The Battle for Lebanon

By Barry Rubin, GLORIA

Lebanon may be beginning one of the most turbulent periods in its all-too-tumultuous history. As the world looks on with apparent indifference, Islamist and Iran-led forces may be on the verge of a new victory over Arab nationalists and just about everyone else.

With what can only be called astounding courage, most Lebanese Christian, Druze, and Sunni Muslim politicians have stood up to the Shia Muslim group Hizballah as well as its Iranian and Syrian backers. Hizballah is well-financed from Tehran and Damascus; the government—and even less its constituent elements—receive relatively little international help.

Arms pour across the border to Hizballah, as a UN-dispatched force supposed to help stop this flow stands by inactive. True, there is some foreign aid to Lebanon’s armed forces, but that army is led by a man, Michael Suleiman, who might be the Syrian-Iranian candidate for president, and many of its soldiers are pro-Hizballah, too.

The Syrians buy some politicians, like the former Christian patriot Michel Aoun, and kill others who resist, as happened to former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. The UN has sponsored an investigation into Hariri’s killing that points to high-level Syrian involvement. But after two years of inquiry there is no end in sight and many Western politicians along with several governments are eager to “engage” Syria in dialogue.

Thus, the Syrians have engaged in systematic terrorism in Lebanon and pretty much gotten away with it so far. When a Syrian-backed Palestinian Islamist group, Fatah al-Islam, raised a revolt against the Lebanese government, the world was sympathetic to Lebanon but was largely content to blame it on shadowy al-Qaida forces acting independently. The same happened regarding terror attacks on the UN forces in Lebanon. Meanwhile, of course, no Hizballah or pro-Syrian politician has been assaulted by the moderates.

But even all this is not the most fitting symbol of the “international community’s” dereliction of duty in Lebanon. Here’s what is:

    If you stand near the Israel-Lebanon border you will see the blue flag of the UN flying in Lebanese territory. Nearby flutters Hizballah’s yellow flag. A number of people have remarked on this fact, yet none seem to have drawn the logical conclusion from it.


September 3, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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