Wag the Lions!

Assuming that things go as planned, UNSC Resolution 1701 will deliver to Israel in political terms what its troops could not achieve in military ones, namely: the neutralization of the Hezbollah Effect. For the costs of rebuilding what has been destroyed and of resettling and compensating the displaced population is bound to be very high and will occupy Hezbollah, among other Lebanese actors, for many years to come.

For those who bet on a Hezbollah victory, especially Iran and Syria, this clearly spells defeat. For the focus on international attention will turn once again to the outstanding issues at hand, the Hariri investigation, which is simply too much of a public affair to kill, as many had been predicting and hoping, and the Iranian nuclear program. In order to avoid this, the Assads and the Mullahs have to find a new game to keep world attention focused elsewhere, and to the Mullahs, this means wagging the Assads again.

This wagging will more likely assume the guise of a renewed attempt at instigating a civil conflict in Lebanon, so that the Assads can make themselves relevant there again. Failing this, however, one cannot completely discount the possibility of a move in the Golan, no matter how disastrous this would seem. Admittedly, the Assads will have to be pretty desperate to opt for this option, but, then, people could stumble unto disaster as well, disasters do not always come as a reflection of a conscious decision-making process.

Be that as it may, the main point I would like to stress here is the fact that even a “successful” implementation of 1701 will not spell the endgame for this round of conflict, as the root causes has not been addressed yet. And no, I am not referring here to the Arab-Isrseli conflict. We simply cannot continue to reduce the root causes of our current plight to the sole issue of Israeli-occupied Arab lands. We have been doing this for decades now and, as a result, all our proposed solutions have fallen woefully short of achieving peace.

Indeed, we should always bear in mind the little truths that the Arab Human Development Reports have amply demonstrated, namely that the nature of the ruling regimes involved, especially their corruption and authoritarianism, as well as the lack of serious developmental activities in the region, especially with regard to education, play the more prominent role here. Indeed, we cannot in the name of real politick turn our back on the primary causes of terrorism and instability in the region.

Yes, instability. Many real politick advocates seem to be under the illusion that autocratic regimes are good guarantors against instability because they help control the illiterate and increasingly radical masses, but, as I have argued before, such analysis, in addition to standing the problem on its head, is pretty whimsical and rather selfish, as it is only meant to export the real problems in the region to future generations. For the autocratic regimes can only hold the country together for so long before their corrupt practices end up producing nice little implosions a là Darfur and Somalia.

So, even should 1701 lead to some reprieve in the ongoing conflict, we’d do better to remember that this reprieve will be quite temporary, and that conflict will remain a fact of our lives for a few more generations to come, sorry to say. The promise of peace that flourished in the 90s is now clearly dead and buried.

15 thoughts on “Wag the Lions!

  1. Zvi Bar’el from Haaretz disagrees with you🙂And what about Kennedy’s assassination? By Zvi Bar’el In 30 days of war, the growl hasn’t stopped for a second: Hezbollah is only a Syrian and Iranian puppet and, if we beat it, we beat Iran and Syria. Hezbollah is a replacement for a huge war, that war of civilizations that we so much wanted to grant ourselves and “the West,” meaning Texas. For the last 30 days, Hassan Nasrallah was like a voodoo doll. All we had to do was stick pins in him so the curse of death would be transferred to the real evil ones. After all, we are fighting against Islam, against the Arabs, against all the terror in the world. A small, sophisticated organization with excellent combat equipment is not enough for us. We deserve more: a global enemy, an Axis of Evil, a world-embracing struggle against those who are not democrats, tolerant, and do not believe in our God. There is nothing more convenient than a threat made in colossal terms or described as an international conspiracy. Everything is connected, and therefore easy to understand. British Pakistanis inspired by Al Qaida and a Palestinian who stabbed a tourist to death in Jerusalem; Saladin’s people in Gaza who kidnapped Gilad Shalit and the massacres of Shi’ites and Sunnis in Baghdad; the Shi’ite Ali Khameni, the Iraqi Shi’ite Ahmed Chalabi, who was Washington’s hope, Prof. Fouad Ajami, a Shi’ite, and Hassan Nasrallah, the Shi’ite, are all cut from the same cloth, according to this view. This is a culture that must be uprooted – and please don’t bother us with the different nuances. This blurred vision, which does not allow for an examination of the details, of course has an ideological goal. When the enemy is so great, so threatening and so elusive, any strike against it is a bull’s eye, and any war against it is so justified that it justifies cancelling any chance of agreements or compromises. Thus, for example, the July 12 Hezbollah kidnapping was immediately tied to the Gilad Shalit kidnapping and of course to Iran’s desire to remove international pressure from its nuclear program, and to Syria’s desire to harm the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri. All that’s left is to attribute the attack to the Kennedy assassination and the stew is complete. The possibility that Nasrallah “only” wanted to keep his promise and return the Lebanese prisoners to Lebanon, that he armed to the teeth to create deterrence but not to drag Israel into war, never had a chance. It’s all a plot, a conspiracy, and not only that, but an Iranian plot. The result: a brutal Israeli campaign against the state of Lebanon, and not only against Hezbollah, but also Gaza. This, since as far as Israel is concerned, it is all the same campaign against what our ambassador to the United Nations termed the “terror quartet”: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. But as opposed to the broad brush with which some of the regional experts, or self-declared experts, paint the organizations and movements, they are not fed by a single food chain and certainly do no represent the majority of the Muslim or Arab public. This is not said to belittle the dangers posed by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the Azzadin el Qassam, Al Qaida and dozens of other radical organizations that want to commit terror attacks. But will smashing Hezbollah stop the Iranian nuclear program? Will a declaration of an Israeli victory, let’s say, in this war, put an end to Palestinian national ambitions or Syrian demands for the return of the Golan? Will foiling attacks on planes, on the assumption that all are foiled, cancel the Qassam rocket fire at Sderot tomorrow? Israel, therefore, should be happy with the ladder the UN is providing, so it can get back as quickly as possible to its modest existence, give up the “clash of civilizations” and deal with the neighborhood. It should adopt the lever created in this war, in which Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other Arab countries criticized Hezbollah, Iran and Syria. It should at least demonstrate readiness to talk with Syria, to go back to the negotiations table with the Palestinians, and most importantly, get over the urge to take revenge on the Palestinians for the failure in Lebanon.

  2. ammar:I read your opinions and find that you are hard to understand. Then I read some of the comments about your opinions and I find the comments even harder to understand.The misunderstanding of a problem will prevent the solution to the problem.Then, there is the verbose nature of the writer. In other words, the writer goes from one topic to another and on and on and on… You get my point?The article from Haaretz is a good example of what I am talking about. Zvi Bar’el makes statements that are one persons opinion and Zvi’s opinions are as incorrect as Nasrallah’s opinions.Finally, in my opinion, there are no winners in the current conflicts in the countries of Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

  3. First of all let me say very clearly that Zvi Bare’el has conveniently chosen to neglect the fact that HA is NOT an extension of the Lebanese government and that it is a state within a state. He has conveniently neglected to deal with who funds most of the HA activities , even the social ones and he has conveniently neglected to point to the numerous occasions in which HA made it abundantely clear that their presence is not only about Sheba’a farms ( a manufactured excuse) but ultimately it is about vanquishing the state of Israel. And last but not least how convenient of Mr. Bar’el not to mention that the Lebanese HA is an extension of the Iranian HA and that even after the wholesale destruction of parts of the country a large proportion of the Lebanese, arguably a majority, consider the military wing of HA to be an alien object in the Lebanese body politic and a cancer that needs to be exorcised.(BTW, there are tens of millions of articles written in the world every day and at any one time there would be articles that support both sides of any issue. So Zvi or X does not agree with an expressed point of view? Surely there are people who have written articles that disagree with Zvi or X, but what does that proove. The practice of using the opionions of others to support a writers’ perspective is looked upon as a sign of serious research and erudition but to simply use an opinion penned by others as a replacement for our thought is questionable at best.Back to your major point Ammar. Looking at UNSC 1701 without at least its connections to 1559 is not very helpful. Even if 1701 is implemented that would keep the HA military wing issue unresolved and in that sense would maintain the Iran/Syria leverage over Israel and Lebanese politics. But if the Lebanese can arrive at an understanding that would disarm HA then that would be a serious blow to the ambitions of the rejectionist camp. Under such circumstances Assad might have no choice but to play the Golan card and Iran would still be left with its Iraq and nuclear cards. How likel;y is it for the Lebanese democratic forces to prevail? The odds are less than 50-50 and that is good for Assad.

  4. You are saying that totalitarian regimes, especially in the third world, cannot provide stability for progress which is I find it true statement. I can say that since 1970s, the current regime was mainly selling this point and still doing the same. The father was selling stability without economic accomplishment mainly to the regime itself. His main argument is that I will guarantee to you (his audience is Baath party and beneficiaries) that I can keep the governing of this state under control and so you can go out and tell people how good and wonderful I’m. The son theme on stability for the people at large is like, keep me in power and I will promise you economic progress, and that how I can understand the illusionary reform?. Actually the message to his own clan, you have to keep me because the only way to keep your gains and on the other hand we can exceed our gain. So, actually this regime provided stability but you can call it FAKE STABILITY. So, if I understand your article well, your instability is equal to FAKE STABILITY.Unless, you mean by instability, that the current round of fighting is the kind of instability this regime is thriving on. If this is the case I disagree. I think the last round of instability was mainly generated by Israel and Iran with regime playing secondary rule. Israel, wants to eliminate the danger of HA in case of attack on their nuclear facilities and Iran wants to send a message out that it can play harmful rule in case they got attacked. The regime played a secondary rule to serve main goal to divert the attention from Harriri investigation. Second point, I think the current regime will never move the Golan Heights as he claims by activating resistance groups, and he will play this card only when he squeezed to leave power. The current regime seems that he cannot imagine that he could leave power because this is death for him and then he has to play last cards.My comment is also a form of question to you Amar, and I looking for a reply.

  5. Dear GhassanFirst, I was mostly teasing Ammar with this article that was just posted at Haaretz’s site at the same time Ammar posted the exact opposite arguments. So it was tempting to post it right under his post. So take it with some sense of humor.Secnd, Zvi Bar’el is an email friend of mine for years, I highly respect everythng he writes. He is a veteran of 30 years of reporting, and is doing his PhD now on Arab studies. He knows the Arab mentality probably better than you and I know it. I highly recommend you read his opinions on Haaterz. Think of his role as a critic of the foolish and macho side of Israel. They also overdo it with conspiracy theories, just like Arabs do. Israelis also tend to blame all their troubles on the Arabs and the fact they are violent haters of Jews, just like many Arabs blame all their problems on Israel and on George Bush. So Zvi is like your equivalent, and Ammar’r equivalent on the Israeli side.Third, it was late at night and I did not feel like spending 30 minutes typing my own opinion. I do have an opinion. It agrees partially with your opinion, plus some other conclusions that you will disagre with me about. I’ll write them soon.

  6. “Assuming that things go as planned”___I bet Hezb’allah will do their best to make sure they do not go as planned. Their obvious next steps are to increase their influence in the Lebanese government and army. Don’t underestimate the determination of these people. They will not be satisfied until they have power.

  7. Alex, I think Ghassan summed my potential objections to Zvi’s articles rather nicely. The whole think is about context and Zvi chose to ignore it. The fact that Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the radical wing in Hamas, among other radical Palestinian groups had formed an actual alliance in Damascus during Ahmadinejad’s visit and the fact that all of these developments are taking place after the formation of this alliance are being completely ignored. For this reason, among others, I find Zvi’s analysis to be completely off-base. Trust Quest, the instability I am referring to is a rather social one. I have often argues here that the Assads are driving Syria into a civil war of major proportions, because they continue to ignore the festering seriocomic problems which, in a country like ours, often end up assuming a sectarian guise. Syria’s constituent communities are gradually turning against each other, and the Assads are too incompetent to hold this country together for long. Don Cox, I know that things will not go as planned. I just wanted to argue that even a best case scenario at this stage will still fall far short of what is required to really put an end to the current conflict.

  8. Peace needs to work in Lebanon. The decades of neglect of the core issues that have lead people to embrace a far-right Islamic view as their hope for moral, spiritual and economic stability has nearly reached a limitation. As weapons become greater, the risk of weapons of mass destruction being used also rises. The problems can not be resolved with military actions. Military actions are fertilizer far-right Islamic movements.

  9. The US and THe Lebanese Gov want to give Israel what it could not get with war ,the disarmament of Hizballa ,I say no , I say Hizballa should offer disarmament only if there is a new election law with one man on vote at the same time in all Lebanon then the Lebanese goverment will be a real representive of the Lebanese people and Hizballa fighters become part of the Lebanese army and be resposible for training the Lebanese army,the probmlem in Lebanon is that the Lebanese goverment can not be trusted for Hizballa to be part of the Lebanese army at this time.

  10. Norman, What sort of BS is this. No one owes the military arm of HA a thing. They are illegal, they have hijacked a country, their orders flow from other capitals besides Beirut, they have thus far the blood of over a thousand dead on their hands, they have destroyed the livlihood of 4 million people… and you want the government to compromise with them? Please tell me that you are not serious. When the fighting stops and it would, Lebanon must never accept under any set of circumstances to go back to the broken down status quo that existed prior to July 12, 2006. If we allow Assad and his cronies to get away with their irresponsible acts then we would have indded abdicated our dutiesand our intrinsic rights as citizens. If you feel that it is so important for you to carry on the fight against the “zionist entity” then please start a front on the Golan and invite both Iran and HA to assist you in your endeavour.

  11. Ghassan, I think you said what the Israeli wants you to say , so you got his approval , that is enough for me to think that i am right and you are wrong .

  12. Actually, I think Norman IS serious, and you Ghassan are just as full of BS.What he is saying ….has nothing to do with who “owes” anybody or whether you like it or not…… Hezbollah IS southern lebanon…including the miliatant aspect of HA… they represent that segment of the population, which is one that is significant enough that it cannot be ignored. They have asserted themselves with arms…and will continue to do so most likely until as Norman suggests there is a more equitable political balance of power…and a social organization of the country which accomodates the 40% that embrace as well as make up Hezbollah.And so if they exist as a “state within a state”…that is only one description. Frankly I disagree that the majority of the rest of lebanon is seriously interested in completely dismantling the military capacity of Hezbollah. Barel’s opinion is one, and Ghassan karam and Ammar’s description and interpretation of popular consensus is another. so far, i think it is wishful thinking that as soon as the dust settles… everyone in Lebanon will jump on Hezbollah and Nasrallah and move against them…in any antagonistic way. I believe the most that will happen will be a realistic attempt to absorb them or tame them…within the political forum. which…..is what should happen from many people’s point of view. forget Syria forget Iran, you guys are obsessed with their role in this. Why don’t you feel the same obsession with the United States’ role with supplying Israel with arms and fuel. It would be misleading to think of Israel as the complete slave of the USA. And it is equally wrong to only think of Hezbollah as a pawn of Syria and Iran. good luck with obsessing on this aspect.They are also an independent entity…in so far as they represent a large portion of the Lebanese population…..who are not Iranians or Syrians…..they are Lebanese…..and wow…believe it or not….the militants of Hezbollah ARE ALSO…Lebanese citizens……. they are NOT an “alien force”….or a “cancer”…etc etc….

  13. “.the militants of Hezbollah ARE ALSO…Lebanese citizens..”____Stiffened by an unkown number of Iranians.

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