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  1. #1
    Oct 2003

    Post Lebanon | Israel | Hezbollah | a.k.a. The Cedars

    We might as well start talking about Lebanon in depth again, given recent events. I'll start out with this piece:

    One target of the fighting in Lebanon was a church in Beirut where a statue of the Virgin Mary escaped undamaged. ( Shawn Baldwin for the New York Times)

    News Analysis: Lebanon faces prospect of seeing repeat of violent history
    Is killing of minister prelude to civil war?

    By Michael Slackman / The New York Times
    Published: November 27, 2006

    BEIRUT: In April 1975, gunmen fired on a church in East Beirut in what appeared to be an attempt to kill Pierre Gemayel, founder of the main rightist Christian militia. He was not killed, but the shooting set off a cycle of revenge that became a 15-year civil war.

    Last week, three gunmen assassinated Gemayel's grandson and namesake, a government minister and symbol of Lebanon's besieged Christian, pro- Western community. Now an unnerving question is emerging here: As the battle between the Iranian- backed group Hezbollah and the Western-backed ruling coalition rises sharply, is it in fact the prelude to a civil war?

    Lebanon's seeming slide toward civil conflict is not just a symbol of unfortunate historic symmetry.

    This country is a barometer for the region, a canary in the Middle Eastern mineshaft, serving as a measure of tensions and rivalries.

    It is no coincidence that Lebanon is suffering its worst political crisis in decades at a time when Iraq has descended into sectarian war, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reached a new height this summer, and power seems to be shifting away from the Western-allied Sunni Muslim countries of Egypt and Saudi Arabia to the Shiite state of Iran.

    "Generally, the regional situation at the time was very much what it is today," said Kamal Salibi, a historian and author from Beirut, speaking of the start of the 1975-90 civil war.

    Then as now, a major Arab military humiliation prompted radicalism, hostility and questions of legitimacy for Arab governments from Morocco to Bahrain. Then it was the 1967 war in which Israel defeated four armies, and the spreading ideology was secular nationalism.

    Today, it is the American military presence in Iraq and the ideology is Islamism. In both cases, rising oil prices and terrorism serve as fuel and tool for the conflicts.

    In May 2003, with Baghdad occupied by American forces, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, visited Damascus and warned Syrian and Lebanese leaders that there was a "new strategic situation" in the Middle East. He said they had to end support for groups the West considered terrorist, including Hamas and Hezbollah.

    Today, events in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas have demonstrated the diminished status of the United States and its allies. In Iraq, Moktada al-Sadr, the powerful Shiite cleric, has threatened to withdraw from the government if the prime minister meets with President George W. Bush, as he is scheduled to do on Wednesday in Jordan.

    In Gaza, mediation by Egypt has failed to stem the rising tide of violence or negotiate the release of an Israeli solider despite its intense efforts. In Lebanon, the American-backed government is hanging on by a thread as Hezbollah and its allies push for more power.

    "The army will first protect us, but if we find ourselves obliged, we will take to the streets, and a peaceful confrontation will be faced with a peaceful confrontation, and clashes will be faced with clashes," said Walid Eido, a judge and member of the Lebanese Parliament in the governing coalition, speaking of the challenge from Hezbollah.

    "We will sell our blood to buy weapons and confront them. We will never let them control the country."

    The Bush administration is worried about Lebanon as well as the other flashpoints, and appears to be considering opening a dialogue with Iran and Syria to win help in stabilizing Iraq. In Gaza, Arab and Western diplomats said, Syria has used its relationship with Hamas to block Egypt's efforts to mediate talks on the return of the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas.

    These forces have come to bear on Lebanon, a weak state with weak institutions unable to shield itself from the volley of disruptions jolting the region.

    Lebanon is in crisis because of its unique brand of power sharing, which is not only divided largely along sectarian lines, but is also arranged by geography and the political needs of individual players.

    Lebanon is also in crisis because of regional uncertainty, which has spawned an intense flurry of geo- politicking between adversaries looking for a leg up.

    While Saudi Arabia and Egypt struggle to maintain the status quo, Iran presses to rewrite it, defying the West with its nuclear program.

    Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been trying to defuse the crisis in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has tried to protect its financial holdings here and to safeguard Lebanon's Sunni population. Saudi officials in Lebanon have met with Hezbollah's general secretary, Hassan Nasrallah, hoping to orchestrate a compromise, officials here said.

    Egypt's interest in Lebanon is aimed at preserving its national dignity and a role as a regional power broker.

    "Part of this is purely made in Lebanon," said Salibi, the historian. "But it draws in the anti-Syrian and the pro- Syrian dichotomy, the Sunni-Shiite dichotomy, the pro-Iranian-pro-Western dichotomy. All of this is drawn into Lebanon."

    The specific Lebanese crisis is about who will control the government - and so hold the power to direct the country's interests toward the West, or toward Iran and Syria.Right now, the government is in the hands of what is called the March 14th coalition, a mix of Sunni, Druse and some Christian political parties that is aligned with the United States and France.

    Six pro-Syrian ministers recently resigned from the cabinet after talks aimed at building a so-called national unity government collapsed.

    While the government was already on the verge of collapse, Gemayel was assassinated in broad daylight in an attack that left even hardened political leaders shaken.

    Despite the rising tension, many political analysts say that Lebanon is a different place from what it was in 1975, less prone to violence. Political leaders also say that they will do what they can to avoid a civil war but will fight if pressed to.

    Nada Bakri contributed reporting for this article.

    Background information:

    Wikipedia reference-linkLebanon
    Wikipedia reference-linkLebanon_cedar
    Wikipedia reference-linkSaudi_Arabia
    Wikipedia reference-linkSyria
    Wikipedia reference-linkPan_Arabism
    Wikipedia reference-linkIran
    Wikipedia reference-linkDruze
    Wikipedia reference-linkMaronite
    Wikipedia reference-linkShia
    Wikipedia reference-linkSunni
    Wikipedia reference-linkTaif_agreement
    Wikipedia reference-linkDemographics_of_Lebanon
    Wikipedia reference-linkPhalange
    Wikipedia reference-linkHamas
    Wikipedia reference-linkHezbollah
    Wikipedia reference-link1948_Arab-Israeli_war
    Wikipedia reference-linkLebanon_crisis_of_1958
    Wikipedia reference-linkLebanese_civil_war
    Wikipedia reference-link1982_Lebanon_war
    Wikipedia reference-linkPierre_Gemayel
    Wikipedia reference-linkCedar_Revolution
    Wikipedia reference-linkRafik_Hariri
    Wikipedia reference-linkPierre_Amine_Gemayel

    Nota bene: Use Wikipedia as an easily accessible basis for knowledge but not as your only or even primary source.
    Last edited by Orangutan; 04-28-2007 at 05:12 PM. Reason: renamed
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  2. #2
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Finally have some time Orang to look at all presented.
    Most interesting for me was the write up on Cedar Revolution.
    Ill confess to not knowing the history around the movement..not by name anyway.
    So much has happened in recent weeks I can appreciate the state of flux the people there find themselves in.
    Talk about a test? For the people [and Ive read many first hand accounts from folks that simply love Lebanon and its people] this all has to be a convulsion.

  3. #3
    Oct 2003

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Beirut was once the cultural capital of the Near East, described as a Near Eastern Paris. It's also the only Arab country not to have a desert (thank you, Trivial Pursuit).

    What's really amazing is how the conflict in Lebanon specifically and the Near East generally is all so recent, almost within a person's lifetime. Go back to 1900? No such thing as countries. 1950? No such thing as Islamic terrorism. What fruits we reap from the tree of colonialism.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  4. #4
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Ive read similar...a very laid back city.

    Colonialism and what seems to be a very practised hatred....not native but imposed. Our Iranian friends.

  5. #5
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 11-29-2006 at 08:31 AM.

  6. #6
    May 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Nice thread orang.

    It makes one wonders about crazy things going in middle east. Who knows what is going to happen? Could Iran take over Iraq, Hezballah over lebanon and now you have a much more powerful Iran? Or could the Shi3ie keep fighting the west and the Sunnis will be the smart ones to get out of it and gain back control?

    Sometimes all of this happening makes me wonder if these are the pre-events for a major war. Who knows maybe WWIII is coming, I might be stretching it out a bit here.

  7. #7
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Hezbollah Groups Call for Mass Protests

  8. #8
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    The Lebanese crisis explained

    By Roger Hardy
    Middle East analyst, BBC News

    Eighteen religions are officially recognised by the Lebanese state

    Lebanon is the most politically complex and religiously divided country in the Middle East, which is what makes it such a potentially explosive factor in an unstable region.

    Tiny Lebanon baffles outsiders. Even people in the Middle East find its politics confusing.
    Set up by France after World War I as a predominantly Christian state, Lebanon is now about 60% Muslim, 40% Christian.
    It has 18 officially recognised religious sects and sharing power between them has always been a complicated game.
    Lebanese Muslims have tended to look east for support from the other Arab states and from Iran. The Christians have tended to look west to Europe and the United States.
    The country's proximity to Israel - and the presence of a large number of Palestinian refugees on its soil - mean it is also intimately tied to the Arab-Israeli dispute.
    While Lebanon has plenty of problems of its own, it has also become the arena where many of the region's conflicts and rivalries are played out.
    Syrian influence
    The long conflict which ravaged the country from 1975 until 1990 was both a civil war and a regional war.
    It left Lebanon firmly under Syria's thumb, and with a southern strip of territory occupied by Israel as a buffer zone.
    Lebanese politics have resulted in a succession of wars and atrocities

    Israel has repeatedly intervened in Lebanon to protect its northern border.
    The civil war also drew in Iran to fight Israel and support the Lebanese Shia.
    In 1982 Iran created Hezbollah, the Party of God, which has evolved into a major player in Lebanese politics and an important ally of Iran and Syria.
    Israeli forces eventually withdrew in 2000 and Syrian forces in 2005.
    But while Syria no longer has a military presence, it has retained political influence through its relationship with Hezbollah.
    Israeli onslaught
    It is against this backdrop of conflict and polarisation that the war on the Lebanese-Israeli border unfolded during the summer.
    Seldom has Lebanon looked more fragile. The outcome of this crisis will influence the balance of power in the Middle East

    The capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah provoked a month-long Israeli onslaught.
    The areas where the Shia movement enjoys support - south Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut - bore the brunt of the Israeli offensive.
    This caused large-scale death and destruction but failed to secure the soldiers' release or Hezbollah's defeat.
    Hezbollah claimed it had won a "divine victory".
    In the aftermath of the war, the country began the task of physical reconstruction - but still plagued by its old divisions.
    The government is badly split between anti-Syrian and pro-Syrian factions.
    Massive demonstrations have pressed both sides' claims

    The first is a loose alliance of Sunnis, Christians and Druze (a heterodox offshoot of Islam) and enjoys the support of the United States.
    The second is an essentially Shia grouping dominated by Hezbollah, with the backing of Syria and Iran.
    Symbolising the polarisation is the fact that the president is pro-Syrian and the prime minister anti-Syrian.
    Two things have served to raise the temperature to boiling point.
    One is Hezbollah's threat to bring its supporters onto the streets unless there is a cabinet shake-up which would give it veto power over government decisions.
    The other is the string of assassinations of anti-Syrian politicians, the latest of whom is Pierre Gemayel. Seldom has Lebanon looked more fragile. The outcome of the crisis will influence not just the fate of a small country but the balance of power in the Middle East.

  9. #9
    Oct 2003

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    A note on the Shi'a in Lebanon: many are Palestinian refugees and many are also poor. This fact has allowed Hezbollah (and others) to develop and gain popularity among the disenfranchised, impoverished denizens. But Hezbollah also enjoys the support of some Christians and Sunnis who see it as a nationalistic organization.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  10. #10
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Im gonna post this as well Orang. I know I like first person stuff

    But tell me if any of this strays from where you want the thread.

  11. #11
    Oct 2003

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal View Post
    Im gonna post this as well Orang. I know I like first person stuff

    But tell me if any of this strays from where you want the thread.
    No, no, it's fine.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  12. #12
    Oct 2003

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    A Hezbollah supporter sits on a street light waving a Lebanese flag during a demonstration to force the resignation of Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, in Beirut, Lebanon.


    Hizballah's Rally Highlights the Government's Weakness

    On Scene: U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's grip on power is further eroded as hundreds of thousands in Beirut demand his ouster


    Posted Friday, Dec. 01, 2006

    The Hizballah security teams identifiable by their combat boots, black fatigues and beards that gathered Friday morning in the suburbs of Beirut didn't need much of a pep talk to pump themselves up for their massive demonstration in Lebanon's capital. "If the leadership says march, we march; if they say die, we die," said one, who called himself Bakkir. Still, if they needed any reminder of why they were hitting the streets to bring down Lebanon's government, Bakkir and his buddies could look around at the bomb craters and crushed concrete from this summer's war with Israel. "[The government] betrayed us during the war with Israel," said Bakkir.

    The battle for control of Lebanon that began in earnest with Friday's rally by hundreds of thousands of protesters in downtown Beirut is an aftershock of that war. Again and again, the packed crowd, the speakers on the podium in Riadh Al Solh Square, and the martial anthems played on a gigantic stereo system sounded the same theme, accusing the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of collaborating with Israel and the United States in their plans to redraw the map of the Middle East and bomb Hizballah into submission. Put simply by a Shi'ite schoolgirl from Baalbek: "This is an Israeli government and we want to make it fall."

    The opposition may be exaggerating Siniora's ties to the United States, not to mention Israel. After all, Siniora did all he could to press his friends in Washington to demand an immediate cease-fire, but his pleas went unheeded. In what was perceived as a green light for Israel to continue its campaign in pursuit of a military victory over Hizballah, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice memorably told the Lebanese they were suffering "the birth pangs of a New Middle East."

    Where 2006 began with similar demonstrations against the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri that ultimately forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in the "Cedar Revolution," the year appears to be ending with the streets and the political momentum very much back in the hands of Syria's allies. But nobody was talking about Syria on Friday; their concerns were the Lebanese government, and its backers, real and perceived.

    Police officials estimated the crowd at about 800,000 people, while Hizballah claimed a cool million about one quarter of the country's population. Either way, the event bore Hizballah's signature organizational flair: its security personnel, as many as 10,000 of them, lined up at every major intersection to prevent supporters from becoming too enthusiastic, or infiltrators from stirring up trouble. Marchers came from all over the country, many of them determined to stay in Beirut until the government collapses. Hizballah politicians promised an open-ended and escalating series of civil actions, from strikes at key national institutions to a moratorium on paying sales taxes and electricity bills. "We withstood 34 days war with Israeli," said former Hizballah MP Mohmmed Berjawi. "We can stay here as long as it takes."

    The suffering inflicted by the Israeli bombing campaign, and the fact that Hizballah's fighting forces emerged intact to claim a "Divine Victory" left Siniora's government and all Lebanese moderates associated with the U.S. politically vulnerable. In negotiating a cease-fire, Siniora signed off on a U.S.-sponsored Security Council Resolution requiring the disarmament of Hizballah. That agreement may turn out to be the downfall of the Siniora government.

    Hizballah is demanding the formation of a new government in which its opposition bloc would have effective veto power.
    And it's certainly hard to see how Siniora can carry on with much authority after Friday's show of strength by his opposition.

    Equally ominous for Siniora would have been the sight of so many Lebanese Christians joining forces with Hizballah's Shi'ite base. Followers of Maronite Christian leader General Michel Aoun formed a colorful stream that flowed into the out of Christian East Beirut and into the crowd at the rally, dressed in their trademark orange. Aoun, who has presidential ambitions, formed an alliance with Hizballah that has split Lebanon's large Christian population, which has historically had strong ties to the U.S. and the West.

    Looming unseen in the background, as always, is the 800-pound gorilla of Lebanon's political system: Hizballah's armed military wing, which has a weapons and capacity far beyond what any other political party or even the Lebanese army could muster. Hizballah has promised that all its actions will be peaceful. "We save our weapons for fighting Israel," according to Bakkir. But any Lebanese politician that tries to get between Hizballah and its guns will likely go the way of the Phoenicans and the Romans.
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  13. #13
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Today's entry from Totten site

    December 02, 2006

    Coup attempt in progress in Lebanon

    By Abu Kais
    The (now partial) blockade of the government Serail remains in effect, with Hizbullah security agents refusing to remove their tents because “they only follow orders from Hizbullah”. Bearded Hizbullah singers are keeping teenagers and children entertained by performing songs about “Feltman’s government”, the “heroic resistance” and the “evil Zionists”. Hizbullah TV keeps the adults informed by playing news bulletins on loud speakers and on large screens. On the second day, yellow flags and balloon tubes are complementing the show of Lebanese flags.
    Hizbullah is now referring to itself as “the Lebanese national opposition”.
    The Sunni Arab regimes are up in arms-- at least verbally and behind the scenes-- over what appears to be a Shia uprising and blatant Syrian-Iranian attempt to take over power. Hizbullah leaders think that they can get away with a protest that outwardly looks peaceful, but is really a coup d’etat attempt by an armed Shia militia against the country’s legitimate government and Sunni leadership. Using the Shia community has succeeded. But using Michel Aoun as a Christian cover for this Shia intifada has failed. Many Christians stayed home, and Aoun had to justify his constituents’ lack of interest in this anti-government rebellion by playing it secular.
    There is nothing secular about what transpires in downtown Beirut, precisely because this is Lebanon, the home of 18 sects that share power according to intricate coexistence formulas. Shia Nabih Berri and Hizbullah arrived to power through the same elections that Aoun and March 14 won. Regardless of what we think of the 2005 electoral law, they were elected according to a sectarian formula, and though they are supposed to represent the entire country upon their election, all deputies are viewed as their sects’ representatives. For that, it is unorthodox and quite dangerous for Hizbullah and Aoun to circumvent this confessional democracy by imposing their own kind of government on the Sunnis of Lebanon.
    The ironic part is that Hizbullah claims the cabinet does not have legitimacy because it no longer represents the Shia sect. Even if we submit that this is true, and that the imbalance did not result from Hizbullah and Amal refusing to participate in a government they don’t dominate, Hizbullah and Amal cannot constitutionally claim that the Sunni leadership needs to change while still claiming to represent all the Shia of Lebanon. Not without new elections. The only way for them to find out if they deserve to stay is through elections, and the time for that has not come yet. The legitimacy that Hizbullah feel they have from their own constituents is the same that the opposing camp enjoys and that was given to them by their own constituents. Aoun and Hizbullah cannot demand “another Sunni” to replace a popular Sunni prime minister. They do not have that right in sectarian Lebanon. And nobody is stopping them from using the institutions to express and act on their grievances, if they indeed they're national ones.
    But then, Hizbullah never felt that they drew their legitimacy from elections-- they are a religious party with followers who vote them into public office out of religious duty and/or intimidation. There are 150,000 Hibzullah "supporters" on the militia's payroll (according to Walid Jumblatt). Their MPs, just like those tent dwellers who refuse to follow the orders of the Lebanese army, only answer to their clerical leadership, which answers only to the Wali al-Faqih (the supreme leader) in Iran. That is why Hizbullah can never be a fair player in Lebanese politics. Its political structure as well as its raison d’etre – a jihadist militia with a political agenda— prevents it from playing by the rules of democracy, let alone Lebanese democracy. Do not be fooled by Hizbullah members’ sudden love for the Lebanese flag. They were following orders. And that flag is interestingly never used on the coffins of their fighters. Nasrallah likes to use it to make his protest seem patriotic, or as patriotic as a March 14 demonstration.
    In reality, there is little difference between what Hizbullah is trying to do and what Syrian intelligence did when they had direct control of all Lebanese institutions. The Syrian regime kept the Sunnis of Lebanon in check by occasionally obstructing Rafik Hariri’s projects and sponsoring Sunni fundamentalists to weaken the Sunni Mufti. Hariri was killed precisely because he was going to openly join the anti-Syrian opposition in the country, bringing with him many in his community. Defeating him through elections did not work in 2000 because he ended up sweeping the vote. Killing him was the only option for Bashar, who wanted to “break the country over the heads of those who opposed his orders.”
    And speaking of Syrian intelligence, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh said yesterday that “armed Syrian elements” were stationed along one of the roads leading to the government building. Hizbullah reportedly had plans to storm the building accompanied by those elements, prompting Siniora to call the Saudi King to intervene. Other reports (LBC) said that pro-government groups were getting ready to move to the area to remove the blockade by force if necessary.

    So what now? What is the next step for March 14?
    This blogger recommended a march to Baabda. I think March 14 wants to discourage any form of street protests, so they will probably not resort to more street action. Hamadeh said that March 14 are considering going to parliament for another vote of confidence in the cabinet. They will probably get it, although Hizbullah yesterday threatened they would resign from parliament as well if their demands are not met (Aoun today denied it). Hamadeh also said that the parliament majority would try to form a committee to recommend Lahoud be put on trial.
    Journalist Fares Khashan from the pro-Hariri al-Mustaqbal has a new plan for March 14 (nothing new here, we’ve been screaming some of these things for over a year):
    1- Alliance with independent Shias.
    2- Respond to Hizbullah allegations about the government’s role during the war.
    3- Insist on a “basket of solutions” that takes into consideration the demands of the entire Lebanese population, and not just a quarter of it.
    4- Work on trying Lahoud before the higher council through a petition signed by the parliament majority.
    5- Resolve the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons. “Hizbullah is an army, and armies don’t demonstrate. By taking to the street to topple the government, they are staging a coup d’etat.”
    6- Start thinking about the upcoming elections, heed the demands of the Shia independents in the South and the Bekaa and provide favorable conditions for their voters so that they’re not intimidated by Hizbullah’s weapons.
    Finally, Khashan thanked the “besiegers” of the Grand Serail for “liberating Christians from the illusion of Aoun’s power, for freeing Lebanese from the prison of Hizbullah’s taboos, and for freeing Lebanese politicians from the prison of authoritativeness that almost made them forget that Nabih Berri is but the head of the Amal movement, with whom Rafik Hariri was upset before he was martyred.”

    Update. Anton Efendi has an excellent post on Aoun's "super genius".
    One thing Aoun shares with Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah is complete contempt for the complex Lebanese system. With that comes a fundamental

    lack of understanding of and disregard for its deeply enshrined rules.

    That leads to devastating consequences not just on Aoun, or the

    Maronites, or the Christians, but the entire country...

    With Sunni-Shiite tension running high, with Iraq and Iranian interference in the background, Hezbollah wanted to make sure to give

    its own attempt at a coup a non-Shiite face. Enter Michel Aoun, who was

    the only major speaker at the rally (his speech by the way was

    incredibly unimpressive and barely coherent)! An abomination in the

    context of Lebanese politics if there ever was one. Hassan Nasrallah

    had another engagement in his bunker, and was more than satisfied to

    see Aoun in that spot. Nabih Berri wanted no part of this. Not even

    Salim Hoss, the pro-Syrian former PM wanted anything to do with this.

    He didn't show up. Nor did a Christian leader from Zahle, who belonged

    to the Aounist bloc in parliament, come to the rally. I wonder why!?.


    I cant help but notice as I read the media has defined things.
    The democratically elected Lebanonese Government is now the "US backed" government.
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 12-02-2006 at 04:26 PM.

  14. #14
    Aug 2001

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread

    Today [since the old media doesnt have alot to say]

    Hizbullah leading Lebanon to civil war

    By Abu Kais
    Hizbullah, Aoun and Syria's parties are overstaying their welcome. The patience of Beirut citizens and Lebanese from the opposing camp is wearing thin.
    LBC is reporting riots involving Sunnis and Shias in the neighborhood of Qasqas as I type this. The Lebanese army has intervened. (Update: The clashes were reportedly between a Hizbullah convoy passing through the area and Sunni residents)

    Yesterday, around 300 Hizbullah members reportedly chased a man who hurled insults at Hassan Nasrallah and then fled towards nearby Ashrafieh. The Lebanese army stopped the advance of the militia on the Christian neighborhood and arrested the individual, who turned out to be a Syrian citizen by the name of Hamzah Mohamad Sadeq Ismail. Al-Mustaqbal described this as a Syrian intelligence attempt to create clashes, although one wonders what Hizbullah was thinking by sending 300 members to a Christian neighborhood boiling with rage.

    ^^but read the whole thing.

  15. #15
    Oct 2003

    Re: The Cedars - A New Thread,00.html

    A Lebanese man holds a poster of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during a rally in Beirut December 1, 2006. A sea of flag-waving protesters demanded on Friday the resignation of Lebanon's Western-backed government at a Hezbollah-led rally, but Prime Minister Fouad Siniora appeared unmoved by the pressure.

    From the Magazine | World

    Losing Lebanon

    The U.S. once saw it as a hope for democracy in the Middle East. Now the country is veering toward civil war. Here's how it all went wrong


    Posted Sunday, Dec. 3, 2006

    It's never a good sign for a country when the Prime Minister and most of his Cabinet members spend their days barricaded in an Ottoman-era compound. That's what Fouad Siniora and Lebanon's other top officials have done since Nov. 21, when gunmen assassinated Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel in broad daylight. Siniora's worries go beyond his personal safety. With Lebanon still trying to recover from last summer's 34-day war between Israel and the Shi'ite militant group Hizballah, the government has seen its authority undermined, renewed meddling from the country's neighbors and the growing assertiveness of Hizballah. Organized by Hizballah and its allies, about 800,000 protesters--a rather grand figure in a country of just 3.8 million--gathered in the center of Beirut last Friday to demand the resignation of Siniora. At the time, Lebanon's leader was in his barracks, surrounded by machine guns and barbed wire.

    Lebanon wasn't supposed to turn out this way. In March of last year, President George W. Bush was hailing Lebanon as a shining beacon of his Administration's "democracy agenda" for the Middle East. Close to 1 million Lebanese had flooded into Beirut to demand that Syria pull its troops out of Lebanon and end its 29-year domination of the country. The U.S. State Department coined the protests the Cedar Revolution, a more folksy title than the Lebanese term, Independence Intifadeh, which smacked of radicalism. But with six ministers having resigned since Nov. 11, sectarian tensions rising and government officials fearing for their lives, the vision of a new Lebanon is dimming fast--and with it, the Administration's bid to build a positive legacy in the Middle East beyond the wreckage of Iraq.

    There are worrying signs, in fact, that Lebanon may be closer to a total meltdown than at any time since the 1975-90 civil war. An Arab diplomat told TIME that General Michael Suleiman, the commander in chief of the Lebanese Army, recently admitted that his troops would be able to contain a series of demonstrations "for only a few weeks." If Hizballah organizes protests around the country similar to those in Beirut last week, "We will not be able to cope," Suleiman reportedly said. His concern was that because many of his troops are Shi'ite, they would refuse to act against their brethren within Hizballah.

    The nightmare scenario is that Hizballah's show of strength could provoke a backlash against its mostly Shi'ite supporters by Lebanon's Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze communities. If that happens, most Lebanese believe the situation could quickly escalate into all-out civil war. As a river of pro-Hizballah demonstrators flowed toward Siniora's besieged compound last week, poultry seller Ahmad Sahd, 65, wept. "These youngsters didn't live through the civil war. I did. And it looks like it's starting again."

    So why is the Cedar Revolution crashing down? Part of the answer rests outside Lebanon's borders. During the summer's war with Israel, Hizballah relied heavily on the Syrians for logistic, military and financial support. According to Israeli officials, Western diplomats in Beirut and Arab sources, Damascus acted as a conduit for Iranian weapons to reach Hizballah, allowing the group to fight the Israelis to a standstill.

    Now it is payback time. Lebanese officials, along with Israeli military sources and Western diplomats, say that while Syrian President Bashar Assad may be willing to help pull the Bush Administration out of the Iraqi quicksand, he hopes to exact concessions that would allow him to treat Lebanon, where the Syrian regime has vast financial interests, as his private turf. And according to these same sources, he is unnerved by a U.N.-sponsored inquiry that implicates top Syrian officials in the February 2005 car bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. Assad is hoping that the international probe will peter out. Indictments issued by a U.N.-sponsored court against members of the Syrian leadership could critically weaken the Damascus regime and lead to U.N. sanctions against Assad's clique. Hizballah pulled its six ministers out of the 24-seat Cabinet rather than vote to support an international court to prosecute the Hariri case, and the assassination of Gemayel, the scion of a powerful Christian family and a fervent anti-Syrian, was seen as further warning to Siniora. His Cabinet voted anyway to recommend an international tribunal into the Hariri killing, pushing Hizballah into the streets last week.

    Hizballah also accuses Siniora's ministers of secretly siding with Israel and the U.S. by failing to provide backup during the July-August war with Israel. With its massive street demonstrations, Hizballah hopes to intimidate the country's other parties into giving it more than the six Cabinet seats it had held, enabling it to block any legislation seen as contrary to the interests of Hizballah and its backers in Damascus and Tehran.

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