Monthly Archives: May 2007

Nasrallah’s May 25, 2007 speech translated

By Ana

I was able to get my hands on a translation of Nasrallah’s recent speech. Unfortunately, for some reason, the last couple of paragraphs are cut. I’ll try to get the text of those two paragraphs in the next couple of days and I’ll repost the speech hopefully soon. Until then, you can access the speech on the .doc link below.

nasrallahs-may-25-2007-speech.doc
Credit goes to Mideastwire for translating the speech.

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Filed under Hassan Nasrallah, Lebanon

Analyzing Michel Hayek’s predictions: Aoun cannot leave Nasrallah’s camp

By Ana

I’ve realized that a lot of my readers have been recently checking out my post featuring a translation of Michel Hayek’s predictions. I thought it would be nice to provide my own analysis on which possible predictions we are currently seeing materialize in light of the Tripoli events. I picked three as particularly interesting.

1. Two army officials will take part in somewhat of a precise operation. They will succeed in part of it, with one of them in danger. On the other hand, a third army official will fall in a separate operation.

This one is quite obscure, however, the only “precise operation” that the army has been involved in through military orders has been its continuous fight against the Fatah al-Islam. If this is the “precise operation” Hayek is refering to, then it seems that the operation will in general succeed although with obvious complications.

2. I see a picture including Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Progressive Socialist Party leader Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt. No comment.

This is interesting because after a very long time, we see these two politicians being pitted against the other in a fierce verbal battle.

3. The agreement between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) will remain intact despite a conflict that will occur between them.

This, is the most interesting one because Aoun clearly set himself away from Nasrallah’s speech two days ago. However, it is also clear that it is politically impossible for the Christian General to leave the March 8 camp any time soon. The Memorandum of Understanding is flexible enough to keep Aoun at arm’s length from Nasrallah. However, the fact that Aoun made his press statement is a bad sign for Nasrallah. He knows that when September comes, he cannot count on Aoun to take the presidency and remain loyal to him at the same time.

And to my readers: what are your comments? Let me know if you see other predictions that are of relevance to the events we have been witnessing in the past few days.

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Filed under Lebanon

Al Manar takes advantage of Seymour Hersh’s “findings”

By Ana

Hezbollah-funded TV station Al Manar news reporter Husayn Nur-al Din reported on PFLP General Command official Abu-Imad Ramiz press conference yesterday on his update on the Tripoli events.

Abu-Imad Ramiz was featured saying: “During all the meetings we held with the Lebanese political authorities, we have warned of this group and put the authorities in the picture of the information available to us about the growing presence of Fatah al-Islam members in Tripoli and how a certain Lebanese party tried to exploit the group to serve its goals internally and mobilize them religiously. As Palestinians, if we are to blame for the presence of this group in Nahr al-Barid refugee camp, then who should be blamed for the presence of this group in the city of Tripoli and its neighbourhoods? Who funded them? And who facilitated their movement and turned a blind eye to their activities until they managed in few hours to control the streets
of Tripoli? One of these groups has almost reached the area of Dayr al-Balamand.”

This of course is highly out of context. If the Palestinians were so keen on rooting out Fatah al-Islam from their camp, they would have properly cooperated with the army these past few days and help turn the Fatah al-Islam members in. We have not seen this level of cooperation. Instead, we have seen accusations being hurled left and right supplemented by zero action.

Nur al-Din then reports saying, “In a statement, the PFLP accused the Information Bureau of the Internal Security Forces led by Officer Wisam al-Hasan of sponsoring Fatah al-Islam organization and allowing it into Al-Barid refugee camp after it was dismantled in the refugee camps of Burj al-Barajinah and Shatila, saying that the fire of the political grudge against the Palestinian presence was ignited when the Future Movement adopted Fatah al-Islam and prepared it to fight its sectarian war in order to target the resistance weapons.”

This statement is highly unjustified. Here is yet another example of how Al Manar has been taking advantage of Seymour Hersh’s findings and actually distorting them. Even Hersh did not say that the Future Movement had “adopted” the Fatah al-Islam; he had only discussed the issue of indirect and direct funding. Of course, Hersh’s article’s reliance on an M16 agent worries me greatly.

The Al-Manar reporter, however, created divergences where none existed. He paraphrased Abu-Imad Ramiz’s statement as having said, “The PFLP-GC stressed that Fatah al-Islam has nothing to do with the Palestinian question on the popular and political levels. The front said that the campaign it is facing is intended to drive a wedge between the front and the Lebanese Army.” He uses this to criticize the prime minister of the “illegitimate government.” He added, “The PFLP noted that pushing the Lebanese Army into a confrontation with the Palestinian civilians is nothing but a conspiracy against this army by those in charge of the political decision-making led by the duo Geagea-Jumblatt in order to deflate the army’s military creed, which is hostile to the Zionist enemy, and blemish its image before its people and nation.”

In fact, however, Jumblatt was the first to come out and say that Fatah al-Islam could not, in fact, be defined as Palestinian. This came even after Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech in which he called the group “Palestinian.”

Additionally, Al Manar blames March 14 for hurting the image of the national army which consequently hurts its ability to counter Israeli aggression. However, March 14 that same day had criticized Nasrallah’s speech for providing “moral support” (in the words of Minister of Youth and Sports Ahmed Fatfat). His speech had only lightly criticized (and not condemned) the attacks and had provided no support for the Lebanese army, instead, specifically calling the Lebanese army a red line and an assault on the camp another red line. Who is hurting the army’s image now? Even General Michel Aoun realized that Nasrallah had this time gone too far. In his press conference, he explicitly stated that the army must be supported by all Lebanese communities and that calling the Lebanese army a red line was unacceptable.

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Filed under An-Manar TV, Fouad Seniora, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, March 14, March 8, Nahr al-Bared, Saad Hariri

Giving the West what it wants to hear (and see): The abuse of journalism

By Ana

The June 4 edition of TIME just came out. And, of course, the cover is about Lebanon. Lebanon: The Fire This Time and the subtitle: Clashes with Islamist militants foreshadow another summer of violence–and threaten to tip the country back toward civil war. Thanks to Nicholas Blanford, spectacularized corporate media (Go Warner Bros!) has brought to the Western living room some action. Turn to the article, it’s called “Up in Smoke” with a fantastic photo of a man watching the attacks of the Palestinian camp Nahr Al-Bared. The article begins with the perspective of fleeing Palestinian refugees that had taken advantage of Tuesday’s ceasefire, providing accurate facts and an appropriate chronology, not too pink and not too sour, just right for TIME’s light readers. But then Blanford gives the evangelists what they want: a quote from the Old Testament with a declaration of Jeremiah: “Go up to Lebanon and cry,” it reads. Blanford continues saying, “…and as the familiar images–pillars of smoke, innocents fleeing the fighting, tough young men toting huge guns¬–popped up on TV screens and newspapers around the world, so the sense that fate decrees nothing but tears for Lebanon took root once again.”

After spending four months working with the Agence-France Presse (AFP), I have become increasingly irritated by the cookie-cutter labels journalists love to prop on names and figures. Why do we insist on calling the Seniora government “pro-Western” and “anti-Syrian” and the March 8 “pro-Syrian” and in the case of Hezbollah, “anti-Western”? What do these labels mean? Do they help give us a better understanding of a situation that is much more complex than Arabs versus West, no matter what the Orientalists tell us? Blanford of course adopts the same discourse, labeling Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamade as “a leading anti-Syrian politician” for his Western readers to situate Hamade where they want him to be: with them. Has anyone ever considered calling him “pro-Lebanese”? Or if anything, since we are talking about deconstructing labels and being pro-Lebanese, to a certain extent, can make little sense, why not just call him a “March 14 leader”?

Blanford then goes on to say, “The crackdown on Fatah al-Islam, they say, is part of a broader attempt by the U.S.-backed Lebanese government to quell any sign of anti-American Sunni extremism.” Actually, Blanford, at times of crisis, I don’t think Seniora could really care about propagating American policy to such detail. He’s cracking down on this group because they are destabilizing Lebanon. No need for broader spectacularized conclusions.

I’ll leave my comments on Seymour Hersh’s ridiculous March article for another time.

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Filed under Lebanon, March 14, March 8