Impressions, views, and steam-blowing by a lonesome cowboy.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Weak and Inane Talk from the Government

Story from Naharnet. My comments/additions are bracketed. (From Naharnet, full story here). Ghazi Aridi is Information Minister and thus the official spokesman for the Lebanese government.

[Title] Cabinet Wants to Ban Palestinian Weapons Outside Camps

[I thought they were already banned. The cabinet means it wants to apply the law, a very different story.]

The Cabinet has said it will revive efforts to ban Palestinians from deploying weapons outside refugee camps, saying last week's shooting incident in Naameh of two Lebanese by Palestinian gunfire prompted the government to resolve the Palestinian arms issue more speedily.

[I don't think "revive efforts to ban" is the kind of aggressive immediate action asked for by residents of Naameh, or those living close to Ain-El-Helweh. Those people have asked for the army to deploy in order to protect them. They did not ask for lamentable and lame efforts to "revive efforts to ban" what is already banned. When you talk like that you cannot expect your agents to collect on traffic tickets or on electricity bills.]

"The ministers unanimously agreed over the necessity to implement cabinet resolutions regarding Palestinian weapons inside and outside the camps," said Information Minister Ghazi Aridi following a weekly cabinet meeting on Thursday.

[Blah blah blah. Agreed on the "necessity"? Fine, then what? Implement? WHEN?, give me a date, WHEN?
Further empty talk which projects WEAKNESS and undermines respect for all laws, criminal and civil. Lebanese People, expect MORE trampling on your dignity, law and sovereignty.]

Aridi was referring to resolutions reached before the Shiite boycott of the cabinet, which included forbidding the deployment of Palestinian weapons outside refugee camps and obliging armed groups inside the camps to meet certain guidelines.

[Good. So it is, and was, unanimous, from before the Shia boycott. "Implement" NOW, stop gabbing.]

"Therefore, regardless of the (Naameh) shooting, the cabinet resolutions should be implemented," said Aridi, adding that the incident triggered the government to speed up the implementation process.

[More useless yackety-yack-yacking. "Speed up" implementation? From what pace? One AK-47 every 30 years to, say, 5 rifles the next 30 years?]

Last week, a member of the Popular Font for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) shot and wounded two municipal policemen in Naameh, south of Beirut, causing uproar and turning the spotlight on Palestinian weapons deployed outside refugee settlements.

[Notice they (gvmt. and press) keep saying "municipal" like this makes the assault on the state's authority less serious.]

The PFLP-GC, which is headed by Damascus-based Ahmad Jibril, maintains a network of tunnels and arms caches in Naameh. Israeli warplanes have often struck the town.

[Is the town of Naameh Lebanese territory or some "municipal" outpost? Is there a need to draw maps here, like for the Shebaa Farms?]

Aridi said the government will work on the local and regional levels to secure the implementation of cabinet resolutions concerning these arms.

[More and further and improved empty crap about "IMPLEMENTATION".
"Work on local level" means we have to talk to the thugs and get their permission. Good luck.
"On the regional level" means we have to kiss Syrian-Saudi-PA-someone's butt before we can apply the law and protect the citizen in our own country. If unanimous decisions are impossible to implement simply and directly, what's left?]

"It is unacceptable to continue using weapons against the Lebanese in a way that harms the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people's interests," said the minister.

Therefore, like Walid Eido and countless others, Aridi is saying it’s ACCEPTABLE to shoot Lebanese if it helps the Palestinian cause.
I am getting very sick and very tired of the friggin "cause". What is UNACCEPTABLE is: a government which does not shoulder its basic responsibility, keeps blabbing about it, does not protect its citizens, and wants them to DIE for the cause of a neighbor. To stay polite: stuff it Ghazi!

Can we have a referendum on this? Then maybe our irresponsible representative idiots will find the guts to stop saying stupid things.

Here's a proposition for Mr. Aridi (and Eido) which helps his beloved "cause" and does not kill any Lebanese:
Let's automatically give 50% of your income, each year, to the "cause". You can direct the money as you please: refugees, PA, Hamas. What do you say to that Mr. Aridi? We'll even take 25%. Thank you for your help.

Asked if the government would force Palestinians to comply with the cabinet resolutions, Aridi replied: "We are not raising this option, and we hope to implement all resolutions peacefully to serve the interests of the Lebanese and Palestinians."

Weak, weak, weak. Dangerously weak. "Hope to implement", without mention of force, isn't exactly going impress the thugs in Naameh, or anywhere else. Your age-old problem, Ghazi Aridi and Lebanon, is still staring you in the face.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Our Press: Long Way to Go

Upon reading in L'Orient-Le-Jour the headline (my translation):

Republican Senator continues his Lebanese tour
Frank Woolf visits Siniora, Aoun and Joumblatt

I got curious. What state does Woolf represent? What committees is he on? Because, of course, our beloved press cannot bother to tell you.

It took me two minutes on the internet to figure out:

1) There is no Senator Woolf (or Wolf or Wolfe or Woolfe).

2) There is a Representative Frank Wolf, not Woolf, from Virginia (10th district)

Senator, Shmenator. Woolf, Shwolf. It does not matter; journalists cannot be bothered with facts. It's the Arab world after all, land of fantasy and 1001 nights.

Like I said: two minutes. In this day and age, you don't need to call the US embassy and wait for a reply: Google, Yahoo, senate.gov, and house.gov would give the answer to a 10-year old who would bother to check.

Yeah, I think it is still too early to expect our press, L'Orient-LeJour is hardly alone, to do investigative journalism. If they get the date right, count your blessings.


Appendix: Full Story from L'Orient-Le Jour January 19, 2006

Le sénateur républicain a poursuivi sa tournée libanaise
Frank Woolf chez Siniora, Aoun et Joumblatt

Le Premier ministre, Fouad Siniora, a reçu hier au Grand Sérail le vice-président de la commission du Budget au Congrès US, le sénateur (républicain) Frank Woolf, qui est arrivé mardi à Beyrouth. La rencontre, qui a duré plus d’une heure, s’est déroulée en présence de l’ambassadeur des États-Unis, Jeffrey Feltman.
MM. Woolf et Feltman se sont également rendus à Rabieh chez le chef du CPL, le général Michel Aoun, et à Moukhtara chez le chef du PSP, Walid Joumblatt. À l’issue des trois rencontres, le sénateur a refusé de répondre aux questions des journalistes.
Par ailleurs, le chef du gouvernement a reçu le représentant du secrétaire général de l’ONU au Liban, Geir Pedersen, ainsi que la commission de suivi de Haret Naamé, comportant les députés Mohammed Hajjar, Alaaeddine Terro, Élie Aoun et Georges Adwan, qui lui ont transmis la volonté des habitants de la localité de voir leur région débarrassée de toute présence armée palestinienne « le plus vite possible ».
Au terme de la réunion, M. Aoun a indiqué que le Premier ministre les a mis au courant « des mesures gouvernementales à ce niveau et de la disposition du cabinet à éliminer toute présence armée palestinienne dans la région ». « M. Siniora nous a expliqué que les solutions seront recherchées à plusieurs niveaux, local mais aussi arabe, puisque l’on sait de quelles parties ces groupuscules armés sont en train de suivre les ordres », a-t-il ajouté, avant de préciser que certaines mesures vont être « rapidement » prises.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

MP Walid Eido: Don't Speak for Me

Do the many mediocrities who govern and represent us even understand the words they utter?
And since the answer is NO, is it any wonder that the country is down a sinkhole?

Here's Future Movement MP Walid Eido on the Naameh shooting of last week. Two Lebanese municipal employees were wounded by Palestinian illegals who were manning a road block. (Eido's words from L'Orient-LeJour, January 12, 2006. In French, appendix below. English is my translation)

MP Walid Eido says:

Stop exploiting the Palestinian cause. This cause is ours, just like Kamal Joumblatt and Rafik Hariri taught us

Illegal Palestinian weapons kill and maim Lebanese citizens. The knee-jerk reaction of every politician in Lebanon: "this is not good for Palestine, the CAUSE". How about condoling the victims and the relatives of the dead before we get into the Palestinian cause? Is that too much to ask? Because you know, maybe you are an MP, or Minister with responsibilities toward Lebanese nationals. But perhaps you wish to be buried in the Palestinian flag like that great Lebanese MP Maarouf Saad?

Mr. Eido is usually a reasonable guy. It goes to show you that when the words "Palestine/Palestinian" are uttered, anywhere in the Arab world, the rare commodities of reason and common sense fly out the window. (Make sure you read his last statement, below)

Here's is the problem. "The cause is ours" is a meaningless statement. Its meaning stretches from "giving 25 bucks to a refugee-helping NGO" to "ordering all units of the Lebanese army to attack Israel right now". And because it is vague, that type of statement helps those carrying illegal weapons.

If you keep putting the "cause" above everything (in your rhetoric, cuz in reality we know it's baloney), the debate will always be "is it good for the cause?": an endless debate, because it is SUBJECTIVE.

It is much simpler and more productive if you just say: "we have a law, no arms outside of the Lebanese regular forces". Then, there is no argument for the other side. Capiche? Or is it too complicated?

MP Eido goes on to say:

Did the shooting take place on the borders of Palestine or near the walls of Jerusalem? Had the shots fired at Lebanese citizens been helpful to the cause, we are ready to forgive [bold emphasis mine].


Have we discussed this as a nation, and resolved it? Are we all on the same page here? Here's the problem again; who says it's good or bad for the "cause"? Who says it is my "cause"? Who defines the "cause"?

Who is "we" Keem-O-Sabe Walid? Don't include me. Next time a Lebanese citizen is wounded or killed, I am not forgiving anyone, even if it is good for the "cause".

I will make an exception though, for Walid Eido and his relatives. Rest assured Walid, if illegally armed gunmen kill you and your relatives, then I shall forgive. I'll also invite others to do the same, just to honor your memory Mr. Eido, but only as long as someone, somewhere, says: "hey, it was good for the cause."


APPENDIX: L'Orient-LeJour's full story:

Eido : « Si l’incident de Naamé sert les intérêts syriens, nous ne pouvons que le condamner

« Assez exploiter la cause palestinienne. Cette cause est la nôtre, comme nous l’ont appris Kamal Joumblatt et Rafic Hariri. » C’est ce qu’a affirmé hier le député haririen, Walid Eido, lors d’une table ronde organisée à l’AUB par le Club des médias et le Club de la jeunesse de l’université. Évoquant les incidents fâcheux de Naamé, le député s’est demandé : « La fusillade a-t-elle eu lieu aux portes de la Palestine ou autour des remparts de Jérusalem ? Si les coups de feu tirés en direction de citoyens libanais servent la cause, nous sommes prêts à pardonner. Mais s’ils servent au contraire l’intérêt du régime syrien, nous ne pouvons que les condamner », a-t-il précisé.

Et le député d’appeler à mettre un terme au chaos provoqué par une présence palestinienne armée en dehors des camps et à réorganiser le port d’armes à l’intérieur.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Fun with Bashar Assad, Baby Doc

Excerpts from the latest interview with Syrian president Baby Eye-Doc Bashar Assad. As usual with my "fun" pieces, my comments/additions are bracketed. (From Naharnet, full story here)

[Title: Assad] Says Lebanon Faces Civil Strife, Thumbs his Nose at U.S.

Lebanon's legacy of political turmoil offers fertile ground for a new bout of "Iraq-style sectarian schisms," Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a defiant interview that blamed Israel for Rafik Hariri's assassination.

[But Mr. President, you make "sectarian schisms" sound like a bad thing. Didn't your father use those tensions and schisms to enter Lebanon and rule it, his greatest achievement?

Don't you use similar tensions today in Iraq? Helping and supporting terrorists blow up 50-60 Iraqi Shias a day should be another winner for your regime, if not with the Iraqi people at least with the confused Al-Jazeerah viewers. That would be those wired sophisticates in the Arab world who think that Israel killed Hariri.

But forgive me, for a second, I forgot that you too are a sophisticated "wired" guy. After all, we heard that you did have a dial-up internet connection those 6 months you were being "western educated" in London.]
"Lebanon's history of instability dates back to hundreds of years, and this is being exploited now to push it into sectarian strife similar to what is happening now in Iraq," Assad was quoted as saying.

[Yep, see above for a reminder of who took advantage of sectarian strife in both Lebanon and Iraq]

According to Assad, there are no "legal bases" for questioning him or his foreign minister, Farouk al-Shareh. The international investigators should, instead, look towards Israel, "the prime beneficiary" from Hariri's murder.

[On Israel's assassination of Hariri, let me says this: it is good that you finally left Lebanon.

With all the sacrifices you made for Lebanon, it wasn't working. I mean your army could not stop the 1982 Israeli invasion. And with one Moukhabarate agent per Lebanese family for some 30 years, the darn Israelis still managed to kill Hariri. So thanks for your efforts, but I think it was time Lebanon tried something else.

What remains a bit of a mystery to me is "why are the Israelis only killing people who wanted the Syrian army out of Lebanon?" Does that mean that Israel wanted Syria to stay in Lebanon? I am confused.

It is also very interesting that Hariri, Tueni, Kassir, Chidiac were at the top of Israel's "to-kill" list. Does it mean that these people were more dangerous to Israel's security than, say, your friends Nasrallah, Jibreel, Kanso, Qandil?
Lest the latter feel "dissed", I am sure you guys are on the list, just more toward your natural place, at the bottom.

But anyway, I hear you Bro President, Israel is responsible for all the bad things in this world, and that includes my recent haircut.]

"There are also Lebanese sides who could have perpetrated the attack," he [Assad] said, without explaining how Syria's military, which was in firm control of Lebanon at the time, could have missed the planning of a bombing that involved sophisticated jamming and surveillance and up to 1,000 kilogram of explosives.

[I agree with you there, Baby Doc. However, the chance of a Lebanese side doing this without your orders and knowledge is one-in-a-gazillion. But like I said before, you tried to stop the murder, you could not, thanks for trying, goodbye.]
Asked about reports that Hariri had recorded the Aug. 26 acrimonious meeting, Assad said: "Where is that recording? Why hasn't it been made public?"

[I can't tell you the where and the why. But I do know this Mr. President: if there is a recording and when it becomes public, you or Buthaina Chaaban already have a statement ready to go.

Your communique will say that Israel must have doctored the recording and that it is not your voice. Some of your tricks are getting very, very, very old, except of course for the al-Jazeerah fools, some of which are my good friends.]

Khaddam, according to Assad, was "an implementing tool in a conspiracy to bring (Syria) to its knees, extract great concessions and block many of our national and regional plans."

[Khaddam is a "tool" IMO, but I don't think that is what you meant. Anyway, it is very unfortunate for Lebanon that Khaddam's master plan involved screwing Lebanon for 30 years, as step-one (for cover?), before getting to his real purpose which had been, all the while, to screw Syria. As to your national and regional plans, what may those be? Better yet, is there a DOMESTIC plan for Syria?]

The former vice-president [Khaddam], now in self-exile in France, served alongside the late Hafez Assad for nearly four decades. But for the current president, who succeeded his father in 2000, Khaddam "has no credibility among the Syrians."

[If you say so Mr. President. On a personal note, for me, the loathsome Khaddam has now more credibility than Farouk el Shareh. Granted that is not saying much.]

"He [Khaddam] is involved in a conspiracy to drive a wedge between the Syrians and their rulers long before he stepped into the public limelight … The persons are not important, what is important is the plot," he said.

[And anyone disagreeing with you, or not related to the Assad family, is automatically an accomplice in this vast plot.]

Assad, whose challenge to the international community since September 2004 has isolated his regime, admitted that Egypt was campaigning on Syria's behalf in the international arena.

[Thanks Hosni. Now please go back to screwing the Egyptian people. We, in Lebanon, have more than our share of people trying to screw us, starting with our very own president and our speaker of parliament.]

"It is a relationship built on the deeply rooted bonds between President Hosni Mubarak and the late Hafez Assad," said the young president.

[It's all in the family. Long live Arab monarchism socialism and God help you if your last name is not Mubarak or Assad. Or much worse, if you are Lebanese, Amr Mussa may come to your help.]

He [Assad] said he often would not see eye-to-eye with Mubarak, "but we discuss these differences with utmost honesty."

[Yeah, when I think of Arab rulers, more specifically you Baby Doc or Mr. Mubarak, the first thing that comes to my mind is "utmost honesty". And then, my eyes tear up with emotion. I am just a sentimental guy.]

He [Assad] described the American intervention in Iraq as a "quagmire," and said his country stood ready to dispatch troops to eastern neighbors "if the Iraqis asked us to."

[Phew!! At least you did not say "western neighbor". I am sure you could easily find a couple of Iraqi Kanso-Qandil-Frangieh hyenas who will gladly ask you in, and sing your favorite lullaby: "bil dam, bil rouh...".

But if the Iraqi people have not learned about Baathism from their own 30-years experience, and from Lebanon's 30-years experience with your regime, then all I can say is that they will deserve your embrace and the goodies which come with it.

And that goes triple for the Lebanese, if they let you, or your influence, back in their country.]

Monday, January 02, 2006

Baabda-Lahoud: Nothing Left to Say

Of course Lahoud has been totally irrelevant since the departure of his Syrian friends, if not well before. Baabda's work, if you can call it that, has been confined to obstructionism and releasing daily communiqués to defend against daily accusations and attacks on its occupant.

In the most recent communiqué, the Baabda geniuses show that they have nothing left to say, or at least nothing that makes any sense.

In the aftermath of the Abdel Halim Khaddam revelations, which pretty much confirm what everybody and Mehlis knew, Lahoud was also accused of inciting tensions between his own PM Hariri and the Assad regime.

In response, the Baabda communiqué says that Lahoud and Hariri were getting along famously, that it was not Baabda's job to provide security, AND that when 60 security personnel were pulled from (then ex-PM) Hariri's protection, Lahoud offered to have the PRESIDENTIAL GUARD protect Hariri:

"Still, when President Lahoud knew that the security personnel to protect Hariri were withdrawn, he [Lahoud] expressed his willingness to send members from the republican guards to help in his [Hariri's] protection, but Hariri thanked him saying he had his own private security," the statement released by the presidential palace said on Sunday. (from Naharnet)

Has anyone told the communiqué-writing cretins in Baabda that the HEAD OF THE PRESIDENTIAL Guard, general Mustafa Hamdan, is a prime suspect in the Hariri assassination and that he is currently under arrest along with others from the presidential guard?

No one is this imbecilic. It just has to be the pressure to put out something when there is NOTHING, but really nothing, left to say.

PS. Marwan Hamade attacked the communiqué in question on the same point and others (in French, link valid one day ).