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

Monday, August 27, 2007

Nahr El Bared: ENOUGH!

The army has lost 150 soldiers since the Nahr el Bared war with Fateh el Islam started three months ago.

Last Friday, the last civilians, mostly relatives of the criminals fighting inside the camp were evacuated. Following that very evacuation, the army lost at least another FIVE soldiers over the weekend (L’Orient- Le Jour, August 27, 2007).

I fail to see the humanitarian point this late in the game, other than as a PR mini-coup for General Michel Sleimane/Suleiman and perhaps for this stupid Seniora government that still worries about minutiae.

The army had previously, and more than once, I believe, allowed the wounded and civilians to be evacuated. Every time we saw the Fatah el Islam thugs regroup and kill more soldiers minutes later.

After every evacuation we hear from the army: this is it, only the die-hards are left, the end is near.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I saw:

Lebanon militants request evacuation of wounded

I read the Reuters headline a few times and thought: nah, gotta to be an old headline. No, It’s from Sunday August 26. After the “last” civilians evacuation and, while they are still killing soldiers, these freaks are asking for their wounded to be let go.

Saving “civilians” and wounded criminals may be compassionate and may give you the moral high ground in the first few days of a conflict. After that, all you are doing is helping the people killing you do their ghastly business, by not having to worry about their families and their wounded.

It’s not compassion anymore. It is verging on criminal stupidity. You, government and army command, are further endangering the nation by drawing out this war and keeping talks and contacts open forever. Your first duty is to protect YOUR citizens and YOUR soldiers who also have relatives you know.

I don't claim to know more than people on the ground do. However I believe that someone in position of authority ought to explain to the nation how is it that multiple evacuations and multiple ultimatums are NOT endangering our soldiers lives? Especially when the army is losing brave soldiers daily and when its casualties are higher now, with only 70 thugs left in the camp, than when this conflict first began?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nabih Berri Does Not Exist

Walid Joumblatt: I think Nabih Berri doesn’t exist.

Ouuuch!!! That’s got to be the mother of all political zingers.

That is what Walid Joumblatt/Jumblatt told L’Orient Le Jour in a lengthy interview (August 23, 2007, French, link good one day, parts in English here).

Joumblatt went on to say: Berri is a mailbox serving Hezbollah and the Syrian regime. Good God! I despise Nabih Berri but even I feel sorry for the guy (OK, not really).

In the lengthy interview Joumblatt shows everyone how the game is played. Joumblatt runs circles around PM Seniora/Saniora, Sfeir and most of the others lamoes who have given away the game before it even began.

Among other things Joumblatt very strongly says that a president SHALL be elected before November 24; 2/3 quorum or not, and whether Berri opens the parliament building or not. All legal in Joumblatt’s opinion (and I agree).

You cannot enter, let alone win, a battle against determined and ruthless opponents by giving in to their every whim, and playing dead. You have to keep them on their toes which Joumblatt does, among other things by saying "Syrian and Iranian lackeys" every time he mentions Hezbo and by keeping his options open.

On the election, Joumblatt is very clear: none of that Sfeir constitution-lite baloney: 2/3 MPs present is great but not required by law. Furthermore, EVEN if you think there’s a question mark about that subject, you still keep the question mark alive until the very last moment (look at Lahoud playing his lousy 2 governments card).

You don’t say to your opponents: well, if you boycott the elections we will be stuck so "please give us a 'consensus' prez". You would be handing them a free card and defeating yourself.

Anyway, here’s Berri’s response to Joumblatt’s words:

"The parliament speaker has the honor to be a mail box for the resistance that he was the first to establish,"

When people like Berri start talking about honor you know that crap is coming.

OK pompous Mr. Speaker, you say that you are a Hezbollah mailbox. So why the hell do you belong to, and head, a different party?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Prez Michel Suleiman: And So It Begins

Deus ex machina.

After years of crisis and tension: the embassies do some voodoo, the Maronite Patriarch meets Army Chief General Suleiman, Suleiman makes a “bold” statement. Voila.

While poor Gen. Paul Fares (?) and hapless personality-challenged MPs Robert Ghanem and Boutros Harb etc are dusting up their resumes to run for president of Lebanon, the choice has been made for us and them, or so it seems.

The powers-that-be have decided General Michel Suleiman/Sleiman will be the next president of Lebanon. OK Lebanese, the goose is cooked. The Maronite Patriarch seems to have made another huge blunder but who’s counting. Most Lebanese will grumble while the rest will say those dangerous words: “this time, it’s different” (from Lahoud and Aoun).

General Suleiman the man who, weeks ago, scared us by saying he would resign his post in case of vacancy at the head of the state, now says he was misquoted and that of course he would see the nation through the storm.

This blogger is not necessarily anti-Suleiman though Suleiman’s Syrian-sponsored appointment as army chief years ago is a huge question mark, as is the fact that his sister lives in Damascus. I’ll try to return to the man when we know more. For now, the process, the need to change the constitution, the Aoun/Lahoud precedents all add to mounting concerns.

From the Daily Star:

Army Commander General Michel Suleiman has indicated he would accept to head a transitional government in the event MPs are unable to choose the next president before the end of President Emile Lahoud's term in office in November, provided all sides accept his nomination.
"Is it reasonable for me to abandon this ship while it is being lashed by high waves from all sides?" Suleiman asked, adding: "At any rate I am a public employee and I am subject to the Constitution..."

So far so good, that’s much better than his recent threat to bail out in case of a constitutional crisis.

What’s “less good” is when he says:
…he would remain at the head of the armed forces until a new president is elected and a new government is formed and he is satisfied with the security situation in the country.
No, when a new president is elected and a new government formed, they can fire you, General Suleiman, whenever they want.

What is far worse is that the apparent originator of the “idea” is ex-MP and ex-Minister Albert Mansour who, when the Syrians were under pressure to leave Lebanon in 2005, said: we would rather lose with Syria than win with Israel and the US.

So today Albert Mansour says:
"Such a [transitional and Maronite led] government would be in keeping with established practice, which is for a president to hand over power to a Maronite prime minister, it happened twice before,**"
What hypocrite Mansour forgets to tell you is that he fought the legal government of Aoun in the 1980’s as defense minister in the rival Hoss government. He was the defense minister when Syrian soldiers deposed Aoun.

And, since in Lebanon everyone is free to read one’s fantasies in the constitution:
Mansour said being appointed prime minister of a transitional government would allow Suleiman to bypass constitutional requirements that prevent grade-one civil servants like Suleiman from being elected to the presidency while still in their post or within two years of their resignation.
The law says that the army chief has to have been out of his job for TWO years before he can be elected president. Making him PM for a few days does not change anything, unless Mansour has in mind TWO years-plus of PM Suleiman. The Sunni community will be elated to hear that.

Furthermore you have to wonder why is Mansour talking about that? Why not amend the law and elect Suleiman now? Why can’t we have an election within the legal time frame (prior to November 13, 2007)? Is there a reason the MPs cannot meet and do their duty?

The answer is: yes. It seems that 1/3 or more MPs are unwilling to do their job. But in Lebanon, no one wants to talk about that. They don’t want to do their job? We'll just break the country some more, and destroy the (bad) constitution a little further. Bur never ever ask why our MPs, supposed guardians of the nation, are the worst possible law-breakers and duty-shirkers.

Further in the article:
Suleiman hoped political leaders in the country would go back to applying the "spirit and text" of the Taef Accord…
OK, General Suleiman, I hope you are a man of your word and I am keeping my fingers crossed. The “spirit and text” of Taef say you cannot be president in 2007.


** Fuad Chehab and Michel Aoun in the 50’s and 80’s.respectively.