Right Wing Nut House

8/18/2006

LEBANESE DEMOCRATS LASH OUT AT SYRIA

Filed under: Middle East, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 1:33 pm

In the first post war maneuvering by the March 14th Forces, both Druse leader Walid Jumblatt and Future Party leader Saad Hariri lambasted Syria for her inaction during the recently concluded conflict between Israel and Hizbullah and for remarks made by Syrian President Bashar Assad that threatened those who criticized Hizbullah for starting the war.

Hariri was blunt:

Saad al-Hariri, the head of the al-Mustaqbal or Future, bloc and son of the slain former prime minister, Rafiq al-Hariri, said on Thursday that Bashar al-Assad had disdained Arab kindness towards Syria and his speech on Tuesday was like a “heavy strike” against Lebanon.

Al-Hariri was responding to a speech on Tuesday by al-Assad in which he accused Lebanon’s anti-Syrian groups of allying themselves with Israel, which bombarded Lebanon for 34 days.

Al-Assad had also accused the anti-Syrian bloc of wanting to sow discord in Lebanon by demanding that Hezbollah, the Syrian-backed Shia resistance group, disarm.

“Lebanon’s wound [inflicted by Israel] is deep and painful, but today it has faced a deeper one from a friend [Syria],” he said.

Hariri also had praise for the Lebanese people and the “resistance” (Hizbullah) and harsh words for Israel.

“The history of Israel is full of massacres, but our history is marked by its steadiness,” he said.

He applauded the resistance and the Lebanese people, saying that they were “much stronger than the Israeli aggression”.

“The Israeli aggression may be able to destroy Lebanon [physically] but it cannot touch the Lebanese unity, which is what will help to rebuild the country.”

Jumblatt, who has referred to the Syrian President in the past as a “clown,” mocked Assad’s inaction against the IDF by saying that the Syrian regime was “a lion in Lebanon but a bunny rabbit in Golan”. He also had some blunt words for Hizbullah:

Jumblatt hailed the unprecedented army deployment in southern Lebanon, but warned that “dangers could be looming … and Lebanon will remain a battleground” for regional conflicts unless Hezbollah is integrated into the regular army and respects the 1949 armistice agreement with Israel.

“Why can’t instead the army be responsible for holding the balance of power? Why can’t the rockets be under the command of the army?” he said.

He said the army’s deployment south of the Litani river was in line with an “ambiguous and unclear” formula because the military does not have the mandate to disarm Hezbollah fighters there.

Both men expressed outrage at the beginning of the conflict with Hizbullah’s unilateral decision to go to war with Israel. Since then, most of the democrats have kept quiet while Nasrallah took to the airwaves, giving several speeches and appearing to be in charge of the Lebanese government. His dominance over Siniora was made very plain as Nasrallah was clear about his veto power over any cease fire agreement.

During the conflict, both Hariri and Jumblatt concentrated on criticizing Israel and the United States. Hariri went abroad, visiting Arab countries to drum up diplomatic support as well as to ask for rebuilding funds. Both men saw that keeping a low profile during the conflict was their only political option.

But now that the war is over, they and other Lebanese democrats find themselves in something of a quandary. With Nasrallah ascendant and Hizbullah seen by many non-Shia Lebanese as fighters for Lebanese sovereignty, overt criticism of the terrorists for not disarming is both bad politics and could be dangerous to their health. Hence, their dual attacks on Hizbullah’s patron, Assad’s Syria.

Assad considers himself the “protector” of Lebanon although the Lebanese themselves have quite a different feeling about Syria altogether. Most Lebanese believe that if Assad had opened another front in the war by making a stab at the Golan Heights (Syrian territory occupied by Israel since 1973), Israel would have been forced to confront Assad and eased up on the air campaign against Lebanon.

But what has Hariri and Jumblatt livid is that Assad’s “victory” speech last Tuesday included veiled threats of retaliation against the March 14th forces:

Assad also said that Israel’s supporters in Lebanon - an allusion to the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority in Beirut - also bears responsibility, accusing them of wanting to sow discord in Lebanon by demanding that Hizbullah be disarmed.

Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra rejected the accusation, saying the March 14 Forces had “nothing to do with this war; on the contrary, we strongly condemned the Israeli aggression.” In an interview with the Central News Agency, Zahra said he didn’t see “any signs of Hizbullah’s victory,” adding that “through the Israeli offensive, Assad fulfilled Syrian interests, as Syria has always benefited from Lebanon’s losses.”

Couple Assad’s words with Nasrallah’s threats to “judge” those who criticized Hizbullah at the outset of the war and it’s no wonder that the March 14th democrats are walking on egg shells when they talk about Hizbullah.

Jumblatt pegged the reason for the conflict as an attempt by Assad to distract attention:

Jumblatt said the Iranians were trying to improve their negotiating position over their nuclear program “on the rubble of the (Lebanese) people.” Assad, he said, wanted “to avoid accountability through an international tribunal” in the Hariri assassination.

“This is the objective convergence between (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad,” he said.

An ongoing U.N. investigation has implicated high-level Syrian officials and Lebanese allies in the murder of former PM Rafik Hariri, a charge Damascus denies.

The Brammertz Investigation just received a one year extension to continue to arduous task of identify exactly who it was in the Syrian government that wanted the elder Hariri killed.

Brammertz’s predecessor, Detleve Mehlis implicated top Syrian officials in the assassination including Assef Shawkat, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s brother-in-law and head of Syrian intelligence; Bahjat Suleiman, a high ranking Syrian intelligence officer; and Ghazi Kenaan, the former Syrian Interior Minister and commander of Syria’s intelligence apparatus in Lebanon between 1982 and 2002.

The problem has been that the United Nations has been reluctant to proceed with any prosecutions against these top officials until the Lebanese themselves can decide on a forum. And once again, Hizbullah as at the bottom of a seeming intractable problem.

Most Lebanese support the idea of trying defendants in the Hariri assassination in an international forum independent of the Lebanese justice system. Hizbullah wants a special tribunal of Lebanese judges only. The reasons are probably due to the fact that Assad believes he may be able to control a trial made up of some of his stooges rather than take a chance with an international forum where the outcome would be uncertain. But until the Lebanese decide how they want to proceed and until the UN is finished with its investigations (which have been expanded to include the killing of 21 anti-Syrian politicians and journalists), no action satisfactory to the Lebanese democrats will take place.

If Jumblatt, Hariri, and the rest of the March 14th forces are to survive this period in Lebanese politics, they must be very careful in not being too declaratory in their opposition to Hizbullah. It could be that once the people realize what Hizbullah’s war has cost them that they will turn away from the terrorists. Until then, the democrats will seek to support Prime Minister Siniora’s government as much as possible and bide their time until things turn in their favor.

Judging by what Hizbullah is doing with rebuilding as well as the terrorist’s new found respect in the Arab world, they may have a long wait.

1 Comment

  1. “Suicidal Terror” (VIDEO)

    A very powerful, moving, and hopeful movie - hopeful in that the moderates are finally trying to get the word out that the Islamic fascists do NOT speak for all of the Muslim world. A MUST SEE!

    Trackback by Ms Underestimated — 8/19/2006 @ 1:10 am

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