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December 10, 2006
The Washington Post
Sunday, December 10, 2006
IRAN NEEDS A CHANGE OF DIRECTION by Walid Phares and Behrooz Bahbudi
Iran’s President, M Mahmoud Ahmedinijad recently sent a letter to the American people explaining his views and the views of his regime regarding America, its values and US policy worldwide. We, the authors of this fourth letter to the American People, wish to respond to Tehran’s ruler and inform the public in both nations about the realities of Iran’s involvements in world crisis. We wish to create a better understanding between the American and Iranian peoples and between all Democracies and Democracy-loving societies for a better future.
On the disastrous Foreign Policy
Under President Ahmedinijad and since the so-called Khomeinist revolution, Iran’s foreign policy in the region and worldwide has been moving from one disaster to another. Instead of addressing the pressing socio-economic and cultural crisis in the country, a clan among the Mullahs grabbed power and dragged Iran into internal violence, Jihadi demagogy, destructive wars and Terrorism. The Oil revenues were diverted to buy weapons for new expansionist wars, creating HizbAllah in Lebanon and backing Terror groups worldwide. What did the regime’s foreign policy achieve for the Iranian people and for peace? Only disasters:
- The regime spent billions of dollars on acquiring weapons and equipping the Guardians of the Revolution (Pasdaran) and the Basij (regime’s militia) for the purpose of keeping the masses under oppression and intimidating neighboring countries.
- The regime sent hundreds million dollars to feed a Terrorist organization in Lebanon, endangering the country’s Shiia community and breaking its precarious community balance. Weapons were shipped to southern Lebanon to trigger bloody regional wars instead of
defending Iran’s national soil.
- The regime formed an axis with another oppressive regime in Syria, putting Iran at odds with the moderate Arab world and making Iran an associate in the brutalization of both Syrian and Lebanese Peoples.
- The regime funded Hamas and Islamic Jihad with the goal of taking over the Palestinian Authority and blocking any Peace Process between Arabs and Israel.
- The regime has since April of 2003, along with its axis partner, fueled insurrection and terror in neighboring Iraq, dragging its long oppressed Shiia community into sectarian tensions with the Sunnis and weakening the moderate and enlightened leadership of
Grand Ayatollah Sistani through the support for radical Muqtada al Sadr.
- The regime has been exporting its Terrorist foreign policy throughout the world. Argentina has indicted a number of officials in the bombings of 1993. Venezuela’s populist President, Hugo Chavez, is now the chief associate of Tehran’s rulers in his attempt to world instability.
- And worse of all, Iran’s regime and its head Ahmedinijad are challenging the world with irresponsible and dangerous nuclear projects that would bring disaster to the Iranian People and catastrophes to the region.
On the disastrous domestic policy
The regime in Tehran, and especially under Ahmedinijad, has been conducting disastrous policies towards the Iranian people, economy, cultures, and social well being. Since 1979, the overwhelming majority of Iranians, Persians and minorities alike, have been abandoned by their authorities to a miserable state of affairs. In addition to the suppression of freedoms and liberties, Iranians were deprived of the benefits of their nation’s rich resources, while a tiny ruling ideological faction lives in comfort and delusion.
The Iranian public continues to suffer from a fundamental suppression of basic rights, including political, social and cultural. The oppressive machine of the regime has physically eliminated any form of credible opposition. Political parties opposed to the Khomeinist rule are banned and their leaders executed. The country resembles Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia in the 20th century.
- Iranian women, the single largest social component of the Iranian nation, have been marginalized, suppressed and subjected to insulting status. As under the Taliban, but with cosmetics, half of the nation is obstructed from producing, expanding and creating its own talents.
- The youth of the country, generation after generation, are channeled into militarism and xenophobia instead of enabled to develop freely and constructively like their counter part around the world.
- The country’s economy is in ruin with the stretching of Iran’s oil industry into becoming a factory feeding wars and terror instead of prosperity and progress.Every sector in Iran is in decay and its socio-financial structure is in jeopardy, thanks to the Khamenei-Ahmedinijad agenda of state Jihadism, instead of social advancement.
We believe that Iran’s People deserve a better leadership and a better life, and that the region and the world deserve a better Iran. If there should be a change of direction in the Middle East it should start in Iran and with its regime.
- First, the Iranian regime should cease its intervention in Iraq and withdraw its operatives from the country.
- Second, the Iranian regime must stop its financial and military backing of HizbAllah in Lebanon, and withdraw its weapons deployed in that country. Tehran must spend the billions of dollars in aid to Mr Hassan Nasrallah on the poor people in Iran’s major cities and countryside.
- Third, the Iranian regime should eliminate all its support to international Terrorism and abrogate its military axis with the Syrian regime. It should stop its military adventures with North Korea and Venezuela, which are a threat to world peace.
- Fourth, the Iranian regime should comply with the international agreement on the nuclear industry and refrain from building a nuclear weapon.
- Fifth, the Iranian regime should reestablish democracy in Iran, accept the formation of free political parties, liberate women, and tolerate minorities’ cultures.
- Sixth, the Iranian regime should put the well being of all Iranians ahead of any state policy of aggression, expansion and intimidation.
We call on all Iranians, Middle Easterners, Americans and all democratic societies to join a global movement in support of Iran’s people in their quest to obtain the most important rights: self governance and freedom.
Dr Walid Phares Dr Behrooz Bahbudi
Senior Fellow President
Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Global Unity Partnership
PS: The article is published in the paper edition only
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dec 7, 2006
Iraqization is right, but surrendering to fascist regimes is wrong
Dec 5, 2006
friend, please find a special study, titled "Education versus Jihad," published as this month's cover story of HS Today, the monthly Magazine, Homeland Security Today. It summarizes my thoughts on the real battle in America's War on Terror and the recommendations I make to the US Government, both Administration and Congress - Walid Phares.
EDUCATION VERSUS JIHAD
Cover Story – HS Today November 2006 Vol. 3, No.11
By Walid Phares
In the few hours following the terrorist attacks on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, media in the United States began looking for answers. The very first series of questions asked by all was indicative of the state of mind of most Americans: “Why do they hate us?” Five years later, as we analyze the conflict from a homeland security and war on terrorism perspective, and probably years from now, when historians have had enough time to contemplate it, the bigger question regarding the 9/11 attacks will be: “Why didn’t Americans know?” Indeed, as I argued in my book Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America and the West, one of the most dramatic failures of US strategic defense against Al Qaeda on Sept. 11 and against the jihadist war against America during the 1990s was that neither the government nor the public knew they were at war and that a terrorist declaration of war had been in effect against America for years.
The central conclusion of the 9/11 Commission’s examination of the failure was that “Americans had a failure of imagination”—meaning that even if the US was better equipped technologically and more alert on intelligence levels, something was missing in the US resistance to terrorism. The commission was unable to comprehend why analysts, decision makers and leaders—even as information about fragments of threats poured in— didn’t conclude that there was an Al Qaeda offensive and, more dangerously, that a global jihadist war had been mobilizing forces around the world and within the West against democracies, in general, and America, in particular. One of the commissioners, during the summer 2004 hearings, asked repeatedly: “Why didn’t the US government acknowledge that a war was declared in 1996 and in 1998 against America?”
Many US leaders and commentators after him added: Why hadn’t we declared war back at them, before the attacks took place, if, indeed, the jihadists have been on the offensive for a decade?
These and other questions continue to haunt US counterterrorism strategists, legislators, security planners, academic researchers and, obviously, citizens at large. The weight of this inquiry is increasing, as the public knows that 9/11 wasn’t a single event in America’s history but, unfortunately and dramatically, a single benchmark in a series of past and future attacks and offensives against US interests worldwide and, more importantly, the national security of the homeland.
The eyes and ears of the American public and international public opinion have been absorbing the escalation of violence in acts and rhetoric by the various jihadist groups worldwide— from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Madrid to London—over the past five years since the Manhattan massacre. The speeches by Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and, lately, their American product, Adam Gadahn, as well as the fiery declarations by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad, if anything have showed that radical Islamists, regimes and organizations are massing resources to further attack not only the US presence overseas but, more worrisomely, America’s homeland.
Thus, with all this pressure on the country’s national security and its economic and demographic future, answering the basic questions since 9/11 becomes crucial. More and more of these fundamental questions are still lingering over matters related to homeland security, foreign policy, counterterrorism and justice: After “why do they hate us?” another question has been raised in the debate: “Who are they?”
Indeed, as we watch Al Qaeda undergoing a metamorphosis from a regime-protected network in Afghanistan to a landless web of branches around the world, the US and Europe are increasingly encountering a second-generation Al Qaeda and, even beyond it, what governments are now identifying as “homegrown” jihadists.
This troubling development of the enemy of 2001 into a hybrid of new shades of terrorists in 2006 is not really due to the changing nature of the threat but to the initial misunderstanding of its nature by Americans and democracies in general. For it is clear to connoisseurs of jihadism that mutation is one of its essential characteristics. It should also be understood that, given its ideology and history, jihadism, far from being a mere emotional reaction to American or other foreign policies, “is” by itself a movement with goals, strategies and changing tactics.
Unfortunately, most Americans weren’t enabled to absorb the basics of their rising enemy so that they could prepare, mobilize and win. But beyond the 911 Commission’s conclusion of a “failure in imagination,” I have argued, and continue to argue that the initial and structural failure of understanding is in western and, specifically, American education.
Here is why:
If you look at all incidents that involved intercepting, interpreting and learning about terrorism directed against America— specifically, the jihadist type—throughout the decade that preceded 911, you’ll realize that, in most cases, both overseas and domestically a black hole dominated the decision making process regarding both preemption of jihadism and consequences of falling to do so.
In 1993, the US government treated the Twin Towers attacks as “a police operation” with criminal ramifications, not as an operation by a worldwide jihadist movement. This gave the enemy eight years to prepare future attacks. In 1996, the takeover of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the war fatwa issued by Bin Laden were treated as matters of foreign policy.
In 1998, Al Qaeda’s second declaration of war and the subsequent attacks against the embassies in Africa were treated as terror strikes, but not as a war of ideas followed by a war of terror. After the failed attempt to attack airliners over the Pacific (the “Bojinka” plot) and the millennium conspiracies, came the USS Cole attack. During these years of jihadist offensives, the government was advised by experts and academics who dismissed jihadism as a threat and recommended the opposite of a US War on Terror—i.e., a demobilization of the forces facing this specific ideology.
But more dismaying was the fact that the public was not informed of the threats against the homeland, precisely because the classrooms, the backbone of the nation’s future, were misinformed and the talents graduating year after year were deprived of the right to learn about the threat and, therefore, to serve their government and nation proportionally to the menace.
American graduates of Middle East studies, history and security studies weren’t equipped with the right knowledge. Hence, their final professional destinations suffered from this miseducation. If one reviews the curriculum in place between 1980 (when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran) and 2001 (when Bin Laden attacked America), one can see an inexplicable and immense hole in teaching students about the roots, development, rise, logic, strategies, tactics, methodologies and literature of the movements that targeted the US during those two decades. It was an educational breach of historical dimension. Why did it happen?
THE WAR ON US EDUCATION: 1980s-1 990s
One of the major results of the 1973 oil crisis was the rise of a determination by many oil producing regimes that the West, in general, and the United States, in particular, “understand” the greater Middle East, the Arab and the Muslim world and, accordingly, design its policies toward those regimes and ideologies on the basis of this “understanding.”
OIL CLASSROOM NEWSROOM
As a result, millions of dollars were invested in American and European educational institutions as a way to “foster” this understanding. But instead of fostering an objective understanding or spreading impartial knowledge, the growing influence of Wahabism, an extreme form of Islam, and other such ideologies on the nation’s campuses played a dangerous role: Because of the ideological nature of the donors, the financed programs followed the guidelines of the donor regimes and organizations, which obviously narrowed research and teaching to issues remote from the major historical crisis in the region, other than the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. It removed all serious attention to the rise of Islamism, jihadism and even Baathism, as well as the deep ethnic and religious conflicts and the mass abuse of human rights in that part of the world.
A careful review of curricula and research projects established within the US educational system, both public and private, since the 1980s stunningly reveals that American classrooms were deprived of knowledge on social, historical, ethnic and ideological movements rising to challenge the United States. Moreover, as I taught comparative studies for over a decade and lectured on many campuses in the 1990s, I came to realize that defense, strategic and security studies were heavily influenced by “regional” studies when it came to identifying the backgrounds of international terrorist movements emerging from the greater Middle East and penetrating western societies. History and Middle Eastern studies had been corrupted by Wahabi and other funding with an impact on political science, international relations and, ultimately, defense and security studies across the land.
A thorough review of the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Middle East Studies Association of America, the International Studies Association, the Middle East Institute and other professional education associations, of the hundreds of books, publications, articles, talks and research grants distributed by Ivy League universities and other colleges lead to only one conclusion: The gap is immense. There are no traces of the roots of jihadism and its long-term objectives against democracies and the United States. Instead, prominent scholars produced an enormous amount of literature precisely deflecting scholars and students away from the most serious issues related to American defense and security after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The “hole” was so vast and the “deflection” (not to use the term “deception”) so wide that a systemic problem strode the field producing waves of effects into the professional worlds of the media and policy. An academic lobotomy led to an incapacitation of the public learning process about the national security threat and created a cultural crisis in perception. In short, if one isn’t taught about the political thinking of the enemy and his ideological objectives in the classroom, where else would one catch up?
MOLLIFICATION OF NATIONAL PERCEPTION
With this systemic crisis inside America’s educational system expanding during the 199 Os, a “mollification” of the national perception of the threat began. Deprived of the basic data and information about the terrorist threat, citizens were at the mercy of the elites’ debates. The latter, during the years leading to 9/11, were increasingly apologetic toward America’s most lethal enemies: Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists.
Despite the series of attacks, speeches and visible moves of radical jihadists worldwide, US national perception was blurred by the academic and educational deflection. Jihadism, for example, was described by leading “specialists,” many of whom have advised media and government for years, as a “theological experiment and spiritual phenomenon.”
Those who spread the doctrine of jihadism in America during the 1 990s had no counter check from the public or government, while even a minimal manifestation of Nazism, anti- Semitism or domestic violent racism was quickly countered. Clearly, Americans never lacked for imagination, but they were deprived of the necessary information.
THE WAR OF IDEAS AND DERAILMENT
OF NATIONAL ANALYSIS
When historians analyze the War on Terror in the near future, they will most likely look back at the war of ideas preceding 9/11 and understand the role academia played as a central battlefield leading to the weakening and defeat of the country, before it rose back in resistance. For if the fields of foreign policy, regional studies and international relations teaching—the most sensitive feeders for security and defense decision-making—were obsolete in identifying the “enemy,” all that is left to national security is the last shield, which is the hope that intelligence and counterterrorism sensors can catch the raiders at the doors or beyond the gates. And that’s what didn’t occur in 1993, 1998 and 2001.The terror offensive against America was preceded by a War of Ideas, blurring the eyes of the nation.
"Derailing National Analysis"
If intellectual blurring starts in classrooms, it soon reaches the newsrooms and, eventually, the intelligence rooms and war rooms. If young Americans are mistaught the ideology, political culture and intentions of the enemy while at school and in college, once graduated, they will carry this misperception with them as they find jobs and are recruited in all the layers of national analysis. Students enter the media, legislative research, security, intelligence, foreign policy, justice, think tanks and other sectors crucial for national decision making at the bottom levels and rise up to the ultimate positions.
By failing students in the classrooms, the educational system caused a national analysis failure: Media failed to report terrorism as it should have, impacting government’s various levels of policymaking; intelligence analysis, deprived of cultural understanding, saw the data but couldn’t put the bigger picture together; courts couldn’t process the concepts of terrorism beyond criminality; and, ultimately, both the legislative and executive branches were denied sound advice on the war already in progress against the country.
In conclusion, the failure in education led to a derailment of national analysis.
REACTION TO 911: HOMELAND SECURITY
The public and the political leadership had to react to 9111 by sheer instinct, both overseas and domestically, rather than rely on knowledgeable analysis. The War on Terror’s first counteroffensive took down the Taliban regime from Afghanistan. The second counteroffensive brought down Saddarn Hussein, but not without generating a severe and continuing debate on the Iraq war at home and internationally.
Here again, the past systemic educational crisis of the 1980s and 1990s deprived the public and even politicians from solid ground on which to engage in an educated discussion on Iraq, Al Qaeda, Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and beyond. Even though Americans have deep instincts regarding the “intentions” of the enemy, they surely rely on the expert elite to provide the objective and raw education and information about the foe—in this case, the totalitarian forces and the jihadists, in particular. That is the first current problem.
The second problem has to do with internal national security. Also by sheer instinct, America rushed to establish its Department of Homeland Security, a vital organ in the defense of the nation: The 19 perpetrators of 9/11, but also the dirty bomb maker; the Virginia palnt ball gang; the American fighters with Al Qaeda and the various US-born jihadists have all penetrated American national defense or been raised and tralned inside the homeland.
As detailed in Future Jihad, in one of the most extreme scenarios—parts of which are now coming to fruition—future jihads will launch as a result of the growth of the jihadist ideology inside the United States and a subsequent recruitment to action. Clearly, more jihadist terror is to be expected—not less—if only because the doctrinal factory is still working, with greater technological resources at its command.
Hence, the essence of homeland security resides in its ability to mobilize the public and its talents and isolate the wouldbe terrorists before they become actual terrorists and strike.
EDUCATION AND US HOMELAND SECURITY
As a result of the situation I have described, it is crucial for US homeland security to operate with a full understanding of the ideology and strategies of the terrorists, particularly those publicly threatening this nation and other democracies-the jihadist terrorists. But in order to win the War on Terror within the national territory, homeland security must be able to count on the public and its resources and talents. To make the point again: The real field of resistance to terror is in the wider national and local communities.
Isolation of the menace of terrorism starts within society. A more enlightened classroom will provide a more equipped society. Also, a more readied public will better understand and assist the ethnic communities struggling against terrorism. Instead of leaving extremists to take leadership of vulnerable communities, a better-educated liberal and anti-terrorist youth can help mobilize against it. On a national scale, Americans should be educated to identify the ideology instead of relying on negative ethnic stereotypes.
As a result of that intellectual empowerment, society could be the first line of defense against infiltration, penetration and potential urban warfare by the terrorists.
COUNTERING JIHADISM IN COURTS
The legal system is perhaps the most sensitive segment of the national resistance to jihadism. From the top of the pyramid to its bottom, tribunals, judges, defense lawyers, prosecutors and, more importantly, juries are critical to establishing a fair but educated processing of the terror cases as they arise.
Experienced in bringing expertise to courts in terrorism cases, I was able to pin down the weaknesses during the processing of jihadist-related material. Regardless of the procedural mishaps of the prosecution or the out-of-court maneuvers of defense lawyers, the fact is that lack of education has tripped up at least four of the players: the prosecution, the defense, the judges and—especially—the juries.
How can the latter, formed out of ordinary citizens, understand the content of jihadist material if they weren’t exposed to it while in school? How can citizens fathom the jihadist tactics such as taqiya (simulation of identity and behavior) if they were not exposed to it before? In fact, how can the juries reflect on basic concepts such as jihad against the infidels and genocidal attitudes? And how can they distinguish between committed radicals and law-breaking individuals uninterested in ideologies? Last but not least, as to the debate on monitoring terrorists within the country and civil liberties, educated and specialized judges are the real answer to the problem. But that basic education, so crucial to the judge’s thinking process, must start years earlier.
A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR: COUNTERTERRORISM EDUCATION
I strongly recommend rapid-pace reform of a specific segment of national education in the United States, with comparable application in other democracies around the world, in order to prepare society and national governments for better intellectual resistance to terrorism. These recommendations constitute a strategic plan for a national counterterrorism education:
1. Embrace the right of people to have access to a comprehensive education about the threat that has been and is facing the nation. That right is inalienable and universal. All citizens, not only those volunteering for the front lines, have the right to receive this education by the appropriate means and the most qualified parties.
2. Prepare the younger segment of the population for the global threat of terrorism as early as the cognitive process allows, with the help of qualified psychologists. A carefully structured program in homeland security has to be established to gradually prepare the students for national shocks, dramatic development and identification of threats. On the identity of the threat, middle and high school social studies classrooms should be introduced to the history and evolution of the enemy’s ideas. The objective is to enable teachers to answer students’ questions arising from the media and social environment.
3. Initiate the most dramatic reform at the level of colleges and universities so that courses on the War on Terror and home-land security are made available and integrated into concentrations, certificate and degree programs in these two fields.
4. Explain the roots of terrorism through courses in disciplines and fields crucial to the learning process regarding the War on Terror and homeland security, particularly courses in history, political science, international relations, comparative studies and all relevant cross-disciplinary fields. The explanations must include different perspectives, so that students are better prepared for a global understanding of the threat.
5. Significantly reform the field of Middle East studies, starting with a program protected from militant and ideological funding and relying on a balanced teaching of the region, its various problems, crises, identities, trends and ideologies. A sub-research field in jihadism studies must be established to serve as a focus for the study and analysis of the various movements related to jihadist terror doctrines.
6. Equip public libraries and institutions with adequate learning material focusing on the history and evolution of the terrorist threat, but also on the collective emergency efforts expected from the public to prevent or respond to terror attacks.
7. Initiate another series of measures to address one of the most severe problems in the United States: the spread of “terror apologist culture” through the publicly owned or dedicated media. Congress must rapidly request a comprehensive reform of the public media as a prelude to reforming public education. The Public Broadcasting Service, C- Span and National Public Radio must undergo a significant change in content and focus to provide balanced material regarding the terror threat. This reform is owed to the public as part of its right to reliable information related to the crucial issues of security and survival.
8. Direct federal grants related to national security and foreign affairs toward providing support to educational projects, non-governmental organizations, private think tanks, publications and other efforts aimed at educating and informing the public on these issues.
9. Broadcast and publish for societies worldwide information about democracy and pluralism to combat terrorist ideologies. Congressionally funded Al Hurra TV and Radio Sawa should also be able to air special educational programs regarding these topics.
It is a fact that America’s homeland security is highly dependent on the US educational system. Terrorists use knowledge to harm this nation and other democracies in the name of their ideology. And knowledge is what Americans and other civil societies need to resist terrorism and reach a secure and peaceful end to this ongoing conflict.
WALID PHARES is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the director of its Future Terrorism Project. He is also a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy and a professor of comparative politics. He is the author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies aqainst America, published by Palgrave/McMillan, New York and London, November 2005. An international paperback version, Terrorist Strategies against the West, has just been released. Phares@walidphares.com
Phares Op Ed: HizbAllah's Offensive in Lebanon: Day Three
By Phares Op Ed
Dec 3, 2006, 22:49
HizbAllah's offensive in Lebanon: Day Three
On the third day of HizbAllah's campaign to takeover the Lebanese Government, more sectors from civil society began to rise. But they weren't rising with the pro-Iranian militia in as much as they were rising to oppose its move. However on the other hand, it was further noticed that a number of Western media increased their support to Nasrallah's organization.
From Saturday late night into the early hours of the morning, more incursions by HizbAllah's elements were signaled inside the traditional Sunni West Beirut. A battle with rocks took place in many streets leaving a number of wounded and one HizbAllah militiaman dead. The Iranian-backed militants staged their "thrusts" into Sunni areas from their launching pad in the "protest" areas in downtown, commonly described as the "coup d'Etat" basis. According to sources in the Lebanese Army, the gradual "coup" is taking place with a minute preparation coordinated by the Iranian embassy in Beirut. A "War room," including HizbAllah, Syrian intelligence, President Lahoud's secret services, Baath Party, Syrian National-Socialists and representatives from General Michel Aoun's group, is directing the campaign.
On the political level, the single most important development is the decision made by the March 14 movement and the Cedars Revolution leaders to "move the headquarters of the Government to Mount Lebanon if the Syro-Iranian militias would overrun the Prime Minister's office." Such a decision means that the Seniora cabinet and the leaders of the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon will resist the onslaught of HizbAllah's forces and would eventually call on the people to oppose the coup d'Etat. In Washington and Paris, Governmental sources said that bringing down the Government outside the Parliament is a red line. In New York, the Security Council members, particularly the US and French delegations have clearly signified their rejection of a violent crumbling of a democratically elected cabinet. This view is widely shared by the majority of Arab moderate countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.
A new development occurred overseas as the leaders of the Lebanese Diaspora declared their "rejection of HizbAllah's aggression against Lebanon's civil society," as they signed a joint declaration published by multiple web sites as well as as-Siyassa and al Muharer. Joe Baini, the Sydney-based President of the World Council of Cedars Revolution said "we're 12 million Lebanese in 32 countries and we are the numeric overwhelming majority of the Lebanese people." In a letter addressed to the Lebanese Diaspora, Baini said "we are warning Iran and Syria not to interfere in Lebanese affairs, and we are warning HizbAllah not to clash with the Lebanese people. We, the overseas majority of Lebanese, who maintain the economic lifeline to Lebanon, will not accept the Terror action by a minority of radicals who take their orders from Tehran and Damascus." It is to note that the "Lebanese lobby", as it is known worldwide played a critical role in the calling for and making of UNSCR 1559 in 2004, which ordered Syria to withdrawal from the country and asked HizbAllah to disarm.
In the battlefield of media, more indications are developing about the HizbAllah propaganda influence. Media watchers out of Lebanon and overseas have noticed the circulation of "stories" by a support network to the pro-Iranian organization, attempting to depict the developments in Lebanon as taking place between a militant group and a Government backed by militias. This war of ideas, launched by the "War room" in Beirut, is financed –according to leaders from the Cedars Revolution- by "huge amount of Iranian Petro-dollars." Roger Azzam, an NGO activist in Lebanon said "the treasury of the Islamic Republic in Tehran is fully open for this battle." Azzam said "millions of dollars have been allocated to feed all needs such as establishing a new TV station in Lebanon and taking care of media people both in Lebanon and worldwide. The Iranians we hear have hired PR companies around the world to win the public opinion battle." In Canada, the chairman of the Lebanese Human Rights committee said "we see some of the HizbAllah propaganda influence even here." Elias Bejjani indicated for example an article in the Globe and Mail daily in Toronto which title is revealing: "West help Lebanon build militia to fight HezbAllah." Mark McKinnon, the author of the article, wrote that the Internal Security Forces (ISF) is a "militia," backed by the United States, France and Arab countries. The journalist, according to Lebanese Bloggers, was trying to "sneak a new twist in the ongoing conflict in Lebanon: that is to portray the Lebanese regular police as a militia equivalent to the Terror group HizbAllah." In fact the article said: "Critics charge that the force is dominated by Sunnis, and that its real purpose is to defend the government of Mr. Siniora, a Sunni, against the growing power of the country's large Shia population." Toni Nissi, an NGO leader working on implementing UN resolutions, said "the article is a piece of propaganda aiming at creating a mindset worldwide that a civil war is in the making between Shiia and Sunnis in Lebanon, just to make the point that democracy can't work in this country." Nissi said the ISF existed for decades, this is Lebanon's internal security force; and indeed it is its duty to defend the people and the Government against the Terrorists of HizbAllah. "We're stunned that Canadian newspapers want to equate legal authorities with Terrorism."
On another front, next steps by HizbAllah may include the introduction of Syrian intelligence in the covert operations battle against the Government. Sources in the Lebanese army told Cedars Revolution leaders that "hundreds of armed elements have been crossing the international borders between Syria and Lebanon with sophisticated individual weapons." Lebanese and Arab newspapers said over the week end that dozens of trucks have crossed the borders and headed to HizbAllah's bases in southern Beirut and the Bekaa valley. "All indicate, said Walid Jumblat, the Socialist Druse leader, "that the Iranians and the Syrians are staging a coup."
Dr Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of Future Jihad. Phares@walidphares.com
Phares Op Ed: "HizbAllah's Offensive in Lebanon: Day Two"
By Phares Op Ed
Dec 3, 2006, 01:29
HizbAllah's Offensive in Lebanon: Day Two
By Walid Phares
In its second day, HizbAllah’s offensive in Lebanon against the democratically elected Government has maintained pressures on various levels. Following are the main axis of activities:
By mid week end, several thousands of HizbAllah’s members, cadres and officers have settled inside downtown Beirut, surrounding the Prime Minister’s office. The militia erected dozens of tents in a military fashion, with 30 fighters in each tent. Sources from the Lebanese Army described the “deployment” of the tents as a bivouac-maneuvering of about three brigades, “clearly following the Iranian military code,” said the sources. By late Saturday evening early Sunday morning, the Lebanese Army was able to move a number of these tents to the sides opening a path to the Government building.
(HizbAllah's military tents)
However, security sources noted that HizbAllah’s units are positioning themselves in several circles around the center of Beirut. There are no weapons apparent but according to observers, the “demonstrators” can be armed in less than three hours and “become” the equivalent of half a “division” in the downtown area and close to a division inside Sunni Beirut.
Sunni resistance begins
In the early hours of Saturday through the first hours of Sunday, several incidents took place between HizbAllah’s cells moving into several neighborhoods in mostly Sunni West Beirut, and between local Sunni youth. In most of these urban clashes, with clubs and stones, HizbAllah’s members withdrew to their quarters in downtown and the southern suburbs. Observers believe these incidents were a sort of testing on behalf of HizbAllah’s military command to assess the level of “popular resistance” against its stretching inside Muslim Beirut. It is to note that Sunni areas have been displaying more opposition to Nasrallah’s militia in more than one area. More noticeably in the Eastern Bekaa where entire villages such as Kamed al Lawz and surrounding areas have erupted in small demonstrations against the pro-Iranian coalition. Also in Tripoli, and despite the presence of some solid pro-Syrian Sunni influence, anti-HizbAllah manifestations are taking place.
Shiite moderates appear
Interestingly, more moderate Shiite voices are emerging against Nasrallah’s power and in support of the Lebanese Government and its supporters. In addition to the prominent Shiite Mufti of Tyre Ali al Amine, the spiritual leader of the Shiites in Jabal Amel, core of south Lebanon’s community, a newly formed “Free Shiite Coalition” led by the intrepid Sheikh Mohammed al Haj Hassan is calling on the Shiites to rejects the “orders by Ahmedinijad to wreck havoc in Lebanon.” In a strong speech aired worldwide on internet Saturday night, Sheikh called on the international community to assist the Lebanese people against the terror threat, HizbAllah. This is the boldest call by a Shiia cleric against Iran’s influence in Lebanon. Sunni spiritual leaders have already voiced their opposition to the “Syro-Iranian aggression” against the Government. Lebanon’s national Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani extended his support to the Cedars Revolution backed Seniora Government yesterday and insisted on praying inside the Prime Minister’s office while HizbAllah was encircling the government building. On his part the Mufti of Mount Lebanon, Mohamed Ali al Juzu attacked Hassan Nasrallah accusing him of taking orders from Iran and targeting the independence of Lebanon.
Mufti al Amine
Sheikh Haj Hassan
Next HizbAllah’s moves
The latest information released by the Lebanese security sources and published in the Arab press on Sunday morning, and detailed by the Kuwaiti daily as Siyassa says HizbAllah was planning on shutting down Beirut airport, possibly its port and large segments of the basic public services such as electricity and water. A memo sent by Nasrallah to his supporters inside the security and police forces asked them to withdraw and join the ranks of the “movement against the Government.”
Media tilting noted
On the media level, the campaign unleashed by HizbAllah widened on al Manar TV and was supported by Syria’s press and audiovisual as well as Iran’s. Al Jazeera is backing the crumbling of the Lebanese Government by “projecting” that the cabinet will fall, despite indicators that the popular majority in Lebanon backs it. But the most interesting development is the gradual editorial twist in most of the news agencies distributing information around the world indirectly towards HizbAllah. In fact, the choice of words in the reports issued by Reuters, AP and UPI indicates that they are increasingly portraying the HizbAllah’s campaign as “an opposition movement against a Government refusing to accept its demands.” These mother ships of international media, that feeds thousands of newspapers and audiovisual networks around the world, have for example pushed the number of the demonstrators as “close to 800,000 persons,” or as they put it “one quarter of Lebanon’s population.” While in reality, researchers in Lebanon, measuring the space these demonstrations took place in, cannot absorb more than 250,000 persons. A quarter of a million people is a large number but compared to the 1.5 million people gathered by the Cedars Revolution indicates clearly to social demographers, that HizbAllah, with the support of Syria, Iran, the radical Palestinians, cannot muster a popular support greater than one sixth of the majority. But many sectors in the international media are tilting towards producing pro-HizbAllah’s trends. A reporter for Time wrote that “what he saw was a reverse of the Cedars Revolution,” using words uttered by the organizers of the pro-Iranian move. “It is not so difficult to understand,” said a human rights activist in Beirut, “HizbAllah has done a great job in influencing many correspondents on the ground. With Iranian logistics, its operatives can provide all what a journalist can dream of. Unfortunately also,” said the NGO observer, “many HizbAllah media cadres have found their way into being recruited by some media. You wouldn’t believe where these infiltrations have reached,” he said. Bloggers in Beirut have begun to monitor the HizbAllah’s penetration of international media as the reporting has been drifting towards promoting the pro-Iranian militia.
Lebanese facing alone
Prime Minister Siniora
As the third day of the offensive begins, HizbAllah and its allied are bracing for bolder moves to take over the Lebanese Government. Out of Egypt, President Mubarak warned from more dramatic steps HizbAllah would take, leading to a blood shed. In New York, US ambassador Bolton warned from a Terror war against Lebanon. And in Beirut, the unarmed civil society of the country fears the worse: Being left with a democratically elected cabinet they are proud of, they feel they are facing, alone, the world’s most dangerous Terror forces: the combined power of Ahmedinijad, Assad and Nasrallah
Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of Future Jihad. He was one of the architects of UNSCR 1559.
After serious warnings delivered by HezbAllah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah since early November, the generalized offensive to bring down the Cedars Revolution-backed Government has begun. As of the early hours of Friday December 1, 2006, thousands of HizbAllah members and pro-Syrian militants took the streets of Beirut, hurdling from all Lebanese areas. The demonstrators started a series of sit-ins around the offices of Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and in other surrounding neighborhoods and public places to “suffocate the cabinet into resignation or collapse” as Lebanese sources said. Following are bullet points to be updated as events will develop:
Pro HizbAllah Hassan Nasrallah Michel Aoun Bashar Assad
HizbAllah has mobilized all its membership as well as all persons on payrolls of the organization and in the various bureaucracies controlled by the pro-Iranian militia. In addition, the entire pro-Syrian movements in the country such as the Baath, National-Socialist Syrian Party, and politicians such as Michel Aoun, Omar Karame, Sleiman Frangieh and others. Added to this list, pro-Syrian and Jihadi elements from the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. And since the Lebanese-Syrian borders haven't been sealed by a multinational force, loads of buses carrying members of the Syrian Baath, have been crossing the international frontier to join the anti-Government rally. The total number of the participants would be calculated as equivalent to the pro-Syrian March 8, 2005 demonstration led by HizbAllah then plus an undetermined number of Palestinian and Syrian elements. And since General Aoun shifted from the Cedars Revolution to an open alliance with HizbAllah few months ago, a number of his hard-core followers are expected to join the crowd.
The political objectives of the "offensive" is to paralyze the Fuad Seniora Government from performing the following tasks: One, is to block the passing of the international tribunal (in the Hariri assassination) law in the Lebanese Parliament in the next two weeks. The Syrian-Iaranian strategy is to block the meetings of the Lebanese cabinet and the Lebanese legislative assembly for as long as needed to crumble this bill. Two, is to force the Seniora cabinet to resign or to accept the inclusion of pro-Syrian ministers so that any decision to disarm HizbAllah would be killed inside the Government. Three, is to crumble the UNSCR 1559 and the relations between Lebanon and the United Nations in general and the US and France in particular. In short a return of the Syrian-Iranian domination in Lebanon.
The media campaign by HizbAllah and its allies worldwide focuses on portraying the "battle" as one between an "opposition" and a "Government," while in reality it is between an Iranian-backed militia receiving $300 millions annually and has about 20,000 missile on the one hand and a democratically selected Government by a democratically elected Parliament in which HizbAllah and its allies are a minority. And to break up he international unity behind the Cedars Revolution, the "axis" is directing its operatives and supporters worldwide to state that the demonstrations are "anti-American," and when possible anti-Bush. While in reality the US legislation known as "Syrian accountability act" was launched by Democrats in 2003, and that the UNSCR 1559 was initiated by France and that the international investigation missions were headed by a German then a Belgian judges, nevertheless the "architects" of the Syro-Iranian "offensive" in Lebanon want the international media to use the words "anti-American" protests instead of pro-Syrian or pro-Iranian moves. Indeed the war of words will determine how the events will be framed in the next few days and weeks. For many in the international media elite haven't yet "digested" the fact that the Cedars Revolution has risen without an American support in money or military aid. And that the Lebanese democracy movement is genuinely indigenous, with left wing and right wing united against a "foreign occupier," the Syrians, and an Iranian-supported Terror organization, HizbAllah. But this “oil” influenced network of “pens” inside many news distribution rooms is attempting desperately to force the slogan “anti-American demonstration" as a way to break the international unity behind Lebanese democracy and dubbing the Cedars Revolution as “American” while portraying HizbAllah as a regular “opposition” group.
The “ground” objectives
The longer aim of these movements however is to perform a penetration by HizbAllah and other pro-Syrian forces inside the areas under the control of the Lebanese government. According to inside sources, between five to ten thousand HizbAllah fighters have been mobilized to “organize the security of the demonstrators.” This means that the equivalent of one "Iranian division" will be entering Beirut from the southern suburb and deploying in downtown and in areas adjacent to the strategic Damascus road. In addition elements from the radical SSNP (the Greater Syria National-Socialist movement), who are believed to have been behind a number of political assassinations, as well as hundreds of Syrian special forces camouflaged as supporters of HizbAllah are already inside the city. According to security in Lebanon, all roads leading into Beirut with the exception of the north will be under the control of these “forces.” The regular Lebanese Army has received orders by its commander to deploy between the “demonstrators” and the official buildings. While the “core” of the Army follows the institution significant numbers of troops and many officers are either HizbAllah members or follow its instructions. Hence, according to Lebanese Army officers (names not to be disclosed) “when and if the time will come, no one will really know how many will join the Iranian-Syrian axis against the Government.”
For now, the HizbAllah offensive has begun: The infantry has moved in unarmed, yet..
Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. He is the author of Future Jihad: Terrorist strategies against the West. Dr Phares was one of the architects of UNSCR 1559.
The assassination of Lebanese Christian politician Pierre Gemayel this Tuesday has revealed that the Tehran-Damascus axis remains busy with terror activities across the Fertile Crescent.
When UN Security Council resolution 1559 passed in 2004, reaffirming Lebanon's political independence and calling for the withdrawal of the Syrian occupation army and the disarming of Hezbollah, Syria's Ba'athist regime pledged heavy retribution against those Lebanese who would dare join the international campaign for freedom triggered by the U.S.-led War on Terror.
Damascus has kept its promise. In the fall of 2004, a former minister from the Druze community, Marwan Hamade, was targeted with a car bomb. While Hamade survived, Rafiq Hariri, the former Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon, was not so fortunate. On February 14, 2005, he was killed in an explosion orchestrated by highly trained terrorists.
Hamade attempt Hariri assassination
Dozens of Lebanese civilians were also killed and maimed in the blast. This prompted thousands, mostly students, to take to the streets and demand the withdrawal of Syrian forces and the end of the occupation of their country. In response, Syria ordered the Lebanese Army, via the pro-Syrian government headed by Prime Minister Omar Karami, to send in troops to shut down the "Lebanese intifada."
The Lebanese people refused to be intimidated. As the world watched on television, the youth of Lebanon, soon joined by the masses of the country, painted the colors of freedom on their faces and marched through the lines of Lebanese soldiers. Women first, boys behind, and the elderly following, they crossed into downtown Beirut in an inspiring illustration of national defiance. One and a half million people marched through the capital and the suburbs in what came to be known as the "Cedar Revolution."
The Cedars Revolution
Instead of authoritarianism and religious fundamentalism, the Lebanese longed for freedom and peace. Given political freedom, the Lebanese -- Sunnis, Druze and Christians, along with a growing number of Shiite moderates -- emerged as majorities in the country's government, including in municipalities, student unions, and parliament.
It was a powerful slap in the faces of Syria's Bashar Assad and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both disliked the emerging democratic forces. Hence, cooperation solidified between Tehran and Damascus. In partnership with their common client, Hezbollah, the two regimes launched a campaign to kill the idea of Middle Eastern freedom in its infancy.
Qassir assassination Hawi assassination Chidiac attempt Tueni assassination
In the summer of 2005, progressive Lebanese leaders George Hawi and Samir Qassir were assassinated. Journalist May Chidiac was maimed by a bomb. In December the bright, young and promising Jubran Tueni, a member of the Lebanese Parliament and publisher of the daily an Nahar, was killed. Hezbollah lured others, such as General Michel Aoun, into cooperation. During the winter and spring of 2005, Nabih Berri, the pro-Syrian speaker of the Parliament, played the role of Don Corleone, inviting the senior political leaders of the country to what the mafia calls a "sit down." After weeks of sterile talks, the "loaded dialogue" failed.
Ahmedinijad Assad Nasrallah Lahoud
But the effects of the intimidation campaign were palpable. The government of Fouad Siniora hesitated to call for U.N. implementation of resolution 1559. Non-governmental organizations who appealed for action on this front were informed that the fear was too great. "Hezbollah is up to terrible things," Lebanese-Americans told the bipartisan committees in the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration. Lebanese memos to the United Nations stated: "The country has been taken hostage."
This prophecy was soon realized when Hezbollah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah, with Machiavellian success, dragged Lebanon and Israel into a surprise war this past July. For Nasrallah, the war was an opportunity, a chance to reassert himself as a "legitimate" player in Beirut and destroy the gains of the people's revolution. For Iran and Syria, it was a chance to undermine the newly independent Lebanese government. For the majority of Lebanese, it was a nightmare. They did not want a war, let alone a regional one.
By the end of October 2006, Hezbollah and its allies felt confident enough to launch a new bid for power. Nasrallah rallied his troops in the suburbs of Beirut, urging them to arm for the coming urban jihad. Thousands of militiamen, as well as the Syrian Mukhabarat intelligence service and possibly suicide bombers, were tasked to invade the capital.
Hezbollah Syrian National-Socialists Syrian security officers
Mukhabarat' operatives were readied to cut off water and electricity and to surround Lebanese police stations. Hezbollah also demanded that Prime Minister Siniora's government recant its decision to accept the UN Tribunal investigation of Rafik Hariri's assassination. It was expected that the ensuing indictment would touch high-ranking officials in the Syrian regime, Hezbollah's patron. Also discernible was the influence of Iran. If the Syrian regime were to be weakened, so too would be the Iran-Syria axis, leaving the mullahs alone in the Middle East. The Lebanese democrats had to go.
If Iran and Syria had any doubts about their strategy of destabilization, the midterm elections in the United States dispelled them. On November 7, the opposition party in the United States grabbed both houses of Congress. Although an unremarkable feature of American and Western politics, this shift in power was read by Iranian and Syrian elites as a collapse of American determination to defend democracies in the region. Ayatollah Khamenei declared: "The defeat of Bush in Congress is a victory for us." He was echoed in Lebanon by Hassan Nasrallah: "America is being defeated and is leaving the region. Those who worked with the US will pay the price."
Further reinforcing suspicions in Tehran and Damascus, the Iraq Study Group, headed by presidential advisor James Baker, is slated to recommend next month that Washington backtrack from its policy of promoting democracy in order to cut deals with…Iran and Syria.
On the basis of these developments, Iran and Syria concluded that the time was ripe to strike a punishing blow against democratic forces. But Lebanese leaders moved first. They emphasized that they would go to the UN and lead the masses into the streets against foreign interference in Lebanese politics. Calculating the numbers of the opposition, the "axis" commanders in Lebanon shifted tactics. Instead of sending in troops, a decision was made to send in the death squad to "mollify" the resistance.
Unlike the warlords and senior politicians, the 34-year-old MP acted like a head of a happy family, with a wife and children. He drove his own car in the middle of the most dangerous urban areas, and socialized with neighbors, partisans and friends. He was living the life he was struggling to defend: one of peace, freedom and democracy. It was abruptly ended on Tuesday. Two vehicles blocked Pierre Gemayel's car, while several assassins shot the young leader "execution style."
Gemayel is dead, but, as his younger brother Sami told his friends, "The march continues." On these shores, the question arises: What should be done?
The answer is clear. The United States and the new Congress must be implacable in resisting the onslaught of terror and fascism in the Middle East. When cynical politicians, interest groups and apologist academics call for the appeasement of Iran and Syria, resist them. When a population is endangered and its leadership is being eliminated, assist them. Will the new Washington rise to the occasion?
Dr Walid Phares is a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the author of the newly released book Future Jihad. Dr Phares was one of the architects of UNSCR 1559
In the Front Page Magazine Walid Phares writes about the terrorist assassination of Pierre Gemayel. "The assassination of Lebanese Christian politician Pierre Gemayel this Tuesday has revealed that the Tehran-Damascus axis remains busy with terror activities across the Fertile Crescent." In Washington Times he states: "Al Qaeda and its advisers around the world want to provoke an "American Madrid." Portraying the United States as a bleeding bull in disarray, the war room projects its wish to see America's will crippled." In HS Today November Issue Walid Phares has a cover story "Education Versus Jihad". In the San Francisco Chronicle Phares was quoted on U.N. investigation of the last year murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus ."Any indictment of any Syrian official ... any implication of any Syrian intelligence officer will basically lead to indicting morally and politically the regime," Phares said".
MSNBC, November 21, 2006
Dr. Walid Phares
Dr. Walid Phares: Hariri Assassination Deja Vu