Sunday, March 06, 2005

Who Speaks for Lebanon? There was yet another front page article in the New York Times, with yet another picture of demonstrators in Lebanon. When Chou En-lai was asked by Henri Kissinger in the 1970s about his impressions of the French Revolution, he famously answered "it is too soon to tell." Yet, US newspapers are so eager and so desperate to superficially cover Middle East events to "validate" Bush's wars and arguments. This is why the pictures from Lebanon were so convenient for them. Do you know that in one event of `Ashurah in Beirut in February during the Hummus demonstrations in Beirut, Hizbullah assembled a crowd (estimated at around half a million people) larger than the crowds of the opposition for the whole week. I did not see one picture of them in US media, and the suffocatingly one-sided Saudi media (and like Bin Laden--the graduate of the House of Saud's school of fanaticism--they think that Shi`ites are infidels) also did not cover them. On Tuesday, the parties that are opposed to the opposition and are aligned with Syria (and they include some Syrian puppets--like the pro-Syrian Ba`th party in Lebanon--and some groups with popular bases, like Hizbullah, Al-Maradah, and SSNP among others, are planning demonstrations in Beirut against UNSC 1559. Do you think that the New York Times will cover them? Do you think that Hassan Fattah will be dispatched to talk to them? Do you think that their pictures will appear on the front pages of New York Times and Washington Post? You see: US media can only cover popular movements if they are not opposed to US policies and designs in the region. And if they dare demonstrate against Israel, they will never be covered, or they will be branded as "terrorists" (or "anti-Israel terrorists", to quote the language of Hassan Fattah). No one side speaks for Lebanon. Lebanese have always been, and WILL ALWAYS BE, divided. Always. That is the nature of the Lebanese conflict. They are flying the Lebanese flags because they want to artificially camouflage their real sectarian and ideological identities. But Bush has decided that the Maronite Patriarch, who was beaten up by `Awn's thugs in Beirut in 1990, speaks for all the Lebanese. I was told by Muslim Sunni sources in Beirut that Sunni public opinion is increasingly unhappy with Maronite right-wing hijacking of the movement that came out from the outrage at Hariri's assassination. They also have never been fans of the continuously shifting Walid Jumblat. I read the full text of the very long speech of Bashshar Al-Asad last night. The American cliche applies: too little, too late. That speech should have been made long before US pressures. Now it will be seen as insincere and motivated by Syrian desires to avoid pressures and isolation. He also should have addressed the Lebanese people more extensively, and his reference to Hariri's assassination was not sufficient in my opinion. He also should have said something about the Lebanese abuse of poor Syrian workers in Lebanon. He should have said that Syria does not object to an international investigation (assuming that the Syrian government has nothing to do with the assassination) of the Hariri assassination. A Lebanese-Syrian investigation will never satisfy anybody and will not reach conclusions. It may even blame Hariri's death on dangerously high levels of cholesterol. And most repugnant in this mess in Lebanon, are statements by Israeli leaders. The Israeli prime minister, who can not visit many European capitals for fears of war crime charges, dares to speak about the need for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. The head of the government that has occupied Palestinian, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, and Jordanian lands is the last government to speak. You read those statements and get the need to take a very hot shower, using a very rough lufa.