Hezbollah withdrawing from Beirut

posted at 2:31 pm on May 10, 2008 by Allahpundit

So it ends not as a formal coup but as an informal one, with the government temporarily brought to its knees to remind it who’s boss. Think of it as a visit from mafia goons to some poor bastard who’s late in repaying his debt to a loan shark — they broke a couple of fingers this time to let him know they can break his neck if he doesn’t play ball. WaPo says they ended up taking over most of the city; all told, according to the LA Times, it took them about 12 hours to plow through the ragtag Sunni opposition, seize their political offices and media centers, and surround the homes of pro-government leaders. Let the gloating begin:

“During lunchtime if you place food on the table, by the time you’ve finished eating, we can take over,” boasted one grizzled Hezbollah fighter patrolling famous Hamra Street.

He identified himself only by the nickname Zam-Zam. He held what he described as an Israeli-made M-16 assault rifle equipped with a night-vision scope and a laser sight.

“It was an insult for us to fight these people,” he said of the Sunni militia loyal to the government. “We fight great armies.”

Why the pullout this morning? Per yesterday’s post, they don’t want to run the country, they want a safe base of operation against Israel and its western allies without interference from the Lebanese government. Mission accomplished: That Syrian spy network of theirs that the government challenged has now been placed under the jurisdiction of the Lebanese army, and the Hezbollah stooge who was fired from his job overseeing “security” at the Beirut airport has evidently been reinstated. Should we expect the army to crack down on the spy network? Read this and tell me.

As for our next president’s reaction to all this, you can see for yourself here or better yet get it in blockquote form in the course of reading Abu Kais’s reply. There’s no problem that won’t benefit from more diplomacy, even though diplomacy’s failed utterly vis-a-vis the EU’s attempts to slow down Iran’s nuclear program and is doomed to fail with regard to armed jihadist groups like Hezbollah or Hamas, as Noah Pollak explains:

The Hezbollah rampage in Lebanon that we are witnessing should make it obvious to any sentient observer that Hezbollah’s claims to democratic political legitimacy have always been intended only to manipulate the credulous. Participation in politics requires the willingness to persuade your foes, to compromise, to stand down when you don’t get your way. But there is no record of Hamas or Hezbollah ever observing such restrictions: the moment Hezbollah was confronted with political pressure, it responded not within the political sphere, but with warlordism — with an exhibition of violence intended to make clear not just that Hezbollah is the most powerful force in the country, but that challenging it will result in its enemies’ humiliation and dispossession. In the streets of Beirut, with Kalashnikovs and RPGs, Hezbollah is making it abundantly clear that its participation in Lebanese politics ends when Hezbollah is asked to submit to the state’s authority. How many more Middle East “experts” are going to proclaim that the answer to Islamic supremacism is dialogue and political integration?

The one thing Hezbollah has lost this week is the credibility of its claims to being a Lebanese “resistance” movement. Hezbollah has always countered concerns about its military buildup with the promise that it would never turn its weapons inward. The mask has fallen, and now it will never be restored. But it really doesn’t matter, and in some ways this fact might actually free Hezbollah’s hand — the group no longer need maintain any kind of charade at all that it has Lebanon’s interests at heart.

Exit question one: How is it that Sunni Arabs, forever nervous about Shiite influence, have stood by idly for so long while Iran’s built a proxy force capable of crushing the Sunnis in Lebanon in literally half a day? You’d think the Saudis, at least, would have started assembling a Sunni Hezbollah ages ago. And no, Al Qaeda doesn’t count: The Saudis sowed the theological seeds for AQ by spreading Wahhabism, but it’s hard to call them a proxy when one of their core goals is deposing the royals. It’d be like Hezbollah declaring jihad on Khamenei. Exit question two: What lessons might this display of force hold for those eager to pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government take its chances with that country’s Iranian-backed militias?


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On exit question 2: It’s the model profile if we should pull out of Iraq.

Kini on May 10, 2008 at 2:40 PM

What lessons might this display of force hold for those eager to pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government take its chances with Sadr, SCIRI, et al?

You hold the American left in higher regard than I do. I do not think they care one spit about the future of Iraq or the Iraqi people, so any parralels to Lebanon are moot.

The people leading the charge to get America out of Iraq have one thing and one thing only in mind: the reduction of American power through a vindication of their own world view.

As for Hezbollah, I hope the Israelis are training hard in counterinsurgency tactics that the US have refined in Iraq. They’re going to need them.

Nessuno on May 10, 2008 at 2:41 PM

What lessons might this display of force hold for those eager to pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government take its chances with Sadr, SCIRI, et al?

Absolutely none. The Dems are in a win/win with the Iraq post war question. If we withdraw, and Iraq turns into a Cambodia, the blame will be placed squarely on the Republicans shoulders. If we withdraw, now that it looks like Iraq is beginning to turn around, and it remains stable, then the Dems will take the ‘we told you so’ stance that we were causing more harm then good.

The Israeli boogeyman is too strong. Too many years of claiming the cause of all the MEs problems is Israel. The left will not be satisfied until Israel erased.

Limerick on May 10, 2008 at 2:46 PM

A thought on Question 1: Wahhabism is the Sunni (Saudi) version of a Nightmare on Elm Street. It just doesn’t want to die. No matter how many times you kill it. Their creation may also liken to the Frankenstein monster.

Kini on May 10, 2008 at 2:46 PM

Have you read the stories that are talking about a rumble between Al Qaeda and Hizbullah?

I would be slightly upbeat about that, except that I know the real losers are going to be the civilians in between the two sides.

But hey, I’m really proud of UNIFIL’s role in this, as well as the UN in disarming Hizbullah. Yep. They’re great at standing aside and doing nothing.

Meryl Yourish on May 10, 2008 at 2:57 PM

Have you read the stories that are talking about a rumble between Al Qaeda and Hizbullah?

Yup. That’s sort of a “Nazis vs. zombies” scenario. But indeed, it would tear the country apart.

Allahpundit on May 10, 2008 at 2:59 PM

You’d think the Saudis, at least, would have started assembling a Sunni Hezbollah ages ago.

This is a country we had to defend in the first Gulf War, resulting in our problems with Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, neither of which they’ve been particularly helpful in dealing with. This is a country that needs foreign workers to keep the most willing source of oil in the world flowing. With apologies to the one Saudi I know (who actually isn’t useless), Saudi Arabia is useless as a nation, not able to run a real economy, not capable of having a real army, or even mentoring a proxy army from afar. Contrast the accomplishments of prominent Saudis with those of prominent Iranians, and you’ll see what I mean. I have no love for Iran, but at least they’re not incompetent (excepting their president).

calbear on May 10, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Lebanon has been a hell for many years, thats not going to change anytime soon.

2theright on May 10, 2008 at 3:06 PM

Force, force, force.

Diplomacy with groups like this without the real threat of force behind it is simply a monologue.

And even then, I’m extremely doubtful that talks will lead to anything.

Senator Obama apparently believes that the radicalism of groups like Hezbollah or Hamas is like the radicalism of a Rev. Wright or Ayers. Just talk (words?). And more talk (words?) can dissuade them of this worldview.

No, the anti-Americanism and extremism of these groups is a far different matter than the rantings of some stuck-in-the-Sixties preachers or anti-Vietnam war types.

Let’s hope a President Obama won’t have to learn that.

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 3:09 PM

Did I miss McCain’s or Obama’s comments on these developements?

Zorro on May 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM

As the son of Christian Lebanese immigrants, I have to say that these past few days have been really depressing. We still have relatives over there, and it just seems to get worse every year.

I don’t see any positive resolution here. Either the government capitulates to Hezbollah’s demands (unacceptable) or the Sunnis and Christians band together to try and disarm them (and drag the entire country into another 20 year civil war) Like I said, extremely depressing.

SDnocoen on May 10, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Did I miss McCain’s or Obama’s comments on these developements?

Zorro on May 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM

The press hasn’t woken up from their fainting at seeing their messiah in jeans. I’m sure they’ll ask important questions as soon as they get over their stupor.

SouthernGent on May 10, 2008 at 3:17 PM

In his response to this news, Obama juxtaposes pronounced sound bites towards the UN, the US, the Lebanese government, and Hezbollah that are contradictory, speaking with his forked tongue from both sides of his mouth, totally incoherent. He has no bearings to lose, clearly.

McCain has given his criticism of Obama’s inexperience and lack of judgment demonstrated here.

maverick muse on May 10, 2008 at 3:32 PM

…visit Gateway Pundit for articles

maverick muse on May 10, 2008 at 3:33 PM

As for our next president’s reaction to all this

He might as well have said. “Boobies not bombs”

- The Cat

MirCat on May 10, 2008 at 3:34 PM

Our adversaries are so convinced, correctly or not, that Obama won’t use force that the threat of it is completely removed from their concerns. That’s a weak negotiating position to be in; even if we’re dealing with weaker parties.

He wants (who doesn’t?) to pull our troops out of Iraq, and therefore remove a card from the table in any talks that he wants to have face-to-face with Iran.

Now that’s dumb.

Obama’s Kennedy, the setting is Vienna, and everyone else is Khrushchev.

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 4:00 PM

Hezbollah is not just an Iranian backed militia. It was born out of the Israeli occupation and a way for the Lebanon’s most disenfranchised, the Shia population, to have security and and a voice where they traditionally have had none.

Israel tried using its air force and army to wipe out Hezbollah and had their asses handed top them on plate. Do you think using force enhanced Israeli security or enhanced Hezbollah’s position and support? The answer is pretty obvious and I think it is funny that so many here are merely advocating another war which will result in another victory for Hezbollah and further enhance Iran’s position in the region (yeah… just like the Iraq did). Hezbollah did what it did against the Sunni element in the government because the government tried to take away one its most prized assets. Hezbollah is not merely a gang of militants. It is a social and political organization with deep roots and support among most of the population in South Lebabnon.

lexhamfox on May 10, 2008 at 4:03 PM

Funny how Obama always as a economic explanation for all political disruptions. Hasn’t Marxism been discredited by now? What grade is this man in?

Witness the Shiite rebellion in Iraq, a result of our own fairy tale reasoning that if the Shiites only had parliament seats in direction proportion to their percentage of population, kumbaya would break out all over.

These people are true believers. How many times do they have to tell us: you love life, we love death. When will we hear them?

PattyJ on May 10, 2008 at 4:08 PM

Exit question one: How is it that Sunni Arabs, forever nervous about Shiite influence, have stood by idly for so long while Iran’s built a proxy force capable of crushing the Sunnis in Lebanon in literally half a day?

I do not think the Lebanese want outside influence. They have an indentity of being Lebanese. Hezbollah members do not neccesarily have a Lebanese identity. Hezbollah wants outside help, that why they get it.

The Saudi’s concentrate their efforts on culturally exporting Wahhabism, not using proxies. Also Arabs are moe concerned with keeping themselves in power. Perhaps thew Saudis see using proxies as bad for business.

Exit question two: What lessons might this display of force hold for those eager to pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government take its chances with that country’s Iranian-backed militias?

People in favor of a pullout would never, ever think to ask the question. If it is asked during a debate watch Barack stumble all over himself to answer it.

Theworldisnotenough on May 10, 2008 at 5:01 PM

McCain has said he’ll be Hamas’ worst nightmare and that he’d follow bin Laden to the gates of Hell. What has he said about Hezbollah? By most accounts, they’re more sophisticated than the other two and just as destabilizing.

CP on May 10, 2008 at 5:01 PM

Hezbollah is not merely a gang of militants. It is a social and political organization with deep roots and support among most of the population in South Lebabnon.

Hezbollah’s actions – turning its weapons inward and against the Lebanese people – should put to rest forever this notion that it is some sort of nationalist movement protecting Lebanon from Israel.

It’s a wholely owned entity of Syria and Iran and does the bidding of those two regional powers.

It’s declared war against the pro-western government and the Lebanese people who do not wish to live under its control.

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Exit question two: What lessons might this display of force hold for those eager to pull out of Iraq and let the Iraqi government take its chances with that country’s Iranian-backed militias?

Perhaps they expected more from the Lebanese Christian “forces”. It wouldn’t be the first time, as the IDF knows only too well.

Alalazoo on May 10, 2008 at 5:20 PM

lexhamfox on May 10, 2008 at 4:03 PM

Thanks for clarifying how the Obama administration would view Hezbollah. Very enlightening.

Limerick on May 10, 2008 at 5:24 PM

OK Steve MG name one group within Lebanon which hasn’t used force within Lebanon to protect the interests of its constituents. If you are correct and these guys are just terrorists then why do they have such a large following whcih includes lots of non-Shi’ites? If Hezbollah declared war against the government then why are they handing over control to the Army? If they wanted to control more they easily could but they are limiting their ambition to protecting a key asset that the government tried to take away.

Yeah Limerick… I work for the Obama campaign …ha ha.

lexhamfox on May 10, 2008 at 5:34 PM

If you are correct and these guys are just terrorists then why do they have such a large following whcih includes lots of non-Shi’ites?

lexhamfox on May 10, 2008 at 5:34 PM

FEAR (and ignorance too)

Guardian on May 10, 2008 at 5:43 PM

OK Steve MG name one group within Lebanon which hasn’t used force within Lebanon to protect the interests of its constituents.

Why did they turn their guns against the government? I thought they were simply a movement that emerged to protect Lebanon from the Israeli threat?

There was no threat coming from the government against Hezbollah interests. The government is too weak and divided to do anything about them.

Some savior of Lebanon they are.

They turned control of the army back to the government because they de-fanged it. It’s a toothless entity that no longer is a threat to them.

They know it.

They’ve set up a state within the state of Lebanon in the southern parts of the country from which they waged war against Israel. They care not a whit about the Lebanese people who don’t follow their cause.

But instead of overthrowing the government, they’ve created a force above and beyond the reach of that government.

It’s a government by name only.

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 5:45 PM

Hezbollah did what it did against the Sunni element in the government because the government tried to take away one its most prized assets

You mean it’s weapons? RPGs, Mortars, Rockets and Car Bombs.

Now why would a perfectly innocent group of do-gooders need stuff like that?

Israel tried using its air force and army to wipe out Hezbollah and had their asses handed top them on plate

Really?

It will be years before the damage caused by Hezbollah in Lebannon will be fixed. The Israeli’s fixed their stuff within a couple of months after it was over.

Guardian on May 10, 2008 at 6:02 PM

I personally can’t wait to see how Robert “I’m the biggest douche bag in the World” Fisk is going to explain why Israel is at fault for Hezbollah attacking its own citizens.

Lance Murdock on May 10, 2008 at 6:03 PM

Hezbollah militants ransacked the media offices of the pro-government Future Movement, headed by Saad Hariri, throughout Beirut. Make no mistake: this is an orchestrated attack. Hezbollah’s supporters have destroyed Future Movement TV antennas across the city and threatened pro-government journalists. They also invaded and set fire to the Future Movement newspaper, located in West Beirut. As has become routine, the Lebanese army stood by and watched while these offices were destroyed

.

Yep, they’re just a social movement providing services to the Shia’s in Lebanon while protecting the country from outside aggressors.

Nothing more than that.

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 6:17 PM

Source for the above and more: Link

SteveMG on May 10, 2008 at 6:19 PM

Allahpundit.

http://www.gulfnews.com/region/Lebanon/10211899.html

Theworldisnotenough on May 10, 2008 at 7:33 PM

Nonie Darwish at UC-Irvine

This week, I was fortunate to be able to hear Nonie Darwish speak at UC-Irvine as part of the week-long celebration of Israel’s 60th birthday. I have previously written about Darwish in my blog (Three Muslim Heretics). Briefly, she was born in Cairo and has lived in Gaza. Her father fought against Israel and was eventually killed by Israeli forces. Thus, she grew up hating everything about the Jewish state and Jews in general. Subsequent to 9-11, she rejected Muslim violence, broke with the religion and has become an active voice against Jihad. She is the author of a book entitled: Now they call me Infidel.

I wish I could say that there was a big crowd to hear her presentation (which was coupled with a film entitled: The Suicide Killers). However, the turnout was quite small-about 20 or so people-including her bodyguards. I was the only faculty member there.

Darwish began by describing her early upbringing in the Middle East and her feelings of hatred toward Jews, which she attributed to the death of her father as well as the way Arab youth were educated in Cairo to hate Jews. She also made some important observations about the general outlook on the part of Muslims that we in the West should be aware of. I will mention them below in no particular order.

The penalty for a Muslim who leaves the religion is death.

She quoted the part of the Koran that describes when Jews will hide behind trees and rocks and the tree will tell Muslims that there is a Jew hiding behind (the tree)-come and kill him).

In the Koran, according to Darwish, in 97% of the references to Jihad, it is the context of fighting against non-believers. Only in about 3% of cases is Jihad described as a struggle to be a better person, etc.

She described how in Israel, Muslims are free to practice their religion freely, unlike in Muslim countries, where a Jew would be killed if he walked down the street wearing a yarmulke or other item that marked him as a Jew.

She derided Muslim efforts to have American universities and airports install foot baths. In the Middle East, only Saudi Arabia has public foot baths to her knowledge. She also pointed out that many US universities receive funding from Middle Eastern sources such as Saudi Arabia- a nation that promotes Wahhabi teaching among Muslims in the West. (note: At UC-Irvine, the MSU receives funding from the university-taken from student tuition fees.)

In regards to Saudi Arabia, she recounted how just recently, a top religious leader has issued a Fatwa calling for the murder of two Saudis who had publicly called for moderation within Islam.

She also spoke of so-called “Honor Killings”, recounting the story of a young maid in her childhood home who had become pregnant as a result of being raped. After Darwish’s family assisted the girl to find refuge with a social services agency, they learned later that the girl had been returned to her family. Her father and her brother then murdered her-for the shame of being raped-in accordance with Shariah law. In Muslim countries, such “honor killings” are treated leniently under the law.

Perhaps most alarmingly, she warned against creeping Shariah in the West, which would impose Muslim rules within our countries.

In her mind, there is no real difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

Darwish noted how America has struggled for many years to overcome our own prejudices and cautioned us against allowing new prejudices to enter our country (i.e.: Muslim prejudice against Jews).

I am sorry that so few people turned out to hear the words of this courageous woman. As I stated above, I was the only faculty member present (and I am only a part-time teacher at that). In contrast, fired DePaul professor and terrorist sympathizer, Norman Finklestein’s anti-Israel monologue this week was attended by Dean of Students, Sally Peterson, who took copius notes and Dean of Judicial Affairs, Edgar Dormitorio, who tried to get a pro-Israel supporter, Jonathan Constantine, to sit down while he was filming. But they could not bring themselves to hear the words of a woman who has put her life on the line to oppose Muslim terror. Dormitorio, for his part, was pacing outside the hall where Darwish spoke, yet would not come in to hear what she had to say. Why is this? Is it because they were unsympathetic to Ms Darwish’s point of view? Was it because they were afraid to offend the Muslim Student Union? A combination of the two? Ms Darwish’s theme was a rejection of hate. Yet, that was apparently not of interest to those who teach and lead UC-Irvine. They would rather pander to a tiny minority of students who have brought national disrepute to their campus.

What a collection of empty suits.

gary fouse
fousesquawk
adjunct teacher
uci-ext

gary fouse on May 10, 2008 at 8:30 PM

gary fouse on May 10, 2008 at 8:30 PM

There ya go, spreading hope.

Great post.

Limerick on May 10, 2008 at 10:01 PM

Nonie Darwish at UC-Irvine

gary fouse on May 10, 2008 at 8:30 PM

You do occasionally find an eagle among the crows.

Holmes on May 10, 2008 at 10:04 PM