Monday, July 17, 2006

Letters from Lebanon


/ The crisis in Lebanon /
And on to Lebanon... I received from a friend in the Middle East the following witness report from a Lebanese artist (whose name will remain unpublished for the time being - these being difficult times) in Beirut, yesterday, which I post in its entirety

> This morning
>
> A.
>
> Yet another day of bombing all over the place. In the mountain here,
> we were subject to about three different bombing runs: 1 to continue
> destroying the Beirut to Damascus road; another to destroy the cell
> phone antennas; and another to again hit the Beirut to Damascus road.
> Just a few minutes ago, the house was shaking again, and I only
> assume the Israelis are pounding the same area. The safe areas are
> much further to the north, the northeastern enclave, an area
> traditionally christian. Listening to Nasrallah's speech tonight was
> not reassuring one bit. After pleading with the Lebanese to stand
> firm, and after denouncing Arab government leaving Lebanon to pay the
> price for Israeli aggression, he asked us all to look at sea and watch
> the Israeli gunboat that had been pounding the coast and hills all
> day. he said that it was about to be hit by a HizbAllah missile. He
> promised that it will burn, that it will sink, that its sailors will
> die. It made me sickto my stomach, almost as much as it makes me sick
> to hear Olmert, Bush, the Saudi, and Palestinian position about this.
> Nasrallah also called for an open war against Israel, and that he
> will hit Haifa, and what is behind Haifa, and behind and behind Haifa.
> What this means remains unlcear. But clearly it is worrying. Within
> minutes of the speech, parts of West Beirut were celebrating. The
> city is about to be reduced to rubble, and fireworks are being fired
> in the air. Incredible. Al-Jazeera and most local networks pointed
> their lenses towards to sea, to look for a missile launch, which came
> but was not visible. This is just not good. This is just about to
> get worse. I dont know what to think anymore. Pundits are
> speculating, making noise: Did HizbAllah need to drag Lebanon into
> this mess at this time? How can HizbAllah monopolize the decision to
> launch a war, to destroy the country? Others are convinced that Israel
> is simply intent on enforcing resolution 1559, namely to disarm
> HizbAllah by force. HizbAllah is asking everyone to stand form, and to
> be patient. This has happened before and we have triumphed. We will
> triumph again, they say. Whatever all this leads to, one thing is
> certain, the scale of the destruction is enormous. People are dying
> in the south and elsewhere. Too many. The bombing has moved to the
> north and in the past hour positions inside Syria were hit. Iran has
> said that were Syria to be hit, they will respond. A regional war?
> What's going on?
> Embassies here are starting to remove their citizens. the French,
> canadians, germans, and the americans just announced the same.
> I cannot imagine this going on for months, despite what some officials
> up high are stating. I assume that the regional ploy is to disarm
> hizbAllah. This will only happen is Syria and Iran get something in
> return. What is the U.S. willing to grant them? Also, they have to
> find a way out for HizbAllah. Which means that their position inside
> the Lebanese government will have to be negotiated. They may disarm
> them, but they have to give them a way out as well. After all,
> HizbAllah represents 1 million folks here. Israel and the U.S cannot
> kill them all.
>
> Rumors aplenty, every ten minutes. The news, all of it, Arab and
> international, makes me sick. We are stuck with a false choice:
> Support HizbAllah, or be an Israeli agent. That is at least what
> HizbAllah and their Syrian allies are saying. The Christian right's
> position is equally naive. They want to assume that HizbAllah will
> just go away. they are wishing it at least. That wont happen, no
> matter what. Everyone is miscalculating it seems: HizbAllah, the
> Americans, the Israelis, The Saudis, the Palestinians, The French, The
> Russians, The Chinese. You name it. The effects on the ground will
> remain once this crisis is resolved, and has already generated enough
> antagonism to last us another decade.
>
> We are trying to think of what to do. To leave, and be stuck in the
> U.S glued to the TV trying to figure out what is happening will be
> maddening.
>
> This will clearly get worse before it gets better, and we have not
> seen the worse yet. Now, all parties are slowly revealing their
> cards.
> best
>
> w.
>
> This evening ....
>
> We still have the land-line. Cell phones are working from time to
> time. Electricity is being rationed. We are getting around 8 hours a
> day. Generators provide the rest at this point. It is a situation we
> are used to, one that is decent -- even very good compared to what
> other areas of the country are living through at the moment.
>
> More idiots on Lebanese TV speculating some more about Israel's and
> HizbAllah's intentions. More shelling in the Southern Suburb. More
> massacres in the South. More missiles to northern Israel. More
> fireworks celebrating HizbAllah's resistance.
> Doi we need to say this again and again and again: There is no such
> thing as targeted/surgical shelling in a city with hundreds of
> thousands of homes, built cheek to cheek. Israel shelled the house of
> Hassan Nasrallah. I suppose they thought he would be home enjoying
> his afternoon tea at the time. They took out the light house that
> stood on the Corniche, lest it send out distress signals that the
> world will not see. A family leaving, fleeing its village in the
> South was pulverized -- surely the smoke from the shelling blinded the
> scope of the gunner, preventing him/her from seeing that the small
> people in the car were not extremely short HizbAllah fighters. Should
> we tally numbers? Do we need to open more morgue doors b to reveal
> yet another mangled body, yet another weeping parent, yet another
> angry relative denouncing this or that government? this or that
> policy?
>
> Amr Moussa stated tonight, after the spineless meeting of Arab
> ministers, that it is clear now that the U.S. has handed Israel a free
> hand in solving the Mid-East crisis, as it sees fit. Whether it
> decides unilaterally to withdraw from Gaza, from the West Bank, from
> destroying Gaza again, from destroying Beirut, etc. I wonder what
> took them so long to figure this out. Is the oil in the Gulf still a
> weapon in their hands? Surely not, as we are reminded time and time
> again. What is the price of oil again? How much of Europe's oil
> supplied by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis? How much of the U.S. oil is
> supplied by the Middle East? Did we reach 78 USD a barrel yet? Maybe
> the Saudis will use some of the surplus to rebuild the country again.
> What's a billion dollars when the price of oil reaches 78 USD?
> Someone knows this somewhere, and is most likely depending on it.
>
> Israeli cease-fire conditions announced -- as I write this:
>
> -Retreat of HizbAllah fighters to behind the Litani river in the
> south.
> -Hand-over of all HizbAllah missiles to the Lebanese Army
> -Deployment of the Lebanese Army in the South.
>
> On this end, I am tired, and am not able to think straight anymore.
> Hoping for a quiet night, and to wake up with a cease-fire declared.
>
> w.


And this report (minus the pictures which my correspondent refrained from forwarding) I received today - the author will remain similarly anonymous for the time being:

Dear friends and colleagues,

I'm sending theses new pictures now. Last night , 60 raids were executed all
over Lebanon , from Tripoli in the north to Baalback in the East ,and in
Beirut. Since Thursday 197 civilians were killed and 35o injured according
to the health ministry , but this can not be a finel account since whole
villages and cities are completely cut off , there' s no way to reach them
or know wht's happening there.
Now what happened in the south last night seems to be outrageous . People
are fleeing in masses , there are humongous traffic jams in Saida , caused
by hundreds of people fleeing to Beirut through the South. Those people have
nowhere to go in here , and that's way they hadn't left their villages so
far. This morning, the streets of beirut were full with families carrying
plastic bags in whivh they packed their belongings , or what's left of them.
Appartement buildings in beirut are either full or over priced.
People took in relatives and friends in their houses .
Now all this is fine, it's war , killing destroying , moving people ,
cutting off cities , destroying infrastructure , it's calssical.
But , please , take a minute and look at any of these pictures in a
different way. Some countries said they will help lebanon's reconstruction
(thanks) . Saudi Arabia said it will give 50 milion $ in aid. A small
calculation of the difference in oil prices between last Wednesday and today
will show how generous this offer is , especially that the Saudis political
stand almost gave the israelis a green light to go on.
Anyway , that was not my point .
The point is , if you take a real look at the pictures , you will see: a
house , a car , a shop... Destroyed ones. But , 6 days ago , they were
somebody's car , shop , and house. Inside the houses were toys for children
, books and music. All gone, and no one will pay for it.
The shops are all what these people own. The harbour that was burnt last
night , contained goods someone had paid for. People will go bankrupt.
Did I mention that the targeted areas are the poorer in Lebanon?
Oh yeah , and I forgot to mention all the people who died.


Related news. Nasrallah's public statement (the man is either on crack, suicidal, or knows something the rest of the world doesn't - what the hell is he expecting to gain from all this? Can the current situation empower Hezbollah? Can they "win" in any meaningful sense? Did they expect anything less than the current massacre from the always happy-to-kill-an-Arab IDF racists? What?)

An article in the Asia Times about the war, by Sami Moubayed, a Syrian analyst, which is the only piece that I've read recently that makes some sense - and sort of answers ny question above...

An article over at EuroTrib about the rather abrupt decline of the "Cedar Revolution" rhetoric...
Juan Cole on the war in Lebanon.


Noam Chomsky about the situation in Gaza and the Lebanon
.

And a few Lebanese blogs (where self-righteous republicans, from the safety of their condos together with ultranationalist Israelis, vent their collective wrath against those "damn Arabs" in various comment sections...) providing excellent coverage of the situation and the developments in Lebanon.

Blogging the Middle East

The Lebanese Bloggers

Lebanese Blogger Forum

Ur Shalim

Lebanese Political Journal

Letters Apart

Jamal's Propaganda Site

The Beirut Spring...

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

Great post. What makes it scarier, is Evangelical Christians are doing somersaults with glee, thinking the rapture is here.