Michael Totten

Where do they go from here?

Posted by Mary Madigan

“Where do we go from here?” Pro-democracy bloggers in the Middle East are asking themselves that question.

arch.memory from Lebanese Blogger Forums says:

So, now that they’re gone, where go we go from here? In trying to reflect on the past several pivotal weeks in our history, several issues come to mind. One thing that concerns me is that fissure in Lebanese society that came to the surface after the assassination of Hariri and was perhaps at its climax during the tense days of “counter-demonstrations”: namely, the Lebanese Shiites vs. the rest of the Lebanese. Before you jump down my throat, I am a Lebanese Shiite, or as I prefer to put it, I come from a Shiite family, since sect is one of those things that are dictated on us, the Lebanese, upon birth, regardless of faith. In any case, my interest in putting up this call for a discussion came after a comment my brother left to a post on my blog. The post was about an article in Slate magazine online by Elisabeth Eaves entitled “Camping in Beirut—A Revolutionary Act”. Here is the comment; I thought it would be a good way to spur discussion:

When I read this article, I felt, well, sad.

I do not know why I am writing this, it does not relate much to the article, but I need to express it somewhere, this feeling that I have of perpetual guilt.

I am a Chiite Lebanese and I support the cause of the camp/revolution that is going on, and I did not take part in them. I was not willing to sacrifice my semester for something I knew was good for my country.

It might not be about sectarianism, and it might bring nothing out (though it has), but, if for anything, it was (and still is) about citizen contribution to the democratic process. That is all.

At Spirit of America’s Lebanon Blog, Michael Totten explains why the democratic process is so important:

Some of the tent-city residents have told me their goals are not only national. The goals of some of them (but not all of them) also are global. They truly believe they are resolving the clash of civilizations here in Beirut by proving that Christian and Islamic civilizations can co-exist in peace and in friendship. Lebanon has long been a bridge between East and West. In the future it may play the crucial role of a peace broker.

But it is not going to work if Lebanon cannot become a mature liberal democracy. Dictatorships notoriously use divide-and-rule tactics to pit their enemies against one another. Syria has been playing that game inside Lebanon – and on the world stage – for a long time. Terrorism is only one of the sinister byproducts of that. War is another.

Lebanon’s civil war drew in four foreign powers: Syria, Iran, Israel, and the United States. Those four powers are still simmering in a state of cold war today. Naturally enough, the two that are ruled by dictatorships – Syria and Iran – are also state sponsors of terrorism.

The Iranian government, state sponsor of Hizbullah, recently said that Lebanon was “vulnerable” and risked civil war. Of that threat, Raja Abu Hassan, said:

Okay. I think Iran is going too far now! We all know that Hizballah is intimately connected to the Iranian regime. However, we were told over and over again that it was a “national” resistance force fighting to liberate Lebanon from foreign occupation.

Today, Mr. Khatami warned that “the possibility exists of an escalation of differences and degeneration into a civil war.” hmmm… Who is he to say that there is a possibility for civil war in Lebanon???

One commenter on Raja’s site said:

Hizbullah will never issue any statement requesting an apology from the Iranian President. At the time that the last Syrian tank is leaving our country, the last thing we want to hear is a threat. We are just tired of this sort of talk. As a “foreign” country, Iran should just stick to the diplomatic talk that all foreign countries have been releasing about Lebanon which is namely hoping that elections take place on time and that they wish us the best of luck!

On another note, Raja, I read an article from Al-Mustaqbal, that analyzed Hizbullah’s latest moves: supporting Mrad as opposed to Mikati (when Mikati is supposedly part of a Syrian-Arab-International deal to move things forward), giving Ghazaleh a gift (Israeli weapon) during his farewell visit to Nasrallah, and announcing to the heads of the security apparatus (especially El-Sayyid)that they will provide them with security.

The author, Naseer Al-Ass’ad, was baffled that Hizbullah is outright taking sides and despite the moving forward that we’ve witnessed this past week, they are still leaning towards the “losing” side. The author questioned whether Hizbullah is worried that it will be next and that the disarmament issue will be put on the negotiating table. Whatever their motives, such moves will be counter-productive for Hizbullah as Lebanon heads towards a post-syrian era after the elections.

Another recited a list of Hizbollah-related propaganda with more than a hint of irony:

No Raja, are you telling me that Hizbullah is more than the national resitance, that Hizbullah, which according to them, has never and will never turn its arms on other lebanese? that they are merely an armed milita heavily influenced by a foreign power with an islamist agenda by its very nature, unpalatable to the majority of lebanese. Well it is clear, you must be a zionist imperialist for casting aspersions on ” a source of pride for the islamic and arab world”, To borrow a phrase from a few good men, ” We want hizbullah on that wall, We need them on that wall” and if we disagree we are zionist imperialists rooting for american hegemony, and we are all going to hell! Maybe now I won’t have to keep reading about their social services etc…

Tony from Across the Bay mentions that the myth/propaganda of Hizbullah’s never using its weapons against other Lebanese is historically false. He says: “I’m not sure how people forget Hizbullah’s wars with its Shiite rival Amal, and even with the PSP)and remains false today (with often-deadly clashes with Amal going on on a regular basis).”

In response to Raja’s comments on the Iranian threat, one commenter said:

80% of iranians are just itching to hang these clerics and they are warning us about differences in our country.

According to Wretchard of the Belmont Club, indirect warfare has put two terror-supporting states, Syria and Iran, on the defensive. The Mullahs are welcoming ex-Baathists into their fold.

The Persian Journal believes that that billionaire Mullahs are hoping that this Arab-Iranian alliance will benefit them, not politicially but also financially. Unfortunately for the Mullahs, things aren’t working out as planned.

More news here and here