Contrary to popular belief the Lebanese Government that was formed during the 2005 Cedar Revolution isn’t the freedom loving benign democracy that many had hoped for.
At the time one Lebanese opposition leader, Dory Chamoun of the National Liberation party, commented: “The free world is really helping Lebanon restore its sovereignty”. That followed joint declarations by the French (of all people) and American foreign ministers demanding “the immediate withdrawal of all Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon” in March, 2005
Following the the brutal murder of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri on February 14th, 2005 (the U.N. investigation has implicated Syrian officials in the assassination) the Lebanese people protested in the tens of thousands around his grave in Martyrs’ Square in Beirut demanding that the Syrian occupation forces leave Lebanon.
In March Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah issued a statment calling for a “massive popular gathering” supporting Syria and accusing Israel and the United States of meddling in internal affairs. Nasrallah also criticized UN Resolution 1559 saying “The resistance will not give up its arms … because Lebanon needs the resistance to defend it”.
As history shows in April the Pro-Syrian government was disbanded, and approximately 14,000 Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents withdrew from Lebanese territory ending their 30 year presence.
The current Siniora Government eventually emerged from the Cedar Revolution with Prime Minister Fouad Siniora as its head along with the governing Parliament of Lebanon. Results of the last election held between 29 May and 20 June 2005 gave the terrorist group Hezbollah (the “Party of God”) 35 seats, from a total of 128.
All of which brings us to the current “crisis” in Lebanon started when Hezbollah crossed into Iraeli territory, kidnapped two soldiers, and killed eight others in an internationally recognized act of war.
Again, it’s instructive to look at history, and ask the question: Did Hezbollah act on its own or in concert with other members of the Lebanese government? According to Andrew Cochran writing for the Counter Terrorism Blog in February of this year Michael Aoun, Member of Parliament and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, met with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, to discuss collaboration. That meeting produced a “memorandum of understanding” between the two.
Paragraph 6 of that agreement refers to Israel as “enemy territory” from which Lebanese should return and establish re-newed ties to Syria and the Palestinians. It also places no limit on “Hezbollah from possessing and using its arms in any way.” (paragraph 9)
More recently (H/T Capt’n Ed) MEMRI has posted a transcript of an Al-Jazeera interview (July 24, 2006) with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah that indicates the Lebanese government had foreknowledge that Hezbollah would invade Israel and abduct Israeli soldiers.
Interviewer: “Did you inform them that you were about to abduct Israeli soldiers?”
Hassan Nasrallah: “I told them that we must resolve the issue of the prisoners, and that the only way to resolve it is by abducting Israeli soldiers.”
Interviewer: “Did you say this clearly?”
Hassan Nasrallah: “Yes, and nobody said to me: ‘No, you are not allowed to abduct Israeli soldiers.’ Even if they had told me not to… I’m not defending myself here. I said that we would abduct Israeli soldiers, in meetings with some of the main political leaders in the country. I don’t want to mention names now, but when the time comes to settle accounts, I will. They asked: ‘If this happens, will the issue of the prisoners be over and done with?’ I said that it was logical that it would. And I’m telling you, our estimation was not mistaken. I’m not exaggerating. Anywhere in the world – show me a country, show me an army, show me a war, in which two soldiers, or even civilian hostages, were abducted, and a war was waged against a country – and all for two soldiers. This has never happened throughout history, and even Israel has never done such a thing.”
With this as background is it any wonder why the Lebanese government has played the innocent bystander as Israel dismantles the Hezbollah war machine?
Neither the government, nor Nasrallah expected the reaction Israel has taken, as pointed out earlier in the interview when he notes that moderate Arab nations (Saudi Arabia, Eygpt and Jordan) have condemned Hezbollah’s actions and implores them to remain neutral in the current conflict.
There is much talk by media talking heads and so called “experts” that the current barrage of Hezbollah rockets are an effort to lure Israel into “a trap,” followed by a stalemate and a swap of prisoners.
That swap may yet take place, it wouldn’t be the first time, but I seriously doubt it will come under the threat of rocket attacks. It will come after the Battle for the Hezbollah Capital is concluded, Hezbollah is disarmed and some form of “international force” is established south of the Litani River.
The real “trap” may in fact be sprung on Hezbollah as its head Nasrallah has miscalculated both Israeli’s response and the support it has received.