Monday, July 24, 2006


The War in Lebanon: Iraqi Perspective

This blog is mostly about Iraq. It is basically an Iraqi perspective. The comments section of the previous post drifted into the question of the recent conflict in Lebanon. Some people wondered how Iraqis saw things and whether they were interested in the first place. This is how I see it from Iraq.

I have a soft spot for Lebanon. There was a time when many Iraqis spent their summer holidays In Lebanon. I was 13 when I first visited the country and immediately fell in love with it. I was struck by the friendliness of the people, their openness towards strangers and the wonderful lifestyle. The picturesque country and its pleasant cultural and geographic variety are also unique in the region: It is one of the few countries I know where you can move from warmth of sunny sandy beaches to the fresh coolness of mountain air in less than half an hour. I went back to Lebanon many times. I have fond memories of the country and its people.

Some people have indicated that most Iraqis are too busy with their own misfortunes to follow what is happening in Palestine and Lebanon. This is not true. Despite their own misery and preoccupations, most Iraqis are following those developments very closely.

Sunnis mostly do not look at Hezbollah as a ‘Shiite’ movement. The sectarian polarization, bad as it is, has not gone that far in Iraq… yet. In this respect, most Iraqis are united. Most ‘Shiite’ and ‘Sunni’ pro- and anti-Occupation political and insurgency groups declared their solidarity with Hezbollah and Lebanon and their outrage at Israel! Even the puppets and the stooges, have expressed their displeasure! Notable exceptions are the Kurdish ‘leadership’ and the Qaeda people.

Furthermore, these people almost unanimously believe that the root cause of all that is taking place is America, not Syria and Iran! Odd? Not really!

America and Israel keep saying that Hezbollah’s weaponry comes from Iran. What most people here see is that Israel’s superior weaponry that was killing innocent civilians comes from the US.

There is a lot of anger at America and the way the administration is implicitly condoning those criminal acts and giving the Israeli war machine political and diplomatic cover until they have finished their business.

No sir, no hearts and minds won here either!!

What is the matter with these ungrateful people?


I find the similarities in tactics used by the American and Israeli war machines in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon eerie.

Motives: self-defense, eradicating terrorism. Changing declared reasons: freeing soldiers; eradicating terror; no quarrel with the people, strengthening the government. Means: ‘surgical’ bombing followed by ground invasion. Result: Total devastation of civil life, innocents homeless and suffering, numerous children killed and mutilated, ruined civilian infrastructure; destruction of the tools and elements of government rendering the countries ungovernable; and… hatred, popular resentment, vengefulness and more hatred.

Air and fire superiority coupled with bombing ‘incompetence’ (!) resulting in enormous “collateral damage” (meaning murdered and injured innocent civilians) and a high proportion of children as well as devastation of civilian infrastructure, including power stations, water plants, roads, bridges and almost anything of value.

They are doing it again, I thought! It reminded me of the US ‘surgical’ bombings in 1991 to evict Saddam from Kuwait and later, during and after the invasion of Iraq: they bombed schools, bridges, cement factories, powder milk factories, an assortment of other factories, grain silos, civilian air-raid shelters, water treatment and pumping plants, power plants… and hundreds of other targets, unrelated to the war machine, that were hundreds of miles away from the “theatre of operations” for more than 40 days in order to expel Saddam from Kuwait.

Other similarities of note:

The percentage of the population supporting the military action (around 80%)!
The claim that they were doing the bombarded country a favor and that the people should be grateful.
The claim that they were doing it in self defense
Even the signing of bombs, this time by smiling, small children signing on death gadgets likely to hit similarly young children across the border!

Conclusion: The governing powers in America and Israel are two faces of the same coin. I doubt that anyone can debate that. The debate is whether the coin is good or bad.

Another conclusion: Fanatics always, always go too far. This ultimately leads to their own demise… but they can cause a lot of damage in the process.


Regardless of what people (including me) think of their doctrine, Hezbollah is a popular movement and not just a group of terrorists. They have representatives freely and democratically elected into Parliament and Office!! They haven’t done anything that the US and Israel haven’t done!

Very few people seem to remember that Hezbollah, as a movement, was born out of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in 1982 – also allegedly done in ‘self defense’. In fact, they managed to expel Israel from Lebanon; hence their clout in the Arab World!

Nobody mentions that Hezbollah did what it did (attacking and capturing those two unfortunate Israeli soldiers) in an attempt to release their own, held by Israel from the time that it occupied Lebanon. It still holds them six years after it left the country. Why didn’t they negotiate to swap prisoners? No negotiations with terrorists? But they did it before!

Labnana or Arqana?

During the early days of the sectarian polarization under the auspices of the American occupation, numerous people started warning about the “Labnana” (Lebanonization) of the internal conflict in Iraq.

During the first and second weeks of the Israeli assault on Lebanon, several times I heard analysts and politicians warning against the “Arqana” (Iraqization) of the situation in Lebanon.

Perhaps “Amraka” (Americanization) of the conflict would be a better description.

Neocons again?

I had some time ago declared the neocon empire defunct. Perhaps I was hasty. Secretary Condoleezza Rice used the term “Pangs of birth” to describe the present carnage. This is so reminiscent of neocon thinking and terminology. She should have used the term “Creative Destruction” the neocons are more fond of. One would have thought that they would not take the next step in the direction of the ‘new Middle East’ until they were successful in Iraq. Perhaps they are, as far as their objectives are concerned!

Media coverage

There was a time when the international media was literally ‘owned’ by Israel. I can’t help remembering the previous wars between Israel and her neighbors. The media bias was astounding. The other point of view was virtually non-existent!

This time, there was live coverage from Arab and other media channels, dozens of channels. The declared claims of avoiding civilian casualties, acting in self defense, helping the Lebanese government etc. etc. simply could not hold!

This time, Prime Minister Olmert complained about the media’s unbalanced reporting.

It seems that Israel did things with a mentality that assumed that they were going to get away with things like previous times. That was a major error.

As the battles unfolded, the declared objectives of the Israeli campaign were ‘reduced’ several times, clearly indicating that things were not going as planned.

A major casualty in this war was Israel's image of invincibility. It was literally shattered! Yes, Israel had air and fire-power superiority. In more than 2,400 sorties and precision bombings, they killed many children but could not make a noticeable dent in Hezbollah’s primitive armor. When ground skirmishes started, those fighters gave the Israelis a good run for their money. Much of it was reported almost immediately. The impressive Israeli war machine looked clumsy and almost pathetic! Also gone is the image of small country fighting against all odds for survival.

Where to next?

Peace treaties? Normalizations? They will not work. Look at Egypt. Normalization with Israel has officially been consolidated for more than 30 years. Can an Israeli safely walk the streets of Cairo? Can their businesses operate openly?

Nothing, nothing will work until the root causes of the injustice and the terror are addressed.

Meanwhile, to millions of people, it seems that only Militant Religion offers the solution to address these injustices. This is why it has become stronger. To many people, it seems to be the only force capable of striking back. There are more than a billion of these people growing more militant by the day and with every new atrocity. What will they do? Eradicate them all to remove that cancer?

This analogy was in fact used by Israel’s ambassador to the UN:
"When you operate on a cancerous growth you do not stop in the middle, sew the patient up and tell him keep living with that growth until it kills you. You make sure it is totally removed."

If it is a cancer, how are they going to eradicate it? By killing children? Possibly… because some of those children will grow up full of hate and revenge! So, do you eradicate a cancer by increasing cancerous cells? By this reasoning, you will have to kill all children. Is Israel also incompetent?

Is it possible that they are addressing the wrong tissue?

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