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Only rational, non-dogmatic persons can understand and accept this message. Give yourself a try. Nothing will be like before, I promise!

domingo, novembro 26, 2006

Lebanon's Political Unrest

Chuck Missler,
from the November 21, 2006 eNews issue


On Tuesday, Pierre Gemayel, an influential member of the Lebanese government, was gunned down in the capital city of Beirut. Gemayel was a Christian who was opposed to Syria's involvement in Lebanese politics. Gemayel's assassination has received prompt condemnation from the international community, and it has further complicated an already tense situation. In the past two years at least five other prominent Lebanese figures have been assassinated, all of which were outspoken critics of Syria.

If Syria is responsible for Gemayel's death, then clearly it hasn't learned from past mistakes. In February of last year another prominent critic of Syria was assassinated. Rafik Hariri, an influential leader and former Prime Minister of Lebanon, was killed in a massive explosion which took the lives of 21 people. It is widely believed that Syria is directly responsible for the bombing, however their plan backfired. Instead of silencing an influential critic, Syria made Hariri a martyr and brought international attention to the situation in Lebanon. Under immense pressure from the international community, Syria was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, putting an end to its 30 year military presence in the war-torn nation.

It has yet to be seen what effect Pierre Gemayel's death will have on Lebanese politics, however his supporters have already begun to rally against Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies. Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence to suggest that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah may attempt to topple the fragile Lebanese government. In recent weeks, Hezbollah has been consolidating its power in Lebanon, even going so far as to demand more seats in the parliament. Hezbollah's leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has said that the current Lebanese government would "go" and a new one would take its place. He did not say how or when it would happen. Then, following Nasrallah's comments, six pro-Syrian members of the 24-seat Lebanese cabinet resigned.

Nasrallah has threatened to call for protests in opposition to the government, but experts believe Hezbollah won't make any move without the express permission or backing of Iran and Syria. In addition to mass protests, Hezbollah may attempt to topple the country's weak democratic government by organizing boycotts and strikes - paralyzing the country. They could even attempt to shut down electrical power, water, and government services in an attempt to further destabilize the region. If Hezbollah is successful in seizing power in Lebanon, then the nation would undoubtedly become a staging point for Iran's war with Israel and the West.

According to the UN Security Council resolution that ended the Israeli-Hezbollah war this summer, Hezbollah was supposed to be disarmed. But, not surprisingly, that never happened. The Security Council has passed at least 7 resolutions going back 28 years that have demanded the same thing - none have been successfully put into action. Iran and Syria are now taking advantage of the current calm to re-arm the terrorist organization. Iran does not yet have the military strength to carry out a direct attack on Israel, thus it uses Hezbollah as its proxy. Hezbollah is an important player in Lebanon's politics and a major provider of social services to thousands of Lebanese Shiites. It operates hospitals, schools, orphanages and a television station. Its base is in Lebanon's Shiite-dominated areas, including parts of Beirut, southern Lebanon, and the Bekaa Valley. In addition, US intelligence reports say that Hezbollah cells operate in regions including Europe, Africa, South America, and North America.

Experts attribute much of Hezbollah’s widespread popularity to its claim that it forced Israel to retreat from territory it held, something no Arab government or group had ever accomplished. Hezbollah waged a violent, 18-year campaign against Israel’s control of a self-declared “security zone” in southern Lebanon, which Israel had established after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon by forces under then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. In 2000, after suffering mounting casualties, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israeli troops to unilaterally leave the security zone. For millions of Arabs, Hezbollah achieved heroic status, and many Palestinian militants at war with Israel cite Hezbollah as an inspiration.