the same thing (indeed, Hariri and Jumblatt DID do essentially the same thing when they allied with the Shiite bloc against Aoun in the 2005 elections).  That’s how the game is played in Lebanon, and Aoun has proven to be a quick learner since returning from exile. The presidency is his if he can live long enough to claim it in 2014.
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Discussion

423 thoughts on “An Interview With Gary Gambill

  1. I find myself in agreement with practically all of the views expressed by Mr. Gambill. I happen to believe, however, that there are two very important forces that will shape the future of Syria that were not mentioned and I wonder whether Mr. Gambitt shares the view that demography and the lack of a credible performance on the economic front will ultimately weaken the hold of the Assads on Syria.Could these two internal factors push the Syrian regime into democratizing to save itself or just the opposite make it more tyrannical?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 8, 2011, 11:59 pm
  2. This is a very sharp and informed analysis. It would be interesting to hear Mr. Gambill’s views on the regional context (the Iranian factor included) and the stability of the Assad regime.

    Posted by Amal | March 9, 2011, 2:58 am
  3. Hi Gary,

    Agree with most of what you said. But I think that you are guilty of overstating the sectarian dimension. But you went over that with Noe’s critique of your articles. Well worth a read as well for those that are interested http://mideastwire.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/gary-gambills-syria-problem/.

    I just don’t agree that the Alawite-Sunni complex weighs as heavily as you suggest it does.

    To what extent have al Qaeda engaged with Assad? I thought most of the insurgents were ex-Baathists or Sunni insurgents with little, or at least loose, connections to al Qaeda.

    Another side point I found fascinating is that Noe accused you of never having been to either Syria and Lebanon. Is this true? As I find your analysis, like QN, very insightful and am amazed that someone can achieve this level of analysis without ever actually visiting the country…

    Posted by Deen | March 9, 2011, 5:20 am
  4. Allow me an aside here, just for the record: if true, it would be interesting that Gambill never visited Syria and Lebanon. But its extraordinary for Nick Noe to object to this, when he himself did not have a problem parading around as an Hezbollah expert barely a month into his stay in Lebanon.

    Posted by Amal | March 9, 2011, 5:59 am
  5. Actually the sectarian complex weighs very heavily on the Assad regime and it is the determining factor of its behaviour. Syrian pilots were involved in civilian bombings in Libya. That could only be explained by the fear factor by the Assad regime of a possible Libyan syndrome finding its way to Syria. The Syrians are ruled by fear and the Libyan revolutionaries are providing inspiration that can now be emulated by Syrians who have been intimidated to submission for over 40 years. When the Syrians see the sacrifices offered by the Libyans it becomes shameful for them not to emulate. The Syrians know that they have to offer lot of blood to free themselves.

    Assad will not democratize, Ghassan. You can be certain of that.

    Posted by anonymous | March 9, 2011, 6:24 am
  6. If Egypt and Tunisia manage over the next few years a reasonable transition towards more transparent, representative and law-based social and political frameworks, i.e. the way Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and to lesser extent Bangladesh have already done, then it is very hard to imagine the Syrian regime being around in another five years’ time.

    They will have a representative government next door in east in iraq, same to north in Turkey, same in west in Lebanon and Cyrpus.

    I think that the regime in Damascus is doomed, which is good news for everyone.

    Posted by Jean Estiphan | March 9, 2011, 7:25 am
  7. Ghassan,

    Thanks for the kind words. The problem with the collapsing economy argument is that people have been making it for 20 years. Saddam Hussein’s grip on power arguably became STRONGER when economic conditions were at their worst after the Gulf War.

    Deen,

    I’m using the term Al-Qaeda loosely to refer to violent Salafi-jihadist networks. Despite the fact that Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda in Iraq have both had many Syrian Islamists in their leadership (e.g. Abu Musab al-Suri, a major al-Qaeda ideologue; Ghazawan al-Suri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Mosul captured in 2007; Abu Zaid al-Suri, a deputy leader of al-Qaeda in Rawah, captured in 2006; Abu Layla al Suri, the leader of al-Qaeda in Diyala, killed in 2008) they have left Assad alone.

    No, I haven’t been to Syria. I did visit Lebanon briefly nearly 15 years ago (before I began doing serious research on Lebanese politics), but I can’t claim to have gained any great insight from the trip.

    Gary

    Posted by Gary C. Gambill | March 9, 2011, 7:35 am
  8. Also, if you’re going to read Noe’s critique, you should also read my rebuttal, which he graciously published on his blog:

    http://mideastwire.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/gary-responds-on-us-and-allied-syrialebanon-policy/

    Posted by Gary C. Gambill | March 9, 2011, 7:37 am
  9. NOW you decide to give a talk at stanford – several months after I leave. Good luck with your talk and enjoy the campus.

    Posted by M. | March 9, 2011, 11:03 am
  10. Ziad and Gary C. Gambill were members of the Middle East Forum which was established by Daniel Pipes. Pipes is just a mouthpiece for the far-right Zionist lobby that has its own agenda in the Middle East conflict. This group is just 100% pro Israel lobbying group….and were instrumental in their planning and machinations for the Assassination Matrix in the Levant starting in 01/2002…..

    Ziad K. Abdelnour
    Elliot Abrams
    Thomas Patrick Carroll
    Paula Dobriansky
    Rep. Eliot Engel
    Douglas Feith
    Frank Gaffney
    Gary Gambill
    George Haddad
    Fomer US Representative to the UN Jeane Kirkpatrick
    Michael Ledeen
    Naji Najjar
    Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle
    Daniel Pipes
    Michael Rubin
    David Wurmser

    Last but not least, your “glorification” of Gary C. Gambill betrays an admiration….for a well known CIA-Disinformation and con artist with very nice sounding PROSE….who has been at it for years since 99….and has a long record of utter disinformation for CIA and MOSSAD….which were instrumental in the assassinations machinations in Lebanon….and that’s all I will say about him for now….

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/obama-perpetuates-utter-lies-between.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/components-of-white-house-murder-incs.html

    The infamous White House Murder INC’s personnel were trained in kidnapping, ambushing, car jacking, surveillance, extra-judicial assassinations, and psychological warfare operations by the United States and Israel…. It is the psychological warfare operations that are at the center of the “current” fear campaign, which started in earnest since January 24th 2002…., being waged by The infamous White House Murder INC’s against the Lebanese people with the promotion of the March14th CIA Proxy Militia cult… by the Saatchi& Saatchi cartel serving as a major psychological warfare tactic to ensure a constant state of fear among the Lebanese population….But it ain’t working…just like it didn’t work in 2006….and it will never work ….despite the string of cowardly assassinations.

    Posted by HK | March 9, 2011, 11:23 am
  11. As Mugabe has clearly shown, you can grind your country to dust and stay in power. That is certainly a possible scenario in Syria. The logic is quite compelling. At each point in time the citizens ask themselves what they prefer more, a slightly worse economic situation or a civil war? And they choose the former.

    What is not possible is for Assad to make Syria stronger economically without serious reforms. It is not the staying in power that is impossible. It is “resistance” and economic growth that can’t go together.

    Posted by AIG | March 9, 2011, 11:40 am
  12. Who could then “cleanly” pull of the Imad M. assassination in Damascus?

    Posted by EO | March 9, 2011, 12:56 pm
  13. Mugabe and Kim Jong il are still in power in countries where citizens will attempt anything to flee. Unfortunately this “elite” group of nations might be joined by Bashars Syria soon. A country whose rate of growth in population is one of the highest in the world, that is suffering of food insecurity, running out of fossil fuels and already has a very low per capita GDP not to mention its freedom deficit is a country that will not pose a serious military threat to its neighbours but poses a grave threat to personal liberty of its own citizens.
    (Syria is expected to have around 45 million by 2040 with a real per capita income that is not much higher than the present one.)

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 9, 2011, 1:11 pm
  14. AIG,

    Were you not advocating on “SyriaComment” in the past the thesis of inevitability of an uprising and toppling of the Syrian regime?
    Please spare me doing some search to support my claim. 😉

    Posted by Badr | March 9, 2011, 1:25 pm
  15. Badr,

    No I wasn’t. I think it is probable that there will be an uprising, but I also believe a Mugabe type scenario is possible. I also think there is a small chance of serious reforms by the Assad regime.

    You need to read my posts more attentively 🙂

    Posted by AIG | March 9, 2011, 2:19 pm
  16. Remarkable and deeply illuminating interview!

    Thanks, QN and Mr. Gambill.

    Here’s a question, if you’re willing to further comment and engage:

    What, in your opinion, is in the best interest of the Lebanese people as a whole, as citizen of an independent country whose prosperity can benefit all the citizen equally? The question seeks comments on what the best political position would be, both internally and externally, best political structure, best economic and social policies, etc.
    In other words, if you were a Lebanese citizen, living in Lebanon, and wanting to see your country prosper and shine, what would you advocate?
    Thank You in advance.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 9, 2011, 3:09 pm
  17. Great analysis. However, I beg to differ regarding Mehlis and the tainting of the STL.
    also”…which is a shame because his successors seemed to have pulled it together”

    A lot of people would disagree with your comment on that. How did you ascertain that? As recent as the CBC report found out that Eid was murdered as he was the one who alerted a comatose or disinterested Brammertz of the phone trail. Brammertz and Bellmare have done nothing professional in their bland media declarations to offer a better understanding on where the process is at.

    HA and Syrian would have done all possible to taint the possible indictments or the outcome. After all it was Hassan Nassrallah who came with the gem of “tracking counter espionage unit” as well as the out dated 1997(?) flyby of the Israeli drone!

    Posted by danny | March 9, 2011, 3:49 pm
  18. “There certainly was no precedent of uninvited guests operating at anywhere near this level of sophistication under the nose of the Syrians. Israel probably could have pulled off the hit, but not cleanly (hundreds of former Israeli agents rotting in Lebanese prisons today testify to its sloppy covert ops). “

    The absence of actions does not nullify the actual presence of “uninvited” guests. The “hundreds of Israeli agents rotting in jail” was only accomplished the last couple of years, and their presence and continued spying for Israel, with some having been employed for decades based on their confessions, should work to dispel any notion that Syria ran a air-tight security apparatus in Lebanon. As for Israel being able to pull the hit “cleanly” or not, how would you know? The Israel assassination record is an amalgam of brilliant as well as embarrassingly amateurish operations .

    Posted by Saint | March 9, 2011, 5:01 pm
  19. 16 …Saint

    Posted by danny | March 9, 2011, 5:41 pm
  20. ooops.

    Saint, Nasrallah himself said he had a band of “operatives” (not be confused with brothers) tracking an “Israeli spy” at the same location and at the same time Hariri was assassinated! You mean your crack unit as well as dozens of mukhabarati “trackers” were fooled by the mossad crack unit?
    The movie is next…

    Posted by danny | March 9, 2011, 5:43 pm
  21. They were tracking the Israeli operative, but

    1) Failed to prevent him from carrying his mission.
    2) Failed to name him or point him out to Hariri’s security or the authorities, before, or after the assassination.
    3) Failed to apprehend him after he carried out his alleged misdeed.
    4) Failed to mention this to anyone till 3-4 years later, when the finger was pointed at them.

    Anyone else think this doesn’t even add up?

    I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m tracking someone who’s about to commit a crime, I wanna stop them, or failing that alert someone, or failing that, apprehend them, or failing even that, scream bloody murder RIGHT after it happens.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 9, 2011, 6:02 pm
  22. Danny,

    All it tells me is that all possibilities are there, and a good investigation looks at everything and everyone. In the end Israel had more to gain from this scenario than anyone else (as they did with the subsequent expulsion and condemnation of Syria). Until recently, the hundreds of Israel’s spying operations had been conducted under the very noses of both HA and Syria, some going back to the ‘80s. Also, how do you explain the subsequent assassinations that followed? Every one of them brought only further condemnations and accusations against Syria, so it wouldn’t have served Syria or any of its allies in Lebanon. Anyone looking at Hariri’s assassination needs to look at all the others as well. It would be stupid not to see how they were timed perfectly to exact mounting pressure on Syria throughout that period.

    Posted by Saint | March 9, 2011, 6:18 pm
  23. Hey guys, I have an Arabic expression which I think applies perfectly to HNA and his band of thugs,

    ازداد في الرقة حتى انفلق

    Can anyone help with an English equivalent, if there is any?

    Posted by anonymous | March 9, 2011, 6:49 pm
  24. Regrettably, believing or not believing in an Israeli theory of the assassination of Hariri has become more a matter of faith than of any kind of logic for all those who are considering it.

    As Gambill points out quite eloquently, forgive me for saying it in different words:
    – if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like duck, smells like a duck, by golly, it’s a duck

    The reason/motive for Syria? Articulated brilliantly not long after the assassination by none-other than our dear friend and Syria expert and often Syria apologist Prof. Landis:
    http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/L/Joshua.M.Landis-1/syriablog/2006/01/who-killed-hariri-pushed-against-wall.htm

    Let’s not forget. And, some of us will NEVER forget.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 9, 2011, 6:51 pm
  25. Saint,

    Your logic befuddles everyone. You mean Israel assassinated all the leaders of M14 movement that were instrumental in pushing Syria out (off course with a severe nudge from GWB/Chirac)to bother Syria? Do you believe anything you are saying?

    If you would like to go back a few years; it seems Israel’s has been contracted out by the Assad’s of Syria to take out all its “enemies” in Lebanon…Mouawad, Bachir G, Kamal Jumblat, Mufti Khaled…Hariri…etc

    I know I should not respond to such utterance of nonsense…but blame the snowstorm outside! 😀

    Posted by danny | March 9, 2011, 7:01 pm
  26. The lack of logic in explaining some of the conspiracy theories has always baffled me.
    And i don’t mean just in Lebanon.

    I mean, it’s one thing to have a conspiracy theory where things add up, and there is simply no way to prove what happened.
    But when said theory relies on self-contradictions and things that don’t make sense period, well, I don’t understand how any human being with a brain is willing to overlook such contradictions simply to stick to their belief system.

    Unless we start getting into quantum mechanics, where it is possible for an object to be in 2 different places at the same time, then I really don’t know how this all works.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 9, 2011, 7:34 pm
  27. Hassan Nasrallah unplugged himself from the Matrix … and the Ayatollah is Orpheus.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 9, 2011, 7:44 pm
  28. Danny,

    I don’t know who killed Hariri and all the others. Neither do you or anyone else. All we have are our own hardened political positions, and our political analysis colored already by those same positions, along with some thrilling and tainted media leaks. To your point about Israel killing its “friends” who helped kick Syria out: Israel has no friends above its geo-strategic goals. So if killing a couple more small fish will help her goals it would not hesitate to do so. Politics has its own befuddling logic. My logic is based on the facts that every one of these assassinations were only fueling more anti-Syrian sentiment and adding more international pressure on it. So exactly why would Syria keep bringing it on itself?

    Look guys. I am not accusing anyone, but neither am I exonerating anyone either, including HA. Although if HA had done it would stupefy me since this had never been their MO and I would think they would be much smarter than to touch someone like Hariri for any short term political goals. They toughed it out against insurmountable odds with Israel for 18 years, I would not imagine that they saw any Hariri political re-alignment, if that were the proper term here, as an existential threat to them justifying an incredibly risky plot to assassinate him. That is the extent of my analysis. At the end of the day, what is the real reality on the ground is that any indictment will only help polarize Lebanon further and risk bigger domestic problems. Unless the STL can produce the smoking gun people in either camp will only harden their positions and the Lebanese people will be the real losers in all of this.

    Posted by Saint | March 9, 2011, 9:52 pm
  29. Saint

    Your intellectual honesty is appreciated. Keep it up.

    QN

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 9, 2011, 10:13 pm
  30. Different individuals have different way of looking at the world and that is good. It is these various values that shape ones paradigm and thus determines the questions that they ask and thus the answers that they give to any problems. There has never been a single event, probably at any time in history, that did not have people on both sides of the divide. There are people who still believe that humans have not landed on the moon , that the earth is flat and that there is an intelligent design.
    I have no objections whatsoever to having some people reject or dismiss theories or ideas that I espouse. It would be irrational to expect otherwise.
    I think that no matter what is the evidence ,whether strong or weak, one side or the other will find a way to rationalize its position and to maintain thatthe evidence is simply wrong. Again I do not object to thatsince diversity of opinion is to be epected. What I object to , rather strongly, are the attempts to prejudge an outcome and even to dismiss a potential conclusion before it is known what that conclusion is going to say. It is simply wrong to abort the process just on a hunch that the outcome might not support a certain position. Let the STL proceed, issue its indictments and hold its trials. Unless one can demonstrate clearly that the international community has devoted resources to fabricate evidence then the trials should proceed and the outcome should be binding. A binding outcome of a trial simply means that the judicial authorities arrived at a certain conclusion when presented with a particular evidence. It does not mean that one has to agree with the judgment but it means that one accepts. (The court found OJ not guilty of the murder of his wife and millions did not agree with the judgment but had no choice but to accept it.) That is the only civilized way, we have no choice but to see the process through.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 9, 2011, 11:06 pm
  31. GK,
    There are our views and outlooks, our wishes and desires, and then there is reality.

    The STL is moving ahead and its indictments will be a reality soon enough, but what then? You already know HA will reject it, as they have done already, and will accuse the STL of being another plot to disarm it for the sake of Israel. Again short of a smoking gun which may embarrass their positions, HA’s allies will also stand by it. The country will be polarized further, sectarian agitation will increase and the people will suffer immeasurably. Regardless of where you stand on this or other issues, and what one’s ultimate wishes are, this will be our reality. This is not the case of an athlete killing his wife in a fit of rage, in a court of law in a free and democratic nation. This is an international court ruling on an emotionally charged case in the midst of a divided country beset by the conflicting interests of regional and international powers. One cannot understate the repercussions. So yes I would believe there would a lot of politicking going on and many accusations and counter accusations and conspiracy theories and so on. The ultimate prize in all of this is no less than the dismantling of HA, a goal a very costly war, backed by a super power, was fought over just a few years ago. The stakes are that high and the vultures are perched and ready. If all this does not put the STL in some political ambiguity then I am not sure what will. And if you believe you will get the truth in the middle of all of this, then good luck to you . My concern in the end is what will this mean for the Lebanese. Hariri getting to avenge his father, in the middle of this impending implosion, is less important than the over-riding interest of an entire nation.

    Posted by Saint | March 10, 2011, 12:17 am
  32. CK

    I wonder if Mr Gambit will comment on the following…

    Is Aoun sending a subtle message to the Christian community in Lebanon they are better served and preserved in the long run aligning themselves with the Shiites, Alawiite and Syrian christians against a sea of Sunnis in Lebanon, Syria and beyond that is producing jihadists bent on imposing their intolerant world views with all its ugly consequenses. The question is..Does Aoun’s behaviour reflects more than just political opportunism? Is there an undercurrent to this message?

    Posted by Camille Khoury | March 10, 2011, 12:18 am
  33. I suggest that you, Camille, devise and send the ClAun your own subtle message by having him ponder over the fate of the Iraqi Christians. You guys are just pathetic and be careful lest you all may get swept by the sea you’re so afraid of.

    Now to the other point. Some people still do not know who klled Hariri but somehow still would like to accuse Israel of the crime. Conspiracy theories, unfortunately are falling on deaf ears which by no means help the demagogues. Our host’s attention, surprisingly, gets attracted when someone argues the archaic and delusional argument of stability being a higher ‘good’ than upholding justice and uncovering the perpetrators no matter who they happen to be.

    Putting both sentiments together (Camille’s and QN’s), let’s make things clear once and for all. We, the sea of Sunnis, are for confessionalism and for ever. Your so-called quest for reforms has just been proven hypocritical. Otherwise may be you should attempt to swallow the sea.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 1:00 am
  34. To anonymous

    This is not an attack on Sunnis or the Sunni sect. In my last post, I was curious as to the merit of what I was proposing might be an additional component to Aoun’s strategy behind his alliance with Hizbullah and the Assad regime.

    Posted by CK | March 10, 2011, 2:31 am
  35. I think what is a bit missing in this article is more of a “live” or dynamic context about what is happening in the region – like the very exciting things happening in terms of accountibility in Turkie, the rise of more genuinely meaningful indepdence for courts etc, and also in iraq, tunis and al Qahira.

    in my view – the most interesting of all the popular movements in the region from Moroc to Iran is what is happening, and how it is happening – very rational and clear focus in two places: saudiarabia and almost most especially in Bahrein.

    If Bahrein moves in a direction of constitutional monarchy – in other words if the current minority whose elite do enjoy state-supported privileges can learn that it isn’t the “end of the world” living in a constitutional, representative system, then that will be a very big achievement and big development for all the Arabic-speaking people.

    The regime in Syria – I cannot imagine it being in place in another 2 or 3 years – i can’t see it. And if Bahrein, Oman, Kuwait and Moroc do what they appear ready to do – move forward, then that will make the end of assad dictatorship be even faster and quicker.

    Posted by s al-riachy | March 10, 2011, 5:56 am
  36. CK 34,

    Bullshit and ignorant!!!

    “… against a sea of Sunnis in Lebanon, Syria and beyond that is producing jihadists bent on imposing their intolerant world views with all its ugly consequenses”

    If the above statement is not an attack of the most generalizing form, then I don’t know what is. Do not insult our intelligence.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 7:23 am
  37. Saint #31,
    To have different interpretations of the same facts is not uncommon. It happens all the times and in all fields.
    Let me stress for the umpteenth time ( we have been discussing this issue for years when all this time and energy should have been used for something more productive) that in the final analysis the STL is not about the wishes of Sa’ad Hariri nor about revenge. The STL is very simply about the ability of a society to respect the rule of law and to move on. Arguably its (rule of law( the single most sacred concept in the civilized world.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 10, 2011, 9:07 am
  38. Anonymous

    I’ve noticed you becoming extremely combative lately whenever someone introduces a point of view that contradicts your own.

    Camille was asking about whether Gary could comment on a potential aspect of Aoun’s strategy, and whether we like it or not, anti-Sunni rhetoric is indeed something that one picks up on in a lot of Aounist rhetoric, and in their forums.

    As for my own comment, I was praising Saint for intellectual honesty on the basic point that he/she is open to the possibility that anyone could have killed Hariri, including Hizbullah (which many other partisans on this blog would not admit). Also, I believe that Saint is correct in pointing out that unless the STL does not provide a real smoking gun, it’s not going to change many minds in Lebanon; the conspiracy theory engines are going to kick into high gear unless the evidence is really compelling.

    There’s no need to attack people just because you disagree with them, calling them ignorant and hypocritical.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 10, 2011, 9:12 am
  39. Saint,

    Differing opinions what makes our intellect grow and learn about others. However, trying to dump off everything and anything on Israel ad nauseam (without any corroborating facts or evidence) is ridiculous.
    Let me give you an example why a lot of people do NOT see the spin you have in these cases.

    You said:” My logic is based on the facts that every one of these assassinations were only fueling more anti-Syrian sentiment and adding more international pressure on it. So exactly why would Syria keep bringing it on itself?

    Do you really think Syria cares about what the fractious international community thinks? Israel has been the main supporter of the Assad regime and its occupation of Lebanon. Please tell me when was the last bullet fired across the Golan? 37 years may be? As for Lebanese anti Syrian sentiment: really? What has changed? Syria as any mafioso regime continued its wave of terror with impunity to eliminate its opponents.

    Here’s one question for you. If it was Israel doing all these assassinations and bombings post 2005; why did it stop after Doha? Now please unless Bashar called off his cousin Bibi and called off the invisible crack units! Also, it is so transparent that we are ready to listen to see what happens with STL while some people like yourself are trying to tarnish it. I guess guilt or fear of having HA’s mask torn off would do that.

    Posted by danny | March 10, 2011, 9:14 am
  40. Speaking of who killed Hariri, I hadn’t heard this one before. Put these two stories together.

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2007/3/7/142758.shtml

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/4780

    According to this the Iranian Revolutionary Guard did the killing, with help (Syrian amongst others), but without the knowledge of the Hzb leadership, and the whole time it was actually a plan by the Mossad that somehow penetrated the IRG. And the Iranian general who defected in Turkey three years ago was someone who knew all this.

    Nice twist. And then Mughniyeh dies.

    Posted by Pas Cool | March 10, 2011, 9:40 am
  41. Darn, that would be four years ago already, not three. Time flies when you defect.

    Posted by Pas Cool | March 10, 2011, 9:41 am
  42. Pas Cool,

    It was have been written by a Hollywood screenwriter. Don’t you love the multiple “reliable” sources these different scenarios come from? You can sell anything to the ME rn people. I hear Gamal A Nasser is coming back along with Elvis. 😀

    Posted by danny | March 10, 2011, 9:47 am
  43. The Iranian question must be thoroughly addressed in any accusation against Hezbollah. Who calls Hezbollah’s shots, most pundits say their direction comes from Iran? If Iran really did control nasrallah, would they allow their “proxy” army to do Syria’s bidding?

    The murder of Hariri, and the subsequent/previous murders of prominent figures does not fit this groups MO.

    The problem with the STL is that it should have never started or stopped with discovering the murder of Hariri, a thorough investigation should have gone back in time and investigated not only Marwan Hamade’s attempted assassination attempt in 2004, but they should have started with the 2002 car bombing of Hobeika.

    Posted by tamer k. | March 10, 2011, 9:56 am
  44. QN,

    I’m not sure if you’re condoning the Aounists’ anti-Sunni rhetoric or providing an excuse to Camille for a comment he made that should not be excused and should be described in the exact same words I used, which I stand by (“Bullshit and ignorant”).

    “… and whether we like it or not, anti-Sunni rhetoric is indeed something that one picks up on in a lot of Aounist rhetoric, and in their forums.”

    What you’re saying may imply condoning such rhetoric. So, let’s be clear on this before complaining about combative responses.

    I also pointed out in previous posts that you made a point in highlighting Mrs. Arbour’s ICG report in more than one of your posts, which incidentally falls in line with the same archaic and delusional argument I pointed out in my previous post. Is this something you also condone?

    Saint wants to abolish the STL altogether. Is this something you also condone? Now, please do not tell me he never explicitly said he wants to abolish the STL. But this is the same narrative used by HA for that purpose; i.e. the STL ignores certain parties as possible suspect, hence it is politicised, hence it should be abolished blah, blah, blah.

    Intellectual honesty requires submitting to the authority of the STL and waiting for the evidence. You do not tell the baker how to do the baking.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 10:00 am
  45. Tamer@43

    Thanks for your analysis/position on STL, which I wholeheartedly share, and it’s common sense. Period. But STL has a different Agenda.

    I also wholeheartedly agree with Saint’s Analysis, but I have been witness/privy to undisputed FACTS since 2000….which lead me to discover incredible criminality and a twisted mind within the confines of the Infamous White House Murder Machinations INC,…HENCE, mu outcry for real Justice…and I have done my share…in my own little way….Let’s hope that Justice prevails in the end….but I don’t see it coming VIA STL’s despicable behavior since 2005.

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/obama-perpetuates-utter-lies-between.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/components-of-white-house-murder-incs.html

    The infamous White House Murder INC’s personnel were trained in kidnapping, ambushing, car jacking, surveillance, extra-judicial assassinations, and psychological warfare operations by the United States and Israel…. It is the psychological warfare operations that are at the center of the “current” fear campaign, which started in earnest since January 24th 2002…., being waged by The infamous White House Murder INC’s against the Lebanese people with the promotion of the March14th CIA Proxy Militia cult… by the Saatchi& Saatchi cartel serving as a major psychological warfare tactic to ensure a constant state of fear among the Lebanese population….But it ain’t working…just like it didn’t work in 2006….and it will never work ….despite the string of cowardly assassinations….

    Posted by HK | March 10, 2011, 10:32 am
  46. QN,

    You are very kind and Gentle with Anon…while every time I post something you do not like…I am instantly dropped from QN…that’s unfair.

    Posted by HK | March 10, 2011, 10:34 am
  47. Anonymous

    If you really believe that I would condone sectarian rhetoric of any kind, then you haven’t been paying attention for the past three years.

    As for the ICG report, I find much to commend in it, as I do in most of their publications. I think it is possible to be a supporter of the STL and of seeking justice for political crimes (which I am) while also recognizing the potential for civil strife as a result of what kind of outcome is reached. This may be too nuanced a position for your taste and you don’t have to agree with it, but please don’t call it archaic, ignorant, delusional, or what have you.

    Can I now ask you a question? What did you mean when you said: “Putting both sentiments together (Camille’s and QN’s), let’s make things clear once and for all. We, the sea of Sunnis, are for confessionalism and for ever.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 10, 2011, 10:44 am
  48. QN,

    I do not have any problem with pursuing justice and averting civil strife simultaneously which should be the rational approach of any people claiming intelectual honesty and rationality. But I do have a problem with using the argument of potential strife to torpedoe justice and getting away with murder. When, the argument falls to that level, then it becomes repulsive and ugly as fear and intimidation becomes the driving force in any society which submits to this logic. Now, do you also condone that.

    As to your question, I was being sarcastic with the guy using his ownn rhetoric. I just couldn’t resist the temptation. Wasn’t that obvious? Or should you always attach a ‘smiley’ to read through it?

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 10:55 am
  49. Honest Patriot (#16): I would advocate the abolition of political confessionalism & and a single-district proportional representation parliamentary system, like that of Israel. And PLEASE, people, don’t read anything into the example I’m giving. I just can’t think of another country that has that system at the moment.

    Danny (#17): You have Mehlis to thank for the “bland” reports of Brammertz and Bellmare – they inherited a situation where one more misstep, even a slight one, would doomed the tribunal. So they had to be ultra cautious. And don’t take the CBC timeline as fact. Qifa Nabki posted on that awhile back. But I do agree that there seem to have been some unexplained delays in moving forward with the evidence implicating Hezbollah. We STILL have not seen the indictments (which were reported to be imminent last summer). If an international criminal court is timing its proceedings with an eye to the political implications, that’s unacceptable politization as well.

    Saint (#18): Your point that some of the captured Israeli agents were “employed for decades” before discovery is a good one. Nicholas Noe also contests my argument that Israeli agents couldn’t have pulled it off cleanly [http://mideastwire.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/gary-gambling-interviewed-on-qn/]. I’ll get into more detail when I send Nicholas my rebuttal, but I’m willing to concede that my proposition is debatable. Killing Hariri still would not fit the modus operandi of Israeli assassinations, so barring further evidence I still find it difficult to entertain the possibility that they were responsible.

    Camille Khoury (#32): “Does Aoun’s behaviour reflect more than just political opportunism?” In my opinion, yes. Aoun has had a soft spot for Shiites for a long time. Remember when he famously declared in 88 or 89 that he would accept a Shiite president? I don’t think it’s a sectarian thing, though – he DOES concur with a lot of things Shiites support (e.g. anti-corruption reform). His alignment ALSO happens to be the smart thing to do politically, but I think it will probably outlive its purely opportunistic usefulness. That’s what makes it different than the Hariri/Jumblatt alignment with Hezbollah in 2005.

    Posted by Gary C. Gambill | March 10, 2011, 1:03 pm
  50. See HK@10 for further info on Gambill

    Posted by HK | March 10, 2011, 1:18 pm
  51. This is what Gary C. Gambill is not telling you all….

    The Syrian Alawite assassins had by far the strongest motive of anyone for wanting Rafic Hariri dead in 2005…. Hariri was quietly coordinating with CIA since 1980 when he was recruited by FIERS in KSA….and with the emerging Christian and Druze opposition with the intention of crushing pro-Syrian loyalists in the 2005 elections, as well as with French and American efforts through the calamity of UNSC 1559 to pressure Syria and Hezbollah into “disarming the Resistance…” and removing Syrian forces from Lebanon, to make room for the Coup D’état of the PNAC KILLERS/Assassins in Lebanon….and pave the way for the long planned ….War of 2006… Hariri got killed right at the moment when everyone was wondering what in the hell the Syrians were going to do about Hariri….while Hariri was funneling money to the most extreme Syrian Sunni opposition figures….groups that Asef Shawkat had thoroughly penetrated for years….and the Infamous White House Murder INC, succeeded in gloriously Bamboozling Asef Shawkat into doing “their” bidding with yet another assassination….on Feb 14th 2005, because CIA/MOSSAD knew all along that these extreme Sunni groups were penetrated by Syria’s SMI…..

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/obama-perpetuates-utter-lies-between.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/components-of-white-house-murder-incs.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2008/12/uniiic-ii-report-revisited.html

    Posted by HK | March 10, 2011, 1:29 pm
  52. Ya anonymous, as distasteful as the phrase by CK was in his post “… a sea of Sunnis …” I, for one, did not read it as CK’s opinion but rather as CK’s articulation (dramatic though it may have been) of the rhetoric used implicitly if not explicitly by Aoun and his supporters. I have indeed heard it paraphrased by Christian folks in Lebanon.

    I do think you overreacted, although a correction or clarification would have been OK.

    I am certain you overreacted and overreached when you lumped QN in this. I can certainly understand the emotion and frustration resulting from what appear to be hidden agendas and crimes unpunished. I share those with you. However, learning how others think, particularly those among them who are smart and articulate, is a necessary step to eventually converging on a civilized accommodation and solution.

    Mr. Gambill, I am truly delighted at your statement of the necessity of elimination of political confessionalism in Lebanon. Despite its risk to the Christian community there, such fundamental human right as 1-person-1-vote must the foundation of any system. Protection of minorities is indispensable, as well, and it will be up to the new crop of legislators to ensure that such protections are enshrined in any modification to the Constitution.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 10, 2011, 1:37 pm
  53. Thanks for your advice HP. But, I can easily distinguish between articulating someone else’s point of view and the writer’s own point of view. Camille failed to dissociate himself from that supposedly ‘Aounists’ rhetorical’ statement; and yet, his second comment, in which he defended that ‘rhetoric’, puts him clearly in the same camp as the Aounists, and obviously acquiescing to their prejudices.

    Did I overreact? Based on the above: NO.

    I also have an issue in describing ‘faulty’ reasoning as intellectual honesty. I still have a question posed to QN in 46 relating to that reasoning. I would consider apologizing to him based on a satisfactory answer from him to that question. Otherwise, I feel I owe apologies to none.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 2:03 pm
  54. Yalla, let’s all have a falafel sandwich with a soda pop and chill.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 10, 2011, 2:06 pm
  55. Here’s my proposal for the new electoral system in Lebanon:

    The “educated” democracy:

    1 Vote = High School Dropout
    2 Votes = High School Graduate
    4 Votes = University Graduate
    8 Votes = Phd Graduate

    🙂

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 10, 2011, 2:07 pm
  56. So basically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard does the Mossad’s bidding? Which would put the Mullahs, the Great Satan and the little Satan, all on the same side, against….hm…against…..the Klingons?

    It all makes sense now!

    (Again, I love how conspiracy theories always managed to be so self-contradictory that it’s amazing that anyone believes them. Yet people do.)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 10, 2011, 2:12 pm
  57. Anonymous,

    Lebanese politics – Old and new – is steeped in sectarianism. Parties of all colors use it to incite and create fear to attain defined objectives. For you to get all rattled, defensive and insulted is beyond me – I detect a lack of grounding – I repeat…Politicians use veiled and sometimes not so veiled sectarian bound content to rally supporters to a their positions and sides. Mr. Gambill’s assertion That Aoun’s Political savvy is the reason for his endurance and possibly getting the presidency in 2014 might not be telling the whole story, I believe, and I am suggesting something else might be in the offing. And it is this something else I am asking Mr. Gambill’s thoughts on. You seem to have gotten caught in the rhetorical description of the message rather than the idea I am trying to bring up…

    Posted by CK | March 10, 2011, 2:22 pm
  58. Here’s the official site of the new secular movement in Lebanon:

    http://isqatalnizam.org/

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 10, 2011, 2:24 pm
  59. Ya Danny,

    It is not an accident that we keep reading our own ideological positions through all the events that have taken place. You occasionally see some flexibility here and there in the different commenters, depending on the point discussed (usually an irrelevant one), but in the end everyone jumps back into their ideological trench lines and we start the sniping all over again. I for one don’t blame the leaders anymore. We may deride their corruption and their crimes, but they are exactly whom we are (or are we exactly what they created?) and what we represent. Kama takounou yowalla alaikum..

    You also do not provide any corroborative facts or evidence for implicating Syria in the assassinations. You just have your own viewpoint. I am not putting it past the Syrians by the way, we just have different readings for the same thing. I can advance to you that Israel, whom I am politically offering as a possible culprit, may have stopped the assassinations because Syria would have been seen as having no incentive to destabilize Lebanon after its allies got what they wanted at Doha, and by implication said assassinations would have pointed somewhere else, possibly itself. But I am sure it would seem totally illogical and unreasonable to you, so let’s leave it there.

    Posted by Saint | March 10, 2011, 2:27 pm
  60. Gary @ #47:

    “Killing Hariri still would not fit the modus operandi of Israeli assassinations, so barring further evidence I still find it difficult to entertain the possibility that they were responsible.”

    The following suggests otherwise:

    Shayetet 13

    History

    “…..The unit became increasingly involved in the LIC in Lebanon, demonstrating an excellent track record of dozens of successful operations each year, without casualties. Typical missions at the time were interdiction of terrorists’ vessels, blowing up enemy headquarters and key facilities, conducting ambushes and planting explosives in terrorists routes.”

    http://www.isayeret.com/services/freecontent/article.htm

    Posted by lally | March 10, 2011, 2:29 pm
  61. HP says :
    “Despite its risk to the Christian community there, such fundamental human right as 1-person-1-vote must the foundation of any system. Protection of minorities is indispensable”
    The above view is a common one that is used often against the proportional non sectarian representation. It is a legitimate fear but there is an easy solution that should eliminate all such fear. As you have stated the legislature must pass strong guarantees for personal freedom, expression, demonstration … This Lebanese Bill of Rights should become enshrined and treated as a sacred document. If that is done prior to the abolishment of sectarianism then there will be no rational ground for any objections to secularism. Sectarianism and all its attendant problems have to be exorcised from the body politic.

    Posted by ghassan karam | March 10, 2011, 2:31 pm
  62. QN,

    I thank you and appreciate your earlier comment, but for the sake of peace and stability, I must humbly return it :).

    Posted by Saint | March 10, 2011, 2:33 pm
  63. During a meeting with delegations from the “Future Youth”, “Future Women” and Beirut families at Center House today:

    “The Lebanon that we want is the one that does not distinguish between the Lebanese. It is the Lebanon of freedoms and the civil state, the non-confessional Lebanon, where all citizens abide by the law,” Hariri said.

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 10, 2011, 2:43 pm
  64. CK,

    You’re really shooting yourself in the foot and if I were you I’ll drop it off. First, I have never been defensive. Secondly, both of your previous comments were ugly and out of place.

    As for Mr. Gambill’s prediction of 2014 bringing Aoun or a Aounist as President, I say to him with all due respect that hell will freeze before that would happen. As for him (Aoun) being savvy, we have a description for that here courtesy of danny. We call it the ClAoun.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 3:01 pm
  65. There were rumors that March 14 would announce a “surprise” on March 13.

    Could it be … ?

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 10, 2011, 3:03 pm
  66. No one is going to be surprised by anything M14 does, they have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, and they are no better than the M8 side, no matter how sophisticated and slick their ad campaigns. They really need to take their own advice before dispensing it to the masses.

    “7:53pm Hamade: Article Four: Defending Lebanon’s freedom by preventing the exploitation of religion for political ends and the justification of the use of violence under the pretext of religion.”

    M14 never ceases to amaze me a little over a month ago Hariri and co. flooded the airways, held a day of rage because the sunni community was being deprived of their one and only sunni leader, they were in fact using religion for political gains. Alloush and co. to engaged in fear mongering in a square in tripoli, incited sectarian tensions for political gains. And now they want me to buy into their new political document? give me a break

    Posted by tamer k. | March 10, 2011, 3:35 pm
  67. No one is going to be surprised by anything M14 does, they have nothing to offer but empty rhetoric, and they are no better than the M8 side, no matter how sophisticated and slick their ad campaigns. They really need to take their own advice before dispensing it to the masses.

    “7:53pm Hamade: Article Four: Defending Lebanon’s freedom by preventing the exploitation of religion for political ends and the justification of the use of violence under the pretext of religion.”

    M14 never ceases to amaze me a little over a month ago Hariri and co. flooded the airways, held a day of rage because the sunni community was being deprived of their one and only sunni leader, they were in fact using religion for political gains. Alloush and co. engaged in fear mongering in a square in tripoli, incited sectarian tensions for political gains. And now they want me to buy into their new political document? give me a break

    Posted by tamer k. | March 10, 2011, 3:35 pm
  68. Jumblatt would probably faint … LOL

    Posted by RandomThoughtOfTheDay | March 10, 2011, 3:40 pm
  69. Time to give the people what they want.

    😉

    Posted by R2D2 | March 10, 2011, 3:56 pm
  70. In my humble opinion, the Orange movement overdosed on Vitamin C.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 10, 2011, 4:37 pm
  71. Saint,

    I remember when during OJ’s trial the defense tried your logic about the LAPD.

    They said they were bumbling incompetent fools and yet the defence tried to project what had happened as the most immaculate plot by LAPD to frame OJ. Contradictory??

    Same applies with your “logic” that Israel killed Hariri with its super crack stealth unit that avoided all the “HA counter operatives” all the mukhabarati apparatus; and killed Hariri without being detected…Yet you say that look at all those Israeli spies that have been uncovered! Are they incompetent or super stealthy?

    I accuse the Syrians and its cohorts; whomever it be; because as we have said it a zillion times…The area speciafically and Lebanon was under HA & Syrian mukhabarati control. They had withdrawn the security detail from Hariri on that day. The bumbling “generals” tried to flood the crime scene and move the evidence to “clear way for Lahood to go to Baine militaire” for his daily swim. Now these are just facts!Add to those the Syrian cruel and brutal traetment of all Lebanese during the 15 years preceding it…

    You just offer scenarios that James Bond creators would pay millions for. I suggest that you don’t hurt yourself in this circuitous and demented scenarios. I am; as I said numerous times before; waiting to see the evidence by STL.

    Lakhayem

    Posted by danny | March 10, 2011, 4:42 pm
  72. An independent democratic Lebanon prosperous and liberal,right there on the gateway from East to West would have proven to be a stone in the shoe of Arab regimes,Monarchies included, because of the ripple effect that would cause other Middle Easterners to look upon this model as successful and start turning their questions inwards.
    I believe these regimes would not, should not, allow Lebanon the suitable environment to succeed, otherwise it might be the end to their infallible rule.
    This is what,IMHO, keeps dragging Lebanon backwards. It is not a question of who pulled the trigger, but who wants the Lebanese model to fail?
    We can point a finger to Syria, or Israel, but I say both are guilty along with countless other tyrannical systems of rule in this Godforsaken part of the world.
    I believe Harriri was killed by many.He stood for a modern progressive Lebanon.His re-building project was only second to Berlins post war rebuilding.Progress does not abide well, for the stagnation favouring regimes of the ME.
    I believe in the same fate that led to Kamal Joumblatts death, only his progress was not economical but social and political.Everyone blamed Syria. But really, how many interested parties would have a progressive figure knocked off to save their behinds from a ripple effect.
    There are plays much bigger than all of us, bigger than the STL, bigger than the future of Lebanon and they happen behind smoke screens with the interest of only a few in mind to the detrimment of the masses.
    It would be a real shame if the Lebanese, once more, fall into that trap of sectarian violence to fight over the very thing that should have prevented the violence in the first place.
    This cycle will go on, the STL will be replaced by another subject to polarize the country.Our only defense is to deconfessionalise the system pronto.
    That is the answer right there.

    Posted by Maverick | March 10, 2011, 5:18 pm
  73. Maverick,

    We are all Lebanese.

    I, for one, have been programmed to be all Universal.

    R2D2

    Posted by R2D2 | March 10, 2011, 5:29 pm
  74. This cycle will go on, the STL will be replaced by another subject to polarize the country.Our only defense is to deconfessionalise the system pronto.
    That is the answer right there.

    This bears repeating/highlighting/quoting. So I’m doing so. 🙂

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 10, 2011, 5:33 pm
  75. This cycle will go on, the STL will be replaced by another subject to polarize the country.Our only defense is to deconfessionalise the system pronto.
    That is the answer right there.

    This bears repeating/highlighting/quoting. So I’m doing so. 🙂

    Posted by danny | March 10, 2011, 5:39 pm
  76. QN.

    I’m quite grateful for the introduction to the works of Gary Gambill. They’re an invaluable resource, despite his earlier affiliation with Daniel Pipe’s chop shop.

    ;~{)

    Access to information trumps all…….

    Thank you.

    Re your comment: “as well as the assessment of many of Israel’s top military advisors that Assad is serious about pursuing peace?”

    I suspect that former CoS Gabi Ashkenazi’s positions on making war on Iran (NO!) and his opinion that Israel needs to make peace with the neighbors is a critical factor underpinning Shimon Peres’ lobbying for Ashkenazi’s participation in Israeli politics. The “wisest man in the Middle East” as per “Turkish Foreign Ministry sources” to Ynet, Peres could be looking at the long game and concluding that Israel’s survival will be better served by regional integration than regional confrontation.

    Posted by lally | March 10, 2011, 5:40 pm
  77. Life is about fear … and those that control it.

    R2D2

    Posted by R2D2 | March 10, 2011, 5:51 pm
  78. Anonymous

    You are a child…I am moving on…

    Posted by CK | March 10, 2011, 5:55 pm
  79. CK 70,

    Please move on, without your condescending and, may I say again, ugly attitude.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 6:02 pm
  80. I don’t follow when you it is said that there is a risk for christians in Lebanon with the end of sectarism.
    You can have a proportional representation district that will result almost like the previous elections.
    Secular State means no religion related government, no muslin, no christian, no jew no nothing.
    Religion becomes a private issue that just has to be respected not protected.
    it seems to me it is not the christians that have a problem living in a secular state, they have been doing it for decades.

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | March 10, 2011, 6:48 pm
  81. Alberto,

    A lot of Christians in Lebanon have a big problem with deconfessionalizing Lebanon.
    It makes no sense to me, because in my opinion, they have a lot to gain by a secular state.
    But truth is, they’re just terrified of it. They seem to misunderstanding the concepts of secularism and democracy completely (equating it, i think, with “majority rule”).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 10, 2011, 7:00 pm
  82. In addition to BV 73, deconfessionalism means ‘defacto’ naturalization of some 400,000 Palestinians – an eventuality that can only be postponed but can never be averted unless and until HNA carries out his latest ‘promise’ of ‘liberating’ Galilee – ‘Long live the resistance’, right?

    Plus ‘experimental democracy’ without secularism as applied in Iraq post 2003 resulted in a monstrous copy of Lebanese confessionalism. Most of the hundreds of thousands killed and displaced happened post invasion by the Iraqis themselves. But we always blame it on the Americans and sometimes al-Qaida all dispatched across the Syro/Iraqi borders. As we too were ‘lucky’ enough to receive similar doses through fatah al-islam across the Syrian-Lebanese border.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 7:19 pm
  83. “In addition to BV 73, deconfessionalism means ‘defacto’ naturalization of some 400,000 Palestinians”

    spot on!

    Posted by tamer k. | March 10, 2011, 7:34 pm
  84. tamer,
    Is there anything wrong with that; if they do wish to become Lebanese?
    I’d say do it NOW!!

    Posted by danny | March 10, 2011, 7:39 pm
  85. Bad Vilbel,

    It is a little bit strange to talk about majority in Lebanon regarded to the religion aspect.
    Maybe people’s fear and ignorance are being exploited by those that will really lost the most, the Godfathers of all religions.

    Even with the end of sectarism alliances will have to be made to achieve the majority. That is the beauty of it.

    Politicians have a moral code of their own that is strange to us

    The main aspect of secularism to me is the chance to give society a civil code that will serve the population as a whole, increase country’s wealthy and respect the individual rights at the same time.

    About the Palestinians refugees does anyone ever asked them if they want to become lebanese or they just want basics right while in Lebanon.

    Posted by Alberto Zeraik | March 10, 2011, 8:07 pm
  86. “About the Palestinians refugees does anyone ever asked them if they want to become lebanese or they just want basics right while in Lebanon”

    Such as creating a full-fledged apartheid state out of a dysfunctional one? No, thank you. Let’s keep confessionalism for the moment and in he meantime welcome to the ‘resistance’.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 8:27 pm
  87. Alberto, it goes without saying that no one will be forced to accept citizenship nor for that matter permanent residency. Of course the Palestinians will have to opt in. Furthermore, any such priviliges will be conditional on pledges of loyalty to the state to the exclusion of any other. This shall include full submission to the authority of the state and no weapons or “operations” outside it. Same will be required of all. Yes, HA included.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 10, 2011, 9:12 pm
  88. Also, rights come with responsibilities. The days of “the road to Jerusalem goes through Beirut” must be gone for ever. Those who don’t like it are welcome to go join the rejection fronts in Tehran, Damascus, and Gaza.
    Absolute guarantees of non aggression by Israel can be given by the U.S. , Russia, China, and the EU in exchange for similar guarantees from Lebanon. We don’t need “La résistance.”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 10, 2011, 9:22 pm
  89. You guys lost me back there.

    1) A secular state has nothing to do with naturalizing Palestinians. The 2 things are unrelated, on paper.

    2) Having said that, I have nothing against naturalizing Palestinians if that’s what they want. But that’s an entirely different discussion.

    3) When I say that a secular state and democracy are not the same thing as “majority rule”, what I mean is what Ghassan articulated earlier. A true democracy enshrines the rights of EVERYONE in the constitution, including protection of personal freedoms, speech, and minorities. What this means is that it doesn’t matter if you’re Christian in such a state anymore than it matters that you’re the sole member of a religion called “Hubbahubba” in all of Lebanon. You will still have the same rights as everyone else, including the right to be president, PM, or have any job you qualify for. In such a situation, why would any minority – Christians or Hubbahubbaists – feel threatened? What does it matter that they represent 10%, 1% or 61% of the population? It does not matter.

    4) The Iraq experiment is failing for the exact reasons I mention above. The same reasons Lebanon has been a failed state since 1943. Confessionalism doesn’t work. Attributing power/posts/jobs on the basis of ethnic/religious (be it a majority or a minority) is NEVER going to work. The ONLY way something like this works is with a constitution in the model of that of the United States, or Canada where the rights of everyone are protected, no matter what minority or majority they are from to the point where it STOPS mattering what tribe you’re from.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 10, 2011, 9:27 pm
  90. Mr Gambll,
    You seem to think that president Assad will not sign a peace deal with Israel for his fear that the Syrian regime will fall, If that is the case then why doesn’t Netanyahu call president Assad bluff and accept Syria’s offer of peace,
    If he does and you are right then the regime will fall and Israel would be doing a favor for the US and if he does not , then Israel will look like the peace loving country that the Us and the West believe and Syria will get and a black star and probably more sanction .

    Can you explain please?,

    Posted by Norman | March 10, 2011, 9:36 pm
  91. Bad Vilbel,

    You are right and Lebanon and Syria would be better off adopting the American constitution and the laws of the US as it seems that everybody likes to come and live in the US, I believe that districts and voting where people live will make better representation, anti discrimination laws in housing and employment are essential,

    Posted by Norman | March 10, 2011, 9:51 pm
  92. Hi folks,

    I just got around to freeing some comments from the spam filter.

    Here’s what’s new:

    RandomThoughtOfTheDay (aka RTOTD), formerly known as PeterInDubai (aka PiD), has now succumbed to popular pressure to change his moniker to R2D2. So you can refer to him that way now.

    HK has been freed from his temporary suspension, and you can all welcome him back. (HK, please refrain from constantly posting links to your Elie Hobeika shrine and harping on endlessly about White House Murder Inc. You’ve made this argument plenty of times already, and I’m tired of seeing discussions derailed by these repeated non sequiturs.)

    Thank you.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 10, 2011, 10:04 pm
  93. BV 89,

    It seems that you and GK are creating your secular state out of a vacuum forgetting that you already have a whole population raised to think, act, breathe, eat and drink in the full ‘glory’ of confessional statehood.

    What stands in the way of naturalizing the Palestinians in Lebanon at this moment in time except political confessionalism and the ‘sacred ‘ and ‘delicate’ demographic balance that no one would want to upset? What argument would any Lebanese politician be able to use in order to avoid the issue when dealing with foreign governments or pressure groups?

    On the surface the two issues appear unrelated. But in reality the first leads to the second automatically? The Lebanese politicians may be corrupt as you and Ghassan have been repeating endlessly, but they know what’s at stake – at least as far as their own interests are concerned.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 10:26 pm
  94. Again, BV I mentioned the Iraqi ‘experiment’ as an example to reinforce your orginal comment and not to refute it.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 10:38 pm
  95. anon,
    If you want to use pragmatism then let me remind you that demography is destiny. In 30 -40 years i.e. by the mid century mark Lebanon will be deconfessionalized and its elections will be proportional since the Christians at the time will be under 20%.
    Anti discrimination laws are not to change what is in ones heart. Those who are bigots or full of disdain for others will always be able to think as such as long as they do not act on these beliefs. That is the beauty of the rule of law. We can agree to make it illegal to discriminate in hiring and in setting qualifications for a job. Many would not like it and will try to find a way around it. Some will succeed but once caught they will have to pay a dear price for breaking the law.
    Look it is very simple. If society has the right to infringe on my personal rights not to speed, drive drunkor walk naked down the street then it sure has the right to set up antidiscrimination standards on the basis of gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation and faith.
    Secularism is good for all of us but it sure is best for the Christians in the long run. Without it they have no future.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 10, 2011, 10:55 pm
  96. GK said,
    (( Secularism is good for all of us but it sure is best for the Christians in the long run. Without it they have no future.)))

    I agree fall heartily .

    Posted by Norman | March 10, 2011, 11:03 pm
  97. Ghassan,

    I have no argument with what you said in 95. I am all for the law and actually it is the most pressing issue for Lebanon at this moment. We always go back to this law ‘thing’ as if it is something that can never be captured; there is a good reason for that, and many here are, I believe, on the same page about what that reason is.

    If you go back and research the origin of confessionalism, you’ll find that it was in fact designed specifically to protect minority rights. It was shaped based on religous affiliations because that was exactly what defined a ‘nation’ in those days. At the time of its inception it was perhaps superior to other systems that hardly or never tolerated minorities. But as time went by it deteriorated and got over abused, it has obviously become outdated and needs replacement.

    Posted by anonymous | March 10, 2011, 11:23 pm
  98. Good post, and Gary is always good and interesting. To those attacking him, attack his arguments, not who his colleague was 10 years ago, or whom he met for lunch a week ago.

    Of course Assad will never ever make peace. The whole Syrian edifice (state repression, kleptocracy, emergency law, meddling in Leb and Pali matters….) is founded on Security: i.e. having Israel as the bugabooo.

    For the same reason, Hezbollah will never make peace.

    Finally, just to disagree on one thing with Gary: Aoun in 2014 ??? Forget it. Hezbollah (and Syria) would be the first to torpedo that (covertly). Who can trust that wacko with anything? He is in check now because the carrot is dangling before his eyes. If he gets the carrot…….????

    Posted by OldHand | March 11, 2011, 2:07 am
  99. This is what Gary C. Gambill is omitting from his fine “disinformation prose”….

    The Syrian Alawite assassins had by far the strongest motive of anyone for wanting Rafic Hariri dead in 2005…. Hariri was quietly coordinating with CIA since 1980 when he was recruited by FIERS in KSA….and with the emerging Christian and Druze opposition with the intention of crushing pro-Syrian loyalists in the 2005 elections, as well as with French and American efforts through the calamity of UNSC 1559 to pressure Syria and Hezbollah into “disarming the Resistance…” and removing Syrian forces from Lebanon, to make room for the Coup D’état of the PNAC KILLERS in Lebanon….and pave the way for the long planned ….War of 2006… Hariri got killed right at the moment when everyone was wondering what in the hell the Syrians were going to do about Hariri….while Hariri was funneling money to the most extreme Syrian Sunni opposition figures….groups that Asef Shawkat had thoroughly penetrated for years….and the Infamous White House Murder INC, succeeded in gloriously Bamboozling Asef Shawkat into doing “their” bidding with yet another assassination….on Feb 14th 2005, because CIA/MOSSAD knew all along that these extreme Sunni groups were penetrated by Syria’s SMI….and knew full well the inevitable reaction/actions of the Assad Mafia in Damascus.

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/obama-perpetuates-utter-lies-between.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2011/01/components-of-white-house-murder-incs.html

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2008/12/uniiic-ii-report-revisited.html

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 3:16 am
  100. I am very tired of listening to the “anonymous” and “AIG” and “Patriot” entries.

    Honestly, should be also have anonymous supporters of the National Socialist Workers’ Party – the Franco fascists and the other extreme racists that do not belong to the current of human history?

    Look, the center of Jewish civilisation and culture in the world today is the beautiful United States of America. That is where Jewish cultural, architecture, literature, civilisation is based. That is where the 99 per cent of the inventions in science is coming from.

    The little, stupid, racist, aggressive nonsense in Palestine – that “state within a state” (the Zionist embryo within British Palestine which morphed into the exclusivist death camp and dead end which is ridiculously referred to as “Israel” but which in reality has no conneciton with ancient Israelite kingdoms in Palestine, that ridiculous aggressive racist apartheid state – as much as we love debate, why do we need it on this site? Why do we need to be distracted by this nonsense?

    Let’s have a reasonable discussion, those that care about humanity and Lebanon’s future.

    DO we honestly have to have the Jewish victim-bully boy nutcases disturb the discussion?

    It is a bore and a distraction and an doesn’t assist those of us that actually care about building Lebanon’s future.

    Posted by Jean Estiphan, Kesouran, Liban | March 11, 2011, 5:11 am
  101. OOps HK ! back to the time out corner

    Posted by V | March 11, 2011, 6:07 am
  102. The best-laid plans of America’s sickest minds are unraveling before their bloodshot evil eyes… The further the CIA/MOSSAD mind-twisters stretch in trying to make their crazy “militant Islamist” scheme work somewhere in the world, the more the edges ravel on the magnificent whole-cloth of lies that they have so lovingly woven for us… We should all be allowed to smile just a little when the CIA’s dumbest “mind-fuck” plans fail, if it were not for the fact that they have gambled our futures on their plots….and killed/assassinated our dearest friends for a quick political “Fix” dreamed up by the Siamese Twins, CIA/MOSSAD and their Infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant since 01-24-2002.
    The great thing about “al-Qaeda” is that they are the terrorist group that has something to offer for anyone who needs a patsy to fulfill a task, whether that be to cover a political assassination of an annoying individual, a military incursion into an innocent country, the suppression of national civil rights, or even the use of martial law tactics against unarmed citizens…., in USA with the criminal Patriot Act….and it’s being replicated the World Over….

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 7:00 am
  103. I’m not the one to fall for conspiracy theories, however, I don’t see that particular one as a conspiracy theory. That IRG somehow is involved has floated as an idea, although not as concretely as the Hzb track. The IRG of course could not pull anything off without the help of Syrians.

    Know, the Inception part of the story, that Mossad planted the idea, is not thoroughly explained, so that part one can omit.

    Instead of conspiracy theory, I would call it an intriguing thought, especially the part regarding Mughniyeh’s involvement and how that came about, and the fact that IRG could theoretically be infiltrated, like the one who defected.

    In any case, the Klingons have the Federation on their side, so the Romulans wouldn’t stand a chance. But they would have to unite against the Borg.

    Posted by Pas Cool | March 11, 2011, 7:30 am
  104. The IRG, the various penetrations etc. are a hoax designed to protect the only one who was bamboozled into carrying out this Hit on Hariri….and that’s Asef Shawkat…. PERIOD.
    All these concocted stories are designed to protect Asef Shawkat and his deeds…and to give credence to the work of STL…., after he accepted in 2008 to eliminate Imad F. MOUGHNIEH on behalf of CIA/MOSSAD again….. The Asgari stories come to mind among others….

    http://newhk.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post_11.html

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 7:58 am
  105. HK –

    I’m doing a poll on SC: Should Libya’s Qaddafi (“Gad-fly”) be ousted or should the international community leave him alone?

    Your take?

    Anyone else want to chime in?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 8:43 am
  106. AP, are you kidding? Is anyone saying leave him alone?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 11, 2011, 9:02 am
  107. HP,

    Check out SC. I can’t get anyone to tell me to kick this sunglassed buffoon out.

    At least Mubarak had enough sense to read the writing on the wall. Gad-fly is too crazy and self-centered.

    Of course the Obama administration is about as bold as a plate of cottage cheese…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 9:07 am
  108. I find it highly ironic that Nick Noe criticizes Gary for not speaking Arabic. His comment that there’s “no time for an Arabic lesson now” made me laugh out loud. Literally.

    Posted by sean | March 11, 2011, 9:18 am
  109. He should be ousted by force because he is Genocidal and cruel…He has shown his true colors in Chad already…but he’s been given enough rope to hang himself in my view….

    http://www.al-akhbar.com/?q=node/6133

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 9:20 am
  110. “The Lebanese people will have to take it upon themselves to strive for something higher.” -gg

    it’s pretty amazing how egyptians are mobilising to face sectarianism and track it down. even though the destructive effects of sectarianism are similar in egypt and lebanon, one thing that’s allowing egyptians to “strive for something higher” is that they are now able to expose the role the government has played in inciting sectarian violence. sectarianism’s deliberate, divisive intent, and who it benefits, is being made clearer. so sectarianism can hopefully become a galvanizing unifier. but in lebanon, how?

    (a recent doc by samir eshra, kalb wahed [one heart], is reviewed in ahram online: english.ahram.org.eg/…/-One-Heart-digs-deep-into-sectarianism-in-Egypt.aspx)

    Posted by j | March 11, 2011, 9:22 am
  111. Can Murder Inc. Please the Jihadists? NewZ

    HK,

    Thanks. Would you be upset if “Murder Inc.” (sorry QN) dropped a bomb on Gad-fly’s head like the first Murder Inc. did so many years ago (aka Ronald Reagen)?

    Maybe this whole “Gad-fly” issue can bring “Murder Inc.” and the Islamist supporters (like you) together in one huge bear-hug of acceptance!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 9:32 am
  112. It is one thing to hear or read about corruption as an abstract idea and completely different when you look at an actual proof of it. I think that president Saleh of Yemen must have set a new standard about how to stifle , control, exploit and treat a whole nation as your own enterprise.

    The following list was sent to me as part of an email and so I could not post only a link. (My apologies in advance who might object to such a post, which usually i try to avoid).
    عائلة وأقارب علي عبد الله صالح الذين يقبضون بمفاصل النظام سواء في المؤسسات الحكومية أو العسكرية أو الدبلوماسية ..وهو يمثل صورة ناصعة ليمن الثورة والوحدة ، ويجسد القيم التي من أجلها بذل شهداء الثورة أرواحهم
    1
    أحمد علي عبد الله صالح-ابن الرئيس
    قائد الحرس الجمهوري والقوات الخاصة
    2
    يحيى محمد عبد الله صالح-ابن أخ الرئيس
    أركان حرب الأمن المركزي خلفاً لأبيه
    3
    طارق محمد عبد الله صالح-ابن أخ الرئيس
    قائد الحرس الخاص عمه الرئيس
    4
    عمار محمد عبد الله صالح-ابن أخ الرئيس
    مسئول جهاز الأمن القومي
    5
    محمد صالح عبد الله الأحمر-أخ غير شقيق للرئيس
    قائد القوات الجوية
    6
    علي صالح عبد الله الأحمر-أخ غير شقيق للرئيس
    مستشار مدير مكتب القائد الأعلى
    7
    على محسن صالح الأحمر-أخ غير شقيق للرئيس
    قائد المنطقة الشمالية الغربية والفرقه الأولى مدرع
    8
    محمد علي محسن الأحمر-ابن عم الرئيس
    قائد المنطقة العسكرية الشرقية
    9
    توفيق صالح عبد الله الأحمر-ابن أخ الرئيس
    رئيس مجلس إدارة شركة التبغ والكبريت الوطنية
    10
    تيسير محمد صالح الأحمر-ابن أخ الرئيس
    الملحق العسكري للسفارة اليمنية بواشنطن
    11
    عبد الإله القاضي-من أقارب الرئيس
    قائد محور الجند-تعز
    12
    علي صالح القاضي-من أقارب الرئيس
    مدير عام الشركة اليمنية للاستثمارات النفطية
    13
    ضيف الله شميلة-من أقارب الرئيس
    تارة سفير وتارة مستثمر
    14
    محمد بن محمد إسماعيل-ابن خال الرئيس
    وكيل وزارة التجارة
    15
    نعمان دويد-من أصهار الرئيس
    محافظ محافظة صنعاء
    16
    محمد دويد-من أصهار الرئيس
    سكرتير الرئيس
    17
    يحيى دويد-من أصهار الرئيس
    رئيس مصلحة أراضي وعقارات الدولة
    18
    عمر الأرحبي-من أصهار الرئيس
    نائب مدير عام شركة النفط
    19
    خالد الأرحبي-من أصهار الرئيس
    الأمين العام المساعد لرئاسة الجمهورية
    20
    عبد الكريم الأرحبي-من أصهار الرئيس
    نائب رئيس الوزراء وزير التخطيط والتعاون الدولي
    21
    أحمد عبد الله الحجري-من أصهار الرئيس
    محافظ إب
    22
    عبد الوهاب عبد الله الحجري-من أصهار الرئيس
    دبلوماسي دائم في السفارة اليمنية بواشنطن
    23
    عبد الملك عبد الله الحجري-من أصهار الرئيس
    دبلوماسي دائم في السفارة اليمنية بواشنطن
    24
    خالد عبد الرحمن الأكوع-من أصهار الرئيس
    وكيل أول وزارة الخارجية
    25
    فضل الأكوع-من أصهار الرئيس
    وكيل وزارة التأمينات
    26
    عبد الرحمن الأكوع-من أصهار الرئيس
    أمين العاصمة
    27
    علي الكحلاني-من أصهار الرئيس
    مدير عام المؤسسة الاقتصادية
    28
    أحمد الكحلاني-من أصهار الرئيس
    وزير الدولة-عضو مجلس الشورى-أمين العاصمة سابقاً
    29
    مهدي مهدي مقولة-من قبيلة الرئيس
    قائد المنطقة العسكرية الجنوبية
    30
    صالح الضنين-من قبيلة الرئيس
    نائب رئيس هيئة الأركان العامة
    31
    محمد عبد الله حيدر-من قبيلة الرئيس
    قائد منطقة إب
    32
    حمود الشيخ-من قبيلة الرئيس
    رئيس كلية الطيران
    33
    حامد أحمد فرج-من قبيلة الرئيس
    رئيس الهيئة العامة للطيران المدني والأرصاد
    34
    عبد الخالق القاضي-من قبيلة الرئيس
    رئيس مجلس إدارة الخطوط الجوية اليمنية
    25
    خالد علي عبدالله صالح قائد الوية الجبلي الجديدة ومهمتها الحفاظ على العاصمة صنعاء
    كلهم ســـــــــــرق

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 11, 2011, 9:38 am
  113. AP,

    I am no “Islamist” supporter. I am a Maronite Christian from the heart of Lebanon, and I support the Resistance of Hezbollah.
    There is a difference between Murder INC, assassinating cowardly innocent victims for political gains….and a situation of War & Peace for a whole population…:)
    Touche

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 10:14 am
  114. HK,

    What about answering my question? Why is it whenever I ask a question I get people posting a diatribe or a conspiracy theory but I never get an answer?

    Gad-fly: To oust or to leave alone?

    HK’s answer (drum roll):

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 10:55 am
  115. I thought it was answered in the last sentence YA AP.

    “situation of War & Peace for a whole population…:)” means I am in favor of strategic Air Strikes to take out his offensive capabilities….

    Posted by HK | March 11, 2011, 11:18 am
  116. HP 106,

    Why are you surprised? Please check my comment #5. Also check recent alJazeera reporting on the forgotten Hama massacre. AlJazeera is playing a major role in highlighting these conflicts. Qardawi is also playing a major behind the scene role.

    The Assad regime is fully behind Ghaddafi
    Assad simply dose not want Ghaddafi to fall.

    You are missing on a lot of dynamics relating to inter-Arab rivalries that are changing by the minute.

    Now is the time to switch to Arabic and get it straight from the source.

    Posted by anonymous | March 11, 2011, 11:18 am
  117. HK,

    Thanks. Noted.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 11:34 am
  118. …back to the original article that prompt the book of replies:
    Whenever we get our hands on a great interview, I hardly ever hear the question for the “experts”: IS Israel after peace? Will they return the OCCUPIED Golan? Will they ever consider pulling from such a small piece of land in southern lebanon and STOP giving excuses for any “potential threat”?
    Has anyone checked the Map of Israel/Palestine of the late?
    Knowing all that; why experts dont speak it out: regardless of the strategic position of any country vis a vis israel: Do israeli want peace? AND most importantly, is the world outside the M-E; stuck inside a taboo discourse; “forbidden” to INCLUDE the israeli factor in this mess? case in point, not 1 question to Gary about Israel/chebaa/Golan/palestinians/right of return. THOSE are the issues that lead to a peace accord; NOT the faces that talk about it.
    So easy to blame conspiracy theories on potential arguments that point south of lebanon; but hey, got to give it to Condy for being soooo proactive and coming up with a “new middle-east” plan so fast after Harriri assassination…unbelievable how the small army of diplomats was so reactive to an incident that they had nothing to do with.
    This is a great blog indeed, but it is my observation that the QN inclination for so long to underscore the FPM (by focusing on Aoun character as if 60% of christians know nothing about themselves and their history) and the real motives of Christians to dump “common political sense” and form the beginning of a “new deal” with lebanese.

    Posted by JooJ | March 11, 2011, 2:08 pm
  119. AP, I read the various posts on SC re. your poll.

    If there ever was an appropriate time for the U.N. (both Security Council AND General Assembly) to take a definitive position, it is now. The U.N. should develop the decision oust Qadhdhafi and have it executed by an international coalition. There is some merit to those who argue that the U.S. should not do something unilaterally. The Arab countries themselves need to be part of this, just as they were in the first Gulf war.

    Will this happen?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 11, 2011, 2:58 pm
  120. HP,

    Why are you so exact in your opinion and why aren’t you dancing around this issue like everyone else?

    I’m confused;)

    (and I agree with you 100%)

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 11, 2011, 3:09 pm
  121. On the subject of the UN.

    I think people should also step up to the inefficiency of that organization, which has turned into a country club for middle class professionals.

    Why the US, a country of 300 million, can veto the world … is a bit outdated.

    Pay your debts, USA!

    Posted by R2D2 | March 11, 2011, 3:20 pm
  122. If you read French, this OpEd in today’s L’Orient-LeJour is powerful:
    http://www.lorientlejour.com/category/Opinions/article/693214/Pour_quoi_j'irai_marcher_le_14_mars*.html

    I can take a stab at translating if there is interest, but first I’m going to check if something similar is published in The Daily Star.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 11, 2011, 3:27 pm
  123. HP #121

    Yep … that pretty much sums up why many people I know (who surprise me when push comes to shove, because they’re really damn lazy) are going, me included.

    But I’ll be at the secular march the Sunday after to demand an end to the confessional system that has plagued Lebanon since it was founded, with a louder voice.

    If only to get that debate at the forefront of Lebanon’s political body, instead of who should get the Interior Ministry or whatever other absurd, meaningless and disgusting political stupidity we have to live with here.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 11, 2011, 3:41 pm
  124. To whoever said my argument of a secular state was in a vaccum.

    I understand that the Lebanese populace is not ready for this kind of sea change. That’s why I am, overall pessimistic for Lebanon, at least in the near future.

    However, I think that “Vacuum” is exactly the point. A secular state in Lebanon TODAY, is NOT something that’s coming out of the vacuum. On the contrary, it is clearly the ONLY solution left. Everything else has been tried in the past 60 years, from a “division of power” (1943), to a through and through sectarian system, to partition (75-90). It all has shown that there is only one solution, and the sooner we get to it, the better for all of us.

    It is those that insist on hanging on to antiquated ideas and delusions of past glories that are living in a vacuum, IMO. The world is passing them by, even the backwards Arab world, and they still don’t get it.

    Also, I didn’t say I wanted a copy of the US constitution for Lebanon. I think each constitution should be tailored to the needs of the given country. But what I meant is that the broad ideals of the US constitution would serve as a fine starting point: Separation of church and state, complete secularism, protection of minorities, protection of freedoms, etc.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 11, 2011, 4:00 pm
  125. Translation of article I referred to in #121:

    Why I shall join the March 14* march

    (*The march will take place on March 13)

    11 March 2011

    By Carla Yared

    I’ll join the march first to hear the reverberating echoes of the oath of Gibran Tueini who sought to transcend tribalism and confessionalism. I’ll seek to revive memories of Samir Kassir who did not get the opportunity to witness the flowering of the arabic spring. I’ll go walk for those who can no longer walk, those who were assassinated. I’ll go walk to honor the memory of Hariri whose death released us from our fear. I’ll go walk to celebrate February 16, 21, 28 and March 7 and 14, 2005, days in which we reacquired by citizen action our history and our dignity.
    I’ll march to tell Hassan Nasrallah that the day when his weapons were turned to within Lebanon is the day when they lost their legitimacy; that the International Tribunal will break the impunity of the murderers so that such murders cease; that “ma baad Chebaa” [beyond Chebaa] is not the business of the Lebanese; that if the feudal lords and other leaders have caused the degeneration and destruction of their communities, we – the Lebanese citizen – have provided compensation for the damage done to them and to all the oppressed.
    I will march to respond to all the televised invectives of Hassan Nasrallah [telling him] ‘you don’t scare me!’ I will march to tell Walid Junblatt, that socialist, that what matters and should matter is the rose laid on the file containing the names of his father’s assassins; to ask him if the question he posed to Hassan Nasrallah the evening of the assassination of his friend Hariri has found an answer. When he (Junblatt) speaks of dreading the “fitna” (civil unrest), is he aware whom he is accusing? I do not believe him when he raises the opportunistic sectarian argument. I will march to tell Walid Junblatt: thanks again for the shouting words of truth that he uttered at this same location – Freedom square. And last but not least, I will march to tell Michel Aoun that one cannot escape one’s past; that his current actions are yet another war of extinction by proxy (reference to Aoun’s earlier fight against the Syrians). I will go ask him what strategy he plans to follow when a new Taëf accord will advocate and extol his subjugation. From whom will be taken the new pieces of the pie given to the Shiites? I’ll march to tell Michel Aoun that before accusing his adversaries of nepotism and corruption he would do well to remember who his heir apparent is and what political principles are practiced by his allies. I will go to tell him that unfortunately, in real life, you cannot press the rewind button.
    I’ll march to tell Nabih Berri that I have nothing to say to him. I’ll march despite the depression and disenchantment. Because if the Tunisians, the Egyptians and the others had succumbed to depression and disenchantment, Ben Ali, Mubarak and the others would still be in power. I’ll march despite my rancor against those March 14 leaders who squandered the most powerful and significant political capital ever provided spontaneously by the Lebanese. I’ll go tell them to listen to the thunder of the anger rising against corruption and confessionalism. I’ll go tell them that their mea culpa must have a special use. I’ll go march for me, to make my steps in synchrony with my thoughts. And I shall continue to march, even if we are but a handful…

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 11, 2011, 4:11 pm
  126. QN,

    When will we see you in LB interviewing the likes of Baroud instead of … esh ishmo (?) … Gambil?

    Ma bi adam wala bi akher.

    Yalla … harrek tizzak.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 11, 2011, 6:01 pm
  127. If you’re not willing to commit … quit!

    Posted by R2D2 | March 11, 2011, 6:09 pm
  128. R2D2

    I interviewed Baroud a few months ago, but it was off the record. 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 11, 2011, 6:46 pm
  129. JooJ

    Welcome to the comment section. I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here; could you elaborate?

    “…it is my observation that the QN inclination for so long to underscore the FPM (by focusing on Aoun character as if 60% of christians know nothing about themselves and their history) and the real motives of Christians to dump “common political sense” and form the beginning of a “new deal” with lebanese.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 11, 2011, 6:48 pm
  130. HP #125,
    All the reasons mentioned in the article are valid and I am sure many will add more equally valid reasons to support the March 14 planned March on Sunday .
    As you well know, and hopefully other readers of this space among many other Lebanese centered such spaces I have been of the opinion for over 5 years that the weapons of Hezbollah are illegitimate and that no self respecting society will allow such weapons to co exist with those of the state. Finally Sa’ad Hariri and hopefully many in his coalition have developed a backbone to stand up and yell “We have had enough of illegitimacy and blackmail. We cannot take it anymore”. The right to resist is a most sacred right for a people of a state but not a small group bent on monopolyzing weapons , funded by foreign powers and is guided by foreign interests. A state looses its legitimate reason d’etre once it accepts to coexist with a state within a state, a group that does not respect the laws of the land. I will support March 14 as long as they are willing to stand up for legitimacy, the integrity of the state, Lebanese national interests and demonstrate respect for and a committment to a countrty of laws and not individuals. Lebanon must liberate itself from the weapons of Hezbollah if it is to achieve any of its other democratic goals.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 11, 2011, 7:19 pm
  131. GK 130,

    “…liberate itself from the weapons of Hezbollah if it is to achieve any of its other democratic goals” as well as secularization (you seem to have forgotten the workable combo. Let there not be any missteps if change is to occur)

    Posted by anonymous | March 11, 2011, 8:28 pm
  132. anon #131
    Guilty as charged .

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 11, 2011, 8:36 pm
  133. No change in political structure can be effectuated before cultural change. Confessionalism can be implemented not only through changing laws and regulations such as election processes, but it requires the actual social and cultural changes necessary for citizens to consider platforms rationally and decide to vote based on their interests. As long as there is no trust in bureaucratic rationalism and people follow charismatic leaders who manipulate them through fear and hope, Confessionalism will be useless to instaure autonomy or participatory democracy.

    Lebanon is not ripe for such a change. The challenge however is for Egyptians and tunisians to find new and alternative political ways of governance that will not enslave them to dictators, parties, or economic regimes. That is what needs to be watched. Instead of the oppressive and undemocratic dictatorial OR neoliberal systems, now is the time for revolution: developing a political system encompassing social and economic rights.

    Syria is a dinosaur and Lebanon’s old system has died out: neither taef nor doha rounds will revive it. We all need to study the present to see what reflects possible changes or alternatives to the past. Neither secular nor religious nationalism are such alternatives; but anti-feodal communal relations based on social and economic egalitarianism would be. Let us think philosophically instead of merely politically.

    Posted by parrhesia | March 11, 2011, 8:57 pm
  134. I disagree with the last comment. I think we cannot afford to wait for confessional-ism to go away from the minds of society. I think it is something that has to be enforced from the top, so to speak. First, you mandate deconfessionalizing the state, the system, and the institutions, and THEN the people will realize over time, that their sectarian fears no longer hold (or don’t matter). You cannot expect the people to do away with sectarianism as long as they do not feel there is a safeguard to protect them (the law, from above). Won’t happen.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | March 11, 2011, 9:11 pm
  135. I am going to make a statement about a very new field in biology called epigenics. Let me stress from the outset that I am not a natural scientist and so I do not understand the special nuances involved in this field.
    Simply stated this is a new area that is looking at what used to be labeled junk DNA ;the 5% of DNA that fills the area between the Genes; since we never understood their function. This very new field seems to be moving in the direction of saying that the outside environment does play a role in determining the behaviour associated with these genes but scientists seem to have concluded that major changes requires 3-5 generations before they can become dominant.
    If that is true then we do not have the right to expect any of the movements in the Arab world to bear fruits for up to at least 50 years. Ouch.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 11, 2011, 9:41 pm
  136. Theoretically, the Lebanese have top-level consensus with regards to deconfessionalism embodied in the Taef accord. A phased implementation of deconfessionalism is envisioned to occur over a period of time with the clock ticking since 1989. However, we are still in the waiting phase. IMO, the reason is the presence of illegal arms and the introduction of the non-sensical and outdated culture of so-called resistance – both items serving regional agendas with no interests whatsoever to Lebanon-proper.

    March 14 must make it (secularism) its official program for the next phase of what is perceived to be a second revolution. Despite its importance, it is not enough to insist on eliminating illegal arms in order to create a cohesive movement. This would be the same incentive as the show of unity against an outside occupier as in 2005. M14 must provide a vision with a positive message and a program. There has been talk in that direction in the last meeting of M14. We heard the talk but we must now insist on the walk. M14 was given the largest mandate in the history of Lebanon in 2005. Unfortunately, the leaders squandered it in petty political power plays. If they get a second chance, which they seem they would because most Lebanese still remember what they wanted to achieve in 2005, they (M14 pols) should know this is their last and will not be forgiven neither by people nor by history.

    Posted by anonymous | March 11, 2011, 9:55 pm
  137. Guys,

    The new and improved M14 will have its day on Sunday, but what will it accomplish other than preach to the choir? We know the new and slick slogans, but what is the real and practical plan? Is the demonstration trying to impress itself, or someone else outside to pick up its cause, or what? Seriously, other than the political and sectarian agitation it will certainly reap, how will it change the dynamics of the status quo?

    Posted by Saint | March 12, 2011, 12:47 am
  138. GK #37

    I usually enjoy reading your contributions, except the ones that, as admirably as they are when expressing ‘real’ attachment to high idealism, they however tend to miss the acid test of ‘reality’.

    Justice is a worthwhile objective that all ought to seek. It is manipulating justice that seems to be the problem in Lebanon.

    On thing the latest political development in Lebanon showed clearly: Hariri jounior is seeking ‘revenge’ if he cannot maintain his grip on power.

    As to the credibility of the STL, it has been created by a very politicised body that has its own onterests, and legitimatly so. The matter of Sudan’s Bashir is a case in point.

    It is not worth repeating here all the ‘mistakes’ that the process, in all its stages since 2005, committed, as all interested parties are privy to at least what the media have publicised.

    No, to my mind, the integrity of the STL is yet to be established. Similarly one has to closely scutinise the objectives of the said tribunal.

    Regards

    Posted by QuestionMark | March 12, 2011, 7:50 am
  139. Gary, the MEM hasn’t been updated since 2009. Is it still live?

    “… I have been of the opinion for over 5 years that the weapons of Hezbollah are illegitimate and that no self respecting society will allow such weapons to co exist with those of the state.”

    At what point between now and 2005, or what decisive factor caused you to conclude that weapons of any kind in the hands of civilians were not a good thing. Am I to understand that had Hariri senior not been killed in 2005 you would have been quite happy for Lebanon to continue as before? After all, he seemed content with Syrian tutelage and Hizballah’s weapons as long as he was permitted to run the country like it was one of his businesses.

    “Lebanon must liberate itself from the weapons of Hezbollah if it is to achieve any of its other democratic goals.”

    Does this include Palestinian arms or should they remain sacrosanct because they serve a mythical “Arab interest”?

    The reason M14 and the STL are in such a mess is the ineptitude of the former and amateurish way in which it’s handled the entire process. Sunday’s gathering will be as useful as the Arab League’s involvement in Libya. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on where you stand, if M14 want to play the numbers game they will undoubtedly fail.

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 8:40 am
  140. Simon Templar,

    Should we listen to the Islamic speeches of Nassrallah taunting everyone and accusing anyone, who doesn’t agree with him, with treason?
    What’s the ‘program of M8? That’s the problem with Lebanese! If M14 comes up with some creative and important planks; let’s encourage them. You seem to disagree with anything M14.Ok. Simon; long live the resistance and down with the barbaric Israeli dogs! Down with Traitors who don’t agree to burn Lebanon and fight Iran’s war. Down with life! We want to die and go to heaven to be welcomed with those refurbished virgins. 😀

    Lakhayem

    Posted by danny | March 12, 2011, 8:52 am
  141. GG,
    I did not think that you needed to be reminded that prior to 2005 the HA weapons were in effect neutered by the Syrian occupation forces since they are supplied through Syrian land, with Syrian complicity and operate within Syrian imposed rules.
    And obviously there is no room for any cache of weapons outside the control of the state whether it is the Palestinians or Martians.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 12, 2011, 9:57 am
  142. Exactly! I don’t need to be reminded of this; I also don’t need to be reminded that Hariri senior was vocal in defending the weapons, while others were critical of them. I also quite agree that he may have weighed his words carefully because of Syria’s presence, but I’m not so naive to believe his underlying desire was to rid the country of the weapons. Don’t you think it’s time for some honesty. Hariri senior was no saint and I’m sure Hizbullah’s weapons suited his purposes throughout his reign. Finally, in the same spirit of honesty I’m not so naive to believe those who make up the M14 coalition have Lebanon’s interest at heart anymore than M14’s favourite bogeyman.

    The problem with Lebanon is honesty. In South Africa the end of apartheid brought with it the truth and reconciliation committee. In Lebanon, the exit of Syria brought about Syria’s Lebanese hit men becoming “defenders of liberty”. What a sham!

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 11:36 am
  143. “No change in political structure can be effectuated before cultural change. Confessionalism can be implemented not only through changing laws and regulations such as election processes, but it requires the actual social and cultural changes necessary for citizens to consider platforms rationally and decide to vote based on their interests. As long as there is no trust in bureaucratic rationalism and people follow charismatic leaders who manipulate them through fear and hope, Confessionalism will be useless to instaure autonomy or participatory democracy.”

    Hooray, well said parrhesia. Problem is this is a Middle Eastern disorder not just a Lebanese one.

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 12:06 pm
  144. GG

    I agree with you on the following counts: (a) Hariri senior was no saint; (b) those who make up the M14 coalition don’t (for the most part) have Lebanon’s interests at heart; (c) the exit of Syria made its Lebanese hit men into “defenders of liberty”…

    I do disagree, however, on the question of Rafiq Hariri’s private attitude toward Hizbullah’s weapons. There would be no way to accommodate Hizbullahs’ strategic vision of Lebanon as the bleeding edge of resistance against Israel within Hariri’s own strategic vision for Lebanon as “a bastion of liberal capitalism and ecumenical permissiveness” (as Michael Young put it, and I think accurately, in his book). And let’s not forget that Hizbullah in 2004 had nowhere near the same arsenal that it does today.

    Even if this is true, however, it doesn’t mean that Hariri was some kind of anti-resistance champion. At the end of the day, he did very little to stand in Hizbullah’s way besides quietly supporting 1559. But I don’t agree with you that the Hizb’s weapons “suited his purposes throughout his reign”. In Hariri’s ideal world, there would be no such thing as Hizbullah, no such thing as a homegrown or foreign-sponsored resistance against Israel, and Lebanon would basically become the glittering Hong Kong/Singapore/Pick-Your-Metaphor on the shores of the Mediterranean.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 12, 2011, 12:16 pm
  145. There’s been some of criticism of Gary because of his association with Daniel Pipes. Although no one has said it I have to assume that there dislike of Dr. Pipes stems from his support of Israel and commentary on the Islamic faith. These same people then go on to call for an end to the confessionalist system in Lebanon and to replace it with a “secular” and “democratic” one. Do you not find this quite frightening? Do they mean “secular” and “democratic” as long as you agree with me?

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 12:35 pm
  146. GG #142
    I am dumbfounded about how you managed to use a post that does not mention either directly or indirectly Rafic Hariri in order to make a statement about Rafic Haririr. Can you show me where have i ever claimed either in this post or in any of the archived records that Hariri is a saint.
    I have made a specific statement that this ia not about either Sa’ad Hariri or about revenge or family honour… It is simply about the rule of law.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 12, 2011, 12:39 pm
  147. There is a strong argument that RH would have sought to establish Lebanon as a bastion of “Liberal capitalism”, but as for “ecumenical permissiveness”, this is Young’s opinion. There is no way to test his theory. Young may be correct but I would venture to add that RH would have his limitations. With respect to Michael Young, his opinion of RH owes more to the fact that he likes him than cold, clear headed assessment.

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 12:52 pm
  148. GG is expressing an opinion which is a completely inverted image of what the real relationships of Hariri Sr. was with HA and Syria. In addition to QN’s ‘accurate’ description of the man’s legacy, I would say that it was he who was tolerated by HA and Syria not the other way around, as long as he did not actively oppose their so-called ‘resistance’ strategy. If you accurately examine those relationships you would see clearly that there was a lot tension at the various times from 89 until his assassination.

    Assad Sr. got his way in Taef by excluding HA weapons from being eliminated against the will of most (including Hariri) if not all participants in that conference, and the reason for that is well known. For those that are not familiar, it was the Kuwait invasion. The ‘compromise’ that was reached noticed the need for those weapons until occupation of Lebanon ends giving HA complete control. Furthermore, there was no specific mechanism on how those weapons would be abolished. As we have seen very clearly after 2000, HNA’s definition of end of occupation became very elastic. Actually, we still do not know if he wants to give up those weapons before or after he conquers Jerusalem.

    The relationships that ensued between Hariri Sr. and HA and Syria after Taef were those of accommodation. Can any one recall a government he formed in which the so-called people-army-resistance mantra was included as part of a government formation statement? To be honest, he did help HA after the Israeli operation of Grapes of Wrath in 1996. But that was a legitimate cause to which he cannot turn a blind eye.

    There were regular meetings between him and HNA in undisclosed locations out of concerns for HNA’s safety. Those meeting were aimed at finding ways to solve the weapons problem. I do not believe HNA was honest in those meetings. HNA never had the intention of giving up its weapons ever.

    After UN 1701, HA effectively gave up any claims to the legitimacy of maintaining weapons outside state authority. In essence, it protected its rear with the help of the UN and the Lebanese army and turned its weapons inward against Lebanese civilians. In addition, it is using the weapons to achieve political gains through intimidation, spreading of fear and coercion. It was always understood, after Taef was signed, that such weapons would never be used in internal conflicts or for political purposes.

    Posted by anonymous | March 12, 2011, 1:26 pm
  149. # 146

    Of course it wasn’t my intention to astonish you. Perhaps I should have explained myself clearer. In my opinion, the event of February 14, 2005 fundamentally changed political discourse in the country. M14, M8, and everything that is happening now was and is a direct result of that day’s events. Life became, in the words of Lewis Carroll’s Alice, “curiouser and curiouser”. Hariri’s past was rewritten. He was no longer a political opportunist who benefitted from Syria’s presence; he was now a patriot who struggled to free Lebanon from Syrian tutelage from within the system. His legacy was M14 and the eternal struggle for freedom from Syria and Iran. The story goes on: his son inherited the mantel of the patriot, with no qualification or right to it other than his bloodline.

    Had all this not occurred you and I may now be using QN’s blog to debate our opinion on Syria’s continued presence in the country and Hezbollah’s arms. You may be positing arguments for why you believe Syria should leave and that Hezbollah’s weapons endanger the country. I may counter by claiming that Syria’s presence is necessary for stability; that they are not occupiers because it’s a sisterly Arab country. Also I may point out that Hizbullah’s weapons only endanger Israel. Or our roles may be reversed, you may argue the latter and I the former. But having read your previous post would I be wrong to surmise that prior to February 14, 2005 your saw no problem with Syria’s presence or Hezbollah’s weapons? This is just a question, not an accusation.

    Fact of the matter is that had Bashar Assad not favoured Emile Lahoud, Hariri would never have reached out to his anti-Syrian countrymen; he would have been quite content to reap the rewards Syrian tutelage afforded the favoured; and we would be in the same position as we were on February 13, 2005.

    That’s my point. Those you support as seekers of liberation are no more than opportunists who, with the help of some clever western journalists and foreign governments with an axe to grind, have made Lebanon into a veritable wonderland. I am personally in no rush to know who killed Hariri. Many have gone before him and no one sought to discover the culprits. Until the Lebanese manage to set aside their self interest I would prefer we not know who killed him, maintain stability and strive to build a unified country.

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 5:05 pm
  150. GG,

    There was a good paper done on Rafiq Hariri that described what he was pretty well, given the circumstances he had to deal with to attain his vision of Lebanon.

    It described him as an “effective corrupt leader”.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 5:32 pm
  151. Look #149,

    Your newer gibberish is even more confusing than the previous comment, it seems. It is obvious that you’re seeking to tarnish the reputation of a person who alone was responsible for ending the journey to the abyss to which you and your likes in Lebanon were heading. The tone of the argument that you are promoting is the exact narrative of bigotted M8 propagandists, and more likely the Aounist’s delusions of riding on the so-called ‘resistance’ weapons to forgotten and non-reclaimable ‘past’. You see why he rightfully earned the ClAoun title?

    Your presumptuous question about someone you have no knowledge of regarding Syria’s presence only reflects a deep seated prejudice, a predisposition and ignorance. The way you framed the question is more an accusation than anything else despite your disclaimer. There is no need for me to justify myself to someone like you.

    I am not a personality cultist to defend the legacy of any person. The man, after all, stood in front of the whole world to be judged. I’d rather leave that personality cult to Aounists and Hizbis, which I am sure in the end of the day, will consume its followers to the abyss and perhaps annihilation. As an eye opener reading another opinion may give you an idea about what is in store for you and others of your likes in Lebanon,

    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=249310

    Perhaps it is a necessary condition for cultists, that you may happen to be one of them, to eliminate any figure that may have accomplished so much for his country in order for their cult to flourish. They know deep inside that they simply are unable to rise to the challenge – hence again the ClAoun.

    As for the person that you seem to hate in death more than you did while he was alive, his reputation was best sanctified and attested to by the spontaneous and unprecedented outpouring of Lebanese and others from all walks of life in his last journey out of this world.

    So what can midgets and ClAounists do to accomplish their hopeless quest to erase that scene?

    Posted by anonymous | March 12, 2011, 6:03 pm
  152. Hanin can be good … sometimes.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 6:45 pm
  153. Libya has become page 3 news.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 7:04 pm
  154. I read the paper a while back and looked at it again. Even though I’ve not seen it for quite a while I’m still struck by: “… a type of leadership that engages with prevailing corrupt systems (as it has to), but which does so not merely for self-interest, but also for the sake of public welfare.” Admittedly, I’m not an economist, but I’m struggling to get my head around the notion that approximately US$50 billion debt serves the public welfare, especially in a country with no natural resources or industry; a country almost entirely dependent on tourism. How’s it going to services this debt? Did Hariri envision some kind of Ponzi scheme on a grand scale?

    Posted by GG | March 12, 2011, 7:28 pm
  155. The next best step for March 14 would be for their parliamentarians to resign from the cabinet.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 7:29 pm
  156. GG,

    Rafiq was banking on an eventual regional peace agreement, because in the world he grew up in, Israel was an established fact in the region.

    And for Lebanon, that has been kicked around and suffered the most for it, $60 Billion is less than Carlos Slim’s net worth.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 7:35 pm
  157. #155 … from the parliament. **Freudian slip?**

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 7:36 pm
  158. In the world of Texas Hold ’em …

    Rafiq held a pair of pocket Aces. Bashar held a suited Queen and Seven. Hassan a pair of Kings. Jumblatt an unsuited two and eight. Berri a Joker and a ten. And Aoun thinks he’s playing 21.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 7:54 pm
  159. There are three ways to become billionaires in this world.

    Two abuse of them. The other ponder how they can change the world.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 8:40 pm
  160. … better the world.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 8:51 pm
  161. Hariri was no Berlusconi.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 8:59 pm
  162. And he certainly wasn’t seeking to become a “Saint”.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 9:11 pm
  163. R2D2 shouldn’t you get some sleep before your pow wow tomorrow?

    Posted by tamer k. | March 12, 2011, 9:36 pm
  164. Zzzzz..

    Posted by R2D2 | March 12, 2011, 9:41 pm
  165. For all you hypocrites who love Syria and HA!!
    Watch!
    http://www.mtv.com.lb/Tahkik/Special%2014%20March%20Revolution?type=1&filter=0

    Posted by danny | March 12, 2011, 9:57 pm
  166. GG #154
    Do you know of students who borrowed in order to go to college, households who borrowed in order to buy a home or corporations who borrowed in order to expand.
    There is always room to critique debt management (debt burden, debt composition etc…) but general statements similar to those in the above mentioned post are not helpful at all.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 13, 2011, 3:07 am
  167. It seems that M14 is adopting a good strategy to counter the HA discourse on the STL. If the NOW article on the blackshirts and the MTV program on the collaboration of the Hrawi regime and on the Syrian intelligence roundup and torture of Lebanese citizens are any indicators the strategy is to create a media blitz undermining the legitimacy of the current HA leadership. This would be the best course of action from a practical perspective. Even better, if the STL findings will incriminate, as expected, some HA operatives along with Syrian intelligence working with Hrawi’s cadres, the only acceptable critique would be not of HA as an institution and its achievements but of a leadership gone awry and rogue, undermining the sanctity of a mission of resistance and hope. After the courageous and just fight to liberate the South and to support the oppressed and uplift the Lebanese Shia, only a corrupt, cowardly, godless and honor-less members of HA, whether intelligence officers (Mughnieh) or leaders (HNA) could blemish the memory and victory of of what HA stands for. Maybe a new Fadlallah-like leader would step up, in the tradition of Imam Sadr and not someone who is sling to betray his people and assassinate innocent compatriots in the name of realpolitik or mere obedience. Both the national cards and the religious/righteous cards need to be played. Remember that justice is more important to all Shia–even more than for Sunnis, Christians, or Druze.

    Posted by parrhesia | March 13, 2011, 3:07 am
  168. Parhesia,

    I still think there is something missing in March 14 strategy. The argument that a government should be formed by a certain political alliance and opposed by an opposition is quite valid and attractive. But I do not think it works in a country like Lebanon, especially with the way things developed. The decision of March 14 not to participate was based on the principle of not granting the effective ‘coup’ legitimacy, which would form a precedent in Lebanese politics. But the end result is still surrendering the government. I believe March 14 would still have participated if they were given the veto power as in the previous government.

    Suleiman is now in the spotlight because he insisted while Hariri was forming his government that it should include the opposition. Otherwise Suleiman would not approve it. If he approves a new government without March 14 then his position as a neutral becomes in doubt.

    If a government is to be formed by a ruling coalition and an opposition should remain outside the government, then that government should be created as a result of new elections clearly showing who has the mandate.

    I believe a 2/3 quorum needs to be formed by the parliament in order to go into session for a vote of confidence on a new government. It may be possible to prevent that quorum from forming by having all 60 MP’s resigning before a new government is formed, preventing rubber stamping a coup.

    I may be wrong on the quorum required for parliament as I am not an expert on parliament rules. Even if the parliament can still go into session, having the March 14 MP’s resigning would be the best course to express the stand of not granting legitimacy to the ‘coup’. That would be even more resounding especially if the rally turns out to be as many are expecting.

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 3:45 am
  169. Correction to my previous post: please replace Hrawi with Lahoud. I wonder what kind of paraprax made me unconsciously substitute one name with the other!

    Anonymous, the resignation of MPs souns like a very effective tactic IF you can guarantee the outcome of the election! Good turnout today may help but is no guarantee. Unless one is certain that the defections from the ranks of the Aounists are real and sustainable– and that would take more ideological changes to the message of M14 (many initially supported M8 because they were tired politics usual, with sectarian overtones and old-fashioned warlords…)

    Posted by parrhesia | March 13, 2011, 4:19 am
  170. To the buffoons who call themselves the March14th gathering of stooges, lackeys and puppets of CIA/MOSSAD/DGSE/MI6/BND/CSIS/GID…..

    Soufflés, it is said, do not rise twice…., the Lebanese Resistance of Hezbollah will prevail.

    In politics, ideas are instrumental to the reproduction of power….but not such gibberish by Saatchi&Saatchi creeps.

    Economic gain often prevails over moral principles in the international relations of the Middle East….and the World…

    Western governments and academics are complicit in all of this charade for decades, giving the ‘butchers of Tripoli and Damascus’ plus others…..an undeserved respite….and they are still at it today….

    Posted by HK | March 13, 2011, 6:23 am
  171. #165

    Thanks for the link. The Saudi flag beating in Beirut’s warm spring breeze brought a tear to my eye. I only wish he got on the correct motorway. Seems he joined the wrong demo.

    Be careful who you call hypocrites as it’s a trait Saad Hariri has already demonstrated in his speech: “هل تقبلون يتسليم قرار الدولة الى الخارج؟“. Who are his paymasters?

    #166

    Yes, sensible people and businesses borrow knowing how they are going to cover their debt. Not too sure exactly how Hariri thought he was going to cover debt 200% the country’s GDP.

    And exactly how would peace with Israel increase the chances of covering this massive debt. Ok so tourism would increase, and … . Where the country’s manufacturing base, its industry, and its natural resources? The neighbours are no longer “silly Arabs” with more money than sense; UAE is a haven for banking and finance in the region; Jordan has a very successful Free Zone and its liberal economic policy is attracting foreign investment. What makes Lebanon so special?

    Posted by GG | March 13, 2011, 8:02 am
  172. GG,

    You seem so polluted and full of the BS you peddle you can not see the forest for the trees. Please spare those tears for all the people who have lost lives because of your murderous militia’s and Syrian mukhabarati victims. Visit South of Damour and report back on who’s flag BLOWS in the wind and who’s pics adorn your towns. Enough of the your futile attempt to cover up!

    Posted by danny | March 13, 2011, 11:26 am
  173. It has taken the Lebanese over fifty years to get rid of the rather naive and unworkable slogan of ” La Ghaleb Wa La Maghloob”. I am hopeful that the recent development will put an end to “national unity governments” and the veto power that they offered to the opposition ; restore to the Chamber of Deputies its constitutional function ; culminate in a Bill Of Rights that guarantees state protection to all citizens; establishes national truly integrated political parties whose only allegiance is to the welfare of their constituents and a vibrant democracy where the opposition plays an immensely important role in keeping those in power honest and responsive.

    On a completely different topic, I do hope that we have seen the last of the “resurgence” of the nuclear power industry. Nuclear generated electricity is dirty, expensive and dangerous. We cannot afford it at any level.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 13, 2011, 11:50 am
  174. Ghassan,

    I have no problem in principle with a government formed by ‘ghaleb’ and an opposition of ‘maghloubs’. But at this point in time there’s more at stake than a simple mechanism for the rotation of power and governance.

    Would you be happy with a government formed by a ‘ghaleb’ from which HA MP hajj Hassan is already demanding the introduction of the subject of so-called culture of ‘resistance’ into school curriculums and forcing it down the throats of your kids? Mind you, the government has not yet formed. Who knows what next? May be once in place, Hajj Hassan would conclude that the Japan earthquake as we’ve told has resulted in a shift of the axis of earth’s rotation by few centimetres and is now in fact perfectly aligned with the ‘hallowed sacredness’ of the eminence of W. of F. and singing ‘his’ ‘praises’? And that too, of course, should become part of the new science and incorporated into the curriculum.

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 2:03 pm
  175. I know everyone is focused on what is happening in Beirut but today i was shaken by the news from Itamar, i cannot believe that someone would take the lives of innocent people in such a horrific and despicable act of evil killing innocent children their mother and father because they are Jewish settlers. i cant comprehend who would do something like this and for what cause, land or religion. Arabs should stand united in condemning such acts until then we are all guilty of tolerating such acts if not encouraging it.
    God dammit we are not monsters how can anything justify this, how can people in Gaza or the west bank celebrate such crime!

    Posted by V | March 13, 2011, 2:40 pm
  176. Anon, actually I think Hajj Hassan or one of them has a PhD in Chemistry, so I wouldn’t fear a new science curriculum. And I’ll go out on a limb and bet that the Tayyar and Hezbollah ministers are the most educated out of the bunch. Fear mongering will only take your team so far, and it looks like today’s rally with all the spectacle of a striptease, and King Abdullah poster backdrop will only be a blip on the radar.

    March 14 is so 2005

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 2:45 pm
  177. Anon, actually I think Hajj Hassan or one of them has a PhD in Chemistry, so I wouldn’t fear a new science curriculum. And I’ll go out on a limb and bet that the Tayyar and Hezbollah ministers are the most educated out of the bunch. Fear mongering will only take your team so far, and it looks like today’s rally with all the spectacle of a striptease, and King Abdullah poster backdrop will only be a blip on the radar.

    March 14 is so 2005 😉

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 2:46 pm
  178. Tamer,

    And Abu alhassan Bani Sadr also had a Phd. And I also believe Sadiq Qotb Zadeh was equally qualified. What happened to them? One was executed and the other ran away for his life if I’m not mistaken once they fulfilled their jobs?

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 2:52 pm
  179. V,

    As abhorrent as the cold blooded murders were you are asking too much from the arab world. Arabs can’t condemn the violence against each other. I never heard Saudi etc come out strongly against the massacre of protesters in Bahrain last month. I never heard Saudi / Syria / Iran condemn the bombings against Sunni or Shia in Iraq over the past few years. They both came together to blame the zionist entity when they full well knew they were both responsible for the strife against each other in their low grade war. What about the cold blooded murder of Christians in Egypt and Iraq? Shame on us

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 2:56 pm
  180. Shame on us indeed

    Posted by V | March 13, 2011, 3:05 pm
  181. What about condemning the Syrian regime for actively aiding and supporting by men, material and diplomacy the murders of Qaddafi that are still raging as we speak?

    What about condemning the Iranan mullah regime for killing their own people especially if the happen to be of non-Persian origin or not supportive of the mullahs?

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 3:15 pm
  182. anon,

    I have not heard of Syria supporting Qaddafi if you could provide me with a link to a news blurp about that it would be appreciated.

    And I was not trying to provide an exhaustive list, the blame lies not only with our despotic regimes, but also with the arab world at large. We have no trouble criticizing Israel and US, but when it comes to strife that our governments incite we stay silent ie gulf arab countries wikileaks regarding Iran

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 3:27 pm
  183. Anon you racist thug. if i recall correctly and we can go back to it if you need proof, YOU justified the killing of Bahraini protesters because they may have been Iranian agents since they are Shia.

    please go to hell and dont be selective in your fake morality

    Posted by V | March 13, 2011, 3:35 pm
  184. V.,

    I do not need lessons in selective morality fron an expert in the field like you. If you want examples in moral selectivity that you have showered the site with, I would fill a km length post. Actually, I ceased paying attention to your nonsense. If I am selective in morality, you are strictly one-dimensional.

    Keep quite and go play with something else. Do not expect any more responses even if you beg and plead and insult till the end of times.

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 3:42 pm
  185. tamer 182,

    Two planes were shot down over Benghazi by the rebels early during the events. The pilots were inspected and Syrian identities were found on them. Most Libyan pilots are trained in Syria or Russia. Syria was probably the only Arab country that opposed enforcing an Air embargo over Libya. Incidintally, Iranian policy over Libya is exact copy of Syria’s.

    Syria’s version of the captured pilots is that they are not from the army but private pilots. Of course we all know Syria is flush with private pilot training schools particularly those schjools training fighter jet pilots of the Sukhoy type.

    The report showed up on aljazeera at the time and you can easily find it by searching its archives and going back to that date. I do not keep a link of every piece of news I read, especially these days with news coming up so fast in volumes around the minute.

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 4:05 pm
  186. V,
    Unfortunately this issue of demonizing the other has been going on for a long time and the Arabs in general have always failed to condemn in strong language an act that is done to others but that we will never accept if it was done to us. It is fine if we prevent the importation of bibles and the building of churches but it is a great offense if another country places prohibitions on minarets. It is unacceptable for any country to deprive immigrants of Arab origin of legal naturalization procedures but we are proud of the fact that over sixty years after the 1948 war our Palestinian brothers and sisters still languish in camps not fit for human habitation. We rejoice when an act of random violence kills innocents but will never accept such an act within our borders.Yes it is unfortunate when we do not have the moral courage to denounce an act of depravity and call it by its proper name, murder in cold blood.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 13, 2011, 4:21 pm
  187. By the utter lack of comments on today’s main event in Beirut on this blog, I deduce that there is common consent that the country is in dire need of an alternative to March 14?

    **Note, that huge banner of the Saudi King on Virgin megastore building had to be a March 8 stunt.**

    Posted by R2D2 | March 13, 2011, 6:33 pm
  188. R2D2
    MTV is reporting that the Saudi King’s picture was not part of the organized activities and it was posted on a building owned by a Talal Irslan relative. Check the link below and forward to 41:20

    http://www.mtv.com.lb/Mid-Day_News/03_13_2011?type=1&filter=0

    Posted by MM | March 13, 2011, 6:58 pm
  189. There aren’t any comments because no one really cares, had they decided that Strida would striptease instead of Saad there may have been a little more interest(jk).

    Really M14 is dead as a movement, too many defections and 5 years without a strategic vision. From alliances with Hezbollah, then against, then with again, to the wikileaks scandal regarding the Telecom issue, Elias Murr (bomb the shia areas), Al Haqeeqa leaks Saad + Col Hassan, fall of Mubarak and Abul Gheit(CLOSE ALLLIES), the group does not have any credibility, talk about flip floppers.

    The bottom line is no matter how you spin it when a political camps 2 main issues are the STL and “ILLEGAL ARMS” thats not an agenda that will excite the masses for very long.

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 7:00 pm
  190. Well Tamer, actually the STL and the Hezbollah arms issue is what the marketing and media company, March 14 hired, were able to define what excites the masses.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 13, 2011, 7:05 pm
  191. On the contrary, quite few people in Lebanon took notice of the event. The official site of the famous bellwether W.J. had this to say,

    الحدث السياسي – خاص
    13 آذار, 2011

    حماية البلد من المخاطر الداهمة تتطلب مد جسور الحوار مجدداً

    ما جرى في ساحة الشهداء في 13 آذار من حشد جماهيري لا يمكن لأحد أن يمر عليه مرور الكرام أو التعاطي معه بخفة … كما لا يمكن لأحد أن ينكر، و بغض النظر عما حمله من بعض العناوين والشعارات التي قد تكون ربما استفزازية أو تساهم في تعميق الشرخ والإنقسام في البلد، بإن هذا المشهد الذي يجمع اطياف وقوى سياسية لها حجمها في البلد يمثل جزء من الشعب اللبناني الذي أراد بحضوره الكثيف أن يعبر عن رفض لواقع وأخطاء قائمة لا يمكن لأحد التغاضي عنها لاسيما تلك المتعلقة باستخدام السلاح في الداخل – هذا على الأقل ما يقتنع به هؤلاء الناس سواء عن صواب أو عن خطأ – وهذا ما يحتم على جميع القوى السياسية المسؤولة و الحريصة على وحدة لبنان وسلمه الأهلي وميثاق عيشه المشترك القيام بمراجعة نقدية لمرحلة ما بعد اسقاط حكومة الوحدة الوطنية كمنطلق لمد جسور الحوار مع نصف الشعب اللبناني ليتوضح له ما هو مرفوض من هذا السلاح الذي استخدم في الأحياء والمناطق السكنية، وما هو مقبول من هذا السلاح الذي يجب وضعه في إطار استراتجية وطنية للدفاع عبر الحوار وترتكز على حق لبنان شعب وجيش ومقاومة في مواجهة الأطماع والتهديدات الإسرائيلية التي لم تتوقف بدءً من استمرار الإحتلال الإسرائيلي لجزء من الأراضي اللبنانية مروراً بالخروقات الجوية والبرية وشبكات التجسس ووصولا إلى مخططات حكومة العدو سرقة المياه الجوفية والغاز الطبيعي الموجود في المياه الإقليمية اللبنانية.

    في هذا الإطار، وبغض النظر عن المعلومات التي تتحدث عن اقتراب إعلان الحكومة الجديدة بصيغتها الثلاثينية المختلطة من سياسيين وتكنوقراط وشخصيات مستقلة في مدة لا تتجاوز الاسبوع المقبل بعد أن أصبحت الأمور في مراحلها الأخيرة لاسيما على خط رئيس المكلف ورئيس الجمهورية ورئيس تكتل “الإصلاح والتغيير”… إلا إن مصادر سياسية مراقبة أكدت لـ موقعنا بأن الرئيس المكلف نجيب ميقاتي لا يمكنه أن يمضي في تشكيل الحكومة العتيدة دون أن يأخذ بعين الإعتبار مشهد ساحة الشهداء الجماهيري مع ما حمله من مطالبة واضحة لناحية التمسك بالثوابت التي تتعلق بالمحكمة الدولية والعدالة في جريمة اغتيال الرئيس الشهيد رفيق الحريري و إلتزامات الدولة اللبنانية في هذا الخصوص يزاء المجتمع الدولي الذي عبر بوضوح عن موقف لا لبس فيه بأن تعامله مع أي حكومة لبنانية جديدة سيتوقف على مدى إلتزام هذه الحكومة بالإتفاقات والقرارت الدولية… وهذا ما قد يفرض المزيد من التمديد على مسار المشاورات والمباحثات الدائرة حول شكل الحكومة وتوليفتها وبرنامجها وبيانها الوزاري في محاولة من قبل الرئيس المكلف وبالتعاون مع رئيس الجمهورية والقوى السياسية التي سمته كرئيس مكلف للحد من الذهاب نحو حكومة ستكون منذ انطلاقتها بحالة مواجهة شديدة مع نصف الشعب اللبناني وكل المجتمع الدولي وهذا الأمر لن يكون في مصلحة لبنان وأمنه واستقراره على المدى المنظور والبعيد.

    Others in the North (Safadi)were also quick to disociate themselves from bigotted statements made by FPM Salhab. Also, he (Safadi) hastened to make some remarks about illegal weapons.

    Posted by anonymous | March 13, 2011, 7:06 pm
  192. R2D2,

    therein lies the problem when a “Marketing and Media” company is dictacting your political objectives you’ve got a strategic problem. March 14 fumbled the day after March 14 2005. They didn’t set out a cohesive and encompassing agenda that their alliance could agree too. They fumbled majority after majority and they should enjoy being in the opposition because it looks like they will be there for a while if Jumblatt stays the course.

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 7:11 pm
  193. tamer #189

    Well, at least we now know what really interests you 🙂

    Posted by R2D2 | March 13, 2011, 7:14 pm
  194. tamer,

    It is really tearing you apart that even the dirty stunt of hanging the KSA’s king’s picture still has not had any effect. So if someone takes off the jacket and tie would be stripping for you? I respect your religious beliefs that everyone should be covered head to toe…but we on the other side of the isle; really think that it just meant he is getting ready to kick Ha’s ass!!

    As of Strida; what’s up with that? Is anyone disrespecting your women? SHAME ON YOU!! Tfeh!!

    It just showed you that people can be civilized and NOT yell at the monitors or cut off limbs and tongues for a hobby.

    …and what defections are you talking about sir/madame?

    How did M14 flip flop? Except try to stay alive from your murderous militias thugs and guns!

    R2D2 is right! The issue is framed correctly! Get rid of all and all illegal weapons and militias so that regular folk can breathe easy and have the freedom of choice.

    Posted by danny | March 13, 2011, 7:43 pm
  195. 192,

    “They fumbled majority after majority and they should enjoy being in the opposition because it looks like they will be there for a while if Jumblatt stays the course”

    Really? Are you serious? They fumbled? they were not assassinated? threatened? blown apart? Murdered by your HA???
    Now seriously!!!!!!!

    Posted by danny | March 13, 2011, 7:46 pm
  196. Strida / Stripping comment was a joke, get over it.

    The defections I am talking about… aoun in 2005(pushing him away), jumblatt, fattoush, safadi, mikati, d. chamoun (claims to be part of 14 but isn’t involved in the general meetings)

    Murdered by HA? I would like some definitive proof before I lay down that accusation, when evidence BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (not telephone records) is provided then I’ll be the first to stand in line with you against Hezbollah.

    But till now all I know is that Hamadeh knew how Hezbollah would react when he went after their telecom network, that Hamadeh committed treason by sending the maps of the resistance to France and the US among others, that my defense minister suggests strongly that Israeli bombing campaigns focus on shia areas, that my former prime minister PERSONALLY interrogated a supposed “mastermind” behind his father’s assassination.

    anyways. we all know each other’s political position and this kind of back and forth banter isn’t adding anything of substantive banter to the blog.

    I think we can all agree that we are in for an interesting month with the cabinet formation, pressure against arms, and STL.

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 8:05 pm
  197. *substantive value

    Posted by tamer k. | March 13, 2011, 8:07 pm
  198. I didn’t get what the new opposition want the people of Lebanon to do.

    Take off our jackets and ties in front of clients and roll up our sleeves to show them we “really” mean business?

    Someone should inform the script writers of “The Office” that the roots of their characters stem from right here in this country.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 13, 2011, 8:41 pm
  199. Everyone in March 14 is exactly like Steve Carrell’s character in The Office.

    Posted by R2D2 | March 13, 2011, 8:49 pm
  200. After watching this:

    http://blogbaladi.com/najib/lebanon/pm-saad-hariri-stripping/

    I am more convinced than ever that some US political consultants (James Carville?) have been orchestrating Saad’s makeover. This move is straight out of the American campaigning handbook and designed to show that the rich & privileged politician is of de peoples and ready to go change a tire if need be by “rolling up his sleeves”.

    The backdrop featuring King Abdullah could have been some American idiot’s brilliant idea of appealing to the Sunni masses. Never forget GWB landing on the aircraft carrier and prancing around in his custom tailored flightsuit under the “Mission Accomplished” banner. (Our crappy media collaborated with the stagecraft by agreeing to refrain from filming (or mentioning) the San Diego coastline was clearly very close)

    OTH, if HA was involved, the flag on the end of the same building was a masterful diversionary touch.

    Who, us?

    Could be, given the HA pranksters’ billboard commemorating Israeli Defense Minister’s infamous “moment” as described in this photo :

    “A UN armored vehicle passes by a billboard erected by Hezbollah members in Lebanese territory between the northern Israeli village of Metulla and Kfar Kila, a town in southern Lebanon Tuesday, May 1, 2007. The billboard shows a picture of Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz looking through capped binoculars with Arabic writing that says: ‘Who’s blind.’”

    Posted by lally | March 13, 2011, 9:09 pm

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