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).

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.

The Israeli-Syrian front

Can somebody explain why does Israeli Defense minister Peretz makes sign of ouverture to Syria in Haaretz and makes a show of force in Yediot Ahronot? Very Strange. And reports that Syrian and Israeli officials met in july is even stranger. It’s meeting period it seems. And its always like this when all hell is breaking loose.

France protecting Nasrallah?

Now that’s odd, apparently while Israel was trying to assassinate Nasrallah, French planes circled the sky on Monday in order to protect him. Now this is quoted in Annahar and comes from Debka (What? Annahar gets its info from Debka? nevermind…). I could not find the original link on Debka and I don’t really know what to make of it. Avis aux commentateurs.

Straight Chillin’: Mukhtara Style …

People often ask me if I ever intend to write about Lebanon. I usually jokingly reply that I want to do a screenplay about Jumblatt and the war — a sort of graft on the Godfather (“every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in”) — and I even have my opening shot plotted out (think a younger Walid with lots of Jimi Hendrix and even more hashish smoke). And while I never thought the wacky weed would serve as the bookends for mon oeuvre, I guess I now have my final sequence as well … If for some unimaginable reason that film never gets made, I will forward the photo to the proper authorities as I cannot imagine a better image to warn the kids about the physical dangers of drug use …

Photo is courtesy of, a most excellent blog for those curious about film, Lebanon and other flights of fancy …

Israeli police accepted in Interpol European branch

I like how even Yediot Ahronot agrees on the fact that there was a need for some begging:

Following five years of diplomatic persuasion on the part of the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Police, Israel has convinced Interpol to accept it as a full member of its European branch.

But this is an important development by no means. What will be the drawbacks on the way internal security issues will be handled in Europe? A tighter grip on the flow of informal financial channels that could lead to “terrorist” nests (because we’re bringing in know-how here). And wherever there is militaristic (or security-related) actions, Israel wants to be there, because without an enemy, what would Israel be like? Facing its own political contradictions?

While the Arabs are busy trading

In this case these are not mere rumors:

Exports to kingdom rise by 10 percent to USD 470,000 in first half of 2006. Israeli companies export to Saudi Arabia medical equipment, fertilizers, minerals, metals, machines and mechanical appliances.

But what I really like in this news is how it is strategically pointed (in time) by Yediot Ahronot. It is as if Israelis were saying: “See? we can have normal relations (trade) with another Arabic country, we’re not such monsters after all (don’t demonize us), please love us, even if we daily oppress palestine and wage occasional destructive wars”.
Quant à Saudi Arabia, well I guess they are surely out of the boycotting list (starbucks, mc donalds, etc.) that i received by email!

Meanwhile Jordan is to export electricity to Israel:

National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer approved the setting up of an electricity connection between Jericho and the Jordanian kingdom. If the project materializes, this would be the first time that a Palestinian Authority town receives its power supply from a foreign country.
The East Jerusalem Electric Company is an Israeli-Palestinian firm owned by the Jerusalem Municipality and several Palestinian municipalities.
The company buys electricity from the Israel Electric Company and sells it to the Arab residents of east Jerusalem and to the Jericho, Bethlehem and Ramallah area in the Palestinian Authority.

Notice that it is Israel and not the Paletinian authority that approves the deal. Notice also that while Israel is busy diverting water and destroying crops in Lebanon, those who had the chance to find compromise with the Jewish state are getting a piecemeal share.

So that’s the Israeli policy (and for that matter any imperial policy): either with us and we give you a share while dominating, or not with us and we outrightly exploit you. This had a name not long ago: Gun-boat diplomacy.

Musharraf’s bet

I don’t know what Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf is thinking but something must have broken down between him and the Americans:

The US Central Intelligence Agency paid Pakistan millions of dollars for handing over more than 350 suspected al-Qaeda terrorists to the United States, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has reportedly said.

Even before that he was already saying that the US has threatened him of sending his country back 20 years in the past if he fails to help them in their so-called war on terrorism (Richard Armitage being the one who threatened him). Hey wait a minute, Israeli PM Olmert said the same to the Lebanese but publicly! So no wonders these guys have the same affinities…

In any case, is this another American political mismanagement or something else is cooking? I remember Seymour Hersh telling me that Pakistan is next on the list. Even before they neutralize the “Shiites”? Isn’t this like burning steps? If anyone has any thoughts on the issue please comment on that post, because I still see no interesting analysis on Musharaf’s moves.

On the Saudi Israeli meeting

I don’t understand why people are making such fuss about Olmert meeting with the Saudi king. Even if they did not meet in person Israeli and Saudis have been aligned for years in terms of Israeli-Palestinian issues. In any case this is not another post that is shocked by these possible discussions but by something completely different: A background note found in the Haaretz article on the subject describing what Prince Bandar has been doing in Washington as ambassador for all these years (a part from living like a prince):

The prince served for nearly 22 years as the Saudi ambassador to Washington, playing a key role in facilitating peace moves in the Middle East.

Can you please tell me where do you see peace in the Middle East, or facilitation of it? Seriously when was the last time you saw a “piece” of “peace” in the Middle East? Where does this sentence come from? isn’t it weird that it pops up like this right out of the blue after the fourth sentence between:

Prince Bandar visited Jordan 10 days ago, the same time period as the reported secret Olmert meeting.


The Prime Minister’s Office said in response to the Haaretz report that “We know of no such meeting.”

It is as if the article is trying to say that what Bandar and Olmert were trying to do is facilitate peace in the region. They almost got me there! but I’m sure they got many others… Haaretz? another indication that sometimes you’re trying to screw people up.

More Iranian and Syrian agents

or like Druze warlord Walide Jumblat calls them, totalitarians. These pictures are courtesy of Sana (our correspondant in Iranian and Syrian lands of Lebanon).

Somebody said water?

So for those Lebanese who still live in denial (a substantial part of them it seems), for those who still doubt that Israel has strategic goals in Lebanon and does not just “re-act” to Hezbollah’s presence please read this:

an Israeli bulldozer carried out digging work on Tuesday before laying water pipes in the Wazzani River in Marjayoun in a bid to funnel water to the town of Ghajar, the National News Agency (NNA) reported this week. Five Israeli tanks were seen in Tallat Mahames inside the eastern sector in the South, the NNA added.

This is the lead of the article (written on the 20th of Sept.):

Israeli bulldozers started to level the soil and cut down olive trees in Yarin in the Tyre region on Monday, spoiling several cultivated fields and preventing farmers from inspecting their lands. “Israeli bulldozers have spoiled my land, cutting down the fruit trees I’ve planted,” said farmer Shaker Afleh on Tuesday, as he and his daughter watched the bulldozers on his land from a kilometer away.
Israel’s earth-movers have cut down several trees belonging to more than 10 members of the Abu Dellah family.

frustration, greed, or ignorance?

So all the others need to do is lift the Iranian flag? But you know why they won’t do it? Because they now are the “real” nationalists (according to the latest rally facts). Nationalistic standards shift like moving sands, just like any other ideology. Keep watching the Lebanese and expect more casualties.

a long trip but not much has changed

I left Lebanon on the 25th of August (or so) right after the end of the war. Since then, I have been to Paris, then to Sweden (and Norway at some point) for a musical tour with the Moukhtabar Ensemble. Then I went to London where I am about to start a PhD program in War Studies at King’s College. More on the last bit will come when I’ll talk about my research interests in subsequent posts.

This was just to say why I have been so inactive on the blog lately. I have been looking for a place to stay in London (the most expensive city so far i have been to). Finally I found one and although I did not move yet I decided to start blogging more intensively. A month has past since then.

So we apologize (me and apocraphyte who’s been working like a dog, because that’s what one does in the US) to our wide audience (that went down from let’s say 700 dudes max during the war to some 100 per day, today) hoping that people will regain interest. I know that now that the bombs are not falling, Lebanese blogs have lost popularity. But let’s remind people that the war is just an episode – quite extreme actually – in a wider big problematic that should be diagnozed especially during peace so that we can prevent war or see it coming at least.

All I can tell you – and you don’t need me to tell you – is that the Middle East is just about to start getting into serious trouble. Iraq is a big cemetery, Palestine is just a constant humiliation, and Lebanon is simply a big shame (a lebanese shame) so is Sudan. who’s next? Iran, maybe Syria? let’s see.

reflecting on symbols and image-persons

This picture reminds me of another celebrity (here Ziad Rahbani, the other one being Samir Kassir) who was at the chauvinistic demontration (14th of March) with a similar red hat only written on it “independence 05”. They did not even bother to change the color it seems.
Use the same weapons so that people can relate and assert themselves. This is what ideology is all about. But Gramsci knew it.

Lebanon and Switzerland

For those who always compare Lebanon to Switzerland, an excellent article in Assafir by Fawaz Trabulsi arguing that basically you just need look at the institution of the army in Switzerland to understand why both countries have nothing in common. The difference in State’s strength, and how Switzerland can stay neutral are at the heart of this difference. Looking at security structures always pays off. Switzerland has spent decades (while being isolated from all integrationist attempts but also from all wars) building a comprehensive defense system through its army – no comparison possible with Lebanon that is where confessionalism has fragmented all institutions y compris or more importantly the army.

political desperation is never a good thing

From wherever you look at it, political despair is surely not a good thing.

I wonder exactly why Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblat (two ex ‘civil’ warlord) are not turning their tongue seven times in their mouth before they utter their non-sense. How can they keep a straight face when they think they should give lessons of patriotism to Hassan Nasrallah?
This is desperation:

Dismissing the hundreds of thousands of supporters who gathered for the Hizbullah rally last Friday, Jumblatt said: “We are also able to gather a large number of people, but our people are different from theirs, and I insist on that.”
“Our people are democratic and open to discussions while theirs are stiff. They have one path and one following, to Syria and Iran,” he added.

It’s like the kid who says to his friend, “no my dad is greater” to which the kid answer, “but I have a bigger house”, and the other replies “but my house is in a nicer neighborhood”, etc.
Jumblatt seems to say “they can defeat the Israeli army, fine, but they are friends with our ex-friends whom we can’t be friends with because now we are friends with their direct enemies, so we’re going to pick on them, because it’s either this or political isolation”.
I wonder if he can really bring that many people to a gathering today. it would be interesting to see. I bet that him, geagea adn hariri cannot bring half of the people hezbollah brought to this gathering. So why can’t we call this the “cedar revolution”? Maybe because the cedar as a concept can only be used for chauvinistic purposes.

Jumblatt can stop also not say anything coherent (although this may simply be a Daily Star’s editing or translation mistake):

“They already wanted to eliminate Taif so the country would be an open arena for the Islamic Republic’s ambitions in the region, which also eases the return of the Syrian regime,” he said.

And Geagea calls for a rally as a tribute for the Christians dead during the civil war.
what? pardon me? Isn’t this out of the subject of the day? I am sure the Christians that are dead during the war would love to see Geagea disappearing and finally having peace between the different communities in this country so that they start thinking they did not die for nothing after all. Is it like another fake tour de force – We can do better rallies than you! – only this time you need to play on the confessional string in order to get a couple of dudes to come. Oh and he also said (just like Jumblat) that Hezbollah should stop being allied with Syria. No, his exacting wording was (according to Naharnet’s translation): Choose between loyalty to Lebanon or Syria. mm… How can you talk of loyalty to a country to a group who just had i don’t know how many dudes dying on its soil and win a battle against a foreign intruder? I leave it there.

Next political dellusion: Negroponte says that the US fears an Al-Qaeda infiltration of Lebanon. Yeah all the reasons are good. Let’s just remind the readers who is John Negroponte.

There are many political dellusion. We live in a world where weak men – or failed statesmen – are found in abundance. The trick is to calm down and not write long posts like I do. But for now, I can’t just calm down…

What would darkness look like …?

In his speech, Mr. Bush pointed to progress in the Middle East toward democracy, saying, “We’re seeing a bright future begin to take root in the broader Middle East,” and cited the relatively new governments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon as examples.

Did You Know … ?

“We know that the hopes of the civilized world ride with us.”

So said US Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday. Did you know … ?

The 21st Century Red Scare …

How can I be afraid when they look like goofy kids on a class trip to the state oil company … On the bright side, I cannot wait for Samuel Huntington to explain this “civilizational” axis …

Photo: Jorge Silva/Reuters …

Haaretz: A Newspaper or a Cause …?

I don’t really understand the Haaretz newspaper. It often has interesting analyses and opinions that distance it from more ideological and extremist newspapers like the Jerusalem Post and others. But sometimes I receive these rather strange emails inviting me to sign a petition to the United Nations to “stop Iran from getting the bomb.” And where it gets really weird is when you read the rationale for signing the petition:

Dear Supporter of Israel,
I am sure you have been following the recent events in the Middle East with great concern as we have. Iran has been supporting a terrorist war against Israel through Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s president Ahmadinejad has publicly stated his desire to “wipe Israel off the map” and “Allah willing Islam will conquer all the mountain tops of the world”.

Now seriously isn’t this weird? “Terrorist war against Israel through Hamas and Hezbollah”? And what are these Daniel Pipes’ type of quotes of Ahmadinejad?

A pope and a father

Okay, so everybody heard about the speech the Pope gave where he literally outdid President Bush, the difference being that the latter uses quotes more than the former (more academic…). But few may have seen what “Father” SAMIR Khalil SAMIR, director of some “research” center (CEDRAC) at the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut wrote in order to defend the pope in, of course, L’Orient-Le-Jour, the little Francophone newspaper that only satisfies the frustrations of the tiny amount of disillunioned Christian bourgeoisie in Lebanon.

The title of the text: Le discours du pape : une main tendue à tous, et aux musulmans en particulier. Now I would call this the Lebanese way of reaching out!

And here are some quotes:

Rappelons tout d’abord que les paragraphes qui traitent tant soit peu de l’islam correspondent à environ 10% du texte global. Le pape y cite un verset coranique : « Il n’y a pas de contrainte en matière de religion » (la Vache 2, 256) ; c’est sans doute le verset le plus fréquemment cité en Occident, dans le but de souligner que le Coran appuie la liberté de conscience.
Si le pape avait voulu attaquer l’islam sur ce point, il lui aurait été facile de citer d’autres versets, à commencer par les versets 190-193 de la même sourate : « Combattez dans le sentier de Dieu ceux qui vous combattent et ne transgressez pas. Certes, Dieu n’aime pas les transgresseurs ! Tuez-les, où que vous les rencontriez, et chassez-les d’où ils vous ont chassés : la sédition (fitna) est plus grave que le meurtre. (…). Combattez-les jusqu’à ce qu’il n’y ait plus de sédition (fitna), et que la religion soit entièrement à Dieu seul. S’ils cessent, donc plus d’hostilités, sauf contre les injustes. »

So basically here what the “Father” is trying to say is that Pope Benedictus could have been much harsher, but chose not to. How kind … “Father,” I am sure you would have done a much better job as you and most of the Lebanese know the “scandalous” quotes of the Qur’an very well and know how to strip them out of their context to support the idea that Muslims are somehow “inferior” to Christians.

Malheureusement, il arrive trop souvent aujourd’hui que la foi musulmane soit accaparée par les politiques (et par là passe à la violence) et que le Coran soit accaparé par les doctes, empêchant le musulman moderne de se poser des questions.

And what about Christians? Aren’t they political? Are you kidding me? Actually I won’t continue with this as the whole text by the “Father” tries to argue that Islam spread thanks to violence, whereas Christianity was always about love. Strangely enough, Christianity is equated not only with love but also with reason, whereas Islam is equated with violence and irrationalism … So it is story of angels against demons: another “Christian” way of looking at the world. “Father,” I recommend that you re-read Nietzsche to undertand why what you’re saying has been obsolete for nearly a century.

But also, without complicating things too much for the readers, I would ask the “Father” to go back to his history books and look at a much greyer reality. Actually, I think the “Father” may not have understood the political content of Benedictus. It’s a war, “Father.” Didn’t you notice? And you’re adding oil to the fire (to follow Joseph Samaha’s expression) by trying to crystallize what the Pope has said for some obvious political reasons.

Meanwhile in Latin America

Here is an interesting news bit I wish to share and I’ll tell you why:

Recent weapons purchases by Venezuela seem excessive and have raised concerns that it may be funneling arms to leftist rebels elsewhere in Latin America, the U.S. military chief for the region said on Thursday.
Asked whether Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas could have received some of the 100,000 Kalashnikov automatic assault rifles that Venezuela bought in June, Gen. John Craddock, who heads the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, said: “I don’t know.”

Venezuela supports the Columbian FARC against the pro-American Columbian government. Iran helps Hezbollah face Israel (America’s ally in the region). Same conflicts, other places. How close can Venezuela and Iran become? I heard that Hugo Chavez was coming to Lebanon. I can’t but be reminded of when Cuba used to send troops in Angola. Same conflicts, other places. Those who understood it, went. Will the Iranians understand? How international can/will the Iranians become in their anti-American battle?