It is not known who perpetrated the Houla massacre. It is certain though that both sides (the Syrian regime army and the gangs operating under the banner of the Free Syrian Army) have a record of brutality and disregard for human lives to qualify them to do the job.
Lebanon is always on the verge of civil war, but this status does not always mean that civil war is necessarily around the corner.
It may happen tomorrow, or Lebanese may find a way to postpone its eruption, but civil war is inevitable. Something is in the air in Lebanon and it reminds people of my generation of the atmosphere that preceded the civil war of 1975. But there are some differences.
Certainly, Tunisia and Egypt have been the most popular Arab uprisings at the pan-Arab level. Certainly, the momentum of the counter-revolution has dashed the enthusiasm and excitement that followed the fall of Mubarak and Ben Ali. But Arab excitement and optimism gradually gave way to caution, pessimism, and dismay.
Watching US media and academic debates about the Arab world in the last year has been eye opening—only for the naïve observer.
For decades, Arabs have been lectured to and hectored. They were told that no sympathy for their causes is possible without adherence to non-violence by the Palestinians and their supporters. They were told that the reason why Western governments and media don’t sympathize with their cause is because Western public sentiments run counter to any violent practices.
The State Department held a meeting with Bahraini activists in Washington, DC. During the meeting, the activists were lectured and hectored by a US official. They kept being told over and over again that the government can’t reform while the “youth are resorting to violence”.
The activists, of course, retorted that the US has no qualms in supporting an opposition in Syria, including elements that resort to car bombs, shelling, kidnapping, ransom kidnapping, and various kinds of shooting.
Yet again, this cynical and unprincipled president shows how far he will go out of his way to appeal to voters and score political points.
George W. Bush — as horrible as he was at every level of policy and whose damage around the world will be felt for years to come — is probably the last principled US president. Obama belongs to the Clinton school of politics: where principles don’t exist — not that they count — and where declared positions can shift and switch depending on the political interests of a president.
The visit by an Egyptian delegation to Saudi Arabia was illustrative. It shows that not only Lebanese politicians excel at the art of prostration before the kings of oil and gas. The origin of the idea of the visit is contested: the Egyptian Parliament’s speaker claimed that the idea was his alone, while ambitious Egyptian liberal politician, Ayman Nour — a man desperate for a role at any cost — claimed that it was his idea.
I am late today because I wanted to write about letters from Osama bin Laden but waited until I was able to read all the released Arabic unclassified (or declassified) bin Laden documents before I commented on them.
For months during the Egyptian uprising, Thomas Friedman assured his (Zionist) readers that the Egyptian uprising has no foreign policy goals whatsoever. He probably was trying to allay the fears of Israelis. (Only recently, Thomas Friedman sneakily switched positions and said that the only issue that matters in the next presidential election in Egypt will be foreign policy and the state of relations with Israel).