Wednesday, November 22, 2006

murder of a minister

Fisk in the Independent

Why did Gemayel die just hours after Syria announced the
restoration of diplomatic relations with Iraq after a quarter of a century? Why
has Nasrallah threatened street demonstrations in Beirut to bring down the
government when Siniora's cabinet had just accepted the UN's tribunal to try
Hariri's assassins?
And why did America's UN ambassador, John Bolton, weep
crocodile tears for Lebanon's democracy - which he cared so little about when
Israel smashed into Lebanon this summer - without mentioning Syria?
All this,
of course, takes place as thousands of Western troops pour into Lebanon to shore
up the UN force in the south of the country: UN troops who are supposed to
protect Israel (which they cannot do) and disarm Hizbollah (which they will not
do) and who are already being threatened by al-Qa'ida.
No wonder the
Europeans, whose armoured Nato forces now lie trapped in the south of the
country, are so fearful. No wonder the Foreign Office has been telling Britons
to stay away. No wonder Tony Blair - as discredited in the Middle East as he is
in Britain - has been demanding an inquiry into Gemayel's assassination,
something he will not get.
Hypocrisy isn't the word for it, though recent
history provides all the clues. When Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers and
killed three on 12 July, Israel bombed Lebanon for 34 days, slaughtered more
than a thousand civilians and caused billions of dollars of damage. It blamed
Siniora's government and Mr Bolton and his fellow American diplomats did nothing
to help the hapless prime minister. President George Bush wanted Israel to
destroy Hizbollah - which they totally failed to do - as a warning to his latest
Middle East target, which just happens to be Hizbollah's principal supporter,
Iran. So much for Lebanese democracy. Even Mr Blair, so anxious about Lebanon
yesterday, saw no reason for an immediate ceasefire.


It's also important to remember at a time when the mainstream medai-including the BBC- will be making sweeping generalisations, that religion is but an excuse for political-dare I say diplomatic-power games. Indeed, Hizbollah is Shia and Shia politicians in Lebanon tend to support Syria whereas Sunni politicians don't. However, many Shias despise Nasrallah and his band of merry men. On the other hand several Maronite (Christian) politicians have supported Syria as is the case of the current Lebanese president. Furthermore, while Syria's president is Alawite (a branch of Shia Islam), the majority of Syrians are Sunnis. Al Qa'ida, which no doubt thinks a lot of good of Hizbollah's defiant attitude regarding Israel is Sunni. Going back to the Maronites, while one would think they despise Muslims, I can say from personal experience (Lebanese acquaintances) this is not the case. Not only that, but manyLebanese Christians are highly critical of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians (even if they didn't necessarily have much love for Arafat), and many Christians in Lebanon called to support Hizbollah in it's fight against Israel this summer (even if they usually despise the militant group).
This merely goes to show, that we should never take what the mainstream media tell us about any situation, and all the more in the Middle East, at face value. Religion is the mask that hides the reality of power struggles. It is convenient for those with the most power to have us believe, that it is all to do with a clas of civilisations or a barbaric war among sects.

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