The Welch Club

I recommend that you all read the article on the "Welch Club" posted on the "Friday Lunch Club."  pl

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51 Responses to The Welch Club

  1. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Additional coverage at:
    (rather thin but its Newsweek after all)
    “On Wednesday, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), General Michel Aoun, joined key political powers in Lebanon in supporting the Lebanese army’s military intervention to end the standoff with Fatah al-Islam fighters holed in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp….”
    Iranian media quote Sy Hersh:
    Some video:
    Sy Hersh on CNN transcript:

  2. david says:

    Are you endorsing one Lebanese conspiracy theory over another?
    I don’t know what you have heard about how this all went down (or, for that matter, what I think about all that I have heard), but the whole episode has a very keystone kops quality to it.
    The sequence of events was so bizarre as to be laughable were it not for the casualties. As always, things are never as they seem in Lebanon — unless they seem insane and tragic, in which case they are.
    Neither the dominant narrative of the GOL (which is available in western press), not that of the “opposition” reflects what actually happened or is happening. Everybody’s too busy scoring political points to allow for the emergence of a sensible solution to the crisis. Maybe they are taking a cue from the Americans in this regard. That, at least, would explain the airlift.

  3. Leila says:

    This is incendiary stuff. I assume by printing the link to this article, which I’d seen referenced elsewhere, you are giving it your okay. I would never have linked to it or mentioned it without someone of your credibility saying the charges are reasonable and worth considering.
    Lebanese are going to be howling about this one. My cousin has a brother-in-law stationed at Naher el-Barid camp; the man is “high up” and happened to be in Beirut when the attack happened. (My suspicious mind wonders about that but I held my peace)
    My cousin and his wife and family are all very supportive of the Lebanese army and feel they have to “show the camps that they cannot be armed or attack Lebanese military.” My cousins are loyal Lebanese patriots, (And American patriots too, they have dual citizenship and live here). You can imagine their feelings upon hearing of the attack on the Lebanese soldiers by the militia, decapitations of soldiers, etc. They are very angry and ready for the Leb. gov’t to do anything to retaliate.
    The Welch Club theory makes it all look like a gigantic double-cross – of Lebanese soldiers as well as Palestinians.
    I will be linking to your site, again, on this topic. This may get me in trouble among my Lebanese readers and relatives.

  4. ckrantz says:

    So now the Administration supports Islamic fundamentalist mercenaries by proxy? Basically a Lebanese terrorist group intended to go after hezb.
    ‘Over a year ago Hariri’s Future Movement started setting up Sunni Islamist terrorist cells (the PSP and LF already had their own militia since the civil war and despite the Taif Accords requiring militia to disarm they are now rearmed and itching for action and trying hard to provoke Hezbollah’

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It seems evident to me that the US is “fooling around” in Lebaneses politics and is determined to make it impossible for Hizbullah to have a greater role in Lebanon.
    Tell me why I should not think this is a plausible theory employing Lang’s analyiti toolset. pl

  6. Cloned Poster says:

    Pretty much a mess. I note Condi saying “US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reiterated Washington’s support for the Lebanese government. She said gunmen in Nahr al-Bared were trying to destabilise a democratic government.”
    Iran-Contra in spades redux.

  7. b says:

    There could be a military reason to “cleanse” the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp.
    – U.S. use of Incirlik air base is endangered by a possible U.S.-Turkey conflict over the Kirkuk referendum, i.e. a Kurdish state and seperation of Turlish Kurds.
    – Rene Mouawad Air Base in north Lebanon is the only good alternative in the wider area (3000m paved runway, currently deserted, lots of space around.)
    – The only good line of communication to Rene Mouawad Air Base runs from Tripoli (Lebanon) harbor some 15 miles north to the base.
    – The Nahr al-Bared refugee camp sits right on top of that LOC – 10 miles north of Tripoli, 5 south of the air base. 45,000 Palestinian refugees on both sides of the connecting road?
    Can’t have that.
    (Some map links here)

  8. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “A message was posted to a password-protected jihadist forum today, Wednesday, November 29, 2006, containing an announcement by the Fatah al-Islam Movement, in which the group announces that it has split from the “apostate seculars” of Fatah. Described with pious characteristics and manners, Fatah al-Islam observes jihad as the only means of victory and liberation for the Palestinian people. Their message was distributed to the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. Muslims are encouraged to join their ranks and training camps because victory requires the “complete effort” of the Muslim Nation. The message also states: “Know that our goal is fighting the Jews and all who support them from the Zionist Crusaders of the West and liberating our sacred. So get out of the way. Don’t be the first to defend them. We warn everyone who wants to hurt our movement, because by Allah we did not take this step but only wishing for martyrdom”.
    According to media reports, two-hundred Arab militants arrived in Lebanon at a Palestinian refguee camp in the north, and joined the Fatah-Intifada movement. They soon announced their split, and are purportedly headed by Shaker Issa, a former Fatah official who had previously been expelled from the group.”
    Less than a month ago, according to a militant spokesman, Syrian security forces allegedly killed four members of Fatah al-Islam (including two senior military commanders) “while trying to get into Iraq to support their Islamic brothers.” The clash was hardly a well-orchestrated Syrian intelligence operation–according to Fatah al-Islam, at least five Syrian soldiers were killed in the process. Lebanese Internal Security Forces have also reportedly uncovered evidence of links between Fatah al-Islam and four suspects in the February 13 twin bus bombings in Ain Alaq, which killed three people and wounded 24 others. Allegedly, authorities were able to trace phone calls made by a prime suspect in the bombings to the main office of Fatah al-Islam in the Nahr al-Bared camp.”

  9. Leila says:

    So Michael Young of the Beirut Daily Star (a leading Lebanese Neo-con reporter) claims that Sy Hersh was duped by pro-Syrian propaganda.
    Colonel Lang, in case you get some new readers due to this Lebanese crisis, could you speak to the question of Syrian propaganda? How likely are you to fall for it? (I don’t think you are a Syrian dupe, I’m asking for the record)
    Basically, the Lebanese neo-con blogosphere and associated reporting (which echoes in the mainstream media) say that any suggestion that the US is involved is sign of Syrian propaganda. They claim that Syria is behind all of this and wants to “burn LEbanon.” This is what my cousin emailed me just now.
    What do you think? How accurate do you think this Lamb report is?

  10. Leila says:

    *I* know your expertise in this area. It’s a rhetorical question. I just wanted to draw you out on your credentials, for the sake of newcomers, so they know that you know whereof you speak. I am sorry to offend.

  11. Will says:

    josh landis’ also gives the lamb counterpunch link. it has the ring of authenticity to it.
    the only missing link from the Welch Club is of course, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
    Hariri, JaJa (the Hakim, med school dropout Gaegea) and Jumblatt, the one with the intemperate mouth. What a trio to lead Lebanon. I would take Michel Aoun over them anyday.

  12. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    The Lamb article appeared in the Palestine Chronicle, 24 May.
    It appeared, 25 May, in the Turkish Weekly, a product of a serious research institute in Turkey,
    “Established in 2004, the International Strategic Research Organization (ISRO – USAK) has gained wide recognition as the Turkey’s foremost source of independent and balanced information and research on a broad range of issues affecting Turkey and its region.”
    The Bush Administration has made it quite clear, from the Decider on down, that US policy supports the Siniora (Hariri) government.
    Per the Saudi’s man, the late Rafik Hariri see:
    Someone once mentioned to me Hariri bought up a lot of property in traditionally Christian areas, is that true?
    While the Bush Admininstration opposes HB, the American public is not generally informed by the newsmedia that Christians following General Aoun are in what one might call a political alignment (tactical? strategic?) with HB. Christians aligned with Shia? with HB? can’t write that up, why what would American Fundamentalists say?
    American policymakers betray Lebanon? Well, they betray their own country day in and day out without a second thought; so what is Lebanon to them one might ask?

  13. david says:

    Thanks for the reply and the tool set. The problem on my end is not establishing the plausibility of such a theory. It is rather that it seems of such of a high probability that I experience some discomfort and begin looking for the exits in the form of alternative explanations.
    The pattern of the last week (and really the last two years) suggests not only that the Americans are “meddling” in Lebanon, but also that they and their Lebanese allies may very well be going for broke in the near future. When I get this far along, however, I start a rethink: did I see design where I should have seen accident? Are the Americans, or the Saudis or their Lebanese allies really this clever, or alternatively this stupid? Experience tells me no, but I cannot get the feathers out of my eyes or the quacking out of my ears. Please tell me it is not a duck, because I don’t want to believe they want to do it again in Lebanon.
    Short of that, I try and comfort myself with the possibility that they just want Hizbullah boxed in, but given the US and Israeli performance last summer in Lebanon, I doubt in the extreme that the pair are capable of the subtleties that would require. Here, it is probably worth rethinking the Israeli bombing pattern last summer. From a military point of view, it seemed senseless, but if it was designed with political objectives in mind, it might be judged just short of a total success.
    The missing piece in my puzzle is Iran. Are the US and Israel content with diplomacy, covert action, and proxy war or will they go for all of it? I just don’t know. I fear the worst this summer, but maybe that is just where the Kissingers (both the American and Syrian versions) want me.

  14. ckrantz says:

    An interesting piece of information is the Shaker al-Abssi connection to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It could explain all the foreign fighters in the camp. The whole affair reminds me how the jihadi camps in Afghanistan got started in the 80s. With Bandar Bush behind the scenes.

  15. Will says:

    went into the source code and pulled the link to the raw story seymour hersh cnn interview and transcript

  16. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Robert Fisk’s take, 23 May:
    “But the men who set up their grubby little office in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp, some of them fighters from the Iraq war, others from Yemen, Syria or Lebanon itself, were far more dangerous than America and Israel believed the Hizbollah to be…..Perhaps the Americans might have learnt something about this if they had not two years ago insulted the Syrians for allowing fighters into Iraq – at which point, the Syrians halted all military and intelligence co-operation with the US.”
    Fisk reporting from the camp, 24 May:
    “….shot by two gunmen from Fatah al-Islam because he was a PLO supporter. “His family and one of their families had quarreled about ideology,” his father told me. “So they shot him and killed two other men. They are a terrorist organisation and we don’t know what they want.”
    Early item in Le Monde 8 Dec 2006:
    Des djihadistes viseraient 36 personnalités antisyriennes au Liban
    Article publié le 08 Décembre 2006
    Par Philippe Bolopion et Mouna Naïm
    Source : LE MONDE
    Taille de l’article : 406 mots
    Extrait : Selon des sources palestiniennes et libanaises, un commando d’une cinquantaine de militants affiliés à Al-Qaida et ayant combattu en Irak s’est infiltré au Liban, via la Syrie, pour y perpétrer « un complot terroriste de Damas visant à assassiner 36 personnalités libanaises antisyriennes ». Ces informations sont contenues dans un document confidentiel – dont Le Monde a pu prendre connaissance – adressé, le 1er décembre, au quartier général de l’ONU par un haut fonctionnaire de l’organisation déployée dans la région.”

  17. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Interesting interview with details per Hariri family issue Lamb raised:
    “…sometimes groups that the government were complaining about turned out to have been funded by the Hariri family, for example Asbat al-Ansar and Jund as-Sham in Ain al Hilweh refugee camp, some of whose members later joined Fath al-Islam…We don’t have evidence that the Hariri family did specifically fund Fath al-Islam…What we know for a fact is that over the last several years, since 2000, and specifically since 2005 during the parliamentary elections, the Hariri family spent lavishly, especially in northern Lebanon to recruit among the extremist, fundamentalist Sunni organizations..Some of the people in Fath al-Islam who are fighting now were released in an unprecedented amnesty in 2005 insisted on by the Hariri family because they wanted to win favor among the Sunni fundamentalist organizations in Tripoli. So it is very likely that some of these people are beneficiaries of Hariri largesse in the area of northern Lebanon. But that doesn’t mean that the Hariris knowingly financed Fath al-Islam, although we know that they funded fanatical Sunni groups some of whose members later joined Fath al-Islam…In an interview on Al-Arabiya television on May 23, the Lebanese defense minister, Ilyas Murr, stated that of the several dozen fighters killed in the battles, not a single a fighter is identified as Palestinian. He said they are mostly Lebanese, Saudi, Yemeni, Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan and so on.After the assassination of Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, the Hariri family did not trust the existing state security and intelligence forces, so with supervision and funding from the United States as well as Saudi, Jordanian and UAE support, they established their own quasi-militia called the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. They also established something called Jihaz al-Ma’alumat, the Intelligence Apparatus, which does not have a mandate to exist under Lebanese law. Be that as it may, they are now the most important security and intelligence forces in Lebanon and they are marginalizing all the others….”
    Lamb updates story 26 May in Counterpunch:
    The Council on Foreign Relations’ take, so far:
    (rather thin)
    compare with Wiki:
    McClatchy 25 May barely pieces something together with a camp dateline:
    “Interviews with several factional leaders and fleeing Nahr el-Bared residents at the nearby Baddawi camp, where thousands have sought refuge, paint a starkly different picture of the shadowy group believed to have links to al-Qaida. They say radical Islamists from as far away as Pakistan and Somalia set up shop at Nahr el-Bared in the past year.”
    Washington Post 21 May with Tripoli dateline:
    (Presumably these reporters could check out some of the details in Lamb’s original story such as: “The leaders were provided with ocean view luxury apartments in Tripoli where they stored arms and chilled when not in Nahr-al-Bared. Guess who owns the apartments?”)
    A Manila newspaper gives its readers some details:
    “It is not a Palestinian group, although it has established its base in Nahr al-Bared. Most of its members are Islamists of varying Arab nationalities…They had new weapons, not the common ones … they had Kalashnikovs, and even small M16s, Belgian rifles or weird-looking rocket-launchers…most of the Islamist extremists wore long, Pakistani-style tunics and had long hair and beards… Lebanese army intelligence, which keeps close watch on the camps from positions around the area, “knew very well who they were and where they were.”
    Question: Is the military aid the US and others are now sending going to go to the Lebanese Army? or to the Hariri security apparatus (allegedly US-Saudi-Jordanian-UAE backed)? or just what?

  18. searp says:

    How would it benefit Jumblatt, a Druze, to support Sunni Islamicists who would probably kill Druze for fun? For that matter, I wouldn’t want to be a Christian and live next to this group.

  19. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    The American stenographer corps does seem to be having a spot of bother reporting, let alone attempting “news analysis,” on the details of the current Lebanon situation.
    Some snippets per the bad guyz:
    “Ahmad Musalli (an expert on Islamist movements from AUB) appeared on AlJazeera to comment on the developments. He believes that Saudi Arabia and the Hariri family (he was less explicit than I am here, but it was clear what he meant) were behind arming and financing the Al-Qa`idah groups in the Middle East (and he lists Fath-Al-Islam as an affiliate of Al-Qa`idah) and that Saudi Arabia changed its strategy after an Saudi-Iranian agreement that sought to diffuse Sunni-Shi`ite tensions in the region. He believed that the Iranian-Saudi agreement changed the status of Fath-Al-Islam (in the eyes of Hariri Inc) from friend to foe.”
    [also AngryArab blog]”For conspiracy theorists. This news item says that Bahiyyah Al-Hariri called Walid Jumblat and told him “that Jund Ash-Sham in `Ayn Al-Hilwah camp, does not belong to Fath-Al-Islam, and that it is different from it. And Jumblat expressed interest in those clarifications.”
    (what is Sidonia News and could an Arabic speaker give some details on this item?)
    [also AngryArab blog] “Ahmad Fatfat, the indispensable Lebanese Minister of Sports, Youth, and Chess, denied that he held meetings with Shakir Al-`Absi (the leader of the Fath-Al-Islam gang). Fatfat, as is well-known, has maintained ties with the fanatical Salafi groups in North Lebanon.”
    Meanwhile, on cue (?), per Bush43’s pro-Hariri and anti-Syria line, Syrian “opposition leader” to visit DC. Glad hand Congress persons, do the editorial board meeting with the Washington Pest and etc. one might surmise.
    “Khaddam hired the good offices of Sandra Charles to lobby for him and obtain access for a high profile visit he’d like to make to Washington.
    Sandra Charles is on a substantial retainer with the Hariri family (from father to son) Her group has one of the more potent rollodexes in Washington, and she was amongst Brent Scowcroft’s most able advisers (she sat on G W Bush’s NSC) She also does limited work for Bandar .She is friends with Amal Mudallali, a Hariri, who is Saad’s point woman in Washington, having served his late father.
    If our government (US) chooses to work with this slug, I believe that we have slipped to a level I did not think possible. Perhaps we should grant citizenship to the assassins of Ambassador Francis Meloy and Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring!”

  20. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Iranian media reports:
    “According to a Lebanese think-tank, the so-called Fatah al-Islam militant group was formed by the leaders of the Future Movement including Saad Hariri, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Junbalat and the leader of the Lebanese forces, Samir Geagea….The think-tank also said the Fatah al-Islam chief has held several meetings in recent weeks with Hariri, son of former Lebanese Premier Rafiq Hariri, and added that Junbalat and Geagea attended one of the meetings. .. After the Fatah al-Islam militant group rejected being controlled by a paramilitary member of Geagea’s party, the group came under financial boycott,” the expert said.
    “As a result, Lebanon’s intelligence agencies, with Hariri’s consultation, decided to pound the group before it got informed of the plot behind the scene,” he continued.”
    “Up to now four Saudis have been killed in the ongoing clashes between the Lebanese army and the Fatah Al Islam group, but they have yet to be identified,’ the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Abdul Aziz Khoja….Kohja told Al Hayat that Islamic militants from across the Middle East are members of the group under siege in the Nahr Al Bared camp near the port city of Tripoli…
    We have learnt there are Saudis, Syrians, Lebanese, Algerians and people from other nationalities amongst Fatah Al Islam, and they follow Al Qaeda’s ideology,’ he said.
    Does the Lebanese Army really need the current planeloads of military supplies to deal with the 300 Fatah al Islam psychopaths-thugs [takfiri salafis/off the charts and reservation Wahhabis/Ibn Taymiyya-ists/jihadis/neo-Taliban or whatever the descriptor for this sewage?]

  21. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    A lobbyist for the Welch Club? The “Syrian” Chalabi?
    “Syrian exile and opposition leader Farid Gadry, of the Syrian Reform Party, is expected to visit the Knesset. He was invited by MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), former chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
    “…a “discredited businessman from Virginia” who is “Syria’s version of Ahmad Chalabi” by Robert Dreyfuss April 17, 2006, in The American Prospect, Ghadry is “a secular, pro-democracy Sunni from a majority-Sunni country. He is charming and articulate, enjoys driving his kids to soccer practice, and favors a Syrian peace with Israel,” Elizabeth Eaves wrote February 7, 2005, in Slate. …Ghadry is a member of AIPAC…”Ghadry wants to be the Chalabi of Syria,” Perthes said. “Chalabi is a role model for Ghadry.”.”Reform Party of Syria’s Farid Ghadry has been a featured speaker at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and is himself a member of AIPAC. When repeated calls to his organization went unanswered, [Schuh] visited the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the RFP. Reform Party of Syria is the office of ‘super-Zionist’ lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Middle Gate Ventures, Abramoff’s ‘political advisory company’ partners with RFP,” Schuh wrote. ….”
    “Ghadry has made campaign contributions to Ileana Ros Lehtinen (R-FL), who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives as Chair of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, and Eliot Engel (D-NY), who has served on the same House Subcommittee, for several years…
    Ros-Lehtinen and Engel have “spearheaded the anti-Syrian legislation in congress.”

  22. searp says:

    I should have made it clear:
    I do not find it credible that a Druze leader or a Christian warlord would support Salafi militants.
    The others are playing with fire: serious blowback potential here.
    So: I don’t find it credible, but if it turns out to be true then it is truly idiotic.

  23. swerv21 says:

    here is a rough translation of the sidonia news item. never heard of sidonia news before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. still its quite an odd item, very short:
    “Democratic Union” president MP Waleed Junblatt received a phone call, after his press conference yesterday, from MP Bahia Al-Harriri. She clarified that the “Jund Al-Sham” group in the Ein Al-Hilweh refugee camp does not have ties to the “Fath Al Islam” gang and is a different entity. Junblatt was receptive to these clarifications.
    The “Democratic Union” president also received a call from the President of the future movement, MP Saad Al-Harriri wherein they discussed the ongoing state of affairs…

  24. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Here in the camp [Bedawi], residents forced the radical group Fatah al Islam out when its fighters tried to establish a foothold there late last year. The militants then went to the Nahr el Bared camp a few miles away, establishing a paramilitary base there.”,1,1825012.story?coll=la-headlines-world
    “Three of the four were foreign, he said, saying he could tell from their accents that one was from Saudi Arabia, one was from Yemen and one was Sudanese. He said he couldn’t tell where the fourth was from. When he finally managed to escape, he said, he stepped over their bodies…. The evidence that foreigners were in the camp has been there for months. Between 60 and 70 foreigners came to Lebanon during the war between Hezbollah and Israel last summer, according to Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, the commander of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces. They arrived under the aegis of Fatah Intifada, a group set up by Syrian intelligence in the 1980s in an attempt to hijack the Palestinian cause for Syria’s own purposes, he said…about half of the militants in Nahr el-Bared fought in Iraq, Rifi said…The money for the fighters comes from local criminal activities, such as bank robberies — one of which sparked the current standoff — and support from gulf countries and “local politicians,” said a senior regional military source. “They’re part of the global jihad,” he said.
    “Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s Middle East analyst, says the group is trans-national and that many of the fighters have fought in Iraq and have trained in camps in places such as Jordan…
    However, he says that it is telling that a third of those who have been killed in the fighting at Nahr Al Bared have been Lebanese, who are the biggest component in the group.”
    ““ But one thing is strange, even though they don’t do any work, they appear to be flush with cash in a camp that is inhabited by poor people”.He added : They never bargain and always pay the top price for whatever they buy, which is alien to the culture of the Palestinian and Lebanese people”. He asked” where is the money coming from ? Who finances these people?…They even brought with them Belgian arms that appear to be very modern and expensive.” He said
    “The militants dress like they do in Pakistan and Afghanistan and they grow long hair and beards , totally different from the way the Arabs dress”. He said…There are some Palestinians amongst them but the large majority are not; they are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria & Syria . They all appear to have fought in Iraq. They are totally different from Fatah mainstream people.”
    “By the way, even the military commander of Fath-Al-Islam, Abu Hrayrah (his real name is Shihab Al-Qaddur) is not a Palestinian. He is a Lebanese from `Akkar.”
    “It is very clear that all Palestinian groups (including the organizations that act on behalf of the Syrian regime, like the PFLP-GC) have contempt for Fath-Al-Islam, and have only antipathy to its ideology and practice. So why is the Nahr Al-Barid refugee camp being punished? The Fath-Al-Islam established itself in the camp with LEBANESE help, and not Palestinian help. Abu Jaber in the camp today told me that the residents of the camp clearly want to get rid of the Fath-Al-Islam gang: he is right in calling for “those who brought them in, to take them out.” Also, information is circulating in the Lebanese press to the effect that those fanatical fighters (mostly Saudis and Yemenis) came to Lebanon through the Lebanese airport.”
    Now here is the latest “analysis” (or is it agit-prop?) from the Council on Foreign Relations:
    “Former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk tells’s Bernard Gwertzman that at the root of this episode lies Lebanon’s inability to control its territory.” etc.

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You are underestimating the conspiratorial perfidy of Lebanese politicians. pl

  26. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    searp, swerve21, thanks for helpful comments and insights. I have not handled Lebanon issues for some 20 years so am rusty to say the least. This crisis is an interesting case study.
    Were I still on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff, the process would be to attempt to establish the facts of the situation-crisis and create an analysis with policy recommendations for Senators (floor statement; hearings; legislation; direct contact with SecState, SecDef, DCI, POTUS). Congressional Research Service can give some basics. The US press is generally worthless so foreign press has to be sifted. With respect to White House, State, Defense, Intell Community you have to take into consideration you may well be lied to. So you have to have outside input (or inside from friends, former colleagues, etc.) Congress is a separate and co-equal body under the Constitution we are sworn to defend in federal service. The obligations of this oath terminate at one’s death. Congress, and particularly the Senate given its reponsibiities for “advice and consent,” cannot take what the Executive feeds it at face value…ever. [eternal vigilance and all that]. Our system depends on checks and balances and hence vigorous oversight on the part of Congress.
    So in this current mess in Lebanon do we have some blowback from some Cheney-Elliot Abrams etal ops?What is this northern Lebanon network of violent psychotic Sunni-Wahhabi gangs [espousing Maududiism-Qutbism is it? Or Zawahiriism-Bin Ladenism?] Just what Lebanese officials allowed this gang of thugs into the Palestinian camp and why? Who pays for the thugs and where are they from? Is there in fact a Welch Club? Did the Abdullah-Amadinejad summit reach understandings on Lebanon and what were they if so? What are the policy implications for Lebanon and for the region from a US point of view? How is the US national interest affected?

  27. Antiquated Tory says:

    Plausible? Perhaps. But one can come up with lots of perfectly plausible explanations of all sorts of events. That’s what keeps conspiracy book sales afloat.
    In this case the author seemed not to follow his own precept of believing nothing one is told and only half of what one sees, possibly because what he was told fit his preconceptions.
    I would argue one point against it, and that is that it would require a rather high level of trust between Jumblatt, Geagea and Hariri. They can just about put up with each other enough to keep M 14 afloat, but these guys were in full on armed conflict not that long ago. Co-operatively funding a bunch of laddies who, for instance, wouldn’t think twice about slaughtering any of Jumblatt’s people sounds a bit fishy.
    I’m not saying that the story isn’t true and I’m certainly not saying it’s completely false. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if at least some aspects of the story were indeed true. I’m saying however that the story as a whole is a hodge-podge of unattributed quotes and hearsay and accepting it as is strikes me as grossly premature.

  28. Antiquated Tory says:

    I think I’m double posting, but here’s a reasonably sceptical consideration of Mr Lamb from a Dutch journo in Beirut. Conclusion: Seems fishy but might just be very good.

  29. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think US policy thinking supports the plausibility of the idea. pl

  30. Martin K says:

    Antiquated Tory: I think you are putting too much emphasis on the singular person perspective. All that is needed is an operative understanding at some point in the organizations of msrs J, G & H to facilitate a play like this. I can easily visualize a deal being made at some point involving huge amounts of cash & weapons. If I was inside the system, I would closely monitor exactly who got that shipment of US weapons.

  31. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “L’un des fondateurs de cette organisation est le cheikh Naji Kanaan, issu de la mouvance des Frères musulmans et qui a passé une dizaine d’années dans les geôles syriennes (jusqu’en 2000) pour « activisme religieux antinational ».
    Théoricien et chef du Mouvement de l’unification islamiste (MUI), implanté dans la région de Tripoli au milieu des années 80, il est, surtout, devenu le responsable de la mobilisation sunnite pour le Courant du « Futur », l’organisation du député Saad Hariri, fils de l’ancien Premier ministre assassiné. Un joyeux drille du Futur reconnaît « l’attribution d’une fonction importante à l’islamiste Naji Kanaan et à l’officier dissident pendant la guerre civile -Ahmed al-Khatib – chargés tous deux des questions militaro-sécuritaires pour la famille Hariri ». Kanaan, reconnaît le même bavard, « avait déjà mobilisé plusieurs centaines d’activistes regroupés dans l’organisation Fatah al-Islam après s’être séparé du mouvement Fatah-Intifada dans le camp de Nahr el-Bared en décembre dernier ». Alertés par plusieurs familles du camp, régulièrement rançonnées par les activistes, les nouveaux responsables de la Sûreté nationale libanaise n’ont pas levé le petit doigt contre Naji Kanaan….
    Encore plus troublant, le même a, grandement, bénéficié des largesses financières du prince saoudien Bandar Bin Sultan qui a effectué, il y a deux mois, une tournée des camps palestiniens implantés au Liban afin de financer les organisations « humanitaires et religieuses » sunnites, destinées à faire pièce à l’expansion du chi’isme au pays du Cèdre et à « contenir » son bras politique : le Hezbollah. « Cette irakisation de la scène libanaise correspond parfaitement à la politique dite « d’instabilité constructive » que les néo-conservateurs américains tentent d’appliquer à l’ensemble des Proche et Moyen Orient », croit un diplomate européen en poste à Beyrouth…
    que quelques crânes d’œuf du Pentagone cherchent à implanter, depuis quelques mois, une base secrète de l’OTAN à Klieaat, au sud de Tripoli, dans une zone à majorité chrétienne sous la coupe des milices de Samir Geagea.”

  32. david says:

    With all due respect, I believe you are misreading or perhaps more accurately understating the nature of the M14 alliance (and really all political alliances in Lebanon). It should be properly understood as a series of alliances or agreements such that it is relatively unimportant whether on certain issues there exists irreconciliable differences or terminal mistrust among the constituent parts. As the man says, this is Lebanon after all, and failure awaits only those who place their faith in monogamy.
    I can elaborate if you like, but I think you know what I mean.

  33. david says:

    Sorry for taxing anyone’s eyes or time, but I would also like to add that to my mind, Lamb has only got about 25 percent of the story exactly right (same for Hersh), but sometimes that is enough to nail down enough of the remainder to get some sense of what is going down. Also, the question of Lamb’s sources or motivations is of less significance than the fact that he has them at all. Again, ahlan wa sahlan bi libnan.

  34. Sid3 says:

    The Welch Club essay — and Sy Hersh’s March 07 New Yorker article — suggest the following:
    1. Probable cause may exist that Welch – Abrams – Cheney et al. have violated federal law, including, but not limited to, several provisions of the US Patriot Act, to wit: providing material support for terrorists and violating title III, “International Money Laundering”.
    2. No evidence exists that intent of the Welch club is to protect the people of the US, UK, or Europe.
    3. Instead the strategy of the Welch Club suggests that the US VP office is employing an antiquated and anachronistic tactic of “divide and conquer”, presumably to fulfill Israel’s security aims as well as ease Saudi concerns of the growing influence of a Shia crescent.
    4. Welch Club offers further proof of the pathos and disintegration of the USG in regards to ME foreign policy. On one hand, we support Sunni terrorists cells with ideological ties to Al-Q. On the other hand, we support Shia factions in Iraq. Futhermore, we green light — and fund with US taxpayer money — the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, without even safeguarding beforehand thousands of American citizens in Beirut and elsewhere. Then the USG channels US taxpayer money to Lebanon to help with the cost of repairing the country ravaged by American bombs.
    Where is Joseph Heller of Catch 22 fame when we need him?
    5. No evidence exists Welch-Abrams et al. are attempting to out “G” the guerrilla. If the USG does not do so, then odds increase greatly that we lose.
    Questions arise: Does divide and conquer — as well as exterminate an entire people — have any role today in the American-British post WWII military tradition? Does it fulfill the maxim that to win, “you out ‘G’, the guerrilla”? In other words does the Welch-Eliot Abrams strategy in Lebanon and the Middle East satisfy the principles set forth by British SAS and USM experiences?

  35. swerv21 says:

    ck (et al):
    I followed a couple of links and found myself on an interesting article on counter-insurgency by david brooks,
    the article is quite breathless. brooks, i think, tends to conflate many strands of thinking- but his main point, i think , is that guerilla insurgencies are effective against nation states.
    quite typically, this argument obscures the real issue. the question before us is not whether guerrilla insurgency is effective against the modern nation state- modern nation states are not confronted with the problem of home grown insurgencies. the insurgencies are directed at, for lack of a better term, proxy governments.
    which begs the question: can the governments that are suffering the effects of these deadly insurgencies be properly called nation-states at all? (the context here is iraq, and the ME in general)
    any takers?

  36. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    swerv21, all,
    What qualifications does Brooks have for serious analysis and comment on foreign affairs? I note he has a BA from UC in history and that he was born in Canada.
    He is just another Neocon “pundit”-entertainer like Krauthammer, a trained psychiatrist, who also started life in Canada.
    On insurgencies, I am not a military specialist. However, the Sunni-Wahhabi-takfiri salafist etc. sewage in northern Lebanon per this thread, in my view at this time, are hired thugs and not “insurgents.” The issue for me, in this case, is a comprehensive and accurate analysis of Fatah al Islam.
    Some further biographic data on Shaker Youssef Absi (“Abu Youseff”):
    “The State Security Court said he linked up with Zarqawi a few years ago. Both mapped out terror plans against Americans, Israelis and other targets in the Middle East, according to court documents made available to the AP.” etc.
    Interesting comment from Abu Jabir (PFLP) on site inside the camp in question:
    “He said that the number of Palestinians among them can be counted on the fingers of “one hand.” He said that they are non-Palestinians, and he said that the people of the camp would like them to leave the camp, that they don’t belong there. He said: let those who fund them and who brought them in, take them out. They don’t belong here, he told me. He said that initially, by late 2006, there were no more than 40 members of Fath-Al-Islam inside the camp. He said that suddenly by early 2007, something very suspicious started to happen: that hundreds of fighters (from fanatical groups inside At-Ta’mir (which is run by Hariri Inc, and where a Hariri militia operate) and `Ayn Al-Hilwah and other places) were brought into the camp to join the ranks of Fath-Al-Islam.”
    So where is the New York Times reporting on all this aside from wasting ink with Brook’s Neocon drivel; where is any other American newspaper on this? Where is McClatchy by the way? The “Mighty Wurlitzer” (for which Google) has gone silent on this one…any particular reason other than covering up for blowback? [perception management]
    Here is Time Magazine supplying no context or analysis of Fatah al Islam (in fairness maybe Blanford was edited down). Instead, we get a sob story with slant toward death of young “Abu Jandal” (Bilal Mahmoud).,8599,1625798,00.html
    To situate “Abu Jandal” and family:
    ” Sulayman Franjiyyah made a good point today. He noted that the father of Abu Jandal admitted in front of the TV cameras that the family is a supporter of Hariri Inc.”
    (true or false? kinda-sorta?? what is it?)

  37. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Para algunos analistas, el régimen de Bachar Asad no apoyaría en modo alguno a grupos islámicos fuera de su país, cuando ‘de facto’ los persigue en el interior por temor a una revolución contra su sistema político.”
    “But he says: “I wasn’t jailed in Jordan as they are saying. I was jailed in Syria because I was trying to infiltrate the Golan Heights to Palestine. I didn’t fight in Iraq as they are saying but I fought in Nicaragua”. He added: “What are the charges against us? That we are receiving volunteers. One of the principles of Fatah is to unite the efforts of the nation…we don’t accept everyone as we refuse those who do not conform to our internal discipline or those who do not belong to the countries surrounding Palestine”…Al-Abssi rejects the charges that he is tied to Syrian factions or that his organization is linked in anyway to the internal Lebanese situation. He stresses that his goal is to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem…Concerning the accusations that Fatah Al-Islam is part of Al-Qa’idah, Al-Abbsi announced: “Both organizations say that there is only one God but there are no organizational links between us and Al-Qa’idah”…” –

  38. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “5/28/2007 – Beirut, LEBANON (AFPN) — C-17 Globemaster III crews of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron delivered bullets to Beirut as part of a short notice ammunition re-supply tasking in support of the Lebanese military….”

  39. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    More on the Neo-Taliban* in northern Lebanon:
    “A political split between the Sunni-dominated government of Prime Minister Fouad Al-Siniora and the Shia resistance group Hizbullah forms the backdrop to Fatah Al-Islam’s growth, according to Ahmed Moussalli, an expert on Islamist movements at the American University of Beirut.
    “In Lebanon in the last few months it seems the Hariri group has been channelling funds and allowing weaponry to enter in order to create a Sunni militia… to bargain with Hizbullah,” Moussalli said. Saad Al-Hariri, Al-Siniora and the rest of Lebanon’s pro-US, anti-Syrian government have stepped up pressure on Hizbullah to disarm.
    “Moussalli proffers that Fatah Al-Islam, Jund Al-Sham and the larger Usbet Al-Ansar are all affiliated with Al-Qaeda by ideology and because of Iraq. “They found a haven in Lebanon to rest, train and recruit, in particular in north Lebanon, which has always been a hotbed for radical fundamentalists…
    Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, concurs, saying that Hariri flirted with militant Sunni groups in northern Lebanon. Soon after coming to power in 2005, he paid $48,000 bail to release four members of the Dinniyeh group, who attempted to establish an Islamic mini-state in the north in 2000. And in February 2006, “the Hariri group bussed many groups in from Akkar,” for a demonstration against the publication of Danish cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohamed, “but they went on the rampage, burning the Danish Embassy, a Christian church and a number of stores.” After then, according to Khashan, “Hariri decided to dump them.”
    ‘The infamous bank “heist” by Fath el Islam that was said to have led to the current imbroglio in Lebanon, was nothing more that a “scheduled visit to the cashier.” OFFICIAL sources in Beirut inform FLC that it was in the habit of FeI to visit that specific bank to receive cash transmittals from Future movement (Saad Hariri via Minister Ahmad Fatfat) disbursements. Apparently, and for reasons we’ve discussed or relayed elsewhere (scroll down) they discovered then and there that the payments were “stopped,” at which time they decided to “help themselves to the exact monthly sums.” Worse even, are (again) OFFICIAL reports The Lebanese Army had plans to deal quietly with this Salafi movement, but that FeI was tipped by “elements close to the decision makers in Beirut” and consequently, the operations were aborted.”
    Does anyone have the name and the address of this branch of the bank? And also the street addresses of the buildings in Tripoli that Lamb said were used by the Fatah al Islam leaders?
    French friend of mine in Paris just spoke with General Aoun who indicated the Lebanese Army does indeed need all the assistance it can receive to conduct its overall mission.
    So just where will the airlifted materiel go? To the Lebanese Army? To the Hariri networks?
    *I think Neo-Taliban is the best desciptor as it captures the Pak-Afghan haute couture (complete with black gloves no less), hair and beard styles, ideology, psychotic behaviors, and etc. we notice in the Fatah al Islam. Cartoonish as is the “Usama look” or is it the “Zawahiri look.”
    Also, per the original similar Taliban:
    “Washington is generally believed to have initially encouraged the Pushtun-dominated Taliban to overrun large tracts of Afghanistan in order to keep the Iranians and the Russians out.” Lt.-Gen. Kamal Matinuddin, the Taliban Pheonomenon, Afghanistan 1994-1997 (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1999), 161. This is the only really serious study of its kind I have seen. Bit scarce but well worth having on the shelf.

  40. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    So what are folks in Beirut reading about the situation?
    “Tout commence lorsque, suite à des informations reçues, les FSI décident de poursuivre les auteurs du vol de la BankMed jusqu’à leur lieu de résidence à Tripoli, précisément dans le quartier dit d’Al-Mitayne, le quartier le plus huppé de la ville…. les intégristes entrent en contact avec d’autres cellules jusque-là dormantes et retranchées dans deux autres quartiers résidentiels de Tripoli, à Zahiriyya et Tell, ainsi que le réseau de Nahr el-Bared…“Nous ne permettrons pas que les camps palestiniens se transforment en zones perturbées menaçant la sécurité du Liban et sa stabilité, assure M. Khaled Aref, secrétaire de l’OLP et de Fateh au Liban-Sud. Fateh el-Islam ne fait pas partie du tissu palestinien. L’Islam et la Palestine n’ont aucun rapport ou lien avec ce groupe terroriste”.
    ….”Quant à M. Ali Fayçal, membre du bureau politique du Front démocratique pour la libération de la Palestine (FDLP), il a fait la déclaration suivante: “Depuis l’apparition de Fateh el-Islam, toutes les organisations palestiniennes ont adopté à son égard, une attitude ferme et négative, parce qu’elles l’ont considéré comme un groupe répudié par la société palestinienne dans son ensemble. Nous en avons donné la preuve palpable, en levant toute couverture politique dont ce mouvement terroriste pouvait se prévaloir pour entreprendre des opérations déstabilisatrices.” etc.
    “Tout a commencé par une simple opération policière. Samedi 19 mai, est signalé le cambriolage de la BankMed à Amioun, dans le Koura.S’engage alors une battue qui amènera les forces de sécurité à retrouver le véhicule, stationné au bas d’un immeuble situé dans le quartier chic de Miteyn à Tripoli. Sans avoir prévenu ni les services de renseignements, ni l’Armée libanaise, les FSI tentent de déloger le criminel. La riposte sera lourde, très lourde. En effet, dans ce bâtiment, était présent tout un réseau affilié à la mouvance Fateh al-islam, que l’on croyait alors confiné au camp palestinien de Nahr al-Bared….”
    “Si les camps ne sont pas sous le contrôle de l’État, la ville de Tripoli l’est en revanche, et Saïda et les autres villes libanaises aussi. Certaines personnes ont loué des appartements dans différentes régions du pays et se baladent de Saïda à Tripoli avec leur arsenal militaire sans que personne ne leur dise quoi que ce soit. Comment cela s’est-il produit ? Quelqu’un peut nous dire qui a protégé ces personnes ? Pourquoi, à la suite de Aïn Alak, Fateh el-Islam a continué à se pavaner partout au Liban et à louer des appartements au vu et au su de tous ? ..Sleimane Frangié a estimé qu’il n’y avait aucune divergence sur la question de Nahr el-Bared entre le CPL et le Hezbollah. « Où est cette divergence ? Nous avons tous dit que l’armée est une ligne rouge », a-t-il dit.”etc.
    BankMed and the branch is above established as the beginning of the crisis. Who owns BankMed? Was Lamb correct?
    And what about those apartments in chic Tripoli areas noted above? Who owns them and rented them to the Neo-Taliban sewage? Was Lamb correct?
    Meanwhile, it seems the “Mighty Wurlitzer” (on which Google) is adjusting keys, stops,pedals, rusty pipes and whatever else to better deceive the American public on this one and cover up the Welch Club blowback.
    Point out to the American public that the majority of Christians in Lebanon are in political alignment at this time with the SHIA (oh how awful, those creepy Iranians and all that) HB? Can’t do that now, can we, W backs the Siniora-Hariri cabinet, as he himself has said.
    Of course, one would also have to explain just why those Palestinians are living in refugee camps in Lebanon rather than in their homes in Palestine….wouldn’t one?
    “The ICRC remains deeply concerned about the safety of the civilians inside the besieged camp and reiterates its appeal for safe access in order to provide urgent medical and other humanitarian aid for the residents.”

  41. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Documenting the results of the Neo-Taliban sewage/Fatah al Islam and its Welch Club sponsors in northern Lebanon:
    UNRWA has just established a website on “The 2007 Lebanon Emergency” with situation updates on Nahr el Bared and Beddawi camps etc. at:
    “BEIRUT, 28 May 2007 (IRIN) – Thousands of elderly and sick refugees in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and neighbouring Badawi camp in northern Lebanon are in urgent need of chronic disease medication currently unavailable to aid agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told IRIN.”
    “Foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia held talks by telephone yesterday about the current developments in Lebanon and their latest joint efforts to help Lebanese sides find suitable ways out of the current crisis in that country.”etc.

  42. W Dean says:

    It just gets curiouser and curiouser.
    Do you know if there’s a truth to the rumours of a proposed NATO airbase at Kleiaat (Qlei’at) in Lebanon.

  43. b says:

    As I suspected in comment 7 on this thread and here, at the core of the whole story is a U.S. base/airport in north Lebeanon.
    Franklin Lamb, the author of the piece Pat linked to, writes today:
    Lebanon and the Planned US Airbase at Kleiaat
    He is right there now and the locals are already preparing for it.
    Lamb says it’s going to be a NATO/US training base. I doubt that NATO will really be part of this, but the base seems to have some history and reality.

  44. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Lamb was correct per the BankMed, it is a Hariri bank. Here is the board:
    Board of Directors:
    Mr. Mohammed Hariri – Chairman Of The Board
    Mrs. Nazek Audi Hariri – Member
    Mr. Maroun Asmar – Member
    Mr. Basile Yared – Member
    GroupMed Sal Holding – Member
    On the apartments used by the Neo-Taliban death squad and the Hariri funding of the death squad:
    “Claims of outright government complicity, which first surfaced in an article by Seymour Hersh in a January issue of the New Yorker have been substantiated through interviews with the Fatah al Intifada leadership and other sources. Locals in Tripoli claim the apartments used as a sniper nest by the militants belong to Future MP Ahmed Fatfat’s son.”
    “I asked him who funds Fatah al Islam and got the same response I received from a mukhabarat agent (army intelligence) in Gemmayze on Saturday night. Saad al Hariri. “We knew it all along. But why do they have do this now?” Ahmed puzzled, shaking his head.”
    “Fatah al-Islam is a splinter group of the Fatah movement but this does not mean it is a Palestinan lead group. This is obvious from the fact that the majority of the members of Fatah al-Islam are foreign nationals from Egypt, Saudi, Pakistan, Sudanvery few are actually Palestinian. They are a Sunni group and for this reason they were armed by the Sunni Siniora Government who feared the Shia group of Hezbollah more than an Al Qaeda influenced group in the country…
    Last month the Winograd Commission in Israel issued a damning report on the Israeli leadership in last year’s war with Lebanon. It is said that a closed section of this file contained proof of complicity between Siniora and Israel during those 33 days of bloodshed. If this file had become public very few Lebanese would be able to justify the contents as everyone suffered during that Israeli war on Lebanon.
    Suddenly the Tripoli crisis appears…
    “There is a third militia inside the Nahr al-Bared Camp. Residents sheltering there tell of this third militia who will fire towards the Lebanese Army and then Fatah al-Islam during a cease-fire and ignite the shooting again No one knows for sure who these militia are but some say that this group is connected to the militia of Hariri.”
    [this mention of a third militia inside echoes the other report above]
    scroll down to Ernshire’s report.Eliza Ernshire can be reached at
    Meanwhile, Red Crescent release at:
    And garbage from “The Mighty Wurlitzer” and its stenographers….

  45. Judy says:

    Nine planeloads of US weapons sent to Lebanon for fighting 200-500 Fatah-al Islam fighters? Seems a bit extravagant, or shall we say overkill?

  46. Martin K says:

    By the way: To any Lebanese officials reading this blog (as I am sure there is), one piece of advice. Do a cleanup.
    Sit down and kick the f&%/ out all the little special interestgroups in your country. Narrow the field to five or six major players, and keep the US financed little splintergroups out of it. Give the palestinians in the camps fair representation. In my country, Norway, we put a lot of emphasis on this aspect, that the individuals on the ground must see some positive impetus, that the forces that be actually make things better.

  47. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Saudi propaganda sheet, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat admits that there are “tens” of Saudi members in Fath-Al-Islam members. Of course, the Lebanese state will not dare to put them on trial. They will be promptly delivered to the Saudi State, which will appoint them to prominent positions in government.”
    Arabic language article above cited at:
    Dusted off a book from the shelf today for historical context on Islamist movements in Tripoli. The chapter is “Le mouvement Ibad Al-Rahman et ses prolongements a Tripoli,” by D. Bizri-Bawab in
    Olivier Carre et Paul Dumont, Radicalismes Islamiques, Tome 1, Iran, Liban, Turquie (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1985) pp.159-214. Lot of data there. Useful two-volume set.

  48. zanzibar says:

    It looks like Lamb is doing some on the ground reporting to get at the facts. It must be common knowledge to HA and others about the Hariri financing and support of AQ type militias. It makes sense that HA would support the attack on Fatah al Islam. Create more splits and conflict among the Hariri militias while they can rearm and rebuild their fortifications in anticipation of the next IDF attack south of the Litani.
    Funding and arming ideological groups inevitably leads to blowback as we have seen with OBL who was part of the CIA funded mujahideen fighting Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. The real question is why is the Hariri camp funding and arming such groups instead of focusing on building up their own militia in the event of a battle with HA? Also it seems the US does not have a good track record in the past few years of successfully engaging in proxy wars in the ME. As the information about the Hariri-Saudi-US links start to percolate in Lebanon how would that change the internal political dynamic – specially if credible evidence of a Siniora “connection” with Israel during the last conflict comes to light? Is Hariri just a pawn or is he concerned about loss of power and reaching out to sponsors in case he needs material military support including direct intervention in the event that HA seems to be seen gaining more political power?

  49. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Hariri’s and Saudis:
    “For those who wonder. Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat gives very prominent coverage of mini-Hariri. His statements are often headlines. The reason is this: when Rafiq Hariri died, the House of Saud met and agreed that Prince Salman is officially designated to run the Hariri family (politically)–I am not making this up. It was Prince Salman who told Baha’ (Sa`d’s brother) that was not chosen as his father’s successor, and the former was furious. Oh, and Prince Salman owns Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. So now you understand.”
    PLO position on the emergency, Interview with Hajj Rif’at, Director of Media for Fatah and the spokesperson for the PLO in Lebanon:
    “We were supportive of the Lebanese army because an illegitimate group was imposed on Nahr al-Bared and on the Lebanese sphere. It attacked the Lebanese army, which led to the murder of 30 soldiers. This necessitated a stand next to the Lebanese army because the honor of the Palestinian people is intertwined with that of the Lebanese. The Lebanese army represents all sects in Lebanese society, and this was the motive behind our political solidarity with the army; it was attacked by a group that is inside Nahr al-Bared, but whose ambitions extend beyond it….” There is consensus between these different factions on standing next to the Lebanese army in this attack that has been carried out against it. There is condemnation from all factions to this group of this phenomenon [Fatah al-Islam] that all consider illegitimate. It was imposed on the camps.”
    PFLP position on the emergency. Interview with Khaled Yamani, PFLP official; Treasurer of the Committee for the Festival of Right of Return (a grouping of 23 civil society organizations) and an organizer of the youth wing:
    “Fatah al-Islam originally were here in the Baddawi camp, the part of them that were later announced [in Nahr al-Bared]. We were suspicious, because there were many strange faces among us. We inquired as to whom these people were, we asked the security forces [in the camp] to go into their apartments and see whom these people were. They felt that there were people asking around about them, which resulted in an internal security incident in which one security agent from the camp died. Two of those caught were handed in to the Lebanese government, a Saudi and a Syrian, and they were moved into Nahr al-Bared. A week later, Fatah al-Islam was announced as a splinter group from Fatah al-Intifada. In the space of less than two weeks, they numbered in the hundreds. A large number of them came from Saida, Taamir, the south, etc. How were these people allowed in? ….The army is not our enemy. Honestly, the army surprised us, and there is a growing sentiment that even the army was put in a difficult position, particularly because of what a split in the army would mean….Why is Al-Qaeda now in the Arab Levant? To improve its image! Why is it that people can say that I’m with Al-Qaeda because they’re killing Americans, even though if you want to look at its ideology, you’d cleanse yourself of it? ….”
    “As for as the coverage of the Nahr Al-Barid is concerned, only As-Safir and Al-Khbar have been raising questions and offering criticisms. Only those two have covered the Palestinian civilian suffering. As for TV, they have done a lousy job. It is akin to US media when Mr. Bush invaded Iraq. AlJazeera’s Bushra `Abd-As-Samad has been fair and independent.”
    Uri Avnery:
    “The bloody battles that have erupted around the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near Tripoli in Lebanon remind us that the refugee problem has not disappeared. On the contrary, 60 years after the “Nakba,” the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, it is again the center of attention throughout the world.
    This is an open wound. Anyone who imagines that a solution to the Israel-Arab conflict is possible without healing this wound is deluding himself.Sixty years ago, a deep wound was opened. Since then it has not healed. It infects our life and endangers our future…..It is high time to heal it. That is the lesson of Tripoli in the north and Sderot in the South.”
    Can anyone find a serious analysis of this crisis in ANY US newsmedia/print (other than Sy Hersh or Dr. Lamb)? So far, I have not been able to through Google or Yahoo news searches. By serious I mean:
    1. a detailed explanation of Fatah al Islam, its composition, financing, and external and internal political support.
    2. a detailed explanation of the Palestinian refugee camp situation in Lebanon.
    3. a detailed explanation of the Palestinian leadership’s position on this terrorist gang that was imposed on SEVERAL Palestinian camps.
    “The Mighty Wurlitzer” (for which Google) at work…covering up blowback.

  50. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Muhammad Khalil al-Hakaymah AKA Abu Jihad al-Masri, a prominent member of a faction of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya in Egypt which aligned with al-Qaeda, issued a statement through al-Fajr Information Center and dated Sunday, May 27, 2007, urging Muslims to support the Fatah al-Islam Movement in northern Lebanon. Fatah al-Islam, a jihadist group based in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in this area has been under attack for the past week by the Lebanese army. Hakaymah argues from the perspective of Salafist-jihadist doctrine that it is imperative for Muslims to support Fatah al-Islam, and portrays the siege on the camp to bear similarities to coalition military incursions in al-Fallujah in Iraq, striking civilians and Mujahideen.”
    But Beirut Daily Star’s house Neocon Michael Young writes in the Wall Street Journal today:
    “When Syria is systematically exporting instability throughout the region, you have to wonder whether its regime can be a credible partner to the U.S.”
    Bio on Young:
    Little Hariri says:
    BEIRUT — Syria’s leaders have “devilish plans” to drive Lebanon into civil war in order to avoid facing justice in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, his son charged in an interview yesterday.”
    Fatfat says:
    “À l’origine, Fateh-Intifada contrôlait, notamment, le camp de Nahr el-Bared. Après l’arrivée au Liban (en 2006) de Chaker el-Absi, le chef du groupe, qui a séjourné un moment à la base de Koussaya à la frontière libano-syrienne, il y a eu une bataille dans le camp de Beddaoui, opposant Hamas au groupe au sein de Fateh-Intifada qui était sur le point de se transformer en Fateh el-Islam. Tous les éléments liés à Chaker el-Absi se sont déplacés des camps de Beyrouth vers Nahr el-Bared puis, après un simulacre de révolte, ils ont pris le contrôle de Fateh-Intifada et de Nahr el- Bared, saisissant ainsi les stocks d’armes », raconte M. Fatfat.”

  51. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    zanzibar, your excellent points are well taken. The situation is indeed complex and I believe it is a case in point illustrating Pat’s emphasis on a regional solution.
    It seems to me that if Lamb’s reporting is in the right direction, the Hariri family made a calculation they could create (with US and Saudi assistance) hardline salafist militias (FaI is just one of those reported) and control them. Say like the Taliban operation that was a US-Pak-Saudi operation during the Clinton years to clear swaths of Afghanistan. I am now calling these criminal gangs “Neo-Taliban death squads.”
    If the Hariris wish to clear swaths of North Lebanon for politics and profit then an attempt to manage the well-established Sunni Islamist Tripoli networks and currents makes sense. They just brought into the mix a more extreme, violent, and battle hardened gang of outsiders to “inspire” locals, one might argue. Perhaps FaI did get out of control. Or perhaps all this mayhem is what the Hariri family wants to create. In this situation, perhaps they calculate it is possible to “ethnically cleanse” the refugee camp by relocating it so as to better develop the airfield project, as Lamb suggests. Also, all this violence hardens up new volunteers for the battle in the south against HA, as you suggest.
    Iraq-Lebanon-Palestine-Iran-Israel-Gulfies-Egypt, etc.: the regional situation is all interrelated and has to be dealt with through a sensible comprehensive policy. Washington isn’t at that policy stage yet from what one sees. (The O’Sullivan thing is an indication of a certain lack of seriousness, for example, as is Condi as a Secretary of State for that matter. Experienced diplomats in world capitals can hardly fail to take note.)
    Dr. Lamb certainly seems to know his way around the area and Sy Hersh is one of the top investigative reporters in the US. From a journalistic point of view, this is a most compelling story with plenty of aspects to cover and plenty of sources to interview. It is not that US “journalists” are “ignorant.” They are incompetent, silent, and deceitful for various reasons: careerism, the mortgage, kids in college, and all that. I am not saying the American stenographic corps are cowards and morally corrupted to the very last man and woman but where is serious reporting on this emergency?

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