Interesting Articles written

Lebanon's '300' heroes

Published: Monday, 12 May, 2008 @ 8:02 PM in Beirut (GMT+2)

By Walid Phares

Beirut -
While the West is busy living its daily life,
a beast is busy killing the freedom of a small community on the East Mediterranean: Lebanon.



Indeed, as of last week, the mighty Hezbollah, armed to the teeth with 30,000 rockets and missiles and aligning thousands of self described "Divine soldiers" has been marching across the capital, terrorizing its population, shutting down media, taking its politicians and the Prime Minister as hostages, and looting at will. The hordes of Lebanon's "Khomeinist Janjaweeds" have conquered already half of the Middle East's cultural capital, Beirut. As I have reported before, Hezbollah has occupied West Beirut and has since sent its storm troops in multiple directions to resume the blitz.


The burning of TV stations in Beirut


Unstoppable, including by the Lebanese Army which Commander Michel Suleiman has allowed the slaughter to occur the Pasdaran-founded militia is now hurdling towards the Druze Mountain and positioning its forces against the Sunni North and the Christian Mount Lebanon. Ironically, the geographical bases of Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, are well guarded by the United Nations Interim Forces (UNIFIL). Per a UNSCR 1701 in 2006, more than 10,000 international troops are stationed across the southern parts of Lebanon, technically protecting the 200 Shia towns and villages from where the bulk of Hezbollah fighters came from. Hence, free from guarding their own areas, a dozen thousands well trained "Hezbollahis" have marched north to join another 5,000 already based in the southern suburbs of Beirut.


This huge force, by Lebanon's standards, was joined by an undetermined number of real Iranian Guards, shipped from Tehran to man sophisticated weapons offered by the Khamanei regime as a gift to topple the democratically elected Government of Fuad Seniora. In addition, from the four corners of the country, Jihadist and ultra radical organizations have joined the fray including: The Nazi-like SSNP, the Amal Movement, the Wi'amWahhab pro-Syrian militia, and many others. And to top it, Damascus was able to neutralize the Lebanese Army which has been equipped recently by the United States. Its Commander, a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic was "convinced" by the Assad regime to open the passages to Beirut and all other regions for the hordes to thrust into their enemies' backyards. Reminding us of the tales of Greek Antiquity, this Xerxes -Khomeinist- Army burst into the capital, whipping out the thin internal security forces and reigning with brutality.


Hezbollah's "Immortal Guards" against the "300"?


After securing the Muslim side of the city, the "Immortal Guards" -since most of the Hezbollahis believe in martyrdom as a path to eternal after-life, encircled the mostly Druze Mountain from all directions. Closing in from the coast, the south and the Bekaa, thousands of fighters and their heavy artillery were ordered into battle this week end. The massive "Persian" Army is now attempting to take these passes into the Bekaa and from there into the North and the Christian Mountain. In a sense these may become Lebanon's Thermopylae: A vast Hezbollah Iranian-backed Army unleashing its power against few Lebanese Spartans, to dislodge them and open the paths for the rest of the country. Indeed, it looks like the few hundred Druze fighters in Aley and the Shuf -who have decided to fight on their own, may become Lebanon's "300". The vision is chilling. Despite the calls by their leader Walid Jumblatt, now hostage to the Pasdaran in Beirut, to desist from resisting, the mountainous peasants decided to fight and resist the onslaught. The balance of power is terribly uneven. The forces of Hassan Nasrallah, hyper armed by "Xerxes" Ahmedinijad, line up thousands of soldiers, Special Forces, missiles and endless containers of ammunition. They have hardened their battle experience through years of fighting against a powerful Israeli Army, Air Force and Navy. Nasrallah is convinced that his Army of Suicide-bombers has defeated the region's nuclear super power in 2006. Hence, a few "hundreds" of Druses won't even stand for a day. Logically, he is correct. The Lebanese Army was tamed by Hezbollah, the Sunnis of Beirut collapsed in few hours, the Christians are intimidated, the U.S and Europe fears Hezbollah's Terror and the Arab regimes are terrified by his myth. Who on Earth will resist the Khomeinist Xerxes? Well so far, Lebanon's 300 have.


The Grand Hezbollah Plan


The first waves of attacks launched by the Iranian backed forces aimed at seizing the first portion of the strategic Damascus Highway (the I-70 of Lebanon) linking Beirut to the Syrian border via the Mountain. The offensive began from Kayfoun towards Baysur. Instead of seizing terrain, Hezbollah lost Kayfoun with heavy casualties (about 23 killed) and the Druze fighters of the Socialist Party planted their flag on the enemy bunker before they pulled back to their positions. The Iranian commanders were stunned by these mountain "Rangers." But the Druze had only AK 47 with one or two clips of ammunitions; rarely an RPG. While the whole of Lebanon was watching with fear, awaiting their turn, the "300" were repelling the waves of "Immortal Hezbollah" who in fact got very mortal in 24 hours. Another battle raged in Aley and the "Persians" lost again: 9 casualties or so: Among the bodies, three Iranians. Near Aley the strategic hill 888 was assaulted repetitively but the defenders repelled the "Guards." Later on, the Druze transferred the hill to the Lebanese Army. Nasrallah's troops then stormed Deir Qubal but were pushed back towards the surrounding hills. Hezbollah tried to seize Ein Unub but again the attack failed.


Druze clerics Hezbollah Guard


Then Hezbollah ordered its forces to advance on the coastal axis towards Shouifat. There, the Druze pulled back inside the town allowing the "Hezbos" to take the control of the beaches and the adjacent roads. But when the Iranian backed militias moved toward the neighborhoods, their advance was stopped. Frustrated the "Xerxes" War Room decided the grand assault by early Monday: More than 2,000 Khomeinist-trained commandos took the back roads to the Barouk Mountain coming from the southern Bekaa. Their target are the Ma'aser heights and from there to the district capital of the Shouf, Mukhtara. From south Lebanon, the hordes of Hezbollah are marching across Jezzine, Toumate heights in Niha el Shouf into the southern frontiers of the Druze lands. According to reports, 5000 Hezbollah/Iranian/Syrian infantry, backed by rockets and artillery are to close in from the south. The Druze, youth and elderly, have mobilized all they could, but are isolated with little ammunition. Their adversaries are numerous, well equipped, fanaticized and have their supply lines opened to Syria and via Damascus, to Iran. The tableau looks like a real collection of small Thermopylae where the "300" of Lebanon will be fighting a Goliath.


Pasdaran and Hezbollah's forces


But irony is that the United States and other Democracies, whose forces are present in the area and ships cruising the waters along the Eastern Mediterranean, and who have committed to fight terror around the globe may be watching these "300" falling in this epic fight. The greater irony is that these peasants of Mount Lebanon have withstood the mighty machine of Hezbollah for three days and maybe for a few more, while the standing myth internationally was that no one on Earth can defeat this Terror force. Well, for few days the myth of invincibility of Hezbollah was shattered. Eventually if the powers -who have already spent 500 billion dollars on the War on terror- would fail the Lebanese "300" in their mountains, the legend will be owned by the those little intrepid and courageous peasants. But if Washington and Paris would quickly assume their strategic responsibilities -which they initiated by voting UNSCR 1559 to liberate Lebanon- then perhaps Khomeinist-Terror won't plant its banners on the Eastern Mediterranean.


Dr Walid Phares is the Director of the Future Terrorism Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad.

Dr. Joseph Hitti

Joseph Hitti is an American Translators Association-certified Arabic translator, a genomics scientist and a political commentator on Lebanon and the Middle East. He was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon and currently lives in Boston. He can be reached at   Dr. Joseph Hitti April 10, 2008 The incompetence of the West is bewildering when it comes to securing a solution to the Lebanese problem, after all the European and Arab mediation attempts, after all the threats and inducements, after decades of dispatching UN forces under innumerable UN resolutions, and after the Lebanese people went to the streets in the millions to demand a final solution to their decades-old torment. After all this, it is time to point the finger at the real culprit in this mess: All those who sold Lebanon to Syria for more than 30 years before pretending to have changed course as they do today, supposedly having seen the light in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 and the 2005 assassination of their top broker in the deal, Rafik Hariri. After sealing a Syrian-Israeli ceasefire on the Golan in 1974 (a ceasefire which has lasted till today), then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger turned Syria loose on Lebanon in an attempt by US foreign policymakers to create in it a war crucible where Palestinians could take over and turn their resistance away from Israel, and where Syria could achieve its long-held dream of annexing Lebanon, thus turning its attention away from Israel too. After engineering this destabilization of Lebanon via Syria as a master proxy orchestrating, in turn, a pleiotropy of sub-proxies like the PLO, the National Movement (a ratatouille of militias and groups that included the Lebanese Left, Islamists, pan-Arab nationalists and associated Palestinian groups) and today Hezbollah, the coalition of the US, Europe, Israel and the Arabs then subscribed to a programmed destruction of Lebanon which they referred to during three full decades as a "stabilization" of Lebanon by Syria. In short, the West, Israel and the Arabs played the arsonist-firemen game in Lebanon: Destabilize, then send Syria to stabilize. History cannot forget that the US encouraged and sustained Syria as the preeminent interlocutor on behalf of a muzzled and crushed Lebanon and a legal guardian of a retarded Lebanon throughout those decades, even while Syria and its proxies were kidnapping, killing, hijacking, bombing and shelling. In the State Department´s lingo of those years, the Syrians were a "presence" not an occupation, and that "presence" was a "factor of stability". Lebanon was always excluded from Middle East negotiations, since Syria was allowed to speak on behalf of Lebanon. Lebanon was an object of the negotiations, but never a participant. Even on those occasional interludes when Lebanon briefly managed to escape the Syria yoke – as in May 1983 when it negotiated a peace treaty with Israel – the West easily gave in to Syria to scuttle the effort and plunge Lebanon back into violence and a tighter Syrian grip. When Syria´s proxy Hezbollah bombed the Multi-National Force in October 1983, the US and its allies readily fled like rabbits. The charade culminated in the 1990 Taif Agreement that forced an unrepresentative Lebanese Parliament to amend the Lebanese constitution and transform the political structure from what was a less than ideal, though functional, system into the disastrous and completely dysfunctional three-headed system that is on display today. From a strong presidential-parliamentary system, the Lebanese system was degraded to a tri-cephalic system where the President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament have all equal powers (and each insisting on being called "President"). From an unwritten word-of-honor 1943 National Pact that distributed the three seats to the three largest communities, not on demographic criteria as is widely believed but as an act of mutual recognition by both Christians and Muslims of their inborn diversity and common destiny, the Taif Agreement consolidated the sectarian division of power and made Lebanon a sectarian monster that just doesn´t work. Today´s crisis is plain evidence to that transformation. The country has been unable to elect a President for several months now. The Prime Minister – "President" Siniora - is a lame duck who runs half a government over a corrupt administration that cannot even meet the basic needs of the population. And the Speaker of Parliament – "President Berri" – has hijacked Parliament and reduced the legislative body to his own person. He has shut down Parliament and does not allow the MPs to meet and conduct legislative business. This is what the Taif Agreement has done to Lebanon. The intractability of the Lebanese problem today is directly traced to that gigantic act of treason by the community of nations against one of its oldest, yet weakest, members, a monumental failure of political consistency between principle and action. Not only was Lebanon a beacon of democracy up through the early 1970s in an ocean of theocracies and dictatorships, but the West – mainly the US and a Left-leaning Europe – persisted in their submission to the oil-rich Arabs and indulged in the character assassination of Lebanon: A jungle, a country of many tribes, an artificial entity, an ungovernable mess, etc. Even today, there are some – like Robert Fisk of the Independent – who continue to challenge the right of Lebanon to exist as an independent nation by continuously drilling the point that Lebanon was torn off by France from Syria in the early 1920s, oblivious to the fact this very same argument can be made about every Middle Eastern and African country. The inevitable dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire into all the states in existence today is somehow forgotten when idiots like Fisk speak about Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Kuwait, Egypt, Sudan, and all the countries that emerged in the Middle East and Africa with the end of European – including Turkish Ottoman – colonialism. For some reason, only Lebanon is cited as the artificial product of that dismemberment in a manner that belittles the country and justifies the crimes perpetrated by Syria – with the support of the West – against its neighbor. The West – with the US in the lead – stands accused today of the state of affairs to which Lebanon has arrived after more than 30 years of this monumental failure of international politics. Nothing explains the incompetence or the unwillingness of the international community to go the extra mile to finally extricate Lebanon from the turmoil of the Arab-Israeli-Iranian cesspit. When Saddam Hussein used the same Baathist argument (that Syria uses vis-à-vis Lebanon) against Kuwait, he was kicked out within months by the international community. But in Lebanon, the victim is blamed. Not only was Kosovo protected by NATO and the West, it was deliberately torn off from Serbia, supposedly to protect the Moslem Albanians from the savage Serbs. The West assembled an expeditionary force that allowed the secession of East Timor´s 200,000 people from Indonesia´s 250 million population and into a country made up of half a tiny island out of the thousands of islands that make up the Indonesian archipelago. But the help that Lebanon received during close to four decades was never sufficient to cross the threshold of enabling a definitive solution to take hold. All the measures taken were half-ass short-term solutions that continued to pile new problems on top of older problems, rendering a resolution almost insurmountable. If Hezbollah is today sitting on 30,000 long range missiles and rockets, it is because Syria was given custody of Lebanon by the West between 1975 and 2005. Even today when everyone is lashing out at Syria for destabilizing Lebanon, there are no planes policing Lebanese skies against the movement of arms and murderers across the Lebanese-Syrian border. For 30 years, Israeli jets flew thousands of times over Lebanon and bombed Lebanon repeatedly back into the Stone Age. Yet, Israel was very careful never to fly over Syrian territory and its jets bombed targets inside Syria only twice, both times after 2005: Once against an abandoned Palestinian training camp, and the second time against a suspected nuclear site. If Syria was "forced" to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in 2005 under international pressure, why can´t it be forced today – with the same international instruments of pressure used then – to stop arming Hezbollah, to stop bombing and assassinating people in Lebanon, to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon, to settle the border dispute over the Shebaa Farms, to finally recognize Lebanon´s right to exist as an independent nation, and to dissociate Lebanon from the issue of the Golan (Israel-Syria) or the Palestinian-Israeli problem? There is no answer to explain the failures of the West in Lebanon and its collusion with the Arabs against Lebanon, except to invoke some sort of conspiracy. There has to be a reason why Lebanon´s suffering has been allowed to continue to this day since the early 1970s. There has to be an objective behind allowing a founding member of the UN, a land of coexistence between the otherwise "clashing civilizations", to disintegrate and collapse as it has. Could it be that the West is indeed colluding with both Arabs and Israel to finish off Lebanon and make it a substitute homeland for the Palestinians, like Henry Kissinger had wanted back in 1974?


Marc J. Sirois 

So Now what happens ?

So now what happens? The Arab League summit is over, the participants followed a time-honored tradition by failing to agree on very much of significance, and the uncomfortable stalemate in Lebanon is unchanged.
Political junkies are already putting their respective spins on the event, but their desperation to say something of relevance is hamstrung by the inherent fraud of the subject at hand. Did the summit “fail?” Of course it did – they all do. Who is responsible for the “failure?” Take your pick, but it would be really unfair to blame Djibouti. Did anyone honestly expect a proverbial “breakthrough” on the Lebanese logjam or any of the other crises facing the Middle East? No one who a) can read; and b) has applied this skill to the history of past Arab League summits.
And so the Lebanese wait for something to happen. Some wish parliamentarians from the ruling March 14 Forces would squirrel themselves away somewhere and elect a president by simple majority. Luckily, the hotheads who advocate such a move are still outnumbered by those who understand that it would only compound the problem. Others wish that Hizbullah, the opposition March 8 Forces’ resident heavyweight, would renege on its pledges not to use force and simply take over the buildings from where political power is supposed to be exercised. But these too are in the minority, their wiser allies comprehending just how nutty it would be to invite yet another foreign “intervention” in Lebanon’s internal affairs.
The fondest wish of many Lebanese, though, is that all of their politicians would retire. Far too many of them are not just long in the tooth – they are also the very same people who bumbled their way into a Civil War in 1975 and kept it going until 1990. Now many of the same characters remain at odds, and while most mainstream leaders on both sides insist that they want a political solution, they have also made it impossible, thus far, to achieve one. Prominent figures from both March 8 and March 14 regularly make the case that unless the other side agrees to their terms in advance, there is no need to have a dialogue. The fallacy of such unrealistic positions is so obvious a child can see it, and yet this is what passes for political discourse in this country.
One of the issues that divides the opposition and the government is the United Nations’ Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was created to try suspects in the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and assorted other political killings and attacks. There is little point in hashing out their respective positions on the court, except to note the vagueness and inconsistency of both.
What is most befuddling is that anyone suggested the court when they did. After all, the crimes in question are nothing like those that prompted the establishment of the other special tribunals supported by the UN. Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia had witnessed massive loss of life, and such was the scale that the charges have included genocide and crimes against humanity.
There was a time when Lebanon needed such a court for such a purpose: in the aftermath of the Civil War that killed as many as 250,000 people. It might also have benefited mightily from the formation of a body like South Africa’s truth and Reconciliation Commission, which helped that country deal with all the evils that took place during the Apartheid era. Instead, those responsible for the 1975-1990 slaughter in Lebanon gave themselves a free pass: an amnesty which protected almost all of them from punishment. And far from encouraging public hearings aimed at clearing the air, they have been among those who have most enthusiastically prevented open and honest discussion of the horrors they inflicted, even going so far as to bar the adoption of textbooks that might help Lebanese children understand what their parents and grandparents went through – or why they don’t have parents or grandparents.
Even this cop-out school of statesmanship might have succeeded if only the belligerents had resolved to move on once and for all and then honored their promises. They have not. Nor have they even attempted to implement other elements of the document that ended the conflict, the Taif Accord. Many of the issues at stake in the Civil War are debated just as fervently today, often by the same people, and usually from the same perspectives of ignorance and intolerance fueled by personal rivalries.
None of this is to say that the Hariri court should not have been established. The case may not be one of genocide, but it does have something else in common with those in Rwanda and the others: This country’s justice system lacks anything like the resources and public respect required to hand down verdicts that will enjoy general acceptance. The politicians have seen to that by preventing (among other things) the judicial reforms mandated by Taif.
The judiciary was just one of the casualties of the war they continued by other means, each side blocking the implementation of desperately needed changes because it refused to trust the other, each refusing to let their reins be taken over by a new generation of less embittered figures who might just have put country over clan. Whoever murdered Hariri and whatever the particular reason, the crime both continued the pattern of behavior that caused and prolonged the Civil War, and empowered those responsible all over again. Perhaps if the United Nations had imposed a court on Lebanon in 1990, it would not have needed one now.

Marc J. Sirois is managing editor of THE DAILY STAR in Beirut.
His e-mail address is