The continuing Israeli bombing of south Lebanon and south Beirut might just have strengthened the Hezbollah. The bombings appear particularly to have strengthened the hand of Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the charismatic Hezbollah leader. Hezbollah has over the years gained a strong following in Lebanon primarily on the back of its engagement in social services, taking on infrastructure projects, and looking after its followers. The Israeli assault is giving Hezbollah scope to gain more such power. Hezbollah now controls, for example, more than half of about 100 schools in Beirut that have been converted into refugee shelters….A Hezbollah member in charge of a group of fighters in southern Beirut claimed that support for Hezbollah has increased dramatically since the Israeli attacks began two weeks ago…. Dahr Jamail, Hezbollah Could Be Gaining Strength, Inter Press News Service, 7-26-06
Hard Rain Journal 7-28-06: Lebandon Update - The Cheney-Zawahiri Synergy, The Poisonous Blossoming of Malign Neglect, and the Israelis Smash the Mirror
By Richard Power
Three observations about the conflict in Lebanon:
Zawahir and Cheney: War is Peace, Love is Hate
It is a remarkable synergy (or perhaps "sinergy" would be a more appropriate spelling). Cheney needed a pretext, a big one, a "second Pearl Harbor," and Zawahiri gave it to him (9/11). Zawahiri needed a boost for Al Qaeda on the Arab Street, a big boost, a shot in the arm, and Cheney gave it to him (Iraq and Abu Ghraib). Now, as the US mid-term elections draw closer, and the threat of real acountability increases, the only way to distract attention from the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan is with fresh war involving Israel, with the the chilling spectre of WWW III looming behind it. And now Zawahiri wraps it all up with a lovely blood-red ribbon, by injecting the phantom of Al Qaeda into the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.
Al Qaeda has signalled its intent to use the war in Lebanon as a recruitment tool, despite the ideological gulf between its Sunni Muslim leaders and the Shi'ite Hizbollah militants fighting Israel. Arab security analysts said a video from al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri on Thursday, in which he urged Muslims to "fight and become martyrs" in response to the conflict in Lebanon, would strike a chord with some on the Arab street. They said it would tap into a growing feeling among militant Islamists that the fight against Israel must take precedence over sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims. For al Qaeda, the 16-day-old Lebanon conflict is "a great opportunity and a good instrument for recruitment," said Mustafa Alani of the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. Mark Trevelyan, Al Qaeda exploits Lebanon war despite Shi'ite rift, Reuters, 7-27-06
The Israeli occupation of Jerusalem has long been an al Qaeda bugbear....But Bin Laden always avoided investing in an area where there was already an active insurgency. He also could not join in with heretical Shiites like Hizbulah. Ayman al Zawahiri today made a change in both policies. He wants al Qaeda to pile on in Gaza and to defend Hizbullah in Lebanon. The Sunni Arab regimes have been reluctant to press too hard for ceasefire because they see Hizbullah as an agent of Iran. This foot dragging has been unpopular among the public. Al Qaeda is now playing to that gallery. As usual, Israel is radicalizing the Muslim world. The US, too, will suffer. Zawahiri has turned to pan Islam and the Near Enemy. He is willing to help Nasrallah and the Qassam Brigades. It is a historic about face. It could be significant. More later.
Juan Cole, Qaeda enters Fray, Informed Comment, 7-27-06
The Bush-Cheney Policy of Malign Neglect Blossoms
What is unfolding now in the Middle East is the poisonous blossom of the Neo-Con cabal's policy of Malign Neglect. Remember, it did not have to be this way. When you hear Condoleeza Rice talk about ceasefires being ineffectual, remember what she and her overlords said about the UN weapons inspection in Iraq.
Richard Armitage dramatically broke ranks with his neoconservative allies yesterday, saying in a radio interview that he feared it was impossible to eliminate Hezbollah through airstrikes, and that by attempting to do so, “you’re going to end up empowering Hezbollah, and perhaps introducing an element into the body politic in Lebanon that will take some great period of time to recover from.” Armitage also criticized the Bush administration for refusing to talk directly to Syria. According to a database search, no major media outlets have yet printed Armitage’s remarks. Armitage Fears Bombing Campaign Will ‘End Up Empowering Hezbollah’, Think Progress, 7-27-06
Washington has long been pro-Israel, but under President Clinton and the first President Bush there was an effort to be seen as a plausible mediator. Not under George W. Far from keeping lines of communication open with Hezbollah's two key patrons - Syria and Iran - they have been cast into outer darkness, branded as spokes, or satellites, of the axis of evil. As a result there has been no mechanism to restrain Hezbollah...But the record of failure goes deeper than that. It began in the president's first week, when Bush decided he would not repeat what he perceived as his predecessor's mistake by allowing his presidency to be mired in the fruitless search for Israeli-Palestinian peace....While Henry Kissinger once racked up 24,230 miles in just 34 days of shuttle diplomacy, Bush's envoys have been sparing in their visits to the region. The result is that the core conflict has been allowed to fester. Had it been solved, or even if there had been a serious effort to solve it, the current crisis would have been unimaginable. Instead, Bush's animating idea has been that the peoples of the Middle East can be bombed into democracy and terrorized into moderation. It has proved one of the great lethal mistakes of his abominable presidency - and the peoples of Israel and Lebanon are paying the price. Jonathan Freedland, At the Heart of the Lebanon Crisis Lie the Lethal Mistakes Of George Bush: Instead of pursuing a Middle East peace deal, the White House's big idea has been to bomb people into democracy, Guardian, 7-26-06
The Israelis Smash the Mirror
In recent days, both UN peacekeepers and Red Cross ambulance drivers have been attacked by the Israelis. Why? Because they represent the collective conscience of the human race? Because they hold up a mirror? Hezbollah is ugly and hateful. Of course, Israel has the right to defend itself, but will it defend itself from the enemy within, i.e., from its own "Neo-Con" cabal?
UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says. The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling, diplomats familiar with the probe say. The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post in the town of Khiam was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday....A senior Irish soldier working for the UN forces had warned the Israelis six times that their bombardment was endangering the lives of UN staff, Ireland's foreign ministry said. Israel troops 'ignored' UN plea, BBC, 7-26-06
Six Red Cross volunteers were wounded in the Sunday attack, and the injured family they were ferrying to safety suffered fresh agonies. A middle-age man lost his leg from the knee down. His mother was partially paralyzed. A little boy's head was hammered by shrapnel…Young men and women with easy grins and a breezy disregard for their own safety, they have remained as the last visible strand of social structure intact after days of Israeli bombardment….Fiercely proud of their work at the Red Cross, they had clung desperately to the hope that, as lifesavers, they would be spared….They came to a stop on a stretch of battle-pocked roadway in Qana. The medics favor that spot because the ambulances, with their trademark red crosses emblazoned on the roofs, can be seen clearly from above. They thought it was safe….Both ambulances were hit, directly and systematically, by Israeli bombs, the medics said.
Megan K. Stack, Israeli Missiles Rip Into Medics' Esprit de Corps, LA Times, 7-25-06
Hard Rain Journal 7-25-06: As the Next Bait & Switch Get Pulled, Remember Osama Bin Laden & the Child Brides of Afghanistan
Hard Rain Journal 7-19-06: Neo-Con Fingerprints on the Israeli Offensive in Lebanon, Meanwhile in Afghanistan...
Hard Rain Journal 7-17-06: Middle East Update -- Voices of Reason From Within The Whirlwind
Hard Rain Journal 6-15-06: Foreign Affairs survey of 100 US policy leaders grades Bush-Cheney "failed" at 1.8 out of 10
Hard Rain Journal 6-14-06: Wrongly Premised “War on Terrorism” has Increased Danger from Terrorism, and Ignored Greater Risks
Words of Power #23: A Reality Check, What A Real World War on Terrorism Would Look Like, and a US Mid-Term Election Strategy
Words of Power #21: Judith Miller, Ken Lay, Florida, 9/11 and The Return of The Forbidden Truths?
Words of Power #15: Bring Me the Head of Osama, Nero Fiddles while the Planet Burns, Religion as the Crystal Meth of the People, & The Democrats' Plan
GS3 Intelligence Special Supplement (2-4-06): Iran, Hamas, Islamic Fundamentalism, Terrorism, Geopolitical Hegemony, The Great Game & Danish Cartoons
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Israel, Lebanon, Bush, Cheney, Hezbollah, Geopolitics, Middle East, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Terrorism, Ayman Zawahir, Red Cross