A Day of Sectarian Violence in Lebanon
I feel obligated to write about this because all – ALL – Western media are complicit in the propaganda campaign of the pro-Saudi coalition known as March 14 (which is identified as “pro-Western” regardless of the prominent membership of Jihadi Salafis). What followed after the assassination of Wissam al-Hassan (head of a sectarian intelligence apparatus founded by the Hariri family on behalf of Saudi intelligence) is yet to be reported in the Western press. This is a story in which far-right Zionist media, Israeli media, and the Economist, the Guardian, the New York Times and Fox News all sound the same. If you are conspiracy-minded, you would think that they all receive their marching orders from the same source.
Basically, the Hariri militia all over Lebanon took to the streets and began a campaign of sectarian killings and beatings. They were bent on seeking revenge for the assassination of their sectarian intelligence chief: they know that they can push because the Lebanese prime minister is weak and is desperate for Saudi approval. They also took advantage of Hezbollah restraint: they know that Hezbollah is avoiding an all-out sectarian civil war, as much as the clients of Saudi Arabia are pushing for it.
What happened in Tripoli has become predictable: Salafi armed thugs habitually resort to shelling the predominantly-Alawi Jabal Mohsen because they know that they can get away with it. The armed groups of Tripoli are known as tools of the same intelligence apparatus that was headed by Wissam al-Hassan. The Tripoli Salafis include Bin Ladenites, but their presence is not acknowledged by the Western press, although al-Qaeda flags were on prominent display in the days of sectarian violence this past week. Western media still insist on ignoring the evidence of Bin Ladenites among the March 14 movement, just as they have succeeded on insisting that there are no Bin Ladenites among the gangs of the Free Syrian Army. The Alawis of Jabal Mohsen (a mere 5 percent of Tripoli’s population) used to be empowered by the presence of the Syrian regime army, but now have no support among the Lebanese population. In the Lebanese system of sectarian ranking, Alawis rank very low on the scale. The Alawis are sitting ducks and no one speak on their behalf. They are merely a step above the rank of Kurds and Gypsies and foreign maids.
But the militia of Hariri also struck in Beirut. They made their presence known in various Sunni neighborhoods and starting shooting at the Lebanese Army. The weak Lebanese Army arrested two Palestinian boys and said that they alone were responsible for the mayhem in Beirut. The Lebanese Army announced their names and nationality because they don’t dare arrest any member of the Hariri militia. The last refuge of all Hariri politicians is sectarian agitation and mobilization. The arrest of any of their armed thugs would have immediately led to cries of sectarian persecution and the Saudi government would have issued a statement.
In Naameh, thugs of the Hariri movement stopped cars and asked whether passengers were Sunni or Shia. Those who were Shia were stopped and severely beaten. Scores of people were killed or injured. Yet, the New York Times’ coverage talked about conflict “spilling into Lebanon” without naming names and without identifying the killers. In fact, the New York Times coverage made it seem as if the Syrian regime was behind the shootings in Lebanon. The narrative can’t deviate from the simple one-track line of US media propaganda.
To be sure, all Lebanese sides are involved in the Syrian conflict, but none are as involved as the Hariri faction. Saad Hariri had to acknowledge last week that his assistant, Oqab Saqr, was involved in Syrian opposition affairs, but he implied that his work is similar to the work of Rami Makhlouf: purely charitable.
The scene in Lebanon this past week was part of the legacy of Wissam al-Hassan. When the Hariri militia fled the scene on 7 May 2008, the Intelligence Branch of al-Hassan relied on an alternative scenario. They increased their sponsorship of Salafi and Bin Ladenite groups in Lebanon. A friend of al-Hassan, Wiam Wahhab (a pro-Syrian regime politician with little popular support), appeared on TV and said that al-Hassan told him that his visit with Petraeus last month dealt exclusively with the Tripoli-based armed Salafi groups. These are now the orphans of Mr. al-Hassan.
The Lebanese Army intervened but only after the blood was shed and the sectarian lines in the sand were drawn with fire. The Hariri movement has a long history of recklessness and brinkmanship. But the restraint of Hezbollah has worked in the latter’s favor thus far. That may change soon and that could not possibly be in their favor, or even in the favor of their allies in Syria.