Ahmad Fatfat and the rest. You need to watch Samir Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) on Arabiyya TV today. He had a picture of Saint Sharbil behind him (he was canonized after evidence of his three miracles was presented to the Vatican, and one of them was Baba Ghannuj), and they arranged for a children encyclopedia near him, to make him look like an intellectual. But the most obscene discourse was the statement that this guy read yesterday on behalf of March 14th movement. Only As-Safir newspaper noted the irony: he paid tribute to Beirut it his statement when it suffered under Israeli occupation in 1982. As-Safir asked: where was Ja`ja` (Ga`ga` in Egyptian accent) at the time? He was a guide, like other Lebanese Forces commanders, with the Israeli occupation troops and they were bombarding the city, and his armed goons were implementing the siege of the city by banning food and water from entering West Beirut. The Lebanese Forces checkpoints imposed the (Israeli) siege of Beirut (of course, the people of Beirut managed to get in what they needed through smuggling and effective bribery of LF troops at checkpoints. I remember once we had great strawberries through a great bribery scheme at one LF checkpoint). But in commenting on the developments you have to say a word about Sa`d Hariri, who remains in hiding, and whose appearance two days ago ensured that his militia men would not fight against Hizbullah and Amal. He appeared a broken man and almost fainted while struggling through the statement that they wrote for him. But the racist discourse of the Hariri people is quite astounding: they refer to Shi`ites (civilians and armed ones) in Beirut as "invaders", although many of them were born in the city and not in South Lebanon, and yet most of the Hariri militia men were brought in from North Lebanon. I expressed fears about thuggish Amal militia men roaming the streets of Beirut, and today an Amal militia man presumably fired at a demonstration. But let me say this: the tense climate in the city, and the sectarian tensions in the city are largely the work of the Hariri Inc OVER THREE YEARS. They were the ones who incited and agitated along sectarian lines, and now both sides harbor suspicions and animosities against one another. The Hariri clerics from the North to the South have participated in the most blatant sectarian fitnah the likes of which the country has never known. This started in the parliamentary elections (arranged by Larsen) in 2005 and did not stop ever since. For the Hariri Mufti of the republic to do his best impersonation of Zarqawi is to try to steer Sunni public opinion toward Al-Qa`idah ideology, although Al-Qa`idah will not take root in a place like Lebanon despite the best efforts of the Hariri Inc. It looks like Fitnah will not occur because Hariri militia men will not fight and die for the Hariri family and for the Saudi royal family. The don't like Shi`ite militias but they will not fight them. Given the performance of Sa`d Hariri--not even speaking to his constituency, and not even speaking to his own journalists who were victims of the attacks on Hariri media throughout the city yesterday--I would not be surprised if the Saudi royal family is already discussing changes in the Hariri family leadership. Saudi media were rather cautious in the first day of clashes (don't you like how after the surrender of HUNDREDS of Hariri militia men to opposition armed groups the Hariri and Saudi propagandists are now denying that there was any Hariri militia--no, there were but they did not fight, get it?), but they got their marching orders from House of Saud yesterday, and the sectarian agitation began in earnest. At least Jumblat, unlike the hiding Hariri, continued to speak and to give interviews although he referred to the issues that HE HIMSELF help spark as "a misunderstanding." Make no mistake about it: if Amal and Hizbullah plan to rule the city, the horrific experience of the 1980s will be repeated, and the people of the city from all sects will quickly be fed up with them. They were so fed up with Druze and Shi`ite militias in 1987 that people started begging Syrian troops to come to Lebanon to save them from the militias. In fact, An-Nahar (the right-wing, sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people) sheet) today said that the Syrian government is offering mediation in the Lebanese crisis. What? Is Rustum Ghazalah planning a comeback? He must be watching the developments in Lebanon while eating popcorn. I hate when the various sides in Lebanon invoke "democracy" or "the rule of law" or "the modern state" when fighting with one another. Lebanon is a country that never had any of that. Today, that Sanyurah guy (the anointed Dahlan guy in Lebanon), hoping to lift the burden from himself, transferred the decisions (the one referring to the chief security at airport and the Hizbullah communication system which sparked the crisis) from the government to the Lebanese Army. (And he made sure to insert Qur'anic citations in his speech, very much like Saddam Husayn in defeat). That is quite clearly unconstitutional. The Lebanese Army leadership is subordinate to the government, and not vice versa. But the very nomination (to the presidency) of the Lebanese army commander-in-chief is unconstitutional. And just yesterday Ahmad Fatfat (Minister of Ping Pong) stated that the Lebanese government wound not under any circumstances rescind its deicions. Today, Sanjyurah did just that. And let us face it: if you want to resist Israeli occupation in Lebanon you can't share power with the likes of Hariri, Jumblat, and Ja`ja`. Just as you can't resist Israeli occupation of Palestine while sharing power with Muhammad Dahlan. Yet, Hizbullah does not know that, it seems. And the Saudi-Qatari rapprochement may come to and end with this crisis: Qatar decided to take Syria's side (and consequently Hizbullah's side) in Lebanon. Saudi media are miffed. It remains a mystery as to why the Lebanese Army remained neutral--i.e., biased and sympathetic to Shi`ite militias in the city, during this crisis. It is either due to attempts by Michel Sulayman to win over Shi`ite support, or due to the sectarian composition of the Lebanese Army which has a Shi`ite majority. No many want solutions. Rudwan As-Sayyid was rather odd in his appearance on AlArabiya TV: at one point I am told he snapped at Rima Maktabi, and seemed to be issuing orders. That is the extent of the incestuous relationship between Hariri Inc and Saudi media. As-Sayyid spoke like a local Hariri militia commander who can't get his armed men back into positions. And is it not hilarious when Rudwan As-Sayyid complains about Hizbullah's loyalty to Iran and Syria--which is true of course, when As-Sayyid represents a movement that is loyal to Saudi Arabia/US/Israel? Both opposing movements in Lebanon have outside allegiances, so please don't preach--especially you who I have seen on TV crying over the death of King Fahd for one whole week. As you watch events unfold in Lebanon, you become more convinced that only secular (and preferably anti-clerical, a la French secularism) parties and leaders could steer the country toward unity, but that is unlikely and that is why Lebanon is not viable as a country. I love it when Saudi media bring (independent) Lebanese "analysts" (who just happen to be working for Saudi and Hariri media) and they always preface their remarks by praising the wisdom of Sa`d Hariri. Wisdom?
""On Friday, numerous men in the Sunni neighborhood of Tarik Jadideh complained that they had been given instructions not to fight, and now felt humiliated. “Saad Hariri let us down,” said one young man in Tarik Jadideh, where the streets were still littered with broken glass on Friday, and blackened building facades bore witness to fierce battles the night before with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. “We don’t want the Future Movement any more, or the whole Hariri family.” The man refused to give his name, because Mr. Hariri is such an important figure in the area. Another young man added: “What happened last night around midnight is that orders were given to desert our positions and go home. They put us on the front line of the confrontation and then abandoned us 15 minutes later.”" Let me guess: mini-Hariri will blame his militia men and his militia men will blame mini-Hariri.
It is amazing. The fate of the Bush Doctrine was clearly seen on the face of Walid Jumblat during his press conference today. He spoke of the need "to protect the security of the resistance [his reference to Hizbullah this week] vis-a-vis the Israeli dangers." I would NOT be surprised if you, once again, see Walid Jumblat paying tributes to the Asad regime in Damascus.
Yesterday, Ahmad Fatfat said that the Lebanese government would not rescind its decisions. Today, when asked about the reversal he said to New TV: no, it is not a reversal, because we did not take any decisions to begin with.
The Lebanese Army. The New York Times article today is quite ill-informed. One can't say that the Lebanese Army stood neutral during the crisis, was was suggested. In fact, it clearly sided with Hizbullah. I asked an expert of the Lebanese Army who knows Gen. Michel Sulayman well. He said that it is simple: that Sulayman saw that the balance of forces on the ground was clearly in Hizbullah's favor, and he moved accordingly. If the Hariri (non)militia got better training in Jordan, and if it performed better on the ground, Sulayman would have sided with them, or been more neutral, he told me.