Beirut Riots: Anyone Surprised?
Some rioting, roads blocked, and implicit if not explicit threats to people going to work and opposed to the strike.
2 dead, 50 wounded so far, and roads to the airport and other vital centers are blocked with the army looking on, idly.
Meanwhile, trucks flying Hizbullah flags unloaded tons of debris, dirt and stones in at least 12 spots along the highway leading to Rafik Hariri International airport as army troops watched without trying to prevent them.Is anyone surprised?
I mean besides Milquetoast Seniora and his hapless government, and besides the army and its hapless head aspiring-presidential-puppet General Michel Sleimane. These are the very same people who told us that the roads, specifically the airport’s, would be kept open by the authorities and the army.
Check the army’s web site and the latest 2 headlines are: Army Commander meets US Ambassador Feltman, and Army Commander meets the Skiing Federation.
And please don’t bother asking me “What do you want Seniora or the government to do?” At this point, I don’t want them nor expect them to do anything other than crap in their pants which, by the way, would be an improvement.
What they SHOULD do is another story and that is to take the initiative on so many fronts: political, economic, media, security etc
Very simple example: don’t say we guarantee open roads when you can’t. Say BEFORE the fact and BEFORE the demonstrators are in the street that the army is ALREADY positioned with ORDERS to shoot anyone trying to block the road. Like that, you get your opponents to hesitate and to be saddled with the responsibility should anything bad happen.
But of course when you (Seniora and government) have spent the last 2 years explicitly stating that you would NOT use force, not even against non-Lebanese criminals (Naameh, Taamir, Syrian border etc), why should any law-breaking Lebanese fear the authorities?
In Taamir, near Saida, where fundamentalist criminal thugs are challenging the army AND terrorizing the locals AND are hated by Hezbollah AND action had been cautioned unanimously by the dialogue table participants: we still cannot get the army to secure the area and signal that the sovereignty of the state and its laws are no joke.
If you can’t take on criminal foreign thugs who have zippo constituency in the country, how are you going to take on Hezbollah or anyone really?
Saniora said the general strike called by the opposition has developed into "provocations that went beyond all limits."If you, the government and legal authorities, don’t set limits, which you have not, people will not stop bullying the country and trampling on its laws. Schoolyard children know that. The opposition has been pushing Seniora and his government from day one of these demonstrations. The sit-in/occupation of downtown is illegal. Everyone knows that and nothing was done.
(To those often misled by my blogger pic, I am not saying everything needs to be answered by force. However force, thuggish behavior, and roadblocks do.)
We also get:
He [Seniora] urged for "quick treatment that would take differences away from the street to be discussed within the framework of legitimate institutions, topped by the parliament."
In the propaganda war, people don’t respond to crap like that “dialogue” and “Paris III”. You have to put concrete proposals on the table to show that the other side is intransigent and to try to squeeze them politically.
You also try to de-legitimize their position and put them on the defensive. Walid Jumblatt/Joumblatt is doing that but it’s not enough. It needs to be hammered by political leaders of all stripes. The gloves are off. Even the Maronite Patriarch, the business community and intellectuals need to understand that it is way, way, beyond late in the game.
The failure of parliament to meet should be used as a propaganda club to beat Nabih Berri on the head day-in-and day out and shame him into retreat (though that may be a lost cause).
Sorry government guys, but when you did not act in Naameh and Taamir and when Mohamed Ismail, the army topographer, was shot dead near the Syrian border, your fecklessness was a clear sign to your enemies to ignore you and disrespect you. And it was a sign to the rest of the country to distrust you.
Same with the judiciary. The fools who could not (or would not) extradite major witness-criminal Rana Koleilat (now jail-free in Brazil) are going to give us justice, on Hariri and all other matters? The same justice-fools who are working still today on the 25-year old Bashir Gemayel assassination? I think not.