Something More Kinetic …

“Air power plays major roles, and one of those is as a deterrent, whether it be in border control, air sovereignty or something more kinetic,” said the senior Pentagon official, using a term that refers to offensive military action.

What pricks …

US preparing to fight Iran

It seems that the US is up to something with Iran (and I don’t want to contradict my fellow blogger apokraphyte here):

The United States could be using its two air force bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania’s Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April,” the Bulgarian news agency Novinite claimed. Commenting on the report, The Sunday Herald wrote that the U.S. build-up along the Black Sea, coupled with the recent positioning of two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz appears to indicate that U.S. President Bush has run out of patience with Tehran’s nuclear misrepresentation and non-compliance with the U.N. Security Council’s resolution.

Another story (sorry no link this time), says that American planes have entered the Suez Canal area along with nuclear submarines, warships, and other evil doers.

Now all this could be at best theatrical, but with the US, you can always expect the worst.

Meanwhile in Palestine

Grignotes que je te dise, grignotes:

The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday condemned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s decision to approve moving the separation barrier near Modi’in Ilit away from the Green Line in order to take in two settlements, as was first revealed by security sources and a brief submitted by the state to the High Court of Justice.

More "Shi’ia crescent" propaganda

Especially for the pedantic “I don’t believe anything, it’s cooler to be Grey (because more sophisticated)” type:

Prime Minister Fouad Seniora and the “Mufti of the republic” Mohammad Rashid Qabbani made some phone calls in order to stop the arrest wave and ask for the release of most of the suspects which ended up being members of the Mustaqbal party.

Yes, this did not take place, they are making it up.

Iran-Hizbullah relations

It would be interesting to think of relations between Lebanese organization Hizbullah, and the Iranian State (and whatever political fragmentation this ‘state’ entails) as a highly complex one that does not easily fit the description of a State with a Proxy.

In this case, any Lebanese ‘local’ interest group or political organization is not a proxy but interacts in a very erratic way with its foreign partners even when they can be described as backers.

Here one needs to look closely at how the relations between the US and 14th of March members, or Saudi Arabia and Mustaqbal and other related political actors, are clearly different from the Hizbullah-Syrian relations, and the Hizbullah-Iranian relations.
Who in Iran has contacts with Hizbullah? I defy anyone to give me the correct answer. The Iranian political system in itself is a riddle; the various power struggles within the various institution is a research project in its own regard. And if we have leads, how did it change over time? The 80s and early 90s period is pretty well documented and everybody records a significant change in the nature of the relationship starting from the coming of Nasrallah as secretary general, and the gentle ousting of Sheikh Tufaili. Understanbly enough, Hizbullah in the 1980s was much more dependent on Iranian goodwill than in the mid-90s.

What scholars called the “Lebanonization process”, I would probably think of different strategies to build political momentum and organize/act successfully. Meaning that these dudes were always thinking in terms of local/territorial/political interest, but in the 1980s, it paid off to talk in “Iranian revolutionary” terms (in order to get from the Iranians much needed help, in the social sciences we call this “framing”), whereas starting from the death of Khomeini on one side, and the institutional development of the party of God on the other side, framing grievance away from the commitment to the velayet el faqih (and a lot of other things) gained more currency.

Looking at the exact political stature of each party or political actor in Lebanon can help explain its relations with other regional or international political actors. I will give a hint: In the case of Hizbullah, It is regional political forces (Syria and Iran) that are dependent on them (and not vice versa), especially since the successive political/military victory (since the liberation of the South in 2000). However, the 14th of March is weaker politically and thus needs American and other assurance that they will not loose power. Still even in the case of the 14th of March, the Americans are somewhat dependent on the fact that the 14th of March accepts to compromise with them.

For the sake of the argument, this can easily explain why Saudi Arabia would push for discussions with Iran in order to find a compromise with Hizbullah. The deadlock is local (i.e. political struggle between Hizbullah and 14th of March), and the regional forces who have interests at stake try to find possible solutions in order to keep their interest preserved. I advise to read this very good article by Nicholas Nassif that explains some of the dynamics at stake. Nassif is maybe the most interesting journalist working for Al Akhbar. He was previously a Journalist at Annahar. He also has an excellent book that draws a thorough historical account of the 2nd Bureau (Lebanese Mukhabarat).

More Depressing News …

Survey reveals total shake-up of political map if elections were held today: Likud would win big with 32 mandates, followed by Lieberman’s Israel Our Home with 10; Kadima in third place with 9 mandates. Netanyahu far ahead of rivals as ‘best suited to be prime minister.’

Anyone who reads this blog knows I often place my hope in the Israelis as the only group of citizens with the potential to avert a coming regional disaster in the Middle East. So, please, don’t let me down …


I’ll say goodbye for now to think of an answer, and leave you with a few of my favourite Leunig cartoons