Dramatic developments took place last week in Lebanon as Hizbollah brought down the government whilst the Prime Minister was out-of-town: just the latest in its continued attempts to prevent the conclusions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon from being implemented.
It is, of course, too early to predict and foolish to speculate what will happen in long- beleaguered Lebanon, but there is one scenario which can be placed right at the bottom of a list of possible outcomes, and that is the likelihood of a war between Israel and Lebanon. Unless Hizbollah deliberately leaves Israel no choice – for example if Israeli civilians are targeted as was the case in 2006 – there is no reason that these latest internal Lebanese developments should lead to cross-border conflict
It therefore seemed rather strange that CiF should choose to publish an article by Nicholas Noe on January 14th which totally ignores the internal aspects of the current crisis in favour of an elaborate hypothesis detailing why, if conflict does break out, it will be anyone and everyone’s fault except that of Hizbollah.
This isn’t the first time that Noe has predicted similar doom and gloom on the pages of CiF; in fact lately he appears to get wheeled out whenever there is some sort of crisis in Lebanon in order to promote the anti-American and anti-Israeli line. Noe’s impressive ability to ignore the objective facts at hand in favour of almost superstitious speculations may be somewhat easier to comprehend if one takes into account that he’s the founder and editor-in-chief of ‘Mideastwire’, and also runs Arabic language courses for foreign students in Beirut, the highlight of which are visits to Hamas and Hizbollah HQs.
“When Amtissal signed up to learn Arabic in Beirut, she was in for a bonus: class trips to the offices of Hezbollah and Hamas, both classified as terrorist organizations by her native America.
“It was an amazing experience,” the U.S. media studies graduate told AFP. “We saw the difference between television and reality.”
For 21-year-old Andrew Waller, the Beirut Exchange was a golden opportunity to hear the voices of groups he had only read about.
“Meeting Hezbollah was an experience I really treasure,” said Waller, an economics student at the University of Exeter in Britain.”
So given that Nicholas Noe’s commercial interests obviously depend to some extent upon remaining in the good books of the Iranian proxies Hamas and Hizbollah, it is interesting to examine the narrative which he – in co-operation with ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ – is promoting in order to prepare the minds of Guardian readers for another outbreak of Hizbollah-initiated hostility. Dismissing the complex subject of internal civil unrest in Lebanon, Noe charges straight in with a second paragraph which Guardian readers can easily accommodate into their world view:
“Unfortunately, despite the worrying prospect of yet another political deadlock made worse by forthcoming indictments from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, something far worse than even domestic violence is moving rapidly into focus: another, perhaps climactic, conflict between Hezbollah and Israel.”
Once their attention is clearly focused on the subject that Noe wishes to promote, he goes on with dumbed-down versions of history of the kind one encounters so often on CiF.
“Eleven years ago, a peace agreement between Syria and Israel – that would have led to the disarmament of Hezbollah given the 30,000 Syrian troops in the country – fell apart because, as Israel’s top negotiator on Lebanon and Syria, Maj General Uri Sagi, subsequently explained, President Bill Clinton “lied” to the dying Syrian president, Hafez Assad, about having a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in his pocket (including up to the north-eastern shoreline of Lake Tiberius), and Israeli premier Ehud Barak got electoral “cold feet” about giving back the last 100m or so of territory.”
Would a peace agreement between Syria and Israel in fact have led to the disarmament of Hizbollah? One can only speculate because whilst at the time Syria was the de facto ruler of Lebanon, this theory ignores both the fact that Hizbollah is primarily controlled and financed by Iran, as well as the issue of relations between Iran and Syria. In any case, it is useless today to consider what might have happened; such theorizing has no bearing on the current situation as circumstances have changed dramatically over the past decade.
Quoting a far-Left fringe website run by some of Israel’s leading delegitimisers, Noe attempts to imply that negotiations between Israel and Assad senior broke down due to the fact that Israel would not agree to relinquish the entire Golan Heights. However, as anyone familiar with the area is aware, the subject of borders in the region is a complicated one which Noe obviously prefers not to address in full.
In addition, Noe presents the issue of an Israeli/Syrian peace agreement in such simplistic terms that he completely ignores the subject of domestic Syrian politics and power struggles which, as pointed out by Major-General (res) Giora Eiland in 2009 in a paper well worth a read, are issues of prime influence.
“Hafiz al-Assad and his son Bashar have predicated their rule on the support of the Alawite community that constitutes only 14 percent of the Syrian population. The Sunni majority (80 percent) despises them, defines that rule as illegitimate, and is awaiting the moment to exact vengeance for the severe repression that they have suffered.”
“Should a Sunni revolution occur in Syria, particularly if it is carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood, it is totally unclear that the new regime will honor any agreement that was made by the ‘apostate’ Bashar al-Assad.”
“Indeed, a peace agreement with Israel could serve as a catalyst for this revolution. Hafiz al-Assad and Bashar rule Syria with the aid of emergency security laws whose existence is justified by the ‘Israeli aggression’. If peace was made with Israel, this excuse would disappear and it would be hard for the regime to continue to repress the Sunnis in the same manner.”
Next, after peppering his article with a few anti-Americanisms, Noe comes up with this gem:
“Then, in July 2006, the Bush administration encouraged the Israelis to turn what was properly a border incident into a full-scale attempt at smashing Hezbollah. Neither the US nor Israel was materially prepared for such a conflict and the idea of smashing a broad sub-section of the Lebanese population (the Shia) was ridiculous in any case.
Far from ending the problem, that action helped to accelerate the ongoing reduction in the deterrent power and prestige of both Israel and the US.”
Yes – according to Noe the second Lebanon war had nothing to do with 4,000 Hizbollah missiles raining down on Israeli citizens – a fact he conveniently forgets to include in his warped narrative. Instead he conjures up mythical American influence, malevolently redefines the war as being against the Shia in Lebanon as a whole rather than against a terrorist organization armed to the teeth, and manages to ignore both the statements made after the event by Nasrallah and the ensuing relative quiet along the border ever since, even during Operation Cast Lead.
So what exactly is Noe up to in this piece? Together with CiF he is setting the stage for any future conflict and trying to ensure that Western opinion will perceive any outbreak of violence as something Israel and the US have been planning for considerable time.
“Instead, a perusal of Israeli media and think-tank literature over the last few months suggests that as the timetable for a strike against Iran grows longer, the immediate military threat of Hezbollah has actually moved into sharper relief and the desire – or need – of Israel to mitigate the threat through force of arms has moved closer.”
Thus, according to Noe’s convoluted hypothesis, the refusal of the West and Hariri to give in to Hizbollah threats is not born of a wish to see justice done or an end to the tragic cycle of political murders in Lebanon, or even an attempt to assert Lebanese (rather than Iranian) sovereignty on Lebanese soil, but merely a move to weaken Hizbollah and help Israel avoid negotiating with Syria.
Seeing as it is pretty obvious that no progress is likely to be made anytime soon on the subject of Israelis eating humus in Damascus, Noe has equipped his readers with a seemingly water-tight excuse for the next round of Hizbollah-initiated violence and surprise, surprise; it’s Israel which will be to blame. This fits in perfectly with a Guardian World View which not only distorts history and current facts as deemed convenient, but also manages to deftly side-step such glaring factors as the Hizbollah program
“We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve. This enemy is the greatest danger to our future generations and to the destiny of our lands, particularly as it glorifies the ideas of settlement and expansion, initiated in Palestine, and yearning outward to the extension of the Great Israel, from the Euphrates to the Nile.
Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease-fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.
We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine. Therefore we oppose and reject the Camp David Agreements, the proposals of King Fahd, the Fez and Reagan plan, Brezhnev’s and the French-Egyptian proposals, and all other programs that include the recognition (even the implied recognition) of the Zionist entity.”
Next time Nicholas Noe and his students visit the Hizbollah offices in downtown Beirut, he really should point out that the task he and the Guardian have taken upon themselves as shills for the ‘Party of God’ would be made considerably easier if Nasrallah and company could resist giving the game away quite so blatantly.