The US-backed Israeli Destruction of Lebanon Continues
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Leviathan run amok
By Pepe Escobar
Hezbollah may be writing the book - at least for now - of fourth-generation war. Hezbollah had a reputation as an extremely disciplined, mobile guerrilla force. Now Hezbollah has fully revealed itself as a more than competent asymmetrical actor.
Hezbollah controls a great deal of territory - Beirut's southern suburbs, vast areas in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, which is sandwiched between two mountain ranges along the Syrian border. Hezbollah enjoys staunch popular support running to probably one and a half million people, almost half the population of Lebanon. And Hezbollah has been capable of unleashing some relatively sophisticated military operations against Israel using both conventional and unorthodox weapons.
It's still impossible to assess the ramifications of Hezbollah's
prestige in the Arab street being tremendously enhanced after its military success for the past week - which include delivering missiles to the heart of Israel. But the Arab street has certainly registered the communique by the House of Saud against Hezbollah, as well as the thunderous silence-cum-embarrassment displayed by the US client regimes of Egypt and Jordan.
A certified effect of the Israeli bombing barrage will be to draw newer, thicker waves of moderate Muslims toward political - and radical - Islam. The perception in the Arab street - as well as for most of the world's 1.4 billion Muslims - has been reinforced: the US/Israel axis seems to hold a license to kill Arabs with impunity.
For its part, Israel's Leviathan-run-amok tactic of trying to turn the Lebanese as a whole against Hezbollah seems to be doomed to failure. This is especially because compounding Israel's trademark collective-punishment techniques - bombing bridges and an international airport, killing scores of civilians indiscriminately, turning Beirut into Gaza - shines President George W Bush's imperial indifference, not to mention the international community's. Just as in 1982 - when president Ronald Reagan said it was all right for Ariel Sharon to invade Lebanon - now Bush says it's all right for Israel to bomb Lebanese civilians.
Israel does not listen to anybody - be it the toothless United Nations or the even more cowardly European Union. Beirut is in panic. According to Hanady Salman, a journalist at As-Safir newspaper, the population widely expects that "as soon as the evacuation of foreigners will be completed, the Israelis will have a freer hand". Not by accident, all the areas bombed by Israel - and most of the civilians killed - are among the poorest in Lebanon.
Hezbollah is convinced it got its overall strategy right - factoring all the angles of the Leviathan-run-amok response; so there's no way the Lebanese people as a whole may blame Hezbollah for the escalation. Moreover, Hezbollah is a key force in fractured Lebanon. The majority of Lebanon's population is Shi'ite: at least 45% (in south Beirut, this correspondent was repeatedly told they may be from 55% to 60%). Christians are no more than 30%. The majority of Shi'ites - mostly poor, with very extended families, and a great deal of them basically peasants - support Hezbollah. Symbolically, fiercely independent Hezbollah represents the revenge of the oppressed - not only against the well off Sunni and Christians but against the Israeli invaders.
Hezbollah is a genuine resistance movement, such as Hamas in Palestine. Israel's military logic rules that it must crush any Arab resistance movement. Now Israel seems to have found two pretexts to try to crush simultaneously both Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel's modus operandi is to take entire populations hostage.
French social scientist Alain Joxe has demonstrated how these policies are "technical experiments" always observed with extreme interest by the Pentagon. The stateless Palestinians have been taken hostage in two giant, unconnected gulags in Gaza and the West Bank. Now the experiment - through relentless bombing - applies to a whole sovereign country. But Israel is also reaping - in the form of Hezbollah's renewed fourth-generation war efforts - what it sowed with its debasement of Palestinians.
The absence of a level playing field is glaring. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) may kidnap a doctor and his brother - two civilians - from their home in Gaza. But Leviathan runs amok when Hezbollah captures soldiers (according to Israel that's "illegitimate and illegal"). Meanwhile, Israel's Defense Ministry places "the head of the snake" in Damascus, even while the IDF uses the same questionable methods - toward civilians.
The taboo - never questioned by the bulk of Western mainstream media - runs that Israel is allowed to kill innocent civilians without expecting any retaliation. The Lebanese French-language daily L'Orient-Le Jour summed it up: the "international community" supports Lebanon without condemning Israel, which is reducing a sovereign country to rubble.
Our way or the (bombed) highway
Israel's logic is unilateral. It has blamed the Lebanese government as a whole. Hezbollah has only a small role in the Lebanese government; it is actually in the opposition. Power in Beirut is in the hands of US and Sunni Arab allies. The Hariri clan, mired in dodgy deals, remains extremely powerful. Fouad Siniora, a banker, the new Lebanese prime minister - and a strong critic of Syria - defines Hezbollah as a "legitimate resistance" group. As such, it should not be disarmed.
Thus Israel's real objective must be to provoke civil war in Lebanon - just as it did everything to provoke civil war in Palestine. The strategy is always the same. Israel wants Fatah to crush Hamas in Palestine, and now it wants the government in Beirut to crush Hezbollah. Or else ...
It was Hezbollah's hardcore warriors - trained by Syria and Iran - who ultimately expelled Israel from Lebanon in 2000. It's difficult for Westerners - or non-Arab Asians - to understand how powerfully symbolic this is in the Arab world: it means that Hezbollah was the only Arab military force ever to defeat Israel. Not surprisingly, even Lebanese Sunnis approve what Hezbollah is doing - they interpret it as solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinian struggle (as Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's leader, made it all too clear).
Moreover, Israel's Leviathan-run-amok response has only served to rally Sunnis behind a "Lebanon under siege" banner.
The relationship between Iran and Hezbollah is not unlike Moscow's with assorted communist parties during the Cold War. There are no directives issued from Tehran - as Washington neo-cons see it. Hamas may be Sunni and Hezbollah may be Shi'ite, but both parties - supported by Syria and Iran - converge as resistance movements based on a platform of national struggle against
foreign (Israeli) occupation.
There's nothing sectarian about it. On the contrary, Hezbollah shows total solidarity with Hamas. And way beyond Israel identified as the common enemy, both Hamas and Hezbollah clearly identify the not-so-invisible big enemy behind, the US, for which Israel is a kind of "militarized offshoot", in the words of Noam Chomsky. Virtually every Lebanese knows that the missiles currently exterminating their compatriots were made in Miami, Duluth and Seattle.
Whatever the outcome, blowback will be inevitable. Osama bin Laden, in one of his videos, told the world how he burned with anger when he saw the Israeli bombing of the "towers" of Lebanon during the 1982 invasion. The new Osamas in the making may be Sunni or Shi'ite, it doesn't matter: what matters is what they identify as the American/Israeli license to kill (mostly poor, defenseless) Arabs.
Iran for its part may have been a full Hezbollah supporter, but now it's as much a staunch supporter of Hamas. As Nasrallah has emphasized on many occasions, Hezbollah as a resistance movement is not engaged only in the liberation of the Sheba Farms, still occupied by Israel; Hezbollah sees itself as a powerful actor positioned right at the center of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
As Lebanese-born Gilbert Achcar, a political-science professor at the University of Paris-VIII, puts it, "The main source of destabilization in the region is this violent and arrogant behavior of Israel that is in full harmony with the equally arrogant and violent behavior the United States displayed in Iraq." No change is in sight, not when Bush's "Greater Middle East" has revealed itself for what it is - a fallacy.
When in doubt, invade
The Israeli public relations machine - in English, thus widely monopolizing the airwaves, unlike Hezbollah, which expresses itself in Arabic - brags that now it's time to finish off Hezbollah. That makes no sense - because Hezbollah is a mass movement with roughly 1.5 million adherents. To finish off Hezbollah means in practice to finish off all poor Lebanese Shi'ites.
Iran and Iraq would never let it go unpunished. Israel also conveniently forgets that Hezbollah itself should not even exist - after all, it was founded to fight the Israeli invasion (in 1982) and occupation (until 2000) of southern Lebanon.
Israel's three basic demands, passed to Beirut by Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, are the return of two captured Israeli soldiers now under Hezbollah; a Hezbollah withdrawal to the Litani River, which is roughly 45 kilometers north of the current Lebanese-Israeli border; and no more rocket attacks against Israel.
Most of this could have happened before Israel illegally -international law is clear about it - started bombing a sovereign country. They could have traded prisoners. And there would be no Hezbollah rocket attacks because there would have been no Israeli indiscriminate bombings. One thing is certain: there is absolutely no chance the Lebanese will accept retreating to the Litani River. That would mean the establishment of a new Israeli de facto border. The only way Israel can annex these waters is by invading southern Lebanon - again.
That's what the Stratfor Intelligence Report said would happen. "The Israeli Defense Forces is preparing for a major, sustained assault into southern Lebanon to eliminate the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah," said the report. "The assault will extend at least to the Litani River - the first natural barrier, roughly 20 miles into Lebanon - and possibly all the way to areas south of Beirut ... Israel stands on the verge of attempting to completely annihilate Hezbollah in southern Lebanon."
Sounds like wishful thinking. And Hezbollah will do anything to prevent it from happening any time in the future. The key question remains. The Lebanese government knows that if it accedes to Israel's demands, there will be another civil war in the country. At least for the moment, Lebanon seems to be hanging on, engaged in passive resistance against collective punishment.
As Israel wages war on the Palestinian people and now the Lebanese people, Hezbollah may be betting that Lebanon as whole will be able to absorb the extreme limits of collective punishment - and in the end the resistance movement will still come out alive. Now that would be a lesson for the ages.
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1) Turn the aggression into a setback for the US-Zionist hegemony
2) Nasrallah addresses Lebanese, resistance, Zionists and Arab leaders
3) PFLP salutes and admires fighting people of Lebanon
1) Stop the Israeli terror war!
Turn the aggression into a setback for the US-Zionist hegemony!
With the backing of the US Israel is systematically bombing the only
democracy of the Middle East deliberately targeting the civilian population and the infrastructure. Lebanon is democratic because its people could liberate itself from Zionist occupation and imperialist predominance thanks to the popular resistance embodied and led by Hizbullah.
In Lebanon Israel has suffered it most shaking defeat ever since eventually being forced to withdraw its occupation troops. The result of 25 years of war was to leave the country and especially the South to a victorious popular anti-imperialist movement based on the poor Shiite masses but drawing support also from other confessional groups and the middle classes. Israel never could accept this ignominy.
Riding on the wave of the ultra-aggressive US imperial war drive Israel is trying to take revenge with the declared aim to smash Hizbollah. But as we can see in Iraq it is more than questionable whether this all-out war of aggression will reach its aims. On the contrary it is pretty possible that in mid-range terms it will backfire providing another element eroding the American Empire.
The first phase of the war is clear: destroying the entire infrastructure
and terrorising the civilian population first of all the poor Shiite
constituencies of Hizbollah. Who has seen the pictures of the systematically flattened Southern suburbs of Beirut got an idea how Israel intends to displace the population to clear the ground for an invasion. These appalling war crimes against the civilian population are no "collateral damage" but they are deliberately committed in order to destroy the social habitat upon which Hizbollah has been built.
Less than any regular army Hizbollah cannot be smashed only by coward air warfare. The wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq have already toughed that lesson. If the Israeli army command claims to have destroyed half of Hizbollah's operational capacity it is an outright propaganda lie. They know well, and the corporate press is whispering it, that they need to attack on the ground.
Therefore the just beginning second phase will be the invasion pushing Israeli positions at least up to the Litani river. The Zionist incursion will meet determined resistance causing them heavy losses. It will take months not weeks. Even if Israel will be able to re-occupy this part of the South it will have in no way obtained its proclaimed war aims namely the destruction of Hizbollah.
So if they stop short at the Litani it is already a half defeat for Israel.
It is therefore possible that the Zionist war machine will push ahead to the North. Their only real possibility to inflict a defeat on Hizbollah is to advance up to Beirut smashing the popular guerrilla on the ground. Exactly for that purpose they want to displace as many people as possible.
Even the most stubborn guerrilla resistance cannot stop the Israeli army's invasion as long as they maintain Washington's backing. But in this asymmetric war between a high tech regular army being de facto part of the U.S. global military machine and a people's guerrilla the Zionist territorial advance is no criteria for defeat or victory. On the contrary the more the invader is stretched, the more territory it must secure the better the military conditions of the resistance are. Hizbollah can only wish to drag the Zionist army into the war theatre where they can use their prime strength - the support of the people and the familiarity with the environment - and where they already defeated Israel once. 2006 is not 1982. In difference to 25 years ago when the Lebanese people had to build their resistance from the scratch now Hizbollah can confront the occupier with a powerful irregular army. Today the conditions for a successful resistance are even better.
If Israel withdraws soon - as they promise - they will have to leave without having accomplished their aim which means a victory for Hizbollah. On the other hand, if they stay longer, their will add a new focus of politico-military resistance against the US Empire in addition to Iraq and Afghanistan. History shows that Israel is not able to politically sustain years of occupation once again. Thus all elements indicate that the US-Zionist offensive can turn out as a trap for themselves.
The longer the war will continue the more the world's and Europe's public opinion will turn against Israel. As we have seen with the war against Iraq this cannot stop the US-Zionist machine but it nevertheless increases the political costs for them. And it helps to build the anti-American front which is steadily growing not only among the oppressed people but also within the European people.
While today there is an overwhelming consensus for the aggression within Israel, continued losses and military troubles will change even the relationship of forces within this reactionary colonial people as it was the case during the first occupation of Lebanon.
A decisive question is the impact of war on the political scenery within Lebanon itself. The openly pro-Israeli forces have been definitely defeated in the protracted combined civil and national liberation war. This is best expressed by the curiosity that the leader of the pro-Zionist Maronite right, General Aoun, in the last elections ran on the list of Hizbollah. Also the pro-imperialist anti-Syrian coalition which sprang up after the assassination of prime minister Hariri in 2005 was short lived. It is one thing to get rid of the asphyxiating Syrian politico-military presence and another to build a lasting pro-Israeli coalition.
It is clear that both the Maronite as well as the Sunni bourgeoisie want a normalisation disarming Hisbollah and taming it into the political system. Despite the pressure by imperialism enshrined in UN resolution 1559 for disarming Hizbollah, no government could so far dare to instigate a new civil war which they would inevitably loose. Now there is the direct Zionist imperialist intervention to fulfil this aim.
While it is very unlikely that Israel can "root out" Hizbollah as it
declares, the Lebanese masses are certainly tired of war. In order to stop the Israeli mass terror the elites might be able to build a coalition pressing Hizbollah into a compromise which they might have troubles to refuse. Also their own constituencies, which suffer most from the Israeli aggression, could push for it. This could possibly mean that Hizbollah withdraws from the South where the weak Lebanese army might be deployed to.
The longer the Israeli military campaign continues without producing the proclaimed results the US might try to save the situation pushing for so-called multinational troops in the South to monitor a ceasefire. Given the overwhelming Zionist military power such a partial withdrawal would not amount in a defeat for Hizbollah as they maintain the bulk of their military organisation.
Popular liberation war against the US' "Greater Middle East"
The fresh Zionist aggression against Lebanon must be understood as an element of the US' Greater Middle East project. It's essence is to subdue the region - whether "rogue states", popular movements or military resistance groups - by brute military force. Actually this is the core element of the construction of the American Empire. The permanent pre-emptive war is based on an aggressive offensive military strategy which is turning out to be a hubris. We already can see in Iraq and Afghanistan that the US first of all lacks the political hegemony to create functioning puppet states according to their model of "export democracy". The more armed aggressions they start the more popular resistance they evoke.
Already by now they have understood that the main actors against their dominion will not be states but irregular armed forces which they happen to call "terrorist". Islam is providing the politico-cultural platform for the resistance which is being supported by the broad masses.
The only form to inflict a historic defeat on Zionism and imperialism is a liberation war based on the support of the popular masses. For the time being the gap between the Islamic forces collaborating with the pro-imperialist regimes like the network of the Muslim brotherhood on one side and the radical Islamic anti-imperialist forces on the other side is still too big. The problem of movements like Al Qaida is a purely military approach combined with a politico-cultural narrow sectarian agenda. While their military radicalism and steadfastness is drawing popular support their sectarian attitude leaves the masses with the collaborationists. In Iraq for example we need to unify Shia and Sunni against the occupation while Al Qaida is driving a wedge between them.
A popular liberation war all over the Arabo-Islamic region must be combined with a strong politico-cultural liberation front organising the poor classes beyond their confessional identity on a national base. In this way the nucleus of a new state apparatus based on the popular masses can be set up. To push ahead and ultimately lead this process is the role of revolutionary anti-imperialism.
Support Hizbollah and the Lebanese people's resistance against the Zionist aggression!
Support the Iraqi resistance to end US occupation!
Support Hamas and the Palestinian people's resistance against Zionism!
For one democratic anti-imperialist state in entire Palestine!
No war on Iran and Syria!
Popular liberation war to smash the American Empire!
July 22, 2006
2) The hopes of every oppressed, every lover of steadfastness
Statement from the General Secretary of Hizballah, His Excellency Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, to the Nation, the Lebanese people, the resistance fighters, the Zionists and the Arab leaders
In this first address that I give in these days following Operation True
Promise, I would like to say a few words - a word to the Lebanese people, a word to the resistance fighters, a word to the Zionists, and a word to the Arab rulers. I will not offer words to the international community because I have never for one day believed that there is any such thing as an international community, just as many in our nation feel.
First, I say to the Lebanese people: dear people - who embraced the
resistance, by whom the resistance was victorious, and for whom the
resistance won its victory on 25 May 2000 - this people who were the makers of the first victory in the history of the Arab struggle with the Israeli enemy, despite the basic inequality in forces, and in spite of the fact that the majority of our Arab brothers and the majority of our Muslim brothers abandoned us and despite the silence of the whole world, this Lebanese people made the miracle of the victory that stunned the world and humiliated the Zionists. Those Zionists look upon this people in a special, unique way because they accomplished in the history of the struggle with them a special and unique accomplishment. The battle today is no longer a battle over prisoners or the exchange of prisoners. It might be said that the Zionist enemy is responding any time there is any operation where men are captured anywhere in any part of the world, by any army or any state that has borders and regulations. What is taking place today is not a response to a capture of their soldiers; it is a squaring of accounts with the people, resistance, state, army, political forces, regions, villages, and families that inflicted that historic defeat on that aggressive usurper entity that has never accepted its defeat.
3) PFLP salutes and admires fighting people of Lebanon
Statement issued by the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine on the escalation of Zionist aggression against the territory of Lebanon and Palestine
The Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine calls on the Arab masses and their vital popular forces, it calls on the trade unions and federations to shoulder their responsibility and duty in defending Lebanon and Palestine and in going out in demonstrations and all forms of popular activity to pressure the Arab governments and to give all forms of support and assistance to the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples and their heroic resistance movements in defiance of the American-Zionist plan for the region.