Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Selected political analysis and Reports addressing the Lebanese on going crisis
Content of the
compiled reports and analysis
*An Imminent Coup by Hezbollah in Lebanon/By: Elias Bejjani
*Next Israel-Hezbollah war will be worse, says U.S. analyst/By Amir Oren /Haaretz
*Fear and loathing in the Levant/By ZVI MAZEL /J.Post
*From One Sayyid to Worse!/By Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat
*Lebanon: A Personal Crisis/By Hussein Shobokshi/Asharq Alawsat
*The tragic irony of Hariri's legacy/By Jamil K. Mroue
*The whiff of desperation/Now Lebanon/
*Lebanon on verge of 'new wave of insanity/'By Patrick Galey, Carol Rizk and Agence France Presse (AFP)
Imminent Coup by Hezbollah in Lebanon
By: Elias Bejjani*
A Saudi advice has delayed the return of Lebanon's PM, Saad Al Hariri, from Saudi Arabia to Beirut. Meanwhile, 3500 Hezbollah militiamen are secretly deployed in the Eastern Christian region according to a report that was published yesterday by the "Beirut Observer" web site. Hezbollah has reached its final logistic preparations to execute an armed coup to take over all of Lebanon by force. The web site attributed its information to well-informed sources in the Saudi media. Below is a summary of the report with other related information:
Well-informed Saudi sources have confirmed to the "Beirut Observer" that the delay of Lebanon's PM return to Beirut came in response to advice by Saudi officials. The Saudis are extremely concerned in regards to information became available to them indicating that an imminent Hezbollah coup is in on the horizon. The Saudis are fearful that Hezbollah’s threats are not mere political rhetoric this time. The Iranian-armed militia has set all the needed logistic preparations for the coup and is only waiting for the zero hour.
According to the report, Hezbollah's planned coup will take a camouflaged cover of civilian protection this time. But the reality on the ground is that it will not be different from Hezbollah's bloody and cruel invasion of Western Sunni Beirut and Druze Mount Lebanon in May 2008. The coup will be initiated by putting government officials under house arrest. This will include Lebanon's PM, Saad Al Hariri, General prosecutor Said Mirza, Internal Security Forces General Director General Ashraf Rifi as well as many other officials and politicians. Sources said that Information Branch President Colonel Wesam Hassan will be spared from house arrest in the early hours of the coup.
The report went on to conclude that at the present time the centre of attention is a scheduled visit by a Saudi envoy to Damascus today and on the results of his talks with Syrian officials. The Saudi mission to Syria will focus on the current volatile situation in Lebanon, the avoidance of bloodshed, strife and and the repetition of what happened on May 2008. The Saudis fear that the impact of any military coup executed by Hezbollah in Lebanon will spread chaos over the entire region.
Private sources from Beirut unveiled that Hezbollah has deployed 3500 of its armed militia men along the Mediterranean coast in the Christian region from Beirut northwards through the cities of Junieh, Tabarja and Batroun. These bearded Hezbollah men are residing in chalets and apartments located in Christian areas and on standby alert status in case of any political development or security emergency that may require their armed intervention.
According to the report, a decision was taken by Hezbollah's leadership to invade Christian regions loyal to the March 14 Coalition, and subdue them by military force. Hezbollah's Leadership aim from such an invasion is to deliver a bloody intimidation message to all Lebanese who oppose its hegemony over the country. They want to prove on the ground that they have the upper hand, the sole power and the authority all over the country.
The report attributed to the same sources that Hezbollah has bought real estate in the Christian area of Muarab through Christians intermediaries loyal to General Michel Aoun, and in the Christian town of Bikfaya through Syrian Socialist National Party loyalists. In anticipation of potential fights with parties, possession of this real estate allows Hezbollah militia to surround the head of the Christian Lebanese Forces Party, Dr. Samir Geagea, and the Head of the Kataeb Christian Party, Amin Gemayel.
Yesterday, Hezbollah issued a statement saying that Lebanon's Attorney General Judge Said Mirza’s request to summon former General Security chief Jamil as-Sayyed on Thursday was political par excellence: "We were surprised by the judiciary’s decision which is political and oppressive to those who declare the truth,” the statement said. It is worth mentioning that Hezbollah invaded West Beirut and Mount Lebanon in May 2008 because the Lebanese Government decided to transfer the Beirut airport security chief, a Hezbollah loyalist. The Lebanese are fearful a replication of the same defiance scenario is imminent.
Hezbollah's statement comes after Sayyed said on Sunday that “[Prime Minister Saad Hariri] should take a lie detector test to prove he did not support or fund false witnesses in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL),” in investigating the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, and vowed to take his right “with his own hands.” Sayyed was detained from 2005 to 2009 on suspicion of involvement in the Rafik Hariri murder. In April 2009, the STL ordered his release without charges due to lack of evidence.
Hezbollah has called for revoking the judiciary's decision to summon Sayyed for questioning, adding that it should have summoned “those who were bragging that they collaborated with Israel at a certain period of time.” Hezbollah and its two evil of axis masters, Syria and Iran with all their Lebanese mercenary armed allies are ratcheting up pressure aiming to discredit a UN-backed tribunal expected to implicate Hezbollah and most likely Syria in the murder of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.
Below is the link for the Arabic report published yesterday by the Beirut Observer web site
*Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
*Web sites http://www.10452lccc.com & http://www.clhrf.com
*Mailing phoenicia group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Phoenicia/.
loathing in the Levant
By ZVI MAZEL /J.Post
The war against the international tribunal set up to investigate the assassination of Rafik Hariri is heating up.
Pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon are heating up their fight against the international court set up in May 2007 by the UN Security Council to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. They are threatening violence and even to topple the government of Saad Hariri, son of the victim. The court is due to issue preliminary indictments toward the end of the year. Several Hizbullah militants have been investigated in recent months and the group’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, is aware that his organization is the prime suspect.
An article in Der Spiegel predicted as much last year on the basis of information leaked by the court. If it happens, the Hizbullah leader who professes to defend his country against Israel and against “Western interference into Lebanese internal affairs” will find himself accused not only of having committed a crime against his own country but also of being responsible for the assassination of a number of Lebanese political figures and journalists opposed to Syrian influence.
This would be a near fatal blow for the militant leader and would reopen the public debate on the need to disarm his organization. One can reasonably fear that a threatened Hizbullah would try to forcibly take over the country with the help of Syria and Iran, leading to renewed civil war and plunging the Middle East into a new cycle of violence with unpredictable outcome.
Nasrallah had cooperated at first with the court under the mistaken belief that he could either mislead it or bring its inquiry to an end. However the Lebanese government gave its full support to the court, with both its judicial and security apparatus wholeheartedly cooperating. Nasrallah then tried pressure and threats.
After the March 14 alliance, led by Saad Hariri, won the election in June last year, intense pressure was brought to bear by Syria and Hizbullah, and the newly elected leader capitulated and let Hizbullah and its allies – the Shi’ite party Amal and Michel Aoun’s Christian party – join his coalition and his government. This was the first step in “taming” Hariri, who soon proved himself a spineless politician.
Threats and fear of fomenting unrest in Beirut led him to go to Damascus where he publicly embraced Bashar Assad – widely suspected of having ordered his father’s assassination – before declaring that good relations with Syria were essential for Lebanon.
He has since visited Damascus three times and hosted the Syrian president on a state visit to Beirut – Assad’s first since he succeeded his father Hafez in 2000 (excluding his participation in the 2002 Arab summit there). Lebanese delegations were sent to Damascus to renew a number of so-called cooperation agreements, some of which subordinated Lebanese interests to decisions taken by Syria.
Lebanon is expected to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad next month, putting the country even more firmly in the “axis of evil.”
Hariri thus betrayed the March 14 coalition which elected him. The coalition rose out of the mass demonstration held on March 14, 2005, a month after his father’s assassination, and which saw Christian, Sunni and Druse parties united in their demand to find the murderers and have them brought to justice as well as having Syrian forces thrown out of Lebanon.
The coalition had suffered a first blow when, a year and a half ago, even before the parliamentary elections, Druse leader Walid Jumblatt announced that he was leaving it since, he said, Syria, having withdrawn its forces from Lebanon following Security Council Resolution 1559 (which had been one of the results of the mass March demonstration), was no longer the enemy of his country. Jumblatt, who had once been Syria’s and Hizbullah’s most vocal opponent, changed his tune after his small militia was defeated by Hizbullah, which took over west Beirut in May 2008.
At the end of July, the Lebanese president was “invited” to participate in a summit meeting held in Damascus with Assad and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia had led a aggressive anti-Syrian policy following the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a close friend of the king, who also held Saudi citizenship.
However the Saudis later changed course in the belief that accommodation with Syria would somehow neutralize that country and facilitate holding elections in Lebanon.
The summit held on July 30 was intended to do the impossible: find a way out for Hizbullah by diverting the impending decision of the court away from it without attacking the court itself. No solution having been found, Nasrallah made the startling announcement that he had “proof” of Israel’s involvement in the assassination. His so-called proof did not convince anyone, but the Lebanese government was made to agree to forward it to the court, which in turn said it would be thoroughly checked. This could perhaps delay the expected indictments by a few weeks, but not change the course of the investigation.
Syria and Hizbullah were left with no choice but to ratchet up their pressure and their threats against Hariri. In an inflammatory speech in August, Nasrallah declared that the court had been deceived by “false witnesses” and demanded that the Lebanese government investigate. He also accused the court of having implemented “an Israeli project intended to provoke civil war in Lebanon.” He added that he had nothing to do with the court and that the Lebanese government had to put an end to the activities of the court because it was going in the wrong direction.
This was adding fuel to the already tense situation in Lebanon. Representatives of the Christian parties and of Hariri’s own party angrily rejected Nasrallah’s affirmations. But Hariri himself, caught between Hizbullah/Syria and his own allies of the March 14 movement as well as a majority of the country’s citizens, first said that Syria was an important ally before adding that he would not renounce his principles and that the court should be given all the time it needed to reach the right conclusions based on the evidence it had. Then he asked the justice minister to investigate Hizbullah’s complaints to see whether false witnesses did appear before the court and subvert the inquiry.
The false witnesses Nasrallah referred to is an episode which took place at the beginning of the investigation. A Syrian military officer, Muhammad Zohair al-Sadik, testified before the international commission of inquiry, which preceded the creation of the international court, that in the course of his duties in the Syrian security services he had taken part in a meeting during which the Hariri assassination was planned, and confirmed that “high-ranking individuals” in Syria and in Lebanon were involved.
Shortly after giving his testimony, he recanted and fled to France, where he was arrested at the request of the Lebanese Justice Ministry. France refused to extradite him since the Lebanese government had failed to give assurances he would not be executed.
He was freed in February 2006, disappeared, was rearrested, this time in the United Arab Emirates, where he was accused of having entered with a fake passport and sentenced to a short period of imprisonment.
He then disappeared again and no one knows where he is. It is highly probable that he changed his testimony because of threats by Syria and/or Hizbullah and subsequently decided to flee.
The international court, not being able to summon him again in 2009, had no choice but to declare that his testimony was unreliable and to release the four Lebanese security officials arrested in 2006 following that testimony. The four were known collaborators of Syria and the assassination could not have been planned and carried out without their help. Highest ranking of the four was Gen.
Jamal al-Sayed, who was head of the General Security Service at the time; he had previously been head of army intelligence. He was generally held to be Syria’s best agent in Lebanon.
MOST, IF not all, Lebanese know that Syria, Hizbullah and the heads of Lebanese intelligence agencies were involved in the Hariri assassination and that false witnesses are a pure invention of Nasrallah.
However, his public threats led to increased tension and the very real fear that the organization might use violent means and even provoke a civil war. At the beginning of September Syria added to the pressure by summoning Hariri to Damascus. In an interview given to the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat upon his return, Hariri said that the international court had been deceived, and this had led to a deterioration of relations between Lebanon and Syria. In other words, he was clearing Assad of having contributed to his father’s assassination.
In Lebanon this led to a general outcry. Some of Hariri’s allies did try to explain that it was not what he meant, but others in the Christian parties, such as Sami Gemayel, son of former president Amin Gemayel, vehemently objected. An incensed Nasrallah threatened to “crucify” the Christian leader in the public square. For once he was roundly criticized by representatives of all Lebanese communities.
But this did not deter Hizbullah from increasing the pressure. The organization found fault with Hariri’s declaration. It was not enough to say that the court had been deceived, because it fell short of an apology. Without an apology to Syria accompanied by a thorough change of policy, there would be no way to build a united and functioning country.
Explicit threats followed. Gen. Jamal al-Sayed was sent for by Assad and on his return from Damascus on September 12 violently attacked Hariri. Because of his baseless accusations against Syria, he said, the man responsible for Rafik Hariri’s assassination was not arrested and went on killing people during 2005- 2007. He called on the attorney-general and on the Lebanese judges in charge of the investigation who cooperated with the international court to explain their actions, adding that the prime minister must set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the web of lies; otherwise, he said, “I swear on my honor that I will get it from you by force.”
This was an open threat to the prime minister, and the attorney-general issued a summons calling on Sayed to come and explain himself. Hizbullah immediately demanded that the summons be rescinded. Hizbullah’s opposition to a judicial procedure was considered as an attack on state institutions and a member of parliament from the coalition said it was no less than threatening a coup d’etat.
ADDING TO THIS tense atmosphere, Hizbullah’s ally, Christian leader Michel Aoun, launched another attack: What was happening in Lebanon, he said, was not the result of policy but of mafia-type relations from top to bottom, with the media distorting the facts. He called for civil disobedience toward security services which did not act according to the law. He was referring to the arrest, a few weeks earlier, of his friend and protégé retired general Fayz Karam, who had been accused of collaborating with Israel. The man is innocent, he said. There is absolutely no proof of his guilt, and the media are simply distorting the facts.
At that stage President Michel Suleiman decided to enter the political arena. He issued a statement on September 16 saying that this confrontation had gone too far and called for appeasement; all parties should stop threatening and attacking public institutions and the law for the sake of Lebanon. Otherwise they would all suffer.
Lebanon is today in a state of shock. The fragile equilibrium between all political forces is no more. Jumblatt’s Druse party has aligned itself openly with Hizbullah and its allies; its spokesmen attack the government.
In Hariri’s Sunni party, El Moustakbal (the future), unhappy militants vainly try to explain what their leader is doing, repeating that all he wants is to keep the country united and that he is convinced that Lebanon cannot afford to be at odds with Syria. Christian parties in the coalition went on the offensive against Hizbullah and Sayed. Somehow the office of the March 14 coalition issued a communiqué to the effect it was still supporting the work of the international court and convinced that it would find the way to the truth concerning the assassination of Rafik Hariri, but the coalition is disintegrating.
Hizbullah maintains its pressure. Muhammad Kamati, one of its leaders, declared that the continued stability of Lebanon depended on the resolution of the case of the “false testimonies” on which rested the accusations against Hizbullah. Only when this was done could the country turn a new leaf and a new era begin.
What is happening today is almost impossible to comprehend. Syria and Hizbullah – with the support of Iran – are determined to act openly to destroy the legitimacy of the international court created by the Security Council. They do this through intense pressure and open threats against the head of government. Their goal is to force him to turn to the UN and/or the great powers and declare that the court has been deceived and that after four years of investigation, there is no longer any point in going on.
Another option would be for the court itself to decide that it can’t get to the truth and therefore put an end to its activities.
What is beyond doubt is that both Hizbullah and Syria will do all they can to prevent the court from fulfilling its mandate. If the court does not desist one way or another, fighting will probably erupt in Lebanon.
The UN and the West look on, seemingly powerless as usual. As to Israel, a Syrian/Hizbullah victory over the international court and a greater dominance of Damascus over Beirut would mean that its northern neighbor is now firmly anchored in the axis of evil. It would dangerously increase the risk of another conflagration.
The writer is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Israel-Hezbollah war will be worse, says U.S. analyst
Research published by Washington Institute for Near East Policy says future Israel-Hezbollah war would likely draw in Iran and cover much of Lebanon, Israel and probably Syria.
By Amir Oren /Haaretz
In its next war against Hezbollah, the IDF's Northern Command would use the "Lebanon Corps" and five divisions - the 162nd, 36th, 98th, 366th and 319th, according to U.S. intelligence veteran Jeffrey White in research published last week by the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
According to White, if another Israel-Hezbollah war breaks out it will not resemble the war of the summer of 2006, but will cover much of Lebanon and Israel, and probably also Syria, and is likely to also draw in Iran, involve major military operations, cause significant casualties among combatants and civilians, and destroy infrastructure.
A policeman at the site of a Hezbollah rocket strike Nahariya during the Second Lebanon War in 2006
Notwithstanding diplomatic efforts, success in the war will be decided on the battlefield, and White believes Israel is much better prepared for the next round than it was in 2006.
White says that the main aim of Israel in a war would be to impose a fundamental change in the military equilibrium and defeat Hezbollah, although not a "final victory." At the center of the Israeli military strategy will be combined arms operations, land-air-sea, with the aim of quickly destroying Hezbollah's rocket and missile arsenals and the group's land forces in southern Lebanon, and seriously disrupting its command and control centers by hitting its infrastructure throughout Lebanon.
Israel will seek to prevent the war from expanding to involve Syria, with threats, mobilizing reserves, moving forces and "flexing muscles," but will not hesitate to attack Syrian forces, infrastructure and Iranian elements that will come to Hezbollah's assistance.
White says that Israel will seek to deter Iran from directly attacking its territory through warnings and preparing strategic attack elements - airborne, missiles and naval units.
Hezbollah's plan will be to fire volleys of missiles and rockets against Israel's homefront in an effort to strike at the IDF forces moving toward Lebanon, in the hope of causing massive casualties. The Syrian air force will try to prevent Israeli fighters and reconnaissance aircraft from crossing through Syrian airspace, and possibly try to intercept them over Lebanon, in view of the proximity of the Syrian capital to the area of the fighting.
If Syria finds itself involved directly in the fighting, its main efforts will be to preserve the Assad regime in Damascus, with less emphasis on helping Hezbollah in Lebanon and its ability to strike at Israel, or restoring Syria's military presence in Lebanon and defeating Israel in order to restore the Golan Heights to its control.
Iran's reaction will begin with the flow of arms to Hezbollah and Syria, and Iran will step up the presence of advisers, technicians and light combat forces, aimed at carrying out attacks against Israeli targets, increasing tension in the region (with hostile actions in the Strait of Hormuz ), and possibly launching missiles against Israel.
There is no certainty that Hamas will join the fighting, especially because Israel may use the opportunity to bring about the collapse of its hold in the Gaza Strip, he added.
White says that in his assessment, the IDF will occupy parts - possibly significant portions - of Lebanon within weeks, and possibly all the Gaza Strip. He says that it will be the most serious war Israel has been involved in since 1973, and Israel must emerge victorious.
If Israel is determined in its actions, and willing to pay the price in casualties and damage incurred, it will succeed militarily, break the military power of Hezbollah and weaken it politically, White says. The Syrian regime will be weakened, and Iran's activity in the region will be contained because of the downfall of its allies. If Iran does not assist its allies, it will also lose much of its influence.
Hamas, if it becomes involved directly in the war, will lose its military power in the Gaza strip and at least some of its political power.
The former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst says the U.S. should not rush to contain Israel, but give the IDF the time and space necessary to complete its operations against Hezbollah and Syria.
White says that the U.S. role will be to deter Iran from becoming involved in support of Lebanon-Syria or in the Persian Gulf.
From One Sayyid to Worse!
By Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat
A witness to the political thuggery in Beirut today, led by former Major General Jamil Al-Sayyed and Hezbollah, would truly realize the level to which Lebanon has now sunk. We now see a former security man making physical threats, and we also see Hezbollah, believed by some to have seized the moment of confusion amongst the ranks of the March 14th Alliance- after Saad Hariri’s created a media storm via our paper, when he spoke with apologetic language towards Syria- to revel that its position is much more dangerous then previously thought.
Hezbollah did not take Hariri’s statements in a positive manner, regardless of its position towards Syria. It is clear that the party lost its mind, after Hariri’s interview. Here, the question is: Does Hezbollah think that Hariri was in a moment of weakness, or do they feel that rapprochement between ‘March 14th’ and Damascus would be a potential danger for them?
The course of events, until now, suggest that Hezbollah is targeting Lebanese Sunnis overall, by targeting their leader. They also seek to dishonor the memory of Hariri’s father by demanding the abolition of the International Tribunal. According to some information, Hezbollah is preparing for this through the recruitment of Sunni mercenaries, just as Iran has done with Al-Qaeda in many situations. They will take up arms on behalf of the party at the crucial moment, although not in a repeat of the May 7th coup. Today, Hezbollah threatens to take the whole of Lebanon as its hostage, unless they respond to its demands, and the relatives of Rafik Hariri drop the International Tribunal. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah has threatened “civil strife on a level perhaps not witnessed in Lebanon before”.
All this helps us understand why Hezbollah publicly provided protection for Major General Jamil Al-Sayyed upon arrival at Beirut Airport, where Al-Sayyed made a statement to the world and in particular the ‘Sunni Community', threatening to take to the streets. We do not know what street Al-Sayyed threatens to descend upon, more than the regression displayed in his statement. For if these remarks which displayed his ethics weren't from the street then I don't know what is.
Interestingly, at the time when Director General of the Lebanese Security Forces, Major General Ashraf Rifi said to Jamil Al-Sayyed: “prison for you and those like who, and the murderers who are protected”, we find that Hezbollah is welcoming Al-Sayyed in the airport VIP lounge, which is intended for international leaders and delegations. Hezbollah even threatened that “any unjust hands which attack Major General Al-Sayyed will be cut off!”
Another point of interest is that Major General Jamil Al-Sayyed was considered to succeed Nabih Berri as Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. If this had happened, the Lebanese would have erected a gold statue of Berri, under the logic of "my merits won't be appreciated until you asses my successor", but thank God this did not happen.
So we can say, like the saying ‘from bad to worse’, Lebanon has today gone from one Sayyid [Nasrallah], to another [Jamil Al-Sayyed], and the political consequences are no better!
Lebanon: A Personal Crisis
By Hussein Shobokshi/Asharq Alawsat
The Lebanese scene is too volatile, tense and changeable to avoid the headlines and front pages. Now, a new chapter of the age-old Lebanese internal struggle has begun (although there is nothing new in this). Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, has delivered a speech of threat, warning and intimidation against those who had opposed him, and supported the intervention of the International Tribunal. Furthermore, General Michel Aoun has been lashing out at official security bodies in Lebanon's government, for interrogating one of his senior aides, and chief party member, on charges of conspiracy and espionage on behalf of Israel. Note that the accused confessed to the crime immediately after his arrest.
Moreover, former Head of General Security Major General Jamil al-Sayyid has threatened to hold Saad Hariri and his government accountable “with his own hands”, in response to a series of irresponsible statements, speeches and comments, which aimed to ‘stir trouble in the war-torn and sedition-plagued country’.
What really amazed me about the statements of these three men was that they seemingly advocated blocking the International Tribunal and its intervention. However, in reality, these statements were merely designed to ‘bury’ the Future Movement, and paralyze the current government, by denying it the elements, efficiency and instruments of a successful administrative body.
Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah felt that indicators given by the International Tribunal strongly indicated a condemnation of some members of Hezbollah. This is quite apparent from media leakages, and the political statements being made. Nasrallah's sense of embitterment toward the Lebanese government, and its Prime Minister, has increased on the assumption that Saad Hariri is the one responsible for this escalation [of condemnations].
Being the blood guardian of his late father, it is thought that Saad Hariri could waive the right of criminal investigation to save the country from sedition. However, this is a clearly naive understanding of the entire affair because the functioning of the International Tribunal is now in the hands of the Security Council, rather than those personally linked to the case under investigation. Some Lebanese parties have displayed unreasonable obstinacy in conceiving this fundamental point.
As for General Michel Aoun, time is running out, and the dream of becoming President and residing in Baabda Palace now seems distant. This has added agitation and anxiety to his words and decisions. Of course, the implication of one of his key aides in an espionage case, on behalf of Israel, (amidst Aoun's alliance with Lebanon's primary symbol of resistance, in Hezbollah) embarrasses and implicates him politically.
These recent developments come amid increasing popular and international sympathy for the role played by President Michel Suleiman, and a respect for his orientations and rational views.
As for Jamil al-Sayyid, who was quietly preparing himself to succeed Nabih Berri as the next Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, thus, crowning his long security career and allegiance to a certain political trend with a high-profile office, it appears that his ambitions have been sidetracked amidst the security predicament and the accusations lodged at him over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. All these incidents confirm that Lebanon's primary issue [to be concerned with] is the erosion of state institutions and the dominance of personal interests over political goals. This distorted concept is the reason for the mixed political priorities in Lebanon's fragile and delicate composition.
Political leaders in Lebanon are ‘overdrawn’ in terms of popularity, and lost much of their status with the public. They have become more like clowns in a political circus, whose movements change according to a specified day of the week.
The volume of investment in Lebanon has gone down whereas the rate of emigration has once again risen. An obvious and dangerous political stalemate has come into existence and the feeling of rancour among fellow rivals has deepened, in a clear fashion. All this means that the intervention of foreign parties into the internal affairs of Lebanon will be a continuous and acceptable practice because the Lebanese people have allowed this, and have become accustomed to it. These interventions have now become part of their political identity and furthermore, a lifeline.
The political agenda of Lebanon's leaders directly contradicts and collides with the national priorities and general interests of the country. This, in itself, is a reason as to why the Lebanese crises will continue. Furthermore, these crises will never be solved by those who created them in the first place.
The tragic irony of Hariri's legacy
By Jamil K. Mroue
Publisher and editor in chief
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Daily Star/The sound and fury rippling out from Jamil Sayyed’s accusations has morphed the Lebanese political stage into a theater of the absurd.
So many of the actors in the political arena have cloaked themselves in something less than glory with their competing claims of conspiracies, outlandish extortion and malfeasance in the high offices of the state. One finds it hard to decide whether it would be more absurd if these allegations turned out to be true or if public figures had actually been capable of inventing such twisted fictions and then flogging them before the eyes of the world as the unvarnished truth.
The cognitive dissonance stems from the fact that all these very real, fevered emotions and dark threats are set in a foundation of utter conjecture. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has not yet even indicted anyone in the killing of Rafik Hariri, much less convicted anyone in a credible trial.
Lebanon’s politicians, meanwhile, are building a monument of insinuation. Would it be too impolite of us to ask for some evidence for some – indeed, for any – of the allegations going back and forth between the players?
Perhaps even worse then fighting over mere conjecture, the country’s politicians are creating the consequences of the indictment before the court takes any action. Broad swathes of the public space are deteriorating over pure hearsay.
As usual, it is not the politicians who are suffering the fallout from their absurd act, but rather the people – those who see any attempt at enterprise here thwarted by constant and groundless uncertainty; the tide of emigration has not yet begun to ebb, as the Lebanese continue to scatter around the globe to toil away from their homeland.
The state, too, is suffering from this latest saga – if we can even grant that there is a state to speak of. Alas, the state today is in worse shape than Downtown Beirut after the Civil War.
Beyond the current – and fleeting, we hope – display of absurdity, Lebanon is enduring a tragedy of irony. While Rafik Hariri was not a flawless man, he was striving to create the institutions of a functioning state; his clear message to all was to rebuild the country. The tragic irony is that the legacy of Rafik Hariri – in the form of the investigation of his assassination – might well be disfigured into the destruction of the state that he worked hard to reconstruct.
Every actor on this stage declares his innocence in Hariri’s killing; if none of them is the culprit, then they all – and his son, as well – would best honor his memory by dedicating themselves to help build a Lebanese state.
**Jamil K. Mroue, Editor-in-Chief of THE DAILY STAR, can be reached at email@example.com
The whiff of
September 20, 2010
Now Lebanon/Former head of the General Security Jamil as-Sayyed speaks at the airport upon his return from Paris on Saturday. (AFP photo/Anwar Amro)
The return of the disgraced former head of General Security Jamil as-Sayyed from Paris not only summed up the mafia tactics his backers in Hezbollah feel they can employ with impunity to kill off the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, it also reeked of desperation.
Short of breaking out the weapons, it appears that the best Hezbollah can do to the court created to bring to justice the killers of Rafik Hariri and other subsequent victims of political terror, is use a man whom the party would not back as a parliamentary candidate in 2009, and the increasingly eccentric, not to mention erratic, Michel Aoun.
If we are to believe the media accounts of what happened, Sayyed, who was detained for four years on suspicion of being an accomplice to the Hariri murder, was met at the steps of the aircraft by Hezbollah security men, who let him give an unofficial press conference at the VIP lounge during which he attacked Prime Minister Saad Hariri, State Prosecutor Said Mirza, security chief Major General Ashraf Rifi and Detlev Mehlis, former head of the UN investigation into the Hariri assassination, before whisking him off to his home in Jnah.
We do not know if Sayyed was processed by immigration, but this detail pales into insignificance when compared to the breathtaking arrogance of a party that feels it can bypass airport security to pick up its latest poster boy. Surely someone should lose his job for such a stunt.
Perhaps General Rifi’s subsequent impassioned response to Sayyed lent too much dignity to the latter’s spleen venting, but the sentiment will have been felt by all Lebanese who fear that the gains of 2005 are slipping away. Rifi, a public official, defended the offices of the state and dozens who have died at the hands of those who would undermine them. More importantly, his comments defined the other side of the increasingly public, not to mention squalid, tribunal debate, by reminding the Lebanese that this is both a sovereign and legal issue, one that cannot be automatically snuffed out by the bully boy elements of Lebanese politics.
Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement was also press ganged into airport duty. Aoun defended his party’s presence by saying it was there to stand by the judiciary to liberate it from “the political pressure that is preventing Sayyed from achieving justice.”
Can there ever have been a more pathetic excuse from a man who, on the one hand, claims to be leading what he is calling an “intellectual revolution against corruption,” while on the other knows he has put all his political eggs in a basket shot through with corruption? Surely Aoun must see that his so-called MOU with Hezbollah back in February 2006 – a vainglorious gamble that defined his personal political aspirations, but which hinged on Hezbollah being everything it claimed it was and not what the rest of us could see it was – is now coming back to haunt him.
For today, the once presidential hopeful who rode back into town on a horse of transparency and the promise of a new political dawn is forced to publically defend the actions of a former Syrian lackey and murder suspect, while being allied to a party that clearly eschews state institutions, the defense of which his party’s ideology is predicated on. Some dawn.
Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly clear that Hezbollah is fundamentally incapable, as Kataeb leader and former President Amin Gemayel said in Zahle on Sunday, “[of dealing] with the Lebanese state, people, army and institutions as a party that is under the law, not as a party that is above all authorities and laws.”
The war against the tribunal may be warming up, but Hezbollah is running out of options. As March 14’s Mohammad Chatah asked over the weekend, what is the point of preserving the Resistance if there is no state to protect? The party knows this, despite its veiled threats and scaremongering tactics that the tribunal will ignite unprecedented sectarian strife. It has little room to maneuver. It is a situation best highlighted by the fact that it co-opted a man whose name is a stain on the history of modern Lebanon.
on verge of 'new wave of insanity'
Tensions soar as rivals trade blows over Tribunal
By Patrick Galey, Carol Rizk and Agence France Presse (AFP)
Daily Star staff/Monday, September 20, 2010
BEIRUT: Lebanon teetered on the edge of a “new wave of insanity” Sunday as Hizbullah and the Future Movement traded angry accusations of undermining the state.
The mudslinging came after Jamil al-Sayyed, a former chief of General Security, returned to Beirut and announced he was commencing legal action against State Prosecutor Saeed Mirza’s request for interrogation.
Sayyed, who came back to Lebanon on Saturday under heavy Hizbullah and Lebanese Army security, called Mirza’s actions “illegal” and based upon “false evidence.”
“Mirza is supposed to be a public prosecutor – i.e. neutral – but considering these lawsuits he became my personal adversary,” Sayyed said.
Sayyed was held for four years without trial under the United Nations International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a car bomb in 2005.
Sayyed, as well as Hizbullah and some political allies, have accused security officials, politicians and judges close to Prime Minister Saad Hariri of fabricating evidence in order to implicate him and three others in the crime.
Mohammad Kabbara, Tripoli MP and member of Hariri’s Future Movement, accused Sayyed and Hizbullah of undermining the Lebanese judiciary in a bid to discredit the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), a UN-backed court created to try suspects in the Hariri killing.
“The enemies of truth and justice, meaning [Hizbullah] and its allies, have brought down the Lebanese state in preparation to bring down the international tribunal,” he said in a press conference Sunday.
Speculation has increased following comments from Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that party members may be implicated in Hariri’s killing after indictments are issued by the STL.
Kabbara also warned against attempts to unseat Hariri as the leader of Lebanon. “Whoever threatens the leader of the Sunnis or the position of prime minister, with his own hands or not, the Sunni sect will teach him politeness,” he said.
Hizbullah spokesperson Ibrahim Moussawi countered Kabbara, accusing the Future Movement of “running the country like an abandoned farm.”
“The latest stances adopted by some of the leaders of the Future Movement constitute a coup on state authorities from within,” he said. “What is dangerous is that some members of the Future Movement are raising tensions and instigating sectarian feelings through dragging the country toward civil strife after labeling political stances on a sectarian basis.”
Hizbullah’s parliamentary bloc leader Mohammad Raad said the party would refuse to be influenced by sectarian rhetoric.
“We refuse that Lebanon becomes a hostage to the games and schemes of politicians who do not have a clear national strategy. We feel that Lebanon will witness a new wave of insanity in the coming days and weeks because certain groups have failed to confront facts and realities,” he said during an honorary high school ceremony in Nabatieh Sunday.
Sayyed held a news conference Saturday at Rafik Hariri International Airport, reiterating his insistence that those responsible for false witnesses be brought to book.
“There is no judiciary or justice if false witnesses and those behind them are not held accountable,” he told reporters.
In a repeat of his previous direct attack on the prime minister, Sayyed said he would not accept any STL indictment “before [former UNIIIC chief Detlev] Mehlis, [General Security Head Ashraf] Rifi, [Head of Internal Security Forces Information Branch Wissam] al-Hassan and [State Prosecutor Saeed] Mirza are in Lebanese prisons or in prisons in The Hague.”
He added that there would be no confidence in the UN
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court until “the Arab world and especially the Sunni sect realize why the conspiracy of false witnesses happened, why [Saad] Hariri and March 14 were involved, why they took over the country and why they punished the Lebanese through false witnesses.”
The head of the Internal Security Forces snapped back at Sayyed vowing to take legal action against him.
“Prison is made for you and people like you and for killers under your protection,” he told Sayyed in a statement on Saturday. Rifi also enumerated what he dubbed as the “atrocities” Sayyed did when he was at the head of General Security.
Sayyed’s comments at the airport repeated those he made last week, which prompted fierce reaction from Hariri’s allies and led Mirza to push for legal proceedings against the former general.
Hizbullah sources vowed to “take off the unjust hand that harms Sayyed.” In remarks published Sunday by pan-Arab daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, the sources accused “some judges” in Lebanon of being “politicized and dishonest.”
Future Movement MP Okab Saqr warned that belligerent rhetoric risked tearing Lebanon’s delicate sectarian balance apart at the seams.
He said Hizbullah’s support of Sayyed was “the first direct gunfire from Hizbullah aimed at the Syrian-Saudi understanding. This is through targeting institutions and going down to the street.
“The street Sayyed and Hizbullah refer to is surely not demonstrations, taking into consideration the weapons they own,” Saqr said. He added the dispute was not a Sunni-Shiite disagreement.
“The confrontation is not between March 8 and March 14, it is between a party who wants to shake the foundations of the state and a party who wants to preserve its institutions,”he added.
Media reports Sunday suggested that Hariri was soon due to return from Saudi Arabia. Sources were quoted as denying that Hariri was considering bowing out of politics due to the STL fracas, but as refusing to deny his disgust with the affair.
The Cabinet will meet Tuesday for a regular session and Hariri is expected to be in attendance.
Dispute raged in his absence.
Kabbara accused Hizbullah of having “brought down the entire Lebanese state either through attacking Sunni leader Saad Hariri or through attacking the position of prime minister.”
Moussawi, for his part, said the issue of false witnesses would not be muddied by political antagonism.
“All this noise will not succeed in making the public overlook the necessity of trying false witnesses and those who fabricated them as a first step toward the truth,” he said. – with AFP