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Lebanese want to live!

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    Lebanon: We ALL want to live! by Samah Idriss, al-Adab Translated by Tadamon! Montreal, with permission.
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2007
      Lebanon: We ALL want to live!
      by Samah Idriss, al-Adab
      Translated by Tadamon! Montreal, with permission.

      "There will be a war next summer. Only the sector has not been chosen
      yet. The atmosphere in the Israel Defense Forces in the past month
      [November] has been very pessimistic. The latest rounds in the
      campaigns on both fronts, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, have left too
      many issues undecided, too many potential detonators that could cause
      a new conflagration. The army's conclusion from this is that a war in
      the new future is a reasonable possibility. As Amir Oren reported in
      Haaretz several weeks ago, the IDF's operative assumption is that
      during the coming summer months, a war will break out against
      Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well."

      This is what two journalists wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on
      4/12/20061.(1) But here, in the heart of Beirut, the atmosphere seems
      quite different. The Opposition is in the streets, holding a sit-in
      until the formation of a "national union" or "national unity"
      government or until Fuad Siniora's government is toppled. Sunni–Shi'a
      agitation has reached a peak, despite assurances that Lebanon cannot
      be "Iraqized" (in the past, we have heard assurances that Iraq cannot
      be "Lebanonized"). A martyr (whom government supporters described as
      having been "killed") has fallen from the opposition ranks. The
      wounded number in the tens. A Western newspaper talks about new
      weaponry that has arrived at the Internal Security Forces from an Arab
      country [United Arab Emirates] in order to counter the influence of
      "Hezbollah" and Iran. Pictures of Rafiq Hariri are torn apart.
      Pictures of Hassan Nassrallah are shot at. The student representative
      in the Socialist Party is beaten up. The Resistance is meant to be in
      the alleys.

      But the alleys are not those of Marun al-Ras, Bint Jbeil and Aita
      al-Sha'b that taught the Israeli enemy and its Mirkava tanks the
      harshest of lessons. Rather, the alleys are those of Corniche
      al-Mazra'a, al-Berbir, Tariq al-Jadidah, Qasqas and al-Dana. The
      "enemy" is now a Sunni Lebanese. The aim: to bury the Islamic
      Resistance in the alleys of Beirut, after France and the US failed to
      strip it of its weapons by means of international resolution 1559,(2)
      and after the US and Israel failed to eradicate it and destroy or
      confiscate its weapons during the July-August invasion.

      It is as if we were watching an old scenario being replayed, or a
      scene that we had seen before (déjà vu): the scenario of the
      Palestinian-Lebanese conflict in the eighties, or the scene of the
      Palestinian resistance turning from fighting Israel to drowning in a
      swamp of petty wars (which the [Palestinian] resistance itself helped
      sometimes to sprout). While not subscribing to conspiracy theories,
      one is led to ask: could it be that with the glad tidings of the new
      American Middle East, the Lebanonization of Iraq is being followed by
      the Iraqization of Lebanon and the "Palestinianization" of the
      Lebanese Islamic Resistance?

      And, as the mattocks are being prepared to bury the National
      Resistance in the districts of Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon, and as
      the Sunni poor are incited to stand against the Shi'a poor, signals
      emerge from the South, and in particular from the town of Naqura, that
      point to a possible alteration in the aim of the mission of the
      International Forces as set out by the international resolution 1701 –
      namely, that of supporting the deployment of the Lebanese Army in the
      South. Following an article in the French newspaper "Le Monde" of
      24/9/2006 in which mention was made of "rules of engagement" that
      point (albeit in an ambiguous way) to an offensive role for the
      International Forces, a statement was released on 10/10/2006 in which
      these Forces spoke of their "right" to "use force for reasons other
      than self-defense", to establish "temporary barricades" in the South,
      to act on "special information" in instances when the Lebanese Army is
      unable to act, and to "use force" against any "hostile activities".
      These "rights" were not stipulated in Resolution 1701 and, if they
      become part of UNIFIL practice, they will transform it into a force of
      deterrence and repression with respect to the Resistance and not a
      force of protection for Lebanon. The actions of the Spanish forces
      last month, when they broke into the houses of people in the South in
      search of weapons and "terrorists", are an ominous signal that
      reinforces these fears.

      …This, if the International Forces are not brought in to separate the
      quarrelers in the alleys of Beirut, or to prevent the infiltration of
      "terrorists" across the Syrian–Lebanese border.

      In brief, the Islamic and National Resistance is meant to be squeezed
      between the two claws of a pincer:

      * International–Israeli in the South. And we note here the emphasis of
      the German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the mission of the
      International Forces in the South is actually "to protect Israel" not
      Lebanon; otherwise these Forces would be standing on both sides of the
      Lebanese-Palestinian border not only on one side(3) — the Lebanese,
      which was under assault.

      * International-Local in Beirut and other areas. And we note here the
      intimate relationship between the US administration and the leaders of
      the ruling coalition, a feature of which was the sandwich party at the
      US embassy, and the visit of representatives of the coalition to
      Washington to congratulate Bolton (are they going to visit him now to
      console him following his resignation?).

      Is it possible that the leadership of the Resistance is not aware of
      these dangers, despite all the sophistication and wisdom that we
      witnessed in its management of the resistance against Israel this past
      summer and during the past few years?

      The cause of our worries are the frictions that arise at the
      Opposition's sit-in in the streets of Beirut despite Sayyed Hassan
      Nasrallah's insistence in his speech on 7/12/2006 that no chance
      should be given to the plotters, intriguers and sectarianists. The
      Resistance should not abstain from internal Lebanese affairs, as it
      did in the past; for, securing the Resistance (Hezbollah) is dependant
      upon the creation of popular and governmental support. However, one is
      led to ask: can this support be achieved through a "national unity"
      government? Can this support be achieved if Fuad Siniora, whom the
      Resistance (and the Opposition) accused of forsaking the Resistance
      after the capture of the two Israeli soldiers on July 12, stays on as
      head of a new cabinet? And how can the Opposition "not mind" the
      return of Siniora as head of a new government, after accusing him - of
      all possible charges - of conniving and conspiring, the last of which
      is Sayyed Nasrallah's accusation that he ordered the Lebanese Army to
      confiscate weapons transferred to the Resistance in the South during
      the last war? And how can there be national unity with the leaders of
      the ruling coalition when, according to documents in the possession of
      the Resistance (as Nasrallah hinted in his last speech), some of them
      were conniving with the Israeli occupation? Either the Resistance has
      raised its treason ceiling to the point that its demand for national
      unity with the "conspiring traitors" has become contradictory and
      precipitous or it has raised this ceiling in order to achieve
      "effective" participation in the government, and, in such an instance,
      charging it [the government] with treason would be gratuitous and far
      from honest.

      Whatever the case, the opposition is very wrong to think that
      participating in the government through what it calls "the
      guaranteeing third" (or blocking third) + 1, will put the country on
      the right path. What is far more important than the percentage the
      opposition holds in the government is a comprehensive program for
      radical reform: from holding all corrupt politicians accountable, to
      fighting all those responsible for the huge debts that Lebanon
      incurred (and no sanctity here for the dead!), fixing the wretched
      state of the Lebanese University, articulating a clear socio-economic
      policy that helps the poor overcome their burdens, defining Lebanon's
      relationships with its Arab-Islamic surroundings, so that these
      relationships are firm, without being subordinate to either the Syrian
      regime or the Saudi Arabian regime in particular, giving Palestinians
      in Lebanon their full civil and political rights until their return to
      Palestine, defining a clear position that refuses the dictates of the
      World Bank …

      But, let's be frank about it, how can we expect all this from the
      Opposition, when some sections in it are directly responsible for past
      corruption, and past squander, for the "partification" and
      "sectarianization" of the Lebanese University, for paralyzing the
      labour movement, for making entire unions subordinate to different
      tutelages, for flirting and coordinating with old–renewable
      guardianships to increase their chances of reaching the highest posts?

      The real opposition, from all oppositional parties, should, at this
      particular time in the history of our country - when different
      sections of the Lebanese population are united in Riad al-Solh and
      Shohad'a - articulate its own clean visions for the future— visions
      that do not stop at immediate goals (like, as we said earlier, the
      hasty and unconvincing demand for a "national unity government") or
      personal aspirations. The honest groups should keep – even amid this
      rich mixture of oppositions – a considerable distance from some of the
      leaders of the Opposition that are themselves responsible for drowning
      Lebanon in corruption, squander and Syrian … and international (1559)
      tutelage. Moreover, the genuine secularists in the opposition should
      not just nod approvingly at slogans of the "dubious Opposition" that
      do not differ in the least from the slogans of the March 14 group: the
      call for "Muslim-Christian unity" and for "Sunni, Shi'a, Druze,
      Orthodox, Maronite …" solidarity (as per one of the new songs), and
      all similar calls that are so abundant in the late Opposition sit-in
      and are reminiscent of the March 14 demonstrations (the one important
      difference being the absence of a racist attitude towards "the
      Syrian"). As for the songs that sprouted from the media machinery of
      Hezbollah for this particular event - besides being devoid of any
      artistic or political value (as opposed to most of the Resistance
      songs of previous years) - they remind us of the absurd, rushed
      "unifying" songs that were broadcast on "Future TV" and "Radio Orient"
      [Hariri outlets] following the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri.
      The difference here is that the "new" opposition is the one that is,
      today, singing the songs of "national unity" that the "old" opposition
      used to sing in the days of Syrian tutelage, before turning against it
      [national unity], after attaining power, and after the need to know
      "the truth" became its sole aim in life— as if there is no truth in
      the world worthy of being known other than the truth of who killed
      Rafiq Hariri!

      Raising the demands for comprehensive secularism, holding all corrupt
      politicians accountable whatever side they are on, refusing all local
      and international guardianships, improving the state of the Lebanese
      University and of public education, supporting low-income housing,
      making Lebanon a single voting district while adopting a system of
      proportional representation— this is what is expected from the real
      opposition (the Communist Party, the People's Movement, the National
      Unity Platform, … ) while it simultaneously demands protection and the
      upgrading of the weaponry of the Resistance in anticipation of the
      next Israeli invasion this summer (or earlier or later) as Haaretz

      "We want to live!" This is what president Siniora says, repeating the
      slogans posted on bulletin boards across the capital these days. Those
      promoting the new slogan may be no different from those who, after the
      end of the Syrian tutelage, promoted the slogan "Independence 05"
      followed, a few months later, by the slogan "Dependence 06", mocking
      and ridiculing the first! We, of course, want to live like Siniora
      wants. But, "free and dignified" living has to include everyone: our
      captives in the jails of occupation that have sacrificed for us, our
      people in the South dwelling amid daily Israeli violations and in the
      danger that one of the one million two hundred thousand cluster
      bomblets dropped by Israel during the last hours before the cease-fire
      could explode in the face of their sons and daughters. Free and
      dignified living should include the poor and dispossessed, low-income
      employees and the victims of Hariri's "reconstruction"— most people
      neither benefited from his upscale Solidère or from his luxurious
      airport. "We want to live" should include, as well, the more than
      three hundred thousand Palestinians who, in the camps of misery, are
      simply not "living". And, by the way, only one thing "lives" better
      now than at anytime in the past: the banks!

      Samah Idriss is the editor of al-Adab magazine.
      This article appeared originally in the October-December issue of al-Adab.

      (1) Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, "North and South",

      (2) Richard Labévière attributes UN Resolution 1559 to France's desire
      to please the United States after the losses it incurred from the
      American boycott that followed its objections to the 2003 American
      invasion of Iraq. He also notes that the close financial relationship
      between the late Prime Minister Hariri and French President Jacques
      Chirac played a role in the passage of the Resolution.

      (3) Robert Fisk, "Conflict in the Middle East is Mission Implausible",
      The Independent, 15 Nov. 2006.



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