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Candide's Latest: Saturday, August 5, 2006
United Nations Security Crap Shoot
Last week, Qana. This week, the Bekaa.

A UN Resolution designed to fail: France and the United States have agreed on a UN Security Council resolution to end the war in Lebanon. It looks like it’s in two parts. In reverse order: A UN-mandated multinational force and the Lebanese army alone would patrol a buffer zone in south Lebanon. But before getting there, the resolution calls for "the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations.” (That's the wording of the resolution itself.)

Notice the difference: Hezbollah must stop all attacks. Israel must only stop offensive operations. Judging from Israel’s interpretation of its self-imposed 48-hour “lull” after the massacre at Qana, Israel is not engaged in any “offensive” operations to start with. Only defensive ones. It carried on attacks on Lebanon after Qana by calling them defensive measures in support of ground forces. Another irony: Hezbollah, aside from its drizzle of mostly wayward rockets on northern Israel, is the only side engaged in defensive action in South Lebanon, where the territory is far more legitimately Hezbollah’s rather than Israel’s. So it’s unlikely that the UN resolution will be accepted, given its one-sided premise. Even if it were: the second part of the resolution looks like a shot in the dark. Israel won’t accept a UN force that merely amp[lifies the role of UNIFIL, the UN force already there since 1978. UNIFIL has been an embarrassment of a UN force—neither peacekeeping nor a force. It’s not about to be more effective with either a different name or a few additional “soldiers.” Read the text of the Resolution Here...

Minefield sidenote: The UN resolution also calls for "provision to the United Nations of remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel's possession." This is one of those obscure but important sticking points that has kept hatred for Israel at such a high pitch in Lebanon: Since its withdrawal in 2000, Israel has refused to turn over maps of the thousands of landmines it planted in South Lebanon, thus ensuring that people, often children playing in fields, keep getting killed time after time for no other reason--none--but Israel's malice, there being no justifiable reason for Israel to hold on to its maps. Protection for its troops during further incursions, like now? Fine: keep a copy.

Robert Fisk: A Terrible Thought Occurs to Me: That There Will Be Another 9/11: " The room shook. Not since the 1983 earthquake has my apartment rocked from side to side. That was the force of the Israeli explosions in the southern suburbs of Beirut - three miles from my home - and the air pressure changed in the house yesterday morning and outside in the street the palm trees moved. Is it to be like this every day? How many civilians can you make homeless before you start a revolution? And what is next? Are the Israelis to bomb the centre of Beirut? The Corniche? Is this why all the foreign warships came and took their citizens away, to make Beirut safe to destroy?" Read Fisk's full column...

From Ahmad, Saida's Own, at Cold Desert: "From where we were sitting, we could see the sea, and during the one hour we stayed there, an Israeli plane made three attempts to throw pamphlets on the city (between 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM). Obviously the pilot has a serious vision problem or he is totally inept because all his three attempts ended up with the pamphlets in the sea. Of course, we returned home and he continued to trying (I bet anyone can do a better job on his very first aviation experience.) Anyway, after many trials, it seems that the Israeli plane "succeeded" (thank God) in dropping the pamphlets on the city and not on the fishes. The stupid pamphlets are asking the people, in Saida, to evacuate. How are we going to leave, when there is no fuel in the gas stations!?[...] I am not leaving. And to all the terrorist Israeli army, I want to say, go **** yourself. :)" See the full post...

The Toronto Globe and Mail's Patrick Martin in beirut has a profile of Gen. Michel Aoun, "Lebanon's Napoleon." God help Lebanon if that's how the west sees this latter-day Bachir Gemeyel, to whom ambition for the presidency (as his pre-war alliance with Hezbollah, once his sworn enemy, proves) is more important than Lebanese unity and all those bromides he once peddled from his foxholes. See the profile here...

Thousands March in South Africa against Irsael, and thousands march in Britain against Israel.

Anthony Shadid, working on his second Pulitzer from the Lebanese side of the border: “Three weeks into Israel's war with Hezbollah, its forces are still fighting along a wrinkled strip of territory that stretches 50 yards to more than three miles inside Lebanon, far short of a zone Israeli forces said would soon expand deeper inside the country all along the border. U.N. officials said they estimate that at this pace, with guerrilla battles still pitched in border towns, Israel would need another month to reach the Litani River, a push that Israel's defense minister has urged his top army commanders to prepare for. The officials said that Israel probably has destroyed 40 or so of Hezbollah's positions along the 49-mile border, but that the group's communications remain intact, with messages passed between guerrilla leaders in different regions. The Hezbollah fighters still seem to have freedom of movement across terrain they know intuitively; one was sighted in Bint Jbeil on Monday, another in Qalaouay on Friday. The officials estimate Hezbollah could keep firing missiles into Israel for four more weeks.”

Legacies of Qana: “Is it possible, perhaps, that the 10-year-old child orphaned in 1996 became the 20-year-old Hezbollah guerrilla who triggered the Katyushas of 2006? Is Israel merely making more orphans who will do it again in 2016? So it goes,” writes Mike Carlton in the Sydney Morning herald. He also cites a letter he received last week, in response to an earlier column: “My uncle died in the Warsaw ghetto. My grandmother, who lives in Sydney, survived Auschwitz, but lost her husband there. I have visited my many cousins in Israel. Having joined a world cheering for Israel for six days in 1967, and having wept for the Israelis in Munich in 1972 … I have watched with dismay as a cruel pragmatism has, since then, displaced morality in Israeli political life. Of course it is right and just to pursue murderous terrorists whoever or wherever they may be, but to inflict so much 'collateral damage', as the USA has done in Afghanistan and Iraq, and as Israel is doing in Lebanon, is inhumane, immoral and, in the longer term, totally counter-productive.”

The Suicide Bombers Are Coming: The Sydney Morning herald reports on a promise by Indonesian-based terror group Asian Muslim Youth Movement to send suicide bombers to Israel, the United States and other Israeli-supporting countries. "If, after the 48-hour deadline, the aggressions continue," AMYM leader Suaib Didu said, "we can't be held responsible if there are suicide bombings in countries that support the aggressions of the Israeli military, if it is America, Australia or other countries." The declaration was made "After more than 100 balaclava-clad "jihadis" demonstrated their martial arts skills in Pontianak, on the Indonesian island of Borneo, yesterday," according to the SMH.

Funny how the Israeli and American press love to pounce with glee on any sign of Arabs condemning other Arabs: “A top Saudi Sunni cleric, whose ideas inspired Osama bin Laden, issued a religious edict Saturday disavowing the Shi'ite guerrilla group Hizbullah, evidence that a rift remained among Muslims over the fighting in Lebanon,” the Jerusalem Post reports. “Hizbullah, which translates as ‘the party of God,’ is actually ‘the party of the devil,’ said Sheik Safar al-Hawali, whose radical views made the al-Qaida leader one of his followers in the past. ‘Don't pray for Hizbullah,’ he said in the fatwa posted on his Web site.” But that’s like Pol Pot condemning Mao, or Stalin condemning Lenin. Who cares, when what it highlights isn’t the rift between Muslims, which is obvious enough, but the fact that one of the many proxy fights going on in Lebanon is the one between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda in the battle for supremacy as the representative of the “True Faith.”

In Other Worlds

George Riggs, another reason why print journalism is being killed by its own, in the name of shareholder value: “It's just hard to look at the newspaper business and be a real optimist," says Riggs in a lavishly unchallenging profile. "We are going to have to become super, super efficient on the cost side. We're going to have to become the Wal-Mart of information purveyors. None of us wants to hear that, but that's a harsh reality." This in an industry with a standard profit margin exceeding 20 percent, one of the highest of any industry, service or trade.

Dude, Here's Your Civil War, cont'd: The Iraqi civil war has already begun, according to those who can see it firsthand: US troops: From Knight-Ridder-McClatchy: " "There's one street that's the dividing line. They shoot mortars across the line and abduct people back and forth," said 1st Lt. Brian Johnson, a 4th Infantry Division platoon leader from Houston. Johnson, 24, was describing the nightly violence that pits Sunni gunmen from Baghdad's Ghazaliyah neighborhood against Shiite gunmen from the nearby Shula district. As he spoke, the sights and sounds of battle grew: first, the rat-a-tat-tat of fire from AK-47 assault rifles, then the heavier bursts of PKC machine guns, and finally the booms of mortar rounds crisscrossing the night sky and crashing down onto houses and roads. The bodies of captured Sunni and Shiite fighters will turn up in the morning, dropped in canals and left on the side of the road. "We've seen some that have been executed on site, with bullet holes in the ground; the rest were tortured and executed somewhere else and dumped," Johnson said. The recent assertion by U.S. soldiers here that Iraq is in a civil war is a stunning indication that American efforts to bring peace and democracy to Iraq are failing, more than three years after the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein's regime." See the full story...

Courtesy ATOl

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