Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria, United States

When Langley Met Dahiyeh: A Trans-Oceanic Love Story

cia-hizbSome folks are up in arms about the recent revelation that US intelligence agencies warned the Lebanese government about an Al-Qaida plot to smuggle several tons of explosives into Lebanon. As Mitch Prothero writes in McClatchy:

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency warned Lebanese officials last week that al Qaida-linked groups are planning a campaign of bombings that will target Beirut’s Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs as well as other political targets associated with the group or its allies in Syria, Lebanese officials said Monday.

The unusual warning – U.S. government officials are barred from directly contacting Hezbollah, which the U.S. has designated an international terrorist organization – was passed from the CIA’s Beirut station chief to several Lebanese security and intelligence officials in a meeting late last week with the understanding that it would be passed to Hezbollah, Lebanese officials said.

I spoke to J. Dana Stuster at Foreign Policy about this story yesterday, and he has helpfully assembled a set of reactions by various US-based pundits who are outraged that the Obama administration would not seize the opportunity to let Al-Qaida kill one or two Hizbullah sympathizers, even if that means scores of civilians would die alongside them in a multi-ton truck bomb blast.

The speculation on Lebanon’s evening talk shows this week is going to be all about what this intelligence-sharing decision reflects about US policy toward Syria. As one of Mitch’s sources, a Hezbollah commander, puts it:

The Americans are starting to realize how bad their friends in Syria are, so they’re trying to get out of this mistake,” he said. “They also think that if a bomb goes off in Dahiya, we will blame America and target Americans in Lebanon. That will never happen, but they’re scared of this monster they created.”

Obviously, this is just spin on Hizbullah’s part, aiming to deflect attention away from the uncomfortable fact that the US provided actionable intelligence that probably saved lives in Dahiyeh. In my view, the move is consistent with a broader US policy of trying to curb the influence of the more radical elements in the Syrian opposition. Truck bombs set off by Syrian rebels against Hezbollah in Lebanon are likely to turn more Lebanese against the opposition’s cause, or at least estrange them from it. It won’t matter that people will blame Hezbollah for dragging Lebanon into the conflict; it will also cause a fragmentation and sectarian catastrophe that no one will be able to contain, and which will play to Assad’s advantage in the long term.

Discussion

88 thoughts on “When Langley Met Dahiyeh: A Trans-Oceanic Love Story

  1. Stories like this highlight just how fraught it is for the US to be playing in a region full of psychotics. That said, I have no objection to the US warning even scum like Hezbollah about an attack likely to kill lots of civilians. At the end of the day, it is never bad to avoid the loss of civilian lives if it doesn’t come at the cost of your own.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 17, 2013, 11:49 am
  2. Somehow people seem to think this signals something or other about US policy, perhaps about Syria. This seems unlikely. Rather, it seems like a routine warning to a country (Lebanon, if you couldn’t figure that out) with whom we have reasonably good relations. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the warning had any material effect. Perhaps people thought that if it came from the US, it must be a scam. The quoted tweets are pathetic and twisted and offensive to me as a made-in-USA Boston breed.

    Posted by samadamsthedog | July 17, 2013, 11:50 am
  3. Gotta agree with SamAdams on this one. This kind of stuff is pretty routine. It just so happens that this time the information involved Dahyeh. But we’ve had a number of warnings over the years from “friendly countries” (Europeans, usually, sometimes the USA) about various terrorist threats and sometimes specific assassination plots against various politicians (remember when there was some rumored threat against Berri, Hariri and several others?)

    Intelligence agencies usually pass along messages of this sort in a fairly routine fashion.

    Everyone is trying to read too much into this.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 17, 2013, 1:35 pm
  4. I just hoped they used the “Cone of Silence”. We have leakers everywhere…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 17, 2013, 1:44 pm
  5. I have some really, really bad news for the Resistance Professionals. It looks like the august and super-important Arab League is supporting Kerry’s Peace Initiative…

    Can the news in the ME get any worse?

    http://news.yahoo.com/arab-league-backs-kerry-palestinian-peace-bid-165836671.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 17, 2013, 2:44 pm
  6. “In my view, the move is consistent with a broader US policy of trying to curb the influence of the more radical elements in the Syrian opposition. Truck bombs set off by Syrian rebels against Hezbollah in Lebanon are likely to turn more Lebanese against the opposition’s cause, or at least estrange them from it….”

    Nothing more to add!!

    Posted by danny | July 17, 2013, 2:58 pm
  7. Samadams: Those tweets you found offensive are, indeed, stupid. But if it makes you feel better, they are just the equivalent of comments on a forum (meaning of no consequence). I know the article identifies them as pundits, and while I haven’t bothered to look them up, I have never heard of either one.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 17, 2013, 4:16 pm
  8. “US provided actionable intelligence that probably saved lives in Dahiyeh” – Erm considering the bombs went off with no warning to the people around them how did the intelligence save lives?

    “that people will blame Hezbollah for dragging Lebanon into the conflict” – Yeah cuz the Lebanese have the memory of goldfish and have long forgotten that M14 were entrenched with and arming the opposition in Syria long before Hizballah got involved

    “it will also cause a fragmentation and sectarian catastrophe” – No it will not. This attempt at turning the sects of Lebanon against one another has been going on for years and much to Sanioritas and Geahishs chargin, one side refuses to play

    But best of all…..

    “one of Mitch’s sources, a Hezbollah commander” – That never fails to make me laugh ( the paintballing commander whos given these experts on Lebanon more info on Hzballah than Israel has manged in 30 years!

    Posted by mo | July 17, 2013, 4:57 pm
  9. Erm considering the bombs went off with no warning to the people around them how did the intelligence save lives?
    As usual ungrateful… maybe your HA intelligence is not so intelligent after all. 😀

    ” Yeah cuz the Lebanese have the memory of goldfish and have long forgotten that M14 were entrenched with and arming the opposition in Syria long before Hizballah got involved”

    What a Crock of Shit! They can’t arm themselves (May 2007 when your resistance shabihas invaded Beirut with no resistance…); how they can arm the Syrians??? Typical (ill)logical conclusion of the yellow jackets!

    Nothing further to the idol of Don’t get it!!!

    Posted by danny | July 17, 2013, 5:57 pm
  10. Wheres Okab Sakr Danny? Still stocking up on milk and blankets in Paris? lol
    Oh and in 2007 the lack of resistance was due to lack of balls not the lack of weapons 🙂

    Posted by mo | July 17, 2013, 6:22 pm
  11. Mo

    I don’t think anything will convince you that Mitch’s sources are legitimate, but if you don’t want to believe him, then consider the fact that the paintball team included Nick Blanford, who has devoted a couple of decades to covering Hezbollah. When you spend that much time working with the official representatives of an organization like Hezbollah, you develop contacts with other members. Over time, they may trust you enough to reveal information when it suits their purposes. I have been present at informal gatherings with politicians and other officials directly associated with the Hizb, and the conversations did not read like press conference talking points.

    When Mitch and Nick broke their stories about Hizbullah involvement in the Abra battles, all the muqawamistas laughed them out of the building. How could two Western reporters have gotten a story that none of the Lebanese TV crews got? When I published Nick and Mitch’s response to the accusations, nobody paid any attention.

    Then, lo and behold, Nawwaf al-Moussawi quietly admitted on Kalam Ennas a couple weeks later that the Hizb had in fact been involved in the battle for Abra, returning fire when they received it. But by then the muqawamistas had moved on to other more important things, like blaming M14 for the Assir phenomenon, when Hizbullah’s militarism has at least as much to do with Sunni rage as anything else.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 17, 2013, 6:58 pm
  12. QN,

    Do you have the link to Nawwaf al-Moussawi’s revelation that Hezb was involved in Kalam Ennas? Would like to keep it in my files and I’m having trouble finding it (my arabic isn’t the best).

    Posted by gbeaino | July 17, 2013, 7:38 pm
  13. Qifa,
    Blandford is as bad as Prothero in my opinion. Do they have contacts? Im sure they may. That doesnt necessarily equate to it being a fact everytime one of them starts an article with “A senior commander in Hizballah sasy”, especially if one knows what the organisation thinks of those two in particular/

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2013, 5:23 am
  14. Mo

    How do you know what the organization thinks of them? Have you read Nick’s book on Hizbullah? The details about the party’s operational strategies, his tours of the bunkers, his interviews with military commanders… If what you are saying is true, then he’s making it all up. If he isn’t, then it sounds to me like a lot of sour grapes from a bunch of muqawamistas who are annoyed that they haven’t figured out how to gain the access.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2013, 7:07 am
  15. Gbeaino

    Watch from 21:30

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2013, 7:31 am
  16. QN, what are muqawamistas?

    Maybe you can create a web page “Hizbollah for Dummies”

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 18, 2013, 9:27 am
  17. I like that term actually: Muqawamistas. Kinda describes that bunch perfectly.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 18, 2013, 1:37 pm
  18. AP,

    In case you’re wondering: Muqawama means “Resistance”
    and the “istas” is the perfect modifier here (like “Sandinistas” and so on) to give it that pseudo-intellectual, Che Guevara style aura that some of these guys are so keen on.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 18, 2013, 1:38 pm
  19. Qifa, i know because a senior commander in Hizballah told me 🙂

    Posted by mo | July 18, 2013, 2:07 pm
  20. awiyyehhhhhh

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | July 18, 2013, 2:21 pm
  21. Bad Vilbel,

    Thanks. I sarcastically call them all “Resistance Professionals” because no matter where they come from, from the heights of academia to the poverty-stricken alleys of despair, they sure know how to F things up. They don’t build up, they tear down, they aren’t inclusive, they aren’t tolerant, they’re militant and they’re violent. I guess that covers all the bases. Did I miss anything? Oh yeah, they’re great if you bow down to the same Gods they bow down to.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 18, 2013, 3:15 pm
  22. Nah, Muqawamistas are not violent. At least in my mind, I’m referring to the pseudo-intellectual bunch who run around regurgitating “the party line” and quoting all kinds of literature, while typically sitting in the safety of their own homes (often abroad). Their natural habitat is the blogosphere/internet.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 18, 2013, 4:41 pm
  23. Bad Vilbel,

    I don’t know. If Norman Finkelstein supports Hezbollah, than he is a part of the problem.

    Anyway, I saw the article and smiled. Israel has another friend….

    http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2013/07/18/Jesse-Jackson-Calls-To-Boycott-Florida-as-Apartheid-State

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 18, 2013, 6:11 pm
  24. AP and BV,

    Replace “Muqawimistas” with any other ideological group (e.g. Israeli right-wing parties, far-right Republicans, etc.), and your sentences would still make sense.

    I mean, seriously, just as I could easily come up with 10 points that’ll make the glorious muqawama look like something they say they aren’t, I could do the same for your glorious Israeli regime. So the accusation that a certain political group behaves in a certain way and its behavior is unique to that group only is I believe badly mistaken.

    The problem I have with the intolerants of either side is the attitude you yourselves show: if I criticize A, I must be brainwashed by B. In this scenario there is very little room left for an academic, objective discussion, which is badly needed in times of crisis.

    As for your question regarding Norman Finkelstein, I had a short chat with him at a lecture he gave at Carleton University over a year ago and I asked him what he thought of Hezbollah. He said that their movement was justified in its early days, but that its behavior and policy in Syria was “unacceptable”.

    Posted by gbeaino | July 19, 2013, 9:15 am
  25. GBEAINO,

    Thanks for your POV, but I don’t agree with it.

    The “far-right” Israeli right-wing parties, ya’ani, The Likud is equivalent to the Labor Party from the 1980s. They are for a 2 state solution. They are willing to negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians and adhere to a formula of “Land for Peace” just like the peace treaty with Egypt. If you’re lucky, they just leave without a peace treaty like Sharon did in Gaza.

    And what’s wrong with “Far Right” Republicans? They want to close and secure our borders BEFORE we give amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. What’s wrong with that??

    The 3 Stooges (Chomsky, Finkelstein and Jonathan Cook) have written enough anti-Israel crap to fill a large dumpster. All their articles and writings against arab “Muqawamistas” and despots may fill a small envelope.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2013, 10:26 am
  26. The Holy Green Line NewZ

    Sec. of State John Kerry is meeting again with the “hardline” President, Hamoud Abbas.

    The hardline president, and his hardline delegation insist the negotiations start from the 1967 Green Line which prevented Israeli sovereignty of any part of the Old City of Jerusalem.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23377422

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2013, 10:47 am
  27. AP,

    With laws like this (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/07/20137813932642619.html), amongst many many others, I find it hard to believe that Israel is seriously committed to a fair peaceful solution. If you consider peace as the marginalization of Palestinians to the greatest extent so that only Israelis can live in peace, then by that definition Israel is committed to a solution.

    When the most impartial organizations (e.g. Amnesty International HRW, various UN agencies – those that have also criticized the muqawamistas you love to hate) consistently lambast Israeli policies towards Palestinians, and correctly point out that they are self-destructive and lead to even more radicalization in the Palestinian Territories, you need to acknowledge that something is definitely wrong. The inability to do so is sheer ideology that is blinded by the reality on the ground – the very thing you criticize muqawamistas of doing.

    This is not the time nor place to get into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My personal stance has been despite Israel’s reckless and discriminating behavior towards Palestinians, the Islamist response (though expected) is not the answer. I say this before you begin to lambast me as some Hamas/Fatah/Iranian/terrorist for criticizing Israel.

    My main point is not to try to convince you to change your perspectives on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as I know that will not happen. I merely point out that the characterization you portray of muqawamistas can very well be applied on the extremes of all sides of the political spectrum.

    Posted by gbeaino | July 19, 2013, 11:25 am
  28. I say this before you begin to lambast me…

    I’m not going to “lambast” you. You made a fine post and you made fine points.

    What I’m going to do is show you the difference between Zionist Muqawamistas and Islamist Muqawamistas. The article you linked shows that automatic citizenship does not apply to non-jewish foreigners. Apparently, these are relatively few in number and not much different from xitizenship rules of other nations.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_non-Jews_be_citizens_of_Israel

    Does anyone get hurt, thrown in jail, deprived of earning a living, or anything else? No.

    When peace comes to Palestine and Israel, these issues will be addressed. As it stands now, all parts of Israel returned to Palestine must be “Kew-free”. Pass the tissue paper…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2013, 12:09 pm
  29. Gbeaino,

    You missed the point entirely. First off, my comments above were not about the actual HA party (or the Israeli right-wing party or any other party). The “ista” was more a semi-humorous, semi-mocking wording (which QN really gets the credit for) that I interpreted a certain way, namely, referring not to the actual parties in question, but to the pseudo-intellectuals of a certain stereotype (hence the semi-humor part of my comment, because yes, we are dealing in stereotypes here).
    The “ista” implies a very particular brand of leftist revolutionary (in the generic sense of the term) and brings to mind (my mind at least) the Che Guevara T-shirt wearing, sidewalk cafe frequenting “intellectuals” of the 70s (and the rather poor caricature that it became in the subsequent decades).

    There are equally silly caricatures and stereotypes for the right-wingies (be it in the USA, Israel or elsewhere), don’t worry (Think of the “Obama is a muslim, the gobment is gonna take all our guns, the liberal media is out to get us” tea-party types for example…but I’d hardly use the “ista” nomenclature to refer to those guys).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 19, 2013, 12:23 pm
  30. QN, look what you started!! We’re now arguing over a made up word! (Typical Lebanese argumentative mentality!)

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | July 19, 2013, 12:24 pm
  31. Woddy Allen made a funny movie in 1971 about becoming a “Muqawamista”.

    “Bananas”. I recommend seeing it before attempting to join the many resistance movements available now.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0066808/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2013, 12:34 pm
  32. I guess you heard the hardline right wing muqawanista. areLikudniks are meeting with the PA on final status talks.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 19, 2013, 4:10 pm
  33. Ok, quiz question time. How many of you think the ME is in such turmoil because of Israel and the occupation?

    If yes, if a peace treaty and final settlement is signed, does that imply peace will then come to the rest of the ME?

    And now a public message from the BBC:

    “Settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.”

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 20, 2013, 10:30 am
  34. Fashionista is another one. No political undertones though.

    Posted by Maverick | July 22, 2013, 2:40 am
  35. John Bolton for President….

    QN for Vice President….

    http://www.foxnews.com/topics/john-bolton.htm

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 22, 2013, 8:31 am
  36. “mitchell prothero ‏@mitchprothero 16 Jul
    @AcrossTheBay @Doranimated also: hizb alone discouraged the story. everyone else confirmed immediately. even those who couldn’t go on record”

    So as per the eagerness of all but the hezzies to expose the CIA warning/appeasement, could it have been done in order to legitimatize them as the military asset to Lebanon that they are? Speaking pragmatically, that is. Was this supposed to convey something to the Euroweenies about HA’s contributions to the State of Lebanon in order to stay their trembling manicured hands?

    Bulgaria basically gave over the seminal Burgas crime scene to the FBI, CIA and Israelis in due haste. I can say with confidence that those actors supplying evidence and the forensics to prove a forgone conclusion of Hezbollah Terrorist guilt should disqualify the whole mess from even approaching credibility. Yet for the worthies in Brussels, it works ’cause they are just plumb wore out by the pressure and could give a crap about Lebanon. Someone’s is whispering that all will be fine and dandy; Saad will be able to return and lead at last.

    At least some Lebanese leaders obliquely refer to the fact that the ministers leapt yay high when asked rather that even pretend to consider the evidence:

    “Earlier on Monday, Miqati stressed that Lebanon “is keen to abide by international law,” after the European Union placed Hizbullah’s armed wing on its list of “terrorist organizations.”

    “We will follow up on the issue through diplomatic channels, while we wish the EU countries had carried out a careful reading of the facts and sought out more information,” Miqati said.”

    What are the facts? Are there copies of the charge sheets supplied to the members of the EU?

    Posted by lally | July 23, 2013, 1:10 am
  37. The Doctor is IN

    Someone’s is whispering…

    I think an anti-psychotic Rx like Risperdal could be useful in this case.

    PS – Sorry about the EU and Hezbollah. Again, too much AIPAC and Zionist pressure for one continent to bear.

    http://www.vosizneias.com/136365/2013/07/18/sofia-bulgaria-no-doubt-hezbollah-behind-israeli-burgas-bombing/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 23, 2013, 6:55 am
  38. What the US media failed to print about Helen Thomas.

    I guess the “Zionist-Controlled” press missed something…

    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=33&x_article=2512

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 24, 2013, 7:52 am
  39. AP, With regard to Ms. Thomas, RIP. I have to agree with Prof. Stephen Colbert statement to the Israeli ambassador to the US a few days after her Jews should go back to Poland/Germany comment. Dr. Colbert lambasted Ms. Thomas in that interview. He stood up for Israel and insisted to the Ambassador that No Sir! Jews should stay right where they are. It is the Palestinians who should go back to where they came from!

    Would you agree? Should the Jews be left in peace and Palestinians return to where they came from? I actually agree with this statement.

    Posted by Johnny | July 25, 2013, 8:47 am
  40. a touch of fun, right in the middle of the casual debate between the pro-palestinians and the Zionists thiefs

    Posted by 3issa | July 25, 2013, 11:13 am
  41. Dr. Colbert lambasted Ms. Thomas in that interview. He stood up for Israel and insisted to the Ambassador that No Sir! Jews should stay right where they are. It is the Palestinians who should go back to where they came from!

    Would you agree? Should the Jews be left in peace and Palestinians return to where they came from? I actually agree with this statement.

    Johnny,

    I NEVER watch these quasi-comedic cum political commentators on TV. Specifically Colbert, Maher, and Stewart. I never agree with them. Anyway, I did a search and found the following. Near as I can tell, Colbert isn’t serious so any “criticism” fell by the wayside…

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2010/06/10/stephen-colbert-defends-helen-thomas-bashing-rush-limbaugh-and-glenn-beck

    The link I posted above, is a serious discussion of Helen’s little “Israel problem”, and as usual, it is brushed aside by an adoring press. Per your question, no one should have to go anywhere, Palestinians AND Jews. The reality is, however, Jews will be the ones that will have to leave when it is found they are in Palestinian territory. So far, and conversely, the GOI has no requirement that Israeli-Arabs move to Palestine.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 25, 2013, 1:09 pm
  42. 3ISSA

    Thanks for the giggles; especially loved the finale.

    Posted by lally | July 25, 2013, 2:11 pm
  43. love it too ^^

    Posted by 3issa | July 25, 2013, 5:59 pm
  44. Since there appears to be no topical news at the moment, I would love to hear from AIG or Rani (or any other Israelis) what they think of the impending negotiations between Israel and the PA, and in particular, what they think of the prisoner release that seems to be the price of the PA’s willingness to talk. From what I can tell from the English language Israeli press, the release is hugely unpopular. Does that matter at all? Netanyahu seems to not care. Is that because he is politically powerful, politically foolish, a US puppet, a shrewd negotiator who got something good from Kerry. etc? What do you think.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 29, 2013, 11:34 am
  45. dontgetit,

    Although I am not Israeli (just like most here are not Palestinian), the issue concerns me as well. I usually tap into Dr. Steven Plaut’s website to get a conservative POV from Israel. Dr. Plaut writes a lot about Israel and is a professor of economics at Haifa University.

    Even though Netanyahu and the Likud conintue to free cold-blooded murderers, they will always be consider “hardline” Israelis. So no, you can’t please the “objective” and “unbiased” media. But my question is this, “If everyone knows this process has zero chance of succeeding, why let these murderers free to kill again?”

    I can only assume the GOI sees this as a “harvest” of some sort, and that they’ll put these “people” (or others like them) back in the Clink.

    Please stop giving Netanyahu these made-up super powers ( politically powerful, politically foolish, a US puppet, a shrewd negotiator). His Likud party is more liberal than the old Labor Party and he sincerely believes in a 2 state solution. He is doing a favor for Obama which will get him NOTHING in return.

    If Israel can release scores of murderers, you’d think the US could release the Pollard schmuck.

    http://stevenplaut.blogspot.com/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2013, 12:49 pm
  46. In the words of British-Israeli historian Avi Shlaim regarding Israel-Palestinian talks, “Netanyahu is like a man who, while negotiating the division of a pizza, continues to eat it”.

    Posted by gbeaino | July 29, 2013, 1:37 pm
  47. GBEAINO,

    If the Israelis act like it’s Palestinian land, then it’s Palestinian land. It seems to me a precondition to stop building there wouldn’t require any talks at all. Maybe I’m missing something.

    Personally, I think the final border is somewhere between what the Palestinians and Israelis “think” is theirs.

    Bottom line: start talking.

    BTW – what Avi Shlaim says is meaningless since he doesn’t represent Israel or the PA. He is free to represent the Palestinians if he wants to.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 29, 2013, 1:59 pm
  48. AP: Plaut criticizes the prisoner release, too. I get that. I understand that it is unpopular in Israel and that isn’t what I asked. My question was what do people think is motivating Netanyahu to take what is clearly a politically unpopular step (and one that also seems tactically unwise). When a politician does something politically unpopular, he (or she) does so for a reason. Maybe he thinks there is no price to be paid. Maybe he thinks the benefit outweighs the price. Maybe he thinks it is simply the right thing to do as a policy matter and he will accept the consequences. For example, if Netanyahu thought a peace deal were achievable and so the prisoner release was a reasonable price to get the process started, that would make sense. Maybe he got a commitment from Kerry on Iran. Maybe he thinks that the political price at home is trivial since no-one will bolt the coalition (true – everyone to Netanyahu’s right knows leftists would happily join the coalition to replace them over this) and by the time the next election comes around, the release will be forgotten. I can speculate, but I was interested in what Israelis think.

    “Please stop giving Netanyahu these made-up super powers ( politically powerful, politically foolish, a US puppet, a shrewd negotiator). His Likud party is more liberal than the old Labor Party and he sincerely believes in a 2 state solution. He is doing a favor for Obama which will get him NOTHING in return.”
    This makes no sense – I am not giving Netanyahu super-powers; I was positing possible explanations for his behavior. And whether or not he is more liberal than labor is besides the point (it happens to be true that the current GOI is, in objective terms, the most liberal, on Palestinian issues except for perhaps Olmert – it is certainly to the left of, for example, Rabin’s Labor government; in relative terms, it is not, since unlike other prior governments, most mainstream parties are currently to the left of Likud-the only exception being Bennett-which means it is rightist on the spectrum).

    Gbeaino: In my opinion, the Shlaim quote is pretty stupid and reflects a pretty foolish view of negotiations, though it certainly does reflect mainstream world opinion. In my view, the Israelis commit a tactical error when they stop building in the territories. If I were in charge, I would never agree to a building freeze, or certainly not prior to negotiations (I would probably agree to some freezes, maybe, while discussions were pending). To me, you only can have negotiations between opposing parties when they both want to be there, and, more importantly, when they perceive a significant downside to not negotiating. Generally, it appears to me that Israel wants to negotiate but Abbas needs to be paid to come to the table. That means two things: 1) Israel is in the weaker position in negotiations and 2) the PA doesn’t really want a State that badly. Historically, Israel has evacuated settlements when it gave up territory, and it can do so in the future if there is a deal. In the meantime, it should (from a tactical point) act like there is no deal and should build where it has reasons to build. If the PA wants that to stop, they should (from Israel’s perspective) come to the table and negotiate a peace deal.

    From the PA perspective, I think what is going on is that Abbas has no game plan and no long-term objective because he is not in control of half the putative territory (can’t even safely set foot in it) because it is held by his rival and is basically a petty dictator in the part he does control, afraid to face elections. On top of that, it is pretty clear that there is no peace deal he could ever deliver that would be acceptable to the Israelis (he won’t give up the right of refugees to return to Israel and he couldn’t deliver it if he wanted to). So what he can do is buy time with the Israelis and maneuver for political gain through diplomatic moves and the negotiation game (like the prisoner release), all of which enhance his position in the PA and Ramallah, but have nothing to do with long term Palestinian national aspirational goals. He and his family have become very wealthy and his cooperation with Israel has made the territories one of the better places in the Arab World for Arabs to live (Lebanon is mostly better; possibly Morocco, too). On the whole, Abbas’s behavior makes sense and his been pretty effective.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 29, 2013, 3:11 pm
  49. Another view of the Palestinian tactic, which seems quite sensible to me, is that they are trying to string the negotiations along as much as possible, while using the popularity of the Palestinian cause in the international arena to continue to pressure and isolate Israel. This is a sensible tactic because Abbas recognizes that in negotiations, Israel has the strength of actually possessing control over the disputed territory and will not relinquish it without concessions that Abbas cannot or will not make. By increasing the pressure on Israel in other fora, Abbas strengthens his negotiating hand. In other words, the harder Abbas can make it for Israel in the world arena, the more likely he case get a better deal from Israel at the table. At the moment, there is no deal to be had, but maybe someday Israel can be pressured into accepting refugees, giving up Jerusalem (already close), etc.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 29, 2013, 7:18 pm
  50. dontgetit,

    You’ve done a fairly good job of detailing why the Palestinians and Israelis are happy with the status quo:

    The Palestinians feel “the popularity of the Palestinian cause in the international arena to continue to pressure and isolate Israel”.

    Which I agree with. I may add further that if this conflict is solved, all the international money, aide, and political good will flies out the window, and the Palestinian state has to work all by themselves, Hamasland included.

    So, from my perspective, the Palestinians have no incentive to sign a final agreement with Israel. This is virtually the same reason why Assad never signed an agreement with Israel. The “Israel excuse” is too valuable to get rid of.

    FYI, all Israelis hate the prisoner releases, and most just go along with it. No one will set themselves on fire or walk out of the government because some murderers are allowed to roam free.

    My question was what do people think is motivating Netanyahu to take what is clearly a politically unpopular step (and one that also seems tactically unwise). When a politician does something politically unpopular, he (or she) does so for a reason.

    dontgetit,

    Believe it or not, the Israelis continue to do this a.) as a favor to their biggest supporter, the USA and because their is always a chance it will bear fruit. Are you looking for another answer? If the talks fail, then they fail. Business as usual. The issue with Iran is clear, the US is not going to help Israel and Obama is fine with a nuclear Iran. In this matter, Obama really has to calm the nerves of the Saudis just as much as the Israelis.

    I hope this explains Netanyahu’s “behavior”. It is no different than the behavior of Olmert and Rabin. Give peace a chance, and then point fingers at the Palestinians for not going through with it. When all is forgotten, the Palestinians will cry “Apartheid State” and “Occupation” and everyone including the BDSers and the anti-Zionists will be happy, and the Israelis will continue to build their own borders and communities.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 30, 2013, 7:05 am
  51. John Kerry’s Circus Begins NewZ

    “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands,” said Abbas, after meeting with an Egyptian leader, according to the Times of Israel.

    In this case, Israeli means Joo. “Apartheid State”, I get it.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/palestinian-leaders-final-resolution-pledge-not-single-israeli-civilian-or-soldier-our-lands_742269.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 30, 2013, 8:26 am
  52. so cute, a democratic debate

    Posted by 3issa | July 30, 2013, 9:56 am
  53. so cute, a democratic debate

    Threesa,

    Democratic debates is time well spent, especially for those that care about freedom for other people.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 30, 2013, 10:47 am
  54. While of no geopolitical interest, someone sent me a video of a Lebanese man trying to talk his wife out of killing herself; and then she jumps. Is that big news in Lebanon? It is pretty crazy and listening to him scream after she jumps is pretty sad.

    Posted by dontgetit | July 31, 2013, 3:48 pm
  55. There is enough tragedy in life even w/o the ME political BS.

    Pretty woman…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | July 31, 2013, 5:32 pm
  56. I really don’t understand Lebanese expats or tourists who love to be in Beirut… This city is so ugly with all its painful contrast… it’s a sick place.

    Posted by Vulcan | July 31, 2013, 7:21 pm
  57. Vulcan,

    Any movie appears to look good when you’re viewing the trailer. A month of historical places, festivals,nightlife,good food, beaches is a great trailer. You don’t complain about the bill at the beach when you’re leaving the next day.
    Here’s something else making its rounds on FB…..

    Posted by Maverick | August 2, 2013, 3:03 am
  58. Maverick,

    Thanks for the movie clip and link. This movie could have easily been dubbed “Israel” and no one would have known the difference. The group represented looked like 30ish, liberal-moderate and I didn’t see anyone wearing a veil, head scarve, or tubine. IOW, no one looked that religious.

    I think it is the religious that are trying to ruin Lebanon and the rest of the ME.

    Today’s YNet has this article from the “moderate” Iranian regime of Hassan Rohani:

    The report quoted Rohani as saying: “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4412953,00.html

    So, it seems as though “endless war” is still on the agenda for the wonderful theocrats that were not represented in that film. And we’re talking about a LOT of people. I can only hope the younger generation puts these “yahoos” out of business.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 2, 2013, 7:11 am
  59. Since there isn’t much of interest here (our host is MIA lately!):

    How about Nassrallah’s speech today? I recall when QN posted something about how HA, after years of trying to portray itself as non or anti sectarian has pretty much shifted to being openly sectarian (or something along those lines, I forget how QN phrased it exactly).
    Today’s speech is about as inflammatory and sectarian as can be. All pretense of “Lebanese” is now gone. It’s all about “Everyone is out to get us Shia” and is no longer veiled by any kind of Lebanese cover.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | August 2, 2013, 12:29 pm
  60. I think Lebanon should sign a peace treaty with Israel and Hezbollah should considered a recist political party and thus, “null & void”.

    If they start any trouble, Lebanon and Israel should work together to send them back to Iran and Syria.

    Enough of this BS. Syria and Iran are on the ropes.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 2, 2013, 2:29 pm
  61. So. Evidently, the orb procedure that President Michel Suleiman underwent in the US was a success.

    Posted by lally | August 2, 2013, 4:31 pm
  62. In other news, this video is a hit on the internet. LoL. It’s about Mahmoud Badr the young democracy chap of the Tamarod movement in Egypt (99 billion signatures), before and after the coup.
    For non arabic speaker, don’t expect MEMRI to translate it. Too embarassing I guess.

    Ramadan Kareem by the way 🙂

    Posted by 3issa | August 2, 2013, 8:20 pm
  63. Lally,

    I see your opinion is shared among the die hards;

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/president-suleiman-its-time-you-leave

    Good thing for Al-Amin Lebanon has free press….to some extent.

    Posted by Maverick | August 2, 2013, 10:55 pm
  64. Threesa,

    MEMRI not only prints racist rants from the government-paid towel-heads and muqawamitas, it also prints the opposite, calls from important moderates and liberals to ignore these people.

    “99 billion”? It couldn’t even be million. Make up a real number please.

    Maverick,

    This time in ME is wonderful, the man behind the curtain has revealed himself, and he isn’t jewish or american. He’s a just a murdering towel-head who can kill an arab just as easily as a zionist.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 3, 2013, 7:20 am
  65. Zionist AP,

    Not sure to understand your remark. But of course MEMRI is just a farce, hasbara at its best. This is why I was saying that they will never translate that video showing the leader of the Tamarod thanking the KSA and UAE for their billions of dollars after the military coup while he was bashing them all the time before, calling them dictatorships soon to be toppled.

    I said “99 billions” to make fun of their claim of having gathered 22 millions signatures for their petition against the muslim brotherhood. We now know that it was a big lie, as big as the so-called 35 million people on the street lol

    Posted by 3issa | August 3, 2013, 8:42 pm
  66. Die hard whats, Maverick?

    Derision for egregiously flip-flopping politicians is a widely held stance; party and/or sect should be irrelevant.}

    Does anyone else wonder why the US Embassy in Lebanon is exempt from the salafist AQ terrorist warnings blanketing the region?

    Did they forget something?

    Posted by lally | August 3, 2013, 10:17 pm
  67. Lally,

    Have you ever been close to the US embassy in Lebanon? …If you had you’d know that the chances of a suicide bomber causing damage is nil…

    Most importantly HA has assured the USA that it will guarantee their security to return the favour(See the title of topic above). 😀

    Posted by danny | August 4, 2013, 8:41 am
  68. Threesa doesn’t like MEMRI for some strange reason NewZ

    Threesa,

    ‘Fraid you’re wrong about MEMRI. MEMRI doesn’t provide much in the way of “hasbara” like Veterans Today and Iran’s Press TV or CAMERA and the like. MEMRI is basically a mirror to the arab, mostly government-controlled media.

    If you have a problem with the arab hasbara content on MEMRI, take it up with the governments that print it or air it in the media.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 4, 2013, 11:43 am
  69. Danny….So, in essence, HA is protecting US citizens in Lebanon against AQ?

    :~()

    Posted by lally | August 4, 2013, 2:54 pm
  70. Lally;

    Could not put one past you eh? 😀
    Remember the title of this post:”When Langley Met Dahiyeh: A Trans-Oceanic Love Story
    …Then again love stories do happen to have tragic ends as well…

    Posted by danny | August 4, 2013, 3:31 pm
  71. I think AQ should “set up shop” in Lebanon to give the Lebanese another alternative.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 4, 2013, 11:21 pm
  72. Ann Coulter is that you?

    Posted by 3issa | August 5, 2013, 6:12 pm
  73. The rebels, the rebels, the rebels are a comin’………
    over the hills I can hear the drummin
    Or is that the sound of a Lion runnin’

    Posted by Maverick | August 9, 2013, 2:11 am
  74. I think we should discuss the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lebanon is too complicated.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 9, 2013, 9:34 am
  75. Posted by Vulcan | August 9, 2013, 4:07 pm
  76. Vulcan,

    Awesome. Thanks. Arabic music is soooo different. Reminds me of the Egyptian movies we used to watch in Israel on Friday nights…

    Here’s some Joo stuff. One from the US and one from Israel ….

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 9, 2013, 7:09 pm
  77. Vulcan.

    Thank you for the introduction to the extraordinary Oum Kalthoum. I became mesmerized and found myself not wanting that haunting song to end.

    If only one could know the meaning of the words she sang:

    El Hob Kedah
    الحب كده وصال ودلال ورضا وخصام
    اهو من ده وده الحب كده مش عايز كلام
    الحب كده
    حبيبي لما يوعدني تبات الدنيا ضحكالي
    ولما وصله يسعدني بافكر في اللي يجرالي
    ينسيني الوجود كله ولا يخطر على بالي
    ولما طبعه يتغير وقلبي يبقى متحير
    مع الافكار ابات في نار وفي حيرة تبكيني
    وبعد الليل يجينا النور وبعد الغيم ربيع وزهور
    اهو من ده وده الحب كده مش عايزه كلام
    الحب كده
    حبيب قلبي يا قلبي عليه ولو حتى يخاصمني
    ويعجبني خضوعي اليه واسامحه وهو ظالمني
    وبعد الغيم ما يتبدد وبعد الشوق ما يتجدد
    غلاوته فوق غلاوته تزيد ووصله يبقى عندي عيد
    وبعد الليل يجينا النور وبعد الغيم ربيع وزهور
    اهو من ده وده الحب كده مش عايزه كلام
    الحب كده
    يا سعد اللي غرف مرة حنان الحب وقساوته
    ويا قلبه اللي طول عمره ما داق الحب وحلاوته
    تشوفه يضحك وفي قلبه الاسى والنوح
    عايش بلا روح وحيد والحب هو الروح
    حبيب قلبي وقلبي معاه بحبه في رضاه وجفاه
    اوريه الملام بالعين وقلبي على الرضا ناوي
    بيجرح قد ما يجرح ويعطف تاني ويداوي
    اهو من ده وده الحب كده مش عايزة كلام
    الحب كده

    Posted by lally | August 9, 2013, 10:25 pm
  78. AP is building bridges, that is cute too… how mellow are these Friday night souvenirs in Israel, or these endless afternoons in Soweto…good ol’ days

    Posted by 3issa | August 10, 2013, 7:22 am
  79. Threesa,

    You’re always welcome to peruse the Veterans Today website if that makes you feel better.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 10, 2013, 1:57 pm
  80. Israellycool always has a great website….

    http://www.israellycool.com/2013/08/11/only-in-israel-10/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 12, 2013, 3:38 pm
  81. Are you growing tired of looking at Roger Moore yet NewZ

    Here is the list of the first 26 prisoners that will shortly be released as a “goodwill gesture” so that the Palestinians will come to the negotiating table:

    Feel free to see who these people are and whatever their crime was:

    http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=2522

    We are now allowing observers and participants of QN to post their thoughts/comments on this release.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 13, 2013, 8:22 am
  82. Pathetic.

    Posted by 3issa | August 13, 2013, 1:08 pm
  83. Threesa,

    What exactly is “pathetic”?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 13, 2013, 2:00 pm
  84. QN’s Exciting-but-True, Real-Time Egypt Election

    OK, changing the subject (since there is none), let’s take a vote on what is going on in Egypt:

    1.) Who is Pro-Morsi/Muslim Brotherhood?

    2.) Who is pro-government/army/coup?

    After we collect all the votes, I’ll declare a winner. Any tie (or zero vote) means the government wins…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 14, 2013, 12:52 pm

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