"BEIRUT: Politicians and diplomats in Lebanon denied any deal had been reached to resolve the prevailing political crisis here on Tuesday, one day after reports flooded Lebanon that a three-month-old political deadlock would be resolved by the end of the week. Speaking to the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday, Amal MP Ali Bazzi said there was "neither cause for optimism nor pessimism."
Bazzi said "certain indications" showed that the shape of a national unity government had been agreed, adding that the opposition had consistently called for a 19+11 formula and rejected the idea of a "neutral minister" as unconstitutional.
Speaker Nabih Berri, the head of Amal, met Tuesday with US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman and French Ambassador Bernard Emie, both of whom left without speaking to reporters.
But in separate comments to LBC, Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan denied that the ruling majority had agreed to the 19+11 formula, but said that the current atmosphere was conducive to a solution.
Adwan said the 19+11 formula would mean a return to Syrian tutelage and vowed that pro-government forces will continue to oppose the idea." Beirut Daily Star
There was a deal struck in Riyadh over the rapidly deteriorating Sunni-Shia situation in the Middle East. The Iranian president came to Saudi Arabia to talk to King Abdullah. A deal was struck over Shia "cooperation" in Iraq. This would have the effect of making current US efforts seem productive in that there would be less apparent Shia/US conflict in the short term. Another deal was struck over Palestine, a deal that suited Arab and Muslim needs in avoiding a civil war among the Palestinians. A third deal was struck over Lebanon, one in which the Lebanese would accommodate each other in the matter of allocation of cabinet posts and in an acceptance by the "opposition" of the credentials of a UN tribunal to try the case of Rafik Hariri’s murder. This deal over Lebanon was clearly at the expense of Syria in that a conviction might occur that would require party or parties unknown to be sacrificed" in Damascus as well as Beirut. This worked for the negotiators. After all, it was a zero sum solution at the expense of the Syrians. This is comprehensible for them and for the Bush primitives. This should have "worked."
An American envoy waited "in the wings" while the talks were held. This envoy was briefed by the king when the deals were made and returned to the White House to explain.
The result? The Palestinian deal is unacceptable to the Bush Administration. The Lebanon deal is unacceptable to the Bush Administration. (It gives something to the "opposition." Evidently, anything would be too much.) That is Ambassador Feltman in the picture with Patriarch Sfeir. Yesterday the atmosphere was completely different. Everyone was happy, even giddy about the prospect of a typically muddled but non-violent solution to the impasse in Lebanon. Today the leaders say "not so fast." What happened overnight? Was it Feltman that happened? Was it Rice? Was it our unending malicious meddling in other people’s business? pl
“We don’t do carrots.”
“Behold, the man!”
Have there been by HB-Amal to conduct a new census? Is this consociational democracy still based on ’32 census?
So, you think the Shia part of the population might have declined? pl
Trying to make sense out of what’s left of US foreign policy in the ME is like trying to make sense of Britney Spear’s behavior. How much energy should we devote to analyzing dumb people who have screwed things up on such a big scale?
Here is a little background on how the Saudis outmaneuvered Abrams; screwing up Lebanon may be the neocons’ way of “getting even” and showing “we’re still in the game”. Pathetic:
(previous question was supposed to read: “Have there been request by HB-Amal to conduct…”, sorry.)
No, they wouldn’t decline. It seems the Shia are underrepresented in the current breakdown (in power and in their rise in population since ’32). Wouldn’t they want a new census?
It’s the Sunnis and the rest that would not want this, right?
My main question is: This (a census) is a fairly important aspect of democracy, why is there not calls for a new census? Or is there and they just don’t make it back to me? Or, finally, is the specter of what that census would do to the current power distribution the reason it isn’t discussed?
And I’m not saying that a census is the answer; rather wondering why it doesn’t rise in debate… Or maybe it does…
Perhaps the worst thing about the deal made at Riyadh was that a U.N. Tribunal would try the case of Rafik Hariri’s murder.
Probably the only safe assumption that can be made about the Hariri incident is that it was a political assassination. The lack of news coverage of the forensics of the homicide is proof of its political nature. Remember the barrels of ink printed about the death of Princess Diana?
The United Nations, or, more accurately, the United Five or Nine Nations, couldn’t investigate its way out of a wet paper sack in the Hariri murder. And now the U.N. is to investigate and set up a tribunal to try purported defendants, after its pathetic and illegal performance with the kangaroo court set up for Slobodan Milosovic. That tribunal [sic] was not even established under the normal U.N. procedure for doing so.
The Hariri assassination is made for Shakespeare writing a Sherlock Holmes mystery. No one wants to talk about what the Mercedes-Benz company really thinks about the shape its specially armored car was in after the murder. Depleted uranium, anyone? Or an exotic
explosive or high energy device?
Because the Hariri murder was political, which governments gained by it and had the technology to do it? The list is short. And Syria is not on it.
My quick analysis post-Scooter Libby conviction:
— Office of the VP/Abrams will make an even bigger mess out of ME because they want to go for broke. There is no strategy; just mess things up.
–Dems in congress will debate whether to subpoena Cheney.
— Hillary Clinton will want to stall; kind of inconvenient, yaknow? (2002 vote)
— Barack Obama will want to subpoena, then impeach Cheney. Will use this as fuel for his campaign.
— John Edwards will take a harder line than Obama in order to revive his campaign and breathe new life into his “clean boy” image.
— Dems will look to Webb as a bellwether.
— Dems openly split.
— Musharraf may go down in Pakistan in the next year; US would lose right flank on Iran. US will worry about Pak’s nukes.
— Afghanistan will get real bad.
— W will be isolated in WH, and will look for a big breakout military move to save the situation.
— Things will get so bad that generals will leak information about orders to congress.
— Constitutional crisis.
— Republican pres candidates will openly break with Bush, even McCain.
— Republicans go “Bush? Cheney? Never heard of them…”
MarcLord’s quote from Bolton says it all. The US has chosen war as its sole foreign policy priority. US diplomats now function to maintain the war, not to avoid it.
In the meantime, US war fighting capability is declining. We may already be overestimating the ability of the US to impose its will in the Middle East. It is just a matter of time before the principals in the region begin to ignore Rice’s efforts.
Feltman, closely linked to Ariel Sharon and Karl Rove, is an associate of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans that created the false evidence and “mushroom cloud” intelligence used to justify attacks on Iraq.
Yeah read the Asis Times today too; http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/IC07Df01.html
Nato warns Pakistan of possible Hot Pusuit in the Border Areas while the Taliban disperse throughout to the FOA round Kabul
Thats one big long front of boiling pots from Kabul to Jerusalem they’re gonna foster here. Its one big fraught Bizarro World, and I see on the BBC page its $150bn for the new generation nukes, its getting as obscene as it is scary.
Re: the census – I am 44 years old, and all of my life I have been hearing about that crazy Lebanese census. Until his last days, even my father, famously in favor of good government and democracy, even my Lebanese-American father said that a census wasn’t going to happen.
Since the power-sharing in Lebanon is divvied up according to the population numbers, the people who would lose power don’t want to have a census. They have enough power to prevent one.
Still, I think it’s the silliest thing ever. They don’t want to know the bad news so they’re not going to open the envelope. Just close your eyes, put your hands over your ears, and shriek “Tra-la-la!”
However, as the years pass, I notice that my fellow Americans and our leaders also live with similarly ridiculous contradictions. How about our healthcare delivery and insurance system, huh? What a model of market efficiency!
Ah, me, humanity and our flaws.
While I absolutely agree that the Palestinian and Lebanese deals are unacceptable to them, I don’t know if they actually need to do anything in Lebanon. The biggest loser of any agreement will be Jumblatt and Geagea, 2 thirds of the governing alliance. They are unlikely to give up their share of the billions in aid promised to them and know any increased involvement of an opposition that has had the anti-corruption message at the heart of its campaign would cost them dear. These 2 men represent first and foremost themselves. The are both historically avowed criminals and I believe would rather see the country return to civil war then give up their power.
All Feltman has to do is to stop the governing alliance from splitting up. As long as he can keep the Sunni camp on board US policy is safe. His problem is that the Hariri camp is also the camp closest to the Saudis. But from what I have read regarding the Lebanese responses to the agreement, the Hariri camp has decided to stick with the US. When Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal told a meeting of the GCC in Riyadh on Monday that the “Lebanese must put an end and decide for themselves to put national interests above all” he was saying, well we tried, now its your problem.
The so called international tribunal is fast approaching a farce. Just look at the original investigators ties to the US and Israel and this investigators ties to the previous one. No wonder the opposition has some “reservations”. I’m not sure how much the deal will be at the expense of Syria becasue Im not sure they will be able to provide the evidence to hurt Syria in any meaningful way.
Bush and Cheney must have been really looking forward to 2006. The year where they got rid of Sadr, Israel got rid of Hizbollah and the world was firmly behind them in their prepartions for an attack on Iran.
The best laid plans…..
Feltman’s official bio is at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/35948.htm
The Saudis promoted an intense round of diplomacy in the last several weeks with some positive aspects and results. But creative diplomacy leading to peace in the region is not on the Neoconservative agenda, as is well known.
Inside the Beltway, key appointments are watched closely by US pols as well as the political section of every Embassy in town. So is it any coincidence that as diplomacy in the region begins to take on some hopeful aspects, we find arch-Neocon Elliott Cohen (the War on Terror as “WWIV” ideologue) placed into the Counsellor slot at State?
Cohen, a Wolfowitz buddy, has had regular face time with the President on substantive Middle East policy issues. Press reports point out that the President reads his books. One could conclude, therefore, Cohen has White House backing not just of the VP but also of the Decider.
Hence, it is reasonable to expect close coordination on Middle East policy between Neocon prince Elliott Abrams at NSC and Neocon uber-ideologue Elliot Cohen at State.
Dr. Clifford Kiracofe
Department of History
Virginia Military Institute
Leaving aside, for the moment, the gross criminality, incompetence, malevolence,and general greed of the Bush people…….
3 deals in a one day meeting? On issues as intractable as these three issues? Man, even with prep work done by others…..that must have been SOME meeting. And to wrap it up ahead of time to boot! I understand the original itinerary had Pres staying in SA till Sun. He went home Sat night. Sorta like, given the scope of the deal, that on the 7th day he rested.
19+1+1 the compromise to 19+1
the last +1 being an independent
also see Professor Josh Landis’ column at syriacomment.com
i see i”m a few days late
has a pix of senyora and feltman conferring i presume
The opposition have dismissed the idea of 19-10+1 categorically.
They have stated they will not settle for less than 19-11 and there will be no tribunal without that. The Hariri bloc has shown signs of agreeing to it on 2 occasions only to suddenly do an about turn. Like the Colonel says, its medical term is the “Feltman Syndrome” and its symptoms include being allied to power hungry bu weak men who will lick the boots of any man that keeps them in power.
“Was it our unending malicious meddling in other people’s business?”
Yes, seems so. Sad days indeed when tangible progress towards political progress and reduced violence are vetoed by neo-cons for their own illogical and nonsensical reasons. And some Americans wonder why they are so disliked abroad.
I fail to see anything in these 3 deals that is any way bad for America. The fact that they can be nixed by an idiot like Feltman on orders from Cheney just proves that any lessons from the last 6 years have not been learned.
But History is a harsh and unforgiving mistress, lessons un-learned now will simply cost more in the future when they have to be re-learned. Bush/Cheney can only hope they will be long out of office before then, probably a false hope like all else they hold to.
The Bush Administration embarked on a grand quest for Western Hegemony against the Tides of History. Lebanon is an example of the power of propaganda. If democracy was the true goal, a new census would confirm the growing Shiite population and flip control from the Christians to Muslims. Not that different from Prince Georges, MD that flipped from White to Black Democratic politicians as soon as the populations was 51% black. But, the USA is doing everything in its power to stop the flip to Hezbollah or the flip to Hamas in occupied Palestine.
The Western Crusade has assured the rise of leaders and methods to defeat the Western Technology of the USA and Israel. Defense in depth in Lebanon or IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wars always have always propelled the rise of fundamentalists to fight occupiers. Occupiers always copy the worst of the occupied. The costs of the neo-colonial wars are already too great for Americans to accept.
The Twilight of the Bush Administration will either see the explosion of a nuclear attack on Iran or terrorist attack within the USA or it will fade into the Malaise of few remaining Gulf State Forts and inadequate oil supplies for the 2010’s.
POTUS received Walid Jumblat, a sectarian warlord, responsible for the wanton massacre of Thousands of hapless christians in the Chouf mountains. POTUS will, shortly, receive Samir Geagea, another sectarian warlord and convicted assassin of a Lebanese Prime Minster, and thousands of Christians and Muslims.
These two “spoiling flanks” of the March 14 movement (also poetically known as the Cedar Revolutionaries) are being told the following by the Adminisration:
“Hitting Iran is not feasible as long as Hezballah has the capabilities we know it has. You have previously tried to draw HZB into the quagmire of internal strife, but you failed. HZB has shown restraint. This cannot be tolerated: You need to DRAW HASSAN NASRALLAH INTO THE OPEN, and only when its character as National Resistance is severely eroded, your “friends” down south will do the rest. This has to be done real soon, and remember, we have shown a great deal of appreciation by allocation a big chunk of EVERY sum pegged for the “rehabilitation … reconstruction … ” of your country!”
Do I still hear anyone talk of a possible “deal” in Lebanon?
I think you are overstating the case, at least with respect to Lebanon. As always, the Americans care not a whit what happens in Lebanon outside its regional implications (shocker, I know). I think the sense at State, and it is important to note that we are talking Foggy Bottom here, is that it would be foolish to give in ahead of the talks over Iraq (as always, the Americans see Lebanon through a regional prism, often to the detriment of their own interests).
The State people know the Syrians can wait out their (M14, US, French) demands, but they will keep the pressure up (and Jumblatt and Geagea happy) until the serious negotiations begin with Syria and Iran and see no reason to draw the ire of OVP prematurely or for no good reason.
The Saudis were not, as the Cook article suggests, outmaneuvering the Americans, but rather softening up the ground and enhancing their own relevance over what is sure to be a truly dizzying episode of diplomacy over the next two-three months. They know the 800-pound gorilla has not entered the room yet, just as the State people know that beating back Abrams et al. will require all available resources.
I think you are wrong lumping Jumblatt with Geagea. Jumblatt has much more to lose — thus the hysterical zoological rant and the equally embarassing begging in DC. Geagea is still in the process of rebuilding his patronage network (and reining in some of the LF) so he is likely to follow the money for now and wait til he is ready to actually challenge Aoun for supremacy. Intra-Christian feuding (and its role in the national political game) will keep Geagea relevant regardless of 19-11 or 19-10-1.
Jumblatt, on the other hand, faces a real crisis if Hariri and HA cut a deal. While his hold over that speck of dust called Mukhtara has never been stronger, his national relevance is likely to severely diminished in a government that includes both HA and Aoun. The Syrian order, and its careful calibration of Christian representation, provided Jumblatt with a national role the size of his community did not deserve. Thus, Jumblatt has a lot to fear about a post-Syrian order if HA and Aoun are not defeated.
The Palestinian deal did not please Israel, which is overjoyed to have Palestinians shooting at each other rather than themselves. The Lebanon deal did not please Israel, which would prefer to have a failed state to their north rather than a peaceful, free, and democratic Arab nation that could serve as a model to other Arab nations and thus present a threat to them in the future, since any Arab democracy at this point in time will be inherently anti-Israel in ways that are much more hostile than the current lip service given by American-bribed Arab dictators. Thus both the Palestinian and Lebanese deals were utterly unacceptable to the neo-cons in the U.S. government.
Why is everybody afraid to mention the elephant in the room?
Hamas agreed to “respect” previously arrived at agrements with Israel. The Olmert gov’t Bush Axis said that wasn’t the same as “accept” and torpedoed the deal.
Brings to mind a Uri Anvery column about pre 73 War Sadat speech where he offered Peace with Israel for return of Sinai. They parsed his Arabic and and Israelis decided he used the wrong word for peace. After the 73 war, they quit parsing the words. operatation Nickel Grass saved their butts.
The Daily Star reports today more shuttle diplomacy. Ironic that the Sudanese in spite of their own considerable problems are mediators in Lebanon and the Arab League are involved again. The Shuttles are to Teheran and Riyadah. The tradeoff as Mo described is the Whigs will assent to a tribunal if the Tories will nudge for greater representation.
The majority/minority labels are inverted and mix me up.
The strength of Jumblatt and the Druze is they command the heights. The Chouf mountain range which is the southeast part of Mount Lebanon commands West and East Beirut, the Airport, Baabda, and the Ministry of Defense at Yarze. You can shoot artillery direct fire straight down at all those targets.
See the article I started about Suk-El-Gharb. I tried to stay out of politics and it is just a stub, but I had to address the Battle of Suk-El-Gharb in Sep 83 and the role of U.S. Navy Ships. I left a lot out.
Jumblat seemed very cagey and desirous of changing the topic when Aoun’s name came up at AEI – He just noted Aoun’s shift. He also seemed uneasy when the AEI lady was pressing him to denounce Hamas. Does anyone really know why Aoun formed a pact with Nasrallah? Was it a response to last summer? Does it mean much?
Addressing the “respect” versus “accept” language in the Hamas-Fatah accord and the Uriv Avnery column it evoked about Sadat’s pre 1973 War Peace offer
“One proven method is to concentrate on one word and argue that it shows the dishonesty of the whole offer. For example, before the October 1973 war, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt made a far-reaching peace offer. Golda Meir rejected it out of hand. Her Arabists (there are always intellectual whores around to do the dirty job) discovered that Sadat spoke of “salaam” but not of “sulh, which “proves” that he does not mean real peace. More than 2000 Israel soldiers and tens of thousand Egyptians paid with their lives for this word. After that, a salaam treaty was signed. ”
I think you make a good point that the US will not “allow” a deal to be done until after the Baghdad talks, but I also think you are under-stating this administration’s attention to what happens in Lebanon because you cannot so easily seperate what happens in Lebanon to the regional implications and the Republican need for revenge for what happened in 83. I think it kills the likes of Cheney everytime HA notch up another success and they would like to do anything in their power to thwart that.
The situation with the Saudis is perhaps a little more complicated. My deep cynicism and mistrust of the royal family there tells me this is part of the US plan. My eyes tell me that what they are doing is counter that. I think I will have to wait and see to undertand what their game plan is.
What you say about Gegea is right to some repects. However, the longer this crisis continues the more support he gets in the Christian community as more and more Christians become disillusioned with Aoun. Therefore, if Aoun succeeds and puts the Christians back at the top table in a strong seat, that support will ebb back to him and quite likely take some of Geageas with it.
Most likely because we are too busy looking at all the otherElephants in the room!
Dont mention Souk El-Gharb too loudly; The killing of hundreds of civilians there (as well as the Southern suburbs of Beirut) must not be allowed to be used as justification for the attack on the marines barracks. The article is a nice summary but like you say, some details such as the Army not be as non-Secterian as it should be, are left out.
Aouns alliance with HA pre-dates last summers war. It is an alliance based on mutual goals; Both parties are considered highly nationalistic; Both parties are on an anti-corruption drive and both parties feel under-represented in the ruling circles. Most shockingly to most in the Western world, they are both against Syrian influence returning to Lebanon and both would have more to lose than the governing elit ewere they to return.
the marine barracks in beirut was in 1983. that was 24 years ago. yet it influences U.S. policy toward Hezbollah, undubitably.
Armitage recently stated there was a blood debt there. there are many HA’s. An Iranian one, and a Lebanese one. How many present members of present day Leb HA were even born prior to 83?
And would not that nice package of millions of unexploded American secondary dud cluster bombs delilvered to southern Lebanon courtesy of the IAF satisfied that “blood debt?”
Will, to be honest the HA of 83 was nothing but a loose affiliation of Shia and membership was easy in those nascent years. That is why so much of what happened in respect to kidnappings, bombings etc. is blamed on them;
I would say a good deal of the upper echelons of HA are still part of the group; However they still deny it was them which considering the justification and at the time, popularity, of the attack plus the fact that they have always been more than ready to take credit or blame for their actions makes me believe it wasn’t.
Of course thats convinving no one at the White House. Therefore the blood debt can only be gained by killing every member of HA alive; If that means killing all the people one Shia at a time so be it.
thanx for the info Mo. Nasrallah joined HA in 82 at age 22. He had been a member of Amal prior.
A US federal district court judge had found HA responsible for the Beirut Barracks bombing and levied a huge judgment against them. But that all depends on the evidence presented presented by a preponderance and who had an opportunity to defend. He also found as a fact it was the larges non-nuclear explosion to that date. That fact is clearly erroneous.
the Halifax harbor explosion of 1917 takes the cake.
The blast was huge though. I have seen in places where the design was plastic explosives co-ordinated with propane gas cannisters by detonation cord.
i made some changes to the wiki article. It was not the regular water truck but a substitute truck for the hijacked water truck. The actual driver was Iranian but there was no need to put that in.
I pass by the Beirut Memorial on Hwy 24 through Jacksonville “Jax” NC a couple times a month. There are pear trees planted on the Hwy divider to honor the Leatherneck Heroes.
The fences on the side of the road are draped with bedsheets painted with homemade greetings to Marines returning from overseas deployment.
Per elephants: One elephant has friends in high places. Professors Mearsheimer and Walt have given the basics in a recent treatment, see Kennedy School/Harvard website at
Per Armitage and HA: One key indicator of the early first term Bush43 Administration’s Middle East approach was Armitage’s comment shifting Hamas and HA from the resistance organization category to the “terrorist” organization category.
Per Saudis: It is curious that the little rogue elephant can go on a rampage next door causing hundreds of millions of dollars of damage to the Lebanese economy (with implications for the Syrian economy) and Riyadh picks up a good part of the tab. No talk about “war reparations” from the little elephant for a pre-meditated campaign, according to Olmert himself, not even a whisper it would seem. Of course it is more convenient for the Saudis to pick up the tab than for the US taxpayers.
Dr. Clifford Kiracofe
Department of History
Virginia Military Institute
I was just researching something and read in Tabitha Petran’s book _Struggle for Lebanon_ about the Israeli attack in March 1978 on the same part of South LEbanon. They were trying to “exterminate” the Palestinians once and for all. They used cluster bombs, they pounded the hell out of the villages along the border. According to PEtran, the Palestinians “only” lost a hundred (number?) fighters, and retreated with discipline, retaining all their heavy weapons. THe whole thing sounded like Summer 2006. THe loss of civilian life was nearly as bad.
Petran concluded that the exercise was a defeat for Israel, since they didn’t achieve their goals. Now I don’t know whether pro-Israel types would agree with her assessment. But I was tempted to retype the paragraphs, substituting Hizbullah for Palestinians – the story sounded almost exactly the same.
Leila, Just as the first Intifada was developing, I was given an assignment to visit Israel and occupied Palestine to assess aspects of the situation.
Among a number of interviews and discussions, I had a one on one breakfast with a retired, and malevolent, Israeli general. He explained his perspective in terms of the American West and “cowboys and Indians,” the Indians being the Palestinians he informed me. His far Right political party advocates the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and “Judea and Samaria.”
On the same official visit, I had the opportunity for a one on one lunch with Faisal al-Husseini as his guest. I can still well recall his personal warmth, wise words, and good cheer that day in East Jersualem and the same when he was sometime later my guest for a luncheon in his honor Washington, DC at the US Senate.
Dr. Clifford Kiracofe
Department of History
Virginia Military Institute