Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Legacy of Rafiq Hariri: Dahlan Plan for Lebanon. Several of the emails I received from Beirut today informed me that "civil war" has erupted or started in Lebanon. Which makes you wonder: when does social science decide when a civil war officially starts? It does not start with a parade or a press conference, and I can assure you, from experience, that often people don't know that they just entered a civil war. In Lebanon, people have experienced so many civil wars that they often mistakenly assume that they have entered a civil war--sometimes they do, and other times they don't. People will wonder: which of the violent episodes of the last few years qualify as the rehearsal of civil war: like Lenin declared the 1905 Russian revolt a rehearsal for the 1917 revolution. Of course, we are not talking about a revolution here: maybe I have too high of an opinion of the French (and even Russian) revolutions to label Lebanese sectarian strife as Revolution. We had something close to that in 1975, but that was the time of the secular left in Lebanon. Not anymore. Both sides, nay all sides, are sectarian in Lebanon: in agendas or composition or in both. It was quite surreal to watch the news today. It is not entirely unexpected: many Lebanese were angered with my cynical reaction toward the Hummus Revolution in 2005, and some have written me since indicating that they were rather naive in assuming that the Lebanese were going to come together in unity, once the Syrian army leaves Lebanon. But when did the Lebanese come together, in collective action ever? When did the Lebanese act in unison? In 1982, the Shi`ite sectarian militia of Amal was openly cooperating with the invading Israeli army (with the exception of some branches of Amal in Tyre region) while communist organizations were launching guerrilla warfare against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. The Lebanese Forces were allies of the Israeli occupation, when the Lebanese National Movement (the largely secular-leftist coalition of Lebanese leftist and Arab nationalist parties and organizations) was fighting the Israeli-Syrian-Saudi-US plan for Lebanon in 1976. Arafat was reluctant to join the fight, and was always reserved in providing PLO support for LNM. Instead, he infiltrated the LNM with a bunch of corrupt sectarian thuggish groups ("dakakin", shops we called them). What Lebanon is going through right now is undoubtedly part of the legacy of Rafiq Hariri. His designs for Lebanon (early on with Syrian-Saudi support, and later with the support of a faction in the Syrian regime before it was neutralized after the rise of Bashshar Al-Asad) clearly were in tune with the US-Israeli plans in the region. Make no mistake about it: the US wants Abdus-Sattar Abu Risha in every province in every Arab country. Dahlan in Palestine and a Dahlan in Lebanon. Sanyruah was too inviting for the Americans: they thought that he would do in Lebanon what Maliki failed to do in Iraq: to impose national will against militias and resistance groups anywhere in the region. No one in the new era is permitted to defy US/Israeli will. The Saudi are not new to the game of implementing US/Israeli plans in the region. Read about the Saudi role in 1948: read about the newly released US documents of Saudi discussions with the US on the Palestinian issue in the 1970s. But after Sep. 11: the Saudi government decided to go all out in openly following US orders to avoid a confrontation with the US. Part of the plan was the instigation of Sunni-Shi`ite conflict in the region. Call me conspiratorial--I am serious, please do--but it will be a while before we learn the full extent of the Zarqawi gang and its possible connection with Saudi intelligence. After all: even Al-Qa`idah was the product of a covert US/Saudi/Pakistani plan (read Kepel's book, Jihad and the book by John Cooley's Unholy War. What happened in Lebanon today was certainly part of a larger regional conspiracy: you can't isolate the developments of Lebanon from the developments in Iraq and Palestine. But as much as I have been critical of Hamas (I dislike its ideology and its practice, and particularly its lousy rhetoric), I have to say that they have proven much smarter than Hizbullah, in hindsight. Read about the US/Israeli Dahlan plan for Palestine in the last issue of Vanity Fair: Hamas, from an analytical perspective, was smart to preempt a Dahlan coup by taking over Gaza--as lousy as its management of Gaza has been--but of course, for many in Gaza, nothing compares to the horrific gangster-like mafia of Dahlan-run Gaza. This explains why public opinion is increasingly turning against Fath in West Bank and Gaza, and Haniyyah is now more popular than Abu Mazen. Hizbullah chose the worst time to press the government: they could have toppled the Sanyurah government during or shortly after the Israeli war on Lebanon, before the Hariri clan did a great job of putting into effect a Zarqawi sectarian plan: following my dictum on Lebanon: that secatarianism is the last refuge of Lebanese scoundrels. Hizbullah suffers from several weaknesses and factors: as effective as it has been militarily against the savage Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and its war in 2006, it is far less effective politically. Furthermore, Hizbullah, it should be stressed is not a leftist or secular organization, and it bears the price--as it should--for that. It only discovered the flaws of its sectarian organization after the Hariri assassination because they discovered the acute sectarian ploys of the Hariri family (at the behest of Saudi Arabia/Israel/US--the plan is run jointly by the tripartite alliance now). Hizbullah made lukewarm efforts to align itself with Gen. `Awn and with some Sunni and Druzes parties to expand its appeal. But they did a lousy job of expanding the basis of their support. Certainly, they failed to deliver any political capital for `Awn. They are not good allies, unless you count their past sectarian alliances with Hariri and Jumblat. Today, the one person who should be discredited--among a few--is the lousy head of the Lebanese labor unions, Ghassan Ghusn. I have written about him before, he was handpicked by Nabih Biriri, and the interest of the working class is the last thing on his mind. He orders a strike with an order from above, and he cancels a strike with an order from above too. He allowed the crucial issues of socio-economic justice to be used and manipulated by Hizbullah and Amal--both of which could not care less about socio-economic justice. Hariri (shock and savage) capitalism was imposed with the full support of the Syrian regime, US, and Amal and Hizbullah (and Jumblat with the exception of a few weeks when Hariri payments were late, and he would speak about the poor, only to but shut up by payments). The Lebanese Communist Party is also guilty (then and now) of not playing a vanguard role in championing the issues of socio-economic justice. The current crisis was initiated by Walid Jumblat, in the wake of a visit to Lebanon by David Welsh, but the two factors are unrelated unless you are on of those who believe in conspiracy theories: do you? Jumblat always goes far in his subservience to outside patrons: he was fanatic in this allegiance to the Syrian regime, and he is now fanatic in his allegiance to the US/Saudi/Israeli plan for Lebanon. And Bush is not less delusional than in 2003: his ignorance of foreign affairs--still as acute as they were when he ran the baseball team--and his religio-political fanaticism put him under the spell of his dangerous dogmas for the region. He really sincerely thinks that he can pull it off: that he can achieve successes for the Bush Doctrine in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon before he leaves office. He is rushed now, and it shows. That is why there was a stress on the Dahlan plan: in Palestine and Lebanon. He is unaware that in Lebanon, due to the sectarian divide, no one party (internal or external or both) can impose a one "solution" without achieving the support of Sunnis and Shi`ites. The Ta'if accord had Sunni and Shi`ite support, and Hariri and his allies in Syria, Saudi Arabia and US decided to disregard the Christians, who were seen as demographically insignificant. But to assume that you can impose a solution, or a "vision" to use the language of Sa'ib `Urayqat when he talks about the "vision of his excellency President Bush", by relying on the Sunnis alone (or the Shi`ites alone) is fallacious. You need both sides for that to happen, and the US can't have it both ways. It can't endorse a Sunni-Shi`ite conflict (managed by Saudi Arabia) while aiming to bring both Sunnis and Shi`ites behind you, unless you assume that Ahmad Al-As`ad (who recently was hosted by both, the Center for the Defense of Democracies (where Walid Phares is housed), and the Wilson Center) is now the undisputed leader of Lebanon's Shi`ites. Most ironic today was the sight of the (Sunni) Mufti of Lebanon doing his best impersonation of Zarqawi. He was engaged in sectarian agitation and mobilization while calling for Muslim unity. And the other day, the Shi`ite head of the Supreme Shi`ite Council reacted to the government decision to sack the chief of security at the airport by portraying it in purely sectarian terms. The three clerical heads of the largest sects in Lebanon are a disaster for the country, and its people. Yes, the Hariri clan is certainly part of a sectarian plan, but the aim is secular: the US/Saudi/Israeli plan for Lebanon wants to disarm any group (whether Hizbullah or communists or Buddhists--do you think that the US and Israel would be less opposed and angry if the largest group fighting Israel today was the Lebanese Communist Party? Would they make less of a fuss?) that dares to use arms to defend Lebanon from continued Israeli aggression against Lebanon. The US tried the May 17 agreement in 1983, and it did not work, and Jumblat now is trying to help them out. But don't they know better: if Israeli failed to dislodge Hizbullah they really think that Jumblat and Hariri goons can do the job? There are no rosy scenarios in Lebanon, and there is no group--if you are a leftist secularist--to admire and support. That explains why it was always Palestine for me. I never believed in the entity of Lebanon. My mother always asks me: but what would you do with the Lebanese entity. And I always tell her: dissolve it, completely, and I would certainly rename it. I have many names to recommend: HummusStan, or Hummusesia, or TabbulahPublic, or BatataStan, etc. Imagine if the lousy Asad regime is replaced by a secular and decent regime, it would make sense to have the two together. Lebanon since its creation has been an appendix of Zionism--and not by accident. So will there be civil war? Thus far, one can say this. The party that wants civil war can't achieve it, and the party that is capable of instigating and sustaining a civil war does not want it--not yet anyway. I have more to say but no time. I will write for the following week's article in Al-Akhbar.
PS At moments of sectarian agitation in Lebanon, one has to pay tribute to Lebanese media which resist the temptation to succumb to sectarian biases. The only non-sectarian media that cover Lebanon well are: AlJazeera, As-Safir, Al-Akhbar and New TV.