Nasrallah’s Turn

Nicholas Noe tracks the evolution of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s rhetoric since 2006.

nasrallahOver the last decade and a half, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Lebanon’s militant Shiite movement Hezbollah, has steadily moved front and center in the often vitriolic (and regularly under-informed) Western debate over the threat that ‘radical Islam’ is said to pose to the world at large.

Now, as Nasrallah appears ready to lead what could be a new majority in the Lebanese Parliament, the steady stream of accusations and threats have, somewhat predictably, turned into a deluge – with Arab states, Arab media and prosecutorial offices far and wide at the forefront of efforts to paint him as public enemy Number One.

A central reason for all the attention in the past, of course, has been that Nasrallah and Hezbollah have managed – for better or worse, depending on your perspective – to inflict a series of increasingly significant setbacks for US and especially Israeli interests: the ignominious, unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in May 2000, the failure of the Bush administration to vanquish Hezbollah and Syria in one go following the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri, and, of course, the July 2006 war – vigorously encouraged by the Americans and lost by the Israelis.

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Coming Down to the Wire in Lebanon: Parliamentary Immunity, Israeli Spies and Fake IDs

Franklin Lamb writes from Beirut’s Abdel Kadas Kabbani High School Polling Station

95 hours and the Polls will open

lebanon electionsAs election volunteers in Lebanon work this morning to spruce up its hundreds of Polling Places for Sundays’ election, Minister of Education Bahia Hariri, sister of the murdered Rafiq, canceled school for Saturday and Monday as a precaution, and the US Embassy just an hour ago issued an advisory for Americans to avoid public places and “reminds American citizens in Lebanon that even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations can turn violent unexpectedly.” As for the voters, they are preparing to elect 128 Parliamentary Delegates from more than 550 candidates who theoretically will chart this country’s course over the next four years.

Beirut’s airport is jammed with thousands of Lebanese, often given free tickets, arriving to vote from all over the world, but most heavily from the US, Canada, and Europe.

Drop-outs can succeed

More than two dozen candidates have dropped out of the race (and may now be millionaires if they were not already). This electoral phenomenon regularly happens just before the voting in Lebanon. One drop-out candidate confided to a Carter Center STO (short term observer) that he put two kids through college in France with what he earned by abandoning his candidacy.

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Biden Does Beirut

From friend of PULSE and correspondent in Beirut, Franklin Lamb.

Biden IIIHeeeeeerrrre’s Joe!

It appears that the Biden visit is part of a US bid to supervise the electoral campaign of a Lebanese party, which feels threatened politically, in light of the expected outcome of the legislative vote. We call on all Lebanese, regardless of their political views, to rise up against such meddling that represents a flagrant violation of Lebanese sovereignty. Biden’s visit is part of U.S. efforts to impose its views on the government that will be set up after the elections. They are tracing red lines for the future government but we will rise up to this.
Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah, Friday morning 22 May 2009 as Joe Biden arrived in Beirut.

Let U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hear what Lebanon needs and not listen only to what the U.S. wants
Hezbollah deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem in a message to President Michel Suleiman (22 May 2009)

How not to win votes for the ‘US team’

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Beirut with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman aboard a U.S. military helicopter at 11:50 am this morning. At 12:14 pm Biden arrived at Baabda Palace and went straight to meet President Michel Suleiman ignoring media questions. Biden was greeted at Beirut’s airport by Hezbollah supporter Fawsi Salloukh, Lebanon’s Foreign Minister and one of the key back channels for US-Hezbollah communications. Biden’s Salloukh meeting is likely the extent of any dialogue between Biden and Hezbollah this trip. Biden’s first words, shouted to some journalists outside the Baabda Presidential Palace were, “I am happy to be in Libya…I mean Lebanon…this morning!”

If Biden was having a good morning, many Beirutis were not. Many woke up furious as they learned they will be on “lockdown” from 11 am to 6:30 pm for Vice President Joe Biden’s quick visit. It will be the 14th visit by a US official over the past six months to assure the people of Lebanon that the US will not interfere in the June 7 elections. In fact, US interference has now reached a near fever pitch just sixteen days before the voting.

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Palestinian Refugees and Lebanon’s Election: Part II

Franklin Lamb continues with Part II of his series on Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon and the upcoming election next month. Read Part I.

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Palestinian Refugees and Lebanon’s Election: Part I

Franklin Lamb writes from Wavel Palestinian Refugee Camp, Bekaa Valley, on what Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees, over a tenth of the country’s population, require from Lebanon’s June 7th Election, as well as how Hezbollah, major Lebanese Party Platforms and US foreign policy weigh in.

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Gasbag for a Punching Bag

hitchens_mudmask

What else could one say, except: ha-ha-ha! (Also check out this interesting report on Hitchens’s speech at the AUB)

As a professional provocateur and vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, Christopher Hitchens has been engaged in countless verbal punch-ups with his ideological opponents, most of them conducted from the safety of a TV studio.

However, when the controversial author, journalist and broadcaster defaced a political poster on a visit to Beirut last week, he found himself at the wrong end of a bruising encounter that has left him walking with a limp and nursing cuts and bruises.

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58 Massacres before 1999

You can hear people saying “Israel’s gone too far this time.” But it isn’t only this time. Large scale massacres have been a central part of Zionist strategy from the start. Here is some information on the preceding massacres. Unfortunately the list stops in 1999, so many recent massacres, including Qana 2 and Jenin, are not included:

Although the Image that Israel distributes about herself is that of an oppressed nation, it is with heavy hearts that we present these crimes that stand for themselves for the brutality of the Israeli Army and the heartlessness of its soldiers who seem to have a thirst for blood. It is for the hope that the world may see a clearer picture that we present these painful facts. It is interesting to notice that today’s media does not dwell on these crimes as they do on the Holocaust. They are reported in the news for a week or two and then swept into the sea of oblivion. Those who attempt to revive the true history of Israel are charged of being anti-Semitic. So with the hope to keep those memories in mind we present this shameful history of  Israel that seems to have found that the role of Goliath is more interesting than that of David.

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In Israel, detachment from reality is now the norm

An excellent article by Patrick Cockburn about the growing isolation of Israeli society from the crimes of its own state and the creeping intolerance of internal dissent, developments that spell gloom for the Palestinians.

I was watching the superb animated documentary Waltz with Bashir about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It culminates in the massacre of some 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in south Beirut by Christian militiamen introduced there by the Israeli army which observed the butchery from close range.

In the last few minutes the film switches from animation to graphic news footage showing Palestinian women screaming with grief and horror as they discover the bullet-riddled bodies of their families. Then, just behind the women, I saw myself walking with a small group of journalists who had arrived in the camp soon after the killings had stopped.

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New Middle East


Contrary to criminal US-Israeli plans, the new Middle East emerging is one of the triumphs of Arab resistance, writes Ramzy Baroud:

When Israel unleashed its military fury against Lebanon for several weeks in July-August 2006, it had one major objective: to permanently “extract” Hizbullah as a fighting force from South Lebanon and undermine it as a rising political movement capable of disrupting, if not overshadowing, the “friendly” and “moderate” political regime in Beirut.

As Israeli bombs fell, and with them hundreds of Lebanese civilians and much of the country’s infrastructure, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sprung into action. She too had one major objective: to delay a ceasefire, which the rest of the international community, save Britain, desperately demanded. Rice, merely but faithfully reiterating the Bush administration’s policy, hoped that the Israeli bombs would succeed in achieving what her government’s grand policies failed to achieve, namely a “New Middle East”.

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