Thursday, May 31, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Here is some excerpts for a Der Spiegel article about the situation in naher el Bared camp. I choose the parts where the journalist interviews a Lebanese soldier.
As a side note, I've always respected the army and its soldiers but after these past days, damn I have become proud and fiercely supportive of our boys!!!
Head here to read the full article
Thanks for Beirut Spring for pointing it out.
"During the next 48 hours, we will eradicate them," says the elite Lebanese soldier, lying behind a freshly raised mound of red earth. "They," of course, are the militants of the radical Palestinian group Fatah Islam. And the effort to eradicate them has virtually destroyed the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al-Bared where they are holed up.
The ground is strewn with the empty casings of high-caliber bullets; the soot-blackened ruins of the camp north of the Lebanese seaport of Tripoli stand about 200 meters (650 feet) away. Fatah Islam snipers on the roofs take aim at the Lebanese rangers who have dug in east of the camp. "I hope they will attack us soon. Then we'll strike back and finish them off," says the officer, who wants only to be called Spiro.
The terrain on the edge of the camp where Spiro's soldiers have dug in was still in the hands of the Fatah Islam militants on Tuesday. The rangers moved in at dawn on Wednesday, flattening the reeds that grew there and raising protective mounds of earth among the cypress trees. Ranger Rommel can't say how many people he has killed in the past few days. "It must have been a lot," says the 27-year-old, whose parents named him after the German Field Marshal who commanded the Nazi Afrikakorps. "At first it was a shock to be in a real battle after all the training," Rommel says. Later, he adds, it was like being in a movie. "A drunk state in which you don't care whether you're shooting at children, the elderly or militants."
It looks like the movie will play again soon, he says: "We have precise indications that our position will be a target for suicide attacks." The information he has indicates that the attackers will be old women.
At the camp, the soldiers are busy preparing for more fighting. Some, though, are also reflective after the four-day orgy of violence. Spiro, standing next to the wreck of a vehicle that is missing all of its windows, says: "People sought safety in this bus." Large puddles of blood have dried on the pavement below. "They drove towards us. They could have been militants," Spiro says.
His troops were the ones who opened fire on the bus -- before retrieving three corpses and several injured from the wreck. "Terrible, but that's just what war is like."
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Three explosions in four days… people are going crazy with fear. Rumors are spreading amok all over town, “the found a bomb in Hamra, no in a school close to Raouche. They caught two suicide bombers. Tonight’s bomb will target mar elias. Fateh al Islam said that they will hit schools and universities.” Among all of that, panic is setting in, streets are empty and only security forces are out at night.
Meanwhile, the “Nahr al bared” camp’s Palestinian refugees are fleeing, fearing renewed clashes. Support for the army has surged after this lull. All Palestinian faction (especially the PLO) have expressed their supports and even offered to help the army end “fateh al islam” the final battle will be soon, tomorrow or after tomorrow I guess ( it seems that I am too falling into the rumors mill, and starting my own…)
PS: several of my readers asked for information about “Fateh al Islam” head here and here for an indepth look.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
I think that the window of opportunity, to decisively resolve the situation, is rapidly closing, a day or two at most. A political “resolution” will only postpone the problem and even compound it. If “fateh al islam” terrorists are not dealt with decisively, then a couple of month down the road we will face an even bigger explosion.
Meanwhile, the opposition is totally politicizing the situation making the army’s job even more difficult, while explosions are not stopping. for the first time, west Beirut (mainly Muslim) has been hit.
Fortunately, the casualties have been low, as those who are planting these bombs are purposely placing them in deserted places late at night. A fact that definetly innocent any Queada like organization, whose sole objective is to kill a maximum number of innocents, as Iraq is the biggest example...
Finally let us hope that tongiht will be calm...
Monday, May 21, 2007
While a Syrian trained, funded and supported group called “Fatah Al Islam” is spreading chaos in Tripoli (in northern Lebanon) Lebanese politicians are still bickering and infighting…
Yesterday morning the Lebanese police, following an investigation of a bank robbery, clashed with a very well armed group of pseudo Muslim fanatics. Shortly after, the army intervened after ten of its soldiers were kidnapped and then killed in cold blood. A full fledged battle followed and “Fatah Al Islam” were pushed back in the Palestinian refugee camp they were initially based in.
Since day break today, the army has been pounding the Syrian backed group inside the Palestinian camp of “al bedaoui” close to Tripoli. If it was up to me I would have given the order to enter the camp and eradicate there murderers once and for all…
Unfortunately, Hezbollah and its allies have a different agenda. Yesterday the divine party issued a statement saying that the situation should be resolved politically and “Fatah Al Islam” members should walk free to regaining their strength in order to commit further atrocities, such as “ain alaq” a couple of month ago when several innocent Lebanese were killed in a bus blast.
Bottom line is the situation must be resolved in a matter of days. Otherwise this might spread all over Lebanon to other Palestinian camps, like “ain el helew” in Saida or in the Bekaa too. The army must hit these criminals fast and strong and totally eradicate their power base in the camp, even if Hezbollah don’t like that. The country’s fate is at stake, on one side chaos and civil war looms on the other an uncertain future…
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, The New York Times
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, made a remarkable statement last week. He praised Israel for conducting an inquiry into last year’s war with Hezbollah — an inquiry that accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of “serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence.”
Mr. Nasrallah was quoted by the BBC as saying Israelis “study their defeat in order to learn from it,” in contrast with the Arab regimes that “do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry commissions ... as if nothing has happened.”
One has to be impressed by his honesty, but he did not take it all the way, since the Arab leader who most needs to be probed is Mr. Nasrallah himself. He started the war with Israel, which was a disaster for both sides. If there were an honest Arab League Inquiry Commission into the war, here is what it would say about him:
On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah fighters directed by Mr. Nasrallah abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in an unprovoked attack across the Lebanon-Israel border, on the pretext of seeking a prisoner exchange. This triggered a war that killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis. After interviewing all relevant parties, the Arab League Commission finds Mr. Nasrallah guilty of a serious failure of judgment, responsibility and prudence — for the following reasons.
1. Mr. Nasrallah demonstrated a total failure to anticipate Israel’s response to his raid. He assumed Israel would carry out the same limited retaliation it had with previous raids. Wrong. He failed to take into account the changed circumstances in Israel. The kidnapping of an Israeli soldier in Gaza a few weeks earlier, plus the fact that a new chief of staff of the Israeli Army, a new prime minister and a new defense minister had just taken office and all felt they were being tested, triggered an enormous Israeli response. Some 1,200 Lebanese died because of this gross error in judgment.
2. In unilaterally launching a war against Israel, without a vote of the Lebanese cabinet — of which Hezbollah is a member — the militia did grievous harm to Lebanon’s fragile democracy and democratization in the Arab world. All the fears that if you let an Islamist party into government it will not respect the rules of the game were fulfilled by Hezbollah.
3. Iran and Syria gave Hezbollah its rockets for their own deterrence. Hezbollah was their long arm to pressure Israel into political compromises and to threaten Israel if it attacked Iran or Syria. By launching all these rockets prematurely, without strategic purpose, Hezbollah has diminished its capability and Syria’s and Iran’s. The commission can’t find a single strategic gain from Mr. Nasrallah’s actions.
4. When the war started, Hezbollah’s fighters were sitting right on the border with Israel, operating freely. This was a real threat to Israel. As a result of the war, Hezbollah was pushed off the border by Israel and, in its place, the U.N. inserted a new peacekeeping force of some 10,000 troops, including a big European contingent, led by France and Italy. Yes, Hezbollah still has fighters in the area, but it has lost its military infrastructure, and can’t attack Israel now without getting embroiled with France and Italy — a huge strategic loss for Hezbollah.
5. Israel had allowed its ground forces to be degraded in order to invest more money in its air force’s ability to deter Iran and into policing the West Bank. Hezbollah’s attack exposed just how degraded Israel’s army had become. As a result, Israel has embarked on a broad upgrade of its military. In any future war Arab armies will meet a much better trained and equipped Israeli force.
6. Hezbollah claims that its Shiite militia, in attacking Israel, was serving the security needs of Lebanon. But Israel’s response to Hezbollah’s attack has resulted in billions of dollars of damage to Lebanese homes, factories and roads, with Shiite areas the worst hit and with zero security benefit to Lebanon.
Lebanon has had to rely on Arab and Iranian charity to rebuild. Israel, by contrast, suffered relatively minor damage and, after the war, its economy enjoyed one of its greatest growth spurts ever, as foreigners invested a record amount in Israel’s high-tech industry.
In sum, Mr. Nasrallah may have won popularity for himself and Hezbollah by fighting Israel. But so what? Today, less than a year after a war that Hezbollah called a “divine” victory, Lebanon is weaker and Israel is stronger. That’s what matters. And that is why, if the Hezbollah leader had any honor, he would resign.