On the 14th of August I published the below article in which I discussed the report submitted by the International Tribunal that was asked by the Lebanese government to investigate the 2005 assassination of Rafik Al-Hariri, the then Prime Minister of Lebanon.
I am re-sending this article because I came across an interesting piece of information and I wanted to update you.
I want to draw your attention to the following paragraph of my article which I have also highlighted in the body of the article below.
"Here is what the Lebanese government said: “Lebanon, of course, will cooperate with the Tribunal……..The cooperation will be unbiased and detached from feelings of revenge in order to avoid any negative impact on Lebanon’s stability and the welfare of the Lebanese people.”
Translation: the Lebanese government will not comply with the Tribunal’s report.
Why? Because the government, that was formed a couple of weeks ago, is dominated by the Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a Lebanese political organization, established by Iran and massively armed and funded by the Iranians and the Syrians. They are the strongest military force in Lebanon. They are only subject to their masters, the Assad regime in Syria and the government in Iran."
Time Magazine published an interview on Thursday, August 18 with one of the Hezbollah suspects that the Lebanese government was asked to turn over for interrogation. The person being interviewed (Time did not disclose details about his identity) is currently in Beirut. In the interview he openly admitted that the Lebanese government knows exactly where he is, yet the government has no ability to hand him over to the international court. According to unconfirmed sources, the person that gave the interview was Jamil Salim Ayyash, a senior Hezbollah figure that was mentioned by the Tribunal's report of be connected to and involved in the assassination.
Here is the article that was published today in Asharq Al-Awsat:
(any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
According to reports, the Lebanese government is "embarrassed". As for Hezbollah – as expected - they have accused the Tribunal in "making up lies".
Here is my article again in its entirety:
The Middle East: Where Rhetoric is Rarely Reality
an article by
It's official. The International Tribunal investigating the assassination of the previous Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik Al-Hariri on February 14, 2005 links Hezbollah to the act.
In the beginning of July, the Tribunal formally submitted its findings to the Lebanese government and demands that it turn over for further interrogation four senior Hezbollah adherents suspected of being involved in the assassination.
This International Tribunal was formed upon the formal request of the previous Lebanese government of which Hezbollah was a member. The Tribunal is acting under the mandate of the UN Security Council, and the results are subject to Article 7 of the UN Charter. That fact is crucial. If the Lebanese government fails to comply with the Tribunal's demands, it could be subject to sanctions, including the use of military force to force the country to comply with the Tribunal's requirements.
Not coincidentally, the same day the Tribunal's report was forwarded to the Lebanese Attorney General, the new Lebanese government submitted its Agenda and Policy to the Lebanese Parliament for ratification. Nothing was mentioned in the new government's agenda regarding whether the Lebanese government intends to adhere to the Tribunal's report.
Instead, an official announcement was made by the Lebanese government on that subject.
Here is what the Lebanese government said: "Lebanon, of course, will cooperate with the Tribunal……..The cooperation will be unbiased and detached from feelings of revenge in order to avoid any negative impact on Lebanon's stability and the welfare of the Lebanese people."
Translation: the Lebanese government will not comply with the Tribunal's report.
Why? Because the government, that was formed a couple of weeks ago, is dominated by the Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a Lebanese political organization, established by Iran and massively armed and funded by the Iranians and the Syrians. They are the strongest military force in Lebanon. They are only subject to their masters, the Assad regime in Syria and the government in Iran.
See the following article published in January 2011 in Elaph, the leading twenty-four hour Arab news portal, by Lebanese journalist, Khairallah Khairallah entitled "Lebanon – an Iranian Colony with the Consent of the Arab World." http://www.elaph.com/Web/opinion/2011/1/627350.html?entry=homepagewriters(any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Hezbollah wasn't even trying to conceal its position regarding the Tribunal's demands.
In a speech made following its submission,Hasan Nasrallah, its leader in Lebanon, conveyed a clear and explicit message. Hezbollah will not turn over any of its people to the International Tribunal and no one should expect that the Lebanese government will act differently.
In his speech, Nasrallah promised the Lebanese people that the Tribunal's report would not lead to a civil war in Lebanon. The subtext of Nasrallah's message to the Lebanese is: "If you insist that Hezbollah turn over its people, take into consideration that I can create a civil war."
Nasrallah was practicing one of the basic rules of Middle East politics. If you want to threaten people - speak nicely.
Nasrallah is deploying another basic rule of Middle Eastern politics. If you have inner challenges, don't worry. You can always put the blame on someone else.
Israel, of course, is usually the preferred candidate.
So - and obviously not for the first time - Nasrallah accused Israel of the assassination.
In his speech, Nasrallah announced that the Tribunal's report is a "scheme aimed to damage and discredit the resistance."
Here is a link to Nasrallah's speech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyMkY8xinus that he gave on July 2, 2011 and here is a link to an article published on July 3, 2011 in Asharq Al-Awsat, the leading Arabic international newspaper headquartered in London, reviewing the speech http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=629338&issueno=11905(any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Permit me to say few words about the term "the resistance."
In the contemporary Middle East, the term "the resistance" stands for a radical, non-compromising agenda and ideology.
That agenda is orchestrated by the ruling Mullah government of Iran and its strategic ally, the Assad regime in Syria, and their proxies – Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. That radical axis is committed to the continuation of terror attacks on Israel until they bring about the nation's destruction. In the name of "the resistance" – Al Muqauma in Arabic - the proxies of this axis are the executors of their masters' agenda.
In the name of "the resistance," Hezbollah took Lebanon hostage.
Lebanon is a tragic story; it is occupied and controlled by the governments of Syria and Iran. Hezbollah is the occupier and carries out their will on the ground.
In the name of "the resistance," Hezbollah refuses to disarm itself. Hezbollah describes its weapons as arms that "protect Lebanon from the Israeli schemes."
On May 7, 2008 the Hezbollah was using its power to occupy the Sunni part of Beirut, the capitol of Lebanon. Beirut, the capitol of an Arab State, that was known as the "Switzerland of the Middle East;" Lebanon, a state that is regarded by other Arab nations as "the Little Sister," was occupied in a violent coup by Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shiite organization that was created by the Iranian government to act as its servant. Read about the kidnapping of Lebanon by Hezbollah in my article "The Language of the Middle East." http://www.avimelamed.com/index.php/2011/03/20/the-language-of-the-middle-east/
Nasrallah, characteristically blames Israel for all of Lebanon’s ills and repeatedly asserts Israel’s “culpability" in the assasination of Hariri.
Let me share with you a small sample of Hezbollah's campaign of lies regarding Israel's involvement with the assassination.
Here is an article published on July 5, 2011 entitled: "The Mystery of Hariri's Assassination Uncovered." This article, published on Al-Intiqad a Hezbollah-affiliated web site, blames (obviously) Israel and also adds a delusional contribution. http://www.alintiqad.com/essaydetails.php?eid=45096&cid=76 (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Notice the concluding part of the article: "A Jewish Russian businessman that is wanted by the Russian authorities for interrogation flees to Israel. The man was arrested by Israeli police and released with no explanation two weeks after the murder of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri." And that's how the article ends – with a story about a Russian Jew. (Here is a link to Al-Intiqad http://www.alintiqad.com/in Arabic and http://www.english.moqawama.org/index.php in English).
You're probably wondering: What does a Russian businessman have to do with the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister?
The answer is simple: NOTHING.
But this is but one example of how Israel is used as the scapegoat for the atrocities committed by Arabs against Arabs.
And what is worse is that the Arab media routinely support and propagate Hezbollah's campaign of lies.
Take for example, the editorial of June 20, 2011, "Hezbollah, Syria and the Indictment" printed in a leading Arab newspaper, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an independent pan-Arab daily newspaper published in London. http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=data\2011\06\06-30\30qpt999.htm (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
The article argues that the Tribunal's report is an "American-French-Zionist conspiracy aimed to topple the Lebanese government and to challenge Syria and Iran." In addition, the article warns that "The Tribunal's demand to turn over Hezbollah people will spark a civil war in Lebanon."
Do you follow the logic? The reason for a potential civil war in Lebanon is not the assassination of its elected Prime Minister by Hezbollah, but rather, bringing the assassins and the act’s perpetrators to justice.
With regard to that particular article, here is something interesting. The chief Editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi is Mr. Abdel Bari Atwan. Born in Gaza and living in London since 1979, he is a very influential journalist in the Arab world. Mr. Atwan is well known for his decisive opinions about everything that happens in the Middle East. Interestingly enough, the article that was published was not under Mr. Utwan's signature. It was printed as an "Editorial." For some reason, Mr. Atwan has nothing personally to say in the case of the International Tribunal's report.
What could be the reason for that silence? A possible answer will be presented shortly.
Another influential Arab journalist, Jihad Al Khazen wrote an article in Dar Al-Hayat, another Arabic newspaper published in London. Mr. Al Khazen, offers us his own creative contribution. He claims that Israel is a very serious suspect in Hariri's murder because "Israel benefits from the assassination of Al Hariri." Why? How? Does this make any sense? Mr. Al Khazen obviously doesn't bother to explain. Why should he when it is so convenient to blame Israel?
Alternatively, in his article entitled: "The Important thing is the decisive evidence," Mr. Al Khazen also suggests we consider Al Qaeda or perhaps "foreign intelligence services" as possible suspects in the assassination. Here is the link to his article published in Dar Al-Hayat on July 3, 2011: http://international.daralhayat.com/internationalarticle/284185 (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Mr. Al Khazen and Mr. Atwan have some things in common. Both are of Palestinian origin (Mr. Al Khazen has also Lebanese roots), both are known for their extreme anti-Israel positions and both live very comfortably in the United Kingdom.
They have another common denominator - they are not stupid.
In recent years, dozens of Lebanese journalists and politicians have been assassinated. Would it surprise you to know that almost all of the victims were opponents of Hezbollah and of Syria and Iran?
Mr. Al Khazen and Mr. Atwan apparently, prefer to be on the safe side.
Luckily, many Arabs still have what Thomas Paine famously called "Common Sense." They know that the Hezbollah is lying shamelessly.
For example, here is a link to an article written on July 3, 2011, also in Dar Al-Hayat by Columnist Hassan Haidar entitled "Lebanon and the 30 Day Period." http://international.daralhayat.com/internationalarticle/284082 (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.) In this article, Mr. Haidar candidly and convincingly exposes the lies and the manipulations of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Assad regime in Syria. Mr. Haidar reminds readers that many people in the Arab world are convinced that Hezbollah initiated the 2006 war with Israel as an attempt to divert attention from the growing suspicions regarding Hezbollah's involvement in the assassination.
Another article published in Elaph on July 9, 2011, entitled "The Lebanese and Al Hariri Assassination and the Lebanese Kharrazai" by the Saudi writer Saleh Al Rashed, express similar views to Mr. Haidar, in much more decisive language: http://www.elaph.com/Web/opinion/2011/7/667771.html?entry=homepagewriters (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
See also the following article in An-Nahar, the leading daily newspaper in Lebanon, by prominent and able Arab journalist, Ali Hamadah, entitled, "Justice completes freedom and dignity." www.annahar.com/content.php?priority=14&table=makalat&type=makalat&day=Sun (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
These articles are but a small sample of other writings by Arab journalists and thinkers, that reflect an understanding that Hezbollah is endangering stability in the Arab world, that Hezbollah took Lebanon as a hostage and that Hezbollah serves the radical ideology and regional ambitions of Iran and Syria.
In that context, the International Tribunal report is the last straw.
Sunnis are the majority in the Muslim world (about 90%). From now on, they understand the following: Hezbollah, a Shiite Lebanese organization that serves Iran, assassinated a Lebanese democratically-elected, Sunni Prime Minister, a person who was warmly welcomed in capitols around the world and who was working hard for the prospect of a modern Lebanon.
It is impossible to understate the feelings of animosity that most Arabs have towards Hezbollah.
Nevertheless, Hezbollah and its leader are clearly not disturbed by the Tribunal's demand to turn over the Hezbollah activists suspected of committing the assassination. In fact, Hezbollah feels so powerful, that it can allow itself to dismiss the Tribunal's demands. A Hezbollah Senior leader was quoted as saying: "3000 people are officially wanted for interrogation in Lebanon – and now it will be 3004….."
The following links are reports from Asharq Al-Awsat and Elaph about Hezbollah's reaction to the Tribunals' demands.
http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=629023&issueno=11903(any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
http://www.elaph.com/Web/opinion/2011/7/666414.html?entry=homepagearaa(any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Nasrallah has been hiding underground since 2006. And he will keep on hiding. Nasrallah knows that once he ventures out in public he will be killed. Not by Israel, but rather by Sunni radical groups in Lebanon.
Reportedly, a radical Sunni terror cell was exposed. The cell was "planning a strategic assassination." The reliability of this report is not clear. Yet, one thing is lucid. With the formal publishing of the Tribunal's report, the animosity of the Sunnis towards Nasrallah and Hezbollah is certain to continue to escalate.
Nasrallah knows the rules. In the Muslim inner-codes, the blood of a murder victim must be avenged. Therefore, Nasrallah will remain in hiding for a very long time.
Inevitably, the International Tribunal report raises the tension level and animosity between Sunnis and Shiites in the region in general, and in Lebanon in particular. The growing intervention of Iran in the internal affairs of Arab States; the public and practical support that Iran and Hezbollah provide the Assad government that brutally oppresses the uprising of the Syrian people; the increasing threats that Iran makes towards its Arab neighbors in the Gulf area; and of course the Tribunal's report – all these events increase the feelings of resentment among Sunni Arabs towards the Shiites, and the animosity of Arab states toward Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.
A poll recently conducted by James Zogby, the President of the American Arab Institute (AAI), a Washington, D.C.-based organization which serves as a political and policy research arm of the Arab American community http://www.aaiusa.org/ and published in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on July 27, 2011 indicates that the overwhelming majority of Arabs view Iran negatively. Link to the poll's major findings: http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=latest\data\2011-07-27-06-43-04.htm (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.) The link to the AAI's report summary: http://www.aaiusa.org/reports/arab-attitudes-toward-iran-2011
It is no wonder that there is growing concern over the possibility of the eruption of violent clashes in Lebanon between the Sunnis and the Shiites, which may lead to a massive regional collision.
In an article published in Elaph entitled, "A Description of the Upcoming War" Analyst Abd al-Wahab Badrakhan indicates that "Thus far the Iranians and Hezbollah had no interest in initiating a violent confrontation with Israel out of fear that it may cause the downfall of the Assad regime in Syria, which is a strategic ally of the Iranian Mullah regime. That position of the Iranians and Hezbollah may change."http://www.elaph.com/Web/NewsPapers/2011/6/665992.html?entry=homepagenewspapers (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
And in Asharq Al-Awsat, analyst Saleh Qallab argues that Syria and Hezbollah will ignite a fire hoping to divert the international attention from their challenges - the Syrian uprising and the Tribunal report. http://www.aawsat.com//leader.asp?section=3&article=630004&issueno=11909 (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
Are we heading towards a massive collision soon?
In my view the answer is no.
Hezbollah will not initiate a violent move inside Lebanon or against Israel without clear instructions from Iran and Syria. Hezbollah does not make the call. Hezbollah is the sub-contractor.
Currently, neither Assad, nor the Iranian regime, is interested in starting a fire. The reasons are several:
Assad knows that war with Israel will inevitably lead to his final downfall. His government will not survive the combination of the Syrian uprising and a massive military blow.
Although Assad is under pressure, he is not desperate. Not yet. The international community is leaving the door open for now and is not demanding his immediate removal. If he were to attack Israel, that would close the partially-open door for good.
Assad has already tried twice in the recent past to divert international attention by precipitating a conflict on the Israel-Syria cease-fire line in the Golan Heights. Both events backfired on Assad - internationally, as well as, domestically.
After the Assad regime produced and orchestrated the demonstrations on the Syria – Israel cease-fire line in the Golan Heights, violent clashes broke out in the Yarmuk Refugee Camp near Damascus following the death of those Palestinians killed while trying to breach the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights. The Palestinian's rage was targeted at the Assad government, which sacrificed Palestinian lives in an attempt to divert international attention.
Currently, it is also not in the Iranian's interest to ignite a conflagration. Some intelligence analysts predict that Iran's military nuclear program is about two to three years away from reaching the "Threshold Phase" i.e., the only thing that will then stand between the regime and its nuclear military capability will be a political decision. If the Iranian proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas, or its strategic ally, Syria, provoke a confrontation now, such actions may jeopardize the Iranian nuclear program because the international community will be more determined than ever to prevent the Iranians from achieving nuclear technology and capabilities.
A major collision, initiated by Iranian and Syria, is more likely to take place under a conjunction of circumstances in which these governments come to the conclusion that their rule - or their proxies rule - is facing an existential threat. In that case, these regimes will undertake - as a last resort - a desperate attempt to survive by creating a military confrontation.
We don't seem to be at that point right now. Not yet.
The International Tribunal's findings and the response it has generated in the Arab world, reveals the true nature of this tough neighborhood.
The following story is one example that reflects the complexity of the Arab mind-set.
The Saudi Journalist, Abdullah Nasser Al-Otaibi, writes in his article entitled "Hezbollah is not immune from the Impact of the Arab Spring" that appeared in Elaph on June 28, 2011, the following story:
In 2006 he published an article arguing that Israel was the winner of the 2006 "Second Lebanon War," while Hezbollah and Lebanon were the losers.
A Syrian friend of Mr. Al-Otaibi was so upset with his opinion that he demanded that the journalist recant his story. Mr. Al-Otaibi explained how important their friendship was to him, but that is what he saw as the truth and was not willing to retract the article. The Syrian broke off their friendship.
As the Syrian uprising was escalating, Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, openly expressed his support for the Assad government, the same government that was then, and is now, inflicting severe punishment on its own citizens.
Ironically, the Syrian friend of Mr. Al-Otaibi, is from the city of Dara'a where the uprising in Syria began and hundreds of Syrian civilians were killed.
With the actions in Syria forming the background and context, the writer's Syrian friend has resumed their contact and has apologized for ending their friendship.
He told the Saudi that now he knows that Mr. Al-Otaibi was right; now the real face of Nasrallah has been revealed; now he knows who Nasrallah really is. Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah is really an Israeli Agent!!
The Saudi's reply was. "It is about time to stop this distorted thinking process."
He advised his Syrian friend to look at things differently and to understand that although Nasrallah supports the Assad government that does not make him an Israeli agent.
Nasrallah, said the Saudi to his Syrian friend, is both supporting the Assad government and is also a bitter enemy of Israel. These factors do not contradict each other.
Here is a link to Mr. Al-Otaibi's article: http://www.elaph.com/Web/NewsPapers/2011/6/665527.html?entry=homepagenewspapers (any translation mechanism you have on your computer will enable you to get the main points of the article even if it is not a perfect translation.)
The most amazing thing is the fact that the thought process of the Syrian is not exceptional in the Arab world.
You come across that mind-set in the Arab world dozens of times a day.
For example read some of the comments made by Arabs regarding Nasrallah's speech:http://www.elaph.com/Web/news/2011/7/666321.html?entry=homepagemainmiddle (What I want you to read is the "talk-backs" here, not the article - though you are welcome). In order to get the translation of the "talk-backs"(though a few are in English) you need to select only the "talk-back" portion of the page and translate it separately.)
Some of the comments express the deep animosity of Arabs towards Nasrallah and Hezbollah; while others suggests that Nasrallah is - at the same time - an Iranian, Syrian and Israeli agent…
Nasrallah - an Israeli agent??
Apparently, it's not so crazy if you're familiar with the following inner-code of Arab culture.
A famous Arab phrase says: "Me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against my neighbor."
In that mind-set, there is always an "enemy" out there. In that mind-set, there is always a "conspiracy" against me.
In that mind-set, loyalty is variable, adaptable, and relative.
In that mind-set, relationships are always in the frame of "alliance" against an external "threat."
Brutality and violence encapsulated within soft-spoken words, double-standard norms and paranoid mind-sets - these, unfortunately, are common characteristics deeply rooted within the Arab world.
This is the neighborhood Israel lives in -- and it’s a tough one.
Welcome to the Middle East – where rhetoric is rarely reality.
Avi Melamed is an Israeli Jew, fluent in Arabic, English and Hebrew, who spent many years, in a variety of intelligence, public and private positions, in Arab speaking areas. He is currently a freelance expert Analyst on Middle East Affairs, Israel and the Arab World, and Israel in the Arab Media.
Avi is passionate about the concept that in order to really understand the Middle East one must understand Arabic. Therefore, in order to try and bridge that gap, he is determined to offer his audiences access to primary Arabic sources so they have the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge, analysis and insight in order to enhance their understanding of this complex and fascinating region.
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