Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Lebanese People Power, Again

"Lebanese PM to quit today," Times of Oman, 30 March 2005, http://www.timesofoman.com/newsdetails.asp?newsid=13276.

The Prime Minister of Lebanon is resigning today.

Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karameh yesterday said he would stand down today after failing to form a national unity government, a decision likely to plunge the country into further political turmoil.
Karameh has been operating on a caretaker basis since resigning on February 28 in the face of protests sparked by the assassination of five-time premier Rafiq Hariri in a bomb blast.

..

Opposition spokesman Samir Frangieh welcomed the news and called for the swift formation of a “neutral” interim government composed of people “who enjoy public confidence” to see the country through to parliamentary elections due by the end of May.


If this sounds familiar... it is because it already happened

medium_lebaneseprotestor4.jpg


Hopefully this is a sign of clear progress. No word on new freedom chicks, so Marchand's link to Publius's old gallery will have to do for now.

Update: Jawa links to Debka. This is incredible. If true, it is still unbelievable.

DEBKAfile exclusive military sources report complete collapse of pro-Syrian political and intelligence structure in Lebanon and abrupt withdrawal of all Syrian commands including key figure military intelligence chief General Ghazaleh.

Lebanese secret service chief Gen. Raymond Azar has fled to Paris. Internal Security Forces head Gen. Ali al-Hajj about to quit.


New York Times has more coverage. Perhaps the Prime Minister will delay his resignation. But more important: there's an evil thug named Raymond? Raymond?!?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

French Hawks

"France Threatens Military Action Against Syria over Lebanon!," Naharnet, 26 March 2005, http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/Newsdesk.nsf/Story/CCA1B20FF465EB02C2256FD0003A070F?OpenDocument&PRINT (from Democratic Underground).

Syria's stupid assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister just earned them threats from an unlikely source

France has reportedly warned the Assad regime against playing procrastination games to sabotage the process of change in Lebanon, saying "otherwise, all doors will be flung open for all eventualities against Syria," including military action.

The London-based Asharq Al Awsat on Saturday quoted a French official as saying the report of the U.N. fact-finding mission on ex-Premier Hariri's assassination "is the message we wanted to address to Syria to refrain from preventing the change in Lebanon."

The newspaper quoted the French official as saying in a harsh language that reflects a French ultimatum: "France has long resisted calls for directly attacking Syria. So do not push us into a situation where we have to change our stance."

"If the Syrians fail to understand this or if they try to manipulate and procrastinate, they will lose their last chance" the French official said, according to the Saudi-owned newspaper.


France has long supported Wolfowitz Style Occupations -- little planning, lots of killing. The French Republic's opposition to the Iraq was built on interest, not principal -- France is willing and able to destroy small countries.

Chirac may prefer having France invade Syria, and so make France and feared as America, than have France look weak and America look strong.

This will be interesting.

09:45 Posted in Europe, Greater Syria | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: france, syria

Friday, March 25, 2005

Syria Even Stupider than Thought

"Leb Land bis: It Appears Syria is stupider than I thought.," by Collounsbury, Lounsbury on MENA, 25 March 2005, http://www.livejournal.com/users/collounsbury/302946.html.

Col quotes from news that the United Nations uncovered Baby Assad physically threatening ex-PM Harari directly before Harari's assassination

Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, had threatened Rafik Hariri, the assassinated former Lebanese prime minister, “with physical harm” if he opposed the extension of the Lebanese presidency of Emil Lahoud, a UN inquiry said on Thursday.

The inquiry also said the Syrian government bore “primary responsibility” for the political tension that preceded the February 14 killing
, although it did not say who was actually responsible for the attack.


Collounbury was a doubter of the Syrian angle before, and said "there is no key state interest for the US to destabilize Syria," so his change of heart is all the better to read

While one would be well served in maintaining a degree of skepticism, I have to say this information causes me to favor the "idiot self inflicted wounds" path to Syria.

Ultramarooons
.

15:35 Posted in Greater Syria | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: syria

The Trifurcation of Iraq Continues

"The Trifurcation of Iraq Has Begun," by Tom Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 28 February 2005, http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/archives2/001563.html.

"Sunni Powers Oppose Federalism in Western Iraq," by Mazen Ghazi, Assyrian International News Agency, 24 March 2005, http://www.aina.org/news/20050324135407.htm (from Informed Comment).

Remember Dr. Barnett's post on the falling-apart of Yugoslavia-on-the-Tigris Iraq?

Meanwhile, down south, there are some pretty out-in-the-open dreams about breaking off from the Sunni and Kurdish north. Some of this is a desire to take their oil and leave, which is natural, and some of it is desiring to be away from the real and potential violence elsewhere in Iraq, and that's even more natural. Being built around the port of Basra, there is likewise a stronger desire to connect up with the outside world. The election showing of the Shiite coalition will dampen this some, as the article points out, but it ain't going to go away. We're watching the same dynamics, often economically driven more than by ethnicity or religion, that dismembered the false state that was Yugoslavia. Iraq is a similarly odd historical creation by outsiders (Churchill had a big hand), and it may well have to devolve into smaller bits before it can come back together in larger ones.


medium_sunni_iraq.png
Proposed State for the Iraqi Sunnis


It rolls on

Leading Sunni powers took a swipe at calls for a federalism in western Iraq, warning this only plays into the hands of the occupation by contributing to slice the country.

"Such calls only serve the interests of the occupation and fuel sectarian strife by pitting Iraqis against one another," Mothana Harith Al-Dari, spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), told IslamOnline.net on Thursday, March 24

Al-Anbar governor Fassal al-Ka'oud had proposed a federal rule in the predominantly Sunni western governorates of Saladin, Ninawa and Al-Anbar, to face up to the new political reality in the war-torn country.

...

Calls for federalism, however, were quickly endorsed by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, which wants a self-ruled Christian governorate in Ninawa plains.

"Christian villages in Ninawa plains want their own governorate to enhance their political, economic and administrative rights within the state," said Isac Isac, the movement's public relations officer.


If nations and states lined up in the Middle East, the proposed state would be part of Syria.

Maybe it will be.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Screwing for Love

"In Mideast, Shiites May Be Unlikely U.S. Allies," by Robin Wright, Washington Post, 16 March 2005, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A38296-2005Mar15.html (from Barnett).

The anti-Iraqi Freedom poster shouted, "Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity."

I guess this makes it love.

A quarter-century after its first traumatic confrontation with the Shiite world, when the U.S. Embassy was seized in Iran, the United States is moving on several fronts to support, recognize or hold out the prospect of engagement with Islam's increasingly powerful minority.

The White House is now counting on a Shiite-dominated government to stabilize Iraq. In a tactical shift, the United States is indirectly reaching out to Iran, backing Europe's offer of economic incentives to get Tehran to surrender any nuclear weapons program.


I've been blogging on forcing common interests with Iran for a while. The WashPost takes a different angle: the Shia are forcing common with the U.S. Who seduced whom is an interesting question, but decreasingly important for this couple. When Bush began Shia, a democratizer met a democratic movement.

While Hezbollah may be my, and Bush's, kind of terrorists...

And in Lebanon, President Bush suggested yesterday, Washington might accept Hezbollah as a political party -- if it renounces terrorism, as the Palestine Liberation Organization did in 1988. "I would hope that Hezbollah would prove that they're not [a terrorist organization] by laying down arms and not threatening peace," he said in a joint appearance with Jordan's King Abdullah.


Wright reminds us that even super-friend Dawa was once on the outs

Shiite extremism in the 1980s embodied the main terrorist threat to the United States, as Shiite groups in Lebanon blew up two U.S. embassies and a Marine compound, and later seized dozens of Western hostages. In Kuwait, Iraq's Shiite Dawa movement simultaneously bombed the U.S. and French embassies as well as Western businesses.


In Ba'athi Iraq the nation was run by a Sunni minority -- today in Ba'athi Syria the state is controlled by the schismatic Alawite sect. A legacy of the Mandate System was rule by the few -- Bush's legacy will be rule of the many.

20:05 Posted in Greater Syria, Iran, Iraq | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: shia

Monday, March 14, 2005

Photos of the Cedar Revolution

One of the most notable aspects of the Lebanese protests is the expressiveness of Lebanese women. Not only are these women attractive (hence the title of this post), they choose joy over tradition. Now, there is nothing wrong with either modesty nor flirtatiousness. Either is wrong only when it is enforced through the barrel of a gun, as in Saudi Arabia or France.

medium_they_can_take_our_lives.jpg
Now on Rob's Desktop


medium_ya_razil.gif
Muslim and Christian Women, from Cliff May


medium_lebanon_protest_babe.jpg
OFK's Joshua found this beauty


medium_girl_with_prime_minister.jpg
Beloved Michelle Malkin links to this collection


medium_proud_to_be_lebanese.jpg
Marchand Chronicles is on the case


medium_lebanese_bust_2.jpg
Publius's Patriotic Bust


medium_just_cute.jpg
Just Cute, from Mike Totten's gallery


As blogged earlier, there's galleries of these chicks. Not even counting our Dominatrix Secretary of State, Bush is our greatest President, ever.

But would he be foolish enough to make a cop-drama starring Iyad Allawi and Ahmed Chalabi? Only time will tell.

The Berkeley of the Middle East

"Roundup: Beirut awash with unprecedented anti-Syrian protests," Xinhua, 14 March 2005, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-03/14/content_2697719.htm.

Another day, another huge peaceful protest in Lebanon

Exactly one month after former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a massive bombing attack, central Beirut was again awash with unprecedented anti-Syrian emotions.

Hundreds of thousands of people, Sunni, Maronite Christian and Druze alike, gathered in Martyrs Square in the capital center, brandishing red, white, green Lebanese flags and chanting anti-Syrian slogans.

medium_anti-syria_protest.jpg


"Syria Out!" and "Sovereignty, freedom, independence!" were heard echoing above the Mediterranean city and Hariri's posters seen waving in people's hands.

Angry Lebanese demanded an international investigation into Hariri's killing and a complete and swift Syrian pullout of its troops and intelligence forces, after a nearly 30-year military presence in its tiny neighbor.

Apart from the vast sea of opposition protesters in the square, steady flows of people could be seen pouring from all corners of the city, and all kinds of vehicles were bringing in large influx of people from across the country.

Estimates of the number of protesters varied from 1 million to 300,000.


It's a wonderful ride. The government resigns, hot babes protest, peaceful "terrorists" protest, now another peaceful protest.

I love Baghdad Rules.

Update NRO says one million two-hundred thousand

medium_freedom_everywhere.gif

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Pro-U.N. Republican Spam Bot

"Let's Accept Hezbollah: Annan," Associated Press, 9 March 2005, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1046733.cms.

United Nations Secretary Genreal Kofi Annan calls for normalizing Hezbollah. Does Annan read tdaxp?

The United Nations must recognise Hezbollah as a force to be reckoned with in implementing the UN resolution calling for the withdrawal of all Syrian forces from Lebanon and the disarmament of the country's militias, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said later on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question about the disarmament of Hezbollah, which showed its strength on Tuesday at a huge pro-Syrian rally in Beirut attended by thousands of people who chanted anti-US slogans.

Annan said the world needs to accept that in every society different groups may hold different views. "Of course, we need to be careful of the forces at work in Lebanese society as we move forward," he said.

"But even the Hezbollah — if I read the message on the placards they are using — they are talking about non-interference by outsiders... which is not entirely at odds with the Security Council resolution, that there should be withdrawal of Syrian troops," Annan told reporters.


It's good Annan recognizes Hezbollah's move for what it is.

For this (rare) insight, Templar Pundit calls for defunding the U.N.:

Funding ought to be revoked from the UN for their recent behavior.


Defunding the U.N for for its evil acts? Possibly. For trying to bring about peace on democracy in the Greater Middle East? Never?

Of course I'm just a Republican spam bot, so what do I know?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My Kind of Terrorists

"Huge Crowds at Pro-Syria Rally," CNN, 8 March 2005, http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/03/08/lebanon.syria/index.html.

I need to revise my view on Hezbollah in light of...

medium_story.lebcrowds.cnn.jpg
Hezbollah Peacefully Demonstrates to Effect Political Change


medium_story.lebprotests.cnn.jpg
Hezbollah Supporters Protest in Arabic and French


Wow.

Watching the Hezbollah protest in Lebanon, I see Lebanese flags everywhere. No Syrian flags, no banners, and few framed photos.

This is Hezbollah acting as a patriotic Lebanese party.

Great. Hopefully Hezbollah's pro-Syrian statements are to show it has something to trade. And hopefully this, like Sistani's call for a peaceful march on Najaf, is Hezbollah's demonstration that they understand peaceful change.

What a wonderful day!

Update: Templar Pundit is not pleased

07:25 Posted in Greater Syria | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: hezbollah

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Wrong Side of History, Wrong Side of the Deal

"Hezbollah Declares Full Support for Syria," New York Times, 6 March 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/international/middleeast/06cnd-syria.html.

"US, France repeat calls for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon," GEO World News, 7 March 2005, http://www.geo.tv/main_files/world.aspx?id=68031.

As another cynical terrorist-appeasing realpolitician sees the handwriting on the wall

President Pervez Musharraf has also asked Syria to implement United Nations resolutions.

Lebanese opposition celebrating Syrian pullout from the country, after a protest campaign from the mid of last month. The protests and international pressure forced the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's to announce pullout of troops in two phases.

Assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri last month provoked an upsurge in anti-Syrian sentiment inside Lebanon and calls for an immediate and complete Syrian withdrawal.

Pakistan’s President Musharraf in a brief stopover in Beirut on his way to the Central Asian states visited Hariri’s residence and condoled with the family. Talking with the newsmen later Musharraf urged for proper investigations of the assassination and called Syria to respect aspirations of the people of Lebanon.


The Shia "Army of God" opts to support schismatic swaydo Christians who celebrate Christmas and Epiphany

The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah declared its full support for Syria today, presenting a direct challenge to opposition groups after Syria promised to gradually withdraw troops from Lebanon.

Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, spoke to reporters today in his stronghold in southern Beirut, breaking weeks of relative silence over the crisis concerning Syria's presence in Lebanon. He called for Lebanese to "express their gratitude" to Syria by joining a demonstration on Tuesday against United Nations Resolution 1559, which calls for Syria's withdrawal and Hezbollah's disarmament.

It would have been better if Hezbollah was bought off, but this is still useful. It further cements the Iran-Syria rift. Iran is supporting a government in Iraq that Syria is attacking. Now, Syria is supporting an opposition group standing in the way of democratic Shia dominance of Lebanon. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would not have stuck their necks out on Lebanon if it was not already a fait accompli.


Iran's actions have been consistent with the thesis that they are trading Syria for membership in the nuclear club. Hezbollah had to choose which side of that deal they want to be part of. They chose poorly.

If Hezbollah wishes to remain loyal to the ancien regime, fine. They'll meet the same fate.