WINEP concentrates on Hezbollah

With their new website version, the “Syria and Lebanon” page looks like a black list where two names represent the main accusé: Hezbollah and Syria. Check here and here for charges against hezbollah the request for immediate curtailment and disarmament. Behind Hezbollah stands Iran the much more important target.

You also find an ad for Avi Jorish recent book on Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s television station, which I can assure is no ride in the park for Al-Manar.

Notwithstanding he piles of articles against Syria and how it paralyzes the Middle East peace process (i.e. harm Israel’s expansionist interests) and harms democratic aspirations in Lebanon.

US assets in syria

Since Hariri’s assassination, a lot of masks fell, among them some Syrian voices urging for the implementation of UN 1559 and the reform of both the Lebanese and the Syrian regime. Al Safir has an article summing up the main point of these ‘intellectuals’. This is all very beautiful and surreal but beware of US ambitions at this level. Satloff (WINEP) has made it clear that this is the US’s main assets in Syria for the toppling of Bashar, surely not the Muslim Brotherhood (who are not American friendly).

The Lebanese Lobby in the US

Al Hayat runs a very interesting article on the Lebanese lobby, illustrated by a couple of interviews with Ziad Abdelnour and other freaks. Check it out. (Arabic)

Finding the pieces of the puzzle

Well that’s interesting. King Abdallah is condemning Iran and Syria (Hezbollah) as promoting terrorists activities against Israel.

So let’s think about that for a minute:
1- Iran is threatened
2- Syria is practically out but the aftermath needs to be worked out (here and here).
3- Saudi Arabia is nervous over a Shia turbulence from Iraq to its own constituency.
4- King Abdullah is under US and Israeli umbrellas.
5- Saterfield has just declared harsh a critique of Hezbollah
6- The Lebanese opposition is strengthening and will finally assume power, which will bring it either closer to US initiatives or create divsions within it. Unless the US will continually exploit the changes.

Now something else:
1- Hariri was holding secret meetings with Nasrallah’s Hezbollah right before his assassination.
2- Hariri is Saudi and Lebanese. Nasrallah is Lebanese and works with Iranians.
3- Were they discussing regional affairs?
4- I’m sure they were.

What about “constructive instability (Satloff)?

Somebody is mounting the Sunnis against the Shia.
More on these thoughts later on.

Arms deal to China

The Honeymoon is over for Israel according to Ze’ev Schiff who seems very pissed about it:

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz convened the heads of some 50 of the leading defense industry firms in the country yesterday, and warned that they must get written permission from the ministry for any trip they or their representatives make to China, or for starting any business negotiations with the Chinese even if they are selling civilian equipment that happens to be manufactured in an Israeli defense plant.

Daniel Pipes

Draws analogies between Hezbollah and Hamas on the one hand and Nazi ideology on the other. I know he defends Israeli interests, but does he need to do it so openly and in such a discriminative manner? The reasoning runs as follows: Nazi use to hate Jews and tried to exterminate them. Hezbollah and Hamas are like Nazi. Thus Hezbollah and Hamas hate Jews and want to exterminate them.

A history of US and Syrian relations

A comprehensive article for boys and girls of all ages and races who want to understand the basics of US and Syrian relations. Now is the time. This is especially crucial for those who should get out of the Lebano-centric point of view that apparently blinds practically all Lebanese and embrace a more nuanced perspective of what the hell is going on in the region and why the US is suddenly interested tiny little greedy Lebanon.

Only the basics.

Secret Iraqi Oil plans

Unveiled by journalist Greg Palast (the guy who argued that Bush was not really elected democratically). check out the BBC story and the documents:

Why was Paul Wolfowitz pushed out of the Pentagon onto the World Bank?  The answer lies in a 323-page document, secret until now, indicating that the allies of Big Oil in the Bush Administration have defeated neo-conservatives and their chief Wolfowitz.  BBC Television Newsnight tells the true story of the fall of the neo-cons.  An investigation conducted by BBC with Harper’s magazine will also reveal that the US State Department made detailed plans for war in Iraq — and for Iraq’s oil — within weeks of Bush’s first inauguration in 2001.

Still on democracy

The National Review has never been doing as much propaganda as in this article. This is a good example of the bad effects of the democracy mantra.
note on the side: It is a shame that Walid Jumblatt is quoted in these articles as being a proof that neocons had the final word.

On another level, check this article that shows that the US “democratization” strategy is not really applied everywhere. Which does not mean it should. I am just showing what’s behind the leitmotiv described below.

The democracy leitmotiv

According to a professor at the Cairo university, water as a strategic resource in the Middle East would be best managed if countries democratize. Check out the article here:

“The despotic regimes care more about their own security, their own survival, and so they do not pay attention to the issue of democratization,” said Hassan Nafae. “They do not pay enough attention to the importance of the issue of development, political participation, and society and so on. So, if you have democratic regimes in the region and you have stability and stabilization in the region, if you bring about democratic regimes, that will help very much to resolve all of the problems including the water problem.”

I don’t know if this is naive thinking (in the world wide euphoria of democratization and freedomization) or just opportunism. What about Israel’s hunger for water and the fact that it seemingly is a democracy? It can only resolve its problems by extracting water from other territories. So thanks to the excellent managerial skills of democracies, you can create conflicts in order to feed your own constituencies. One has only to check Israeli papers on the subject to see that all possible scenarios are already planned.

Of course this does not mean that Arab countries, democratic or otherwise, would not do bad things if a shortage would arise. But this obsession in finding the cure to all ills in “democratization” is simply unacceptable. People should try to dig deeper to understand the issues of a specific region. The lack of democracy signals important socio-political dynamics that should be taken into consideration. Likewise, the presence of democracies should be better understood.

The Marketization of ideas is degenerating into a world-view where differences are extremes and nuances do not exist. In order to market ideas of course. There is an industry, a market, for the consumption of ideas such as “democratization” “freedom”, “rights”, “nationalism”, etc. It does not mean that these terms are empty of significance. But the process of systematizing them into mantras can be dangerous for the well-being of the people, as they contradict realities.

on Martin Indyk

A strange article saying that Martin Indyk has leaked classified information on Arab countries (military etc.) to Israel (?). The article does not clearly say. Actually the whole article is not really clear.

Wolfowitz at World Bank (update)

I picked a couple of good articles on Wolfowitz nomination. One by Jason Vest for the Village Voice, another by Michael Lind for Salon and Rupert Cornwell for the Independent. These article deal with the failures of Wolfowitz (except Cornwell’s to some extent), the fact that he’s a chief neocon, some remarks on his specific thoughts (differences with other neocons), the implication of nominating him at the World Bank for the World.

Walid Phares in front of the US Senate

Targeting Russia because it supposedly helps Syria’s domination over Lebanon.

This is getting nasty.

Daily Star jumps on Satloff’s recommendations

The Daily Star has published a summary of the two articles where Satloff (WINEP) explains the benefits of “Constructive Instability” as he preaches disarming Hezbollah and removing any Iranian help (what about Israeli help in Kurdistan?), moving onwards to preach democracy in Damascus by encouraging “democrats” and “Arab liberals” that are of course friendly with the US. Briefly, as he says, “Offer no lifelines to this regime”.

I guess it rings well with the new Daily Star add that is blurring our vision on the streets of Beirut: We are the spokesman of the democratic renewal in Lebanon. Shame.

Wolfowitz at World Bank

Eh oui:

Mr. Bush is famous for his loyalty to those who are loyal to him, but the idea of nominating Mr. Wolfowitz to a cabinet post was all but out of the question. Senate confirmation hearings would be bruising at best, re-opening raw arguments about flaws in prewar intelligence, troop strength after the fall of Baghdad and Mr. Wolfowitz’s disproved prediction that the postwar occupation would go smoothly and could be easily financed with Iraqi oil revenues.
So Mr. Bush has now sent Mr. Wolfowitz to shake up the world of international economic development in some of the same ways that he and Mr. Rumsfeld have sought to shake up American military and foreign policy.

Also Check Jim Lobe’s on what it means to have Wolfowitz and Bolton in international institutions.

WINEP’s strategies in a newly issued paper

Robert Satloff has just issued a two part policy paper on how to deal with Syria and Lebanon (click here for part I, and here for Part II. This is important because it will surely become American Foreign policy, so read carefully my friends the theory of “constructive instability” of Mr. Satloff.

Update: Joshua has an interesting post on the subject.

the booming business of selling Lebanese flags

Check out this article in the Daily Star that descrbies the price of patriotism:

[W]hatever the competing view of Lebanese identity, there is much money to be made off this obsession for national pride.

And as Lebanese are good at reaping the benefit of any business situation:

Scores of merchants are embracing the opportunity in zest, reaping profit margins at 100 percent or higher. Some wholesalers say they are selling average-size meter length flags at slightly over $1, while retailers are typically re-marketing the same product at $3 to $6.
Beneath a highway overpass in Achrafieh, one anxious merchant pronounced a “steal” for a 2.5-meter-long flag at 40,000 LL ($26.6) to one pedestrian. Moments later, while loudly discussing his brisk business with a reporter, the merchant, who gave his name only as Elie, offered the same product for $50 when a luxury sports-utility vehicle pulled up to inquire.

Some habits never change…
An now, as for the rules of origin, who are the producers?:

Although many of the banners are produced in China or Taiwan, several small scale producers have been compensating for market demands, with many making the flags in their homes.

Behind every turn of history there is an East-Asian country making it feasible.

Neocons plans for Syria

Gary Leupp on the recent events in Lebanon:

“Oh yes, sir, not only is it Afghanistan. There’s a list of countries. We’re not that good at fighting terrorists, so we’re going after states: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia and Iran. There’s a five-year plan.” (A Pentagon general to Gen. Wesley Clark, Nov. 2001)
As someone who believes that the Bush administration fully intends to implement the neocon plan for regime change in Syria, Iran, and Lebanon in the next couple years, I’ve watched it and the compliant media build the cases necessary for attack. Just as the disinformation apparatus spun out charges one after one against Iraq (many of them now forgotten, although they produced a climate of fear and hatred and served their psy-war purpose at the time) from 9-11 to March 2003, so they have piled on accusations and insinuations against Syria, Iran and Lebanon’s Hizbollah. (…)
Bully Bush brandishing Resolution 1559 (as though it held greater weight than any of the resolutions pertaining to Israel blithely ignored by the Jewish state) demanded all Syrian forces be out by May. Upping the ante, he also demanded the 1000-plus intelligence officers be withdrawn as well. (But given the nature of the intelligence field, it will be difficult to ascertain whether any Syrian spies remain. Thus it will always be possible, citing unspecified intelligence sources, to assert that some intelligence officers linger and hence Syria is “defying the international community” by their presence. As was the case with Iraq, the U.S. heaps upon Syria demands that it either cannot meet or cannot prove having met; the point is not really to get Assad to change but to change—i.e. topple—the Syrian regime and implant a client pro-U.S., Israel-friendly one. By the way, surely there are U.S. intelligence officers in Lebanon; wasn’t CIA station chief William Buckley executed there by kidnappers in 1984? What if Syria was to demand, tit-for-tat: “Get your spies out and we’ll do the same”?)


Avnery on Sharansky

My friend Dave told me to check this incisive article on Natan Sharansky by peace actvitist Uri Avnery:

We first heard of Natan Sharansky (actually Anatoliy Shcharansky, but the name was simplified and Hebrewized when he came here) as a “dissident” in the Soviet Union. After attracting international attention in Moscow, he was arrested by the KGB and sentenced for treason, in what looked like a particularly clumsy attempt to silence him. As we heard it, he was not broken in the hell of the Gulag but remained a proud fighter for his rights and ideas. A huge international campaign demanded his release.
In the end the Soviets decided to get rid of him and exchanged him for a valuable Soviet spy held in America. (…)
The real disillusionment, at least for me, started with the Husseini affair. Some good soul arranged a meeting between the great dissident and Feisal Husseini, the leader of the Arab community in East Jerusalem, a fighter for Palestinian human rights and a real humanist. Sharansky agreed, but at the last moment retracted, claiming that he had not known that Husseini belonged to the PLO. (Which is rather like not knowing that Bush is an American.)
At the time I wrote an article about him under the heading “Shafansky”. “Shafan” is Hebrew for rabbit, the symbol of cowardice.
From then on, the great human rights fighter gradually became an uncompromising activist against the human (and any other) rights of the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

John Bolton

A very comprehensive (exhaustive) article on the strident unilateralism of John Bolton (who’s been appointed as ambassador to the UN) by none other than Right Web’s Tom Barry.

JINSA on Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

I can’t quite figure out what’s the aim of this article, if anyone has a clue please a comment. Is it a call for nationalizing Palestinians in the Leb? It seems so.

Israel wants to sell Defense to Europeans

this article comments on a study published by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv on why should Israel attract Europeans towards juicy Defense deals:

The report was written by Brig. Gen. (res.) Uzi Eilam, the former head of the Ministry of Defense mission to Europe, former director general of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission and former Chief Scientist and director of R&D at the Ministry of Defense. (…)
Eilam’s thesis is that the newly expanded 25-country European Union is formulating its own identity in terms of defense, in order to handle international terrorism and other threats to the continent. Israel, he claims, can turn this into a first-class diplomatic and economic asset.
Israel has an advantage regarding the products Europe needs to form this new defense and security identity, Eilam says. “Technology and combating terror will be the main tools to leverage Israel. The technological aspect will be used to forge industrial partnerships and improve competition. It will also contribute to the economic well-being of the European nations, and their industries.”
Eilam doesn’t make light of the difficulties in Israel’s path, chiefly the cool relations between Israel and Europe. He says there is a need for a very high-level diplomatic umbrella organization to conduct negotiations between Israel and the EU, to anchor the understandings reached in clearly delineated agreements between Israel and each individual country, as well as between Israel and the EU overall.
The study recommends initiating contact in the field. “Major European industries are rooted historically in defense industry. Their human, physical and technological infrastructure reflects that of the defense sector. Each one of these big corporations has subsidiaries that develop and produce military systems, as well as companies derived from military systems. (…)
Eilam then goes on to name specific EU countries and outline the sort of ties Israel must create with each one. Surprisingly, he says that France is the key country. “Israel is capable of developing cooperation with France in a wide range of defense industries”.
Ties with Great Britain should be reinforced through technology as it relates to anti-terror activity. That London is a terror target, much like Jerusalem, is a fact that should be utilized. Israel already has long-standing defense and security links with Germany, evinced by the Merkava tank project, joint submarine development, and others.
Another country, no less important, is Italy, one of Europe’s most industrialized nations. Eilam feels that even though Israel’s defense procurement from Italy is limited, and cannot serve as a basis for cooperation on the defense level, “it would be beneficial to initiate and implement joint ventures with Italian industry”.

Misinformation at its peak

Everyday opens with the same articles on the internet full of misinformation. For example, take this World Net Daily article titled: Syria out Iran in (Lebanon). Of course there is a whole section on the strategic role Hezbollah plays in all this. Also, the Washington Times on Hezbollah’s “Deadly Record” condemns the increasing US consideration in the legitimacy of Hezbollah as a movement. This with the little help of the friends at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

This is what is meant by “backdoor politics”. We are told that opposition groups are calling for compromise and union with Hezbollah. What about 1559 that calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah? Will the opposition split on this issue? If some of them are at the back playing along WINEP’s schemes or for that matter Israeli and US strategies as the press and think-tank publications would like to suggest, then problems are on the horizon. Good luck specially for the optimist ‘democrats’.

A bit far fetched

I guess that’s the answer to Al-Seyassah’s simple conspiracy accusations!

Hariri reportedly assassinated to make way for large US air base in Lebanon

By Wayne Madsen, Online Journal Contributing Writer

March 11, 2005—According to high-level Lebanese intelligence sources—Christian and Muslim—former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was reportedly assassinated in a sophisticated explosion-by-wire bombing authorized by the Bush administration and Ariel Sharon’s Likud government in Israel.

There are also strong indications that the Hariri assassination was carried out by the same rogue Syrian intelligence agents used in the 2002 car bombing assassination of Lebanese Christian leader Elie Hobeika, who was prepared to testify against Sharon in a Brussels human rights court. That case involved the Israeli Prime Minister’s role in the 1982 massacre by Israeli troops of Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Chatilla camps in Beirut. The Hariri assasination used wire-bombing technology because Hariri’s security personnel used electronic countermeasures to fend off a remote control bomb using wireless means. It has been revealed that the Bush administration has used Syrian intelligence agents to torture al Qaeda suspects through the program known as “extraordinary rendition.”

Hariri, a pan-Arabist and Lebanese nationalist, was known to adamantly oppose the construction of a major U.S. air base in the north of Lebanon. The United States wants Syrian troops completely out of Lebanon before construction of the base is initiated. Hariri’s meetings with Hezbollah shortly before his death also angered Washington and Jerusalem, according to the Lebanese intelligence sources.

Washington and Jerusalem media experts spun Hariri’s assassination as being the work of Syrian intelligence on orders from President Bashar Assad. However, a number of Middle East political observers in Washington claim that Hariri’s assassination was not in the interests of Assad, but that the Bush and Sharon administrations had everything to gain from it, including the popular Lebanese uprising against the Syrian occupation.

Lebanese intelligence sources report that even without a formal agreement with Lebanon, the contract for the northern Lebanese air base has been let by the Pentagon to Jacobs Engineering Group of Pasadena, California. Other construction support will be provided by Bechtel Corporation.

Jacobs Engineering and Jacobs Sverdrup are currently contracted for work in Saudi Arabia for Aramco, Iraq for the U.S. occupation authority, Bosnia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Lebanese air base is reportedly to be used as a transit and logistics hub for U.S. forces in Iraq and as a rest and relaxation location for U.S. troops in the region. In addition, the Lebanese base will be used to protect U.S. oil pipelines in the region (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Mosul/Kirkuk-Ceyhan) as well as to destabilize the Assad government in Syria. The size of the planned air base reportedly is on the scale of the massive American Al Udeid air base in Qatar.

A number of intelligence sources have reported that assassinations of foreign leaders like Hariri and Hobeika are ultimately authorized by two key White House officials, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams. In addition, Abrams is the key liaison between the White House and Sharon’s office for such covert operations, including political assassinations.

“Abrams is the guy they [the Israelis] go to for a wink and a nod for such ops,” reported one key source.

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based journalist and columnist and the co-author of “America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George BushII.” This article is republished in Lebanonwire by pemission of Mr Madsen.

Editorial at the National Interest

Justin Raimondo comments on an editorial that depicts a realist critique of Neoconservative ideas.

Who controls Lebanon?

Check out this very interesting analysis by Joshua Landis on what really happened in terms of power sharing between Lebanon, Syria and the US.
Entre autre:

Now that the Syrians have agreed to withdraw their troops, UN Resolution 1559 is dead.
Now everyone is trying to understand who won.
Did the US win because Syria pulled out its troops? Or, did it lose because it got too greedy with 1559 and insisted on stuffing in the articles on Hizbullah and local “terrorist groups,” which no one else will now support.
Perhaps Syria won? Yes, it pulled out its troops, but they weren’t really necessary to preserve its influence in Lebanon. Syria proved that it has plenty of local supporters in Lebanon. It is not out of the game by a long shot. All the chest pounding by Rice and US diplomats may be premature.
In many ways the struggle over Lebanon has been a classic battle between Syria and the US over who gets to own Lebanon. For 30 years it has been in Syria’s sphere of influence and viewed as Syria’s front door in the region. Israel and the US tried to take it back in 1982 but failed. Now they have tried to take it back again.
Bashar has been right about a few things, he would surely say. He claimed all along that Syria is not the source of Lebanon’s problems. Rather, he explained that everyone blames Syria for Lebanon’s problems, but in reality, he claims, “It is the Lebanese who keep demanding that we settle their disputes and who drag us into their local battles.”

Fareed Zakaria and democracy

The rethorics of democracy continue unabated in the press. Here is an article by Fareed Zakaria:

As long-repressed societies in the Middle East open up, we are discovering that their core concerns are not global but local. Most ordinary Arabs, it turns out, are not consumed by grand theories about the clash between Islam and the West, or the imperialism of American culture, or even the Palestinian cause. When you let the Lebanese speak, they want to talk about Syria’s occupation of their country. When Iraqis got a chance to congregate, they voted for a government, not an insurgency. When a majority of Palestinians were heard from, they endorsed not holy terror to throw Israel into the sea, but practical diplomacy to get a state.
Bush never accepted the view that Islamic terrorism had its roots in religion or culture or the Arab-Israeli conflict. Instead he veered toward the analysis that the region was breeding terror because it had developed deep dysfunctions caused by decades of repression and an almost total lack of political, economic and social modernization. The Arab world, in this analysis, was almost unique in that over the past three decades it had become increasingly unfree, even as the rest of the world was opening up. His solution, therefore, was to push for reform in these lands.
The theory did not originate with Bush’s administration. Others had made this case: scholars like Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, the Arab intellectuals who wrote the United Nations’ now famous “Arab Human Development Report” and even this writer.

It is subtle because it puts aside cultural arguments (but then he still quotes chief propagandist Bernard Lewis) in order to focus on the one thing that seemingly pre-occupies the minds of the average Arab citizen: Democracy. Well how about food, jobs, and security? One would say that you need democracies to improve the latter, But I would say how about South Korea and a bunch of others? Didn’t they got democracy as a final reward once they reached “the top”? Weren’t they also protected by the US and had asymetrical trade deals? Why do we need to repeat all this stuff over and over?
Because no one learns from history and which is why history repeats itself. Example? Lebanon from the mutassarifiyah period to the post-Hariri assassination. Same old power struggles that could threaten to rip the country to pieces. (A small digression)

A bit of history

Egypt seems to have been involved in supplying chemical weapons, if not help, to Saddam’s program according to a story.