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Sunday, January 21, 2007

'Don't buy Nasrallah's claims'

'Don't buy Nasrallah's claims'
Al-Mustaqbal newspaper criticizes Nasrallah's statements of victory
following IDF Chief Halutz's resignation, while crisis in Lebanon
deteriorates, with general strike on the way
Roee Nahmias YNET shed: 01.20.07, 23:28,7340,L-3354734,00.html

Immediately following the announcement of Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's resignation , the Hizbullah organization stated that this was clear proof of it's victory over Israel.

Fireworks were seen flying over Beirut's skies and the very next day Hizbullah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah gave a three hour interview on his organization's television network al-Manar, in which he declared all the while that this was a testimony of his victory.

Nonetheless, not everyone in Lebanon has bought Nasrallah's statements. On Saturday, political observer Fares Khashan published his response to Nasrallah's claims of victory in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal.

"Hizbullah cannot sell the Lebanese people Dan Halutz's head, especially since his resignation came more than five months after the destructive war that he led against Lebanon.

These are political claims that no one is buying, and not just because it won't bring back the dead, the bridges, the work, the economic growth and the faith that was lost in the country, but also because the Israelis didn't get rid of Halutz just to replace him, but to bring a military personality who is more determined and active in regards to Lebanon, in case the war comes knocking again," Khashan wrote.

"Halutz's resignation does not help Hizbullah, but puts Lebanon in serious danger yet again, since the Israeli army, that pushed Halutz to resign, has emphasized its slogan of being 'unbeatable'. The Israelis demanded that whoever could not lead the war give up his post to someone who could get a decisive victory on Lebanese soil. Meaning Israel did not admit that its army's failure was a result of Hizbullah's force, but that it was a result of Israeli mistakes."

These harsh criticisms should be taken with caution.  Since the Al-Mustaqbal newspaper is owned by the Hariri family - Nasrallah's most stubborn political rival - it does not necessarily represent general opinions throughout the country.

Still, this publication brings up many interesting points in a very popular and influential Lebanese newspaper.

'We didn't win in '82, and we did't win now'

During his interview, Nasrallah admitted that "despite the enemy's many faults, it has some virtues, like the ability to resign or terminate anyone who has not properly fulfilled their role."

Nasrallah said this referring to the democracy in Israel, and used this statement to sting Siniora's government which has not been "fulfilling the people's will."

The writer Khashan however, used Nasrallah's own words against him, stating that: "If the Lebanese were given the right to question Hizbullah's leadership, according to the same criteria customary in Israel, this leadership would have to pay a heavy price."

Nasrallah also quoted Israeli media, and criticized Lebanese media affiliated with Siniora's government in his interview.

Khashan responded to this saying "the Israeli media took a great part in criticizing the military performance and political leadership such that Hizbullah began talking about its achievements 'in the Hebrew language.' However, the Lebanese media placed its head in the guillotine of treason for trying to support Hizbullah's military performance."

Khashan ended his article with a firm assertion saying that it is clear that the Lebanese people should not be thanking Hizbullah for getting rid of Halutz, since Israel is able to get rid of poor war commanders and 'cleanse' itself of failures, while Lebanon on the other hand has been unable to do so, and bounces from one disaster to another.

"In 1982 the 'Palestinian revolution' in Lebanon was not maintained when Ariel Sharon was dismissed from his role as defense minister, and in 2007, you cannot say that Hizbullah has triumphed and made Lebanon safe just because Halutz resigned."

Opposition to paralyze Lebanon
The criticism being voiced in Lebanon is based on a deteriorating political crisis in the country. Lebanon's opposition, lead by the Hizbullah party, announced that it will call a comprehensive general strike on Tuesday.

An opposition source said "complete paralysis will afflict the country including the main, essential, public facilities, among them the port and the airport."

The timing of the strike is no coincidence, but will come two days before an international donor conference in Paris which Western-backed Prime Minister Fouad Siniora hopes will bring billions of dollars of aid to an economy reeling from Hizbullah's July-August war with Israel.

The planned strike is not the only indication of deterioration in the country. Lebanese newspaper Annahar reported that the government's ministers were advised to take extreme safety precautions for fear of assassinations.

Things have not been quiet on the religious scene either. Lebanese Mufti Muhammad Ali Al-Jozo, a well known critic of Hizbullah, said: "We will avenge Lebanon's dead and settle the score with all those involved for what they have done to this homeland," referring of course not to Israel, but to Hizbullah.

The Druze leader in Lebanon, Walid Junblat reiterated his warning against selling land to Hizbullah this week, for fear of "Shiite settlements" being formed, that would alter the demographic balance in Lebanon.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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