- Walid Joumblatt
By Ghaleb Kandil
Moral Collapse and Mental Disorder
During the last few days, the Lebanese watched live on television some of the chapters of the resounding collapse of the March 14 forces in the streets of Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, one which reached its dramatic peak with the scandalous attempt to storm the Serail. This constituted a failed and outrageous act, both politically and morally.
Firstly, the moral and cultural collapse of the March 14 forces has been featured in their actions since the assassination of General Wissam al-Hassan. Indeed, the political front that delivered lectures and launched campaigns in rejection of the weapons, all weapons, under the headline that the state and the national institutions were the only guarantors of all aspects of life, and the front which claimed to be peaceful since the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005 and tried to appear oppressed and aggressed, unleashed a campaign of political and security violence which led the country to the brink of civil war. It did so by exploiting the assassination, without raising one slogan related to the investigations and the trials. It thus sought the use of the crime to achieve an immoral goal, i.e. return to power, without having a political program or making any pledges to change the situation. The only aim was to replace Prime Minister Najib Mikati with leader of the Future Movement Saad al-Hariri.
Secondly, what happened on the ground was not a street anarchy as some like to claim to lift any responsibility which might fall on the March 14 command for having recruits thugs and riff-raff in an organized sabotage campaign, during which the citizens were assaulted and public life was paralyzed due to the mobile riots and violence. Indeed, the Lebanese regions witnessed the erection of checkpoints controlled by armed elements that beat the passersby, attacked the cars and practiced provocative sectarian violence against hundreds of Lebanese in the Bekaa and the coastal road linking Beirut to the South. At this level, information circulated about the fact that many young men were thrown off the Awwali Bridge, while dozens were stabbed with knives in the Naame and Katermaya regions. In the meantime, shootings occurred in an organized way in Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and Akkar, in addition to the emergence of a form of political terrorism which led to the killing of a Sunni sheikhs and cadres opposing the Future Movement on the political level. Moreover, armed groups from the Future Movement militias, the so-called Free Army and Takfiri organizations were deployed, thus causing the streets to be occupied by Lebanese or Syrian armed gangs. Hence, the street mayhem did not feature a spontaneous popular action, and this marked the epitome of moral collapse.
Thirdly, the goal which is linked to the return to power through the spread of methodic chaos and anarchy stripped the March 14 forces of any moral quality and exposed the core of their action. At this level, the facts registered a popular abstinence from cooperating with these forces’ calls, despite their exploitation of the shed blood once again and their use of all possible means, including the spread of rumors, the mobilization of a massive media machine, the rallying of thousands of Syrian refugees and the distribution of money. All these measures failed to revive the old scenes of the consecutive events organized in the years which followed the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. The storming of the Serail on the other hand constituted the peak of the mental and political disorder prevailing over the March 14 command, which raised the slogan of toppling the government while thinking it could lead to Mikati’s exit upon the orders and calls of Al-Sanioura against the backdrop of the assassination. It was as though the Lebanese had forgotten about the fact that the man remained unaffected by and did not even consider resignation in light of the series of assassinations which occurred during his term. This command thought that its faltering political muscles had the ability to amend the American and Israeli positions which revolved around the necessity of sparing stability in Lebanon, as it was clearly seen in the Baabda declaration which constituted a strong blow to Al-Hariri’s and Geagea’s illusions.
Fourthly, the storming of the Serail in itself confirmed the moral collapse. This was clearly detected by the citizens when comparing what was done by the March 14 forces during the days of Al-Sanioura’s government, i.e. when they fiercely defended the premiership and its headquarters, and was recalled by Mufti Sheikh Rashid Qabbani. At this level, the emergence of the gangs of the so-called Free Army constituted a dramatic and expressive turning point, especially after they placed their flag above the Lebanese flag on the Serail door, in parallel to the presence of Israeli agents among the crowds which could not be widened despite the calls of Deputy Nouhad al-Mashnouk and the shouting of Deputy Muin al-Merhebi, with the sole purpose of enhancing the attack on the Serail guards.
The desperate team following the collapse of the wager on Syria’s fall and the attempts to return to power at whichever price, acted without any cover from its American and European sponsors, knowing that the latter have no intention of becoming involved in a battle or a coup in Lebanon out of fear from the consequences of this the lethal adventure inside their last area of influence. This reveals the mental and nervous disorder prevailing over the March 14 command, one which led it to adopt hysterical and arbitrary decisions as it is proceeding with its game in the North and seeking the besieging of the Lebanese army with depletion. The regional and international balances and calculations have changed, and political stupidity mixed with spite can only lead this team to commit foolish acts. That is the reality behind the events witnessed during the last few days in a country whose people yearn for civil peace and reject strife, at a time when the March 14 forces are recruiting mercenaries to attack the Lebanese army and state which they are trying to reach, as it was stated by the prime minister.
By Nasser Kandil
The Eid Truce and Three Tests.
Brahimi’s efforts to ensure the proclamation of truce is approved by the Syrian state in the context of three tests:
Firstly, the confirmation of the credibility of what was said to Brahimi by the Western states and Turkey, which clearly expressed their wish to stop wagering on violence in the confrontation with Syria and their willingness to deal with the existing dispute with the Syrian state as they are dealing with the Iranian nuclear file, i.e. as a dispute whose resolution is being ensured via negotiations. Hence, this truce will reveal the extent of the credibility of this talk, especially after Washington had blatantly called on the armed men on previous occasions to relinquish their weapons, then announced a few days ago it was arming the groups carrying the flag of war against Syria. The same was done by France and Turkey which is harboring the majority of these groups, while Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states pledged to issue public positions in support of the political solution and to stop funding those opposed to this solution.
Secondly, the rejection of any attempt to turn the discontinuation of the armed action as being part of the existence of two opposite camps and as a fait accompli. This is due to the fact that the Syrian state is the only one that legitimately has the right to carry weapons, while the presidential pardon is a mechanism to allow those who wish to exit the arms game among its citizens to do so, considering that the eventual solution resides in disarmament.
Thirdly, the division of the groups inside Syria between those who will support the truce and end their boycotting of dialogue, those who will reluctantly support it and those who will blatantly oppose it and seek sabotage. This would allow the Syrian state to determine the way with which it will later on deal with these groups based on their positions, without being affected by the illusion of the implementation of the ceasefire by all the sides, especially those who were introduced to the country among extremist and terrorist powers that previously announced the continuation of their criminal acts. Caution will thus prevail, in order to prevent any attempt to improve the positions of the armed men under the umbrella of the truce.
During his meeting with United Nations Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi and the delegation accompanying him, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the developments affecting the situation in Syria, the efforts deployed By Brahimi and the outcome of his recent tour in a number of states in the region. President Al-Assad stressed Syria’s support of the efforts of the UN envoy, assuring it was open to any honest attempts to seek a political solution to the crisis, based on the respect of Syrian sovereignty and the rejection of foreign intervention. He added that any initiative or political process should be based on ending terrorism, with all that this requires in terms of commitments by the states implicated in supporting and arming the terrorists in Syria to stop doing so.
In statements to the press following his meeting with President Al-Assad, Brahimi assured: “As usual, the meeting was honest and responsible, and we tackled all the facets of the Syrian situation. We also discussed the future and our hopes to see the resolution of the crisis in Syria and the return of peace and stability.” Brahimi added: “I spoke with President Al-Assad about the ceasefire during the Eid, and spoke to all those I met inside and outside of Syria about this personal initiative.” He believed that if each side adopted a unilateral decision in this regard, it will eventually become a collective decision not to resort to arms during the Eid period, indicating that the oppositionists abroad and the officials with whom he met in the neighboring states all supported his idea.
For his part, the secretary general of the National Democratic Solidarity Party, Dr. Salim Abdul Wahhab al-Kharat, announced that his party was seeking a roadmap to deal with all the national opposition forces inside Syria, unify them and head to the dialogue table. He also called for the discontinuation of violence by all sides, and for commitment to truthfulness and loyalty to the country.
On the other hand, President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree granting a general pardon for all the crimes committed before 23/10/2012. In statements to the national news agency SANA, Justice Minister Dr. Najm Hamad al-Ahmad said that the pardon issued by President Al-Assad was the most comprehensive in the history of the Syrian Arab Republic, and fell in the context of social tolerance, national unity and the requirements of coexistence on the occasion of the Holy Eid al-Adha. He considered that this constituted a step in a series of steps announced by President Al-Assad on more than one occasion.
The battles continued between the Libyan governmental forces and armed groups in Bani Walid, leading to the fall of dozens of dead and hundreds of wounded. In the meantime, around 200 people stormed the General National Congress headquarters in Libya (parliament) demanding the ending of the violence in Bani Walid. At this level, Congress Chairman Mohamed el-Magariaf justified the military operation on Bani Walid by saying: “The city has become a place of refuge for large numbers of outlaws and for elements publically opposing the revolution. Its media channels have become a platform for the enemies of the revolution among the remnants of the collapsing regime, and to many, it has become a city outside the context of the revolution.” He added: “What is being witnessed in Bani Walid is not an extermination war or racial cleansing as some are falsely claiming. It is a campaign launched to instate legitimacy and restore security, safety and stability.”
For his part, the military commander of the most prominent armed group in Bani Walid, Salem al-Waer, considered that “the authorities have given a green light to the militias to destroy the city,” calling on the United Nations and the West to protect the civilian population in it. Head of the United Nations mission to Libya Tarek Mitri expressed on the other hand his concerns vis-a-vis the military developments in Bani Walid and the incoming reports about the rising numbers of wounded civilians due to the random bombardment. He thus urged all the parties to respect the international humanitarian principles, reminding them of their commitments to ensure the protection of the civilians and adopt all the necessary measures to prevent the targeting of civilian areas, allow the evacuation of the wounded and facilitate the delivering of humanitarian aid without any obstruction, including food and medical care.
On Monday, thousands of secularists demonstrated in the Tunisian capital in protest against the rise of religious and political violence, accusing the Islamists in power of threatening democratic transition in Tunisia. The demonstrators those stood in front of the Interior Ministry headquarters, demanding the departure of the government.
Thousands of people gathered in several areas of the Kuwaiti capital and the clashes between the demonstrators and the security forces led to the injuring of one hundred people, after they decided to head to the government headquarters. The opposition had called for these demonstrations in protest against the Kuwaiti prince’s decision to amend the electoral law prior to the anticipated legislative elections which will be held on December 1. According to activists, a number of protesters were arrested, including prominent Islamic Deputy Walid al-Tabtabaei, and the latter was released by the Kuwaiti authorities, along with 60 other oppositionists, one day later.
The occupation intensified its air raids on the Gaza Strip, leading to the death of a number of Palestinians and the injuring of others. At this level, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to carry out a wider and deeper raid inside Gaza. In the meantime, Prince of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani conducted a visit to the Strip to inaugurate the implementation of reconstruction projects, deciding during the trip to increase his country’s aid from $254 million to $400 million.
The ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel in Gaza and the attack launched by Israel on a base in Sudan constituted the two most prominent issues tackled by the Israeli press issued this week. Indeed, the Israeli newspapers quoted Palestinian sources as saying that a ceasefire agreement was sealed between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip via Egyptian mediation. On the other hand, and in regard to the Sudanese issue, the papers claimed that the goal behind the raid was to destroy an Iranian weapons base, some of the arms in which were smuggled to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Moreover, the papers tackled the visit conducted by the Qatari prince to Gaza, indicating it was a historical visit which broke the siege imposed on Hamas in the Strip. On the domestic level, they quotes political experts in Israel as saying that the ruling Likud party was the most likely to win in the upcoming elections, and that current Prime Minister and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prone to continue at the head of the new government which will be formed following the elections.
The Lebanese papers issued this week closely followed the events witnessed in several Lebanese regions, ones which escalated on Sunday during the funerals of martyr General Wissam al-Hassan following the speech delivered by Prime Minister Sanioura to call for the toppling of the government, and the call made by a journalist on the crowds to head to the Serail. The papers also followed the clashes which erupted between the Lebanese army and the armed elements that attacked the army, especially in the Qasqass and Tarik al-Jdideh areas. The papers thus carried the army command’s decision to deal stringently with those who violate the law, and followed the armed forces’ deployment, its opening of the roads and its arrest of a number of armed men, including Syrians and Palestinians.
In the meantime, the sit-ins organized in front of Prime Minister Mikati’s house in Tripoli and on Riad al-Solh square are still ongoing.
The papers also conveyed the international positions which called for the upholding of stability, and followed the investigations into the assassination, which are being conducted with the participation of the FBI.
New Orient News