Monday, October 23, 2006


By Walid Phares

Published by George Mason University's History News Network HNN.

It seems that the US is having a hard time winning the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims, but an equally serious problem can be observed in the intellectual circles of America where some have had a difficulty coming to terms with the terminology of the War of Ideas. If the educated elite of the United States is incapable of identifying the ideology and the strategy of the Jihadists five years after 9/11, we not only have a problem with handling the War in Iraq, but also with the future of American national security as a whole.

An article published in Newsweek magazine on October 13, 2006 illustrates this problem. Entitled “Caliwho?” it asks why President Bush has raised the issue of an Islamic Caliphate. Lisa Miller and Matthew Philips, co-authors of the piece, begin by defining the term, “Caliphate” as a “fifty-cent word” posing a question of why a U.S President would use it four times in one speech. At first read, I thought the Newsweek journalists were lamenting the delay with which the chief executive of the nation has finally begun using this term - half a decade after September 11, and fifteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After all, has not the American public demanded that the US Administration and Congress take steps toward “informing” the nation about the enemy, its ideology, and its future goals? Since one of the most important objectives of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Salafi Jihadi networks around the world has been the re-establishment of a Caliphate - incorporating in it all Arab and Muslim states – one can only express relief that the term “Caliphate” has finally entered the President’s speeches.

However, as I continued to read further, I realized that the authors of the Newsweek article were putting forth quite a different view. They seemed to be appalled by the fact that the President “dared” to mention the “word” Caliphate and spoke of the Jihadists’ attempt to “extend the Caliphate, establish the Caliphate and spread the Caliphate.” Miller and Philips, writing with the certitude of Middle East Studies expertise, reminded their readers, oddly, that “many people (in the US) live long without using the word Caliphate” suggesting the uselessness of the President’s vocabulary.

Precisely this absence of understanding of the term Caliphate was the problem in the 1990s. During that decade, most instructors in American classrooms unfortunately succeeded at “dis-educating” the nation about the nature of the enemy by simply leaving out the term “Caliphate” of the curricula for Middle East Studies classes. If American students, many of whom would end up being recruited to newsrooms, have never heard about the Caliphate, Salafism, Wahabism or Khomeinism - let alone Jihadism – then the US was inevitably headed for a big trouble.

If in 1941, one would not know what “Reich” meant in the Nazi rhetoric, one would not be blaming those who would be helping others to understand it, but rather those who concealed the meaning from others in the years prior to the rise of Hitler. Since it has turned out that Americans were not properly educated by their Middle East Studies experts prior to 9/11, it is these academic and intellectual elites that should be put on the spot and questioned about their motivation to massage – for decades - Islamic history to make it more palatable to Western audiences. Why are the Newsweek authors blaming US government officials for taking up the task of teaching the nation about the true nature of the enemy when those charged with the task have obviously failed to do so?

Authors Miller and Philips continue further in misleading their readers. They blame the President for using a “pejorative” tone when referring to the “Caliphate” suggesting that the term is quasi-sacred and should be used with near-reverence. The authors treat the term as if it denoted a mere historical period and not an aggressive political project of the Jihadists of the 21st century. The term “Caliphate”, with all its linguistic and doctrinal derivatives in today’s Salafi terminology, is as charged and politicized as the “Third Reich” was to the National-Socialists during WWII. The “Caliphate” epitomizes all that the Jihadists are preparing for, working towards, and killing for. This word IS at the center of the War with Terrorism – it is not an obscure academic word as Miller and Philips would have us believe. The bringing back of the “Caliphate” is the chief reason why Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and Adam Gadahn have declared and waged a war against the people of the United States. Given its centrality to the Jihadist activities, the term must be treated seriously.

But Newsweek ’s investigative team is more interested in the “political” implications of such a use. Maybe it could stir some trouble overseas as the alleged Guantanamo-Koran affair did before? Or perhaps it would mobilize another campaign by the traditional (Wahabi funded) elites against educating Americans on matters “they shouldn’t know more about?” Who knows?

The article attempts to “link dots” between the use of the term “Caliphate,” and the so-called abhorred use of the terms “axis of evil,” Islamo-fascism, Islamic radicalism, militant jihadism, or what they coined as the “too jargony but more scholarly term of Islamism.” While they weren’t technically wrong on the latter, the authors implied the President is perhaps wrong or “political” when he used the more focused ones. Miller and Philips interestingly target the “people who prep him,” i.e. his speech writers, as perhaps pushing “complicating” words into the mouth of the commander in chief: in other words his advisors who probably encourage him to draw the attention of the American citizens to what the “Islamists” are up to. So, in sum, the article would suggest calling the enemy “Islamists” (the academic term) but not revealing their objectives, one of which is to establish a Caliphate. Is the Newsweek article calling on US leaders, President or congressional leaders “not” to use the term Caliphate at all, so that readers and the public at large “wouldn’t” learn what the actual Islamists “want” to do? This would be a disservice to the public and in total contradiction with the noble mission of the press.

But the matter would sound even more dramatic to Jihadism experts: For the article says “no one but students of Islamic history have much more than a vague idea of what it means.” Well, if we count on the educational system that “taught” America in the 1990s, you’d end up believing that Jihad is “spiritual yoga,” that Takfir is some Rock’n Roll Band, and that Umma is a Hollywood actress. Sure, if you count on our mostly Wahabi- funded Middle East studies programs you will get your Caliwhos and even your Caliwhats. Neither the US Congress nor the White House, let alone Homeland Security, are paid to teach students; campuses are, and handsomely. Unfortunately they did a bad job in educating their pupils, and now they are putting the blame on the graduated students.

You didn’t have to be an expert on German history or philosophy in 1940 to know what a Reich is. Nor did you have to be a specialist in Roman History and Latin to understand what fascism was. If today’s Joe and Jane Doe aren’t familiar with the term Caliphate it is because “someone” didn’t help them to make the acquaintance and that another someone is still obstructing that knowledge by alleging that this is only for the high cast of academics. While tens of thousands of Jihadists are pledging to the Caliphate before they commit to suicide bombings, beheadings and wrecking havoc in civil societies around the world, some voices (not necessarily the authors of the articles but intellectuals who are offended by popular awareness) are complaining about even “raising the issue.”

Although finding that students in Islamic studies can barely understand the Caliphate, the article yet uses a Merriam-Webster’s “dictionary” to educate readers:

A caliphate, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is the “office or dominion of a caliph”; a caliph is “a successor of Muhammad ... [the] spiritual head of Islam.”

Well, in Islam there is no such a thing as the spiritual head of Islam. One wonders how did Webster's come up with this “spiritual head of” concept other than projecting a Christian-centric concept? Prophet Mohammed, according to the Islamic faith is the last Prophet and the messenger of Allah. He didn’t organize the Caliphate before he died. His followers established this system of succession, which with time, became the head of the Islamic state, not an office for spiritual affairs. Even though the Caliphs were technically the successors to the Prophet at the head of the community, known as Umma, they were heads of Government, leviers of taxes, managers of prosperity, ultimate judges, and more importantly commanders in chief of imperial armies. Caliphs invaded countries and involved themselves in civil wars among Muslims. Dozens of Caliphs were killed in coup d’etats, putsches, battlefields, succession wars, etc. The Caliphate wasn’t just an office to interpret holy texts but it was also a real Governance and power position; the equivalent to the Papacy and Emperor rolled into one. Trivializing the institution of the Islamic Caliphate for 14 centuries just to score points against a sitting President for eight years in "infidel" America is absurd.

Then Miller and Philips go on to lecture on the Caliphate-101:

After the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 A.D., his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph. (At the heart of the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims, even today, is the question of succession: who has the right to become Islam’s caliph?) From the time of the Prophet’s death until the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, caliphs ruled over Muslims and presided over the Muslim expansion throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. These were the caliphates; some beneficent, some warmongering, in concept not unlike any other empire or dynasty.

So, the lesson from Newsweek article is that indeed the Caliphs were emperors and did wage wars. Some were benign, others harsh, as in any other empire. But that is important for average Americans to know and for Europeans to remember: Caliphs were involved in geopolitics and have declared Jihads, as did Christian emperors for centuries, on divine inspiration. Hence, Caliphs aren’t spared criticism and aren’t shielded from historical analysis and judgment because they were strictly spiritual. Besides, even if they were, Caliphs aren’t deities and the Caliphate is a very earthly thing. Along with all other offices of power in world history, the Caliphates had blood on their hands and no one can dispute that.

But what was missed by the writers was that the US President, and before him President Putin, US Congressional leaders from both parties and Arab clairvoyant leaders such as King Abdallah of Jordan and others, when they mention the Caliphate as a threatening goal, they are not playing historians. They are not talking about Caliphs Omar, Moawiya, Haroun el Rashid or Sleiman the Magnificent. Those are the Caliphs of history, not the commanders of 21st century al Qaeda. Adolph Hitler wasn’t a German emperor from the Middle Ages but he pretended he was their heir. Mussolini wasn’t Julius Cesar but he played his role. Hence when world leaders are warning about the “Caliphate” they aren’t arguing with those who died centuries ago, but resisting the extremists who want to reawaken the dark ages again, but with modern weaponry.

The article imputes rightly to Usama Bin laden the many troubling statements about “his” caliphate:

“Baghdad, the seat of the caliphate, will not fall to you, God willing,” he said, “and we will fight you as long as we carry our guns.” Bin Laden’s rhetoric evoked, as it often does, an earlier, golden era of Islam, one that exists more in his imagination than in the lawless, crumbling city of Baghdad today.”

Precisely, as I explain in my book Future Jihad, the Salafi Jihadists live in the past, borrow from the past but their bloody projects are in the present and loom over the future. When leaders, because of the mishaps of academics, respond to al Qaeda, they are sending a firm message: “This” Caliphate, which is against international law and the enemy of Muslim moderates as well, won’t be allowed to crush the international community and democracies. But our media unfortunately are not interested in a smart and vigorous response to the terrorists, but only in what can be harvested domestically in partisan “debates.” This article is telling us that Bush (or the 1990s’ Clinton for that matter) or any future President shouldn’t utter the word Caliphate, even if it has been absorbed by the modern days Jihadists and used in their mobilization campaign. As if in 1941, American Presidents would have been criticized for the use of “Third Reich” because “many centuries ago, the Reich was perceived as the German nation re-gathered.” Puzzling, isn’t it?

But the academic inquiry turns quickly into the usual political thing. They write: “Backers of the war in Iraq—Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, not to mention hawks like Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania—jumped on the word and used it in speeches dozens of times.” It is sad to see a debate about a national security, war on terror, war of ideas, history and ideology, rushed into “backers of wars, hawks, jump on word,” litany. For the Caliphate debate isn’t about Republicans and Democrats but about the victory of democracy and the survival of the Republic. It is not a partisan thing but a national defense and world security matter.

And to top it the article consults with the Islamist lobby on the issue and elevate it to the position of ex cathedra on all things Islamic. They write:

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations, says bin Laden’s word choices distort Islam for the world, and he wishes the president would take more care. When Ahmed heard “caliphate” Wednesday morning, he thought of the way Bush used the word “crusade” after September 11. “There’s a fundamental misunderstanding with the president and his advisers on core Islamic issues,” Ahmed said. “He’s getting bad advice, they’re misinformed on Islamic terminology.” Either that, or he’s making a strategic rhetorical choice.

With all due respect to the opinions and analysis of the spokesperson quoted, the question is not who has the real interpretation of the caliphate or Jihad for that matter. CAIR and al Qaeda could debate these matters at will, and one would wish to see this debate happening soon. I mean a real and open debate between the American Islamist-based group on the one hand and Adam Gadahn or Zawahiri on al Jazeera. That would be very informative, but obviously it is technically difficult since Gadahn is indicted and Zawahiri is wanted for justice, both for terror. Nevertheless it would be more academically sound to interview some pro Bin Laden Salafi Jihadi clerics on what the Caliphate they are struggling for IS, and IS slated to become when the time comes, and compare what they are saying with what Western leaders are talking about. Apples shouldn’t be mixed up with Oranges in the War of Ideas.

Tony Blair, the enemy number two of the Jihadi-terrorists after Bush, said a few weeks ago that, yes, we need a war of ideas: a campaign of intellect inside Western democracies, so that the public can be made aware of the realities of the War on Terror. He made a great point. For the Caliphate debate shows more clearly than anything, how “Caliph-strophic” the discourse is among our dominant intellectual elites.

This article was also published by World Defense Review, Family Security Matters and posted on FDD's web site.

Dr. Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy and the author of “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America.” Email:

Sunday, October 15, 2006

UNIFIL in Lebanon finally receives its rules of engagement

An Unenviable Task

The UN peace-keeping force in Lebanon finally receives its rules of engagement, to the disquiet of many Lebanese, reports Lucy Fielder, Al-Ahram


The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has expanded from 2,000 to 5,200 and is expected to triple by the end of the year, has been granted a "robust mandate", to use UN jargon. This includes authorisation to use force against "hostile activity", set up temporary checkpoints and intercept the movement of "unauthorised weapons" -- ostensibly those of Hizbullah -- if the Lebanese army is unable to do so.

"It was passed as a [UN Charter Chapter 6] peace-keeping mandate, but to make certain parties were more supportive they included items that should be under Chapter 7 peace enforcement," says Timor Goksel, a former spokesman and adviser to UNIFIL. "This is like Chapter 6.5."

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brought an uneasy calm to ravaged Lebanon and mandated the force, was passed after weeks of US and British refusals to call for a ceasefire. Many Lebanese saw the resolution as biased, supporting as it did Israel's right to "self-defence", even as it still occupied pockets of Lebanon, while Hizbullah had to "cease all military action".

UNIFIL's purpose is to support 15,000 Lebanese troops taking up positions across the south, parts of which were solely controlled by Hizbullah before the conflict. Bolstering UNIFIL was aimed partly at persuading Israel and the United States to accept a cessation of hostilities. Analysts say that in line with US-Israeli demands the force was granted a stronger mandate than many Lebanese, or indeed contributing states, wanted. "UNIFIL II" has no mandate to disarm Hizbullah, but it is expected to prevent the movement of the resistance movement's arsenal, used to keep invading forces at bay and to strike at northern Israel.

One clause gives rise to particular concern. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which has deployed five brigades in the southern areas formerly controlled solely by Hizbullah, will take action concerning the movement of unauthorised weapons, UNIFIL said. "However, in situations where the LAF are not in a position to do so, UNIFIL will do everything necessary to fulfil its mandate in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701," read a statement outlining the ground rules of UNIFIL II, issued 3 October.

Lebanese Army commander General Michel Sleiman told Al-Akhbar newspaper Friday he hoped UNIFIL's mission would be completed by next summer and sought to assuage fears about the international troops' mandate to use force. "There is no fear since the forces are there to back the Lebanese army, which is the only one with the right to issue orders in the south," he said.

Those who supported Hizbullah's resistance, meaning most of the south, already feel UNIFIL is there to protect Israel. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sparked controversy in Lebanon and appeared to confirm such perceptions when she cited Germany's historic responsibility for Israel's existence and said Germany's contingent to the UN peace-keeping presence aimed to protect it. Germany is sending battleships to patrol Lebanon's coastal waters rather than troops, seemingly to avoid any risk of confrontation with Israeli soldiers.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL's stronger mandate drew suspicion in Beirut. Speaker of parliament Nabih Berri said UNIFIL must stick to its mandate under 1701. "We, as Lebanese, are facing major problems and we don't need a new controversial issue to talk about," said Berri, whose Amal movement fought with Hizbullah during the 34-day war. "UNIFIL should abide by 1701 by helping the Lebanese army defend Lebanon's sovereignty."

UNIFIL, which was established in 1978 to confirm Israel had withdrawn after its invasion of that year, had a stronger mandate than many realised before, including the power to set up checkpoints and the right to defend itself. The force's large European contingent -- made up of German, Spanish, Italian and French troops -- may ensure that both sides treat it with caution, but it also raises the profile of the force and its mission.

An Indonesian contingent of 1,000 is expected by the end of the month. Turkey is sending engineers. Germany's warships are currently off Cyprus and are expected to patrol the coastline from mid-October. This will bring UNIFIL up to half its expected size.

To some, the south already seems a little crowded, with many southern Lebanese greeting new troops with suspicion, though not hostility. Local newspapers reported that villagers had mistaken the Spanish contingent's Hummer vehicles for Israeli ones because they were not the UN's usual white.

"They seem in some ways like a new occupying force," Issam Faris told Al-Ahram Weekly in the high, windswept border village of Maroun Al-Ras, from which Israeli troops withdrew last week. "There's a lot of them and they're dressed and armed like a normal army," he said. Goksel described heavier armour as the "show part" of being "robust".

Whether UNIFIL can do anything about Hizbullah's weapons is a moot point. Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who has long warned that any international force might deploy on Lebanese soil to protect Israel rather than as neutral monitors, said the group had replenished its weapons supply in the days immediately after the war and was now stronger than when it started on 12 July.

"Blockade and close the borders, the sea and the skies. This will neither weaken the will nor the arms of the resistance," he told the "Divine Victory" rally in Beirut on 22 September.

Analysts say Hizbullah and the Lebanese Army have an agreement that resistance fighters should keep their weapons hidden, which they can do easily, with their sophisticated underground bunker system. Fighters are invisible, simply having melted back into the villages from whence they came. Banners celebrating the victory, yellow flags, pictures of Nasrallah and bulldozers of Hizbullah's "construction jihad" engineering arm are the outward signs of the group in the south.

According to Goksel, the problem with "robust" mandates is having the political will to implement them. "Countries are not going to lose their soldiers for somebody else's war," he said. And Israel will want UNIFIL to take whatever action it can on Hizbullah's arms. "Denigration of UNIFIL by Israel will start very soon, because it will not be happy with what it is doing," he said.

Meanwhile, a UN report this week found that Israel had used a 500kg precision-guided bomb in an attack in late July that killed four UNIFIL soldiers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland while they were at their base. It said Israel struck 21 times within 300 metres of the base on the same day.

UNIFIL spokesman Alexander Ivanko said Friday that the force reported Israeli violations of Lebanese air space to the Security Council daily. On Friday alone, the Lebanese army said 12 Israeli planes flew over south, east and north Lebanon. Talks are underway for Israel to withdraw from the last pocket it occupies, the divided village of Ghajar by the Golan Heights.

Unless the international community brings pressure to bear on Israel to stop all violations of Lebanese sovereignty, the UN mission's inability to do anything except report them to the Security Council may fuel a sense of bias.

Perhaps in an effort to offset such perceptions, UNIFIL launched a public relations offensive last week emphasising the boost the force gives to the local economy. Acting Chief Administrative Officer Jean-Pierre Ducharme said in a statement UNIFIL spent about 60 per cent of its budget on procuring from local companies.

"The soldiers spend a lot of money here, they visit local attractions, eat out, travel, and this in the end helps to stimulate the economy," he said. Their visitors would also boost tourism, he added.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

President Assad's Interview to BBC

President Assad's Interview to BBC
Monday, October 09, 2006 - 10:05 PM
Interview conducted by John Simpson of the BBC


President Bashar al-Assad

on Sunday, 8 September, 2006

Mr Simpson: Mr President, welcome and thank you very much for doing this interview with us. It is a rare occasion, and you have to forgive me if some of my questions are blunt, because sometimes it is impossible to be too polite about some things. For instance, Syria has a really unenviable reputation in many countries of the West. For instance, the United States has publicly said, or American officials publicly said that Syria is a member of the axis of evil. Your country harbors people that others would regard as terrorists.

President Assad: First of all, you are most welcome in Syria. I am going to be very direct as usual. Actually, everybody care about their reputation, but we care more about reality. Reputation is matter of perception. The question is: do some in the West perceive the reality in our region as it is or as they want? The events in our region, especially after September 11 in New York, and after the invasion of Afghanistan, and especially after the invasion of Iraq proved that we were right; and maybe there is some denial by most of them to confess that they were wrong. But actually, many of those officials in the West that you have mentioned in your question revised their policies. And it was proven that they were wrong. Actually, when they accused Syria about supporting terrorism anywhere, they wanted to make Syria a scapegoat to blame it for every single mistake they make; and they absolve themselves from any responsibility.

Mr Simpson: But might it not be better not to have close links with groups such as Hizbullah and Hamas, not to have such a close alliance with Iran, not to allow weapons to go to Hizbullah, not to allow insurgents to pass into Iraq from your country?

President Assad: Some of the biggest mistakes made by the West – I know that the term West is very broad, but I have to use it because I cannot name every country – was to use labels as a base for political action. It does not matter what you label organizations or people or countries. The most important thing in politics is whether they have effect or not. As long as they are effective on the ground, among the people, you have to deal with them. And when they have the support of the people, you cannot label them as terrorist, because this way you label the people as terrorist. You cannot say this country is a terrorist country, and this people is a terrorist people. This is not objective; and that is why most of the policies undertaken by the West for the past few years toward our region have failed.

As for Hamas and Hizbullah, both are part and parcel of the Lebanese and Palestinian societies. And do not believe that there is any organization which sends its people and members to die for a third country. This is not realistic. They die when they have a cause. Do not believe that any one of them could be strong and win elections in both countries, whether to be at the helm of the government or in municipal elections when they represent only themselves or part of their society. When they win these elections, it means that they have the full support of their people, and of course the support of the people in the region. In Iraq the situation is different. We do not know which party or parties – or there might be no parties at all – take part in the resistance. In Iraq, they have two things: there is the chaos and terrorism and you have the resistance. Our public stand is that we condemn every single attack against civilians and the innocent in Iraq. Some times there are suicide bombers who kill tens and hundreds in one day. While attacking occupying forces is normal.

Mr Simpson: It is acceptable!

President Assad: Whether we accept it or not, it is normal, it is a fact. Wherever you have occupation in the region, for the last 150 years at least - we can go further back in history, but at least for the past 150 years – you have the same reaction to every occupation. The British were in Iraq at the beginning of the last century and they faced the same thing, Israel in Lebanon, Israel in Palestine, and now the British, American and other troops in Iraq. This is a normal reaction whether we accept it or not. So, it is better to accept what is normal.

Mr Simpson: ِِAre you prepared to help the people who kill British and American soldiers?

President Assad: First of all, we are against the occupation, and we warned the British and the Americans before the war that whenever you are going to win the war – and you are going to win it – you are going to ask the whole world to extricate you from this quagmire – and they are in a quagmire. Of course, if it is normal, and we have to accept the normal, of course, resistance is one of our concepts that we adopt, not against the British or the Americans in particular, but as a concept, against any occupying forces in the world. Even the UN Charter gave people the right to resist, whatever kind or resistance, whether it is military or through any other way, resistance is the right of the people. It is very normal for us to support it and adopt it.

Mr Simpson: So, you do allow insurgent to pass across the border into Iraq.

President Assad: No, this is something else, because first of all the resistance in Iraq is Iraqi resistance. It does not come from anywhere outside the border. Second, the insurgents, as we understand them, are the terrorists who go and kill the Iraqis. They try sometimes to come through the borders because, you know, terrorism has no borders. It is like the internet. It flows from place to place with no restrictions; but we tried our best and succeeded somehow in preventing many of those to go to Iraq. But, anyway, Iraq has now been transfigured into a nexus for terrorism. So, nobody can stop it. But we do not allow and we do not support them because first for the Iraqis, and second for our own interest, because if you allow terrorists to attack somewhere anywhere in the world, it would attack you later. So, how is the situation going to be if you allow it in your neighbouring countries.

Mr Simpson: Let me get this absolutely right. You understand the reasons for the insurgency, either against Israel or against the British and American forces in Iraq, but you do not help them.

President Assad: I have to be very precise about the definition. The insurgency is something against the law. We do not support it. As to resistance, we adopt it as a concept. That does not mean that you support it with money or armaments. I am talking about the political concept. We adopt it as a right. It is like when you in the West say that you adopt the human rights bill legally. That does not mean that you support it with money or you take action or whatever.

Mr Simpson: I see. But you helped Hizbullah and you allowed them to have weapons that came from Syria, did you not?

President Assad: Usually, and from our experience in the region, whenever you have resistance, you have public support. Whenever you have public support, they will be able to get arms from anywhere.

Mr Simpson: Can I just ask you: you did help Hizbullah with weapons, did you not?

President Assad: No, we helped them politically. We usually help them politically.

Mr Simpson: Are you prepared to work with the international community in preventing new weapons getting to Hizbullah in Lebanon?

President Assad: Yes, this is part of the UN resolution 1701 which we supported. So, are we going to implement part of it or the whole resolution? Was this resolution passed to help the region and to prevent another war, or was it passed just against Hizbullah? If it is going to be implemented as a whole - we said that we do not agree about all the points in it - but we are going to support it in order not to have another war. For example, there are incessant encroachments by the Israeli aircraft and troops into Lebanese airspace and territory on a daily basis. Why does not the international community interfere and talk to the Israelis about this resolution. So, it is not a matter of Hizbullah. The whole resolution should be implemented. This is how we see it.

Mr Simpson: How has the fighting in Lebanon in July and August changed things in this part of the Middle East?

President Assad: First, it did not change the position of Syria. But it changed the vision in some other countries in the world, especially the United States and some of its allies in the West. They used to think that military force is the omnipotent power and that it can solve anything. That was proved to be wrong. And it has proved a very important thing: if you do not tackle the issues politically, armies cannot do anything, no matter how strong the army is.

Mr Simpson: American officials are saying they do not think you can or will help with the peace process; and so they do not think there is any point in talking to you.

President Assad: You have to ask them on what basis they say that.

Mr Simpson: Well, I suppose they say because they feel that you are not moving towards negotiations with Israel, for instance. Are you prepared to move towards negotiations with Israel?

President Assad: If we draw an analogy with a car, it is not one car with one driver. The peace process has more than one party, and all of them have to drive in the same direction. You say in English, ‘it takes two to tango’. So, if one of the dancers is dancing tango and the other is dancing waltz but thinks that he is dancing tango, both of them will fall.

Mr Simpson: Which are you dancing? If you are favourable or you are helping, in one way or another, Israel’s enemies, it is going to be very hard to say, well we can negotiate with you openly.

President Assad: The ideal thing to achieve peace is to implement international law, UN resolutions and Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. So, the conditions to achieve peace are the international conditions. This is very simple, in order not to make it complicated. If you ask the parties, each one has its own vision, you make it complicated. Nobody will make concessions at the end. So, it is better to be committed to the international will if you talk about the will or if you talk about the vision. We are committed to this will and to this vision. Are the Israelis committed to it? This is first. Second, what is the role of the United States? It is not only the problem between the two parties. You need an impartial arbiter. This is the role of the United States. This is the supportive role of the United Nations and this is the supportive role of the Europeans. So far, the United States does not have the will to play this role and does not have the vision for peace. Of course they do not have a vision towards Iraq, they do not have a vision towards terrorism and about many other issues. But I am talking now about peace. If you go back to the very beginning, whether we can or we cannot, no, Syria by itself cannot make peace with itself. We should make it with all these factors so that we can achieve peace. Now we do not have this environment, we do not have this good climate to achieve peace.

Mr Simpson: So, now is not the time.

President Assad: It is always the time. I mean we do not have the factors. On the contrary, it is the time, especially after war. After war, you talk about peace, but that does not mean we have the environment to achieve it or to move toward it.

Mr Simpson: Some senior politicians in Israel are saying it is now time for Israel to start talking to Syria. I mean, if that were the case, if the prime minister, as opposed to some of his other ministers, were to say to you, we are ready for talks, what would your answer be then?

President Assad: Actually, I started talking about peace. So, we have to wait for their answer.

Mr Simpson: Are you waiting for an answer from them?

President Assad: As I said, it is not only them, because we do not know if this government is strong enough to move toward peace, like what happened during Barak’s term in 2000, when we went to Wye Plantation to meet with the Israelis, and you can read that in the memoirs of former US president Bill Clintion, when he mentions that the Syrians were ready to deliver, while the Israelis were not because of internal issues. So, the first question is can they and do they have the will? The other question is, as some say, the decision for peace now is not in Israel, it is in Washington. I did not only read this in the newspapers and magazines, but actually many officials in Europe and in the Arab world heard that from the Americans. If the Americans do not have the will, the Israelis cannot move without the United States. Third, as I mentioned earlier, that depends on the will and the vision of the United States.

Mr Simpson: And that is not there, you think, at the moment.

President Assad: So far, there was no dialogue, so how can we tell. We only expect, we hear from others. But can you achieve peace without making dialogue with all the parties. We cannot. How can you talk about peace and at the same time about isolation. How can you talk about peace and you adopt the doctrine of preemption, preemptive war? This contradicts 180 degrees with the concept of peace. You cannot adopt both.

Mr Simpson: One of the problems, particularly in Israel, is that people there feel absolutely certain that Syria is dedicated to wiping out Israel as a state. Your friend and ally, president Ahmadinejad of Iran has spoken about wiping Israel off the face of the globe. What do you say about that? Is that your idea as well?

President Assad: Your question is evidence that they do not read thinks very carefully. They do not read the lines and they do not read between the lines. I am not going to give you my opinion. I will give the facts. How can we ask for wiping Israel and at the same time ask for peace and negotiations. We had negotiations in the 1990s with Israel. Do you make negotiations and put peace as a goal to wipe out somebody? We talked about normal relations and all these details. This not objective.

Mr Simpson: So, would you accept that, at some future stage, no matter how long it takes, Syria and Israel could live side by side in peace and harmony accepting each other’s existence?

President Assad: Yes, the answer is yes.

Mr Simpson: No problems about that at all?

President Assad: Of course not. Why do we want to achieve peace, to have war? This is self-evident. I agree about what you said.

Mr Simpson: Down the decades, Syria’s influence in Lebanon has divided the different groups in the country, and of course most recently there was the murder of prime minister Hariri, which one UN report said could only have been carried out with the knowledge of the Syrian intelligence system.

President Assad: The assassination of Hariri has affected Syria as bad as it affected Lebanon. Hariri was a real ally of Syria. He was never against Syria. He supported Syria in many difficult positions and stands. So, there was no single convincing reason to push Syria to do such a thing.

Mr Simpson: Supposing the UN does turn up evidence that Syrian intelligence agents, for instance, who were very active in Lebanon and elsewhere, had been responsible. I know this is a hypothetical question, but would you put them on trial, would you deal with them?

President Assad: Yes, we announced that publicly. They would be prosecuted first of all in Syria. Now the question whether it is going to be an international tribunal or anything else is too early to answer. So far, our law says that whoever proves to be complicit in such an atrocity is considered a traitor, and a traitor is punished by the most sever punishment.

Mr Simpson: But forgive me, is it possible that the president would not know what the security people of his country are doing?

President Assad: This means you presume that somebody in our intelligence took part in this. We are not convinced of that.

Mr Simpson: It is what the UN report said.

President Assad: As far as we know, no Syrian is involved, whether in the state, the intelligence, or any other apparatus within or outside the state.

Mr Simpson: Syria is a difficult country for outsiders to understand. It is a very closed society. It does not exercise its affairs in public. We know very little about this country. Forgive me for asking this: are you really the man in charge, or does somebody tell you what to do?

President Assad: Of course none of this is true. I know what you mean. I am in charge of course legally. But some people in the West used to say he is not in control and somebody else is controlling him. At the same time they say he is a dictator. I answered this many times. If I am a dictator I should be very strong, and if I am not in charge I should be very weak to be a dictator. So, they have to make up their mind about this. I have my authority according to the constitution. I am fully in charge according to these authorities I have, but at the same time you have to keep consulting with the largest possible number of people regarding anything.

Mr Simpson: When you took over in 2000, people talked about the Damascus spring, that things were going to change, it was going to be possible for people to speak openly, there were going to be forms of democracy that have not been shown before. Some of those things or a few of them have happened, but for the most part Syria is still just as controlled as it was under your father.

President Assad: First of all, we did not say that reform means to loose control. It has to be under control. We need a strong state. We never thought of a weak state in Syria. It is never part of our reform and we never talked about it in Syria. For us reform is to have prosperity. Prosperity has more than one field: political, economic, cultural, social, whatever. But you have priorities: you cannot do everything at the same time, you cannot do it in a short time if we are talking about real reform. I am not talking about pro forma ones. I am talking about real reform. The most difficult problem that people suffer from is the economic situation. We are a poor country not a rich country. Wherever I go as an official I meet people and the first thing they talk about are their wages, not having a job, having good schools for their children, having medical services. Sometimes they do not have the basic things in most of the regions.

Mr Simpson: But it is your intention to open up Syrian society.

President Assad: Yes, of course. This is our interest and this is our goal.

Mr Simpson: I have got one last question to ask you: for much of your career, you were an ophthalmic surgeon in London - part of it was in London. Now, you are the president of a country which many people fear; and some people think is a ferocious dictatorship. What does it feel like to move from examining and healing people’s eyes to being in charge of a country like Syria?

President Assad: If you are a dictator, people should hate you. Do not believe that people like dictators. So, I think if you want to have the real answer, you would better ask the Syrians and they will tell you. How can you be a dictator and at the same time, as in your earlier question, I am not in charge? This is the contradiction.

Mr Simpson: Which would you prefer, though, being an ophthalmic surgeon or to be president of Syria?

President Assad: Actually, that depends on how many people you can help, or how much good work you can do for the national interest. I definitely enjoy being an ophthalmologist, but now I think whatever decision I can make is going to have a broader effect on my country.

Mr Simpson: Thank you very much in deed.

President Assad: Thank you, and thank you for coming to Syria.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Elusive unity - An age-old dilemma is at the heart of the debate on Hizbullah's weapons

Elusive unity
An age-old dilemma is at the heart of the debate on Hizbullah's weapons,

Al-Ahram Weekly
reports Lucy Fielder from Beirut
5-11 October 2006


Mohamed Kreyem's electrical parts shop is a stone's throw from the Koreitem Palace of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri, western Beirut. The former prime minister, whose assassination last year many Lebanese blamed on Hizbullah's Syrian backers, gazes sternly from a poster in the window.

So does Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, just above him. "Hizbullah is the only group working for the benefit of the country, and to rebuild the country. Nasrallah is a believer, he's working in the right way, an Arab way, whatever his relations with Iran and Syria," Kreyem says.

Hariri, the father, wanted Lebanon to be strong, he says, so there was no contradiction in displaying the two pictures. "But I don't much like his son Saad's politics. The international forces they brought in are to protect Israel, not us, even though we're the ones always being hit by Israel." As a boy, Kreyem said he had fled successive Israeli invasions of his native south.

Othman Itani, who owns a nearby parking lot, believes only the government should have weapons. "Nasrallah says they have 20,000 rockets -- who do you think you are scaring? Israel has two air forces. It will destroy Lebanon and go home. You are frightening the Lebanese, only," he says. His booth is plastered with pictures of the Hariris -- senior and junior.

"Since 1948 we've been fighting Israel," Itani says. "Other Arab countries have peace with Israel, so why is it only us fighting? Peace with Israel would open up everything for us. No one is thinking about how much this is all costing us."

Although both men are Sunni, they sum up two opposing camps in Lebanon's polarised society. How should Lebanon protect itself, given the weakness of its army? By maintaining a military deterrence of sorts through Hizbullah's weapons, though that may risk another attack by an Israel? Or through Western allegiances, perhaps peace with Israel, and the supposed international protection they would bring?

"There's a tendency among Lebanese politicians, including 14 March, which says, 'We don't want a strong Lebanese army' and a wish that Lebanon would never be involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict," says analyst Fawwaz Traboulsi, who helped lead Palestinian and leftist resistance to Israel's 1982 invasion. "To my mind, we paid the price more than we would have if we had taken seriously that we are part of that conflict."

With Israel on one side and Syria on the other, and a population split between looking east and west for its alliances, staying out of it all has proved wishful thinking. Traboulsi advocates persuading Iranian-backed Hizbullah to allow its seasoned fighters to become an elite unit under central army command in return for a greater say in national defence.

Where the Sunnis lie in all this is an enigma. Traditionally the backbone of Lebanon's urban, merchant class, the sect, which forms 25 per cent of the population, has typically shunned politics and played little role in the 1975-90 civil war. But after Hariri's assassination, Sunnis took to the streets and became leaders of the US-supported 14 March anti-Syrian movement. Saad Hariri's Future Movement commands the parliamentary majority, allied with Druze chieftain Walid Jumblatt and Christian leader Samir Geagea. Hariri ally Fouad Al-Seniora heads the government, always a Sunni post under the sectarian political system.

But for many ordinary Sunnis, the government's US-backing sits uncomfortably with their traditional support for the Palestinians and Arab causes, especially after the US-backed Israeli bombing of Lebanon. Their broad support for the government as tensions rise cannot be taken for granted.

At his "Divine Victory" rally on 22 September, Nasrallah hinted at coming battles. Accusing the leadership of being unable to protect Lebanon, he said working towards a national unity government would be Hizbullah's "new project". Bringing in allied Maronite Christian leader Michel Aoun is seen as Hizbullah's main aim. By adding Aoun-backed cabinet ministers to Hizbullah's two, the allies hope for a blocking one- third minority in government. Nasrallah said Hizbullah's weapons could only be relinquished if the state was strong.

Nasrallah commands the loyalty of nearly all Shia, Lebanon's largest sect at just under 40 per cent. And a survey released this week by respected pollster Abdo Saad showed Aoun was clear favourite to be president, who has to be Christian Maronite. Forty-five per cent of Lebanese across the sects chose him; among Christians he scored 39 per cent. No one else came close.

Any support Aoun lost among his Christian support-base -- which appears to be between five and 10 per cent -- for allying with Hizbullah despite his anti-Syrian past, he has gained in Shia and other support. "Aoun can afford to lose a few per cent. He's now got Shia support and apart from Nasrallah he's more popular than any other leader," analyst Amal Saad- Ghorayeb says.

Nasrallah's rally, which mustered anywhere between 800,000 to a million people, could presage a bitter campaign ahead, said Saad-Ghorayeb, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment's new Middle East Centre in Beirut. The poll showed 70 per cent of Lebanese supported a national unity government, including a surprising 71 per cent of Christians and, more predictably, more than 90 per cent of Shia.

"Christians and Shia clearly don't see that they're politically represented," she said. "There's been a lot of political pressure mounting (for a national unity government) and this war of words has escalated. Now with these results you find that the public shares that view and that these groups could unleash their publics on the street," she said.

Oussama Safa, head of the Lebanese Centre for Policy Studies also predicted things would heat up. "I think Ramadan will be quiet, but after that Hizbullah and its supporters will try to change the government," he said.

Hariri hit back at Nasrallah's demands last week at a Ramadan Iftar meal. "We reject any calls for a change of government by undemocratic and unconstitutional means," he said. He called Nasrallah's address to the rally an "unacceptable local translation of (Syrian President) Bashar Al-Assad's speech".

Safa said Hariri is preparing for a push against his government. "So we're seeing an increase in the rhetoric. And there is genuine impatience. There's no opportunity in the offing for disarming Hizbullah". The government's war-time performance is viewed as poor. It disowned and implicitly blamed the "resistance" for sparking the war by seizing two Israeli soldiers, which cost it some popularity. Hariri was derided for being abroad for the whole conflict, and corruption and mismanagement characterise government aid efforts for the displaced even in much of the pro-government media. "14th March as a movement has pretty much fizzled out," Safa said.

"Most of the Sunnis are with Hariri, but there are pockets of dissidents," Safa said. Those are mainly in the north (Tripoli's outskirts and Akkar), and the west, namely parts of the Bekaa and Hermel. It is unlikely to be coincidence that these are poorer areas, where the Future Movement's business orientation is of little use, but pan-Arab views strike a chord. from Egypt's Al-Ahram

Jerusalem’s Damascus Conundrum Raises Wartime Memories of Yom Kippur Past

Jerusalem’s Damascus Conundrum Raises Wartime Memories of Yom Kippur Past

Dateline Jerusalem
Gershom Gorenberg Fri. Oct 06, 2006

Bashar Assad says he wants peace — but failing that, he’ll take war. The Syrian president has made a point of intoning that message repeatedly of late. In Israel, the question of how to respond — indeed, whether to respond at all — has created a ragged political division that cuts across the usual lines of left, right and center. The deciding factor, so far, seems to be the Bush administration’s opposition to any diplomatic contact with Damascus.

Assad’s latest call for renewing talks came in an interview with the Spanish paper El Pais this past Monday, in which he said that Syria and Israel could reach peace in six months if they resumed negotiations now. A few days earlier, speaking to Germany’s Der Spiegel newsweekly, he said, “We want to make peace — peace with Israel.” Then he added threateningly that “when the hope [for peace] disappears, then maybe war really is the only solution.”

The threat, it appears, got Israel’s attention. Israeli Military Intelligence has raised its estimation of the chance of war with Syria, according to press leaks last week. For years, the possibility that Syria would initiate a conflict was rated as “low.” The Syrian military was presumed to understand that it stood no chance in a war with Israel. The Syrian-Israeli boundary has remained quiet since it was set in the 1974 “interim” agreement following the Yom Kippur War — though Syria continually has used proxies such as Hezbollah and Hamas to remind Israel that the conflict is not over. After this summer’s indecisive fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Syria may be re-evaluating the possibility of confronting Israel directly — or so say the intelligence leaks.

The Syrians “have the impression, not necessarily correctly, that they could gain something through force,” commented Uri Sagie, a former chief of Military Intelligence. Assad could believe, Sagie said, that “you don’t need to start an all-out war. By heating up the border or perhaps grabbing [some land], you might get world attention and renew the [diplomatic] dialogue.” Assad wants not only to get back the Golan Heights, Sagie said, but also to “get everyone off his back” — that is, to remove Syria from Washington’s blacklist and reduce his isolation.

Assad’s double message of peace and war, former ambassador Itamar Rabinovich said, is similar to how Egyptian President Anwar Sadat talked more than 30 years ago, when he sought to regain the Sinai. Rabinovich, now president of Tel Aviv University, headed Israel’s negotiating effort with Syria under late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Though Rabinovich does not elaborate, his parallel is provocative. In the early 1970s, Sadat was hinting at peace and threatening war. Israeli intelligence, backed by then-defense minister Moshe Dayan, dismissed the chance of war, convinced that Sadat lacked the means to conquer the Sinai. The United States — in a policy formulated by then-national security adviser Henry Kissinger — declined to broker peace talks until Egypt abandoned the Soviet bloc, failing to respond to signs that Sadat was ready to do so.

Yet when Egypt did attack on Yom Kippur 1973, Sadat’s goal was not to retake the entire peninsula militarily. Instead, he sought to seize a narrow strip of land and to force the United States and Israel into a diplomatic process that would give him the rest. Costly as the war was for Egypt, he succeeded.

The parallel between Sadat and Assad is far from perfect. Sadat was able to initiate a two-front war in collusion with Syria, and he had the Soviet Union’s military backing. Today, Assad lacks those strategic assets — and perhaps Sadat’s daring, as well. History does not repeat itself precisely.

Still, Assad’s challenge has divided Israeli politicians. Some leading figures, including Public Security Minister (and former Shin Bet security service chief) Avi Dichter, began arguing in the wake of last summer’s Lebanon war that Assad’s peace hints should be explored. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, on the other hand, repeatedly has rejected talking to Syria.

“In practice, they continue sponsoring terror,” Olmert recently told Ynet, the Internet site of Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, “including Palestinian terror groups that act against us in the territories.” He added: “The United States opposes talks with Syria…. Like many others, it doesn’t believe Syria wants peace, but perhaps to reduce the pressure on it….”

Olmert was even more blunt in another pre-Yom Kippur interview. “As long as I am prime minister, the Golan Heights will remain in our hands,” he declared.

The prime minister’s comments underline the twin pressures on him. Diplomatically, he seeks to avoid tension with Washington, which now treats the Middle East as divided between pro-Western and pro-Iranian forces. Domestically, the war-weakened Olmert cannot challenge the powerful Golan lobby.

Yet the cracks reach even into Olmert’s own Kadima party. “Imagine an alliance with Syria…. What leader can permit himself to miss a chance like that?” said Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik of Kadima in an interview published Sunday in Ma’ariv.

Former military chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon recently said in Ha’aretz that he favors negotiations with Syria. Ya’alon, widely expected to enter politics in the Likud, said he advised Ariel Sharon three years ago to begin talks with Assad in order to “crack the northern alignment of Iran-Syria-Hezbollah.” At the other end of the political spectrum, Meretz lawmaker and ex-colonel Ran Cohen told me that a key question after the summer’s war is why Israel “did not exploit the time since the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 to reach a peace agreement with Syria.” Negotiations now, he said, might prevent another war.

On the other hand, Labor Knesset member Ephraim Sneh, an ex-general who is considered dovish on Palestinian issues, argues that “right now there is nothing to talk about” with Assad. Before Syria can have normalization with the United States or negotiations with Israel, Sneh said, it must meet four conditions: It must influence Hamas to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, boot Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal out of Damascus, stop the arms flow to Hezbollah and seal its eastern border to Iraqi insurgents. Meeting those conditions, Sneh told the Forward, would “remove Syria from its strategic alliance with Iran” and from “the axis of evil.”

Sneh’s approach surely would please Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who recently spoke of getting other countries to join in new sanctions against Damascus — without specifying the means she had in mind. Her tour this week of the Middle East, which coincidentally began on Yom Kippur, does not include a stop in Damascus. Instead, she seeks to renew Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and to bolster ties with Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — viewed as a Sunni coalition against the Shi’ite-led Iranian-Syrian alliance. Rice’s approach underscores the administration’s view of the Middle East as once again divided into clear blocs.

Old Syria hands in Israel are less convinced that Assad’s overtures should be ignored. Rabinovich recommends “discreetly clarifying” with Assad “whether there is anything to talk about.” Such secret contacts, he notes, would have to be coordinated with Washington.

Sagie, who was in charge of talks with Syria under former prime minister Ehud Barak, said that Syrian-Israeli peace remains “a supreme strategic interest” for both sides. For that matter, he suggested, the Bush administration’s hard line “is not necessarily in U.S. interests.”

True, Sagie stressed, Syria “has done its utmost… regarding Iraq, Lebanon and Iran” to cause its own isolation. But “dividing the world into good guys and bad, black and white,” has undermined American influence in the Middle East, he said. “There are other shades, as you know. I’m not sure that Bush does.”

Sagie noted that in the long term, Lebanon is likely have a Shi’ite majority. Given the risk of a radical Syrian-Lebanese coalition, it makes more sense to try to pull Syria to the moderate side. “I don’t justify Syria,” he said, “but ignoring it does not serve Israel or American” needs.

That was advice that Rice seemed unlikely to hear in official Jerusalem — and perhaps even less likely to accept.

Fri. Oct 06, 2006

Author and journalist Gershom Gorenberg, a National Jewish Book Award winner who writes regularly for The New Republic and has published in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones and numerous other American and Israeli publications. In his new book, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977. The Washington Post cites Accidental Empire as "a meticulously researched, dispassionate and highly readable history of how Israel slipped into the settlement of occupied lands" and "an invaluable guide to one of the Middle East's most complex issues that will puncture illusions on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Analysis: Syria still holds the key - 33rd anniversary of the fourth Arab-Israeli Middle East war

Analysis: Syria still holds the key

By Claude Salhani
UPI International Editor
Oct. 6, 2006 at 7:00AM

This Friday, Oct. 6, marks the 33rd anniversary of the fourth Arab-Israeli Middle East war; four wars fought in as many decades. It was also the last time Israel fought more than one Arab army at any one time, and the first time the Israeli army was caught unawares, giving the attackers the upper hand, albeit temporarily.

The Egyptian and Syrian military managed to maintain absolute secrecy during meticulous preparation leading up to the surprise attack on Israel, which at the time occupied all of the Sinai Peninsula and faced the Egyptians across the Suez Canal behind the heavily fortified bunkers and trenches of the Bar Lev Line. The Israelis believed the Bar Lev Line was impregnable, thanks to its formidable fortifications. But the Egyptians simply threw men into the battle in such large numbers that the Israeli machine-gunners couldn't kill them fast enough. Their guns overheated and jammed and the surviving Egyptians made it through the defenses and captured the Bar Lev Line.

Indeed, on that Oct. 6, in 1973, Israel faced the two largest and most powerful Arab armies at the time -- Egypt and Syria -- fighting them on multiple fronts for 18 grueling days.

Iraq had also sent a contingent, but given the high level of mistrust that existed between the Syrian and Iraqi Baath parties, Damascus refused to house larger numbers of armed Iraqi troops in and around Damascus.

The war lasted 18 days and in reality ended in a stalemate, although the Israelis felt demoralized and the Arabs claimed victory. It was a situation not dissimilar to the recent conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

The October War, as it was called in the Arab world -- Harb October or Harb Teshrin -- was a turning point in the Middle East conflict. The bittersweet victory gave the Arabs back their dignity and honor after losing it so disastrously in June 1967. It showed them that Israel could be fought, that it wasn't this superpower it projected itself to be after the June Six-Day War. At the same time, it also showed the Arabs that while Israel could be fought, it could not be defeated.

On the Israeli side, the October War -- or the Yom Kippur War -- allowed a harsh reality to sink in; and that was that Israel could be defeated.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who had reclaimed Egypt's honor -- albeit at the cost of much Egyptian blood -- was now ready to discuss peace with the Israelis. Israel, thanks to a last-hour maneuver by Ariel Sharon, who managed to re-cross the Suez Canal and encircle the Third Egyptian Army a mere 60 miles from Cairo, was also ready to talk peace with the Egyptians.

The hang-up was the Syrians. President Hafez Assad, father of the current leader, had hoped to reclaim the strategic Golan Heights which Israel had captured from Syria in 1967. Syrian forces fought valiantly for every inch of the Golan, but were pushed back by Israeli elite brigades.

Thus began Henry Kissinger's legendary shuttle diplomacy: the then secretary of state made no fewer than 36 trips to Damascus in under a month, on some days visiting the Syrian and Israeli capitals twice, as he relayed messages back and forth. Eventually, an agreement was reached in which Egypt was to reclaim the Sinai, and Syria the devastated capital of the Golan, Kuneitra. And the United Nations was to police a ceasefire. Thirty-three years later, the U.N. is still monitoring the "temporary" halt of hostilities, ensuring that peace on the Golan Heights is not shattered.

But if the Syrians have remained silent for 33 years on the Golan, their fingerprints have certainly been found on multiple "action dossiers," according to several foreign intelligence sources. The Syrians, say intelligence sources, have been supporting terrorist groups both in the Middle East and around the world; from backing and arming Lebanon's Hezbollah and radical Palestinian groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad (whom the United States and Israel accuse of terrorism), to allowing foreign jihadi fighters to enter Iraq by crossing through Syria, to interfering in domestic Lebanese politics.

This is Syria's own way of letting the powers-that-be know that they still have unsettled demands: basically that they want the return of the Golan Heights and they want to be included in any ensuing dialogue in the region. Damascus wants the United States to know that they hold the key to the door that will open the way to a permanent settlement of the Middle East crisis. Or, if they feel the need to, they can open the door leading to further chaos. So long as Syria has not reclaimed the Golan, thus at the same time reclaiming some of its honor, the ruling Baath Party will see to it that even if a peace deal is reached between the Palestinians and Israel, no lasting peace will be enjoyed in the Middle East without including Syria in the fold.

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-launches dialogue with friendly Arab countries, drumming up support for U.S. policy, she should be cognizant of the fact that one should also talk to one's foes if one is serious about peace.


(Comments may be sent to

Hezbollah's New Mission The "resistance" takes aim at the Lebanese government

Hezbollah's New Mission The "resistance" takes aim at the Lebanese government.

by David Schenker Washington Institute for Near East Policy
09/29/2006 1:46:00 PM

HEZBOLLAH LEADER Hassan Nasrallah made headlines two weeks ago when he claimed during a rally that Hezbollah still possessed 20,000 rockets and missiles after this past summer's war with Israel. The rally and the announcement were audacious: Some 350,000 supporters gathered in South Beirut to see Nasrallah appear publicly for the first time in nearly two months, mocking Israel and demonstrating Hezbollah's steadfastness. Overshadowed amid all this were some pronouncements in Nasrallah's speech that have important implications for U.S. interests and for the future of Lebanon.

In a striking departure from Hezbollah's standard articulation of its raison d'etre as "resistance"--i.e., defending Lebanon from Israel, liberating Sheba farms, and freeing Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails--Nasrallah added a new domestic orientation to the group's agenda. He linked Hezbollah's disarmament to the formation of a "strong, capable, just, and clean" Lebanese state.

Not coincidentally, according to Nasrallah, the first step in building this new Lebanese state is the establishment of a "serious national unity government"--Hezbollah shorthand for adding more pro-Syrian and anti-Western forces to the government. Were this to occur, it would almost certainly signal the demise of the moderate government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and provide the Syrians with a new lease on life in Lebanon.

Given the endemic government corruption in Lebanon, this call for clean government provides yet another pretext for Hezbollah indefinitely to retain its weapons. For Hezbollah, of course, the topic of disarmament has always been a moving target. Initially, in the 1980s, disarmament was contingent on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. After the U.N. certified Israel's withdrawal in 2000, the focus became Israeli withdrawal from Sheba farms; later it was the liberation of seven Shiite villages in Northern Israel.

What is surprising is not the addition of yet another rationale for the militia to retain its arsenal but Hezbollah's unexpected turn inward. In his speech, Nasrallah explicitly threatened the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)--the reinvigorated international peacekeeping force currently on the ground in the South--if it attempted to get involved in Lebanese domestic affairs. "Your clear mission," he said, is to "support the Lebanese army. . . . [It] is not to spy on Hezbollah or disarm the Resistance." To avoid being dragged into a "collision" with his militia, Nasrallah warned, UNIFIL must not look into Hezbollah's weapons. "They should not interfere in Lebanon's internal affairs or be involved in such things."

Nasrallah also devoted a portion of his speech to sectarian issues in Lebanon. Though most analysts believe the Israel-Hezbollah war aggravated existing Sunni-Shia tensions, Nasrallah denied there was any such friction, maintaining that "the dispute here is not sectarian, but political." He went one step further, making the astonishing boast that Hezbollah had "protected Lebanon from civil war."

Capping off his foray into local politics, Nasrallah commented that the Siniora government was not up to the task of reconstruction, and he issued a direct challenge to the Lebanese government. If the state fails to protect Lebanon, he said, Hezbollah will again assume the responsibility. "We have thus far been patient . . . be assured that we will not be patient for long."

While the speech was obviously well received by Nasrallah's constituents, others in Lebanon were less than pleased. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was the most outspoken critic; he described the speech as "a coup." Outside of Lebanon, though, the details of this revolutionary speech went unnoticed, overshadowed by the stunning photos and the rocket announcement.
Nasrallah's speech was important not only for the details but also as an indicator of Hezbollah's postwar strategy. With the deployments of the Lebanese Armed Forces and the reconstituted UNIFIL in the South, Hezbollah's freedom of military action is greatly constrained. Nasrallah's focus on domestic Lebanese politics is tacit recognition of the new reality on the ground. Absent the ability to attack Israel directly, for the time being at least, the "resistance" is in search of a new mission. Nasrallah seems to be working to establish a new political reality to accommodate this requirement.

For the United States and the Siniora government, this development is troubling, and it will be increasingly difficult to contain. In the short term, the best counter to Hezbollah's gambit will be for the Siniora government to succeed in its efforts to reconstruct Lebanon quickly, efficiently, and without conspicuous corruption. In the long term, however, the only real remedy will be to reform the Lebanese political system so that alternative Shiite parties can emerge to challenge--and ultimately dilute--Hezbollah's political power. Until then, Prime Minister Siniora, with U.S. help, will have to settle for competing with Hezbollah--and its Iranian patron--in hometown politics.

David Schenker is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he was the Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestinian affairs adviser in the office of the Secretary of Defense.

2006, News Corporation, Weekly Standard.

Assad: Syria preparing for Israeli attack

Assad: Syria preparing for Israeli attack

Syrian president says, in interview, nation is worried about Israeli aggression, preparing itself for attack 'at any minute'

Roee Nahmias
10.07.06, 13:36

Syrian President Bashar Assad said that his nation is ready for war with Israel. In an interview with Kuwaiti newspaper al-Anba, he was asked whether, pursuant to the war in Lebanon, Syria was prepared against Israeli attacks and would be prepared to wage war.

In response, the president replied: "During the aggression against Lebanon, there was vast pressure from among the population to fight against Israel and liberate the Golan. Many people made suggestions to this effect, directly and informally."

According to Assad, his nation is expecting an Israeli attack: "As far was we're concerned, the prospect for peace is unrelated to the changing circumstances and constitutes a basic principle, but, at the same time, we are preparing for an Israeli attack at any minute. We all know that Israel is military strong and backed by the US."

"Ever since Ariel Sharon came to power, Israel has given up on the peace process. Sharon's election was a sign that Israel had comprehensively given up on the peace process and the US government only strengthened this trend. Therefore, naturally, our expectation is that there will not be peace and perhaps will be war," said the president.
"What does it mean to be in a state neither of peace or war?" he asked. "Either war or peace. Period. This is why we have to prepare, to the best of our ability."

Assad addressed Lebanese complaints regarding arms smuggling from Syria to Hizbullah-controlled areas in Lebanon.

"When you speak of smuggling, you must understand that it is bidirectional smuggling, not smuggling only from one side to the other. Goods arrive from every direction. Anyone who needs arms goes to a place where he can buy arms. The smuggling comes from Iraq, Lebanon and all over the place. It cannot be stopped," he said.

Earlier statements
In September, the president said that he didn't discount the possibility that war would break out in the region: "This option is possible, because Israel is looking for a way out from the crisis it is in through a new adventure, by which it will restore its security."

Assad estimated that Israel may attack Syria under the pretext that it is aiding Iran, but declared that "Syria will resist, will stand strong and will never give in."

Tuesday, President Assad said that he believes that peace with Israel could be achieved within six months – if negotiations begin where they last left off.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Syrian president said: "Our vision regarding peace stated that no more than two years should pass since we set out for the Madrid conference (and until the negotiations are completed)… if we want to renew talks from the same point we stopped, then the talks need six months."

Two weeks earlier - in response to a question of whether he supports Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cry to eliminate Israel - Assad told German magazine Der Spiegel that Syria wanted peace with Israel, "not to see it destroyed."

"But my personal opinion, my hopes for peace, could one day change. And if this hope disappears, then war may really be the only solution," he added.

Regarding Israel's recent war with Hizbullah, Assad told Der Speigel that it would be impossible to prevent arms from reaching the militant organization due to its strong public support.

"As long as public support for Hizbullah is as high as it today ... then this is 'mission impossible'. The majority sees resistance against Israel as legitimate. I advise the Europeans -- don't waste your time. Get to the root of the problem."

Jumblatt: Assad acting like mafia head

Jumblatt: Assad acting like mafia head

Druze leader continues: If Lebanon’s central government doesn’t have monopoly on war and peace decisions, it will find itself coexisting with country called Hizbullah

Roee Nahmias
Published: 09.20.06, 12:21

Lebanon’s Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt , said on Tuesday Sept 19th, 2006, ”Hafez Assad was a cultural criminal, but his son is a mafia head and not a government head.” He spoke out in an interview with the Lebanese television channel LBC.

In addition, Jumblatt, a typical representative of the anti Syrian bloc, attacked Damascus claiming it was trying to overthrow the Lebanese government and take over the country.

“The Syrian regime is only interested in overthrowing the country or damaging its ability to function, in order to enter the political vacuum through revolution or security related incidents. That, is to sabotage the establishment of an international tribunal (regarding the murder of Rafik Hariri),” said Jumblatt.

In an interview with LBC’s May Shediak - who was severely injured about a year ago in an attempted assassination, apparently instigated by Syria following criticism on her part – Jumblatt hinted that Syria’s methods hadn’t changed.

'Sheba only a distraction'
According to him there are still “whispers and signals” to hurt Lebanese Prime Minister (PM) Fouad Siniora, similar as to what occurred on the night former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri was assassinated.

Jumblatt criticized Syria regarding the Shebaa Farm issue, saying it avoided agreeing on a border in order to keep things vague, allowing itself and Iran to keep a hold on Lebanon.
He continued to say that both countries had ambitions, nuclear and vengeful, and that “if Lebanon’s central government doesn’t have a monopoly on decisions of war and peace, it will find itself coexists with a neighboring country called Hizbullah.”

During the interview, Jumblatt admitted that there wasn’t effective supervision of sea ports and country borders, contrary to what was required by security council decision 1701. “The borders and some of the ports don’t carry out thorough searches of ships, and Hizbullah decides on that.”

Jumblatt mocked Hizbullah Secretary-General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah’s declaration of a “divine victory” against Israel. “This isn’t a devine victory, but a financial victory. Those who give money and weapons are those who give the orders, and others become hostages. Even civilians holding money have become hostages to those they receive the money from.”

more from Druze LeaderJumblatt: Olmert's government will fall / Aaron Klein, WNDLebanese leader: Hizbullah 'victory' will bring down Israeli PM, embolden terrorists Full Story

EU body seeks closer ties with Syria

EU body seeks closer ties with Syria

Members of European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee vote to strengthen cooperation with Damascus, support signing association agreement with country. Agreement could give 'a decisive impetus to political, economic and social reforms in Syria and would facilitate the Middle East peace process,' committee states AFP

The European parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has voted to deepen cooperation with Syria and ultimately sign an association agreement.

"We stress the problems of human rights, we stress the Hariri enquiry, on the other hand we think that if Syria has decided to have another policy than its past attitude in the Middle East then that would be something very good for us," EU parliament member Veronique De Keyser, who prepared the resolution, told AFP on Friday.

A UN investigation commission into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is underway, with many pointing the finger at Syria.

The move towards closer ties with Damascus was also facilitated by Syria's military withdrawal from Lebanon.

The West's policy of isolating Syria has done all but that, but instead has strengthened its ties with Russia and Iran, she said.

'Respect for democratic values – a prerequisite'
The measure to urge the 25 EU nations to move towards an association agreement, which has been pending for almost two years, was passed overwhelmingly in the committee by 34 to one, with two abstentions.

EU parliament members pointed out that an association agreement could give "a decisive impetus to political, economic and social reforms in Syria and would facilitate the Middle East peace process."

But they also stressed "that respect for democratic values, human rights and civil liberties are prerequisites," according to an official statement released Friday.

The human rights clause to the agreement should also include an effective verification mechanism.
The EU parliament members were particularly concerned by the lack of progress in Syria in democratization and the respect for human rights and civil liberties.

The resolution specifically calls on Syria to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and to prevent Hizbullah from rearming.

Support for Hamas concerning
Members of the European parliament are equally concerned about Syrian support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad and they called on Syria to adopt a more positive approach to the status of the contested Shebaa Farms.

Parliament members also urged Syria to respect freedom of expression and the rights of religious and other minorities, protect human rights defenders, prevent torture and abolish the death penalty.

The association agreement is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and covers economic, social and cultural cooperation, including provisions relating to intellectual property, services, public procurement, competition rules,

"There is a strong requirement to fight against terrorism and for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," said De Keyser, during last-minute campaigning ahead of Sunday's Belgian municipal elections.

"For us it is good, for Syria it could be not bad."

Monday, October 02, 2006

مقابلة مع الكولونيل شربل بركات

مقابلة مع الكولونيل شربل بركات
أجرت المقابلة الأنسة/جولي ابوعراج/موقع لبنانيون في إسرائيل
2 تشرين الأول 2006

**الحرب اليوم قائمة بين العالم المتمدن وعدوه المتمثل بالإرهاب، والمطلوب من الدول والمجتمعات أن تقرر أين تقف.
**نأسف شديد الأسف لهذا المستوى من الزعامات التي لا تنظر إلى أبعد من أنوفها. فحتى الذين قالوا أن حزب الله "أخطأ" بإعلان الحرب، لم يفهموا بعد مخاطر الإشادة "ببطولاته" التي ستنقلب ‏على البلد مجددا دمارا وخرابا
**اليوم وبعد أن هدم نصر الله البلد وقتل من قتل، يقوم "الذكاء اللبناني" الغائص في "وهم ‏المؤامرات" بتبريره، لا بل بتهنئته بالنصر. أولم نتعلم من كذبة "التحرير" التي فرضها المحتل ‏السوري على اللبنانيين فرضخوا لسلطة حزب الله هذا ست سنوات؟
**إن الحرب الأخيرة، التي جرت على أرضنا والتي لم يكن للبنان فيها إي رأي أو قرار، جاءت للأسف لتبرهن بشكل مأساوي عن المخاوف التي كنا نتوجس منها منذ خروج السوريين السنة الماضية
**استعجال القادة السياسيين لقطف ثمار التأييد الشعبي جعلهم "يحرقون الطبخة" فيتناسون المبادئ ويقبلون بأي شيء ثمنا لأكثرية نيابية، فكان استمرار قانون غازي كنعان ومن ثم الحلف الرباعي ‏الذي سمح ببقاء أخطر منتجات الاحتلال السوري
**للأسف وقعت المعارضة في خطأ الموالاة وزايدت بالغلط عليها ليسقطا معا في فخ حزب الله وأسياده السوريين والإيرانيين فيلعبون بهم وبالبلد كما يحلو لهم.
**المطلوب من حزب الله اليوم وليس غدا تحديد أهدافه وما يسعى إليه ليعرف اللبنانيون فعلا هل هو لبناني الولاء أم لا.
**تصريحات السنيورة المتعلقة بالسلام مع إسرائيل هي بدون معنى ولا أساس لها إلا خوفه من جماعة حزب ‏الله وأمثالهم إذا لم تكن من قبيل "التقية"، فلبنان هو أكثر بلدان المنطقة حاجة إلى السلام مع إسرائيل.

وفي ما يلي المقابلة:
رجل لبناني، بكل ما للكلمة من معنى ... حمل لبنان في قلبه وروحه ووجدانه وحاكه في مقالاته فكانت منبرا للحقيقة "الساطعة" والنبرة "الجارحة"
إنه الكولونيل شربل بركات ربيب المدرسة الحربية ، التي دخلها كخيار حياة تفرغ لها وخلص لمبادئها الوطنية في الدفاع عن لبنان ... وتخرج منها برتبة ملازم قبل ان يجول المجالس العالمية مدافعا عن "بلد الارز"، مظهرا حقيقة هذا الوطن الكبير الجريح حاملا رسالة جعلته يتعالى على التمسك بصغائر الامور والمنفعة الذاتية .
انه ابن عين ابل، تللك البلدة الجنوبية التي شهدت فظاعة المؤامرات التي حيكت ضد لبنان في مختلف فصول الحرب اللبنانية...
عبر محطات من سطورتاريخ هذا الرجل الجنوبي نغوص في عمق شخصه وتجربته التي جعلته متبصرا مراقبا كغيره من المحللين السياسيين الا ان ميزة واحدة تجعل من الكولونيل مراقبا غير عادي وهي قدرته على القراءة الموضوعية للوقائع والاحداث. نستشفها اكثر من خلال اللقاء التالي الخاص بموقعنا.
محطات في تاريخ الكولونيل بركات:
ارسل الى الجنوب من قبل قيادة الجيش اللبناني بمهمة تدريب الأهالي للدفاع عن النفس، فالتحق لتحق بتجمع رميش العسكري وخدم بإمرة المغفور له الرائد شدياق قائد التجمع. بعد ذلك عين قائد تجمع رميش
استلم قيادة القطاع الغربي في جيش لبنان الحر
أصبح مساعد الرائد حداد قائد جيش لبنان الحر
استلم قيادة جيش لبنان الحر بالوكالة إثر وفاة الرائد حداد
مساعد قائد جيش لبنان الجنوبي اللواء أنطوان لحد
قائد اللواء الغربي في جيش لبنان الجنوبي
مدير مكتب العلاقات الخارجية في الجيش
عمل في الاغتراب مع:
المنظمة اللبنانية العالمية
الاتحاد الماروني العالمي
الجامعة اللبنانية الثقافية في العالم
اللجنة الدولية لتنفيذ القرار 1559
المجلس العالمي لثورة الأرز
شهد مرتين أمام لجنة العلاقات الدولية في مجلس الشيوخ الأميركي
له عدة مقالات سياسية في الشأن اللبناني والعالمي وموضوع الإرهاب
نشر كتاب "مداميك" بالعربية وهو يحكي عن معاناة الجنوب وأهله
نقل كتابه إلى العبرية ونشر
النسخة الإنكليزية لا تزال قيد الطبع

سؤال/12 تموز 2006، تاريخ أدخل لبنان مرحلة جديدة تتسم بالخطورة والاهمية والغموض في آن، لما تحمله من تغييرات على مختلف الاصعدة ...بعد كل الذي حصل كيف تقرا هذه الحرب، وما هو تفسيرك للواقع اللبناني الحالي المتشنج والغارق في الانقسامات وتعدد الخطابات...؟

الجواب: أولا إن الحرب الأخيرة، التي جرت على أرضنا والتي لم يكن للبنان فيها إي رأي أو قرار، جاءت للأسف لتبرهن بشكل مأساوي عن المخاوف التي كنا نتوجس منها منذ خروج السوريين السنة الماضية، وفي قراءتنا للأحداث التي تتابعت بعد القرار الدولي 1559 حيث عاد الأمل بأن يصبح لبنان مجددا دولة سيدة حرة مستقلة ويخرج من دوامة التبعية والعنف، وتميزت بالتعنت السوري لتجديد رئاسة لحود واغتيال الحريري وما تلاه من تحرك شعبي قرّب المسافات بين الفرقاء وفرز أدوات الاحتلال في تجمع 8 آذار عن بقية اللبنانيين في مسيرة المليون ونصف التي دعيت ثورة الأرز.
ولكن استعجال القادة السياسيين لقطف ثمار التأييد الشعبي جعلهم "يحرقون الطبخة" فيتناسون المبادئ ويقبلون بأي شيء ثمنا لأكثرية نيابية، فكان استمرار قانون غازي كنعان ومن ثم الحلف الرباعي الذي سمح ببقاء أخطر منتجات الاحتلال السوري، عنيت به حزب الله، كقنبلة موقوتة جاهزة لتخريب كل ما بني، وأخطر نتائجه إعطاء هذا الحزب، ولأول مرة، مناصب وزارية ليعطل الحكم ساعة يشاء ويمنع أي تحرك مجدي.
هذه الأحداث كانت المقدمة الحقيقية التي حضّرت لحرب 12 تموز، فالأسد هدد لبنان "المحرر" بالحرب الأهلية بعد أسبوع على خروج جيشه، وقامت سلسلة عمليات الاغتيال بإخافة القادة ودب الرعب بالمواطنين فمنعت استمرار تلاقيهم وتفاهمهم على التخلص من رواسب الاحتلال وأدواته لا بل جعلت البعض يسترضي هؤلاء بدل أن يشهّر بهم خوفا من أن يصبحوا فتيل التفجير الذي يحركه السوريون لتنفيذ تهديد رئيسهم.
يقول البعض بأنه لم يكن هناك حل سوى إعطاء حزب الله حصة في الحكم لكي يقبل بتسليم السلاح لأنه بذلك سوف يصبح جزء من هذا الحكم فيخاف على مكاسبه بدل أن يسعى للخربطة. ولكن ما الذي دفع بالمعارضة للاستعجال بالتفاهم مع حزب الله ليقع البلد كله بالغلط، فقد كان الأجدى بهذه المعارضة أن تصر، كما فعلت في أول أيامها في المجلس، على التشهير بحزب الله وبسلاحه وبتصرفاته الغير مقبولة، فتدفع الحكومة على التغيير، وربما الضغط على حزب الله لتسليم سلاحه، ولو لإرضاء المعارضة التي لن تقبل بأقل من المساواة بين اللبنانيين. ولكن للأسف وقعت المعارضة في خطأ الموالاة وزايدت بالغلط عليها ليسقطا معا في فخ حزب الله وأسياده السوريين والإيرانيين فيلعبون بهم وبالبلد كما يحلو لهم.
نحن قلنا أنه طالما أجمع اللبنانيون على موقف موحد كان يجب استغلال هذا الموقف والطلب من كل من هو على الأرض اللبنانية، وأولهم حزب الله، أن يقدموا على تسليم أسلحتهم للدولة فورا وبدون جدل ليتساوى الكل، وعندها فقط يمكن أن يعطوا موقعا في هذه الدولة يتناسب مع حجمهم التمثيلي، وإلا فهم خارج الدولة وخارج الإجماع الوطني، وعلى العالم الذي وصف الداء في قراراته أن يؤمن الدواء، فلم يطلب أحد من اللبنانيين أن يعرضوا خدماتهم وحلولهم التي تعقّد الأمور بدل أن تحلها.
من هنا فنحن لم نعجب أبدا عندما أعلن حزب الله حربا على لبنان بعملياته المتكررة والغير مقبولة على إسرائيل. فهو لعب باللبنانيين في تمثيلية الحوار الوطني واستطاع كسب الوقت لكي يضعف الإيمان بقدرة العالم على مساعدتهم ثم يظهرهم بأنهم هواة في السياسة وغير مؤهلين للسيطرة على البلد، ومن ثم يشكل وجودهم خطرا على السلم العالمي أو الإقليمي، ولذا فتلزيم أمرهم لجارهم "المتلهف"، كما جرى في السابق، يمكن أن يكون الحل.
وهكذا فإن توقع إعلان الحرب على إسرائيل من قبل حزب الله كان واردا ولكن موعد التنفيذ هو الذي كان يحتاج إلى تنسيق أكبر مع مصالح إيران وسوريا ليصدر الأمر وساعة الصفر من غرفة العمليات المشتركة.

السؤال/انطلاقا مما يحدث ، برايك لبنان الى اين ؟
الجواب: لبنان برأيي هو بلد متميز ليس بزعاماته بل بأبنائه، وبالرغم من كل الصعاب سوف يجد اللبنانيون بدون شك مخرجا لما هم فيه من واقع مأساوي، فهل يعقل أن يساهم العالم كله، وعلى رأسه الدول العربية الكبرى صاحبة النفوذ والمال، بدعم حكومة لبنان ويطلب تحريرها من مسؤولية الحرب وتبعاتها وقرارات تجريد الفئات الخارجة عن القانون من أسلحتها، وهي من خرب البلد وتسبب في تدميره، فتأتي الحكومة، التي لا حيل لها ولا قوة، لتعترض على تحريرها من هذه المسؤولية الجسيمة وتطالب بتسلمها وهي لم تقدر أن تسأل نصرالله لماذا أعلن الحرب؟
اليوم وبعد أن هدم نصر الله البلد وقتل من قتل، يقوم "الذكاء اللبناني" الغائص في "وهم المؤامرات" بتبريره، لا بل بتهنئته بالنصر. أولم نتعلم من كذبة "التحرير" التي فرضها المحتل السوري على اللبنانيين فرضخوا لسلطة حزب الله هذا ست سنوات؟
فكيف سنتخلص من مقولة النصر على إسرائيل بعد 33 يوما من القتال الضاري؟
نأسف شديد الأسف لهذا المستوى من الزعامات التي لا تنظر إلى أبعد من أنوفها. فحتى الذين قالوا أن حزب الله "أخطأ" بإعلان الحرب، لم يفهموا بعد مخاطر الإشادة "ببطولاته" التي ستنقلب على البلد مجددا دمارا وخرابا. وهذه المرة لن تكون مع إسرائيل بل في الداخل، لأنه لم يعد يجرؤ على التلاعب مع إسرائيل كما كان يفعل، وها هو عاد ليشتري "بالمال الحلال" من يصفق له وينتظر خطاباته بدل أن يحاكم على فعلته ويطرد وزراؤه من الحكومة ونوابه من المجلس ويجردون من حقوقهم المدنية لأنهم لم يقوموا بواجباتهم تجاه البلد بل قاموا بخيانته من أجل أن تعود سوريا وإيران إلى لعب الأدوار واستعمال لبنان ساحة لصراعاتهم مع الغير.

السؤال/ عند بداية الحرب تحدثت وزيرة الخارجية الاميركية كونداليزا رايس عن "معالم شرق اوسطي جديد" برايك كيف ستتجسد هذه المعالم :بمعاهدة سلام وحالة هدنة طويلة، ام ان لبنان ذاهب الى التفتيت؟ وهل ما حدث له علاقة بجملة التغييرات التي تشهدها المنطقة (اخذين بعين الاعتبار القضية العراقية والفلسطينية)
الجواب: أعتقد أنه مهما حاول الإرهاب وأسياده أن يلعب ويكسب وقتا فلن يكون له إلا أن يرضخ لمطالب العالم، فالحرب اليوم قائمة بين العالم المتمدن وعدوه المتمثل بالإرهاب، والمطلوب من الدول والمجتمعات أن تقرر أين تقف. ولن تطول المدة حتى يقف الجميع صفا واحدا بمواجهة هذا الإرهاب كونه يضر بالكل.
من هنا فإن الشرق الأوسط الجديد الذي تكلمت عنه وزيرة الخارجية الأميركية قد لا يكون مشروعا أمريكيا مفصلا أو تصورا غريبا، ولكنه سيكون بالضرورة نتاج وعي شعوب المنطقة لواقعها ومصالحها.
وسيكون تطورا لتجارب هذه الشعوب وتعايشها مع بعض. فلا يمكن أن نتصور حربا دائمة بين شعوب هذه المنطقة ولو اختلفت أديانها وطوائفها وأصولها وقومياتها، فهي لا بد أن تجد مخرجا لصراعاتها فتتفق على قواعد ومبادئ مقبولة على الجميع.
وما يحدث في العراق قد ينتهي بالتفاهم على شكل جديد للحكم أو نظام مشابه لما يطبق بحالات مماثلة في العالم. ومن يقول بأن المشاكل في الشرق الأوسط هي صنيعة أميركا لأن الأميركيين يتكلمون عنها هو جاهل بأمر الشعوب وتطلعاتها، فقد استتب الأمن فيما مضى بالقوة، أما في عالم اليوم فيجب أن يستتب بالاقتناع ولو بعد فترة من التقاتل التي ستجر إلى تفاهم على الأسس التي تقوم عليها هذه المجتمعات.
من هنا فإن كل الدول القائمة لا بد أن يحدث فيها بعض التململ، وسوف تتم التغييرات بدرجات متنوعة من العنف، ولكنها ستتم بالتأكيد، لأن مسار التاريخ يحتم هذه التبدلات. وما موقف الأصولية التي تحاول، ليس فقط منع التطور لا بل الرجوع إلى الماضي الغابر، إلا شكل من أشكال الرفض للواقع الذي سوف يفتح العيون على ما في الأنظمة الحالية من عقم في الإجابة عن التساؤلات وتحقيق التطلعات وتنظيم المتطلبات الأساسية للدول كما المجموعات الإنسانية التي تتعايش متوازية وغير متداخلة منذ آلاف السنين.
وهنا لا بد من الإشارة إلى فلسطين حيث نجحت أصولية حماس بجذب الشارع لتأييدها، ولكن هذا التأييد لن يستمر، فالاعتراض أسهل من تحمل المسؤولية، ونتائج تسلم الحكم، إن بقي النظام ديمقراطي، لا بد ستأتي بالاعتدال. ومستقبل العلاقات بين إسرائيل وفلسطين، على عكس ما يتمناه المتطرفين من الجانبين، ليس للتقاتل بل للتكامل. وعندما يتعب المتقاتلون سوف يجدون متسعا من الوقت للاتفاق على التعاون، وهذا هو الرهان الأميركي، وهكذا سيبنى الشرق الأوسط الجديد الذي سيكون أقدر على الاستمرار والتقدم بدون الحاجة إلى العنف والأنظمة المخابراتية.
وهنا لا بد من الإشارة بأن على العالم الإسلامي أن يدرك بأن التمادي في الغي من قبل من يدّعون حماية الإسلام ويريدون تصديره إلى العالم بالقوة، سيؤدي أكثر فأكثر إلى الوقوع في الغلط وهذا الغلط سيجرّ إلى مشاكل ليس فقط مع ما يسمى بالغرب بل إننا نحذر من قيام المشاكل مع الجارين الكبيرين في الشرق وعنيت بهما الهندوسية في الهند والتي تعد حوالي المليار نسمة ولها تاريخ من المشاكل مع "الغزاة" المسلمين، والبوذية في الصين وجنوب شرق آسيا والتي تعد أيضا أكثر من مليار وقد بدأ طالبان بتحديها عندما فجر تمثال البوذا في أفغانستان.
فعلى من يمتلك وسع الآفاق والإدراك من المسلمين المعتدلين وعلى من يحاول تهييج التطرف الديني من غير المسلمين أيضا الإسراع إلى تدارك الأمور والعودة إلى القيم العالمية المشتركة التي حاولت الأمم المتحدة تبنيها والتسويق لها في العالم بعد الحرب العالمية الثانية خوفا من الصدامات والمشاكل المبنية على المعتقدات عند شعوب العالم المختلفة. ونريد أن نشدد على المملكة العربية السعودية التي نحترم ونجل بأن تسارع إلى التوقيع على شرعة حقوق الإنسان ولا تترك المجال للرعاع باستغلال هذا الرفض للتمادي بالتطرف.

سؤال/كقيادي في اللوبي اللبناني الاغترابي ، ما موقف الجاليات اللبنانية من تصريحات رئيس الوزراء اللبناني فؤاد السنيورة المتكررة "في ان لبنان اخر من يوقع السلام مع اسرائيل"، هل توافقونه الراي ولماذا؟
الجواب: مع كل الاحترام الذي نكنه للرئيس السنيورة فإن تصريحاته المتعلقة بالسلام مع إسرائيل هي بدون معنى ولا أساس لها إلا خوفه من جماعة حزب الله وأمثالهم إذا لم تكن من قبيل "التقية"، فلبنان هو أكثر بلدان المنطقة حاجة إلى السلام مع إسرائيل، وقد يكون ذلك ما لا تريده إسرائيل نفسها، لأن في السلام مع إسرائيل سوف يربح لبنان أولا طريقا بريا إلى الدول العربية، وخاصة السعودية والأردن، لا يتحكم فيه النظام السوري، ثم سيفتح له لأول مرة منذ 1948طريقا بريا إلى مصر وشمال أفريقيا فتصبح الشاحنات اللبنانية هي التي تحمل البضائع إلى مصر وغيرها بدل البواخر. ولكن الأهم من ذلك هو سيارات الركاب والسياح، فبوجود هذا الطريق سوف يفتح خط بري سياحي من أوروبا إلى الأراضي المقدسة ومصر وشمال أفريقيا عبر لبنان عدى عن القطارات للشحن والركاب. ثم هناك السياحة المتبادلة بين اللبنانيين والإسرائيليين وهي ذات مردود كبير جدا وستنعش المناطق الجنوبية بالذات لأنها الممر الطبيعي بين البلدين.
ولماذا لا يكون لبنان ممرا لتجارة فلسطين وعمالتها كما كان دعما لقضيتها؟ وقد يكون الخوف من التوطين الذي يتكلم عنه الجميع هو الموضوع الرئيسي للتفاوض مع الإسرائيليين، فليس للبنان أي مطلب عند إسرائيل لا يمكن حله بالتفاوض، خاصة عندما يكون هناك موضوع سلام.
وإذا كانت مناورة الرئيس السوري الراحل، الأسد الأب، يومها تقوم على السلام بدون التطبيع، فإن التفاوض اللبناني يجب أن يقوم على السلام المشروط بالتطبيع، لأن كل الموازين الاقتصادية لا بد ستكون من صالح لبنان في هكذا عملية.
وعندما يقول الرئيس السنيورة بأن لبنان سيكون آخر من يوقع سلاما مع إسرائيل فهو لا يعلن عن جديد فقد أقامت البلدان المجاورة لإسرائيل؛ وهي مصر والأردن السلام معها منذ زمن كما أعلنت سوريا أكثر من مرة عن قرارها بتبني السلام وهي تتفاوض على التفاصيل، فلماذا يزايد الرئيس السنيورة على سوريا؟ ثم هناك أكثر من دولة عربية لها مصالح مع إسرائيل وتقيم معها علاقات خاصة وعلى مستويات متعددة.
فماذا تفعل قطر وهي التي تترأس المجموعة العربية في الأمم المتحدة اليوم وأعلنت عن نيتها المساهمة في إعادة اعمار بعض ما هدمته الحرب الأخيرة في لبنان وتستضيف أكثر قنوات التلفزة تحريضا على إسرائيل وأمريكا وبنفس الوقت وبدون أية عقد تستقبل أكبر قواعد الأسطول الأميركي وممثلية تجارية لإسرائيل فهل هذه لا تتبع للدولة؟
وماذا عن دول شمال أفريقيا؟ ولماذا يقوم الرئيس السنيورة بإحراج العرب بمقولته ومزايدته في هذا الاتجاه؟
نعم إن لبنان اليوم هو بحق الدولة العربية الوحيدة التي لا تقيم علاقات مع إسرائيل وهو بذلك يؤخر الحلول العربية الإسرائيلية بدون سبب، ونحن ندعو الرئيس السنيورة، الذي كان أجدى به أن يفاوض الإسرائيليين أثناء الحرب الأخيرة، للمبادرة إلى الدعوة لسلام دائم وتطبيع للعلاقات وفتح للحدود واستعادة لسيادة الحكومة على كل شبر تدعي أنه لها، بدون استشارة سوريا المتربصة بلبنان سوءا والتي لا تنفك تهدد بإغلاق حدوده معها كلما أراد لبنان أن يحمي مصالحه أو يراقب عمليات التهريب على هذه الحدود.
اليوم يمكن أن يكون السلام هو الطريق الأقرب لحل كل مشاكل لبنان والانتهاء من سلاح المليشيات ومن التشنجات الغير مقبولة، وقد تكون هي الفرصة الذهبية لإعادة إحياء العملية السلمية في الشرق الأوسط التي ستسهم بالحلول المنتظرة لهذه المنطقة.
من هنا فإن كافة التجمعات اللبنانية في الخارج تؤيد أي مبادرة لتحقيق السلام بين لبنان وإسرائيل ما سيسهم بتخفيف الضغط عن سوريا لكي تبادر هي أيضا بفتح خط التفاوض من جديد، ومن يدري فقد تستعيد الجولان وتنتعش اقتصاديا.

سؤال/هل انتم راضون عن اداء الحكومة اللبنانية ؟ (في حال كان جوابكم لا ما البديل الذي تطلبونه )
الجواب: نحن غير راضين عن أداء الحكومة ولكن لا لأنها ليست حكومة "وحدة وطنية" كما يطالب البعض اليوم، ولكن لأنها تضم في صفوفها ممثلين لمجموعة فرضت نفسها على الناس بالقوة والتهديد وهي تفرض نفسها على الحكومة وتمنعها من اتخاذ إي قرار يسهم في قيامة لبنان.
غير راضين عن الحكومة لأنها في بيانها الوزاري شرّعت سلاح حزب الله ولم تعد تستطع أن تنزعه.
غير راضين عن الحكومة لأنها لم تقبل بأن يتم نشر القوات الدولية بناء على البند السابع من القانون الدولي الذي كان سيسكت حزب الله وجماعة سوريا ويمنعهم من حمل السلاح وتهديد الأمن كلما يحلوا لهم ذلك.
غير راضين عن مواقف الحكومة لأنها حكومة تريد أن يخدمها العالم كله وهي لا تخدم نفسها. تريد أن يحارب العالم في سبيل مصلحة لبنان وتمثل هي دور الحَكَم بين العالم المدافع عن حقها وحزب الله الذي يسلبها هذا الحق.
غير راضين عن الحكومة لأنها حكومة برجوازية تسعى إلى المكاسب وتتهرب من المواقف.
غير راضين عن الحكومة لأنها لم تغيّر شيئا من سياسة الدخول والخروج من وإلى لبنان والتي كان رسمها الاحتلال وعملائه، ولا هي تجرأت أن تواجه موظف أو تقنع العالم أنها تسيطر على الأرض لكي يثق بها. فإذا كان الشعب اللبناني يعتقد بأن الحكومة لم تستطع أن تحمي النائب جبران التويني لأن أمن المطار، مثلا، ليس بيدها، فكيف سيثق بها هذا الشعب وأين سينتهي بها المطاف؟
ولكننا مع الحكومة إذا ما أراد رعاع سوريا أن يسقطوها بالقوة التي يتوهمون بأنهم يملكونها.
ومعها إن هي حزمت أمرها واتخذت قرارات مصيرية في منع السلاح من كل الفئات بدل السماح للبعض بالتسلح للرد على سلاح حزب الله، إلا إذا كان عندها نية بأن يقوم أكثر من لبنان.
نحن والعالم مع الحكومة إن هي قررت أن تأخذ بيدها تنفيذ القانون دون خوف من أحد. وإن هي قررت أن تستعيد سيطرتها على كل المرافق والمداخل وتمنع التهريب وكل أشكال الخروج على القانون.
نحن لسنا مع أن تسقط الحكومة اليوم ولا أن تطعّم لا بل مع أن تصغّر بأن تتخلص من وزراء حزب الله. ولكننا مع أن تقوم معارضة ديمقراطية في المجلس النيابي، وهو المكان الملائم لمحاسبة الحكومة على كل تقصير، ونطلب من المعارضة أيضا أن تترك للحكومة مجالا للحكم وتقوم هي بدورها في المراقبة والمساءلة، كما يجري في كل دول العالم الديمقراطية. فالحكم مداورة، والشعب في لبنان أظهر أنه يعرف أن يختار يوم يفسح له مجال الاختيار، فلا تزجوا به كل يوم في مشاكلكم وهو قد فوّضكم لأربع سنوات، فأرونا كيف يقوم كل منكم بدوره. ونحن نشدد على أن دور المعارضة مهم كدور الحكومة إن لم يكن أهم.

سؤال/هل لبنان على ابواب حرب اهلية في ظل التصاريح والانقسامات الحاصلة بين مختلف القيادات؟ كيف تفسرها ؟ ومن تخدم هذه الانقسامات
الجواب: لم يكن لبنان يوما على أبواب حرب أهلية ولا هو اليوم، وكل ما جرى هو أن دولا قامت بتصفية حساباتها على أرض لبنان وباللبنانيين. نحن لا نعتقد بأن هذا الجو موجود اليوم، ومع أن حزب الله وجماعة سوريا يحاولون أن يظهروا الأمور على هذا الشكل، ولكن هناك إرادة دولية لمنع استعمال لبنان اليوم كساحة صراع لدول المنطقة، وقد يكون هو من يشكل اليوم خطرا على بعض الأنظمة في المنطقة أكثر من أن تشكل هي خطرا عليه.
ولكن على اللبنانيين إلا يبقوا على هذا التوتر، وأنصحهم بعدم الاستماع إلى كل البرامج السياسية ونشرات الأخبار لأن الشغل الشاغل لهؤلاء الإعلاميين هو نقل الأخبار وتضخيمها، وفي لبنان عدد من محطات التلفزة والإذاعات والصحف المهتمة بالسياسة أكثر من أي بلد آخر نسبة لعدد سكانه، من هنا لا يستطيع المواطن تحمل كل هذا الضغط الإعلامي، والأفضل له أن يبتعد قليلا فلن تخرب البلاد في يوم واحد ولن يتغير شيء بين ليلة وضحاها.
اللبنانيون يعودون شيئا فشيئا إلى أجواء الديمقراطية ولكن بتشنج لأنهم قد تعوّدوا لمدة 30 سنة أن يقادوا بواسطة قادة عسكريين بزمن الحرب، فأغلبهم لا يعي بعد أن لبنان تخلّص من الاحتلال وهو سيتخلص قريبا من ذيوله.
أنا لا أقول بأن الأجواء على أحسن ما يرام، ولكنني أقول بأنه على الزعماء أن يكونوا أكثر ترويا من الصحافيين، على الأقل، فلا يكون هؤلاء من يقودهم بالنتيجة فيقودون البلاد بتسرّع وبدون مسؤولية، ولكن عليهم هم أن يتحلوا بوسع الأفق، وببعد النظر، وبكبر القلب، وعليهم دراسة الأحداث والتطورات ليستوعبوها فيعالجوها لا أن يلحقوا بها، فهم من يفترض بهم أن يصنعوا القرارات أو ينتقدوها بعمق وتروّي فيضعوا النقاط على حروفها بالشكل الملائم، ويعلّموا الناس كيفية التعاطي في الشأن العام، لا أن يتفرجوا على هذه القرارات وهي تسقط عليهم من السماء فيسعون لتنفيذها أو يسارعوا بردة الفعل مباشرة على وسائل الإعلام للرد عليها وكأنهم تلامذة مدرسة يتقدمون إلى الامتحان ويخافون من الرسوب إذا هم لم يسرعوا بالجواب.
وتلخيصا لما قلناه، إن أعداء لبنان سيحاولون جاهدين أن يحوّلوا أنظار اللبنانيين عن كل ما قاموا به، خاصة ذيول الحرب الأخيرة والقرارات السيئة في إعلان الحرب والتي أدت إلى ما أدت إليه من دمار وخراب، ولكنهم لن يفلحوا في إحداث فتنة. وهنا نتوجه إلى حلفاء الأمس، الذين أخرجوا جيوش الاحتلال بالتعاون معا، للتروي والتحلي بالحلم وعدم الانجرار وراء مخططات "الشقيقة الشقية" لأن البناء مسؤولية كبرى وعلينا كلنا أن نساهم بها، إن كنا في الحكم أم في المعارضة سيان، ولنترك من باع نفسه للخارج يقلّع أشواكه بيده، فهو لم يسأل أحدا يوم ذرع الشوك فلما نساهم معه في يوم الحصاد؟

سؤال/يحكى عن انتصار للبنان في هذ الحرب وتحديدا لحزب الله ، ما رايك في هذا؟ هل هناك انتصار فعلي؟وكرجل عسكري كيف تقيّم هذه الحرب عسكريا وبشكل خاص اداء عناصر حزب الله؟
الجواب: لا أريد أن أدخل في التفاصيل العسكرية التي جرت أثناء المعارك ولكنني أكتفي بالإشارة إلى موضوع مهم بالنسبة لكل دول العالم، وهو أن واجب القوى المسلحة في أي دولة هو حماية المواطن في حياته وأملاكه وأرزاقه ومقتنياته، وأن تؤمن له الاستقرار وراحة البال لكي ينصرف إلى أعماله دون خوف، كونه يدفع بدل هذه الحماية من إنتاجه وعرق جبينه.
الوضع في لبنان اختلف، فالمواطن لم يعد يعرف أولا من هي القوى المسلحة الموكل إليها حمايته. فإذا كانت حزب الله، فهو لم يقم بحماية أي مواطن لا بل اكتفي بجلب الخطر عليه، وذلك عندما أطلق صواريخه من بين البيوت السكنية، وعندما صمم أن يقاوم من داخل القرى والمدن فركّز مخازنه ومستودعاته وحفر القتال وخنادق التموين داخل الأحياء وكأنه يريد بذلك تدميرها.
قد تكون الحرب النفسية التي يعتمد عليها حزب الله أو أسياده ترتكز على منطق إظهار "فظاعة" العدو، ووسيلتهم هنا الدعاية ضد هذا العدو من جهة، وإثارة الشفقة عليهم من جهة أخرى ولذا فهم اعتمدوا زج المدنيين في الحرب كما فعلوا في قانا وغيرها. ولكن هذه لا تعتبر دفاعا عن الوطن أو الناس، بل قد تكون جزء من حرب كبرى لأهداف تتخطى هؤلاء الناس. فإذا كانت هذه هي أهداف حزب الله في هذه الحرب فقد يكون تحقق بعضها، ولكنها لا تعطيه الحق بأن يجاهر بالنصر ولا أن يحتفل به كي لا ينقلب العطف والشفقة تشفيا وكرها. من جهة أخرى يمكنه، ربما، أن يدّعي الصمود كون عدوه لم يقتلعه من أماكنه ولا هو احتل البلاد ونظفها من أتباعه وأوقف زعماءه وقدمهم إلى المحاكم.
ولكن هل هذه كانت أهداف إسرائيل في هذه الحرب؟
أحد الأهداف المعلنة لعملية الرد الإسرائيلي كانت منع تواجد عناصر حزب الله بسلاحهم جنوب الليطاني، وقد تكفلت الدولة اللبنانية بمساعدة العالم بالقيام بذلك، وها هو الجيش ينتشر مع القوات الدولية.
الهدف الثاني المعلن كان وقف الصواريخ ومنع إعادة تجهيز حزب الله بها، وهذا ما تحاول الدولة أيضا القيام به بنشر الجيش على الحدود مع سوريا وتعهد الألمان مراقبة وتفتيش وسائل النقل البحرية.
ولكن الدولة اللبنانية لم تتعهد نزع سلاح حزب الله وهذه جريمة بحق الشعب اللبناني، ولا إسرائيل طلبت ذلك ما سيكون مجالا لتهديد مستقبلي، ولكن نزع هذا السلاح هو مطلب لبناني ومطلب دولي لم تستطع الحكومة أن تتعهد به حتى اليوم، وكنا نتوقع أن تكون المعارضة من يطالب الحكومة به ولكنها للأسف مقيدة "بورقة التفاهم" (أو التين).
يقول البعض أن حزب الله انتصر لأنه لم يتوقف عن إطلاق صواريخه إلا عند توقف إسرائيل عن قصفها، ونحن نقول من طلب منه أن يقصف إسرائيل؟
ومن طلب منه أن يقوم بعملية التعدي عليها؟ وهل كنا بحاجة ماسة إلى هذه الحرب وإلى كل هذا الدمار والخراب؟
وبعد، فقبل 12 تموز لم يكن هناك تواجد إسرائيلي في أي بقعة من لبنان، وكان مطلب حزب الله وذريعته تحرير مزارع شبعا، أما اليوم فنحن على وعد أن يخرج الإسرائيليون من آخر مراكز لهم في لبنان، ما لم يتم بعد، ونأمل أن يقوم مجلس الأمن والقوات الدولية بمراقبة ذلك، ونعتمد على النية الحسنة عند إسرائيل، وتنفيذها للقرارات الدولية وقد كنا بغنى عن كل ذلك منذ أيار 2000 وحتى 12 تموز 2006 فهل هذا أيضا من مؤشرات النصر والتحرير؟
أما إذا كانت سياسة حزب الله واستراتيجيته العسكرية تقومان على تدمير لبنان وأشكال الحضارة فيه؟ فهو بالتأكيد أنتصر. وإذا كان هدف أسياد حزب الله إظهار لبنان بأنه غير قابل للعيش بدون الاحتلال السوري له؟
فهو ربما أعطاهم نقطة في هذا الاتجاه، لأن بعض الدول اعتقد أن الكلام على الحل يجب أن يكون مع سوريا وإيران. وإن كان عدم تمكن إسرائيل من قتل زعيمه، بالرغم من تهديدها بذلك، يعتبر انتصارا، فإنها، قبل تلك الحرب، لم تكن بوارد قتله، ولا نعلم إن هي ستنفذ ذلك فيما بعد أم لا، ولكنه بالتأكيد كان بغنى عن تعريض نفسه لمثل ذلك القرار.
الواقع أن حزب الله قد انتصر بالتخلص من 650 من مقاتليه في هذه الحرب، نعم. وهو تخلص من عبئ الضغط السكاني في الضاحية الجنوبية، أكيد. وقد قلّص سرعة الانتقال بين المدن اللبنانية، لا شك. وربما فتح مجالات عمل للعمال السوريين واللبنانيين لإعادة إعمار ما تهدم.
من جهة أخرى قد تكون حكومة إسرائيل قصّرت بواجباتها في هذه الحرب، ولم تحسم المعركة كما تعودت في السابق. وقد يكون الشعب الإسرائيلي ذاق لأول مرة مرارة القصف، صحيح. ولكن هذا كله لا يعد نصرا لا لحزب الله ولا للبنان، لأن الفاتورة المدفوعة والتي ستضاف إلى ما علينا من ديون وآلام، أكبر من أن تعوض.

سؤال/ يطلب من حسن نصرالله امين عام حزب الله بتوضيح انتمائه ، هل تعتبر ان هذا الطلب في "محله"، ومن اين تنبع الشكوك في "لبنانية حزب الله"
الجواب: ليس هناك من شك في أن السيد حسن نصر الله هو لبناني الهوية وهو ابن الجنوب ويعتبر مسقط رأسه قلب المنطقة المحيطة بصور، وهي منطقة لبنانية منذ أكثر من خمسة آلاف سنة وتحمل في ترابها بذرة الطموح الفينيقي وحب المغامرة والثقة بالنفس التي تسمح بالانفتاح على الغير والتعاون مع الآخرين، ولكن لكي تكون لبناني الولاء يجب أن تضع لبنان فوق كل اعتبار وتجعله الوطن الذي تفتخر به وتساهم في تقدمه ونهضة شعبه.
ولبنان ليس وطن كسائر الأوطان كونه كان دوما معقل الأحرار الذين لم يقبلوا الخضوع للقوى المسيطرة، ولهذا السبب يقدس الحرية ويعترف بخصوصية كل فئاته التي تعرضت عبر التاريخ، وبدون استثناء، لأنواع من الاضطهاد والقهر، ومن هنا كان تفرّد النظام اللبناني الذي تميّزه "ديمقراطية المجموعات البشرية" وليس الديمقراطية العددية، وتميّزه دقة الانجراف في ولاءات وتحالفات لا تخدم مصلحة الجميع.
فلنتصور مثلا بأن الأرثوذكس، وهم طائفة كبيرة في لبنان، قرروا التحالف مع روسيا واعتبار حاكمها حامي الدين، وبدأوا بالتسلح لتحرير القسطنطينية واستعادة آيا صوفيا مركز الكنيسة العالمي. ومن جهة أخرى تحالفت قيادات المليشيات الكردية المسلحة مع الدولة الكردية الناشئة في شمال العراق وبدأت العمل على تحرير المناطق الكردية في شمال سوريا.
وماذا لو طالب الدروز بإعادة ضم حوران والجولان والمناطق الدرزية في شمال إسرائيل لتشكل دولة الدروز وتعيد عهد الإمارة؟. وماذا عن الأرمن؟ فلماذا لا ينشئون المليشيات ويتحالفون مع الدولة الأرمنية ويبدأون المطالبة بإعادة المناطق الأرمنية التي طردوا منها بالقوة في بداية القرن الماضي في مجزرة شهيرة نفذتها القوات التركية؟ وهل إن المناطق المارونية في شمال سوريا لا تستحق النضال؟...
ذكرنا هذه العينات لكي نقول بأن نشأة حزب الله، التي يحاول البعض أن يجعلها عصارة جهد لبنانية تولدت من المعاناة والقهر فانطلقت لتحرير الأرض، لم تكن كذلك. فحزب الله أنشأه الحرس الثوري الإيراني يوم دارت الحرب بين العراق وإيران وكانت مصلحة سوريا (القومية؟) تقضي بالوقوف بجانب الثورة الإيرانية (التقدمية) ضد النظام البعثي العراقي (الرجعي)، ولكي تأمن من أن اليسار اللبناني (المتنور) والقوى السنية العروبية المسلحة لن تقف مع العرب ضد الفرس فتقاتل الجيش السوري (العميل)، طلبت من الحليف الإيراني إنشاء مدرسة جديدة من "المقاومة" تلفت الأنظار بعمليات انتحارية لا تقوى عليها "القوى الوطنية" (العقلانية) (كون "المقاومة الفلسطينية" كانت قد تعرضت لضربة قاسية على يد إسرائيل)، ومع أن القوميين السوريين حاولوا تقليد هذا الشكل من الانتحار، وتبعهم الشيوعيون في ذلك لكي لا يفقدوا وهج الساحة، إلا أن النظام المخابراتي السوري، والاعتماد على خطب المشايخ والدفع الديني والترغيب بالجنة الموعودة ومكاسبها، كانت أقوى من "وطنية" الشيوعيين والقوميين وغيرهم من المناضلين. ومن ثم قام السوريون بسلسلة الحروب الوقائية (حرب عرفات في طرابلس، حرب المخيمات، حرب العلم...) التي أمنت عدم قدرة الفلسطينيين وحلفائهم من القوى الوطنية على القيام بعمليات مساندة لصدام، وكانت إسرائيل غير منزعجة مما يجري من ضرب ما تبقى من القوى الفلسطينية.
أما الغرب الذي ذهل من قوة ضربات السفارة الأميركية ومركزي المارينز والمظليين الفرنسيين، فقد حمّل ثيابه ورحل ليتفرج على مسلسل القتال في لبنان حيث تتالى الهجوم عليه بعمليات خطف الرهائن التي أفرغت الساحة من كل إمكانية لمعلومات موثوقة لتصبح المصادر المحلية والاقليمية هي المصدر الوحيد لمثل هذه المعلومات ما ساهم في سقوط الجدار الواقي الغربي لتصل الحرب فيما بعد إلى عقر داره.
هذا العرض السريع لنشوء حزب الله هو للتذكير فقط بأن نشأته لم تكن لبنانية الهدف ولا الوسائل وهو لا يزال يخدم مصالح خارجية ونتمنى لو أنه يجري، اليوم، وبعد كل ما تعرّض له لبنان والطائفة الشيعية من مآسي، إعادة نظر في ولاءاته فيقدّم مصلحة الوطن على كل ما عاداها، فلبنان ليس بحاجة لمعاداة إيران ولا سوريا ولكنه لن يقبل أن يصبح منفذا لمآرب هاتين الدولتين أو غيرهما ومصلحته تكمن في الابتعاد عن الصراعات الإقليمية، ومن هنا التشديد على السلام مع إسرائيل لإنهاء هذا الفصل الذي أدخلنا في كل المآسي، ومن ثم عدم الدخول في أي حلف أو محور يؤدي إلى زعزعة الكيان اللبناني القائم على التوازن والحياد.
وما يجب أن نقوم به هو تبني الحياد بحماية دولية ليصبح لبنان فعلا ملجأ لكل مضطهد ومركز تطور وحضارة يغني الشرق والغرب فلا المال العربي المشروط يؤمن التوازن ولا السلاح الإيراني و"المال الحلال" يمكنه أن يؤدي إلى الاستقرار ولا الغلبة لمجموعة أو طائفة أو حزب ممكن أن توصل البلاد إلى شاطئ الأمان.
وبالنهاية وردا على السؤال حول إثبات ولاء حزب الله للبنان، نعم على هذا الحزب أن يثبت ولاءه للبنان وعلى السيد نصر الله أن يقوده نحو بناء الدولة القادرة فيترك السلاح جانبا ويلحق بالركب السياسي الذي يفترض منه أن يمارسه لمصلحة اللبنانيين وبناء صداقات متينة وعلاقات ودية قائمة على الاحترام المتبادل لا على التبعية، وعليه أيضا مباركة التعددية ونشر ثقافتها، فحزب الله اليوم ينعزل ضمن دولته ومؤسساته وهو ينشر ثقافة خاصة به ويبني علاقاته مع الآخرين، في بعضها، على الحقد وهذا لا يدعو إلى الأمل بوحدة وطنية. نحن لا نقول بالتخلي عن خصائص كل طائفة وتقاليدها وحتى تاريخها ونضالها، ولكننا يجب أن نترك مجالا للتعاون فنظهر الجانب الإيجابي من العيش المشترك وإلا فلينفصل كل واحد في منطقته وليترك للآخرين أيضا حق التميز والحماية.
من هنا فحزب الله غير صادق مع نفسه هو يسعى لدولة إسلامية على المثال الإيراني ويفرضها بالقوة حتى على أبناء الطائفة الشيعية الذين لا يرغب بعضهم بالعيش في هذه الأجواء، ومن ثم يتهم كل من يخالفه الرأي بالانعزالية أو العمالة للغير وهما الصفتان اللتان يتميز بهما صراحة.
فإن أراد حزب الله لبنانا جديدا مع طروحاته، فنحن لا نعتقد أن هذا اللبنان سيكون واحدا. فحتى في النظام الفدرالي لا يمكن أن يكون هناك جيش خاص لولاية أو مقاطعة أو حتى كانتون ولا يمكنها أبدا أن تعلن الحرب كما جرى في 12 تموز، فالشأن الخارجي والدفاع يبقيان دوما مع الدولة المركزية.
المطلوب من حزب الله اليوم وليس غدا تحديد أهدافه وما يسعى إليه ليعرف اللبنانيون فعلا هل هو لبناني الولاء أم لا.
انتهت المقابلة