Saturday, August 19, 2006

In Which The Gorilla Enters American Politics

Actually I won't be a grandfather for about 9 months but what the hell this is politics :-)

Source: Americans United See also: Social Security: On Privatization, Santorum Saying One Thing, Doing Another. You can learn more about Americans United here.


Hat Tip reader Siun.


Friday, August 18, 2006


Introduction: The first link below is to CAAT "Arming the Occupation: Israel and the Arms Trade" the second and third links are to stories about Israel complaining that some naughty naughty people are … … … wait for it … … … selling weapons and that Israeli troops were harmed by these weapons during Israel's recent failed racist brutal and criminal Israeli war on Lebanon. You can expect to hear a lot of squealing from Israeli politicians along these lines in the near future. But who are really going to squeal like a pack of stuck pigs are Israeli weapons sales organisations. You see they make a big selling point that their stuff is "battle tested" and nobody loves a loser in the arms trade. As for me my attitude can be summed up in three words:

"Well boo hoo."


Weekend Reading: Five Reasons Why Great Military Powers Lose Wars

Immanuel Wallerstein's latest commentary is out:

Commentary No. 191, Aug. 15, 2006

"Five Reasons Why Great Military Powers Lose Wars"

The United States is today the greatest military power in the world. Israel is today the greatest military power located in the Middle East. One of the most obvious temptations of military superiority is to use military force when one wants to accomplish something which is resisted politically. The United States decided to use force against Iraq in 2003. Israel decided to use force against Lebanon in 2006. In both cases, the governments made these decisions, calculating that they could surely win the military conflict, and win it quickly.

Normally, the greatest military power in the world or in a given region can indeed win such military engagements, and win them quickly. That is what we mean when we say they are the greatest military power. But winning depends on a situation in which the military gap between the two states is truly overwhelming. If it is less than overwhelming, the decision to resort to military force can backfire, and backfire badly. This is so for five reasons.

1) If the weaker power turns out to have enough power to slow down the process, and even more to bog it down, then the primary result of the military engagement is to show up the limits of the presumed superior military strength of the greatest military power. Indeed the lesson that the world draws from such a situation is that the greatest military power is militarily weaker than most people had presumed. Other countries draw political conclusions from such a show of less than overwhelming military power.

2) A prolonged war is always, and inevitably, a nasty war. The greatest military power engages in actions that begin to seem offensive morally. If the war is truly short, such offenses are quickly forgotten. But if the war drags on, they become more and more a part of the generalized perception not only in the two countries engaged in the war, but in the rest of the world. The greatest military power begins to lose whatever moral edge it claimed and with which it was credited previously in world public opinion. Slowly but surely, countries that had been more or less on the side of the greatest military power begin to take their distance, and sometimes even express political and moral anger.

3) At the outset, a very large majority of public opinion in the greatest military power usually backs its government's decision to go to war. This backing takes the form of patriotic fervor and great moral approval of their government. But such internal public approval is supported by the belief that the war is not merely just in their eyes but that the war will also be won swiftly, and therefore relatively painlessly.

When the war begins to bog down, there are two groups in the population of the greatest military power who begin to withdraw support from their government. There are those who think that the government hasn't tried hard enough and is basically incompetent. They call for escalating still further the military assault. If this turns out to be for any reason impossible, this group often draws the conclusion that they should pull back entirely from the war. There is a second group who begin to have moral doubts about the war, and begin to urge pulling back not because the government is ineffective but because it is morally wrong. Even though these two groups of internal critics are saying opposite things, and are at considerable odds with each other, the two discontents add up to considerable internal pressure on the government to change its policy.

By the time the warfare is really bogged down, the government of the strongest military power is in a lose-lose situation. If it pulls back, it loses. And if it doesn't pull back, it loses. The result at first is paralysis (called "staying the course") and then humiliation. If the sense of humiliation is sufficiently great, it can lead to extreme internal tensions within the country that had been thought of as the strongest military power.

4) The longer such a situation goes on, the more expensive it becomes -- expensive in human lives (of the greatest military power), and expensive economically. The more expensive it becomes, the more the government begins to lose internal support. The country against whom the war is being fought is no doubt damaged physically, often to an extreme degree. But the damage to the strongest military power turns out to be very great as well, even if it is less likely to take the form of the destruction of infrastructure.

5) As all of this occurs -- the demonstration of less military strength than was believed previously, the loss of moral edge, the increasing withdrawal of internal support, the increasing cost to the greatest military power -- the outcome is that the overall political position in the world-system of the greatest military power declines, sometimes precipitously.

The political conclusion one has to draw from these five reasons is that the greatest military power better be really sure that its military edge is really overwhelming before it brings down such negative results on itself.

by Immanuel Wallerstein

[Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global. For rights and permissions, including translations and posting to non-commercial sites, and contact:, 1.336.686.9002 or 1.336.286.6606. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically, or e-mail to others, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To contact author, write:

These commentaries, published twice monthly, are intended to be reflections on the contemporary world scene, as seen from the perspective not of the immediate headlines but of the long term.]

Took 'Em A While Didn't It?

Thursday, August 17, 2006


In Baghdad there was a car bomb explosion in the Rashad Market on the outskirts of Sadr City. Most of those killed (10) and wounded (23) were women and children. The area was sealed off by Mehdi militamen who tried to disperse the crowd in case of a second explosion. Those figures are relatively low because:

  • At this time of year people would do their shopping as early as possible in the morning to escape Baghdad's opressive summer heat.
  • Sadr city is fairly tightly policed by the Mehdi Army militia who are not however permitted to check vehicles for explosives as I said when I wrote about the al-Ula bombing :

Sadr city which is located in East Baghdad is one of the poorest and most crowded areas of Baghdad. Unemployment is very high even by the standards of American occupied Iraq and many of the streets and buildings are in a state of severe disrepair. As might be expected from the name Sadr City it's a stronghold of Mehdi Army militiamen loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr and as such has often been targetted for bomb attacks. Until very recently Mehdi Army militiamen operated checkpoints and would search vehicles entering the area. Unfortunately at the behest of the American military the Interior Ministry insisted that this cease, while at the same time Major General Jihad Taher al-Luaibi the officer in charge of the anti-explosives division in Baghdad has repeatedly complained that his men have not been given explosive detection equipment.

This reaction to this bombing therefore will follow the same pattern as al-Ula, the Kufa bombing, and the Jameelah bombing a further diminuition of the legtitimacy of the green zone government and it's forces in the eyes of al-Sadr's followers, who believe with good reason that they are being singled out for sectarian attacks, and attacks by militia loyal to other factions in the green zone government, and by the Americans and their green zone government. I would not be surprised were there to be reprisals.

Also in Baghdad a car bombing killed three police officers in al-Mansur (Mansour).

A child injured in a mortar attack in Muqdayiya is brought into baquba hosptial by an attendant

The child seen here being brought into Baquba hospital was one of 15 civilians injured in a mortar attack in Al-Muqdadiyah, about 30Km from Baquba today August 17th 2006. Three police were also wounded- mfi


Violence also continued in Diyali province:

  • Three brothers were killed in an attack on their shop in central Baquba.
  • A civilian was shot dead in south Baquba.
  • A policeman was killed and 15 civilians injured in a mortar attack also in central Baquba.


In Mosul to the the north a senior officer Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Ilah Abdul-Ilah was assassinated and a car bombing at a check point killed five members of the Peshmerga and wounded four civilians.


This brief selection of today's incidents is part of pattern of escalation of violence througout the contested areas of Iraq (in particular Baghdad.) Maliki's coalition green zone government is now seen as so vulnerable and divided that many within it and within the Iraqi political class believe that its fall and the breakup of Iraq are inevitable. I expect to see the following:

  • An escalation of violence in Baghdad. Perhaps leading to "official" efforts to divide it.
  • An escalation of violence in and around Kirkuk and Mosul to the north, and Basra to the south as factions compete to seize control of their economically vital resources.
  • I also expect to see the insurgency continue to gain ground in Central iraq.


The Bloodshed Has Mounted With Each U.S.-Declared Step Of Progress

Tom Lasseter of McLatchy Newspapers (formerly Knight-Ridder) has an excellent report up:

Iraq's streets tell a colder truth


Close-up view disputes U.S. talk of gains

August 17, 2006

TIKRIT, Iraq -- As security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some U.S. soldiers share, is that top officials don't really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence, much of it sectarian or political in nature, has increased steadily during the past three years.

"The American policy has failed both in terms of politics and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament. "They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved ... but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."

Othman says top U.S. officials spend most of their time in the heavily guarded Green Zone in Baghdad and at large military bases across the country, and don't know what's happening in the neighborhoods and provinces beyond.

Shi'ite Muslim parliament member Jalaladin al-Saghir had a similar view.

"All the American policies have failed because the American analysis of the situation is wrong; it is not related to reality," Saghir said. "The slaughtered Iraqi man on the street conveys the best explanation."

Some U.S. soldiers in Iraq reluctantly agree.

"As an intelligence officer ... I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground," wrote a U.S. military officer, whose name is being withheld to protect him from possible reprimand.

"I think that the greatest problem that we deal with (besides the insurgents and militia) is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can't."


What the officials say ...

U.S. officials and the Iraqi officials they appointed continue to put on ceremonies, news conferences and speeches that suggest things are getting better.

In Tikrit last week, Gen. George Casey Jr. walked across the floor of a palace, smiling and shaking hands. It was a good day for Iraq, he said.


Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, stood at the lectern and, his voice rising, said to a cheering crowd of Iraqi and U.S. officials: "My dear friends, I will tell you something, the only way to end terrorism -- there is no other way -- is that we stand together."


In the week that followed, at least 110 Iraqis died in bombings and shootings, and at least eight U.S. soldiers and Marines were killed. The Iraqi death toll probably was much higher, because many bodies are undiscovered, buried or dumped in rivers.

... the numbers dispute

Nationwide statistics during the past three years suggest that U.S. efforts to secure Iraq aren't succeeding.

Various military operations have at times improved security in parts of the country, but the bloodshed has mounted with each U.S.-declared step of progress, according to figures the Brookings Institution research center compiled from news and government reports:

  • When L. Paul Bremer, then the top U.S. official in Iraq, appointed an Iraqi Governing Council in July 2003, insurgent attacks averaged 16 daily.
  • When Saddam Hussein was captured that December, the average was 19.
  • When Bremer signed the handover of sovereignty in June 2004, it was 45 attacks daily.
  • When Iraq held its elections for a transitional government in January 2005, it was 61.
  • When Iraqis voted last December for a permanent government, it was 75.
  • When U.S. forces killed terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al Zarqawi in June, it was up to 90.

Or is it an ebb and flow?

Attacks have increased in lethality as well as number: There was one multiple-fatality bombing in July 2003. Last month, there were at least 51.


In January, the month after Iraq's widely heralded national elections for a permanent government, at least 710 civilians were killed, according to a United Nations report that cited Iraqi Ministry of Health figures. The report made it clear that the actual number for January was much higher.

Six months later, Deputy Health Minister Adel Muhsin said Wednesday that about 3,500 Iraqis died in July in sectarian or political violence. He said it was the highest monthly death toll for civilians since the war started in March 2003.

Casey acknowledged in an interview with ABC News last week that things were "very difficult right now." But the remainder of his response made no reference to the trend of expanding violence.


Full article here.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

He's NOT "frustrated" SO THERE!

Baghdad August 16th 2006 Smoke from two car bombsSmoke from two car bombings rises over Baghdad Augusth 16th 2008 The American dominated operations to "stabilise" Iraq and somehow save the green zone government's hide continue apace. As do the counterattacks.

Depending on who you believe things are going swimmingly, although if you're a US army spokesbot perhaps it'd be a good idea to dodge any questions asking you to specify precisely for whom things are going so well. Here's a (very) partial list of today's "incidents," if you want a more complete listing hit the always excellent "Today In Iraq"



  • The sweep in Baghdad allegedly netted nearly 300 militants over the last two days - well maybe maybe not if past performance is anything to go by most of them aren't if fact guilty of anything and will be released in a few months. Given how they'll be treated they'll be very militant indeed by the time they get out.
  • Eight people were killed and 29 seriously injured by a roadside bomb targetting a flea market at the Al-Nahda Bridge in central Baghdad. (That particular bridge is also a pickup point for people travelling to the South of the country so it gets targetted a lot. Last week's attack there killed 9 and wounded more than twenty people.)
  • Another bombing this time on Tunis street killed 14 and wounded at least 45.
  • There were two other car bombings that I haven't been able to get details of yet.


  • Two policemen were killed in separate attacks in Baquba.
  • A civilian was killed in Abu-Karmah.


  • The British fought a running gun battle on the streets with local militias.
  • One policeman was killed and three wounded by a group of tribal fighters attacking the Governorate's headquarters.


  • The battles there continue. Interesting how the "Shia militant's" being targetted are the nationalist ones opposed to breaking up Iraq isn't it? - just sayin' . (Keep an eye on reports of fighting in Karbala and Najaf if anything happens to the shrines in either place all hell will break loose.)
  • Karbala is now under curfew (theoretically) all this means is that both sides have a free field of fire.


  • Green zone government troops closed bridges and patrolled the streets (fighting running gun battles as they did so in both Yarmouk and Arisala.) That's what the western news reports say. What they don't say is that the "militants" were so confident that they distributed leaflets telling residents what they going to do and warning them to stay inside. According to an email I got from a resident in Mosul, what the leaflets said was that procedings would kick off with the governor being killed and matters would procede from there.

Oh and President Cheney Bush is "frustrated" (but not with the Iraqi government which is just as well because there isn't an Iraqi government for him to get frustrated at.)



There's a story in Al-Sabah Al-Jadeed [Arabic Language] today about a decision made by the green zone government to step up oil imports. They've authorised US$213 million in derivatives (refined products) from Turkey and Iran. Inter Alia the Turks and Iranians have agreed to provide 1100 tons of Parafin (Kerosene) for heating and gas oil for electricity generation. Amongst the things agreed by the The Iraqi side is that Iran will act as the "corridor" and that the Iraqis will open their border crossings. This (ostensibly) is to allow the Eastern distribution centre to act as a major import portal and help meet local demand. According to Al-Sabah's story an agreement has also been reached with the Turks to "resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries."

Comment: Iraqi refineries have been badly hit first by sanctions, then by resistance attacks caused by the American occupation and Iraq and desperately needs refined products, failure to provide them would lead very quickly to the fall of the green zone government - people get a bit annoyed about not being able to cook. Iranian influence on and participation in the Iraqi oil industry has grown markedly since the American invasion. I rather doubt that this was what president Cheney Bush intended. No wonder he's getting "frustrated" at the results of all those "sacrifices" made by America. Can you say "we predicted this but you knew better Dick George - serves you right?" Yeah I thought you could. But look on the bright side there are some people who really appreciate the results of all those "sacrifices" you've made Dick George.


You Can't Make This Stuff Up

"Bush Said to Be Frustrated by Level of Public Support in Iraq


WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 - President Bush made clear in a private meeting this week that he was concerned about the lack of progress in Iraq and frustrated that the new Iraqi government - and the Iraqi people - had not shown greater public support for the American mission, participants in the meeting said Tuesday.

Those who attended a Monday lunch at the Pentagon that included the president's war cabinet and several outside experts said Mr. Bush carefully avoided expressing a clear personal view of the new prime minister of Iraq, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.


"I sensed a frustration with the lack of progress on the bigger picture of Iraq generally - that we continue to lose a lot of lives, it continues to sap our budget," said one person who attended the meeting. "The president wants the people in Iraq to get more on board to bring success."


More generally, the participants said, the president expressed frustration that Iraqis had not come to appreciate the sacrifices the United States had made in Iraq, and was puzzled as to how a recent anti-American rally in support of Hezbollah in Baghdad could draw such a large crowd. "I do think he was frustrated about why 10,000 Shiites would go into the streets and demonstrate against the United States," said another person who attended.


One participant in the lunch, Carole A. O'Leary, a professor at American University who is also doing work in Iraq with a State Department grant, said Mr. Bush expressed the view that "the Shia-led government needs to clearly and publicly express the same appreciation for United States efforts and sacrifices as they do in private."


One of the participants at the Monday lunch, Eric Davis, a Rutgers University political science professor who previously served as director of the university's Center for Middle Eastern Studies, released a text of his remarks.

Mr. Davis said he discussed the regional upheaval that could follow if Iraq descended into chaos or was allowed to divide along ethnic lines. "I believe that the American people do not fully understand the potential domino effects that the collapse of Iraq into disorder and anarchy would have on the Middle East and the global political system," he said.

President Chimp Button[snip]

Vali R. Nasr, an expert on Shia Islam, said the Pentagon meeting appeared to be an effort to give White House, Pentagon and State Department officials better insight into Iraq's religious and ethnic mix.


Source: NYT

You just can't make this stuff up. The president of the country responsible for starving the country to the extent that hundreds of thousands of children died, who bombed the place to bits, who's troops have committed atrocity after atrocity, such as gang rape, shooting pregnant women, fomenting civil war, is "frustrated" that the people subject to this treatment aren't properly grateful to massah. Mind you Bush isn't the only American politician who complains about American "sacrifices" in Iraq. So ungrateful those brown people … … …


Faith Based Initiatives

Hizbullah social workers school in Beirut take details of help needed from bombed out residentsHezbollah social workers take information from residents of Beirut's southern suburbs Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006, whose homes were either damaged or destroyed during 34 days of war between Israel and Hezbollah. Hundreds of people went from one room to another at the Haret Hreik Public High School Wednesday to register the damage caused by Israel's one-month bombing campaign and which the militant Hezbollah group promised to rebuild. Tens of thousands of people have returned to their shattered villages in eastern and southern Lebanon as well as Beirut's southern suburbs, or Dahiyeh, to find their homes either damaged or totally destroyed.
Source: Photo and Caption both Yahoo News (AP)


President George W. Bush addresses his remarks to an audience, Thursday, March 9, 2006 at The White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel. President Bush talked about the important philanthropic role individual volunteers, corporations and foundataions play in providing funding for social services. White House photo by Kimberlee HewittPresident George W. Bush addresses his remarks to an audience, Thursday, March 9, 2006 at The White House National Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Washington Hilton Hotel. President Bush talked about the important philanthropic role individual volunteers, corporations and foundataions play in providing funding for social services. White House photo by Kimberlee Hewitt
Source: Source: Whitehouse Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.


Ruins in Abassiyeh Banner Reads 'Made in USA'An anti-United States banner decorates the rubble of a building destroyed during the month-long Israeli offensive against Hezbollah, in the southern village of Abbassiyeh, close to the port city of Tyre, Wednesday Aug. 16, 2006. The writing in Arabic reads: 'Made in U.S.A.'. France and Turkey sent their top diplomats to Beirut on Wednesday to discuss the deployment of a 15,000-strong international force to southern Lebanon, part of which the U.N. hopes can be in place in the next two weeks.
Source: Photo and Caption both Yahoo News (AP)

"Hezbollah the Loser In Battle, Bush Says." (George is one of those people who'll believe anything.)


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Endgame - Well Worth Reading


Conservatives after the Cold War Corey Robin

" In 2000 I spent the better part of a late summer interviewing William F. Buckley and Irving Kristol. I was writing an article on the defections to the Left of several younger right-wing intellectuals and wanted to hear what the movement's founding fathers thought of their wayward sons. Over the course of our conversations, however, it became clear that Buckley and Kristol were less interested in these ex-conservatives than they were in the sorry state of the conservative movement and the uncertain fate of the United States as a global imperial power.

The end of communism and the triumph of the free market, they suggested, were mixed blessings. Although these developments were victories for the conservative movement, they had rendered the United States ill-equipped for the post-Cold War era. Americans now possessed the most powerful empire in history. At the same time, they were possessed by one of the most anti-political ideologies in history: the free market. According to its aggressive idealists, the free market is a harmonious order, promising an international civil society of voluntary exchange, requiring little more from the state than the occasional enforcement of laws and contracts. For Buckley and Kristol, this was too bloodless a notion upon which to found a national order, much less a global empire. It did not provide the gravitas and élan that the exercise of American power required at home and abroad. It promoted self-interest over the national interest, not the most promising base from which to launch an empire. What's more, the right-wingers in charge of the Republican Party didn't seem to realize this. "

First a quibble there's nothing even slightly "conservative" about these guys they're radical right-wing militarists not conservatives. The full article can be found here - it's well worth your while taking the time to read it.


Get Used To It

Three important points to bear in mind as you read coverage of the aftermath of Israel's failed invasion of Lebanon:

  1. By their own propaganda Israel lost to a "rag tag" army. That's got to hurt. I don't exptect them to learn the lesson. I do expect Israel's politics to swing hard right and fairly soon too. I also expect a lot of the corruption endemic in Israeli politics to come to light. In fact that's already started.
  2. The day before the ceasefire the Hizb mounted a rocketry barrage. Unlike the Israelis they haven't fired since. In other words they're a highly disciplined force and they're still in possession of the field.
  3. Hizbulla planned for victory. As you read the reports of people streaming back to their homes from which the brutal (and illegal) Israeli tactics drove them keep in mind that much of the transport infrastructure has been shattered. What does their return mean? It means that the Hizb have some very effective logistics people. The return of the populace is going to dramatically weaken Israel's strategic position vis a vis Southern Lebanon.

Who won? Well we know who lost in military terms, and yes I feel vindicated, I've been saying for years that the IDF are overrated and the Hizb underrated. I also feel more than a little schadenfreude a savage invasion was repelled and as the scale of their looming defeat became ever clearer the invaders squealed ever louder "unfair unfair" - they couldn't even hold Marjoum! And that was despite their using human shield tactics.

Who lost terribly were civilians the brutal Israeli tactics meant massive loss of Lebanese civilian life. Nor should it be forgotten that some Israeli civilians were killed. Who should be blamed for those deaths? The Israeli government which started the war and the American government who wanted them to are who should be blamed.

The victory is for all of us who are opposed to arrogance and brutality. The loss, the biggest loss, is to those who still believe that they can recolonise the Middle East. The Middle East and its resources belong to those who live there. It's their home, not yours, not mine, theirs and other than as guests "we" are not welcome there. The people who live there have the right, the duty, and increasingly both the will and the means to defend their homes and their children. Get used to it.


Update: They definitely don't like losing. - mfi

History of Hezbollah

The indispensable Nur al-Cubicle has translated L'Orient Du Jour's excellent history of Hizbollah. Hurry on over to Nur's place. I'd print them for re-reading if I were you:

Part 1

Part 2


Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah's Autobiography

"Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah's Autobiography"
Ya Lesarat Ol-Hoseyn (Tehran)
August 10, 2006 (OSC Translated Text)

My father Abdulkarim used to sell fruit and vegetables; my brothers would help him. When my father's financial status improved, he opened a small grocery store in the neighborhood, and I would go there to help him usually. We had a picture of Imam Musa al-Sadr hanging on the wall of the store. I would sit on a chair in front of the picture and stare at it. I wished that I would become like him one day.

We did not have a mosque in our neighborhood, which was called Kortina, so I would go to the San Al-Fil, Borj Jamud, or Nob'eh mosques for prayers. I would read any reading material I found, especially Islamic books. Any book that I could not understand, I would put aside to read it when I grew older.

I went to a school in the Al-Najah neighborhood for my primary education, and I was among the last group of students who gained the diploma certificate. After that, I went to the San Al-Fil state school to continue my education there, but the flames of the 1975 civil war erupted very soon afterward. Hence, I left Kortina and returned, along with my family, to the village of Bazuyeh, where I was born. After that, I finished my high school education in one of the state schools of the coastal city of Sur.

Earlier, when we lived in the Kortina neighborhood, none of my family members or I was affiliated with any political party. Meanwhile, several political organizations, of which some were Palestinian, were active in the area. But, later on, when we moved back to Bazuyeh, I joined the ranks of the Amal movement. That was a choice that I made very eagerly, because I deeply admired Imam Musa al-Sadr. At that time, I was just 15-years-old and the Amal movement was called and known as the movement of the underprivileged. I was becoming less interested in the village of Bazuyeh, because that village was turning into an arena for the activity of intellectuals, Marxists, and especially supporters of the Lebanese Communist Party. Anyway, my brother Seyyed Hoseyn and I became members of the Amal movement, and, in spite of my young age, I soon became the representative of our village.

Within a few months, I made a firm decision to go to Najaf Ashraf in Iraq. At that time, I was hardly 16-years-old and I faced many restrictions against going. But, since my reliance was on god, one day at the mosque of the city of Sur I met a religious scholar whose name was Seyyed Mohammad Gharavi. He worked there on behalf of Imam Musa Sadr as a teacher. As soon as he heard that I wanted to go to Najaf Ashraf for education, he wrote a letter and gave it to me. Seyyed Mohammad Gharavi was a close and favorite friend of Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Muhammad Baqr al-Sadr. The letter that he gave me was a recommendation for my admission to that dignitary's class.

With the help of friends and my father, and by selling some belongings, I gathered some money and flew to Baghdad; from there I took a bus to Al-Najaf. When I arrived in Al-Najaf, I had no money left in my pockets. But, there are more than a few strangers and lonely people in Al-Najaf. More important, of course, is the fact that a scholar must learn how to live a respectable life with empty hands. My food was bread and water, and my bed was a rectangular piece of sponge mattress. As soon as I arrived, I asked the other Lebanese scholars living there how I could get my letter of recommendation to Ayatollah Al-Sadr, who was considered as a pillar of the religious seminary. They told me that Seyyed Abbas Musavi could do that for me.

When I met with Seyyed Abbas Musavi, because he was a little bit dark-skinned, I assumed he was Iraqi. Hence, I spoke to him in plain Arabic. But in response, Seyyed Abbas told me: "Do not bother; I am also Lebanese and I have come here from the Nabi Sheys area!" That was how our acquaintance and close friendship began. Musa was a friend, brother, mentor, and companion for me. We were separated from each other when the Israelis fired missiles at his vehicle from a helicopter and martyred Seyyed Abbas, along with his wife and little child. This incident happened 16 years after the sweet start of our friendship in the city of Al-Najaf.

Ayatollah Al-Sadr, after accepting me and reading my letter of recommendation from Seyyed Mohammad Gharavi, asked me: "Do you have any money?" I said: "Not a penny!" The Ayatollah then turned to Musavi and stated: "First, get him a room, then you be his tutor and take care of him." After that, he gave me some money to buy me some clothes and books, as well as some spending money for a month. Musavi got me a room at the seminary near his own house.

At that time Seyyed Abbas Musavi had just got married, and married couples were allowed to have separate houses for themselves. But the single scholars had chambers, and sometimes two or even three of them would live together in one chamber. There was also a small monthly tuition of five dinars for each scholar.

Seyyed Abbas Musavi, who had already passed the preliminary course and had entered the next stage, had a number of pupils. I was one of them. Musavi was very strict and serious. Owing to his intensive teaching, we managed to complete a five-year course in only two years. We would study all the time, even on holidays such as our leave for the month of Ramadan and the Hajj season, without taking any breaks. We even studied on Thursdays and Fridays, which were the usual weekend holidays at the religious seminary.

In 1982, I completed the first course with a passing grade. In the same year, the Iraqi Ba'thist regime started to put pressure on the Kurdish scholars, deporting many of them back to their own countries. Many scholars of different nationalities were forced to leave their education unfinished. Even worse, the Baghdad politicians singled out Lebanese scholars and accused them of being agents for the Amal movement. Sometimes, they would even link us to the Da'vat Party or to the Syrian Ba'thist Party. Eventually, they said, whatever our agenda was, we had been sent there by the Syrian intelligence organization. Finally, in 1987, the Lebanese scholars, like those of other countries, were banished from Iraq (many of them after being held in detention for months).

During that time, Saddam's forces raided the religious seminary. Seyyed Abbas Musavi was in Lebanon on that particular day, but his family was still in Al-Najaf. His students notified him not to return to Iraq, because he was wanted there. A short while after that, his students were also expelled from Iraq. I was lucky that time, because I was not there when the police raided the religious seminary. As soon as I found out what had happened, I left Al-Najaf immediately. Since my arrest warrant was only issued for the District of Al-Najaf, and not the whole country, I did not have any problem at the border checkpoint. I was able to leave Iraq easily and return to Lebanon eventually.

Musavi, along with a number of theological lecturers, founded a school of religious sciences in Ba'albak, which is still open to this day. I continued my studies in that school and I maintained my cooperation with the Amal movement. In 1987, the Amal movement appointed me as its political representative in the Biqa region; this was how I became one of the political members of the central office. In the same year, I also finished the second course at the seminary.

In June 1982, Israel started its full-scale invasion of Lebanon. When the Israelis captured Beirut, a front called the National Salvation Front was established. Amal leader Nabih Birri showed a lot of interest in joining the Amal movement with that front, but the religious principle-ists (osulgarans) of the Amal movement were opposed to this. From that point the differences began to escalate and the principle-ist group separated from the movement. This matter was obvious and predictable, because some differences of opinion, especially regarding their views and versions of Imam Musa al-Sadr's advice, were quite noticeable from an earlier stage. The religious forces realized that Amal was going astray. They noticed that the Salvation Front was planning to make Bashir Gemayel president of Lebanon, which was a decision that the religious wing of Amal would not accept at all. The religious forces believed that the leader of the Falangist paramilitary groups was quite willing to come to terms with the Israelis. But, from their point of view, coming to terms was against the interests of the front, as was speaking and shaking hands with him.

The principle-ists left Amal and entered into coalition with other groups outside that movement, in order to establish and found Hizballah. When I left Amal, my brother Hoseyn did not do the same thing; he has stayed with Amal to date. For a short while, he represented the movement in the Shiyah region, but he resigned from that post later due to his health condition (because he got sick).

I was the eldest son in an 11-member family. There were nine brothers and sisters. Hoseyn comes after me; behind him are Zeynab, then Fatemeh, who is still at home. After her there is Muhammad, a businessman, then Ja'far, who is employed. After them, in order of age, are Zakiyeh, Ameneh, and Sa'ad, all of whom are married.

All of my sisters are active members of Hizballah. But, as for the brothers, they were all in the Amal movement first. Now, all of them, except for Hoseyn, have left it. Muhammad is basically not interested in politics; even though he is not a member of Hizballah, he approves of it. However, Ja'far is politically undecided at the present time; we have been discussing and exchanging views with each other for some time now.

Today, Hizballah is making good progress and changing for the better. Its goal is to move in the right direction with the necessities of the time and to uphold its Shiite principles. It is wrong to think that any one person, no matter how exalted his standing might be, can accumulate and monopolize all of the intellectual, religious, theological, and political knowledge in the world for himself. The Hizballah members believe that the greatest, most dignified, and undisputed personality of the century (the twentieth century) was Imam Khomeyni. After Imam Khomeyni's departure, naturally Imam Khamene'i was the most righteous successor to Khomeyni. In our opinion, the previous views and thoughts are still valuable.

When Hizballah was founded, I was 22-years-old and a member of the Basij resistance force. Later, I became the party's director in the Ba'albak district. After that, I became the party's director for the whole Biqa region. After a while, I was appointed as the assistant and deputy to Seyyed Ebrahim Ayman al-Seyyed, who was the party's director in Beirut. Shortly afterward, the party decided to separate its political affairs from its operational and organizational activities. Seyyed Ebrahim picked the political branch, and I became the director for the Beirut District after him. Then the post of general executive director was created, the responsibility of which was to implement the orders of the Consultative Council. I was appointed to that post.

In spite of all the responsibilities that I had in the party, which took up all of my time effectively, I also decided to continue my studies. But, following the full-scale Israeli invasion, I had to put my studies aside. Seven years later in 1989, the situation became suitable for studying once again. Hence, with the party's permission, I went to Qom to finish my education. Of course, even then the rumormongers did not stop working. They said Seyyed Nasrallah had left Lebanon because of his dispute with the Hizballah leaders.

Following the escalation of the differences with the Amal movement and the outbreak of armed conflicts in the Biqa region, I considered it my duty to return to Lebanon. Of course, that was also what the party wanted me to do. Hence, again I was not able to use the opportunity and continue my studies to the point where I wanted. Today, my greatest wish is that my brothers will lighten my workload and excuse me as general secretary of the party, so that I can return to the seminary and continue my studies as a scholar.

After the assassination of Abbas Musa by the Israelis, I was made the leader of Hizballah and the general secretary of the party. Before that, and during the time of my residence in Qom, they gave my executive responsibility in the party's high council to my assistant Sheikh Na'im Qasem. Hence, when I returned, I merely served as a member of the command cadre, without having any particular responsibility. However, when Seyyed Abbas Musa was chosen as the general secretary of Hizballah, he appointed Na'im Qasem as his deputy, and I returned to my previous post again.

In 1992, the Israelis assassinated Seyyed Abbas Musa. Hence, the members of the Consultative Council arranged a meeting to choose his successor, which turned out to be me. The day I was chosen by the Consultative Council, I had a lot of fear and anxiety, because I was much younger then. Up to that point I had only been in charge of the internal arrangements of the party and I had no experience with the party's external affairs. But, the council insisted that I take the job. At first, I refused, but later, when the experts insisted again, I accepted this responsibility finally.

In 1978, I married Ms. Fatemeh Yasin from the Abbasiyeh neighborhood of the city of Sur. Besides my son Hadi, who was martyred at the age of 18, I have three other children: Muhammad Javad; Zeynab; and Muhammad Ali. When I set foot in my house, I leave all of my work and difficulties at the door, in order to become a caring husband and father at home. I try to value my private life and my faith. I read a lot, especially about the adventures of politicians. I have been reading Sharon's biography for a while now, and I am going to read the book again.

In my opinion, Hizballah does not just mean resistance. Today, Hizballah is also a political doctrine and ideology that is based upon Islam. In brief, to us, Islam is not just a simple religion that is limited to worship and religious observances. Islam is a special divine duty for all humanity and is the answer to all the general and specific concerns of mankind. Islam is the religion for any society that wants to revolutionize and establish a government. Islam is the religion on which you can establish a government on the basis of its principles. I would not deny that Hizballah's wish is to establish an Islamic Republic system one day, because Hizballah believes that establishing an Islamic government is the only way to bring stability to a society and is the only way to settle social differences, even in a society that is composed of numerous minorities. Nevertheless, establishing an Islamic Republic is not possible with force and resistance. It requires a national referendum. A referendum that wins 51 percent of the vote is still not the solution. What it needs is a referendum for which 90 percent of the people vote. Hence, with this assumption, and in view of the status quo, establishing an Islamic Republic system in Lebanon is not possible at the present time.

Death is nothing but a gateway between the two worlds. Some people pass through this gateway with difficulty and agony, and some do it with ease and willingness. Martyrdom is the best way of passing to the eternal world, because martyrdom is one of the glorious gifts of god almighty. When a martyr dies (moves from one place to another), it is like a person who goes to the heavens with precious gifts. This is why martyrdom is so valuable to other people (Muslims). Even in those nations that do not believe in god, when people dedicate their lives for their homeland, their nation, and a goal in which they believe, it is laudable and admirable. As a father who has lost his son, I have no worries; I am sure that my son is in paradise with god almighty.

Before his martyrdom, Hadi's picture was only found in our house. However, today his picture is found everywhere and in every house. It is true that my family and I have lost our dear and beloved son, but we are confident that we will meet him in the eternal life some day.

As for the charisma that you say people see in me, this is not something about which I should talk. It is something about which the people talk, but charisma in general means the influence that a person has over others. This is, in fact, a godly blessing that one can improve further with knowledge and experience, although knowledge, expertise, and experience is not sufficient to make a person charismatic. It also needs god's blessing and attention.

(Description of Source: Tehran Ya Lesarat ol-Hoseyn in Persian -- extremely conservative Tehran weekly. Organ of Ansar-e Hezbollah)


Monday, August 14, 2006

Here's one we bombed earlier

"Here's one we bombed earlier"



"10 Children Die Everyday
By Anadolu News Agency (aa), Beirut
Monday, August 14, 2006

Israel's attacks on Lebanon devastated the country's economy and claimed hundreds of civilian lives.

More than 1,130 Lebanese, mostly civilians, were killed in the 33-day Israeli military operation, in which at least 3,600 were wounded.

One third of the 1,025 civilians killed were children under the age of 12.

Estimates put the number of Lebanese displaced by the war at around 915,000; with at least $6 billion of damage to the country.

Around 630 kilometers of highways, 23 oil stations, 145 bridges, 7,000 homes, and 900 factories have been destroyed in the Israeli attacks targeting Lebanese infrastructure."



If I Was An Israeli Officer

I'll start by doing a copy from my posting of July 27th about Haim Ramon Israel's Justice Minister :

Haim Ramon 'All those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah'Meet Haim Ramon. He's Israel's minister for justice. He used to be in the Israeli Labour Party but ditched them for Kadima when Ariel Sharon, the man the Kahan commission* found to be responsible for the mass murder of civilians at Sabra and Shatila refugee camps the last time Israel invaded Lebanon left Likud and founded Kadima. He's generally reckoned to be very close to Israel's Prime minister Ehud Olmert. Note Ramon's branch of service. Like Donald Rumsfeld he's an Air Force man in Ramon's case he never made it beyond captain. Not a particularly impressive record. This is what he had to say today on Israeli Army Radio:

"We received yesterday in the Rome conference permission, in effect, from the world, part of it gritting its teeth and part of it granting its blessing, to continue the operation, this war, until Hezbollah's presence is erased in Lebanon and it is disarmed," Source

According to Haaretz today he said this:

"We have a internationally recognized document which bears great potential to entirely change [the state of affairs that existed] prior to July 12th and that was the objective of the war."

I'm not going to spend time today analysing Resolution 1701. The world, his wife, and their pet tortoise have all blogged about it endlessly and anyone with half a wit can see that it's a "finger pointing" resolution. Suffice it to say that:

  1. Everyone affected by it can drive either a Merkava tank or Katyusha rocket launching platform through it whenever they feel like it.
  2. As they do so they can point their finger at somebody else and say "they started it."

If I was an Israeli officer I'd send a special forces team into the Ramon's office armed with enough duct tape to permanently get the man to STFU. He keeps on giving the game away on Israeli Army Radio. He's just admitted that there's now an legally binding international agreement with a "terrorist organisation." Don't think that his little slip of the tongue won't be noticed and seized upon for future use in the appropriate quarters. It will.


Children of Zaafaraniyah

Children injured in the rocket attacks from Dora on Zaafaraniyah being treated in hospital
The attack on Zaafaraniyah was most likely a reprisal for the US army's recent sweep of al-Dora. The attack was both large and sophisticated — a series of bombings coordinated with a rocketry barrage from al-Dora. It's very similar to the July 27, attack on al-Karrada. Such attacks undermine public confidence in the green zone government's plan to regain control of Baghdad. I expect many more such attacks in the near future.



Screen Shot of Washington Post August 14th 2006


Sunday, August 13, 2006


Some pacificists and some militarists

"Israeli newspapers are filled with reports of soldiers complaining about food, water and equipment shortages in southern Lebanon. The military was having so much trouble moving supplies over the rough terrain that it experimented with using llamas as pack animals. The experiment failed when an entire train of llamas sat down on the job,forcing the military unit to abort an expedition, according to several news reports." Source

"Llamas who are well-socialized and brought up by loving families are very friendly and pleasant to be around.They are extremely curious and most will approach people easily. Occasionally, llamas do spit at each other orpeople. The habit of spitting is a defense mechanism. However, usually, a llama would prefer to run away before confronting their assumed aggressor. The spitting behavior is believed to be a direct result of their usually shy disposition" Source.

Widepsread reports that Hizbulla fighters disguised as Israeli soldiers sabotaged the IDF offensive by infiltrating the IDF columns and spitting at the Lamas first have been strongly denied by Israeli military spokesmen.


Identifying The Body

Identifying a relatives body Baghdad morgue Sunday August 13th 2006One of the more horrific aspects of the bloodbath in Baghdad is having to identify the body of a family member. Apart from the trauma of actually doing the identification the process is fraught with risk. Relatives coming to claim a body are often targeted by death squads, as are funerals.

This man photographed today Sunday August 13th 2006 is trying to find the body of a relative. It can be days or even weeks before a body will be found.



Robert Fisk: Tea and rockets: café society, Beirut-style

This week: A close shave in downtown Beirut and why you'll never find our man in a flak jacket

Published: 13 August 2006

Sunday, 6 August

In the early hours, motor-cycle riders have been racing down the Corniche outside my home. Petrol is cheap for motor-cycles, and at first I curse the roar of their machines. Then I realise that their insouciance is a form of resistance. In their special way, they are denying the war, refusing to be cowed.

A friend calls from Tyre where Palestinians are welcoming Shia refugees from the hill villages of southern Lebanon into their homes. One old Palestinian lady turned on her guest with memories of her own endless exile since 1948. "Better to die in your home than run away," she shouts.

Too many journos are wearing flak jackets and helmets, little spacemen who want to show they are "in combat" on television. I notice how their drivers and interpreters are usually not given flak jackets. These are reserved for us, the Westerners, the Protected Ones, Those Who Must Live.

I used to wear a flak jacket in Bosnia, but no more. Ever since a bullet penetrated the neck of a colleague and was kept within his body by the iron jacket - going round and round until it had destroyed his kidneys, liver and heart - I have refused to touch these things. Better to die in shirtsleeves.


Thursday, 10 August

To the City Café to meet Leena Saidi, Lebanese journalist and formerly one of the national television station's top newsreaders. City Café is definitely upmarket, opposite a traffic circle but filled with boring old men smoking cigars and discussing the future of Lebanon and elegant ladies in silk skirts, and one or two women whom my Mum used to describe as "mutton dressed as lamb".

We order green tea and then there's the roar of an explosion in the sky. An Israeli missile screeches right past us and crashes into the old French Mandate lighthouse, a brown-stone tower built in 1938 from which the Vichy French once sent out their propaganda.

Never have I seen the great and the good of Beirut society hurl themselves from their seats at such speed, overturning tables amid splintered glass, racing from the café for their chauffeur-driven cars, crashing into each other's vehicles - and failing to pay their bills. I see a panic-stricken motor-cyclist thrown on to the road. He rolls down the side of the traffic island, then runs for his life.

A second missile streaks past us into the tower. Do the Israelis think that Hizbollah's television station is broadcasting from here?

"Fisk!" Leena roars, almost as loudly as the rocket. "Why do you always bring trouble with you?" We finish a second cup of green tea and The Independent pays the bill. I am left wondering: what has Israel got against the French Mandate?

Friday, 11 August

I visit the barber. "Thanks to the God!" cries George when he sees me. It is lunchtime, and I am his first customer. Every Lebanese believes that we journos know the future, and we have to pretend that we do so that they will tell us what they know.

Ceasefire? Will Hizbollah fire more rockets into Israel? Photographs on the Lebanese front pages show burning Israeli tanks near Khiam. Shortage of newsprint. One of my morning papers is now only four pages - it was blown off my balcony by the wind this morning and I had to run down the street to retrieve it. But a bad thought. I like small newspapers. Less to read. More time to report.

Saturday, 12 August

A long radio interview with an Israeli professor who says "the number of people killed [in this war] doesn't reflect morality". Well, at more than a thousand Lebanese civilians dead against a few dozen Israelis, it can't reflect morality because, if it did, that would suggest Israel was committing war crimes.

But Hizbollah will also have their day of reckoning. Who gave them the right to bring this cruelty down upon the head of every Lebanese? Who gave the Shias permission to go to war for Lebanon? There will be questions in Israel too. How come the Israel Defence Forces, famous in legend and song, could not defend the people of Israel, despite slaughtering so many Lebanese civilians?

Cody has invented a great new word: to "flamboozle". It's what politicians do to their people when they go to war. Ehud Olmert has been flamboozling the Israelis and Sayed Hassan Nasrallah has been flamboozling Lebanon's Shias. We may have a ceasfire at the weekend. So the end of the flamboozling may be nigh.

Full Text Here — read it before it goes behind the paywall.