The Sabra & Shatila Massacre

The Sabra & Shatila Massacre

IMEU | September 17, 2012

From Aletho News

On September 16, 1982, Christian Lebanese militiamen allied to Israel entered the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra in Beirut under the watch of the Israeli army and began a slaughter that caused outrage around the world. Over the next day and a half, up to 3500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, were murdered in one of the worst atrocities in modern Middle Eastern history. The New York Times recently published an op-ed containing new details of discussions held between Israeli and American officials before and during the massacre. They reveal how Israeli officials, led by then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, misled and bullied American diplomats, rebuffing their concerns about the safety of the inhabitants of Sabra and Shatila.

Lead Up

  • On June 6, 1982, Israel launched a massive invasion of Lebanon. It had been long planned by Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who wanted to destroy or severely diminish the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was based in Lebanon at the time. Sharon also planned to install a puppet government headed by Israel’s right-wing Lebanese Christian Maronite allies, the Phalangist Party.
  • Israeli forces advanced all the way to the capital of Beirut, besieging and bombarding the western part of city, where the PLO was headquartered and the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra are located.
  • Israel’s bloody weeklong assault on West Beirut in August prompted harsh international criticism, including from the administration of US President Ronald Reagan, who many accused of giving a “green light” to Israel to launch the invasion. Under a US-brokered ceasefire agreement, PLO leaders and more than 14,000 fighters were to be evacuated from the country, with the US providing written assurances for the safety of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians left behind. US Marines were deployed as part of a multinational force to oversee and provide security for the evacuation.
  • On August 30, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat left Beirut along with the remainder of the Palestinian fighters based in the city.
  • On September 10, the Marines left Beirut. Four days later, on September 14, the leader of Israel’s Phalangist allies, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated. Gemayel had just been elected president of Lebanon by the Lebanese parliament, under the supervision of the occupying Israeli army. His death was a severe blow to Israel’s designs for the country. The following day, Israeli forces violated the ceasefire agreement, moving into and occupying West Beirut.

The Massacre 

  • On Wednesday, September 15, the Israeli army surrounded the Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila and the adjacent neighborhood of Sabra in West Beirut. The next day, September 16, Israeli soldiers allowed about 150 Phalangist militiamen into Sabra and Shatila.
  • The Phalange, known for their brutality and a history of atrocities against Palestinian civilians, were bitter enemies of the PLO and its leftist and Muslim Lebanese allies during the preceding years of Lebanon’s civil war. The enraged Phalangist militiamen believed, erroneously, that Phalange leader Gemayel had been assassinated by Palestinians. He was actually killed by a Syrian agent.
  • Over the next day and a half, the Phalangists committed unspeakable atrocities, raping, mutilating, and murdering as many as 3500 Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, most of them women, children, and the elderly. Sharon would later claim that he could have had no way of knowing that the Phalange would harm civilians, however when US diplomats demanded to know why Israel had broken the ceasefire and entered West Beirut, Israeli army Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan justified the move saying it was “to prevent a Phalangist frenzy of revenge.” On September 15, the day before the massacre began, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin told US envoy Morris Draper that the Israelis had to occupy West Beirut, “Otherwise, there could be pogroms.”
  • Almost immediately after the killing started, Israeli soldiers surrounding Sabra and Shatila became aware that civilians were being murdered, but did nothing to stop it. Instead, Israeli forces fired flares into the night sky to illuminate the darkness for the Phalangists, allowed reinforcements to enter the area on the second day of the massacre, and provided bulldozers that were used to dispose of the bodies of many of the victims.
  • On the second day, Friday, September 17, an Israeli journalist in Lebanon called Defense Minister Sharon to inform him of reports that a massacre was taking place in Sabra and Shatila. The journalist, Ron Ben-Yishai, later recalled:

    ‘I found [Sharon] at home sleeping. He woke up and I told him “Listen, there are stories about killings and massacres in the camps. A lot of our officers know about it and tell me about it, and if they know it, the whole world will know about it. You can still stop it.” I didn’t know that the massacre actually started 24 hours earlier. I thought it started only then and I said to him “Look, we still have time to stop it. Do something about it.” He didn’t react.”‘

  • On Friday afternoon, almost 24 hours after the killing began, Eitan met with Phalangist representatives. According to notes taken by an Israeli intelligence officer present: “[Eitan] expressed his positive impression received from the statement by the Phalangist forces and their behavior in the field,” telling them to continue “mopping up the empty camps south of Fakahani until tomorrow at 5:00 a.m., at which time they must stop their action due to American pressure.”
  • On Saturday, American Envoy Morris Draper, sent a furious message to Sharon stating:

    ‘You must stop the massacres. They are obscene. I have an officer in the camp counting the bodies. You ought to be ashamed. The situation is rotten and terrible. They are killing children. You are in absolute control of the area, and therefore responsible for the area.’

  • The Phalangists finally left the area at around 8 o’clock Saturday morning, taking many of the surviving men with them for interrogation at a soccer stadium. The interrogations were carried out with Israeli intelligence agents, who handed many of the captives back to the Phalange. Some of the men returned to the Phalange were later found executed.
  • About an hour after the Phalangists departed Sabra and Shatila, the first journalists arrived on the scene and the first reports of what transpired began to reach the outside world.

Casualty Figures

  • Thirty years later, there is still no accurate total for the number of people killed in the massacre. Many of the victims were buried in mass graves by the Phalange and there has been no political will on the part of Lebanese authorities to investigate.
  • An official Israeli investigation, the Kahan Commission, concluded that between 700 and 800 people were killed, based on the assessment of Israeli military intelligence.
  • An investigation by Beirut-based British journalist Robert Fisk, who was one of the first people on the scene after the massacre ended, concluded that The Palestinian Red Crescent put the number of dead at more than 2000.
  • In his book, Sabra & Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre, Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk reached a maximum figure of 3000 to 3500.

Aftermath

Israel

  • Following international outrage, the Israeli government established a committee of inquiry, the Kahan Commission. Its investigation found that Defense Minister Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre, and recommended that he be removed from office. Although Prime Minister Begin removed him from his post as defense minister, Sharon remained in cabinet as a minister without portfolio. He would go on to hold numerous other cabinet positions in subsequent Israeli governments, including foreign minister during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first term in office. Nearly 20 years later, in March 2001, Sharon was elected prime minister of Israel.
  • In June 2001, lawyers for 23 survivors of the massacre initiated legal proceedings against Sharon in a Belgian court, under a law allowing people to be prosecuted for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.
  • In January 2002, Phalangist leader and chief liaison to Israel during the 1982 invasion, Elie Hobeika, was killed by a car bomb in Beirut. Hobeika led the Phalangist militiamen responsible for the massacre, and had announced that he was prepared to testify against Sharon, who was then prime minister of Israel, at a possible war crimes trial in Belgium. Hobeika’s killers were never found.
  • In June 2002, a panel of Belgian judges dismissed war crimes charges against Sharon because he wasn’t present in the country to stand trial.
  • In January 2006, Sharon suffered a massive stroke. He remains in a coma on life support.

The United States

  • For the United States, which had guaranteed the safety of civilians left behind after the PLO departed, the massacre was a deep embarrassment, causing immense damage to its reputation in the region. The fact that US Secretary of State Alexander Haig was believed by many to have given Israel a “green light” to invade Lebanon compounded the damage.
  • In the wake of the massacre, President Reagan sent the Marines back to Lebanon. Just over a year later, 241 American servicemen would be killed when two massive truck bombs destroyed their barracks in Beirut, leading Reagan to withdraw US forces for good.

The Palestinians

  • For Palestinians, the Sabra and Shatila massacre was and remains a traumatic event, commemorated annually. Many survivors continue to live in Sabra and Shatila, struggling to eke out a living and haunted by their memories of the slaughter. To this day, no one has faced justice for the crimes that took place.
  • For Palestinians, the Sabra and Shatila massacre serves as a powerful and tragic reminder of the vulnerable situation of millions of stateless Palestinians, and the dangers that they continue to face across the region, and around the world.

Hezbollah vs Israel 2006: Who has upper hand 14 years on?

Middle East Observer | August 14, 2020

Senior Lebanese political analyst Nasser Qandil explores what has changed between Hezbollah and Israel over the last 14 years since the ‘July War’ or ‘The Second Lebanon War’ in 2006.

After tracing the major changes and transformations in the military balance of power between the two sides over the last 14 years, Qandil then explores the current challenges facing Hezbollah inside Lebanon, particularly regarding the deepening economic and political crises in the country.

Note: we have added our own sub-headings in the below transcript to make for easier reading

Source: Al Mayadeen News

Date:  July 12, 2020

Transcript:

Hezbollah 14 years on from the July War

Nasser Qandil:

Actually, regarding (Hezbollah’s) achievement of liberation (in the year 2000) free from any conditions or negotiations, any analyst can figure out that after the year 2000, the region was involved in a race between the Resistance and (Israeli) Army of occupation in which both (sides) tried to reinforce the reality that they wanted to reflect on May 24, 2000 (i.e. just before the liberation).

Israel wanted to say that it has positioned itself on the borders with the purpose of protecting the interior (of Israel); that the era of (the war of) attrition has ended; and that it is moving into a stage where it is able to direct (its) deterrent capacity at will. In contrast, the Resistance wanted to say that Israel has humiliatingly and forcefully withdrawn (from Lebanon); and that this withdrawal is not only the beginning of a countdown of the (Israeli) entity’s capacity to hold onto (occupied) land, but also (its capacity) to go to any (new) war again as well.

Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and the Al Aqsa Uprising (“Al Aqsa Intifada”) certified what the Resistance was saying. (Israel’s) 2006 war on Lebanon was the contest that had to settle the previous contests and the (side) who wins this round, cements what it has said. Israel has worked on a plan, theory, mechanisms and appraisals, that is, it didn’t go haphazardly to war (in 2006). In short, Israel counted on “air warfare” theory and put it into practice in the (2006) war. However, the Resistance was aware of that, so it opted to strengthen its power on land, in order to cancel out the theory of air warfare, and to bring the enemy to the land to fight, engage in (battles) of attrition, and (ultimately) defeat it.

The Resistance was the victor. This was the outcome (of the war), because when we talk about ‘victory’ we are not referring to the historic and final defeat. Rather, we are just discussing this war (in 2006) in which the Resistance achieved victory and Israel was defeated again. As in the Lebanon war of the year 2000, or (more accurately) as reflected by the liberation in the (year) 2000, Israel lost its first pillar, that is, its ability to occupy (Lebanon) and remain in it. It also lost its second pillar in the 2006 war, which is its ability to wage war and achieve the goals (that it sets) as it wills.

After the 2006 war, the issue (between both sides) persisted. They entered a totally new and different race. The entity of the (Israeli) occupation is fighting to restore its honor and rehabilitate its image, whereas the Resistance is fighting the battle of becoming a regional power able to make the deterrence weapon (itself as) the policymaker. Since the year 2006, America put its weight behind (Israel’s goals) since Israel is not able to survive any longer without American protection and support. America went to Iraq after realizing that Israel superiority is (gradually) being eroded, and that it is important to rehabilitate its power and control through the American military presence to compensate for the deficiency in Israel’s ability that came about after Lebanon’s liberation in the year 2000 and the Al Aqsa intifada.

Host:

We all remember Condoleezza Rice and the ‘New Middle East Project’.

Nasser Qandil:

Exactly, and this was at the heart of the 2006 war. However, before this (war), America went to Iraq in order to redress the imbalance occurred after Lebanon’s liberation in 2000 and the Al Aqsa intifada, but they failed. The “July War” (2006) came as a second rehabilitation supported by American pressure, calculations and backing. It was a new failure that was added to the accumulated record of failures.

The only available alternative (choice) then was going to a great war, i.e. to topple Syria. This was like Armageddon. Nevertheless, other different battles, the Yemen war and the battle over the future of Iraq, occurred alongside the war (in Syria). They were no less important than the (war in Syria). Today, 14 years after the July War (in 2006), we can talk about facts and not about general trends only. The resistance (movements) transformed from being a resistance force into an Axis of Resistance. This becomes a fact; it is not just words. Today, when his eminence Sayyed (Hassan Nasrallah) speaks and says “I will kill you” – we’ll discuss this later – this (statement) reflects the (powerful reality) of the Axis of Resistance, from Beirut, to Palestine, to Iraq, to Yemen, to Iran and to Syria. This is the first major transformation that occurred between the years 2006 to 2020 during the heat of the several wars that raged over the map of the region.

The second (major transformation during these years): the ‘missile belt’ is now able to strike – from any point (within the Axis of Resistance) – any target in occupied Palestine (i.e. Israel). This means that as the resistance in Palestine is able to target all (areas of Israel) north of Gaza, the resistance in south Lebanon can target the entire (area of Israel) south (of Lebanon); the resistance from Iraq is even able to reach the (Mediterranean) sea; the resistance in Yemen can cover the whole territory of Palestine; and that’s besides (the missiles capabilities of) Syria and Iran.

The Host:

The entire Israeli intelligence efforts have lately been centered on the missile capabilities of the resistance.

Nasser Qandil:

This ‘(missile) belt’ has been completed; it is not a subject of discussion anymore.

The third (major) development is the entrance of the drones (UAVs).  The use of this weapon is not restricted to the Lebanese front line. Israel has evidence that confirms that. How many times were drones sent by the resistance from Lebanon? How many times were the Israelis lost because they failed to track the drones sent from Gaza? (Further evidence lies in) the drones in Yemen, and the achievement of the Aramco attack (in Saudi Arabia) that the godfather of the Dimona (Israeli nuclear program) and Thomas Friedman wrote about it an important article in the New York Times. The article states that what happened in Aramco (can be) repeated on all American military bases in the Middle East, and can be repeated (in a strike) on Dimona. Moreover, one of the Israeli generals quoted by Thomas Friedman during a telephone conversation says that it seems that we must now relinquish the status of being the number one technicians in the Middle East, (and cede that status) to Hezbollah and its allies, and (we ought to) call upon our people to carry hand rifles  in any coming wars in which drones are used. Henceforth, the third factor is the drones.

The fourth (major) new factor is the precision-guided missiles which formed the center of the struggle during the last two or three years of the Syrian war. The Israeli (air) raids which initially aimed at stopping the supply of weapons to the resistance (from Syria to Lebanon) turned into a specific goal (during these years) which became ‘preventing the resistance from the possibility of transforming their missiles into precision-guided ones’. Today, the Israelis speak about precision-guided missile factories and this signifies that they have surrendered to this fact.

The last issue we are ignorant of was revealed by the video published (recently) by (Hezbollah’s) military media which says “Mission accomplished”. Certainly, it is not referring to the precision-guided missiles because his eminence Sayyed (Hassan Nasrallah) has already announced clearly and publicly that ‘yes, we have enough precision-guided missiles to hit any vital Israeli military installation in occupied Palestine’.  But we still don’t know what is meant by “Mission accomplished”. This will stay one of the resistance’s surprises in the coming wars.

Israel 14 years on from the July War

Nasser Qandil:

What have Israel and America achieved in return? Their situation now is similar to that in the July War (2006); they go to war today on one foot only. It was the air force in (the) July (War) that they relied upon, and it is the financial sanctions (that they rely upon) today. Did the Resistance succeed in breaking this foot? I say “Yes, and we will expand on this discussion later.

Host:

We will continue discussing why the resistance succeeded…

Nasser Qandil:

In the first section we talked about the progress achieved by the resistance (Hezbollah) from 2006 to 2020. Israel also worked (on building its power) during these 14 years. Let us see what it did.

Host: … and of course (Israel) was given a green light by the US.

Nasser Qandil:

First of all, Israel focused on the home front. Its main aim was not to draw up a plan to seize the initiative, but to face the fallout of the July War. The resistance (Hezbollah) has risen higher and higher in its level of readiness, its networking capabilities (i.e. greater integration of the Resistance Axis across the region), and its ability to wage war. Meanwhile, what did the (Israeli) entity do?

(First), the Iron Dome that (Israel) was preparing (in order to intercept) Katyusha missiles is now threatened by precision-guided missiles and drones. (The Israelis) went back to saying that they will shoot down missiles with hunting rifles!

(Second), the (Israeli) home front has further collapsed, and now in the time of Corona, it is even worse.

Third, political fragmentation, which is one of the repercussions of the July War. Since the July War, the (Israeli) entity has been mired in its inability to reestablish a historical (political) bloc capable of leading the entity politically. This fragmentation reached its peak with three (consecutive) repeats of the election.

The last point that (Israel) has discovered (over the last 14 years) is that there is no solution to is broken spirit, because we are not only talking about equipment, armies, weapons and logistical plans, we are talking about human beings, about their mental condition. The resistance (Hezbollah) is now becoming more and more confident that it can bring down the (Israeli) entity. When his eminence Sayyed (Nasrallah) comes out and says in one of his recent appearances that there is a real possibility that the (Israeli) entity will collapse without war, and that this generation is going to witness the liberation of Jerusalem… On the other hand, we find the (Israeli) entity in a state of frustration. No matter how many (Israeli) generals say “We will win. Victory is ours in the coming war. We are waiting for the right opportunity to wage war”… what are you (Israelis) waiting for? You and the Americans said: “Time is not in our favor. Yesterday’s war is better than a war today, and a war today is better than a war tomorrow.”

Host:

Who is going to achieve Israel’s goals today? Who is the principal agent? The US? Because, as you said in one of your articles, Sayyed Nasrallah’s recent speech on 7/7/2020, presents the most vivid example of the (resistance’s) ability to defeat the Israeli occupation and American hegemony. But how is he (Nasrallah) able today to combine this (military) resistance with economic resistance?

Nasser Qandil:

What I want to get to is that in one of his appearances, his eminence Sayyed Nasrallah cut to the chase and said: “The resistance (Hezbollah) has already overtaken Israel. Israel is still standing thanks to US protection.” In 1996, the Resistance discovered – and this was the secret behind the liberation in the year 2000 – that the Israelis remained (in Lebanon) because they were under the illusion that the border buffer zone (that Israel established within Lebanese territory) protects the (Israeli) entity from the missiles of the resistance. So if (Israel) realizes that the border (buffer zone) is pointless and that the entity will be targeted no matter what, it will withdraw. And this is what happened (in the year 2000).

Today, his eminence Sayyed (Nasrallah) tells us that the resistance is certain that the (Israeli) entity continues to survive only because of the American presence (in the region), and that the decisive battle with the entity is a battle to expel the Americans from the region.

Whoever analyses the (American) sanctions and the logic behind them will discover that they are not aimed at escalating the situation such that it provokes a full-scale confrontation. This is nothing but propaganda. In fact, these sanctions have direct political goals. I mean, (Lebanese) parties affiliated to the US (in Lebanon) are proposing (very high demands such as) the disarmament (of Hezbollah) and the implementation of Resolution 1559 because this is the American approach. Just as they (Americans) did in 1983 with (Lebanese) President Amine Gemayel when they told him that they were (about to attack) Syria at the same time in which they were engaged in negotiations with (Syria). Two months later, McFarlane) the special US envoy to the Middle East) was asked: “why did you back out (of the attack)? You would have put (Gemayel) in big trouble.” McFarlane answered: “if we told (Gemayel) that we were (negotiating) with Damascus, he would have beat us to it. We trick our allies to make them think that we are escalating for the sake of imposing stronger terms in the negotiations.”

What do Americans want from the Caesar Act? Why are the Americans putting pressure on Lebanon, blocking access to US dollars in the (Lebanese) market, preventing the transfer of dollars to the country, and closing lines of credit – via the Central Bank of Lebanon’s accounts -for the purchase of fuel? What do they want? The Americans are not hiding (their intentions). They told us what they want. James Jeffrey (US Special Representative for Syria Engagement) told us. Why the Caesar Act? He said in the live appearance he made in which he spoke about the Act. He said ‘we wish to go back to (the balance of power) that existed before 2011. What does he mean by “before 2011”? He means the time when “we (Americans) will acknowledge the victory of President Assad. We were not present (in Syria before 2011), but Hezbollah and Iran were not there either. We leave (Syria), but (Hezbollah and Iran must) leave too.”

So he (Jeffrey) wants to ensure the security of the (Israeli) occupying entity in southern Syria by hinting at sanctions against Russia as the main target of the Caesar Act. Syria will be hit by sanctions anyway and Iran is drowning in a sea of sanctions. Therefore, these sanctions are actually against Russia. The Caesar Act was introduced originally at the beginning of 2016 in order to reach a compromise with Russia in relation to the battle in Aleppo. However, (the Caesar Act) now aims at reaching an agreement with Russia over the terms of the withdrawal of US forces from Syria and is not aimed at (prolonging) their stay.

Second, regarding Lebanon, David Schenker (US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs) publicly appeared on TV and said that Hezbollah is involved in ‘corruption, smuggling, money laundering, causing devastation, and that it is the cause of the crisis (in Lebanon)’ etc. Give it to me directly (Schenker), what do you want? He (Schenker) told us directly that “you are suffering greatly (due to the economic crisis). You have promising gas reserves in the (Mediterranean) sea, but they are in a region that is the subject of a dispute with Israel. We (the US) presented you with a plan, so accept it! So the US wants an exit strategy that provides the (Israeli) occupying entity with a security belt on the Syrian and the Lebanese fronts, and (the US seeks to achieve this) by exerting “maximum pressure on the resistance”.

———

Nasser Qandil:

This is the third pillar of the power of the Resistance. The first pillar is military capability. The second pillar is the political front, meaning the Axis of Resistance. The third pillar is economic reconstruction. Without a resistance economy, the resistance cannot speak of an ability to maintain a level of cohesion within its support base and environment. What I want to say here is that the measures and steps taken by the resistance are not new. It is not true that the resistance, being under pressure at the moment, is now discovering or searching (for solutions). This was in fact its original program. Its original program was and is ‘Openness to the East’, that (Lebanon) have multiple sources (for economic, financial, and political relations). Its original program is aimed at breaking the borders (created by) Sykes-Picot between the countries of the region to form a single (economic) market. Its original program is aimed at relying on industry, agriculture and the national currency for exchange with neighboring countries and where possible. This is the original plan of the resistance. But this plan is now being put into action. It is not a negotiating weapon to lure Americans into easing conditions. If the Americans want to cooperate they are welcome, but if they don’t we will proceed (with this plan). Either way, this plan is not subject to review. Industry and agriculture are objective needs (of Lebanon).

In terms of industry and agriculture, Lebanon … Lebanon, by the way – in the year 1960, the Iraqi market was running 60% of the Port of Beirut and 30% of Lebanese industrial production. Today, Lebanon, which used to export milk, cheese, juice, clothing and shoes to the Gulf, imports 200 million dollars worth of milk and cheese only! Thus, the revival of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, which were destroyed by the rentier economy, was and is the original plan. We are not talking about a knee-jerk reaction.

Host:

Has the goal (behind the sanctions) become counter-productive? Because the Lebanese internal consensus over the economic resistance that Sayyed Nasrallah called for was remarkable. I want you to comment briefly because we exceeded the time allocated for this file. The Patriarch (Bechara Boutros) al-Rahi said today: “The Lebanese people today do not want any majority (group in Lebanon) to tamper with the constitution and to keep them away from (Lebanon’s) brothers and friends.” This is noteworthy as well Mr. Nasser, is it not?

Nasser Qandil:

The truth is, the speech of his Beatitude (al- Rahi), at certain points, was vague and unclear. It seemed like he was targeting the resistance by talking about neutrality and keeping Lebanon out of conflicts. However, today there may be another direction. I think the Lebanese people know that when we talk about buying oil products in Lebanese pounds… if you don’t want to buy them from Iran, then buy them from Saudi Arabia. Aren’t you friends with Saudi Arabia and the UAE? Let these countries sell us oil products in Lebanese pounds. Half of the demand for dollars in the Lebanese market is because of oil imports. We are depleting the reserves of the Central Bank of Lebanon. They will last us for five years instead of ten if we keep using them for oil imports.

His eminence Sayyed Nasrallah announced that Iran is ready to help, and since oil imports are consuming half of the budget, the resistance is proposing to remove half of the pressure on the US dollar, meaning (that the exchange rate) would return to 3000 or 4000 (Lebanese pounds per dollar) if we buy these oil products in Lebanese pounds. We are not bound to (importing) from Iran exclusively. Bring any offer from any other country.

Host:

True… for the Americans, the (economic) war was aimed at Hezbollah. However, the entirety of Lebanon is suffering the consequences of this war.

Nasser Qandil:

Here, I want to say something so we can put things in the right perspective. When the uprising began in October (2019), Pompeo and his team went beyond warnings. (Jeffery) Feltman (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs) said before the American Congress: “Do not overestimate the influence of this uprising. Let’s not allow Lebanon to become prey for China and Russia.” He said frankly that China wants Lebanon to be a base for its 5G (technology) in the Middle East.

The Americans are backtracking from this (maximum economic pressure) approach not only because of economic (considerations). Do not be mistaken. This is because a highly powerful security message was delivered to the Americans about what the resistance might do if the situation (in Lebanon) deteriorated further.

—————

Nasser Qandil:

When someone with the great prominence, status, and figure of Sayyed Nasrallah comes out and says: “I will kill you, I will kill you, I will kill you” … These words were written down (on paper). He did not say them out of anger during his speech. He was establishing a (new) equation. He said: “You are making me choose between hunger or death. My answer is: I will kill you, I will kill you, I will kill you.” Mediators received questions asking them “what is going on? (what does Nasrallah mean here by ‘I will kill you’)” Then they got the answer. The answer might be – I do not know the answer, only the resistance knows it – but it might be in the form of strong military strike that the US and Israel would never expect. Is it the announcement of the zero hour for the expulsion of US forces from Iraq and Syria? Maybe. Is it a precision guided missile attack on the Dimona (nuclear reactor in Israel), for example? Maybe. Is it a (codeword) for opening up the (military) front in the south of Lebanon, and the Golan Heights front (from Syria) under the title of liberating the Shebaa Farms and the Golan Heights in one go? Maybe. This is the level and size (of the warning that Nasrallah directed).

The resistance will not stand idly by while its people suffer (from the deteriorating economic crisis). It will fight hunger by establishing the foundations of economic reconstruction because this is its project. This (economic reconstruction) has nothing to do with merely fighting (US) sanctions. (The resistance) found an opportunity to launch this project. Other (Lebanese parties) did not accept these proposals (before). Now it is the chance (to put them forward).

Do we want to change Lebanon’s identity by (economically) cooperating with China and giving rise eastern totalitarianism and who knows what, as some (in Lebanon) claimed? No. But does it make sense that the NATO (member) Turkey dares to go to Russia and buy S400 (missile systems), while we (Lebanese) don’t dare to buy Kalashnikov bullets that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri pledged to buy but did not dare to allocate funds for? We have 10 billion dollars’ worth of offers from China to build power plants, factories and tunnels under BOT (Build–operate–transfer) contracts, but we don’t have the courage to accept these offers because we are afraid that the US might be upset with us!

Host:

Saudi Arabia itself is now negotiating with China over avenues of cooperation…

Nasser Qandil:

Everyone is turning to China. (Check) the Boston Harbor now, all the equipment for loading, operating, and unloading are Chinese!

Host:

This all goes back to the American-Israeli concerns, Mr. Nasser.

Nasser Qandil:

This is the economic vision of the resistance. The (military) dimension (of this whole picture) is something else. The (military) dimension is the following: when they raise the bar of the financial threat, we raise the bar of the military-security threat.

The Hezbollah-France Twist

 

“The intriguing twists and turns following the catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s Sea Port have thus far had international repercussions, beginning with the visit of French President Marcon to Beirut just three days after the disaster; a visit that could hardly be classified as a visit of a foreign head of state to another country.

Marcon did not go to Lebanon just to meet with Lebanese President Aoun, even though the two did meet.

Macron met with the political leaders of Lebanon; aka the traditional power brokers, including the heads of militia who have steered Lebanon into the 1975-1989 civil war, destroyed the state that was once called the Switzerland of the East, and continued to rule Lebanon thereafter, leading to its almost total demise.

Macron’s visit left behind major pointers:

  1. With the arrogance of a returning colonial head, he literally told the Mafia leaders that he does not trust them. He announced that foreign aid will not be handed to Lebanese authorities and that they all benefited from the collapse of the Central Bank and that they know that he knows that.
  2. He shunned the Lebanese President Aoun at his news conference that followed his meeting with him and had him literally pushed away. This humiliation is forever etched on film.
  3. He promised to return to Lebanon on the 1st of September, the centennial anniversary of Lebanon in its current political and geographical form. He gave the leaders until that date to resolve the endemic problem of corruption otherwise he would bring in a new pact.
  4. What was least reported about his visit was his insistence that Hezbollah was represented in his meeting with Lebanon’s political leaders.

According to international law, French President Macron has no business interfering with Lebanese politics. Reality stipulates otherwise. What Marcon said to Lebanese leaders on the August 7 visit is tantamount to saying that France created Lebanon a hundred years ago, then left it later in Lebanese hands, but the Lebanese failed, and that the leaders have until the 1st of September 2020 (the centenary of the State) to fix it. Either way, Marcon will be back on the 1st of September to recreate Lebanon with or without them.

A few days after his departure, Western frigates steamed into Beirut’s devastated Sea Port and without any coordination with what is left of the Lebanese authorities.

With the military vessels came aid, medical aid in the form of field hospitals, medicines, as well as food and fuel aid, all of which are most welcome and needed by Lebanon. Of note was the ‘miraculous’ international attention and focus on a country and people who have been robbed by their own leaders and punished by the West for having Hezbollah involved in the political process of administering the country.

It would be foolhardy to assume that the Beirut Sea Port disaster and the decision for the UAE and Israel to formally establish a diplomatic relationship a few days later were events that were connected and deliberately planned and timed. Such initiatives take much time to develop. That said, the Beirut disaster might have lubricated some rusty deadlocks and facilitated some movements, decisions, and possibly generated some unforeseeable domino effects.

Whichever way seen, the situation in Lebanon reached a breaking point, perhaps only salvageable by way of radical measures including steps to save its people from certain famine.

As a secular Syrian/Lebanese Levantine who is patriotic and endeavours to see the Levant united, strong and in a position of self-determination, I cannot see a more important political objective to pursue other than achieving the ability of self-determination. After all, this is what all self-respecting people demand and expect.

In the following few paragraphs, I am stating historical facts that do not necessarily reflect my point of view.

Egypt took upon itself the slogan of ‘total liberation of Palestine’ during the era of Egyptian President Nasser from 1952 to 1970. But his successor, Sadat, was the first to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1978. Nearly a decade earlier however, Jordan expelled the PLO from its territory, inadvertently sending its fighters to Lebanon. In 1969, and after a number of clashes between the Lebanese Army and the PLO, a deal was brokered by Egyptian President Nasser between the Lebanese Government and the PLO and which allowed the PLO to use Lebanese soil to launch attacks on Israel. That was known as the Cairo Accord.

For better or for worse, the Cairo Accord marked the end of Lebanon as a neutral state and put it in the forefront of confrontation with Israel.

If we apply the above to the politics and political positions within Lebanon, please allow me to put on the hat of the devil’s advocate and speak on behalf of the anti-Axis of Resistance sector.

As other Arab states have walked away from their roles in being defendants of the Palestinian cause and sold out to the Western Road Map one way or another, many Lebanese who have lived and were brought up with the concept that Lebanon was/is the Switzerland of East, neither accept nor understand why it suddenly became the spearhead of resistance against the Israeli/American/NATO-based influence of hegemony.

If we add to this predicament the modus operandi of Israel and its Western backers, where adversaries and potential ones are given ultimatums to comply to their agendas or face decimation, then Lebanon has been placed in a very dangerous position, and in reality, it was.

Prior to this, after two decades of Arab-Israeli wars, Lebanon remained neutral. Even during the 1967 so-called Six-Days-War, Lebanon maintained its neutral stance and did not partake. With Egypt signing a peace treaty with Israel, and Jordan following, the Axis-of-Resistance was transformed and reduced to the North-East borders of Israel; ie the Syrian/Lebanese-Israeli borders.

Many Syria haters condemn Syria for not opening its borders for direct confrontation with Israel since 1967. What those critics fail to understand is that Syria was not equipped sufficiently to fight a conventional war with Israel; especially after the dismantling of the USSR. Syria however did everything within her power to provide the Axis-of-Resistance forces in Lebanon with all support possible to engage in asymmetric wars with Israel, and the investment paid dividends; the most impressive of which was the liberation of South Lebanon from Israeli forces in May 2000.

Many Lebanese will disagree with the above and proclaim that Lebanon was left alone. In more ways than one, they are right given that, notwithstanding Syria’s support, all of the military confrontations actually took place on Lebanese soil. This ultimately meant that the entire onus of the Arab cause of confrontation with Israel has been thrown on the shoulders of the little state of Lebanon.

Many Lebanese are supportive of this view, including pro Axis-Of-Resistance Lebanese who feel that they have been sold out by Arab complacency and treachery.

In reality, Arabs have to make up their minds and do this collectively. They must either decide to resist the American/Israeli Road Map or agree to endorse it. Neither stand is being taken where instead they stand on a half-way mark; a mark that does not hurt them, but is devastating Lebanon.

Recently, the Arabian Gulf states publicly made direct and indirect indications of desiring peace with Israel. However, they lacked the fortitude to sign peace agreements despite often working together covertly and at times overtly. In the last few days, the United Arab Emirates decided to break the mould and establish reciprocal diplomatic relationships with Israel. This came as no surprise.

Of interest is that Lebanese President Aoun appears to be capitalizing on this event in order to extract himself out of the corner he painted himself in.

Beaten, abandoned and shunned, in a recent address, Aoun hinted to the possibility of negotiating peace with Israel.

Aoun has a long history of a revolving door when it comes to changing allies and enemies. As Army Chief in the early 1980’s, he was an ally of the Christian Militia (Lebanese Forces) and jointly fought the Syrian Army presence in Lebanon. Later that decade, he turned against the ‘Lebanese Forces’ and, in the midst of a sectarian civil war, engaged himself in a bitter Lebanese Christian Maronite versus Christian Maronite battle, causing much devastation to an already shattered Beirut and neighbouring areas. This was just before he was forced into exile in France by the Syrian Army, only to return to Lebanon fifteen years later as an ally of Syria and Hezbollah in 2005.

In his ascendance to the Presidency in 2016, an achievement finally reached at the age of 80, unlike others who virtually inherited the position from their elders, Aoun displayed, at least publicly, a spark which many interpreted as coming from the fact that he, independently, built his own political career.

Senile as he may appear, and under the influence of his highly corrupt son-in-law, Gebran Bassil, he is possibly still capable of finding alternative ways to survive, at least for the continuation of his legacy that could see his son-in-law at the presidential helm.

According to a private political source from a friend who is well connected, away from the public eye, some negotiations are underway between France and Hezbollah. The insistence of France to have Hezbollah represented in the wider meeting of Lebanese leaders with Marcon was only meant to be an introduction for further talks, and specifically to more bilateral talks that involve France and Hezbollah. According to the friend, Macron is trying to push for a French initiative that breaks the deadlock between Hezbollah and the West. The details of such talks are not clear yet, but all parties to be involved will be asked to accept certain concessions.

As a matter of fact, it has been reported recently that Macron has told Trump that the American sanctions on Lebanon are counterproductive. This makes one wonder if this is an attempt on the part of Macron to bolster his initiative with credibility and support from Hezbollah. With this said, Macron will have to take a very long shot to be trusted by Hezbollah, if this is achievable at all.

In the meantime, President Aoun is quite aware of this and is feeling excluded and abandoned, even by Lebanon’s traditional ‘mother’; ie France. He is in desperate need to resurrect his position.

In touting peace talks with Israel, Aoun seems to be making three pertinent statements. He is signaling to Hezbollah that he is prepared to sever his political alliance with them, but more importantly, he is signaling to the whole West, primarily to the USA, that he is a viable negotiation partner, desirous to sign a peace treaty with Israel. He knows how such words resonate to American foreign policy architects. Most importantly perhaps, Aoun is signaling to Macron that it is pay-back time. He is showing Marcon the finger and reciprocating his ‘undiplomatic’ demeanour, presenting to him that he is prepared to marginalize Marcon and France as a whole by directly talking to America, leaving France out of a new historic Middle East peace deal.

Such a desperate attempt may lure America to sit at the negotiating table with Aoun, but it will not resolve the anger and agitation against the leadership regarding the numerous domestic problems leading up to the Sea Port disaster and what followed.

Will the USA swallow Aoun’s bait and go out of its way to save his hide? No one knows. What seems inevitable is that, with or without any warming up of relations between France and Hezbollah, Hezbollah is undertaking much restructuring and reinvention. Hezbollah leadership is quite aware that the time of its political alliance with Aoun is over one way or another, and is currently considering the implementation of many changes, albeit their details remain unclear.

The events of the next few weeks, especially following the upcoming second visit of Macron on the 1st of September, will be pivotal in deciding the fate and roles of all stakeholders and entities that have held the fate of Lebanon in their hands.”

via The Hezbollah-France Twist