Enjoy your sectarian, Israel-serving revolution: Syrian rebels in Aleppo province said in a statement that Lebanese Shiite hostages were with them… They also said negotiations to release them could start only after Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, apologises for a speech in which he told the kidnappers that the incident would not change his group’s stance on the unrest in Syria.
The US already has undermined the integrity of the UN investigation into the Houla massacre
Nothing inspires more confidence in the impartiality and credibility of a UN investigation into a war crime than when the US calls for it and then, before it even commences work, predicts its findings with an enviable certainty:
Victoria Nuland, State Dept. Spokeswoman said that Washington welcomes the fact “that the Russians are willing to have a full investigation because we think it’s undisputable what that investigation is going to show. It’s going to show that these were regime-sponsored thugs who went into villages, went into homes and killed children at point blank-range and their parents.”
Nothing inspires more confidence in the impartiality and credibility of a UN investigation into a war crime than when the US calls for it and then, before it even commences work, predicts its findings with an enviable certainty:
Victoria Nuland, State Dept. Spokeswoman said that Washington welcomes the fact “that the Russians are willing to have a full investigation because we think it’s undisputable what that investigation is going to show. It’s going to show that these were regime-sponsored thugs who went into villages, went into homes and killed children at point blank-range and their parents.”
“Let us suspend all moral judgment of Bashar al-Assad for one moment and assume (for argument’s sake) that he is the devil incarnate and deserves as much, if not more, blame than the opposition. Let us assume he has been of no value to the Palestinian cause and resistance. I am only interested here in the result this “revolution” has had on human lives: was there sectarian strife, an upsurge in Salafi-Takfiri jihadism, weekly al-Qaeda terrorism, civil war and massacres before this uprising? I am guessing no. But hey, congratulations on your revolution anyway.”—
My last post before I retreat for the next couple of days to finish up some work. Both sides preparing for a possible showdown. Ali Larijani threatens war on Israel in case of invasion of Syria, which I am confident isn’t mere hyperbole or saber-rattling:“US military officials probably have a poor understanding of themselves and regional issues because Syria is in no way similar to Libya, and (the effects of) creating another Benghazi in Syria would spread to Palestine, and ash rising from the flames would definitely envelop the Zionist regime.”
Susan Rice, threatens to unleash sectarian warfare in the region (this woman always has a habit of making veiled threats. She threatened more violence after the last terrorist attack for example): "In the absence of either of those two scenarios there seems to be only one other alternative, and that is indeed the worst case," Rice said, adding that it was unfortunately looking like "the most probable." "That is that the violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies," she said. "It involves countries in the region, it takes on increasingly sectarian forms, and we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the region." In such a case, Rice said, the Annan plan would be dead and the Syrian violence would become "a proxy conflict with arms flowing in from all sides."
Rice concludes with threat of invasion (one of my readers suggested I stop using the term “intervention” as a euphemism for invasion and he/she is right): "And members of this council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council," she said.
VERY IMPORTANT piece that raises some excellent questions about investigations into Houla massacre. Some excerpts:
The Houla massacre is to be brought to a rare gathering of the UN Human Rights Council. But what kind of findings will the council be presented? Anti-war campaigner Marinella Corregia is concerned UN observers only question opposition activists. Marinella Corregia called the Council spokesman, Rupert Colville, to get some answers. This is the conversation they had as reported by the peace activist: Marinella Corregia: Who spoke with the local people you quote? The UN observers? Rupert Colville: The UN observers are another body. MC: So which witness sources do you have and how did you speak with them? RC: Our local network, whom we spoke on the phone. I cannot say more; I have to protect them MC: How could they recognize that the killers were Shabbiya? Weren’t their faces covered? RC: Our local contacts in Syria say they were Shabbiya. Try to be less cynical. But who are these contacts? Corregia says that so far the UN Council on Human Rights used reports made up by their own commission of three envoys, working independently from UN monitors. The commission has never set foot on Syrian soil; their sources, as listed by the anti-war campaigner, appear to be: “the opposition groups [the UN Human Rights Council] spoke to on the phone; the opposition they met in Turkey; and other ‘activists’ they met in Geneva.” “Who talked to the residents, since the UN Human Rights Council is in Geneva? Are they true residents or the ones like the face-covered lady interviewed by Al Jazeera? The ‘survivor’ in question says she was hiding as her children were being slaughtered – how is it possible that a mother hides at a moment like this?” “How was it possible that immediately after “Shabbiya” and the “army’s artillery” accomplished the massacre people were not afraid to collect bodies, film them and then send the video to international media?” “How could survivors identify Shabbiya militia if they say killers were masked? By ‘green military dress’?” “Why does a video show that some dead children have their hands tied? Did the killers take time to tie the hands of the children before killing them? Or were the hands tied later by those who filmed the massacre in order to call for more blame if possible?” “Why in one of the videos, showing the ‘government’ shelling, are people escaping carrying Syria’s flag, not the opposition’s one?” “Is it true, as some sources say, that the majority of the people who were killed came from Alawites pro-government families or neutral Sunnis and some others from the opposition? Is it also true that the people were shouting pro-Assad slogans?”
Please don’t panic, the regime just might pull through this one intact: Hazem Chehabi, (Hikmat Chehabi’s son) Syria’s honorary consul-general ( i.e. a volunteer who occasionally notarizes documents) for the West Coast has resigned. Media are describing it as one of Syria’s “highest ranking” diplomatic defections, presumably since the defections of honorary consular receptionists and office temps. Indeed, I am sure Chehabi’s move will trigger mass defections in the top military brass:
"Charles Ries, director of Rand Corp.’s Center for Middle East Public Policy, said the diplomatic expulsions could force Syrian officials, military officers and foreign envoys to reconsider their relationship with the Assad regime and set off embarrassing defections that the Syrian president has so far been spared."
Why I envy the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights....
I am very disappointed with mainstream media: I was sitting in my bedroom office in Beirut, drinking my coffee and checking my Facebook periodically, while I spoke with 3 eye-witnesses on the phone (one of whom was my my uncle who called me from his lounge-chair on a beach in Cannes, France) who told me who committed the massacre in Houla. All 3 accounts tallied so I figured I had met the BBC’s criteria for a verifiable story. I mean what does a woman have to do to earn the same credibility as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights?
Above sentiment was inspired by my favourite Reuters report on Rami Abdul Rahman, SOHR’s head:
"With only a few hours sleep, a phone glued to his ear and another two ringing, the fast-talking director of arguably Syria’s most high-profile human rights group is a very busy man…. the talk of gunfire and death incongruous with his two bedroom terraced home in Coventry, from where he runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife. Cited by virtually every major news outlet since an uprising against the iron rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March, the observatory has been a key source of news on the events in Syria.Surrounded by the trappings of family life — a glitter-spangled card made by his young daughter, a monkey doll with “Best Dad” on its belly — Abdulrahman sits with a laptop and phones and pieces together accounts of conflict and rights abuses before uploading news to the internet.”
Guaranteeing democracy by limiting political debate to resistance parameters
I don’t understand why we have to be politically “tolerant’” and endorse political diversity and pluralism. Of course, I am not referring to countries like Lebanon and Syria where even Zionist collaborators and NATO lackeys must be dialogued with to prevent/end civil war which is a far greater evil. But just in the general, theoretical sense. How does embracing a diversity of views which include support for Israel and Amerika contribute to the justice or freedom of a system? Western liberal “democracies” don’t tolerate our anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist views. They don’t tolerate our Resistance option, neither in their media nor in their Academy nor in their political system. At the end of the day, democracy means popular sovereignty; a people’s right to determine their own destiny. How can that be safeguarded when some people are allowed to challenge this right and even win public office and usurp it? How can we allow an oppressed people— who are subjected to daily mainstream propaganda— to colonize themselves? How is that even considered a “right” that needs to be protected? How is tolerating and encouraging their self-colonization and subjugation conducive to their freedom? Just as freedom of speech in the West is confined within clearly demarcated liberal parameters, which ensure the continuity of the imperialist world order, we should confine freedom of expression within resistance parameters: all political debate must be governed by two constants—a rejection of Israel’s right to exist and a rejection of western imperialism. That is the only way of guaranteeing democracy as we define it.
How Syrian Alawites get their arms: two different accounts
I am copy-pasting here two different accounts of how the Syrian Alawites get their arms. I subscribe to the second account, which I consider relevant in the context of the sectarian warfare that plagues Syria today.
The first account is made by Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and founder of the widely read blog, Syria Comment. Here’s what he told NPR:
"So we’re - the Assad regime is relying more and more on the Shabiha. These are irregular troops that are being drafted in, because as semi-regulars defect for the military at the very bottom, the military has to counter-balance that. And they’re bringing in - they’re arming villagers, and they’re bringing more Alawite irregular troops in in order to do the heavy lifting and to - and that means we’re increasingly getting more sectarian with Sunni rebels against this Alawite - increasingly Alawite military effort.”
The second, which I find much more convincing and comprehensive, is a response to Landis’ remarks written by a very knowledgeable and trusted source on Syria who resides there. Here is his account:
"About the arming of people, just would like to point out the following.
The government arms anyone who has a “sijil tijari” and/or “sjijil sina3i” so tradesman or industrial. In addition to anyone who has agricultural land or herders. By law they are all entilted to ask for weapons (hand guns and AK47). I know industrials who did take weapons now for fear of their safety.
Some chose not to because they are afraid they might end up on a hit list as being shabbiha, in case the list of those who received weapons is leaked.
These are for self defense as most businessmen have either being threatened or want to be ready for any kidnapping or something.
Alawis (in the villages) have more or less “always being armed”, consider it a cultural thing just like the bedouins in the east (and everywhere) have always bein armed, and every other villager in syria. The government in no way whatsoever has armed them. And if anything they have asked them to show restraint.
In addition, when shias or Alawis get kidnapped, their village goes to the government for help, their response is “we cannot intervene, go kidnap someone from their side and trade or just pay the ransom”. The army and security try to take as much distance possible from these events because once it starts taking a side, its not going to look good at all, especially in front of the lower ranks seeing their superiors “defending shia villages”.
That is one of the reasons, I think, the army is still holding together.”
Assuming the "Alawite revenge" narrative about the Houla massacre is true....
There is a new, and quite plausible, alternative narrative that has emerged these past two days which describes the Houla massacre as Alawite retaliation for an earlier massacre committed by armed Sunni oppositionists against the Alawite village of al-Shoumariyeh. According to many unconfirmed reports, vengeful and armed villagers and /or shabiha retaliated for the massacre by butchering villagers from the neighbouring village of Houla. Apparently, the artillery rounds the Syrian army fired at rebel-controlled Houla was an attempt to end the bloodshed in Shamariyeh, or something to that effect. How the perpetrators of the massacre entered a rebel stronghold and executed such a large massacre unimpeded remains to be seen.
Although some claim the al-Shoumariyeh massacre occurred after the Houla massacre, the Syrian news agency, SANA, reports that “foreign-funded armed terrorist groups” committed massacres in al-Shoumariyeh and Taldao on Friday, 25 May, at 2:00 p.m. Considering that the Houla massacre is widely reported to have commenced around 3 p.m. that same day, it does appear that the Houla massacre occurred after the first two, or around the same time. None of this confirms the new narrative, but it doesn’t undermine it either.
While the details are still very murky, the UN seems to have caught on to this story, or some related version thereof, as its -peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous recently declared ”There is strong suspicion that the Shabiha were involved in this tragedy in Houla.” Russia has given its blessing to a UN investigation into the incident.
Like any of the narratives about the Houla massacre, the above story has not been substantiated by any evidence, least of all the dominant narrative which places the blame squarely on the Syrian regime. I only chose to comment on this alternative narrative because I deemed it more plausible than the latter, and hence, worthy of commentary, but it remains a narrative not a fact. I don’t necessarily deem it the most probable explanation for what happened in Houla on May 25, given how much the massacre served US-NATO-GCC interests. What I am arguing here though, is that even if we assume that this Alawite revenge narrative is true, that should not implicate the Syrian regime in the massacre.
I wrote a short post a few days ago on why I thought it highly unlikely the “regime” would commit an atrocity like this. I still stand by my analysis, despite the materialization of this new narrative. When I said regime, I actually meant the Syrian army, as all fingers were initially pointed at it. I didn’t/ still don’t think it makes any sense for a conventional armed force with a clear chain of command to subject itself to charges of war crimes—which is much easier to make when there is a clear-cut organizational hierarchy and hence, accountability, not to mention potential refusniks and defectors given the heinous nature of the crime— in a context of overwhelming international pressure and when the entire world is watching every move and mismove it makes. While I am aware that the shabiha constitute the state’s “unofficial” arm, (some compare it to Iran’s basij), I still deem it highly improbable that the Assad leadership would order shabiha to carry out a killing rampage on its behalf in a Sunni village it had already shelled, for the same reasons I outlined in my earlier post: it stands everything to lose and nothing to gain. And no, the “gain” of terrorizing the villagers and rebels into submission (assuming that is even an effective method of reasserting control) just doesn’t outweigh all the risks that accompany such a tactic. It is much more probable, that these armed elements acted out of revenge of their own accord, as revenge massacres often are.
As for the argument by opposition supporters and others, which regards the regime as being ultimately responsible for all violence, irrespective of its source, the fact remains that this is a government which no longer has full control of its territory, or a monopoly on the use of violence. Indeed, it is precisely for this reason that it’s trying to retrieve sovereignty over its land by the force of arms, and in so doing, exposing itself to often unfounded accusations of wide-scale repression, killing and war crimes. At the end of the day, what we have in Syria is a situation characterized by sectarian warfare, armed insurrection, al-Qaeda terrorism and blatant NATO-GCC intervention —hardly the ingredients of a strong centralized government which can be held to account for every act of violence that takes place on Syrian soil.
One can only wait for an impartial and objective inquiry before jumping to make predetermined conclusions which only serve the agenda of those pushing for a NATO invasion of Syria. So much political capital is being made out of this inconceivably evil massacre: Both France and the US have now expressed their willingness for military intervention in Syria as a result of this atrocity, which Kofi Annan has rightly labelled it a “tipping point” in the conflict. Uncovering the perpetrators is therefore imperative not only for justice to be served but also for averting a wider regional war.
“Lets see, so France, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia, (excuse me for forgetting others) have expelled Syrian diplomats/ambassadors in the aftermath of the Houla massacre. Yes, it seems that is exactly the reaction the Assad regime was hoping to elicit by murdering children—near complete international isolation, coupled with embarrassing its few remaining allies. Very strategic-minded that Syrian regime…”—
A couple of friends have tagged me on Facebook this week in article/book links by that comprador intellectual, Hamid Dabashi. I think it is important you all know that the author of “Brown Skin White Masks” is nothing but a brown-skinned, white-masked House Iranian himself. Not only is he an ardent supporter of Iran’s Empire-backed “Green Revolution” but he is also very sympathetic to Syria’s “revolutionaries” and not in a “Third Way” type of manner either. Some excerpts from an article he wrote last year which exposed him to be the imperialist stooge he is: "Nasrallah, who could not care less for such revolting behavior by his patrons, now for second time in a row, was siding with brutal, vicious tyrants and their criminally insane security forces against the democratic aspirations of their people - once in Iran and now in Syria. A "freedom fighter"? Really? What kind of a "freedom fighter" is that? Forget about the Shah, Hassan Nasrallah now sounded more like President Franklin D Roosevelt (FDR) who once famously said about the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza (1896-1956) that he "may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch." Hassan Nasrallah too did not care if Khamenei and Assad tortured and murdered their own people - so far as they kept him in business…. Hassan Nasrallah would have none of this, as he had no patience or sympathy for the kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered bodies of scores of young Iranians during the civil rights uprising of 2009. The only language that Hassan Nasrallah understands is the language that keeps him in power, condemning the US, the EU, Israel, and the Saudis - all hitherto truisms that have, thanks to the Green Movement and the Arab Spring, lost their grip on reality even more than Nasrallah…. Hassan Nasrallah is now outmaneuvered, checkmated, made redundant by history, by, of all things, a magnificent Arab Spring, in which he has no role, no say, and no decision….” You vile little man Hamid Dabashi. Nobody is outside of history but you and your imperial masters.
First part understatement, second part just plain hilarious: "The Syrian opposition has plans to take control of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons depots and secure them in the first hours after the regime collapses, a senior figure in the opposition told Haaretz. The opposition leader, a former senior officer in the Syrian Army, spoke to Haaretz on conditions of anonymity. “I personally have no problem speaking to Israelis,” he said, “but our countries are still officially at war, and there are too many people who would try to use an interview to an Israeli paper to harm the opposition.” "The opposition figure says that around a third of the Syrian armed forces have defected so far. “There are two kinds of defectors,” he says, “the majority, around 60,000, have simply run away, back to their homes, while some 30,000 have actively joined the opposition, mostly the Free Syrian Army, and are fighting.”
Don’t you just love it when the Amerikan army organizes simulation “games”?
"Surprised all too often by nominally less well-equipped adversaries in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US military wants to know more about what it is getting into before it has to fight another war. It especially wants to know if there are non-military ways of dealing with crises. ..In 2006, the US Army established an Asymmetric Warfare Group (AWG) to deal with such contingencies. The AWG then developed the Asymmetric Operations Working Group (AOWG)…
Among issues discussed as the seminar split into smaller working groups was how to influence Lebanese Hezbollah to function more as a Lebanese political entity and less as a militant organization allied with Syria and Iran. One suggestion: allow US officials to meet with Hezbollah members of the Lebanese government.”
Sorry, but this “suggestion” is just too funny for me to comment on.
Not that I think that this is more than saber rattling, but again interesting to see how Houla massacre serves no one but the military interventionists:
The escalating “atrocities” in Syria could end up triggering a military intervention, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told Fox News on Monday — following the massacre that left more than 100 dead.
"You’ll always find military leaders to be somewhat cautious about the use of force, because we’re never entirely sure what comes out on the other side," he said. "But that said, it may come to a point with Syria because of the atrocities."
Not sure what to make of Russia’s latest position, except that the Houla massacre has really pushed it into a corner, for now anyway. Only yesterday, its deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin’s had accused “a third force” operating in Syria — terrorists or external forces who want intervention and an opposition victory.” Lavrov on the other hand, laid the blame squarely on the Syrian government, after his meeting with the British Foreign Secretary William Hague: "The government bears the main responsibility for what is going on. Any government in any country bears responsibility for the security of its citizens…Both sides have obviously had a hand in the deaths of innocent people, including several dozen women and children. This area is controlled by the rebels, but it is also surrounded by the government troops."
“And another thing that really irks me is that job description the “Middle East expert”, aka all-purpose pundit who purports to know what the Arab “street’s” pulse is from the confines of his (it’s usually a he) sterile office in some Western capital, most frequently in the US but also in Europe and GCC countries where he is equally oblivious to events on the ground. And no, his occasional Arab identity doesn’t make him more qualified to speak about all things Arab. Whether he speaks the Arabic language or not, he still belongs to the same western liberal episteme and sees the region through its worldview.”—
Brilliantly argued piece critiquing the mainstream narrative about the Houla massacre:
"Cui bono? Who benefits… from another civilian massacre? Clearly not the Syrian government. But western-backed terrorist groups who have been working to destablize the country for over one year now, do clearly benefit…Who would be the chief suspect for this latest massacre? How about the western-backed terrorists in Syria – the very same terrorist groups admitted to their own bombing campaign that killed many innocent people in Syria only weeks ago. Take notes. Because this is how it’s done, time and time again – another clear example how large media outlets can effectively drive reality in the direction of their choosing, and this is why so many millions of public media consumers are left misinformed and dis informed, eventually leading to a marginal public endorsement of Washington, London and Tel Aviv’s interventionist foreign policy objectives."
And there you have it, a motive for the massacre, force Russia to accept a Yemen-like deal :
“In a strongly worded statement condemning the attack – which left more 90 dead including 32 children – Clinton accused Assad and his cronies of ruling by “murder and fear” adding that the regime must “come to an end”….Russia, as one of Assad’s few remaining allies, has long blocked tough sanctions against the regime proposed by the United Nations, claiming that it could lead to the bloody ouster of Assad.
But the breakdown of the already fragile Syrian peace process amid horrific scenes could push Moscow towards using its influence in the strife-torn country to assist a transition of power.”
Why it is highly unlikely the Syrian regime was behind the Houla massacre
I am not saying any group is immune from committing war crimes or terrorism in times of war, and I am fully aware of the Syrian regime’s repressive tactics, but even the most horrific acts of violence are driven by a certain “logic” which strives to achieve concrete objectives. There has to be a motive and set of interests that are served by the heinous act in question, especially when it is conducted in such an orderly and methodical fashion.
Forget the fact that the massacres occurred in an area which , according to Ban Ki Moon’s letter to the UNSC president, was “outside of the government control”, and that some of the victims had died of “shotgun wounds” indicating they were shot a point blank range, and “severe physical abuse” [apparently a euphemism for beheading] neither of which are the exclusive preserve of a conventional armed force. Forget also that artillery fire—another cause of the deaths— is also available to the opposition.
Forget the BBC’s fabrication of evidence about this massacre and all the implications for mainstream reporting on Syria that carries.
Forget that Israel, who is notorious for cold-blooded massacres of children, immediately laid the blame for the killings on Hizbullah and Iran, prompting the usually reticent Netanyahu (to date he has said very little on Syria to avoid harming the opposition) to advance such an accusation.
Forget how the massacre is now being used by Washington to arm-twist Russia to accept a “Yemen-style solution”, as suggested by The Guardian: “ the breakdown of the already fragile Syrian peace process amid horrific scenes could push Moscow towards using its influence in the strife-torn country to assist a transition of power.”
Forget that the same UN body that is now accusing the Syrian regime of this crime, accuses Hizbullah of killing Hariri, based on non-existent evidence.
Forget that the same UN body that is now accusing the Syrian regime of this crime, will soon have Jeffrey Feltman—one of the most exposed US diplomats according to numerous Wikileaks documents, and one of Washington’s most outspoken enemies of Assad-Hizbullah-Iran—as its Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs.
Forget that this sectarian massacre comes right at the heels of the FSA’s clearly sectarian- motivated abduction of Lebanese Shi’te pilgrims, whose whereabouts are still unknown.
Forget all that.
What on earth could the Syrian regime have stood to benefit from this macabre massacre of Sunnis? What could its “logic” or motives possibly have been? How could the regime have ensured or at least contributed to its longevity by this act? What interests could this heinous act have served other than militarizing the existing UN presence; inviting foreign military intervention into Syria; increasing calls among NATO countries for establishing “humanitarian corridors”; turning Sunnis (given the identity of those massacred) against Alawites; and further tarnishing the regime’s already badly beaten public image?
The new brand of Amerikan Islam—Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood calls for military intervention in Syria. It is safe to say that whether former regime strongman Shafiq or MB candidate, Mursi win the runoffs, Egyptian foreign policy will not be a significant departure from that of the Mubarak era:
"The Muslim Brotherhood calls on Arab, Islamic and international governments … and the people of the free world to intervene to stop these massacres, especially after the failure of international forces and international monitoring to stop them," spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said in a statement.
Italian photographer whose photo of Iraq massacre in 2003 was used by the BBC as evidence of the Houla massacre in Syria: “What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.“Someone is using someone else picture for propaganda on purpose.” A spokesman for the BBC said: “We were aware of this image being widely circulated on the internet in the early hours of this morning following the most recent atrocities in Syria. “We used it with a clear disclaimer saying it could not be independently verified.” Ah well so long as they put that disclaimer up there. I wonder how acceptable that would be to the information warlords if SANA / Manar Tv /Press Tv used photos of Israeli massacres which were then attributed to the FSA, but made sure to add a “disclaimer”…
You know when I really think about it, the details of this unthinkable crime are very much reminiscent of Israel’s gruesome massacre of children in Sabra and Chatila in 1982. Am not so sure that killing babies is part of al-Qaeda’s modus operandi, looks more like it was taken right out of an IDF operations manual. “Netanyahu expressed “appall at the continuous slaughter of innocent civilians by (President Bashar) Assad’s forces.” He added that “Iran and Hezbollah cannot be separated from Assad’s massacre, and the world needs to take action against them as well.”
“I will never forget how these same Third Way leftist types who now compete over who is more valuable to the resistance, were once fierce critics of Hizbullah in the mid 1980s and1990s. Their rationale was pretty much the same as it is now—despite its resistance activity, Hizbullah was too authoritarian for their liking and too Islamic for their secular tastes—imposing an Islamic lifestyle in regions under their control, repressing its leftist and other opponents etc. In short, they had the same liberal rights centered grievances that they now have against the Assad regime. All my friends who know me from my youth can testify that as a teenager growing up in England and then a university student in Lebanon, I supported Hizbullah way before it became politically fashionable to do so. In fact, I was often ridiculed for supporting the movement given my un-Islamic appearance and mannerisms. And I know that history will once again vindicate me and all my amazing comrades who have the courage to go against the tide of politically correct discourses and support the Assad leadership against this imperialist-Zionist onslaught against Syria.”—
“I have one question for third way intellectuals and activists (no I never tire of attacking them). Just answer me this: who do you think an Israeli official would hate more right now, me or you? Enough said.”—
My disgust with Third Way (on Syria) intellectuals: indirectly stoking civil war
I have reached the point of absolute disgust with Third-Way intellectuals. I just read a very popular status (shame on all my Lebanese Facebook friends who liked it) on a Lebanese BDS activist/intellectual’s wall which basically says that even if the Houla massacre was committed by the opposition, the regime is still to blame because after all “isn’t it the state? How can it allow a crime like this to happen on its territory?” Are you people for real? Now that the opposition’s role and culpability in much of the sectarian violence and butchery has come to light, you are now resorting to the most intellectually bankrupt tactic: blame the regime for the opposition’s violence too. Do you have any idea how your incitement against the regime further incites sectarian oppositionists who identify the regime with Alawites? Forget how you are serving the interests of Empire, Israel, GCC countries etc. for one minute, do you not see how you are indirectly stoking sectarian warfare? Shame on all of you for your irresponsible self-serving position.
What the Egyptian "low intensity democracy" election can teach us about hypothetical elections in a post-Assad Syria
At the end of the day, we shouldn’t be surprised at the outcome of the first round of the Egyptian presidential elections. What other probable outcome could we have expected given the SCAF and the United States’s hold on the political system? What better way to reverse Empire’s losses brought about by a revolutionary movement, than by attempting to co-opt and placate it with “procedural democracy”?
The Egyptian case is an example of US-promoted “low-intensity democracy” or “polyarchy”, par excellence: a western-backed bourgeois elite stage-manages elections designed to suppress, rather than express, popular aspirations for more radical political change. To facilitate its task, it is equipped with tools like foreign funding of Empire-serving candidates, vote-buying, the creation of a climate of apathy and or/intimidation to ensure a low voter turnout in rival constituencies, redrawing electoral districts and gerrymandering to ensure the election result (though this didn’t occur in Egypt, it is practiced elsewhere) and a fair —though not excessive— amount of voter/election fraud thrown in when faced with stiff competition from anti-system candidates who enjoy real popular legitimacy.
What the Egyptian case should teach us, especially the more idealistic among us, is that the outcome of any post-Assad (assuming he is overthrown) “democratic transition”’ would be far more of a sham and usurpation of the popular will than the election in Egypt or the elections engineered by the Syrian Baath. Imagine the electoral outcome in a country like Syria where US-NATO-GCC intervention is far more direct and flagrant than it is in Egypt; where Empire’s proxies are far more openly obsequious, imperialist and Zionist, not to mention sectarian, than any of the Egyptian regime’s candidates. I don’t know about you, but if I am faced with a choice between low-intensity democracy election results and a quasi-democratic or even sham election run by an authoritarian regime who enjoys popular support and confronts Empire, I choose the latter. When that mythical third choice moves from the realm of utopia to reality, I will reassess my choices.
Egyptian presidential elections, prime example of “low-intensity” democracy: "The Egyptian elections have exposed the sham character of the so-called “transition to democracy” organized by the Egyptian ruling class in conjunction with its allies in Washington…The elections were marked by low voter turnout reflecting the widespread sense amongst the masses that the junta’s elections have nothing to do with their revolutionary struggles, but are rather directed against their social and democratic aspirations.
The elections were held at gunpoint under the dictatorial auspices of the SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] junta with emergency laws in place but without a constitution…The utterly fraudulent elections were hailed by US imperialism and its stooges.”
26 May 2012
The Egyptian elections have exposed the sham character of the so-called “transition to democracy” organized by the Egyptian ruling class in conjunction with its allies in Washington after the overthrow of longtime US-stooge Hosni Mubarak by mass working class protests last February.
With the last votes being counted, the elections have set up a run-off between Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak, and Mohamed Mursi, the candidate of the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood.
Neither of these candidates speak with any political legitimacy for the aims of the Egyptian revolution. They are both deeply hostile to the aspirations for an end to poverty and dictatorship that drove millions of Egyptian workers into the streets last year to bring down Mubarak.
The elections were marked by low voter turnout reflecting the widespread sense amongst the masses that the junta’s elections have nothing to do with their revolutionary struggles, but are rather directed against their social and democratic aspirations.
The elections were held at gunpoint under the dictatorial auspices of the SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] junta with emergency laws in place but without a constitution. As Mubarak’s generals called upon the Egyptian people to vote for one of their handpicked candidates, they had not even decided what powers they intend to cede to the winner of the elections.
The utterly fraudulent elections were hailed by US imperialism and its stooges. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the vote in Egypt marked “another important milestone in their transition to democracy” and cynically announced that she and other US officials “look forward to working with Egypt’s democratically elected government.”
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya, which was bombed to power in a brutal US-led imperialist war against the defenseless country last year, praised the elections as “superb,” stressing that a “a stable Egypt means a stable Arab World.”
The elections set the stage for intensifying power struggles between two bourgeois factions amid expectations of a renewed explosion of working class anger driven by a deepening social and economic crisis as well as the rumors that ousted dictator Mubarak could soon be released.
The military and the Muslim Brotherhood both control large portions of the Egyptian economy, posing the threat of a violent fight over which faction of the bourgeoisie is to control the vast resources of the country. Egyptian workers have no real choice in the elections, as the voting is merely designed to give a false veneer of legitimacy to a regime that is preparing for an intensification of the suppression of the working class.
In order to confront the threat of an intensifying counterrevolution, Egyptian workers and youth must draw a balance sheet. Despite the most heroic sacrifices, the revolution could not triumph without a revolutionary leadership and perspective. The working class, the force that drove the revolution, remains totally disenfranchised and without any political representation.
This is mainly due to the role of the petty-bourgeois “left” parties in Egypt that claim to speak in the name of the revolution or even “socialism,” but are in fact allies of the counterrevolutionary forces. Representing the interests of more affluent layers of the middle class, they are financially and politically tied to Western imperialism and various sections of the Egyptian ruling class.
Organizations such as the misnamed Revolutionary Socialists (RS) opposed any struggle at any stage of the revolution to overthrow the army and replace the Mubarak regime with a workers’ state fighting for socialist policies against imperialist rule in the Middle East.
Initially, the RS and their international co-thinkers supported the SCAF junta and claimed that, “the council aims to reform the political and economic system.” They offered their services in controlling the working class in order to receive an “enlarged democratic space” under military rule in which they could prosper and enrich themselves.
As soon as their collaboration with the junta was threatened by mass protests against the military, they opposed popular calls for a “second revolution.” Instead they went into an alliance with Islamist forces, thus paving the way for the army’s crackdown on the June-July sit-in in Tahrir Square. Their alliance with the Islamists also foundered on mass protests against the parliamentary elections in November-January, in which the Islamists won the majority.
Having ceded leadership at every critical point of the revolution to bourgeois forces, their call for a general strike together with the Western-backed independent trade unions on February 11 draw no popular response amongst workers. Shocked by the indifference and hostility of the workers to their maneuvers, the RS moved even further to the right. Having promoted the presidential elections as an achievement of the revolution, they bear political responsibility for a situation where the Islamists and officials of the old Mubarak regime dominate political life in Egypt.
This dangerous outcome has vindicated the perspective of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), which sought to clarify the social antagonism between the working class and the various bourgeois and petty-bourgeois layers represented in the political establishment.
The counterrevolutionary support of the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties and groups for the US-backed transition is a stark confirmation of Leon Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution, which holds that in backward countries such as Egypt, only the socialist struggle of the working class in alliance with their international class brothers and sisters can achieve any of the revolutionary aspirations of the masses.
To fight back against the counterrevolution and regain the revolutionary momentum, the main task for the working class remains that of establishing its political independence through the building of sections of the ICFI in Egypt and throughout the Middle East to fight for victory in the coming class battles.
"Hezbollah chief Nasrallah: No fence will protect Israel"
"The 2005 withdrawal was the final nail in the coffin of the Zionist ideology of expanding the borders of historic Israel," Nasrallah said in a televised address. "Israel erects fences, but that won’t help it during a confrontation, because we have missiles that can reach any point in Israel."
"If there would not have been resistance from the first day to the existence of Israel, then they would have set up settlements in south Lebanon just as they did in the rest of the occupied territories," he said. "For this reason, our unrelenting resistance is crucial."
The Hezbollah chief also commented on the recently established unity government in Israel, saying it pointed to weakness.
"Our assessment is that the unity government that was established in Israel is an internal Israeli matter, which took place due to the weakening of the coalition. But we will always be prepared for any Israeli aggression."
In some of his harshest words against Israel in several months, Nasrallah delivered a similar speech two weeks ago, in which he said that Hezbollah was capable of striking any target in Israel. He also stressed that “the days when we fled and they did not are over.”
“The ground you are standing on now was occupied in 1982. The land was returned to its owners. Israel did not enter Lebanon to withdraw from it – it has aspirations regarding Lebanon,” he said.
The Shiite group’s secretary general added: “Hezbollah and all its fighters proved there are Arabs of a different kind. The enemy recognizes our achievement. Israel’s (border) fences won’t protect it.
Nasrallah, who appeared in public only twice since the end of the Second Lebanon War, continued to say that “for 12 years (Israel) has not dared attack our villages or our sovereignty. Who is preserving this equation? The people, the army and the resistance – not the UN or anyone else.”
Nasrallah said the barrier Israel is erecting along its border with Lebanon “proves that the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon constituted the final (nail) in the coffin of a greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates (rivers).
"Currently there are people on the (Lebanese border with Israel) who not only throw stones, but are threatening to fire missiles at every possible location in Israel," the sheikh said.
Two weeks ago Nasrallah said Hezbollah has bolstered its capabilities and can now destroy any specific target within “occupied Palestine.”
"The era in which we are afraid and they are not is over," he said. "The time has come to declare that we are here to stay, and they must cease to exist."
"Nasrallah touts armed resistance on ‘Liberation Day’"
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Friday called Israel’s construction of a wall along its northern border a potent testament to the victory of armed “resistance groups,”
"The project of Greater Israel always aimed for big territory bordered by rivers," he said. "These walls built by Israel along the border with Palestine and Lebanon show that the project of Greater Israel is over. The project of having rivers as borders ended with having walls for borders."
Hezbollah’s secretary-general stated that the strategy of armed activity has been the only one to produce results. “The weapons of the resistance have accomplished [something], but the weapons of other organizations did not accomplish [anything],” he said.
Highlights from Nasrallah speech today on Resistance and Liberation Day:
Nasrallah hails May 25 as the day “which hammered the last nail in the so called “”Greater Israel” coffin.”
He quotes former Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir: “I never thought I would live to see the day when an Arab side/party would make Israel and its army flee, but Hizbullah proved that there is another kind of Arab.”
Regarding the FSA hostage takers who released the Shiíte pilgrims today, he asserted: “If your aim was to pressure us to change our position on the Syrian crisis, know that it will not effect our political and strategic position..We are ready to make sacrifices for this position.”
Seriously? I can understand their fears about al-Qaeda (although I am sure there are some US officials who secretly fund them as they have in the past) but in what parallel universe would Hizbullah have access to weapons intended for the FSA? "The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don’t wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel."
“Today is the12th anniversary of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from South Lebanon, thanks to the Lebanese Resistance led by Hizbullah. Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah will be delivering an important speech later today. Happy Resistance and Liberation Day!”—
“As a Shi’ite Muslim, here is how I see it: any Shi’ite who, because of this FSA hostage incident, or the recent clashes in Lebanon, maligns Sunnis or worse, has fallen into the imperialist-Zionist trap and is an unwitting and unpaid CIA-Mossad agent doing a free service to our joint enemy. The same applies to Sunnis. Any Muslim who succumbs to this conspiracy to sow sectarian warfare and divide our region is a collaborator and a traitor.”—
Good roundup of developments related to FSA abductions of 12 Shi’ites and summary of Nasrallah speech:
“Updated 9:08pm: Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah urged his followers to remain calm after reports emerged on Tuesday that Syrian rebels had kidnapped 13 Lebanese men.
The men were said to have been returning from a tour of Shia holy sites in Iraq, and were traveling through Syria en route to Lebanon.
Lebanese TV network Al-Jadeed reported the men were kidnapped by Syrian rebels, which sparked protests by their relatives in the Beirut suburb of Tayouneh.
Families of the kidnapped men briefly blocked roads including the airport highway in the southern suburbs of Beirut to demand their release, but opened the roads following a plea from Nasrallah.
"The Free Syrian Army (FSA) said they took them. They let women go and kept the men. They told them that they will keep them until the Syrian army releases FSA detainees," a relative of one of the men said.
"When we crossed the border around 40 gunmen stopped the bus and forced it into a nearby orchard and said women should stay on the bus and men get out," Hayat Awali, who identified herself as a passenger, told Lebanon’s Al Jadeed TV from Aleppo.
"We told them we are only pilgrims. They said ‘take your pilgrims and go the police station in Aleppo and tell them we have prisoners there and we want them’."
But a member of one of the disparate bands of insurgents who fight under the umbrella of the FSA, contacted by Reuters via Internet telephone channel Skype in Aleppo, denied any personal knowledge of the abduction.
Syrian forces were said to have launched raids with tanks and other armored vehicles in an area of northern Aleppo province near the place where the Shia pilgrims were kidnapped, an opposition group said.
The head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, said people in the town of Azaz in Aleppo province told him Syrian forces were combing some of the districts, Reuters reported.
Nasrallah called on Hezbollah supporters not to resort to violent methods to express their anger, vowing to do all the party can to free the kidnapped men.
"We understand the emotions expressed… This is our responsibility… We can express our discontent in a civilized way," he said.
"If the parents want to protest or have a sit-in in a mosque, it’s their right. But, in the name of Hezbollah and Amal, nobody should block roads," he added.
"I wish from all people living in Dahiyeh, in all regions in Lebanon, our youth and followers and followers of Amal, we don’t want you to block roads. Who are you trying to pressure? The politicians? We are already taking responsibility, this is a priority. This action will harm people and their businesses and lives," he said.
Hezbollah was already in contact with the Syrian and Lebanese governments on resolving the matter, Nasrallah said, adding that it was also the Lebanese government’s responsibility to free its citizens.
"They are Lebanese citizens, there is a government in Lebanon, a sovereign state that should take responsibility of this act, like any government that respects itself when its own citizens are kidnapped in another country," he said.
Fear of a violent protests prompted the Hezbollah leader to make the call for restraint, after deadly clashes in the Lebanese capital on Sunday night left two people dead.
"The atmosphere in the country is not healthy at the moment and this will lead to problems. It’s not ethical to block roads, or to attack anybody on the streets," he said.
Nasrallah also warned his followers from attacking the tens of thousands of Syrian working and living in Lebanon.
"People are saying there’s Syrians in Lebanon and let’s do anything about it, but this is forbidden, religiously and ethically," he said.
"The Syrians living in Lebanon are our people and they are our brothers."
Syrian rebels accuse Hezbollah of sending fighters to assist the Syrian regime, a charge Hezbollah denies, insisting it supports a political solution and has previously offered to mediate between the opposing parties.”
A Comparison between the Future Movement's and Hizbullah's responses to LAF shootings of their supporters
The clashes of yesterday and the sectarian rabble-rousing since warrant a comparison between the Future Movement’s thuggish and demagogic response to Sheikh Ahmed Abdul-Wahid’s killing and Hizbullah’s response to a similar incident against its own supporters on January 30, 2008. At the time, the Lebanese Army fired and killed 9 of Hizbullah’s Shiíte supporters who were protesting the government’s electricity cuts. Two army officers and 11 soldiers were later charged with the killings. Here is a 2008 report about the incident:
"LAF commander General Michel Suleiman, along with his intelligence chief Brigadier George Khoury, met with Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah late Monday night to offer their condolences on those killed in Sunday’s riots.
A Hizbullah statement issued Tuesday said the army commander stressed that “serious and comprehensive investigations into Sunday’s events in Mar Mikhael have begun and that the investigation will be transparent and unambiguous and precisely determine culpability.”
The statement said that Nasrallah in turn stressed the need for a rapid, serious and comprehensive investigation away from pressures and politicization.”
In an interview on OTV on February 6, 2008, Nasrallah took the following position:
"We are still following the investigations which have been ongoing in a serious and satisfying way. We do not want people to be randomly held responsible. We want facts and for the responsibilities to be defined. What happened is not permissible and I said that to General Suleiman. There were many similar incidents which were dealt with differently. Therefore, investigations should be conducted to see whether or not there were bad intentions. I cannot make any accusations which is why we need the investigations. Assuming that this action was not spontaneous and that Hezbollah and Amal did send this group to take to the streets, this doesn’t change anything to the facts."
True to form, Hizbullah did not bring the country to the brink of a civil war. In fact, there was no rioting or even protesting after the killings, no delegitimization of the Army’s authority, no calls to form a Free Lebanon Army, no sectarian agitation, no blame thrown at the Future Movement, no calls for the dethronement of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Case closed.
Now that is the difference between a leadership and movement which fights for a cause and one which has to exploit sectarian sentiments to compensate for its lack of a cause. That is the difference between a movement which seeks national unity and stability, and one which seeks to please its American-Saudi masters at the expense of Lebanon’s national unity ans stability. That is the difference between the resistance axis and the US-Israel-NATO-GCC axis. That is the difference between Resistance and “[pseudo]Revolution”
“All those pundits out there who are speculating whether Hizbullah will get dragged into this sectarian strife, either forget or deliberately ignore the fact that when Hizbullah was forced into clashes with its domestic foes in May 2008, it was to protect its Resistance’s arms (its highly vaunted telecommunications network) and NOT to retaliate for the killings of its Shi’ite supporters. Hizbullah will never fall prey to Empire’s divide-and-rule tactics which aim to divert its focus away from resisting Israel.”—
The word’s most cowardly army, desperate as ever to avoid direct combat, plans to dispatch insects to combat Hizbullah in next war:
The future is here and this is not a butterfly on your wall, as Israeli drones are getting tiny. Their latest project – a butterfly-shaped drone weighing just 20 grams - the smallest in its range so far – can gather intelligence inside buildings.
The new miniscule surveillance device can take color pictures and is capable of a vertical take-off and hover flight, just like a helicopter, reports the daily Israel Hayom. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) says this may come in handy in ground clashes, when a soldier would merely take it out of a pocket and send behind the enemy’s line.
The insect-drone, with its 0.15-gram camera and memory card, is managed remotely with a special helmet. Putting on the helmet, you find yourself in the “butterfly’s cockpit” and virtually see what the butterfly sees – in real time.
“The butterfly’s advantage is its ability to fly in an enclosed environment. There is no other aerial vehicle that can do that today,” Dubi Binyamini, head of IAI’s mini-robotics department, told Israel Hayom.
Structures under observation can be anything from train stations or airport terminals – or office buildings – to battlefields and even forests in, say, southern Lebanon, where Israel believes Hezbollah hides its ambush squads.
The virtually noiseless “butterfly” flaps its four wings 14 times per second. Almost translucent, it looks like an overgrown moth, but is still smaller than some natural butterflies.
This is bio-mimicry, when technology imitates nature. And this has proved to hide a trap. When the device was tested at a height of 50-meters, birds and flies tended to fall behind the device arranging into a flock.
The IAI, Israel’s major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, needs two more years to polish their “butterfly” project. The product seems to fall into the trend of reducing drone size. Their recent models promoted for city observation and conflicts were the Ghost, weighing 4 kg, and Mosquito, which weighs only 500 grams.
While the “butterfly” may bring “a real technological revolution,” as the developer predicts, to the military field, questions remain how it will change the civil life. The drone is also propped up for police use and there is little doubt that secret services will be only too happy to grab such an intricate weapon.
“Our struggle against Israel isn’t existential merely because it has no moral right to exist or because it’s very existence threatens ours, but because Palestine defines our purpose and identity. Our war is existential because Palestine defines our existence.”—
More omissive reporting on Syria by AP: "Chaos" can only mean landmines
AP does it again. This has got be one of the most stupid inferences I have read so far in a report on Syria and one of the most flagrant examples of omissive reporting. Although the AP reporters didn’t directly make it themselves, the very fact that they left it to the rebels to “elaborate” on Assad’s intended meaning is effectively an endorsement of their absurd interpretation :
"Assad also cautioned against meddling in Syria, warning neighboring nations that have served as transit points for contraband weapons being smuggled into the country that "if you sow chaos in Syria you may be infected by it yourself." He did not elaborate, but rebels and anti-regime activists say Syrian forces have mined many of the smuggling routes where weapons flow into Syria - mainly from neighboring Turkey and Lebanon."
Seriously?! Landmines cause chaos? Because that is so much more logical than simply pointing to the ongoing violence in North Lebanon where chaos has broken loose, thanks to Saudi-Qatari-Hariri-backed Salafi mercenaries, or to Erdogan’s acknowledgement earlier this week that the fire he has basically been stoking in in Syria, could easily spread to region (in other words, Turkey). No, despite these ugly realities staring at them in the face, Assad must have been threatening to plant landmines, which BTW, he would had every right to do to curb terrorist attacks and prevent further destabilization of his country.
As with the voter turnout for the constitutional referendum, a little over half of voting age Syrians participated in the recent parliamentary elections. “Ridiculous” [to quote the US’s official reaction] or not, that’s half the population once again bestowing legitimacy upon Assad’s political system, a number that closely corresponds with turnouts in the West. Presumably, this figure would have been even higher were it not for the unstable security situation. And for all the skeptics out there who will argue that there was no “independent” (read, NATO countries) observers to monitor the elections, one would imagine that if the regime wanted to fabricate figures it have could given itself a slight, though still realistic, spike in support.
My friend and fellow blogger, Atlas Egbe, wrote this very perceptive note on how some Arabs view Palestine and hence, Syria:
The lack of Arab solidarity on the Syrian issue and by default the Palestinian issue is primarily perhaps due to lack of belief in the eventuality of an actual liberation of Palestine. Therefore, most don’t think of the Palestinian issue in practical terms (as they apply to an end vision that in their minds would be achievable), but rather as Dr Saad-Ghorayeb said in terms of rights issues or even moreso as a cultural duty or expression. A cultural duty or expression, in the same way, that patriotism is a cultural duty in the United States, for example; or even in the same way that a kiss on the cheek is a cultural expression or expectation of greeting. In many instances, I think, this may be a subconscious unacknowledged thought.
A sample 2010 report about Syria's transfer of guided missiles to Hizbullah
"The Syrian-made surface-to-surface missile, called the M600, is based on a solid propellant and is a clone of an Iranian missile called the Fateh-110. The M600 has a range of 250 km., carries a 500-kg. conventional warhead and is equipped with a sophisticated navigation system, giving Hizbullah accuracy it did not have until now. Israel believes Hizbullah has obtained hundreds of M600 missiles, which pose a direct threat to Israeli population centers. While the Scud missiles that were recently transferred from Syria to Lebanon have a greater range, the M600 – due to the number of missiles Hizbullah has, and their accuracy – is perceived to be a more severe threat for the IDF.”