Reclaiming space Hersh: Lebanon violence US-Saudi-Lebanese government blowback «

In an interview for CNN International, Seymour Hersh has posited a blowback explanation to the current violence in Lebanon involving new group Fatah al-Islam (see appended video clip and transcript):

“We’re in the business now of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia; against the Shia in Iran, against the Shia in Lebanon, that is Nasrallah … the Arabic word for it is ftna, civil war. We’re in a business of creating, in some places, Lebanon in particular, sectarian violence. …

What it is very simply is a covert program we joined in with the Saudis as part of a bigger broader program of doing everything we could to stop the spread of the Shia, the Shia world, and it just simply bit us in the rear, as it’s happened before.”

In an article entitled The Redirection, Hersh reported in March of a policy shift in US policy toward the Middle East that would oppose Iran, Syria, and their Shia allies (most significantly, Hezbollah) at any cost, even if it meant backing hardline Sunni jihadists. Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, and Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan reportedly settled on a policy whereby the Saudis would covertly fund the Sunni Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, to serve as a counterweight to the Shia Hezbollah.

In the past couple of days, Hezbollah has released a statement in support of the Lebanese Army and has called for a political solution to the crisis. In a press release they have said: “We feel that there is someone out there who wants to drag the army to this confrontation and bloody struggle … To serve well-known projects and aims.” The Palestinian Fatah party have also distanced themselves from their newly formed (est 2006) namesake, Fatah al-Islam (as have the Syrian Government), calling them a “gang of criminals” according to Robert Fisk. Fisk’s own analysis seems to look elsewhere than Hersh’s thesis, though significantly he also rejects the Syrian blamecasting as “too simple.”

Though I do not find Hersh’s articulation of the fear of Hezbollah in Washington very plausible (whether he is claiming that it is genuinely held or simply propagated is not entirely clear), so far these explanations certainly make more sense than official government declamations of defeating terrorism from the Lebanese and US administrations. Unfortunately some will still buy into the framing of this conflict as a cartoonish existential fight between freedom and terrorism.

An important missing link in Hersh’s otherwise viable explanation is the absence of Israel’s neocons and their wish to see Hezbollah undermined, if not destroyed, in these covert ops.

It also comes as a US government plot to assassinate the Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been reported (even as the State Department “reaffirms its policy against targeted assassinations” in relation to Israel’s ops against Hamas, in particular by targeting Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh).

For a transcript see –

Reclaiming space Hersh: Lebanon violence US-Saudi-Lebanese government blowback «


Saudi switches investment from Lebanon to Israel

An article lifted from one of my favourite blogs “the fanonite”

When I used to live in Dubai (a place described by one friend as Xanadu-meets-Disneyland) the parking lot of the American University would fill up with Rolls Royces and other expensive cars with Saudi and other Gulf state registration plates whenever Ramadan would end . They would be there to celebrate the end of the holy month by helping themselves to Eastern European prostitutes at the nearby exclusive nightclub.

One of the reasons they were so upset with Hizbullah, when it chose to confront Israel last year, is that Saudis had invested billions in Lebanon to turn it into another Dubai, with easy access to luxury hotels with associated hedonistic appurtenances. It turned out to be a bad investment: the regions endemic instability ultimately resulted in another war, and Israel proceeded to destroy billions worth of property.

It appears there is no place on the Mediterranean coast that is safe enough to invest not-so-hard earned petrodollars in, save Israel itself. But the Saudis – a proud arab nation; champions of the Palestinian cause; and self proclaimed leaders of the Muslim world — couldn’t really do business with a criminal regime which is brutalizing the mostly Arab-Muslim population of Palestine, now could they?

Jerusalem Post reports:

Plans by Saudi Prince Al-Walid bin Talal to build an eight-story hotel in Tel Aviv together with the Abulafia family of Jaffa are in their early stages. But too much publicity could doom the project.

Bin Talal – the world’s eighth-wealthiest man and the wealthiest Arab, according to Forbes – is eyeing a beachfront property facing the Opera Building on Herbert Samuel Road to build a 150-room, Oriental-style hotel. Bin Talal’s regular architect, London-based Basil al-Bayati, is said to be in charge of planning for the project.

Israel Gudovich, an Israeli architect who once was Tel Aviv’s city engineer, said the plans were still in their very early stages. “We will know more in two weeks, when I meet with Basil al-Bayati in London,” he told The Jerusalem Post Thursday. Gudovich said press coverage – “this Israeli excitement” which saw an item on the project make headlines in Yediot Aharonot’s business section on Thursday – could scare the project away.

City engineer Chezy Berkowitz confirmed that initial discussions had taken place, but said reports that architectural plans had been submitted to the municipality were incorrect. “No plans have been submitted for approval to planning committees,” he told the Post , adding that the start of construction was months away.

Another glorious peace initiative by the ever helpful Saudis. At a time when academics, churches, trade unions, businesses and activists are campaigning to end the creeping genocide of the Palestinians by bringing economic and political pressure to bear on Israel through a campaign of cultural, academic and economic boycott, the Saudis ensure that visitors to Israel are not deprived of exotic whores or luxury accomodation.