THE WISDOM FUND: News & Views
May 8, 2008
The Independent (UK)

Lebanon Descends Into Chaos

by Robert Fisk

Burning tyres on the airport road, flights suspended, demands from the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt that Hizbollah moves secret cameras from runway 1-7 and end the militia's equally secret underground communications equipment. Across Corniche Mazraa, crowds of shrieking Sunni and Shia Muslims hurl abuse and stones at each other. A soldier comes up to my car at the crossroads. "Turn round," he shouts. "They're shooting."

Lebanon seems to feed on crisis, need crisis, breathe crisis, like a wounded man needs blood. The man who should be the president is head of the army and the man who believes he leads the resistance Sayed Hassan Nasrallah of the Hizbollah accuses Mr Jumblatt of doing Israel's work while Mr Jumblatt claims the head of Beirut airport security, Colonel Wafic Chucair, works for the Hizbollah and should be fired.

Yesterday, in case you hadn't guessed, was a "general strike" by opponents of the Lebanese government with all the usual chaos. Mr Nasrallah is to hold a press conference today and then we'll all find out if this latest crisis is the greatest crisis since the last great crisis. Yes, a good cup of cynicism is necessary to wash down the rhetoric and threats of the past few days. At its most serious is the incendiary language in which Lebanon's politicians now address each other, the kind of menacing words that could easily touch an assassin's heart.

Indeed, the start of this latest drama might be traced to the murder of two Phalangist officials in the Bekaa town of Zahle a few weeks ago. The murderer has been named, is linked to the pro-Syrian opposition and is still at large. . . .

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David Edwards and Muriel Kane, "U.S. Supported Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon," Raw Story, May 22, 2007

M. Shahid Alam, "Hizbullah: Has Israel Met Its Match?," The Wisdom Fund, April 11, 2008

[The fighting, the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war, was triggered this week after the government took decisions targeting Hezbollah's military communications network.--Tomm Perry, "Hezbollah imposes control on Beirut," Reuters, May 9, 2008]

[When Hamas became part of the Palestinian government, the West rejected it. So Hamas took over Gaza. When the Hizbollah became part of the Lebanese government, the Americans rejected it. Now Hizbollah has taken over west Beirut.--Robert Fisk, "Hizbollah rules west Beirut in Iran's proxy war with US," Independent, May 10, 2008]

[Prime Minister Fuad Saniora made a key concession to the Hezbollah-led opposition that would effectively shelve the two government decisions that sparked the fighting.--Zeina Karam, "Hezbollah fighters in Beirut melt away," Associated Press, May 10, 2008]

[For the war in West Beirut is not about religion. It is about the political legitimacy of the Lebanese government and its "pro-American" support (the latter an essential adjective to any US news agency report), which Iran understandably challenges.--Robert Fisk, "Lebanon does not want another war. Does it?," Independent, May 11, 2008]

[The deal was also expected to lead to the formation of a cabinet in which Hezbollah, supported by Iran and Syria, along with its allies will enjoy the veto power it had sought in the negotiations .

Under the terms of the agreement, the government will also debate anew electoral law designed to provide better representation in the country's sectarian system of power-sharing.--Nada Bakri and Alan Cowell, "Agreement in Lebanon to End Political Crisis," New York Times, May 22, 2008]

Robert F. Worth, "Foreign Money Seeks to Buy Lebanese Votes," New York Times, April 23, 2009

Raja Mujtaba, "Israel Takes Control of Lebanon," opinion-maker.org, April 23, 2010

"US wants new Lebanon govt without Syria influence," france24.com, October 23, 2012

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