Friday, May 25, 2007


It was a little over a week ago when Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened to set the Middle East on fire over differences with the United Nations regarding Lebanon's stability.

The subtle message delivered by Assad was no bluff. Within days, the Lebanese Army was slugging it out with terrorists from Fatah al-Islam, an insurgent group holed up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli. The insurgents are undeniably doing Syria's bidding and its victims are the very people it claims to be defending.

According to this BBC news article, the Lebanese cabinet has authorised the army to step up its efforts to "end the terrorist phenomenon that is alien to the values and nature of the Palestinian people" [I swear this quote is genuine!]. This is the same Lebanese cabinet that until not that long ago included a couple of representatives from The Party of God (aka Hizbullah and recognised and banned by many governments around the world as a terrorist organisation).

The number of dead on all sides is closing in on a hundred and it’s a number that’s rising fast. The Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora promised his people yesterday that his government would put an end to the killings and that it would "work to root out and strike at terrorism” -Fighting resumes between militants, army at Lebanese refugee camp. For its part, the insurgent group has threatened to broaden its campaign by attacking targets elsewhere in Lebanon.

Such a strange crisis as this could only take place in a crazy region like the Middle East. To some commentators and journalists within the media, a fight to the death between the Lebanese Army and terrorist aggressors like Fatah al-Islam in the midst of a refugee camp is a bit of a yawn and few are willing to recognise that there's a comparison between the terrorists of northern Lebanon and the ones who committed similar aggression in the south last year when Hizbullah turned the people of that region into human shields by attacking Israel.

Back then, the fundamentalist Shia movement was doing Syria’s bidding in much the same way as Fatah al-Islam is doing today but few understood what it was all about. Perhaps the world is finally starting to learn?


Justin Cohen said...

At least the Age covered the fighting in Lebanon today. They did it in style with five little paragraphs giving no details of the number of dead (always a prerequisite when covering Israeli actions) or the numbers of civilians killed or displaced. Since they can't blame the Great Satan or the Little Satan, it's news that requires a magnifying glass to locate let alone read.

Wilbur Post said...

There's an excellent article on the world's hypocrisy over this entire issue by Harvard research fellow Joshua L. Gleis at

"The resemblance of the Lebanese chain of events to Israel's April 2002 assault on the Jenin refugee camp as part of Operation Defensive Shield is striking. Israel launched its attack after sustaining seven suicide bombings in a two-week period, culminating in the bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya on Seder night, which killed 30 civilians.

Following Operation Defensive Shield in Jenin, Palestinians, Arab League, United Nations and human rights organizations all called for investigations into the Israeli operation, initially dubbed a "massacre" by Arab leaders and the news media. The IDF operation resulted in the deaths of 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers.

Depending on which report you believe (Human Rights Watch's or the IDF's), anywhere between 30 to 38 of the Palestinians killed were gunmen.

Still, protests were sent to the UN Security Council, and inquiries were conducted by the UN, journalists and human rights organizations. All admitted that no massacre had taken place; however Human Rights Watch and others did claim that Israel had violated international law.

CURIOUSLY, similar calls by the world community for investigations into the recent fighting in Lebanon are absent. Missing are the cries of the Arab world for an investigation into the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Gone are the demands by human rights organizations to access the area and scrutinize the actions of the Lebanese Army vis-a-vis the Palestinians.

The UN has not been called upon to examine the operation, and some Western newspapers even took the bold step of calling the Fatah al-Islam "terrorist" - a word absent in describing attacks against Israelis.

Plainly, while it is acceptable for Lebanese to deal with the Palestinians as they see fit, it is not okay for the Israelis to defend themselves from Palestinian violence."