The conventional wisdom about the “moderation” of Lebanon’s sunnis and Tunisian society will be severely tested in coming period
Both countries have elites and popular bases which will tell you over and over again about the essential moderation of their societies. This extremely hopeful pronouncement – tunisians make up a large segment of the radical fighters in iraq and syria and Lebanon has a long history of extremism all around – will likely be severely tested in the coming period as this columnist predicts below. That’s what happens when you militerize the region after all, as those advocating a “controlled collapse” of the syrian regime have now discovered. Translated from Mideastwire.com
On October 1, Denise Attallah Haddad wrote the following report in the independent, leftist As-Safir daily: “Is ISIL really preparing for a major war against Lebanon…? And does Lebanon possess the necessary means to defend its borders, security and sovereignty all the way to shielding its socioeconomic stability? Are we living strapped to explosive ticking bombs that are ticking away? A Lebanese political sources says: “unless we find a quick way to cut the wires of this bomb, the country will blow up and no one will be safe from the shrapnel of this devastating explosion.”
“The source re-expressed his fears over a dramatic development that might affect Lebanon and its people in the few upcoming weeks. “If we do survive our shaky economic situation and the repercussions of the social pressure that is nearing the extent of an explosion for several reasons, then the leaked information concerning ISIL and its plans as well as the actions of the countries and their wars against ISIL are not reassuring. On the contrary, all the leaks indicate the need for finding quick ways out for the little crises with which we are keeping busy in order to confront the major plot that is being implemented and that is prone to expand. The compromises at this point are warranted not for one another’s sake but for the sake of the country’s stability and protection.
“When explaining the reasons for concern and fear, the source said: “Who can tell us what the armed men are preparing in the barren areas? Logic indicates that they are bracing to launch a violent attack against Lebanon. They will not remain hostages to the security grip. They will work on breaking free one way or another. This will only occur through a new confrontation with the army.”
“According to the same politician: “The armed groups are proving every day that they have plans and that they know what they want. The division of the Lebanese is growing and their differences over everything, including the army and its actions, are growing deeper. They are encouraging sedition and we, knowingly or unknowingly, are helping in achieving their will and desires.”
“He added: “We cannot rely indefinitely on the openness and moderation of the Lebanese nor can we rely on the theories indicating that, at the end of the day, people hate radicalism. Tunisia, one of the most open and moderate countries, announced that it has re-gained control over 210 mosques that were under the control of groups affiliated to a radical Jihadist movement and closed 29 mosques in the past few months. Tunisia also announced that it has banned 9,000 Tunisian men from traveling because they were planning to fight with the radical groups in Iraq and Syria. In light of all this, how will our situation be knowing that we are in direct contact and at the heart of the fighting arenas both on the geographical and political levels?”
“In paradox, the political source is equally worried about the armed groups and the “project of the countries that are fighting them. Now that these countries have cornered the armed groups in Iraq and in Syria…, higher numbers of these radical fighters will likely be heading to the Lebanese borders and gathering along the borders where they will be barricading themselves and getting ready.” He added: “Is this what some countries really want? Do they really want to confront ISIL and their likes on the Lebanese lands? Do they want to lure the Lebanese parties into taking part in this war? Are they aware of the cost of that on this country? Will this country even remain one? Or is this exactly what they want?” The same political source concluded by saying: “We are locked in a feverish race with time. Either we break the freeze and proceed towards a joint Lebanese settlement to shield our country, or we will be eaten gradually in succession or concomitantly. There’s no difference between a white ox and a black one.”
This is just another indication of how ill-conceived the US redline is against arming the LAF: not only did ISIS loot such a wide array of US equipment, not only does the LAF have a great end-use control record, but hizbullah has far greater capabilities.
I suppose it is the first time we see these weapons used. I remember when one academic laughed at my assertion in a conference that Hizbullah likely had such capabilities and could also target specific buildings in Israel. I guess he’s not laughing anymore.
I just don’t get it – do the NYT and others understand what they are doing when they strive so hard to make Nusra front seem ok?
“…While the Nusra Front does not openly call for attacks on the West, it remains loyal to Mr. Zawahri, whose clout among jihadists has waned with the rise of the Islamic State…”
Just google and you will find nice headlines like:
Al-Qaida faction in Syria contemplating US attack, intelligence officials warn
Senate hears Nusra Front has ‘aspirations for attacks on the homeland’ amid concern over civil war’s terrorism implications
– I am sure a few minutes of checking arabic sources or even MEMRI will yield the “open call” that the reporter didn’t check for apparently.
We are looking more and more like we are going to step into a huge mess in syria and make things worse…. especially since there seems to be little strategic planning and little consideration of how Resistance Axis actors will react….
Very shortsighted and ill considered… plus it seems there already are plenty of boots on the ground, according to this report
“This proposed operational framework is related to the Syrian wing of ISIL’s forces and requires, out of strategic and defensive caution, the deployment of military forces along the Jordanian-Syrian border to protect Jordan… In parallel, the paperwork required by the relatively “long residence” of more than 15,000 American Special Forces on the Jordanian border with Syria was completed, including the provision of food, water and logistic support. These forces might be deployed on the border near Daraa, in light of Jordanian fears of seeing the extremist fighters “fleeing” to Jordan if they are cornered around Daraa, Deir Ezzor and Raqqa…”
THE TWELFTH BEIRUT EXCHANGE January 4-14, 2015
Application Deadline I November 15, 2014/Deadline II December 1, 2014
Limited spaces available/Rolling acceptance
The Beirut Exchange program rests on two tracks:
Academic – Participants will attend a series of lectures and colloquia led by leading academics and public intellectuals in Lebanon. Topics will include: The Arab Uprisings; The Syrian conflict and its regional implications; The Islamic State; The Special Tribunal for Lebanon; The United Nations as peacekeeper and mediator; Engaging political Islam; Asymmetrical conflict: The July 2006 Lebanon War; Human Rights in Lebanon and the wider Middle East; Sectarianism and its deployment, as well as a range of other topics.
Dialogue with Leaders – Participants will have the opportunity to meet, listen and engage leading social, political and economic actors from across the spectrum in Lebanon – with a particular (though not exclusive) emphasis on exposure to Islamist and opposition currents.
NOTE: Due to the current security situation in Lebanon, the Twelfth Beirut Exchange will generally restrict its meetings in and around Beirut, although at least one trip to the North and one trip to the South is planned.
Previous Speakers (partial list of non-party speakers only):
·Bilal Baroudi, As-Salam Mosque Tripoli
·Nicholas Blanford, Times of London
·Richard Chambers, International Foundation for Electoral Systems
·Alastair Crooke, Conflicts Forum
·Abdullah Dardari, Frm. Syrian Arab Republic
·Robert Fisk, The Independent
·Toufic Gaspard, Economist
·Hanin Ghaddar, NOW Lebanon
·Timur Goksel, American University of Beirut
·Judith Palmer Harik, Matn University
·Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch
·Farid El-Khazen, AUB
·Rami Khouri, Daily Star & AUB
·Eli Khoury, Quantum Communications
·Karim Makdisi, AUB
·Sayyid Mohammed Marandi, Tehran University
·Omar Nashabe, Al-Akhbar
·Nir Rosen, Journalist
·Osama Safa, Lebanese Center for Policy Studies
·Paul Salem, Carnegie Middle East Center
·Milos Struger, Frm. UNIFIL
·Fawwaz Traboulsi, AUB
View a previous full program for the Beirut Exchange at: http://www.thebeirutexchange.com/images/stories/products/1_-_ScheduleJan2012.pdf
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Tuition – $1200; Partial financial aid is available for those students and individuals that can demonstrate need.
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“Strange bedfellows” idea becoming more extreme by the day : Ted Cruz accused of Hezbollah sympathies by Likudist DC lobby
It is supremely rich the situation that is developing and every day giving new meaning to the hackneyed “strange bedfellows argument”: The Likudist lobby in DC which always loved the hard right republicans for the most part, is tonight angry at Sen Ted Cruz because he is sharing the stage with Aounists and christians – who are alligned with hezbollah in many cases.
The Maronite Patriarch is especially singled out.
How can Cruz reconcile in his brain that the christians which he says he wants to protect in the mideast are largely in a politically symbiotic and in some cases direct alliance with hezbollah?
It is quite a pickle – but then again in Lebanon as I wrote for ECFR.EU, the US intel community is in a symbiotic relationship with Hezbollah itself for the first time ever…Here is the hit job:
Gone, too, are the days when there was at least a discussion about Hezbollah’s independent weaponry…
From my ECFR report: “…the distinct prospect exists that Lebanon could be a rare example of an Arab state, rankled by sectarian conflict and the metastasising threat of violent Sunni extremism, that can maintain relative stability and political compromise, even if it involves a symbiotic truce with actors long regarded by the US and some European states as both hostile and brutal. Either way, Hezbollah is now playing a lead role in the emerging regional containment strategy for IS, despite its terrorist labelling by some.
In fact, the bottom line that has emerged is a particularly frustrating one for Hezbollah’s longstanding opponents, large and small: whatever its actions were in the past, and even if one believes that Hezbollah is wholly at fault for attracting the spectre of violent Sunni extremism to bear on Lebanon through its direct support for the Assad regime, historical arguments have lost much of their rallying power on the ground. Gone, too, are the days when there was at least a discussion about Hezbollah’s independent weaponry or its alleged role in the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri. Instead, this has all been subsumed (for the moment) by a commonly held, greater threat hammered home by the Islamic State and its fellow travellers.