If the 2006 July War shattered the myth of Israel’s invincibility, this latest war on Gaza has shattered the myth of Israel’s sustainability. I am not just referring here to the military performance of Hamas, IJ and other groups, or to the demonstrable failure of Iron Dome, but to the ultimately self-destructive nature of Israel’s military strategy of genocide. When a people have been subjected to such relentless barbarity, there is no worst case scenario that the oppressor can threaten them with. They have everything to gain and nothing left to lose from resisting to the end. The more ground troops Israel sends into Gaza, the more opportunities it presents the Resistance with to abduct and kill them. The only thing that is now preventing a cease-fire is Israel’s inability to find a face-saving exit strategy. Israel’s identity as an invicible power and its physical security are entirely dependent on its ability to commit genocide at minimum human and economic cost, and that is no longer possible. Israel is on its death-bed, regardless of what a long miserable death it will be.
Israeli Deputy Speaker calls for killing and expelling Gazans
The deputy-speaker of the Israeli Knesset calls for the occupation of Gaza and the expulsion of all its inhabitants, using the following measures: 1) Don’t spare any civilian lives: “Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.” 2) Starve and strangulate the Palestinian population: “a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza.” 3) Repeat, don’t spare any civilian lives: “attack with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.” 4) Conquer Gaza with no mercy for civilian lives :”the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations” 5) All supporters of the Resistance should be killed, including children related to Resistance fighters and kids who throw stones: ” ..eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave.” 6) Palestinians will be denied even this open-air prison because every inch of historic Palestine must be usurped: “Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews.” It’s important to bear in mind that this is not a minority view but represents the aspirations of the political mainstream and the majority of Zionist “civilians”, all of whom would be actively pursuing this were it not for the heroic Resistance and the resilient Palestinian people.
Children aside, the concept of “Israeli civilians” is an oxymoron. This meme created by Israelis is circulating on Twitter, depicting Gaza as a woman waiting to be raped by the Zionist army. The meme reads: ” “Bibi, finish inside this time! Signed, citizens in favor of a ground assault”. Well before the dissemination of memes like this, not to mention selfies of Israeli teenage girls calling for the death of Palestinians, and images of Israelis relaxing atop hilltops as they eat popcorn and cheer on their invading army massacre Palestinians, Hizbullah was well aware of the Zionist aggressor identity of Israeli “civilians”. In chapter 7 of my book on Hizbullah (2002) I write: “In principle, the party maintains that it ‘prefers to deem Israeli civilians neutral’….[Sheikh Naim] Qasim admits that this is virtually impossible to maintain in reality…Hizbullah rationalizes that it is not killing innocent Israeli civilians, but hostile militant Zionists…[it] perceives Israeli society as an essentially Zionist and ideological monolith, characterized by an inveterate animosity towards the Arab Muslims….Nasrallah’s reference to dead and wounded Israelis as “Zionist” [casualties] implies that Hizbullah does perceive Israeli civilians as detached from the Zionist project, and therefore ‘innocent’, but as co-conspirators in this malevolent scheme…”
We are not beasts like them, so we do not call for their deaths, only that they leave historic Palestine as all occupying armies are eventually forced to do.
Hamas official discloses continuing coordination with Hizbullah
All those who are childishly trashing Hizbullah for not intervening in Gaza on the one hand, and those who are too embittered and petty-minded to forgive Hamas on the other, should read this interview with Osama Hamdan and recall that the Palestinian cause is bigger than us all: "Hamdan also said that there was a “permanent cooperation and coordination on the field” with Hezbollah…. “The ties with Hezbollah and Iran are much better than many people think, and the ties with Hezbollah especially are way better than optimists expect them to be,” Hamdan told As-Safir newspaper. “The relationship with Hezbollah is based on [the fight against] Israel and the endeavor to liberate Palestine. Everybody is keen on preserving it no matter how the circumstances change and the points of view differ,” he added.
Given Arab outrage at Israel’s latest round of aggression against the Palestinian people, some Arab leftists and Palestine solidarity activists have been attacking Hizbullah for fighting jihadis in Syria while abstaining from intervening militarily in Palestine. Aside from ignoring the existential nature of the far less manageable conflict with the takfiris (who are accountable to no one), such accusations ignore the fact that Hizbullah has never directly intervened in Palestine. In 2009, I wrote this piece explaining why Hizbullah couldn’t militarily intervene in the 2008/2009 war on Gaza. I think the excerpts below are even more relevant now, considering Hizbullah is currently fighting on 2 other fronts, over and above its deterrent strategy vis-a-vis Israel: "While Israel fervently attempts to terrorize the Palestinians into submission in Gaza, many observers have started to wonder why Hizballah has refrained from stepping in militarily to assist its brothers-in-arms, Hamas. Such musings fail to take account of the constraints on Hizballah’s room for action, as well as the circumstances under which Hizballah would ignore such constraints. The question that should be posed is not so much if Hizballah will act, but when. As things currently stand, Hizballah is not in a position to directly help Hamas militarily by opening a new front with Israel. In the first place, Hizballah and its supporters have only recently recovered from the devastating impact of Israel’s war against them in July 2006. A Hizballah offensive against northern Israel would surely be met with “disproportionate” force on Israel’s part, which Israel has been threatening as much for several months now. Mass destruction and devastation aside, Hizballah would once again be faced with intense domestic pressures to disarm, and possibly, more externally manufactured, locally-executed conspiracies hatched against it that could drag it into the kind of civil warfare that the movement found itself in during May 2008. Armed action by Hizballah would not only hurt the movement but would also harm Hamas whose status as a nationalist resistance movement, capable of defending its own people, would be greatly undermined and its raison d’etre called into question. Furthermore, since Hamas has thus far managed to withstand the Israeli onslaught on its own without suffering any significant damage to its organizational hierarchy or military infrastructure, Hizballah does not regard an intervention on its part as an exigent need….. Hamas’ fighting style also seems to bear the hallmarks of the military tactics Hizballah used during the July War such as its use of underground bunkers and tunnel networks, as well as adopting similar rocket tactics, all of which suggest Hizballah’s extensive training of Hamas’ military forces. Nasrallah came close to admitting as much when he claimed on 31 December that “the resistance in Gaza benefitted more from these lessons [from the July War] than the Israelis.” More than simply receiving military training, Hamas’s military strategy appears to conform to the “new school of fighting” founded by Hizballah’s assassinated military leader, Imad Mughniyeh (himself rumored to have personally trained and equipped several Palestinian groups over the years), which combines conventional and non-conventional, guerilla warfare that functions not only to liberate occupied territory, but to defend it from aggression.”
Just read this piece by Thanassis Cambanis ” The Surprising appeal of ISIS”. So the new trend in western mainstream media is pimping up ISIS : “As repugnant as its tactics are, ISIS offers Sunnis a rare opportunity: a chance, in effect, to be a citizen.” More than this, ISIS, is a “grassroots” movement and is furnishing its “citizens” with a “participatory” framework for engaging in politics. “It has made clear that it expects people under its power to take an active role in establishing a new Islamic state.” And the best part: ““It’s not the old model where the citizen is passive and plays no role,” said Brookings Institution scholar Shadi Hamid,“Within certain limits, if you agree to abide by these strict rules, there is an active role for citizens under ISIS.” What can we expect next from Thanassis Cambanis, perhaps a piece on how crucifixions are the new tolerance? Public beheadings as a participatory activity which engages the masses? Maybe one on how sex fatwas empower women as sexually active citizens. Does this moron even know how citizenship is defined in the Western liberal tradition of social science? Does he not know that citizenship is based on civil and political rights? Since when was nihilistic terrorism and religious puritanism a state building project? Does he not fathom that in conventional usage, participatory politics is not synonomous with the mentally deranged politics of rabidly sectarian frenzied mobs? Why am I even bothering? What a silly little white man.
“It will always be Palestine first for me, not because Mohammed Abu Khudair’s or Mohammed al-Durrah’s blood is worth more than Syrian or Lebanese or Iraqi blood, but because without their blood, without Palestine, I would never have known justice.”—
Resistance versus Jihad is the new faultline in the region. It has now become patently obvious that the US is manipulating and instrumentalizing takfiri jihadism to defeat the Resistance. The hope is that ISIS can achieve what decades of Zionist aggression failed to deliver, by means of a policy of implosion, fragmentation and [strategically employed] terror, dealt by a heavily sectarianized Islamism which is devoid of any anti-imperialist content. Forget Clinton’s infamous “we created al-Qaeda” quote, and Seymour Hersh’s 2007 exposé of the US-Saudi role in funding al-qaeda affiliated militants in Lebanon, several developments this week reveal that ISIS has effectively become the US’ (and of course Saudi’s) new weapon of choice in confronting the Iran- Hizbullah-Syria-Iraq Axis: Obama acknowledges that the notion of a “ready-made moderate Syrian force that was able to defeat Assad” was a “fantasy”, and only days later, requests $500 million from Congress to fund this fantasy; the following day, the leader of one of the leading “moderate” Islamist groups Obama was alluding to, the Syrian Revolutionary Front, tells The Independent that the fight against al-Qaeda was “not our problem” and admits that his fighters conduct joint operations with al-Qaeda’s representative in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra; a Kurdish intelligence source reveals to The Telegraph that his people had informed the US and British governments of an imminent ISIS takeover of Mosul but that the warning “fell on deaf ears;” PM Maliki blames the US’ delayed delivery of 36 F16s Iraq had purchased for ISIS’ advance into northern and western Iraq; Netanyahu warns Obama against military intervention in Iraq, arguing “when your enemies are fighting one another , don’t strengthen either one of them. Weaken both;” ISIS declares war on Lebanon. The facts speak for themselves
On Muqawama Hipsters' Attacks on Hizbullah's role in Syria
Nothing irks me more than when naive Arab [pseudo] leftists voice their disillusionment with Hizbullah for “abandoning the resistance to Israel” by fighting with “fellow Muslims”; for its allegedly “sectarian” turn because of its military role in Syria and given its protection of the Sayyida Zeinab shrine in Damascus and its intent to protect holy shrines in Iraq; and for its appropriation of Bush’s “war on terror” discourse.
First of all, there is zero indication that Hizbullah has indeed abandoned its struggle with Israel. I would like to ask them if Israel committed any act of aggression against Lebanon which the Resistance didn’t respond to since the war in Syria began. Or if they read IDF General Amos Gilad’s admission that Israel has “not been successful in preventing a buildup (of rockets) in Lebanon,” which now threatens all of Israeli territory. But on a much more fundamentally basic level I want to ask what is inherently ignoble or unprincipled about fighting for one’s existence. Does this Intifada-chic crowd believe that a real resistance movement should turn the other cheek when any group or entity besides Israel attacks it and threatens its people and territory? Or more rudimentary still, do they believe there would even be a Resistance to fight Israel if it allowed petro-dollar funded Takfiris to have their way with it?
Second, despite the infantile Marxist fantasies of these Muqawama Hipsters, Hizbullah is not, nor has ever, proclaimed to be a secular or Socialist movement. It is an Islamic Shia movement which owes its roots both to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Shia Islamic concept of the Wilayat el-Faqih. As such, for Hizbullah, the desecration of Shia shrines is a huge deal, just as the desecration of Islamic symbols is for hundreds of millions of Muslims. This doesn’t make Hizbullah a sectarian organization because religiosity and sectarianism are mutually exclusive concepts, even if they can and often do overlap as in the case of the Takfiris.
And finally, Hizbullah refers to Israel as terrorist, not just the Takfiris, so it can hardly be likened to a neo-con US president . Moreover, when Hizbullah uses the term terrorism it isn’t consciously or unconsciously adopting US discourse because a discourse is an entire, ideologically delimited, system of thought and language, not a word which has different uses for different actors. When Hizbullah refers to Takfiris as terrorists, it is using the term within the framework of a Resistance Axis discourse, not quoting from an American imperialist script.”
Why there won't be military cooperation between Iran and the US on Iraq
Watching mainstream media get into a tizzy about the prospect of "groundbreaking military cooperation" between Iran and the US, is quite pathetic. Aside from US official statements, the basis of this misplaced enthusiasm is the much trumpeted Rouhani press conference where he declared that “If we see that the United States takes action against terrorist groups in Iraq, then one can think about it [cooperation]”. What is omitted in most news reports is the specific context in which the Iranian President made this statement.
According to the Telegraph’s translation, Rouhani was asked if Iran was prepared to cooperate with America in Iraq. He replied that “All countries need to embark on joint effort regarding terrorism. At the moment, it’s the government of Iraq and the people of Iraq that are fighting terrorism. We have not seen the US do anything for now. Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that.” He then blamed the US for funding ISIS in Syria:"Where did these terrorist groups emerge from? They came from Syria," he said. "The problem is, why should Western countries, why should America, support terrorist groups? We warned them a year ago that these terrorist groups were a danger for the whole region. [But] they sent them arms – or their colleagues in the region sent them arms."
A closer reading reveals that Rouhani was both dismissive and suspicious of the US’ declared intent to strike in Iraq the very organization it had spent millions arming and funding in Syria via its Arab allies. This explains his assertion that the US wasn’t doing anything to combat terrorism “We have not seen the US do anything for now”. When Rouhani affirmed “Any time the Americans start to take action against terrorist groups, we can consider that,” he was challenging the Obama administration to give up support for ISIS, not inviting it to co-stage a military attack on the group. In other[less diplomatic] words, you will be a great help if you simply stop supporting ISIS.
Rouhani’s appointee, National Supreme Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani said as much when he dismissed any US-Iran cooperation over Iraq: “That is part of a psychological war, and is totally unreal,” Shamkhani said, denouncing “information published in the West’s media. As we have already said, if there is an official Iraqi request we will be ready to study it under the framework of international rules, and this concerns no other country.” Moreover, the Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham, was quoted by ISNA as rejecting US military intervention in Iraq: “Iraq has the capacity and necessary preparations for the fight against terrorism and extremism. Any action that complicates the situation in Iraq is not in the interests of the country nor of the region,” Afkham said.
Rouhani’s diplomatic language reflects not so much a desire for ingratiating Iran with the US, but a means of leveraging the Islamic Republic’s influence in Iraq for political concessions in the nuclear talks with the West. The US clearly needs Iran’s help, but this is need is hardly mutual. To assume that Iran’s security concerns require military cooperation with America is downright absurd. In the first place, any cooperation with the US which transcends the political level would be tantamount to political suicide on Iran’s part and a violation of the anti-imperialist, justice-seeking principles which the Islamic Revolution constitutionalized and institutionalized in its foreign policy. Secondly, US military support for Iraq’s Shia can only backfire on both Iraq and Iran (not to mention the US itself), insofar as it would incite even mainstream Sunnis against the region’s Shia and plunge it further into the sectarian abyss. Third, in practical terms, US aerial bombardment will achieve little militarily beyond killing scores of Iraqi civilians who happen to reside in areas controlled by ISIS and its allies. The unconventional nature of ISIS’ militia-cum-terrorist warfare requires unconventional tactics which is the forte of Iran’s Quds Force.
Any military cooperation or coordination with the US would be an act of folly for Iran, which is much better served strategically and in terms of its security by supporting the Iraqi army with Quds Force advisers and trainers, while facilitating a political settlement between aggrieved Sunnis and the Maliki government. And by serving its own interests in this manner, Iran can score political points with the US assuming the latter is indeed genuine about stamping out ISIS and stabilizing Iraq. Dialogue with the US on Iraq will most likely provide Iran with a means for uncovering the latter’s intentions.
Military response to ISIS in Iraq not enough--new social contract needed
There is no doubt that ISIS’ takeover of Mosul and Tikrit requires an Iraqi-Iranian coordinated military response to prevent the fragmentation of Iraq, secure Iran’s borders, and ensure that none of the hard-won military gains made by the Syrian Army and Hizbullah in neigbouring Syria are reversed. But any security strategy is doomed to fail so long as we remain oblivious to the fact that the Maliki government is little more than a mirror image of its Syrian opposition nemesis: sectarian, weak, corrupt, divided, treacherous, and above all, eager for the US to drone its enemies into submission. That 75 per cent of of Lebanese Shia respondents did not view the Shia- dominated government in Iraq as a legitimate national entity, according to an opinion poll I conduced with the reputable Beirut Center for Research and Information in 2007, testifies to this perception. If we are to learn anything from the circumstances which enabled 1500 ISIS fighters to overun a 52 000 soldier garrison, it is that Sunni (Baathist and Nashqabandi) sympathies for the attackers, both within and outside the army, can no longer be ignored nor can their long-held grievances, irrespective of the sectarian machinations of ISIS’ Saudi backers. Just as Maliki squandered away Sunni tribal [Sahwa] support with his sectarian discourse and negligence, he has succeeded in alienating Sunni officers in the US-funded and trained army, and antagonized mainstream Sunnis with his oppressive rule and aggrandizement of power. At the end of the day, we in the Resistance Axis are strategically aligned with a regime born of the very same invasion and occupation we are attempting to thwart in Syria. While we can rationalize this alliance on strategic and pragmatic grounds, we need to call for its drastic reform, beginning with a new social contract between Sunnis and Shia, as Nasrallah proposed in the midst of the US invasion of Iraq. In the absence of such a contract, any military offensive risks degenerating into a full-scale civil war which will drag our region even further into the sectarian morass so desired by the US-Israel-Arab Gulf.
Nasrallah: the spectre of Palestine's usurpation is being repeated today"
Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah introduced a new strategic and political motivation behind Hizbullah’s involvement in the war on Syria, which goes beyond its defense of Syria’s territorial integrity and the Syrian state’s support for resistance movements, and even beyond the existential threat takfiri-jihadis pose to Syria and Lebanon; Hizbullah’s defense of the Syrian Arab Republic today aims at preventing a repetition of the imperialists’ creation of Israel, only this time in Syria and the region as a whole: “the spectre of Palestine’s usurpation is being repeated today”. By arming and supporting takfiri groups (Nasrallah even drew parallels between their deployment and mobilization throughout the region and the mass migration of Jews to historic Palestine) the imperialists seek to fragment Syria and destroy the Resistance Axis, and in so doing, protect Israel. Basically, Hizbullah will never allow Syria to become a second Israel or a neo-colonialist outpost in the region designed to protect the first Israel.
RT publishes DEBKAfile report on Hizbullah-CIA talks
I have to say say I am extremely disappointed with RT for publishing this clearly bogus story which is based on a DEBKAfile report no less. DEBKA is an Israeli military intelligence website/propaganda machine which is considered right wing even byIsraeli standards, and was criticized by Yedioth Ahronoth for using politicized [usually anonymous] sources. To give you an example of just how ludicrous this report is: “But expectations of the Hizballah track are high and strongly guide the actions of President Obama, John Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and CIA Director John Brennan. And so, in early March, the first secret rendezvous took place in Cyprus between CIA officers and Hizballah intelligence and security operatives.” Does RT seriously believe Hizbullah’s security people met with the CIA? Or even the American government for that matter? I mean why would it need to if Iran is already talking to the Americans? If you read the full DEBKA article it is obvious that the agenda behind the piece was to lump Hizbullah together with Fatah and Hamas: “Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ initiation of a unity pact with the Hamas extremists last week did not come out of the blue. It was prompted by the direct contacts the Obama administration has secretly established with the Lebanese Hizballah. Abbas reasoned that if Washington can start a dialogue with a terrorist organization, so too can his own PLO and Fatah.” Equally disappointing was RT’s use of the metaphor “top dog” to describe a leader as revered and respected as Nasrallah. Forget Arab cultural sensitivites associated with the term “dog”, could RT think of nothing more suitable and commensurate with Nasrallah’s stature in the region than to refer to him as “one of Hezbollah’s top dogs”?
Ukraine funnels light arms to Jihadis in Syria via Germany
Der Spiegel has just published a report on the funneling of Ukranian arms to jihadists in Syria via Germany. The following is a translation of the German text by Emily-Dische Becker:
"According to information obtained by Der Spiegel, a Ukrainian state enterprise is delivering rifles to Germany. The German federal government allegedly doesn’t know what is happening with the weapons. Are they being used in the war in Syria? According to information obtained by SPIEGEL, the Ukraine is apparently doing arms deals through Germany. As the German Foreign Office acknowledged in response to a request by Die Linke (the Left party), the Ukrainian state company Ukroboronprom has been exporting semi-automatic rifles of the SKS Simonov variety to Germany. These imports were approved by the responsible government agencies.
The Foreign Office however is concealing where the weapons are ending up in Germany: The delivery terms of the German contract partner are “a business and a trade secret.” The rifles, it says evasively, are being delivered to Germany “for the purpose of modification.” The American Jamestown Foundation think-tank, which is said to enjoy strong historical ties to U.S. intelligence agencies, believes that the weapons are being delivered from Germany to Syrian rebels. Jamestown estimates the delivery of 54,000 small arms in the years 2011 and 2012. These could have been used for ” covert operations ” in Syria. The federal government is aware of the suspicions of the Americans, but does not want to investigate them. As stated in their response to the Left party’s inquiry, they have “no findings of [their] own on this matter.” Neither the German army, nor the military counterintelligence agency, nor the federal intelligence service (BND) are involved in the purchase of weapons [the federal government claims].
The Left party’s expert for foreign affairs, Sevim Dagdelen, is alarmed by the government’s ignorance: “It is scandalous that the federal government can not convey anything about the whereabouts of these weapons. ” To make matter worse, Berlin “can not dispel the suspicion that these weapons have been passed on to Islamist holy warriors to cause a regime change in Syria. “
Hala Jaber's piece on Hizbullah's crucial military role in Syria
Hala Jaber, Qalamoun Published: 20 April 2014
A YEAR ago, following a string of victories, Syria’s rebels fought their way so close to the capital, Damascus, that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime appeared doomed.
Many commentators predicted his fall within days; others gave him only weeks to survive. Yet 12 months later the tide has turned dramatically in favour of the Syrian president, who has outmanoeuvred his opponents both at home and abroad.
In the past few days, a string of villages and towns in the strategically important Qalamoun region have fallen to government forces — among them the Christian town of Maaloula, northeast of Damascus, where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken.
Homs, once known as “the capital of the revolution”, is on the verge of falling to a Syrian army offensive. Trapped in the last rebel redoubt in the old city, only about 1,000 rebel fighters remain.
Last week, accompanied by the Syrian army, I walked through Maaloula’s battle-scarred streets after it was returned to government control having been seized by the rebels last November.
The previous day, Assad predicted that the main battles could be over by the end of the year. “This is a turning point in the crisis,” he predicted.
Assad’s closest ally, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, went further, saying the Syrian leader no longer faced the prospect of being overthrown.
What has changed in the course of the year? Based on extensive interviews with senior sources close to Hezbollah’s military command in Syria and briefings from high-ranking army officers, I am convinced the answer lies in the decision by Nasrallah and Assad to throw Hezbollah into the fray, thus changing the course of the war.
Until 2012, Hezbollah’s involvement had been minimal. The Iranian-backed group, a mix of fighting force and Lebanese political party, had only a single unit in Syria to guard a Shi’ite shrine in Damascus. At the time hardline rebels, many of them from abroad and affiliated to al-Qaeda, were gaining territory and influence and had sidelined the more secular fighters of the Free Syrian Army.
For Shi’ite Hezbollah, the largely Sunni rebel fighters posed a danger by threatening to undermine Assad. Syria, the group’s closest ally, stored on its behalf the vast quantities of munitions supplied to it by Tehran.
There was further danger to Hezbollah as jihadist rebels began to discuss the prospect of extending their holy war to Lebanon. This would have put them in a powerful position to strangle the group by severing its supply lines from Syria. As a source close to Hezbollah described it to me recently: “Syria is Hezbollah’s lungs.” He added: “It doesn’t matter how many weapons Hezbollah keeps in Lebanon. In any war with Israel, their stocks would be depleted. Resupply is vital.”
By early last year, 70% of Syria’s territory had slipped from Assad’s control.
Day after day, Damascus was being rocked by car bombs, and the regime had been shaken when the rebels succeeded in launching an assassination attempt on key members of his inner circle.
Assad had been leaning heavily on the advice of his generals, who were trained in conventional warfare, and were ill-suited to a guerrilla struggle. It was time for a wholesale change of tactics, he decided, and that could come only from Hezbollah.
Nasrallah went to Tehran to seek religious guidance from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who gave his blessing to sending fighters. Khamenei said it was a religious obligation to fight the jihadist rebels.
Nasrallah’s military advisers insisted that Syria’s army, reinforced by his men, had to go on the offensive. With the backing of Russia and Iran, a strategy was formulated to drive the rebels out of Damascus and win back control of the strategic corridor that links the Syrian capital to the Mediterranean coast. Nasrallah went to Tehran to seek religious guidance from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who gave his blessing to sending fighters. Khamenei said it was a religious obligation to fight the jihadist rebels.
Initially Hezbollah said its intervention would be confined to retaking the Syrian border city of Qusair and defending the Lebanese villages bordering Syria.
But Hezbollah’s fighters had underestimated their enemy. They soon found themselves in danger of being bottled up by rebel forces and realised they needed to capture far more territory than they had envisaged. This was now a full-scale war for them.
First, Qusair had to be taken in order to block the flow of rebels and weapons from Lebanon into rebel-held Homs.
Hezbollah sent several thousand fighters to the front while the Syrian army provided artillery and air support. In a sign of how closely they were now working together, Hezbollah was granted access to Syria’s military command operations centre for the first time.
Qusair proved a vital learning curve for Hezbollah, fighting far from its own terrain. The organisation was taken by surprise by the rebels’ prowess. In the first few days of battle, it took heavy casualties and was forced to regroup and change tactics.
After three weeks of heavy fighting, in which much of the town was destroyed by shell and rocket fire, Qusair was finally taken back into the hands of the regime last June.
The scale and ferocity of the battle persuaded Hezbollah’s commanders they needed to widen their strategic objectives. Homs, a rebel stronghold, had to be captured in order to choke off the rebels’ supply lines into Lebanon.
Today Homs no longer poses a threat to either Hezbollah or the regime, although it has a rump of rebel fighters, blamed for a car bomb outside a mosque on Friday that killed at least 14 people.
Control of the city was vital for Assad, as it links Damascus to the coastal towns of Latakia and Tartus, both parts of his Alawite heartland. The Alawite sect, to which Assad and his family belong, represents about 12% of the Syrian population.
In the next stage of their plan, the Syrian army and Hezbollah moved their attention to Qalamoun, the region where it made significant gains last week. Its harsh, mountainous terrain close to the Lebanese border had for months provided a base for rebel fighters to launch suicide attacks in Lebanese villages in revenge for Hezbollah’s support for Assad. Dozens have been killed by the bombs in recent weeks, most of them civilians.
“Ensuring the recapture of Qalamoun was becoming critical for Hezbollah,” the source close to the group explained.
Hezbollah fighters spearheaded the attack after the Syrian army had softened up the rebels by pounding their positions with artillery, rocket launchers and mortars.
Once Hezbollah won control of a village or town, it was handed over to Syrian troops or the pro-government militiamen known as the National Defence Force.
Despite the triumphs at Maaloula and Qalamoun, an all-out victory for Assad is still far from assured. Rebel brigades have made significant inroads in the north in recent weeks. Last month they captured Kassab, the sole remaining government-controlled border post with Turkey, cementing their hold on Syria’s northern border.
Though Kassab has little strategic importance, the well co-ordinated attack appears to have taken Assad’s military by surprise. Within 10 days, the rebels occupied a large area running down to the Mediterranean.
Despite the setbacks, Hezbollah has emerged as a bigger and more influential player in the region as a result of its intervention.
“There will be no limit for Hezbollah’s role and no boundaries,” said the Hezbollah source. “They’ll stay as long as he [Assad] needs them. When he considers Hezbollah’s presence is no longer needed, they’ll pull out immediately from all fronts,” he added.
Geostrategic and political considerations aside, crude economic motives drive the imperialist campaign to prolong the war on Syria. In parallel with the mega-profits reaped by the corporate media and its army of information warlords, and the “War on Terror” military industry which thrives on the expansion of the al-Qaeda franchise, is another kind of war profiteering. In the true spirit of capitalism, the humanitarian aid and development— a.k.a. “White Saviour Complex”— community has turned crisis into opportunity. State and corporate funded NGOs have found in Syria’s 2.5 refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced, a veritable goldmine of collective misfortune. Every refugee represents a career opportunity for procuring project funds and extracting exorbitant fees for consultancies, training, workshops etc. And despite the colossal proportions of the refugee crisis, most aid work is driven by donors’ agendas and bureaucratic imperatives, rather than the immediate needs of the displaced and deprived. Just as Big Business tries to whitewash its public health and environmental crimes with “Corporate Social Responsibility” schemes, western governments think they can arm and support the rebels, while sugarcoating the innumerable crimes they have committed against the Syrian people with their humanitarian interventions. NGO-imperialism is just another way the Empire “kills the victim and walks in his funeral procession”, as goes the Arabic saying. Only in this case, he makes a profit out of the funeral as well.
Cool. A French-Algerian reader kindly informed me that I have the dubious honour of being quoted by the IDF’s French website (http://tsahal.fr/2013/07/15/hezbollah-parti-politique-ou-organisation-terroriste), and also on the IDF’s special English language website for Hizbullah linked below: "As explained by Lebanese writer Dr. Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, these efforts may strengthen the social contract between Hezbollah and its followers, though “it would be a mistake, however, to think this is the main reason why Hezbollah’s followers are attracted to [the movement].” The organization’s message of resistance against Israel is what resonates the most among Hezbollah’s supporters." In other news, death to Israel soon Inshallah.
I was watching “12 Years a Slave” with my almost 11 year old son yesterday, and within minutes of watching the movie he begged me to switch it off, specifically, during the scene where the lead character, Solomon Northup, wakes up to find himself shackled and whipped into enslavement. Although my son has a higher tolerance for TV violence than I do, he was particularly distressed by this scene, or to quote his words “disturbed because he was being forced against his will and I put myself in his place. I can handle violence but not slavery”.
It got me thinking about how justice is not merely experienced rationally, but also originates in our emotions and intuition which we express as moral outrage. It also reminded me how justice-seeking, compassion and outbursts of moral indignation are defining features of childhood which society—capitalism specifically—tries to control and harness as we grow up through various mechanisms. Emotional/intuitive justice is eclipsed by purely rational, western liberal notions of justice as “fairness” as found in “procedural” justice.
The mechanisms capitalism employs to enforce this shift include western theories of “human nature” which perpetuate the myth that the default human character is one marked by aggression, the hunger for power and self-interest, and is hence, naturally disinclined to social and economic justice, and requires hegemonic political power to restrain it.
Another mechanism is the psycho-pathologization of justice-seeking behaviour and the refusal to submit to domination, by branding them “disorders” like “anti-social personality disorder” and “oppositional defiant disorder,” whose hallmark “symptoms” are the “failure to conform” to social and political norms and in the case of the latter, “arguing” and “anger”.
The mainstream media is also guilty of disabling our gut reaction to injustice. Western media coverage of imperialist military aggression and political domination serve to at once justify and rationalize these injustices while desensitizing us to the suffering of their victims. It also achieves this by dismissing anti-imperialist leaders as demagogues who command “personality cults”, and in so doing, reducing the just causes they represent to the irrational impulses of the raucous mob.
Our inherent sense of justice is also stifled by western academic standards which require “emotional distance/detachment” in the social sciences, so that we are forced to adopt neutral positions in the face of gross social and political injustices. Thus for example, intellectuals who decry the injustices of American and Israeli aggression and occupation are discredited as “emotional”, while those who publish papers on how best to secure US “national interests” are deemed “scholarly”. In this manner, works guided by notions of naked self-interest and brute power are elevated to the status of “knowledge” while those guided by a social conscience are stigmatized as irrational rambling.
As people who pursue justice, we should always strive to naturalize moral outrage, by inculcating it in our children and refusing to be stigmatized medically or professionally for expressing it. We must work hard to retain those child-like outbursts of moral outrage which are the essence of our humanity.
Get your stomachs ready for the latest addition to the mainstream media handbook of terms which have been so drastically redefined as to lose all meaning: Russian “imperialism” vs. western “globalization”. LOL. Talk about distortion of the century meets euphemism of the millenium . I mean even if non-Marxists choose to ignore Lenin’s definition of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism, conventional, bourgeois liberal definitions of imperialism refer to economic domination and exploitation as the defining features of imperialism. I vividly recall the text book we studied in history class in my London state-funded school identified natural resources, cheap labour and new markets as the primary motives of imperialism. But according to this new lexicon, imperialism can be reduced to territorial expansion and irredentism, which quite comically renders states like Ethiopia imperialist and more comically still, suggests that the US is anti-imperialist in so far as it rejects Russian territorial expansion. Meanwhile, the US’ military expansion across all corners of the globe via military bases, installations and occupation forces can be chalked up to “globalization”, much like its domination of the world economy. But by all means, lets all stand united in the face of “rampant” Russian imperialism which “threatens the vision for a more global world economy.”
As I watch Putin’s standing ovation today in the Russian parliament, and read news about Hizbullah’s latest attack on Israeli occupation troops in the Golan, I can’t help but think how terrifying it is to have an enemy as quintessentially stupid as the US and its allies. Just 3 weeks ago, an NYT headline penned by the head of Carnegie’s Moscow Center, boldly declared “Why Russia Won’t Interfere.” Such myopia is reminiscent of the “Assad’s days are numbered” mantra, and predictions about how “Hizbullah won’t respond [to Israel]” . Time and time again, we find that US intelligence services, think tanks and policy makers misread their enemy’s intentions and willingness to respond militarily to US/NATO/Zionist destabilization and aggression campaigns. The problem lies in their very rationality which is based on the deeply flawed premise that only imperialist powers will dare act militarily in puruit of their “security interests” (a euphemism for imperialist designs) while other nations can be sanctioned, destabilized and even bombed into submission, without standing up for their rights, security and very existence . And when anti-imperialist forces do strike back in self-defense, the US & co appear genuinely shocked by their digression from this “rational actor” model and are consequently branded as irrational (Assad is “delusional”, Putin is “in another world”, etc.) pariahs who can only be restrained by means of further sanctions, destabilization and bombing campaigns. What can be more terrifying than an enemy who possesses such a rationality?
So Erdogan is threatening to ban Facebook and Youtube because of leaked audio recordings which expose his corruption. I really don’t understand why he can’t follow the example of the leaders of other NATO democracies who have also been exposed on audio. I mean, when Victoria Nuland’s audio clip was leaked where she issued directives on the type of puppet Ukrainian regime the US wanted installed, what did the Obama adminstration do? Nothing. It never happened. And when the Paet-Ashton audio was leaked where the former admitted that the snipers who shot at protesters and police were hired by Maidan leaders, what did the EU do? Nothing, because who cares about evidence which contradicts the mainstream narrative of a democractic and peaceful opposition? And when the whole world almost vomited when they heard Kerry audaciously declare “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,” as he conveniently brushed under the carpet decades of US invasions and aggression against other countries, was the US remotely embarassed? Of course not because when it comes to the Empire the aphorism “might makes right” becomes “might makes reality itself”. Erdogan has a long way to go before his government becomes a bona fide NATO democracy. He needs to restrain the urge to suppress the truth in favour of a more NATO-friendly approach whereby he simply ignores it and mocks his detractors for being “out of touch with reality.”
So now, thanks to the Ukraine crisis, we need to revise our current understanding of the concepts “coup d’etat”, “invasion”, and “occupation”. See, when the US invades countries thousands of miles away from it, countries whose non-English speaking populations are overwhelming anti-American and vehemently opposed to US aggression against their land, it’s sanctioned internationally as “humanitarianintervention” and “R2P”, and justified domestically as “defending” US “national security”. But when Russia steps in to protect a region literally at its doorstep, a region which would have remained part of Russia today had Khrushchev not transferred it to his native Ukraine in 1954, a region whose population is close to 60% ethnic Russian, and hence, is calling for Russia’s protection, a region which hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and for all these reasons has great symbolic value for Russia and is part of its national identity, it is not considered a national security issue or protection of a population, but is branded an “invasion”/”coup d’etat”/”occupation”. Got it?
Haaretz: "In admitting Israeli attack, Hezbollah changed the rules"
I am copy-pasting this very important Haaretz analysis since it is protected by a firewall. Here is the full piece:
The “room for denial” doctrine — under which Syria, Hezbollah and Israel all deny that Israeli attacks have occurred so as to avoid the need to respond — was dealt a blow on Wednesday. Hezbollah’s announcement that one of its bases in Lebanon was hit by Israeli jets and that the organization will respond when and where it sees fit, attests to a tactical shift, and perhaps even a new strategy.
This doesn’t mean that from now on, either Hezbollah or Syria is going to make a public announcement every time Israel attacks. But the “open account” between Israel and Hezbollah has now become public, and that grants the Lebanese organization double legitimacy.
First, if it decides to attack Israel, it will no longer be accused of starting a war; it can defend the attack as merely “settling accounts.” Second, it can parlay the Israeli strike into official government support for it to retain its arms, which have come under increasing criticism within Lebanon due to the organization’s participation in the Syrian civil war. On Tuesday, for instance, Nabil Kaouk, deputy chairman of Hezbollah’s executive committee, demanded that the newly formed Lebanese government offer support to the “resistance” and declare this a fundamental principle of its policy.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that the attack was not on Hezbollah alone, but on all of Lebanon, poses a dilemma for the new government. The organization is trying to force the government into responding to an attack that at least some ministers see as a punishment aimed solely at Hezbollah, not the country. And for Israel, Hezbollah’s new tactic means the “room for denial” policy no longer provides an umbrella under which it can attack without claiming responsibility, and to a large extent, without fearing a response.
From a military standpoint, Hezbollah has not lost its ability to respond. It can still launch just as many rockets and missiles at Israel as it could before. But domestic political considerations, as well as strategic considerations related to the war in Syria, are dictating its moves these days. Hezbollah’s desire to keep Israel from expanding its military operations in a way that would aid the Syrian rebels — who are now waging fierce battles in Syria’s Qalamoun Hills, near the border with Lebanon — could be outweighing its fear of an Israeli attack on its bases in Lebanon.
In this context, the statement put out by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is interesting. The group, which is considered close to the rebels, said that Israel struck a Hezbollah missile base near Baalbek from which missiles had been fired at the Qalamoun Hills. That statement was denied by Hezbollah, but it portrays Israel as having become an active player in Syria’s civil war, on the rebels’ side.
This isn’t the first time rebel spokesmen have reported on “Israeli military aid” for their cause. A few months ago, for instance, they reported that Israel had helped a rebel force entering Syria from Jordan by disrupting the Syrian army’s communications system, thereby making it impossible for the local field headquarters to communicate with the Syrian high command. On another occasion, rebel representatives voiced hope that Israel would continue to attack Syria, saying its previous attacks had helped the rebel forces.
What does Israel really want?
Publicly, Israel insists it isn’t involved in the rebels’ military operations. The only aid it acknowledges openly is the humanitarian aid it gives the rebels — medical treatment for the wounded and limited amounts of food. But according to Jordanian sources, Israel is briefed on the coordination between the United States and Jordan, where soldiers and officers of the Free Syrian Army are being trained.
At the same time, some Syrian opposition representatives continue to accuse Israel of wanting Syrian President Bashar Assad to remain in power. Assad’s regime, for its part, accuses Israel of aiding the rebels, seeking thereby to undermine the opposition’s legitimacy.
The uncertainty over Israel’s strategy on Syria has so far served to keep the radical Islamist groups, including those affiliated with Al-Qaida, from opening another front against Israel. Their fear is that any attack on Israel, even an unintentional one, could grant Israel license to expand its military operations in Syria beyond attacking missile convoys and Hezbollah bases.
So far, this fragile balance has been strictly maintained, and aside from occasional errant shelling in the Golan Heights, Israel is considered off-limits for attacks. But the key word in that sentence is “fragile.” The balance could be broken at any moment.
Exclusive Manar Tv footage of the Syrian Army ambush
A MUST WATCH!! Remarkable footage HERE and HERE exclusive to Manar Tv of the ambush the Syrian Army staged against Jabhat al-Nusra and Liwa al-Islam rebels in Eastern Ghouta, killing 175 of them in one go. This is not the same footage al-Mayadeen showed of the rebels’ corpses , this is the operation itself. The army appears to have anticipated their advance and planted land mines across the entire area. I have never seen such a large formation of troops advance and fall at the same time, it’s almost unreal. Wow.
Why Western "experts" on Hizbullah cannot predict its response
I was just reading some of the reactions on Twitter to Hizbullah’s latest statement in which it confirmed that Israel had struck a Hizbullah base in the Bekaa on Monday, while denying the strike had caused any casualties or targeted any weapons’ caches. The problem with dismissing Hizbullah’s threat to respond at “a time and place of its own choosing” as empty rhetoric is part and parcel of the wider problem of all-purpose punditry and the industry of self-styled Hizbullah “experts” . This phenomenon has become all the more acute in the wake of the war on Syria, whereby Western pundits and Arab social media activists, emboldened by the mainstreaming of “citizen journalism”, have become overnight “experts” on Syria, Hizbullah and the Resistance Axis.
As someone who has been studying and writing about Hizbullah for the past 18 years, I have always been particularly wary of the western journalist or pundit who claims to have spoken to Hizbullah officials, let alone Resistance commanders. Not only are such claims usually flagrant lies, but the notion that Hizbullah trusts these people and is so eager to please the white man that its officials will gladly bypass the Hizbullah Media Office (which, incidentally has not granted a single interview to western journalists in years) and divulge the movement’s strategic plans in Syria and Lebanon, is both incredibly condescending and insulting to the intelligence.
I am equally skeptical of western “expert” claims of any special insights on Hizbullah, not least because THEY NEVER GET IT RIGHT. The depth of expert knowledge is not hard to measure, for as in the natural sciences, knowledge in the social sciences is gauged by its predictive value. And the fact is that the overwhelming majority of Western, Israeli , and colonized Arab “experts” just haven’t been able to reliably predict Hizbullah’s future actions. There are many reasons for this intelligence gap but the principal one is that they are outside observers who view Hizbullah from a western-centric lens. Their understanding of concepts like power and interest emanate from a Euro-American dominated political science tradition that is peculiar to western historical experiences.
As one of the more colonial disciplines, Western anthropology introduced the role of the “participant-observer” who both observes and participates in the life of the group she is studying . Despite the scientific and ethical shortcomings of this colonial “going native” approach, it did signal a recognition of the western observer’s limitations in understanding non-western cultures from a geographic and social distance. Unfortunately, today’s epistemic community of academics, policy wonks and journalists are far less cognizant of these limitations than some of their old-school colonialist predecessors.
Any meaningful insights into the mind of Hizbullah will continue to elude all those who do not share its worldview. By that I don’t simply mean the Hizbullah supporter in the abstract sense, but those who view political reality through the same lens, share the same purpose, and are deeply committed to the same cause. Only “committed-observers” can understand Hizbullah and predict its future actions because they do not have to second-guess its intent and motives, or make assumptions about its priorities; they know them because they live them.
They do not view Hizbullah as an organization that is external to them, nor do they support it on a partisan “Team Hizbullah” basis. Hizbullah is synonymous with Resistance which belongs to all its adherents. Supporters of Hariri don’t know the Future Movement in the same way that Hizbullah’s committed-observers know Hizbullah, and that is because the former are not bound by any shared cause, beyond a reactivity to Hizbullah cemented by sectarianism. In this sense, Hizbullah is a culture not a party with card-carrying members. And as a political culture it has its own unique mindset and rationality.
It is precisely this rationality that I invoke whenever I am interviewed by media on Hizbullah. Of course, as an analyst my knowledge of the movement is based on empirical evidence I have observed, but my assessment of Hizbullah’s actions and intentions, my prognostications of its future actions come from this resistance rationality that I share with it. When I am asked “how will Hizbullah respond” I essentially ask myself “how should we [who are committed to the Resistance project] respond?” And I am usually able to provide an accurate response or prediction, not because I possess any superior intellectual abilities, but because I, like many others in Lebanon and beyond, share the Resistance’s priorities and concerns, and my analysis is guided by the same political values and rationality as them. In fact, I am very confident that a committed 18 year old Hizbullah supporter would yield more valuable insights on the movement and offer more reliable predictions of its behavior than a western academic or journalist who claims expert knowledge.
And I am equally confident that if any committed observer is asked “will Hizbullah really respond to Israel’s attacks on Monday?” he or she will tell you that as the first such attack since the end of the July War in 2006, Hizbullah has no choice but to respond, irrespective of how deeply mired it is in the Syrian conflict and in safeguarding Lebanon from terrorist infiltration. It has to respond because confronting Israel will always constitute the larger part of its raison d’etre, even if its mission has expanded over the years. And it will respond because to not respond would upset its doctrine of deterrence and “balance-of-terror” with Israel which it painfully earned after two decades of blood and sacrifice. Hizbullah will respond because there is no precedent of Hizbullah not retaliating for an Israeli attack (I am not including assassinations here) and it is highly unlikely that it would want to set a new precedent for its enemies. We just have to wait and see when and how it will do so, because no matter how committed we are as observers we are not privy to Hizbullah’s military strategy.
Why we don't need more women joining the "debate" on Syria
I rarely post stuff on women’s issues, but I just discovered this commentary in the Guardian by Jill Filipovic, which was begging for a smackdown. Sarcastically entitled “Can Girls Even Find Syria on the Map?” the author calls for greater participation of women in the “major international debate” on Syria because she is unhappy with the ratio of female to male information warlords. As an a Arab woman and a Marxist “Critical Feminist”, I have to ask bourgeois liberal feminists the following:
Who says this is YOUR debate in the first place? And by you, I mean you American and European “experts”. Women asides, what gives your universities, think tanks and media the right to be debating and determining the destiny of our region? Why do we never question the colonial mentality that underlies your Middle East departments and bureaus, your “centers for democracy” and “peace” for the Middle East initiatives? Who the hell are you to be studying us and issuing us Euro-American directives on “good governance” and “conflict resolution”? Crises of governance and conflicts which have been engineered by none other than your governments , with your intellectual cover.
What gives privileged white women the right to be pursuing their supposed “emancipation” on the backs of our oppressed people? And why are the needs of this “debate” greater than the need of Syria and its people?
On what moral grounds should Syrian and Arab women be celebrating the inclusion of more female liberal imperialists in framing the mainstream narrative on Syria? Should Syrian women thank their western counterparts for enjoining western governments to invade Syria? Or should they be thankful for the justifications made by these women for the arms that are being funneled to “moderate” takfiris and jihadis who oppress women in the most gruesome and violent of ways imaginable? Do Arab women really need more Elizabeth O’Bagys and Christian Amanpours to distort and fabricate the reality they are living?
And who says that women’s liberation is best served by jumping on the male-dominated bandwagon which oppresses and disempowers the weak and marginalized? In this case and in others, the erasure of difference does not lead to greater gender equality; only to the assimilation of hegemonic ideology, and hence a more sinister type of subordination by consent.
How can women’s oppression be extricated from the same patriarchal-capitalist system which oppresses other classes and races? How can we ignore the “intersectionality” of hegemonic institutions which reinforce the different modes of oppression that women are subjected to? As Bell Hooks and other proponents of Critical Feminist theory have argued, feminism is “a struggle to eradicate the ideology of domination that permeates Western culture on various levels, as well as a commitment to reorganizing society so that the self-development of people can take precedence over imperialism, economic expansion, and material desires.”
As a “female Middle East expert who lives in the region” to borrow Filipovic’s words, my voice is not excluded from this debate because it is a female voice as she contends, but because it is an anti-imperialist voice. And frankly, I don’t want a “voice” in this “international debate” if the terms of this debate are still dictated by the white man and his interests.
Yes, Syria does need more women’s voices, but only those resistant voices which have liberated themselves from the imperatives of bourgeois liberal individualism and which refuse to submit to the discursive parameters drawn up by the Academy and mainstream media. What Syria needs is more women who understand how their liberation is linked to their freedom and dignity as human beings who are free from all forms of exploitation and subjugation. An integral part of this freedom is a sovereign and unitary Syria which is free from the predatory ambitions of the Empire and its Arab minions.
Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela: the politics of protest
We saw it in Syria and now we are witnessing it again in Ukraine and Venezuela; namely, using the politics of protest to engineer anti-democractic movements which seek to overthrow popular and/or elected governments in the name of democratic freedoms. And we aren’t merely talking about undemocratic groups here, but anti-democractic movements which are opposed in principle to democracy (takfiris and jihadis in Syria; right-wing fascists in Ukraine; reactionary neo-liberals in Venezuela). In all these cases, governments are being rebuked, pressured and sanctioned for exercising their constitutionally prescribed and universally recognized duty to maintain law and order and to protect national security, public safety and national unity. And as we witnessed in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring”, democracy and revolution are now redefined in the public imagination as any popular outpouring of anger irrespective of the nature of its demands, the medium through which it is expressed, or its intersection with the interests of global capital.
In customary mainstream media fashion, AFP’s report described the site of today’s terrorist bombings in Dahyeh as one close to “neighbourhoods that are strongholds of Hezbollah”. So I guess that these orphans who are cared for by a SUNNI Islamic charity are part of this hub of Hizbullah militancy and hence legitimate targets of Takfiri retribution, whose suicide bombers chose to detonate one of the two bombs close to the orphanage.
So this is what alienation feels like. I walk down my once favourite area in Beirut, Hamra, and I don’t recognize it any more. I watch some of my compatriots live in their bubble of neo-liberal denial, chanting their “I love life” mantra, and I feel so estranged from them. I read and watch news about the latest advances we have made against al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon and I just don’t feel any safer or any less uncertain. And while I have always enjoyed hating my enemy, Israel, I don’t even enjoy hating this new enemy. I feel no sense of triumphalism even when we win battles. Every day feels like a blur; every small pleasure feels like an absurdity. Even grief and sadness feel unreal. People who once meant everything feel like they belong to another lifetime. Aspirations and life goals feel naive and infantile. And with every Dahyeh or Hermil terrorist bombing comes that sense of shame because you are still safe and their residents are not. This is not defeatism, this is the reality of the sporadic and unpredictable nature of terrorist warfare. No matter how many battles we win, we will never get Lebanon back. It will never be the same again.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully support our national ski champ’s right to bare her boobs to the world, and am heartened by the outpouring of support she has received from across the political spectrum. But as I was reading the news today about the Lebanese Army’s latest security feats, I recalled how neither Israel’s nor al-Qaeda’s attacks on Lebanese civilans managed to bridge the political and sectarian divide, thanks to the March 14 camp’s insistence on blaming the victims for both types of aggression (if only Hizbullah hadn’t provoked the other side then all would be well). I find it beyond ironic that the sole cross-cutting cleavage in Lebanon is neither social class nor security concerns but literally, Jackie Chamoun’s cleavage. Indeed, we are a nation which can neither identify a common enemy nor rally behind a national resistance movement, but we can all unite behind Jackie’s boobs. All hail to boobies as the new symbol of national unity.
If Israel is a cancer implanted in our midst then the Saudi regime is surely our brain aneurysm. The terrorist bombings in Syria and Lebanon by Saudi-backed groups like Jabhet al-Nusra, have made it clear to us all that there will be no peace or stability in our region so long as this reactionary and decrepit ruling family remains; this pinnacle of moral debauchery; this orgy of violence, “immersed in the mud of enslavement, infanticide and other medieval practices” to borrow the words of Walid Muallem; this architect of filthy Wahhabi sectarianism masquerading as an “Islamic school of thought;” this subhuman cabal of evil incarnate which is too cowardly to fight its own battles but must subcontract them to takfiri nihilists.. .There can be no coexistence with this pathological condition otherwise known as a “regional powerhouse.” The Saudi regime must go.
Thanks to imperialism and its proxies, the concepts of “terrorism” and “revolution” have become completely inane terms bereft of any meaning. When freedom- fighting resistance movements become terrorists and nihilistic terrorists became revolutionaries, is it really all that shocking that the Saudi regime feels it too is entitled to stretch the definition of terrorism to include such subversive activity as defying driving laws if you are a woman? It’s only a matter of time before these catchall concepts are sandwhiched between “cray-cray” and “YOLO” in Urban Dictionary.
Full story on Saudi’s new “counter-terrorism” laws here
The media's classist and racist coverage of Lebanon's suicide bombings
If the “Hizbullah stronghold” concept wasn’t bad enough, after today’s Hermil bombing , we can now add “pro-Hizbullah region” (see Lebanon’s Daily Star today) and “Hizbullah town” (the BBC before they amended their headline) to refer to predominantly Shia areas in Lebanon targetted by suicide bombers. Aside from the usual blaming of the victims—the Shia must pay for their support for Hizbullah, the classist undertones of this ShiaVille discourse cannot be discounted. No matter how much national unity and cross-sectarian solidarity the Lebanese attempt to muster with their “we are all Dahyeh” slogans, the media’s classist and borderline racist coverage of attacks on the Dahyeh suburbs or the underdeveloped Shia periphery of Baalbek, only serve to ghettoize the Shia as the witting “thug-life” victims of Hizbullah’s turf wars. It also feeds into that whole Saatchi & Saatchi, neoliberal “I love life” crusade practiced by the “why does Hizbullah have to mess with dem Takfiris in Syria?” camp. This is no less than a revival of the language of internal colonialism when the Dahyeh was known as the “Shia slums of Beirut” and/or “the belt of misery”.
A report forecasting Israel’s strategic future looks positively at Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East though it fears instability along Israeli borders. Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin concludes
By Israeli officials’ own accounts, the Syrian uprising/war and even the rise of al-Qaeda on Israel’s doorstep have generally boosted Israel’s position in the region: “an increase in terrorist activity on Israel’s borders by terrorist groups … has thus far not materialized into a strategic threat….the opportunities presented by the upheavals in the Arab world outweigh the risks they incur. Foremost among these opportunities is the worsening relations between the Sunni axis led by Saudi Arabia and the Shia axis led by Iran. The weakening of the Shia axis, primarily as a result of the civil war in Syria, has broadened Israel’s room to maneuver in the Middle East and created an opportunity to expand its cooperation with the Sunni axis countries.”
Read al-Akhbar’s summary of Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin’s conclusion for the “Strategic Survey for Israel 2013-2014” here
After listening to ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf al-Ansari’s declare war on all of Lebanon I can’t help but wonder if and when Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah will announce a new equation in the Resistance’s war with the Takfiris, similar to the one he made in 2006 when he threatened to retaliate in Tel Aviv for any Israeli attack on the capital Beirut, in his famous “Haifa, and what’s beyond Haifa and what’s beyond beyond Haifa” threat. Our only hope in Lebanon today is for Hizbullah to devise a new military strategy for confronting and expelling Takfiri Jihadis from Lebanon— a new “Imaad Mughnieh school of fighting”. What we need is for Nasrallah to issue a threat to them and a promise to us that Hizbullah will retaliate in “West Syria, and what’s beyond West Syria, and what’s beyond beyond West Syria.”
Without ignoring or belittling Saudi sponsorship of the Takfiri groups who are slaying Lebanese and Syrian civilians, let us not forget the culpability of Israel and the US in these crimes, including today’s Dahyeh bombing. Not only do we now know that the Obama adminstration has been reaching out to “engage” the Islamic Front in Syria, which contains Al-Qaeda affiliates like Ahrar Al Sham (a senior figure for the group, Abu Khaled al Suri, admitted as much recently), but even more significantly, Obama made this very telling statement to the New Yorker, which effectively distinguishes between a good and a bad al-Qaeda and normalizes the former as a just another benign [to the US at least] sectarian force, involved in petty power-struggles, the implication being, that the US can manipulate these good Takfiris to serve its strategic interests: “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian…And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into…But how we approach those problems and the resources that we direct toward those problems is not going to be exactly the same as how we think about a transnational network of operatives who want to blow up the World Trade Center. We have to be able to distinguish between these problems analytically.”
My response to Ibrahim Al-Amin: "Yarmouk Camp – Resistance Camp Needs to Reflect"
Here is my response to Ibrahim Al-Amin’s piece on Yarmouk in which he argues that all Palestinians, refugees in particular, are “100 percent” responsible for their own starvation and deaths. I know many supporters of the Resistance Axis will be disappointed in my position on this issue, especially since I have seen quite a few praise his commentary on social media, but I urge you to read my piece carefully before rushing to judgement, and hopefully reassess your position. Excerpts: " While Amin is correct in calling on Palestinians to “conduct an overall review," we, too, in the Resistance camp must also engage in a similar process of self-reflection, especially now that we are in a militarily and diplomatically stronger position than we have been in the past. While it remains even truer today that the real litmus test of our commitment to the Palestinian cause is supporting the Syrian Arab Republic in its struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-takfiri onslaught against the Resistance project, this does not absolve our Resistance camp from its responsibility toward the Palestinian people and their fundamental rights. What Amin and others who identify with the Resistance Axis should be doing today, is to call on the Syrian authorities, who are much more likely to listen to us than our enemy is, to designate the Yarmouk camp and its inhabitants as a “red line,” just as the al-Qaeda-infested Nahr al-Bared camp was for Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah when he declared it as such in 2007.”
It is Palestine which makes us a resistance rather than a Shia front
I can’t look at another comment, tweet, status or commentary that blames the Palestinian people for the sins of their leaders, or worse, that “look how they bit the hand that fed them” logic. Even if Hamas, Fatah and every other Palestinian betrayed the Resistance and Palestine itself this should change nothing in our support for Palestine. Hizbullah, revolutionary Iran and the Syrian government all derive their popular legitimacy and political identity from Palestine. Without Palestine, our axis would be a nationalist Shia front. Let us never forget that.
On the death of Sharon: there are no "good" Zionists
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for celebrating the death of Sharon, but so long as we remain mindful of mainstream media’s attempt to draw a false distinction between good and bad (using the euphemism “controversial” as an epithet to Sharon for example) Zionist leaders. Yes Sharon was responsible for heinous crimes against humanity, but as a “soldier-politican” and a war criminal, he embodied the very ethos of that military-state project we call Israel whose very existence is an act of aggression in itself. Nor should we forget the countless massacres and invasions into Palestinian and Lebanese territories which Labour “doves” like Barak can take credit for. Every Zionist official and every Zionist occupier is an Ariel Sharon, who in turn, was nothing but a personification of the evils of the Zionist regime, aka “Israel”.
Belén Fernández deconstructs the concept of "spillover"
This article “Reassessing the Syrian Spillover” is a MUST READ. In this incisive piece, the brilliant Belén Fernández deconstructs the concept of a “spillover” in Lebanon : “Hezbollah’s intervention, however, is repeatedly cast as the fundamental starting point in the timeline of Lebanese current events, after which all other occurrences become reactive in nature.This anti-cerebral, anti-historical approach to journalistic analysis leaves much to be desired….Far predating the alleged Syrian war importation process, incidentally, were indicators that the Al Qaeda “curse” should perhaps be attributed to non-Hezbollah entities.In 2007, for example, Seymour Hersh wrote for The New Yorker about efforts by the then-government of Fouad Siniora and billionaire future prime minister Saad Hariri, respectively, to fuel Sunni extremism in Lebanon as a counterbalance to Hezbollah…Any accurate narrative of violent “spillover” into Lebanon should thus account for imperialist ventures “to remake the Muslim world,” as Rosen puts it—a project facilitated by “regional tensions between Sunnis and Shiites stoked by the Bush administration.”
I am suddenly reminded of that brilliant insight Robert Malley and Hussein Agha made when they asked “How far off is the day when Salafis present themselves to the world as the preferable alternative to jihadists?” It seems that day was only a little over a year off. We are now told that the latest Syrian Revolutionaries Front-Islamic Front-Jaish al Mujahideen onslaught against ISIS is being led by Saudi-backed “moderately Islamist”, “mainstream rebels” whom the US is trying to engage because they represent some kind of bulwark against “extremists”. That’s right, groups which seek to resurrect the Omayyad Empire and eliminate all those pesky rafidah and nusayris in their midst, are the new MODERATES. And just as in the past when “moderation” was the buzzword which described any movement or regime which was moderate on Israel and/or imperialism, today’s moderate Salafis, takfiris and Jihadis, are moderate in so far as they serve Empire’s aims. Indeed, these are “Things that make you go hmm” and not in the C and C Music Factory sense of the term either.
Without understating the existential threat which religious “takfiris” (those who accuse other Muslims of apostasy) pose to our region, we must also be equally wary of the secular liberal takfirism which is now on the rise. Like the religious kind, the secular variant is also rabidly sectarian though the sectarianism it practices is not doctrinal, i.e. based on the religous beliefs of its opponents, but political; anyone who dares digress from the Saudi-Western manufactured narrative adopted by the Syrian opposition is ipso facto declared a sectraian Shia/Christian/self-hating Sunni and political heretic who has veered from the mainstream. Thus for example, journalists like the highly respected Sunday Times correspondent, Hala Jaber are branded “sectarian Shia” and “Hizbullah/Assad groupies” by secular liberal opposition supporters for daring to commit political blasphemies like clarifying the origins of a misattributed photo and interviewing President Assad . More than this, secular liberal takfiris find common cause with their religious cohorts in so far as they wax lyrical about the “Shia threat” while cheering on religious takfiris like the al-Nusra/Islamic Front/ Jaish al Mujahideen’s recent assault on ISIS, in a very twisted bid to rebrand them as “moderate” Takfiris—you know, the kind of takfiris who merely flog you for not performing the Friday prayers as opposed to beheading you for lesser offenses. Were it not for the Dahyeh bombings and the journalists and others whose lives they are endangering , secular liberal takfirism could be quite funny.
20 political terms to avoid: a brief glossary for Resistance supporters
As the name and description of this blog reveals, its main focus is to expose intellectual and discursive imperialism, i.e. the language imperialists use to distort our reality which we then internalize. If we are to successfully resist these attempts, we must devise a counter-hegemonic discourse of our own. In this ongoing effort, I propose the glossary below containing 20 key terms which anti-imperialists and supporters of the Resistance project should avoid or use with caution. For each widely used concept, I have suggested alternatives that we should adopt and normalize in its place. This is of course just a small sample of the discursive imperialism we are subjected to daily. I urge readers to send me suggestions for other important terms I have omitted or forgotten, especially those that relate to the war on the Resistance Axis. Once I have enough suggestions, I will update this post with a longer glossary.
1. Arab street : This term should be avoided at all costs given its negative connotations. It alludes to an angry and unruly mob lacking organization, discipline and independent thought, and has violent and irrational connotations. The term is used exclusively to describe Arabs; all other peoples and nationalities are considered publics or people by western media. Moreover, since the Syrian crisis began, the concept of the “Street” is now used selectively by western media when referring to anti-western or anti-Zionist protests, while the concept of “people” i.e. the “Syrian people” is reserved for those representing the West’s allies. i.e. the Syrian opposition. The concept of Arab public should be used instead as it implies a politically aware and rational political culture which has democratic aspirations, and hence, is on an equal footing with western and other publics.
2. International Community: Used mainly by US and Western officials, this essentially particularistic concept has now entered the Arab popular vernacular. It attempts to universalize the small elite club of UN Security Council members and NATO member states to imply the whole world, hence the concept of “international”. As such, any decision or stand taken by this small group of states, who make up less than 1/3 of the world’s nations, is construed as a universal decision or position taken by the whole world which stands united (the concept of “community” alludes to agreement and unity) in the face of a specific threat. The term is therefore used as a tool for isolating states and political actors which defy imperialist powers. The concept of NATO powers or “some members of the UN Security Council” or the US and EU or US/EU/Arab Gulf alliance , depending on the context, should be used instead to downsize the alliance as one consisting of a few imperialist states and their regional proxies.
3. Regime: The concept in English has very different, and much more negative, connotations than its Arabic translation ( نظام ). Given that a regime is an authoritarian form of government, western media and public officials routinely use the term to demonize the US’ enemies, even if those governments are popularly elected i.e. the “Iranian regime”. By the same token, US allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc. which are not merely undemocractic but openly anti-democratic, are bestowed with popular legitimacy by western officials who refer to them as “governments”. Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies should be uniformly called monarchies or regimes, while members of the Resistance Axis should be referred to as governments. This should also apply to the Syria government, which admittedly, has not historically enjoyed free and fair elections, but still enjoys a large degree of popular support and hence, has a considerable extent of popular legitimacy which regimes lack. Since repression of dissidents is not peculiar to authoritarian regimes, but also typifies some liberal democracies like the US, this criterion alone should not preclude the designation of a political system as a government.
4. Israel: As per the policy of Resistance media, “Israel” should never be granted legal recognition and referred to as such. Common substitutes include “Zionist entity” though it is preferable to use the term “Israeli regime” or “Zionist regime” as the latter reduces Israel to a tyranny that can be subject to “regime change” and overthrow like any other authoritarian regime, as opposed to an invincible power or permanent fixture in the region. It is also preferable to “entity” in that calling for an entity’s eradication could be construed as mass genocide, whereas a regime’s eradication is merely revolutionary overthrow of a political order.
Other synonyms that should be popularized are “Occupied Palestine” with reference to territories outside of the ’67 borders. Jerusalem should always be referred to as “Occupied Quds”. Moreover, the “illegal settlements” should be called “settler colonies” as that is a more accurate historical description, and will strike a deeper chord with Arab and Muslim viewers, as well as anti-imperialist non-Arabs and non-Muslims, and liberals who reject all forms of racism.
5. Democracy: This concept has become less of a scientific description of political systems than a moral value or label that western powers use to undermine and isolate nations who refuse to submit to their hegemony. Moreover, the term is almost invariably used to denote one specific form of democracy—liberal democracy—which typifies European and North American democracies that focus on procedural aspects of democracy like elections and constitutional legitimacy. This excludes many other forms of democracy found in other parts of the world which emphasize substantive aspects of democracy like popular participation, national self-determination, economic equality etc. In order to break the Western liberal monopoly on the term, we should refer to western democracies as liberal democracies to be distinguished from other types such as “Islamic democracy”, “Socialist democracy” etc.
6. Arab Spring: Despite the pervasiveness of this term in both Arab and Western media, it should be avoided on account of its origins and connotations. The concept of a revolutionary “spring” was previously associated with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. The American political journal Foreign Policy later used it in the Arab context as a catchall phrase for uprisings in the Arab world. The term quickly caught on in American policy-making circles and was subsequently wedded to US foreign policy objectives in the Arab world to steer the uprisings towards liberal democracy and US-friendly governments. This was mirrored on the political and intellectual levels by a reprioritization of objectives whereby confronting imperialism and Zionism became secondary to domestic political struggles. Owing to these considerations, and the fact that the term has now become synonymous with Islamist takeovers, civil wars, and US/NATO invasions, it is preferable to adopt the less optimistic and less controversial concept of “Arab Uprisings”.
7. Revolution: This term should be used very sparingly as no Arab uprising has come anywhere close to a full-fledged “revolution” in the scientific sense of the term. The most they have achieved is regime change, and in some cases, i.e. Egypt, not even that. Moreover, considering how all of these uprisings have been hijacked by reactionary and conservative Islamist forces, they have effectively become “counter-revolutionary”, if we are to adopt a Marxist or liberal understanding of revolution. Far more appropriate and accurate substitutes are revolt,“rebellion” ,“uprising” and “insurgency”.
8. Middle East: The universalized concept of “the Middle East”, which has even found its way into our Arabic vocabulary, needs to be de-naturalized and removed from our lexicon. The problem with this term is its British colonial origins. Seeing itself as the center of the universe or the self-styled geographic “zero-point”, Great Britain referred to countries to its east as the “Near East” or “Middle East”. We are not “Middle Easterners”; we are Arabs. When we start referring to our region as the “Arab world”, we not only normalize a new anti-imperialist discourse, but an anti-Zionist one as well; for while Israel can, in theory at least, be considered part of the Middle East, it can never be part of our Arab world. Alternative terms include “Arab and Islamic world[s]” which covers non-Arab, Islamic countries as well.
9. “Moderation/Moderate” This term should not be adopted in any context as it was coined by the Bush administration to designate regional allies including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and UAE who were juxtaposed with “extremists” like Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Palestinian resistance groups. The term was later used to distinguish US-friendly branches of the Muslim Brotherhood from more “extremist” Salafi and jihadi Islamists. Even sectarian Islamists are labeled “moderates” by the West (Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi was once dubbed a “moderate” by many western observers) if they serve the Empire’s agenda. As such, we should use the term “mainstream” Muslims/Islamists if the aim is to distinguish between groups or movements, while avoiding the concept of “moderation” altogether.
10. Tolerance: Although this term is used frequently by western liberals to highlight positive qualities like pluralism and diversity which characterize liberal multiculturalism, it actually has hidden discriminatory undertones. To “tolerate” someone or something suggests that it is somehow inferior, deviant or bad, and is being graciously endured by those practicing this tolerance. It s therefore preferable to boast the “openness” of a state or movement vis-à-vis others, or its pursuit of communal, religious, or any other type of “coexistence” between equals, rather than its mere “toleration” of them. This is especially the case when discussing coexistence under the Assad government, or in Iran and Lebanon. People in these countries don’t merely “tolerate” Christians, Sunnis etc. they coexist with them and are open to others.
11. Religious minorities: While this seems to be a neutral term devoid of any hidden meanings, in the context of the civil war in Syria and the wider anti-Shia regional campaign, it would be preferable not to highlight the minority/majority binary. Not only does this binary invite accusations of a Shia power grab in Syria and Lebanon etc.,(i.e. minorities usurping majority rights) the concept of minority denotes identity politics, group exclusivity and sectarianism overall. The concept of religious community is better suited to describe religious minorities and sects as it doesn’t invoke numerical comparisons and has more harmonious inter-religious overtones.
12. Human rights: There is nothing inherently wrong with invoking arguments of human rights violations, especially when it serves our political agenda, but we should also naturalize a discourse of “people’s rights” which is an entirely different concept of rights. The difference is an important one: “human rights” refer mainly to “negative” individualrights (freedom fromstate interference) and belongs to the western liberal tradition. The West then succeeded in enshrining these rights as a universal value shared by all cultures, even ones which do not share, let alone, prioritize, such values. “People’s rights” is a concept which arose in the Third World as a reaction to this ethnocentric rights discourse, and called attention to the collective or communal rights that groups, communities and nations are entitled to, such as sovereignty, independence, self-determination and autonomy, which, for anti-imperialist nations, take precedence over individual rights.
13. Terrorism: This is probably the most problematic term for any media as there is no universal definition of what constitutes terrorism. Although policy-makers and officials use the term very selectively to designate their enemies, western media has become much more cautious in its use of the term and often puts quotation marks around it. That is not to say that Resistance media should shun the term, only that it should be careful in its use, especially concerning takfiri groups. A sound approach would be to refer to “terrorist attacks/bombings”, when speaking of violent activities, but to refrain from calling the bombers “terrorists” as this type of labeling has a very strong association with Bush’s “War on Terror”— which essentially targeted the Resistance Axis—and will appear to many as reminiscent of the post- 9/11 Islamophobic political culture which enraged Muslims. Moreover, for the sake of ideological and intellectual consistency, if the term “terrorism” is used with reference to takfiri violence, it should also be used to describe all instances of violence which deliberately target innocent civilians such as US drone strikes and Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so as to avoid conforming to US-Eurocentric definitions of terrorism.
14. Assad: All too often in western media one reads of “Assad’s Alawite sect”, “Assad forces”, “Assad’s army”, the “Assad regime”, or simply to Assad alone as though he were synonymous with Syrian the state, i.e. “Hezbollah has helped turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favour this year.” Whether in the case of the Alawite sect, the Syrian Arab Army, or the Syrian state or government, the purpose behind this practice is to personalize the conflict and reduce all of the above to mere instruments of a “dictator” thereby denying them any sense of agency or institutional role in a post-conflict Syria. Making Bashar al-Assad synonymous with the above, also serves to legitimize violence against Alawites, Syrian soldiers, Syrian government and state infrastructure etc. as they come to be perceived as various incarnations of a single leader. It is therefore imperative that the term “Assad” is not used to preface any other word or to betoken any other idea. Assad should only be used when referring to the person of the Syrian president.
15. Stronghold/heartland: Another widespread practice in western mainstream media is to name Alawite areas in Syria as “Assad’s heartland” or areas controlled by the Syrian government as a “regime stronghold”. This is also the standard norm when describing any Shi’a area of Lebanon as “Hizbullah’s stronghold”.The very sinister usage of this term is evident when areas in Dahyeh or in Syria have been subjected to terrorist bombing, and they are depicted as “strongholds” of Hizbullah or Assad. Such [mis]labeling conceals the fact that these are heavily populated, residential areas and renders them legitimate objects of violence and destruction. It also has the effect of sanctioning the punishment of the inhabitants of these areas for supporting Hizbullah/Syrian government. We should therefore shun such terms and restrict ourselves to describing the religious composition of an area if this factor was a principal motive for the bombing, i.e. “Takfiris targeted the predominantly Shia area of Bir Hassan”.
16. Foreign backed: In order to offset western and Arab media’s pervasive use of epithets such as “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” when referring to Hizbullah or other movements, we should refer to the Syrian opposition, the March 14 camp in Lebanon, and others in that category as “Saudi-backed” (in the case of the al-Qaeda affiliates and takfiris in Syria, as well as March 14) and “NATO/US backed” (in the case of other armed factions in Syria and March 14). This will not only undermine the autonomy these groups like to project, but will also tarnish their image in the region as the majority of Arabs are still ardently anti-American, and very few have favorable perceptions of Saudi Arabia. Wherever possible, the strategic alliances these groups have with the US, Israel, NATO and Gulf monarchies, should be mentioned. While it may be tempting to also dub these groups —especially March 14—as “pro-western” as western media customarily does, it is preferable not to as this alliance is not based on any shared cultural values (some of which are positive) with the West but on a patron-client relationship and political expediency.
17. Hizbullah: We should avoid any of the adjectives and terms used to describe Hizbullah in western media. The gravest of these errors is to refer to its allies as sponsors or backers as this reduces it to a proxy and obscures the fact that it is a significant regional force which has an interdependent relationship with regional allies . Moreover, it should never be introduced as a “Shi’a” movement as this will only further undermine its support among Sunnis, especially given the general sectarian climate in the region which has caused Hizbullah to lose of some of its popular appeal. Finally, Hizbullah should not be referred to as a “party” unless one is discussing its political participation in Lebanese state institutions. Nor should it be downsized to a mere “group” or worse, a “militia” for obvious reasons. The most accurate description is “resistance movement”, “political movement” and “grass-roots movement,” all of which reflect its composition, the scale of its support and its political priorities.
18. Activist: This is another problematic concept that is mainly used in mainstream western media but which has also found its way into Arab media. The word is a peculiarly western concept as it refers to individuals and groups who belong to civil society and work independently in pursuit of political, social, economic and environmental causes. The activities they engage in are supposed to be non-violent and they are theoretically independent of state control as more often than not, their grievances emanate from government policies or lack thereof. This definition confers activists with an automatic sense of legitimacy, non-partisanship and other positive democratic attributes. However, given the absence of civil society and independent political actors in the Arab context, usage of the term is often misleading particularly when used in the Syrian and Lebanese contexts where the overwhelming majority of “activists” are financially supported by western governments and western NGOs which also rely on political funding. In short, they are hardly independent and often unwittingly serve foreign agendas.
The term is all the more problematic when mainstream western media refers to Syrian opposition supporters as “anti-regime activists”, while calling their counterparts “regime supporters”. This labeling misrepresents the much broader political ambitions of the “regime supporters” who may or may not support the government per se, but are united by a fear for their lives, the territorial integrity of their country, communal coexistence and the state’s secular character, among other concerns . By referring to them to as “regime supporters” they are stripped of agency and a political cause and reduced to sectarian Assad groupies.
The solution is either to refer to supporters from both camps (this applies to Lebanon too) as “activists”, i.e. Syrian government activists, Resistance activists in Lebanon etc. or, to drop the term altogether and label them “opposition supporters”. The term “activist” can then be reserved exclusively for individuals and groups advocating non-partisan goals like civil marriage, environmental causes etc. even if they receive foreign funding.
19. War in Syria: While there can be no denying that there is a war is taking place inSyria and it does possess characteristics of a civil war, referring to it as such suggests that there are two independent sides who have some political or moral parity between them. This terminology distracts the reader or viewer from the proxy nature of this war and obscures the broader imperialist /Gulf Arab onslaught against the Syrian state using local and foreign tools. As such, it remains a war ON Syria and not one between two sides in Syria.
20. “Spillover” effect, this phrase has become very popular since the crisis began in Syria and is used almost exclusively to refer to violence in Lebanon. The problem with Resistance media’s adoption of this term is that it tacitly acknowledges that the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria, which is a distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. Usage of this term is a huge misnomer which downplays what is essentially an external plot to eliminate political and military resistance forces in the region by replicating the sectarian dynamic in Lebanon. It should therefore not be used in the context of Lebanese violence.
It is beyond the realms of irony and symbolism that a Saudi-backed takfiri suicide-bomber targetted Ahmad Kassir Street in Dahyeh today, a street dedicated to the resistance fighter, Ahmad Kassir who carried out the first martyrdom operation against Israeli soliders in South Lebanon in November 1982. Nor is it a coincidence that the bomb was detonated in front of the Kazma building, the first building Hizbullah’s reconstruction company, Waad, rebuilt after the Zionists flattened Dahyeh in 2006. These syncronicities epitomize the takfiri-Saudi-Zionist nexus and aptly illustrate how al-Qaeda’s affiliates are serving Israel’s interests, irrespective of their intent. Hizbullah is neither “fighting fellow Muslims” as claimed by its enemies, nor merely “defending the Shia” from annihilation as argued by some of its supporters. In fighting the takfiris and their backers, who are attempting to achieve what Israel failed to accomplish in 2006 , only with new means, Hizbullah is continuing to resist Israel as part of its expanded concept of Resistance.
Fuck any journalist or observer who calls today’s bombing in Dahyeh a “spillover” effect of Syria’s war on Lebanon, as though the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria which would never have occurred otherwise.. This misnomer is a gross distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. It also ignores the targetting of Sunni areas and officials, like Mohammad Chatah last week. This is nothing less than a Saudi-Zionist plot which aims at replicating the Iraqi and Syrian template by sowing sectarian strife in Lebanon, and at eliminating/wearing out the Resistance by opening multiple battle fronts and overextending its security and military forces.