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

Saturday, September 09, 2006

What's Wrong with this Picture?

From Naharnet:

Italian PM Prodi: Assad to Allow EU Troops on Lebanese Border

Syrian President Bashar Assad has agreed to allow European troops to enforce an arms embargo along the border between his country and Lebanon, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi announced Saturday.

"The Syrian president has welcomed my proposal to send border guards from the European Union to control the passage of weapons between Syria and Lebanon," Prodi said in the southern Italian city of Bari.

These border guards "will not be armed and will not be in uniform but will have all the necessary equipment to control the passage of weapons toward southern Lebanon," said Prodi, who had spoken with the Syrian president by telephone.(AFP)

Other than the fact that Lebanon should be free to do whatever it wants on ITS side of the border without Syrian approval,

Other than the fact that Syria's Assad rejects or minds Lebanese army deployment on OUR side of the border, but now seems to accept some kind of Italian presence,

Other than the fact that, again, UN controllers will be running around with cameras and notebooks instead of guns to deal with thugs (better than nothing, Le Figaro says 500 Italians),

Did everyone, including Prodi, forget that Syria is a totalitarian state where three Mukhabarat types follow every denizen 24/7, even to the bathroom?

Do we need to talk about the BORDER with Assad when Russian/Chinese/Iranian HEAVY weapons enter Syria's tightly controlled borders and airports and make their way to the Lebanese border?

Does that happen just like that with no knowledge (not to say plan) on the part of the Syrian government?

Will the stupid games ever stop?


  • At 9/9/06, 12:41 PM, Blogger Lazarus said…

    no, i don't think these stupid games will ever stop, until some of the lebanese leaders know how to counteract these games constructively.

  • At 9/9/06, 1:26 PM, Blogger Wil said…

    Same question, same answer: no.

  • At 9/9/06, 7:02 PM, Blogger Mohamad said…

    Exeunt On-line Journal of Political and Social Commentary
    from the Middle East to Launch in FALL 2006

    Submission guidelines at http://thethinkingleb.blogspot.com or http://exeuntblog.blogspot.com

    We are currently seeking volunteer writers and photographers to help launch our new publication and help build a free and democratic press in the Middle East

    Exeunt is a fresh and unique political on-line Journal being launched by Lebanese and Canadians in November 2006. Headquartered in Beirut, Vancouver, London, New York, Italy and anywhere else contributors may lurk, Exeuntis a weekly on-line publication looking to form opinions, influence minds and to examine and debate the most pressing political and social issues from Middle East and throughout the World today. Can we offer something better? Can we approach one another, as people in the midst of it all, in an intelligent way in hopes of avoiding the repetition of a cruel history?Exeunt exclaims that the answer to this question is "yes, we can."

    Exeunt's name is Latin for "Exit" ("Makhraj" in Arabic). In Shakespeare's plays the names of characters exiting a scene are always preceded by the word " Exeunt", representing the end of a scene, and the beginning of a new round of dialogue influencing and changing the unfolding of future events. This, in a nutshell captures the spirit of Exeunt. Our mission is to 'EXIT' and stray from the discourse of the status-quo in the Middle East. We want people engaging and informing one with their own unique perspectives and with new solutions in mind. No agendas except one: Just, smart, fair and fresh coverage with aims to objectively examine how foreign policy detracts from or enhances the human experience politically and socially.

    Write for us!

    In preparation for our launch, we are encouraging writing and photography submissions. You don't have to be an experienced/professional writer or a photographer, all you need are your ideas, unique perspectives and an engaging and intelligent way of presenting them to readers! Exeunt is essentially open to anyone. Also encourage friends, family or colleagues if you think they can make a healthy contribution. This is also a chance to get some exposure if you are an aspiring writer or looking to build your portfolio.

    We encourage you, or to inspire people you know, to get involved and help Exeunt become a success and our publication to grow in hopes of continuing to build on an increasingly free and democratic press in the Middle East and abroad.

    Thanks for reading,

    Mohamad El Masri
    Exeunt Editorial Board

  • At 9/9/06, 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Don't get too optimistic JW:

    "Syria denied reports on Saturday that President Bashar Assad has agreed to deployment of European guards on its border with Lebanon, Syria's official news agency reported.

    "The reports by some news agencies that Syria has accepted that European border guards monitor the Lebanese-Syrian borders are not true," the Syrian Arab News Agency reported."

    You want to look like a fool? Just go and try to talk to Fashar.

  • At 9/10/06, 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Italians are so eager to be seen as playing an important role that they have allowed Bashar to deceive them just as he had deceived the Spanish a few months ago.

    As many have suggested before, including the French president Lebanon must learn to behave as if it is an island. Once that adaptation is done then Lebanon will at least become free from the Syrian dictator's threats to close the land borders.

    Lebanon has no choice but to do what is right and it must patrol its side of the borders irrespective of what Bashar might or might not do. PM Siniora must tell Damascus in no uncertain terms that what Lebanon does on its side of the borders is not Syrias concern. Will he ever do that? Can pigs fly?

  • At 9/10/06, 3:09 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    The syrians established a sort of routine here. They apparently promise something to naive(stupid?) european FMs, let them proudly claim their diplomatic achievements in the media and in a few hours embarass them by repudiating everything.

    As far as i remember spanish Moratinos has been one before Prodi to fall into this trap. When i read about Prodi i immediately knew whats going to happen because the syrians never change and the europeans apparently neither.

  • At 9/11/06, 12:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How right you are. Does Lebanon need Assad's consent to what it does within it's borders. Prodi is a European fool. He thinks he deals with Sweden, or Switzerland.

    Prodi: Unarmed EU staff in civilian clothes should monitor Lebanon border

    Published: 09.10.06, 19:30

    The plan to deploy unarmed Eurpean Union staff to help Syrian troops monitor the Lebanon border will build confidence and transparency in a volatile region, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Sunday.

    Prodi said he and Syrian President Bashar Assad have agreed on "A European Union joint effort to aid and to train Syrian troops controlling the border between Lebanon and Syria." (Associated Press)

    The Idiot FATFAT in charge of airport security to prevent smuggling off weapons- what do you expect?

    Al-Seyassah on Sunday (10 September) quoted Druze sources close to the Assad regime as saying that the Syrian military intelligence’s Lebanon branch is training Jihadist fighters from Syria, Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia to carry out terrorist operations against UNIFIL, and to “create military confrontations between Sunnis and Shias in Lebanon as in Iraq”.

    The paper said that the Assad regime has established a close relationship with several Sunni Islamists organizations in Lebanon close to Bin Laden, and that “their primary mission has been over the past three years to train fighters and send them to Iraq via Syria.”

    The former head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, Rustom Ghazale, is heading these efforts. According to al-Seyassah, Lebanese security sources didn’t put it past the Assad regime to resort to blowing up UNIFIL targets, especially after Assad’s repeated “warnings” of al-Qaeda operatives sneaking into Lebanon.

    Al-Seyassah had published a report on Saturday claiming that France threatened to use force against Syria should its forces be subject to terrorist attacks.

    Finally, the paper disturbingly reported that UNIFIL is worried that all major Lebanese security agencies, including airport security, the army, the internal security forces and intelligence agencies have not changed since the Syrian era. The Siniora government has not been able to change a single person, and these agencies are still infiltrated by Syrian intelligence, Hizbullah and Nabih Berri’s Amal, who have facilitated the transfer of money and weapons to Hizbullah through the Lebanese ports and airports. Syrian intelligence, the paper reports citing Lebanese security sources, still receives passenger manifest information of all flights departing from and arriving at the Beirut international airport. Interior minister Ahmad Fatfat is quoted as acknowledging that his ministry is still “unable to create a unified security apparatus, especially for the airport.”

  • At 9/11/06, 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Assad found a way to smuggle weapons and agents into Lebanon under the guise of construction personnel and move trucks of building materials hiding weapons and ammunition, that no one is going to check. He did not ask permission from the Lebanese government. He just INFORMED them.

    President Assad gives directions to rebuild three Lebanese towns
    Sunday, September 03, 2006 - 07:00 PM

    DAMASCUS, (SANA- Syrian News Agency) - President Bashar al-Assad gives
    directions to the concerned parties Sunday to rebuild three Lebanese towns,
    Qana, Sidqein and al-Qulila in a step to support the brotherly Lebanese
    people's steadfastness and to contribute in canceling the Israeli barbarian
    aggressions' aftereffects on Lebanon.

    The Lebanese National News Agency said that Speaker of the Lebanese
    parliament Nabeih Berri and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad al-Siniora were
    informed about the Syrian decision of rebuilding the three Lebanese towns.

  • At 9/11/06, 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please read:


  • At 9/11/06, 1:25 PM, Blogger Fearless said…

    The French Fraud (the FF)

    As everyone knows France was behind Security Council Resolution 1701 that brought about the cease fire in Lebanon. A French demand from day one of the war.
    To coax Israel to accept the cease fire the French talked about 15 000 soldiers with a "robust mission" to differentiate it from the utterly useless UNIFIL. When it came to send the forces the French took a marche arriere. The cease fire was already established so they could go back on their declarations. They sent, finally, 239 soldiers all of them from the Second Foreign Regiment engineering corps whose declared mission was " to rebuild: bridges, roads, and restore electricity." Not a word about taking up positions south of the Litani or disarming Hizballah. What did the soldiers set out to do? They had built a Bailey bridge on the Damour River, even before inspections for arms smuggling were put in place. The French proposed draft resolution was a fraud from day one. Then, to remove the aerial and sea blockade imposed by Israel they have sent 2 navy ships with explicit orders NOT to interfere with ships carrying arms. Their mission was qualified as to inform the Lebanese authorities after the smuggling takes place. They were not given any 'coercive" power. The mission is defined as "to assist the Lebanese authorities" in the surveillance of the coast. Another provision was made to nullify its effectiveness: they will "remain under French command". Not UN, not Italian or German or whoever conducts the naval operations. We all know what that means. Two frigates: Cassard and Moncalm were assigned to patrol only within Lebanese territorial waters, 6-12 nautical miles from the coast. Too late to intercept anyone determined to smuggle arms and race at a 30 knots speed and more. Even this on a temporary basis until the German navy arrives.

    Under international pressure France has later agreed to send 2000, but not until they realized that Italy has outdone them. This was unpardonable as far as French pride was concerned. Some of these soldiers arrived in Bint Jbeil only this week

  • At 9/11/06, 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Has Lebanon got any future ( Apparently not I did not see Lebanon in Star Wars)

    By now it should be painfully obvious that the recent Israel-Hizbullah war was as much about the identity of Lebanon as it was about Hizbullah’s dispute with Israel. Hizbullah’s attack was double-pronged; it wanted to hit Israel hard while mounting what was tantamount to a coup d'état in Lebanon. Hizbullah wanted to kill Israelis and gain the release of other Arabs who have killed Israelis, but it also wanted to drag Lebanon back into the Arab-Islamic mire of jihad, martyrdom, and genocidal fantasies about killing all the Jews. Hizbullah wants Lebanon to remain a front-line state in the never-ending Arab-Islamic war against Israel. Indeed, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrullah asserted in no uncertain terms that "Hizbullah is fighting a war on behalf of the [Islamic] umma, whether the Lebanese like it or not."

    Of course, this is not the first time Lebanon is faced with a violent movement that views the country in purely exploitative terms; in the 1970s, the Palestine "revolution" was based here, arrogantly insisting that Lebanon's "duty" was to be a staging area for Palestinian attacks against Israel. It is tragic that in both instances, the Lebanese state could not bring itself to clamp down on the troublemakers, and it took an Israeli invasion to precipitate talk of the inevitable.

    Fortunately, some people understand what this is all about. Like most Lebanese politicians, Walid Junblatt is a shameless opportunist, switching sides every so often to stay in the game. Yet occasionally, Junblatt will make a surprisingly perspicacious remark. A few years ago, he declared that Lebanon had to decide whether it wanted to be the Hanoi or the Hong Kong of the Middle East. Hanoi refers to the North Vietnamese city which Vietcong rebels used as a staging ground for attacks on US-backed South Vietnam, thereby inviting massive US retaliation which devastated the city several times, while Hong Kong refers to one of the East Asian "Tigers," a tiny territory which became ridiculously wealthy by concentrating solely on developing its economy.

    Though it was unclear whether someone like Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar, one of many who dismissed Junblatt’s statement out-of-hand, understood the analogy when he rather endearingly countered that "Lebanon is neither Hanoi nor Hong Kong; Lebanon is Lebanon," Junblatt’s observation is as true today as it was then. Hizbullah not only wants Lebanon to remain the Hanoi of the Middle East—a launching pad for anti-Israel attacks, a miserable no-man’s-land fated to never break free of the vicious cycle of Arab-Israeli violence—but it is opposed to the cultural transformation that has long been underway in the country.

    Make no mistake; Hizbullah wants to halt the Westernization of Lebanon. When Hizbullah members and supporters were offended by a depiction of Hassan Nasrullah on a well-known LBC comedy show, they descended en masse on Achrafieh’s trendy Monot Street. Lined with bars and nightclubs, Monot is the antithesis of proper Islamic values. Though the hooligans were halted in their tracks by alert security forces, their choice of target was quite telling.

    Indeed, Hizbullah doesn’t want alcohol, unveiled women, sexual freedom, civil marriage, secularism, peace with Israel, and friendly ties with the US/Great Satan. Hizbullah openly aspires to a Shiite Islamic state on the Iranian Wilayat al-Faqih model (its opening communiqué in 1982 openly called on all Christians to convert to Islam). Yes, it is more "moderate" than other Islamic organizations in that—up till now—it has not used violence to achieve its aims, and promises that it will wait until a clear majority of Lebanese want an Islamic state before making a move in that direction. And yes, it has softened much of its sectarian rhetoric and its opposition to a unique Lebanese identity; in the 1980s, during the civil war, reports cited Hizbullah demonstrators as burning the Lebanese flag alongside the Israeli flag, but in the 1990s, all such reports ceased as the Lebanese flag began to be treated with reverence.

    Yet the party’s ultimate goals remain unchanged. And now Hizbullah has made that initial move toward keeping Lebanon firmly within the Arab-Islamic orbit. We may not be witnessing the Islamization of Lebanon, but we are witnessing the start of an open struggle between those who want Lebanon to sink ever deeper into the Arab-Islamic rot, and those who want it to emulate the West. Culturally, post-civil war Lebanon was becoming too lax and permissive for Hizbullah. Politically, it was becoming too opposed to Syria, Hizbullah’s ally and lifeline to Iran. Nasrullah and cohorts evidently hope that their latest not-so-diplomatic démarche will effectively pull the reins on a westward galloping Lebanon.

    They have their work cut out for them. Aside from Hizbullah (and its resistance-intoxicated lackeys among other sectors of the populace), most Lebanese do not long for "jihad" and "martyrdom," and most do not thirst for Jewish blood. In this Arab country, most people do not fantasize about "liberating" Palestine, and many would not be averse to a peace agreement with Israel. And despite what is being broadcast on the Arab satellite channels, most Lebanese mothers do not wish to "offer" their children as a sacrifice on the altar of the great jihad against the "Zionist entity." It’s too bad that these Lebanese—the majority—often aren’t deemed suitable enough to be interviewed by the jingoistic Arab media.

    Most Lebanese cringe at the totalitarian ideologies of Arab and Syrian nationalism, communism, and political Islam. Most Lebanese, Christian and Muslim, do not seek the establishment of an Islamic state, and many openly aspire to a Western secular and liberal model of governance at variance with the totalitarian ideologies that hold sway in the Middle East. It is thanks to them that Lebanon has never been captured by the Baath, Nasserists, Palestinian resistance, SSNP, Communists, Sunni Islamists, Hizbullah, or any other totalitarian political party of the kind that came to power in virtually every single other Arab country. Yet radical Islam has now made its first bid for Lebanon. Will the Lebanese stand up to Hizbullah, or keep silent in deference to its role as the much-vaunted "resistance"? The immediate future of Lebanon will likely be determined by this decision.

  • At 9/11/06, 3:39 PM, Blogger Charles Malik said…

    Unarmed guards?!?!?

    Maybe we need some Lebanese Minute Men. Oh, wait. In the Lebanese context, that would be a militia, and they would face bullets from both sides.

    Oh, yeah. And the UN would never allow a private citizen to try to protect his own land.

  • At 9/12/06, 8:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Replacing the ineffective UNIFIL with another international
    force, albeit one "more robust" and better equipped. The hope that such an
    international contingent could assure the demilitarization of Southern
    Lebanon and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the Hizballah in
    accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701 - is totally unfounded.

    It is clear already that even the European troops participating in the "new"
    UNIFIL have no intention of using their weapons to implement the resolution.
    Indeed, UN secretary general Kofi Annan has advocated "flexibility" in the
    deployment of UNIFIL along the Syria-Lebanon border, meaning that UNIFIL
    will not bother the Hizballah.

    This dangerously naive new faith in the UN - a morally bankrupt and totally
    ineffective institution.

  • At 9/13/06, 4:57 PM, Blogger JoseyWales said…

    Hamid/Americano/Fearless etc,

    Your visits are appreciated, as are SHORT ORIGINAL comments. Cut-and-past, long articles, and duplicates are not.

    Also, if possible, please stick to one name (or two).


  • At 9/13/06, 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    From Reuters:
    UK minister: Weak chance Iran will stop supporting Hizbullah

    Published: 09.13.06, 17:21

    Britain has little confidence that Iran will stop providing military and financial support to Hizbullah soon, if at all, a British government minister said on Wednesday.
    Kim Howells, foreign office minister for the Middle East, said he had no doubt Iran was supplying Hizbullah with missiles, guns and money, via Syria (Reuters).

  • At 9/15/06, 9:16 AM, Blogger Fearless said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9/15/06, 11:36 AM, Blogger Fearless said…

    Do you want to laugh? the latest from Syria:

    Syria Says US Behind Attack On Own Embassy

    September 13, 2006
    Senior Syrian government official have accused
    the US of being behind Tuesday's assault on its own embassy in downtown

    A Baath party official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told
    WorldNetDaily, "We in the government are 100 percent sure America was
    behind this attack, which is not the same as other attacks by Islamic

    He explained, "Only the Americans can succeed in carrying out an attack
    just 200 meters from President [Bashar] Assad's residence in the most
    heavily guarded section of Syria."

    The official charged that Washington had orchestrated the attack to "prove
    Syria is filled with terrorists and to put us in a weak position" in order
    to extract political concessions. Following the attack, Bush
    administration officials said they hoped the incident had convinced
    Damascus of the dangers of Islamic terror and the need to cooperate with
    the West against the phenomenon.

  • At 9/18/06, 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 9/19/06, 6:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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