Monday, June 25, 2007

Mission Impossible Part 2

Sometimes, it’s plain awful to be right. My prediction that the fighting is not yet over became painfully true on Sunday when the army engaged in heavy fighting with yet another Islamic-inspired group. One soldier died and 6 militants were killed. Just when you have cornered one group, another bunch of militants appear, it’s like fighting a dragon with multiple heads.

This new group is called Ahl al Hadith (lit: Partisans of the Hadith, writings containing words of the prophet Mohammad), consists of 200+ members and was in the possession of some serious weaponry: grenades, ammunition, electronic booby-trap equipment, binoculars and camouflaged army clothes. What’s worse, they are not related to Fatah al-Islam. It makes you wonder how many more groups there are in Lebanon who freely can dispose of such arms. Most likely, “Quite a few” would be a low estimate.

On top of that, 5 Spanish UN troops were killed during a roadside attack on their vehicles. The initial reaction of Spain was to reaffirm their commitment to Lebanon, but you can’t help but wondering how many more dead they are willing to accept. Try to explain to the family that their son (all between 18 – 21 years old) died for “the good cause”. What cause would that be exactly?

Speculations run wild as to who is behind the attack in the South. Was it the usual suspect Hezbollah or was it Fatah al-Islam revenging their slain brothers or was it yet another Palestinian group? As if that would really matter since Syria would be behind all three options anyway.

When you speak to supporters of the Opposition, you hear a similar line of usual suspects: surely, it must be Israel looking for a pretext to start another July war. And there’s always America, perhaps they want to stir things up.

As usual, it will remain unclear who was behind the attack on the UN. Yet, is it really a coincidence that this attack happened a week after the Syrian Foreign Minister said that Syria cannot guarantee the safety of the UN troops in Lebanon because it doesn’t have a presence there? At the time, this was widely understood as an implicit threat: either let us back into Lebanon or suffer the consequences. Well, we now know what they were hinting at.


In my previous blog entry I mentioned the possible ambitions of the army chief Suleiman. However, the L’Orient-Le Jour wrote Saturday that Suleiman has made clear he will not be entering politics, least of all as member or head of a parallel government. That’s good to hear. Apparantly, also Michel Aoun has hinted that he does not favor such parallel government. Also, that’s good to hear. After all, what good would “democracy” be if the losers decide to create their own parallel government?