Lebanon’s Ahmad al-Assir Phenomenon

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Events and developments in Lebanon often conceal or reveal the roles of outside powers. The sudden dramatic rise of the Salafi movement in the last few years in Lebanon is the product of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) funding and manipulation. The sectarian anti-Shia campaign that was unleashed by the House of Saud (and later by Qatar’s House of Thani) required the use and proliferation of various sectarian Salafi voices and clerics. This is why the Saudi (US-approved) campaign to mobilize and agitate the entire Arab region along sectarian lines, had its risks.

It necessitated that declared foes of the US (al-Qaida and its variants) be used toward that end. The US, in Syria and in Lebanon, turned the other way as al-Qaida established networks and raised its flags. In Syria, the US had to declare (belatedly) that al-Nusra Front (but not other fronts and organizations with the same ideology of al-Qaida) as a terrorist organization. All other allies of Nusra in Syria were spared. In Lebanon, the US embassy never raised a voice against the public emergence of Bin Ladenite organizations because they were operating under the umbrella of what Western media dubs as “the pro-Western March 14 coalition.”

Ahmad al-Assir would not have received much attention in normal times. He does not have a mass movement and does not attract a mass following. He is one of many Salafi clerics who receive funding from GCC countries (from governments and wealthy individuals). But Assir decided to do something that none of the other Salafi clerics have done: He raised his voice and directed his wrath at Hassan Nasrallah personally. In that regard, he broke a taboo in Lebanon – not that clerics, any cleric, should be spared criticisms or even mockery. But Assir took it a step further when he spoke in explicit sectarian language and used insults against the two most popular Shia figures in Lebanon: Hassan Nasrallah and Nabih Berri.

At the mass level, Sunnis and Shia in Lebanon insult each other and the leaders of the other in daily conversations. But at the leadership level, there is an unspoken agreement that a certain civil language be respected in public rhetoric. (The agreement was violated by MPs on both sides.)

The more Assir raised his voice, the more media attention he received, and he sure enjoyed his media attention. Initially, he may have started spontaneously and not part of a regional plot. He himself admitted on New TV that at first he had no contacts with embassies, but that the Saudi embassy quickly contacted him and offered to bring him to an embassy meeting in armored car. Later, both Qatar and Saudi governments sponsored Assir and enjoyed using him against Hezbollah. But he provoked not only the Shia base of Hezbollah and Amal, he also provoked the Lebanese Army and insulted its members and leaders. His TV antics (his tent sit-ins, his snowboarding in Feraya, and his toothy smiles for the cameras) all made him a household name. The Hariri movement stepped in and provided him with political cover – which the movement does with all Salafi and Bin Ladenite clerics and organizations in Lebanon – while maintaining that it remained a moderate, “civil” movement that does not engage in sectarianism.

The Assir movement may have run its course, but regardless of the outcome of the current showdown in Saida, it won’t go away. It is part of the acute sectarian tensions and conflicts in the region that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have unleashed, all at the behest of the US-Israeli alliance, in order to switch public hostilities from Israel to Iran and the Shia “crescent” – to use the term that Jordan’s king used in a speech that was written for him by one of his many American advisers.

Assir – as obnoxious and irritating (to many) as he is – won’t go away. Somebody else will take his place, and if he survives this showdown, he may easily re-emerge and in a time of civil war he can be quite useful for Qatar and Saudi Arabia in their war on Hezbollah. There is a sectarian climate that Rafiq Hariri (on behalf of his masters in Saudi Arabia) imported into Lebanon (to be sure, there was always sectarianism in Lebanon but there is a scale and intensity of Sunni-Shia tensions that Lebanon never knew before the Hariri era). There will be new clerics sprouting in crowded neighborhoods and they will quickly receive external support and sponsorship. And the youth are mobilized along sectarian lines and are eager for a fight. This is Lebanon: the new Lebanon that March 14 has worked hard to establish.

Comments

Thanks for a sane and independent report and for a credible reading alternative in English to propaganda ridden Daily Star.

Ikdhiblak shee kidhbi la shuf

http://angryarab.blogspot.ca/2013/06/not-having-editor.html

This is As'ad pathetic justification for the thousands of lies he has written, he mocks others for their ignorance, while ignoring himself and he pretends that he doesn't have a sectarian bone while he is an ultra-sectarian lambasting Sadiq al-Azm in an article for essentially the same thing he has been engaging for years.

Excellent insights ... I would however paint the Qatar-KSA campaign as against all Shia and non-Wahhabi Sunni sects.

So you now speak for the millions of non-Wahhabi Syrian Sunnis who oppose Bashar and Samira Rajab speaks for the aspirations of Bahrani Shi'ites?

The latest poll done by NATO shows that 70% of Syrians prefer Assad over the Rebel-Qaeda brigades. As far as Bahrani Shi'ites they have tasted the Wahhabi sword and the torture when demonstrating for their rights.

That poll is as believable as the Assadi regime's purity of arms which you and your ilk subscribe to, as if the Assadi regime has an angelic record in its past dealing with its opponents, and you acknowledge the nonsense of Samira Rajab, but you claim to speak for the majority of Syrian Sunnis who oppose Bashar?!

"In Syria, the US had to declare (belatedly) that al-Nusra Front (but not other fronts and organizations with the same ideology of al-Qaida) as a terrorist organization"

"Belatedly"! When the American drones come, the "mumana'aists" will be the biggest cheerleaders, your rotten takhween isn't worth a wing of a fly and your people didn't utter a single word against their fellow sectarians when they collaborated with the West.

" it won’t go away. It is part of the acute sectarian tensions and conflicts in the region that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have unleashed, all at the behest of the US-Israeli alliance, in order to switch public hostilities from Israel to Iran and the Shia “crescent”

Yes, the Assadi regime will liberate Palestine by flattening Dar'a, Homs, Aleppo, etc.

And your takfiri will eat every heart of every non takfiri. It is your takfiri idealogy that has aborted every attempt to reform the Arab WORLD.

Are you going to join the sectarian secularists Nabil Fayyadh, Haytham al-Manna, As'ad and Ibrahim al-Amin in preaching secularism in Iran?! Hypocrites who rant about Bashar's "secularism" which is backed by that oasis of leftism, the Iranian regime.

It is an honour for me to belong to the elightened seculariststs of whom you speak with a blindered mind. An obssessively sectarian mind like yours must be liberated before you can appreciate what Haithm Manna and As'ad AbouKhalil are trying to teach people like you.

Why don't your "elightened seculariststs" like As'ad preach secularism and gay rights in his hometown and his people and why doesn't Haytham al-Manna preach secularism in Iran, whose regime he praises?

Do you mean to tell me that you are for gay rights? Are suggesting that the salafis and the MB are for gay rihgts? Why do you expect from otheres to do what you refuse to do? As for preaching secularism in Iran, you must remember that the Salfis and MB are not more secular. Nor are they more democratic.In fact they are obsecurantists .Why do you not preach democracy there? Why do you keep asking others to do what you yorself refuse to do? Quelle hypocrisie!

No of course not, but you don't seem to understand sarcasm, and As'ad and Ibrahim al-Amin are guilty of preaching what they would never dare practise on the ground amongst their people, knowing full well that Amal and Hezbollah would never tolerate their nonsense.

Sectarian AU pretends that As'ad is not against Syrian rulers, and then pretends that anti-Assad bandits are not supported by the "best friends" of Arabs and Palestine - NATO, Zionists and their Saudi/Qatari lackeys.They did a great job in Libya and still are doing it, of course. Does AU hope for NATO bombs on Syria a la Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen? For "liberation", of course.

You forget that it was Iran and Hezbollah who supported thuwar Nato in Afghanistan and Iraq, not once condemning their collaboration with the West as they are hypocritically doing now in Syria and against Hamas, and are the tens of thousands of Saudi Sunni in Saudi dungeons, who opposed the treachery of the Saudi regime since Gulf War I "traitors"?

Thuar NATO in Iraq were not supported by Hizballah. On the contrary, Hizballah opposed and condemned these Thuar and their sponsers. Do not distort the facts.Nor did Iran. Although Iran was not happy with Saddam who was supported by the Americans and their instruments in the Gulf in his unprovoked war to suffocate the Iranian revolution, which replaced the flag of Israel by the flag of Palestine, Iranin fact opposed the invasion of Iraq by the US. And this was logical and intelligent. For although Saddam was a threat, the American presence there would present a much greater threat..So do not distort the facts. And make sure that your aguments have some coherence . As for the intervention of Hizballah in Syria, it is completely justified. For had it not been for the Syrian material and moral support from the very inception of Hizballah, it would have been extremely difficult to achieve the success it has achieved in liberating Lebanon from the Zionists, whom you implicitely support by constantly attacking those who were responsible for showing the world that the so-called invincible Israeli army is in fact not so invincible. As for Hamas, it has shown itself to be ingrateful. Their sectarian ideology has taken them to Morsi and their Ikhwan Brothers. Now that Morsi is in trouble and the Qataris are in the process of reevaluating their misguided policies, where Hamas is going to go?! Tell me. And please do not insult your owen intelligence by trying, very unsuccessfully, to insult the intelligence of your readers.

Stop lying, the sectarian hypocrites never condemned or directed takhween towards Chalabi, Ja'fari, Maliki, Aal-Hakeem who incited the Jewish Neocons to attack Iraq, and rode to power on American tanks and whose rule was cemented by the Americans, precisely because of Hezbollah's extreme sectarianism, Hezbollah's empty words of condemnation weren't worth the wing of a fly.

"As for the intervention of Hizballah in Syria, it is completely justified. For had it not been for the Syrian material and moral support from the very inception of Hizballah, it would have been extremely difficult to achieve the success it has achieved in liberating Lebanon from the Zionists, whom you implicitely support by constantly attacking those who were responsible for showing the world that the so-called invincible Israeli army is in fact not so invincible"

If the shoe was on the other foot and the main target of Bashar's crackdown were of a different sect, would you be saying the same thing?

"As for Hamas, it has shown itself to be ingrateful. Their sectarian ideology has taken them to Morsi and their Ikhwan Brothers. Now that Morsi is in trouble and the Qataris are in the process of reevaluating their misguided policies, where Hamas is going to go?! Tell me. And please do not insult your owen intelligence by trying, very unsuccessfully, to insult the intelligence of your readers."

Yes, Hamas is ungrateful for refusing to support Bashar's war against Syrian Sunnis and the dregs of the Iran-Syria axis consider it more treacherous than their ilk who rode to power on American tanks.

AU is a man of one trick - a sectarian one. And it is news that Hizballah supported NATO in Iraq. As'ad all time criticizes Iran, Iraqi rulers and Hisballah when they are sectarian. Of course, there are a lot of Sunni who are not sectarian, unlike AU, and who are against alliance of NATO, Zionists and GCC, which are "liberating" Syria now.

If we use the standards, takhween and guilt by association of the current propaganda campaign unleashed by the hypocrites of the Iran-Syria axis since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, towards their own collaborators, than they are guilty of the exact same thing, even moreso as Hezbollah and Iran didn't utter a single word against their allies like Karzai, the Northern Alliance, Hezb-Wehdat, Chalabi, Maliki, Ja'fari, Talebani, Aal-Hakeem, who rode to power on American tanks and whose rule was cemented by the Americans and Hezbollah and Iran's silence at that time, prove that they were on the side of the Jewish Neocons who were the biggest supporters and architects of the Iraq War, and why are you bringing As'ad into this when the question is about Hezbollah and Iran's silence. Who cares if he criticised them, millions of Sunnis opposed the treachery of their fellow Sunnis in the last 200 years, and any Sunni who opposes the Iran-Syria axis is considered a GCC/Zionist/Nato traitor even the tens of thousands of Saudi Sunnis who were imprisoned by the Saudi regime since Gulf War I, they are more treacherous than Iran's thuwar Nato.

Abu Umar goes from telling lies and fabrications to foretelling the future. Salafis never deal with facts and reality, because they can't.

Remember when I said "aw nahruq al-balad", and you said "thats a slip-up... Maghrebi accent", so how many Maghrebis know about your fellow shabeeh, Mustafa al-Qawwas?! I love your tahleel Hezbeleb, they should give your own show at Ad-Dunya.

In this link there's a comment by the salafi troll where he claims he's a Palestinian


Submitted by Abu Umar (not verified) on Thu, 2012-03-01 23:31.
Hezbeleb, no Karim is Maghrebi while I am Palestinian and when are you and Hezbollah going to apply the same standards of "mumana'a" that you accuse the Syrian opposition towards your allies who rode into power on American tanks in Afghanistan and Iraq and tooks billions from them. Your ilk have been accusing Ismail Haniyeh of being a traitor because he supported the Syrian uprising, yet Chalabi, Ammar al-Hakim and Ja'fari are lavished and honored by Hezbollah in Beirut. These Palestinians in Masjid al-Aqsa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4v87m3cJy4

are also traitors and part of the Bandar/Zionist conspiracy because they oppose Bashar.

In the comments section of this article however, the salafi hate-filled Abu-Umar claims that he's a Shami


Submitted by Abu Umar (not verified) on Fri, 2013-06-07 21:44.
"wow, Abu Umar, you've come a long way. Your english has really improved over the last two years. I remember the mistakes you used to make. You still do, but teh vocabulary and the sentence has much-ly improved :)
What happened to the refrain "rode to power on American tanks"

Keep snickering "Sister" Hezbeleb:

http://english.al-akhbar.com/blogs/angry-corner/car-bomb-beirut-wissam-a...

"Dear sister (I hope I could call you thus)"

I don't need grammar lessons from a clown who accused me of being Maghrebi when I'm a Shami Arab. You should bake yourself cat and dog manakeesh as per Abdul-Amir Qabalan mockingly advised the Palestinians in Harb al-Mukhayyamat, so much for the Palestinian card used by the Iran-Syria axis, it is thrown out the window when it conflicts with their agendas.

And you liar you said "nihraq al balad" not "nahruq al balad", but apparently your accent changes with your changing nationality. Do you remember how you jumped to the defense of Karim Hari (aka douri of the south, aka You) every time I attacked him. You remember how you used to say that 'for a maghrebi he seems to know an awful lot about Qawwas. But the question is how do you know he's a maghrebi.

These are my lies and fabrications?! A change in tashkeel, nahruq and nihruq are interchangeable and are not evidence of being Maghrebi and Palestinian are Shami Arabs. Where are the lies and fabrications in the matters of current affairs?

"Karim Hari (aka douri of the south, aka You)"

Go back to the gutter that you crawled out of, hypocrites who make takhween of anybody that opposes them when they were deafeningly silent on their own collaborators, will be hoisted on their own petard.

Foretelling the future when this has happened in the past and give me examples of the "lies and fabrications"?

RIP independent media in Lebanon. Bravo for inciting hatred and spreading lies. Open your blind eye

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