Capturing the security sphere

An important battle is largely passing unnoticed or just briefly mentioned in the Lebanese press, were it not for Nicolas Nassif’s reporting for Al-Akbar, a front page article today on the brutal war unfolding between security service elites. The struggle to monopolize the different (and often contradictory) moukhabarat cells is just another stigma of the overall conflict to control the political spheres in the little country. The developments coming in the next days are crucial in this regards. Today, the different parties are meeting to discuss the issue of a whole series of reforms proposed by Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat (which would actually link all the different cells under one command) who tried to fire a couple of days ago a security official (Walid Jizzini ) who was godfathered by Hezbollah and Amal (a Shiite candidate that is).

Update: The subject was mentioned again in today’s (30th of Sept) edition of Al-Akhbar by Nicolas Nassif through a more comprehensive analysis of the struggle for “Sunni” seizure of the security apparatus. The Daily Star had a small mention of it stating that the “Fatfat-Jezzini rift” was “resolved”, according to PM Fouad Siniora. Teb, can’t you ask for more? how was it resolved? there are many ways to resolve an issue… Couldn’t the DS people care for asking this additional question to PM offices?

Fortunately, Al-Akhbar had another article on the decisions taken during the meeting between the PM the Defense minister and the security service officials: Basically nothing much happened except that the dudes made peace and backed off from Fatfat’s hasty decision to electronically link every security service (by email). The decision was to possibly link not only security services but all the key ministries (Defense Interior, and Finance) once the council of ministers agrees (if it every agrees of course).

One morale of this story (the funniest one) is that the Daily Star should get the connections (wastat) Al-Akhbar has in order to complete its stories. (More on Al-Akhbar’s connections later on).

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Hariri’s assassination: The Israeli track

Many heard about Jürgen Cain Külbel’s book on Hariri’s assassination, but few read it including me (when I was in Lebanon it was only found in Syria who was understandbly very quick to translate it to Arabic). So here, he is interviewed on reseau voltaire (french version or English version). He has some interesting ideas if you read the whole interview. His premises in any case are the most important to keep in mind: while knowing who dominates the UN today (the US through the crazy Bolton who happens to be a good friend of Brammertz according to this journalist), the Israeli track was explicitly disregarded by the UN. The guy has a lot to say.

An optimistic lightning that quickly fades away

Now the Saudis are lobbying the rich Jews to lobby the Americans for possible endorsement of their peace proposal. Think of it this way: what shapes American foreign policy? Economic incentives and ideology. Assure that there will be deals (economic), and that Israel is left untouched (because it is a beacon of “western values”, the ideological). If the Saudis try to approach influential Jewish business people in order to find possible resolutions to the Israeli-Arab conflict (that became an Israeli-Palestinian-Lebanese-Syrian-Iranian conflict as the others could be bought of), then they are on a good track if they want to use the pragmatic card. Or let’s say that it is the only way for them to keep their morale high after the symbolic repercussions of Hezbollah’s victory spilling over across the Middle East (endangering prevailing regimes etc.).
Pose a bit to consider this information :

The longtime Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal-al Saud, held a September 22 meeting with five prominent Jewish communal leaders, during which he stressed the need to jumpstart the Israeli-Palestinian process by reviving the so-called Saudi Initiative of 2002. The initiative offered Arab normalization with Israel in exchange for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 armistice line.

Can the Saudis beat the clock of change in the region? Does the desperate push to preserve their regime will help in creating a modicum of regional political stability? Will the American accept to compromise between these pushes and their hegemonic tendencies in the Middle East that could if left unchecked lead to confrontation with Iran? And what the Israelis have to say in all this? What did the Saudis promised the Israelis in the process when they met a while ago? What about the Palestinians in all this?

A Saudi newspaper said that Nasrallah intends to visit Saudi Arabia. Of course Nasrallah quickly denied it. In any case, let’s suppose all this is true. All these “rumors”. Can Hezbollah find common ground with the Saudis? Can they accept resolution propositions? I feel that there is too much at stake and too many parties involved. But it is still interesting to note that all these reports of negotiations are taking place right after the war. Israel and Syria, Saudi and Israel, Saudi and American Jewish establishment, Hezbollah and Saudi. Who’s next? Will this lead to anything? Is it just journalist exuberance, looking for the optimistic light behind the hideous left-overs of war, the interlude before the next much more bloody war coming up?

To Countenance Incontinence?

“The match for the world chess championship taking place in Elista, the capital of the Russian republic of Kalmykia, took a bizarre turn yesterday as one side — unsurprisingly, the player who is trailing — accused the other of suspicious behavior during the games and threatened to quit.
On a day in which no game was played, Silvio Danailov, the manager of Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, sent a letter to the appeals committee of the match detailing what he said were an excessive number of bathroom breaks — more than 50 per game — by Vladimir Kramnik of Russia. (The length of the games varied from less than four hours to more than six.)
The letter stopped short of accusing Mr. Kramnik of cheating, presumably by getting the assistance of a computer, but it noted that there was no surveillance equipment in the private bathrooms used by the players, and it demanded that both players be required to use a public restroom from now on, and then only when accompanied by a match referee.”

Polishing the enemy: the Revolutionary Guard

Mideastwire translated this sensationalist article from yesterday’s Kuwaiti nest of (mis)intelligence leaks Al Seyassah:

Well-informed sources revealed to Al Seyassah the identity of the non-Syrian figures who were with the head of the Syrian National Security General Hisham Bekhtyar in front of the Saint Georges Hotel (the scene of the assassination of Premier Rafik Al-Hariri), three days before the terrorist attack. They assured that these figures were officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and that there were over 30 of them who were seen carrying sophisticated devices.
They entered Lebanese territory via the military line [line previously set up on the border between Syria and Lebanon to facilitate the passage of military figures], knowing that there is no protocol between Lebanon and Syria which allowed non-Syrian officers to cross into the Lebanese territories via the (former) military line. The sources assured that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers checked in at the Beau Rivage Hotel during their stay in Lebanon, and didn’t pay their bill when they left. They indicated that the Hotel owner asked … the former head of the Syrian State Security body in Beirut several times to pay the bill, but the latter ignored the matter.
It is worthy mentioning that the Syrian intelligence in Beirut occupied a part of the Beau Rivage. On the other hand, the same sources assured Al Seyassah that among the prominent Lebanese figures who knew in advance about the plan to assassinate Al-Hariri, were former Minister (S.F.) [initials in reference to pro-Syrian leader Suleiman Franjieh] who knew about the orders given to erase the evidence of the crime, and former Minister (E.F.) [in reference to pro-Syrian leader Elie Ferzli], who said that the perpetrator of the crime was a suicide bomber, then recanted his statements and said it was a slip of the tongue!

Sometimes I wonder where was Al Seyassah all this time to leak stuff on Israeli or US covert actions in Lebanon or for that matter in the Middle East at large. If you have such good connections with the secret services, get us some information on dar al shaytan friends.

Another thought has just come to mind: the Iranian revolutionary guard is quickly becoming a very mystical entity. Why everytime somebody has to sneeze in the Middle East there is a revolutionary guard behind him? I don’t understand. Are they that indispensable? Can’t you fight or blow up things without them? This creates a very peculiar phenomenon: inflating the image of the enemy. Whenever the revolutionary guard is mentioned, the air gets thicker. Soon you’ll just get goose bumps without even knowing why they were there. They could just be there staring at things, drinking tea or something. In this example do you really need “30 Iranian revolutionary guard” to carry “sophisticated” materials around? I mean can’t you get any human being with two legs and two arms to do it? It’s just the fact that the RG was there, it’s scary in itself.

Overheard on the Green Line: The Pitch and Catch of Grad School Love …


She looked down at the floor, he up at the ceiling. I stared straight ahead, eyeing the both of them as the city raced past us. After a few tugs of her skirt, she lifted her head. She had made a decision.

“You know,” she said, “I actually don’t feel that threatened by patriarchy.”
“That’s cool,” he replied. “I know exactly what you mean …”

Israelis settle in for long stay in village of Ghajar


That’s how beneficial Israel can be to Lebanon. The story was courageously broken by Rym Ghazal from the Daily Star who had to go through hearing Israeli soldiers shoot next to her in order to scare her away. One more piece of land to Israel. Slowly but surely.