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24 September 2006


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I have some self-answering questions: (1) Does President Bush have any Arab-American advisers? (2) Has the media asked him if he has any Arab-American advisers? and (3) Does he think that people in foreign countries are going to thank us for facilitating the destruction of their cities? Lastly: Can you believe that I/we have to even ask these questions?


Alas my Arabic is marginal. The poster in the pix I guess shows distressed Israeli soliders (?) and the Arabic slogan reads "We are Lebanese, You are AlGhabya-eh (???"

Anybody know what that means?

Best Wishes


the rest of the poster has another Arabic slogan

nasr min Allah
Victory from God

I think I got one right

Best Wishes


The speech is worth reading. I particularly liked this part:

The problem is that when one is torn between two choices and is asked to choose between his people and his throne, he chooses his throne. When he is asked to choose between Jerusalem and his throne, he chooses his throne. When he is asked to choose between the dignity of his homeland and his throne, he chooses his throne.

No wonder the Saudi's don't like this guy.


Won't Nasrullah eventually turn on members of this coalition much like Khomeini did?

W. Patrick Lang


I take that to be Israeli soldiers grieving, and the Arabic says (as does the English "It is the Lebanon, oh you, the stupids." (literal) pl


Powerful stuff, and I suppose it comes off better in the original than in the translation. All the modern rockstar trappings, and it's fairly moderate by the local standards of rhetoric. Too bad Washington will sell it as the rantings of a terrorist madman; if they'd pay closer attention to what he's saying it might allow them some inroads for diplomacy. Hudna is still an option, it would appear.

It's interesting that Nasrallah makes it a point to express solidarity with Khamene'i while not mentioning Ahmadinejad. Showing obedience to the spiritual over the temporal, or maybe a willingness to help dump Ahmadinejad if he becomes inconvenient down the line.

My ignorance of Islam is showing again. From the beginning of the speech: "We are the sons of that imam, who said: Are you threatening me with death? We are used to death and our dignity is derived from the martyrdom God grants us." Who was the imam, and is this a Shia reference?

Babak Makkinejad

I am struck by how much this speech alludes to the notion of the "Lebanese Nation". It seems that Sheikh Nasrallah is positioning himself and Hizbullah not as sectarian but Lebanese.
It reminds me of two previous sectarian political leaders in Lebanon that also began to pursue a more Lebanese orientation: Kamal Jumbalat (Druze)and Musa Sadr (Shia). The first widely believed to have been assassinated by Syria and the second by Libya.

Soonmyung Hong


Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, is currently the highest-ranking muslim in G.W. Bush administration.
He is native Afghan but also
attained his bachelor's and master's degrees from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.

He has strong relationship with neocons -Wohlstetter@chicago, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, etc-. In fact, he is a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).


who knows what Nasrallah's future holds. he may yet go down in defeat. Or be ignominously defeated.

But his name means God's Victory. Nasr Allah. Similar to Gamal Abdul Nasser. That was after an attribute of God "the Victorious." God is always Victorious, but Gamal was a loser.

The tow most prominent clerics in Lebanon have the name Nasrallah

1. The Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Butros Nasrallah Sfeir, age 86
2. Hasan Nasarallah age 46

40 years apart, both short in height, but both beloved by their people, and indefagitable fighters.

(Boutros is an interesting Arabic name. it is from the Greek Petros or rock. English Peter. No P in Arabic. Similarly Boulos for Paulus. Paul is not a Hebrew derived name, it is actually derived Latin derived. I was always intrigued by the ill-fated 6th Army commander's name von Paulus.)

Best Wishes


It is reported that there were a large number of maonite christians either in attendance at the rally in the photos or, perhaps, a different one. Regardless, the Labanese christians are throwing in some cheers for Hizbullah.

It is going to become difficult for Bush and the neocons to continue to portray all events in the M.E. that are not to their liking as the work of a monolithic "Islamofascist" network.

Maybe it's time for Bush to begin exploring the virtues of nuance.

Ironically, if diverse Lebanese groups are pulling together in opposition to Israel, then something both cohesive and democratic may indeed be rising.

If it's anti-Israel will it have the right to exist?


"Won't Nasrallah eventually turn on members of this coalition much like Khomeini did?"

I don't think he can. The Shia themselves are split, then there are the Sunnis and the Xtians. Gen Michen Aoun, the Xtian fiesty general who stood up to the Syrians in 1991, has a working relationship with him and a compact. Even though the Muslims are now a majority in lebanon, the Shiites are not a majority.

the key cleric of the Shii is Fadallah. From reading Juan Cole at juancole.com, who is indispensible for understanding the Shia, there are two theories of governing
1. that of Khomeini- jurisprudence of the guardians
where the clerics are supreme in the state; and
2. that of Sistani- where the clerics interfere minimally in goverment

Although Nasrallah is the chief political cleric in Lebanon, Fadallah is still the senior religious cleric. Sistani and Fadallah are pretty close and Sistani stopped in Beirut airport to confer with him on a stopover to his London medical operation.

Best Wishes

John Howley

Nasrallah's enemies seem to be banking on restarting the Lebanese civil war.

Casual observation suggests that communities do not quickly revert to the savagery of civil war. While sectarian tensions may persist, Lebanese political leaders would find it very difficult to rally their followers to shoot their neighbors as they did 20 years ago.

Nasrallah seems to understand this; his appeals, in this speech, are to NATIONAL INTERESTS.

This would seem to lead him away from the Islamist path, no?


Let's not forget that anti-Syrian, pro- Lebanese independence Maronite Christian general Michel Aoun, the head of the "Free Patriotic Movement" allied with Nasrallah upon his return from exile in France a few months ago, and unlike the "Lebanese Forces" and "Kataeb" maronite factions (heirs to the Phalangists), Aoun and his supporters remained closely at Hizbollah's side throughout the recent war - reportedly to the extent of fighting together with Hizbollah against the IDF - and back his demand for a national unity government. Here's a link to how Aoun's mainly-Christian party is reporting on Nasrallah's rally-speech and its political implications:

So IMHO, one of the main objects of the rally was an "intersectarian" show of strength to push for the national unity government and reform of the still-unbalanced sectarian electoral system Nasrallah and his allies have been demanding -as a prior condition for merging Hizbollah's forces and weaponry into the Lebanese army??


Yes, the Nasrallah Imam remark in his speech is religious. He says words to the effect " Do not threaten us w/ death, we are the sons of the Imam who welcome martrydom." The allusion is to the Prophet's grandson, and Ali and Fatima's second son Husayn who was slain by the forces of the Ummyad Caliph Yazid at Karbala. This would be the third Imam and his death is mourned in Ashura ceremonies where some Shiites make gashes in their heads. The Khomeinists have a fatwa against this practice.

Mahmoud Ahmed Nejadi also made an allusion in his UN speech at the end to the " perfect man who will come and restore justice to the world" or words to that effect. He was referring to the 12th imam, the last one. this imam is in occultation or is hidden. He is also the Shiite Mahdi. Sunnite have a different eschatology. Their Mahdi is not yet born (?). But in both version the Mahdi's name must be Muhammed.

In Shiaa eschatology he will return at the end times after Jesus or with Jesus and punish the evil doers and restore the righteous.

I learned all this in a 90 minute Juan Cole online streaming lecture from the Mershon Center at Ohio State but the link is dead.

This is the next best link.

Best Wishes


Yes, Nasrallah has been magnaminous in victory. there was little retribution against members of the proxy South Lebanon Army in 2000 upon the Israeli pullout. Officered by Xtians and 70% Shia!

Part of the compact with Aoun is that the SLA members in exile in Israel are pardoned and can come home. And Aoun insists that HA must surrender arms/ merge with Leb Army but not until Shebaa farms is regained. Which is as Col. Lang points out- a WATER resource that Israel will not easily give up.

Back to names-fascinating. the honorary title Sayeed in front of Nasrallah's name is reserved for those claiming descent from the prophet even though it is used as "Sir" in everyday speech.

But it is much more complicated than that. The prophet had two grandsons Hasan and Husain. Those claiming descent from Hasan are Sharifs and Hassanites or Hashemites (as in the Sharif of Mecca or the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan). The ones claiming descent from Husain are the Sayeeds and Husainittes.

Further differntiation is made passing down thru the line of descent and sometimes incorporated in the name. Does Jaffari (the 12 imam) sound familiar?


Best Wishes


Soon you will be an expert on Shia Muslims. At first, I thought the Imam mentioned in the speech was Ali ibn Abi Talib , but Al Hussain is also plausible. If it is Al Hussain , then he should have said it on his route to Karbla'.
Best wishes


@m. hasan
w/ the web and wikipedia resources, it's like always been in a library and exposed to learning.

The referece to martrydom could be to Ali (named to honor one of the 99 attributes of God, Al Ali- the high one). I went with Husain because of the Ashura martrydom celebration and the gashing.

This would be speculation. As Khomenists HA would not do the gory self blood lettng, but Amal members might.

Ashura (Arabic for tenth) is the tenth day of the Muslim lunar month of Muharram. Haram means forbidden b/c fighting is discouraged during this first month of the year. Everybody is familiar with the root word harram as in "harem,"- the forbidden private quarters.

Note the parallel to Yom Kippur which is the tenth day of the Jewish first lunar month Tishri.

I checked but they don't co-incide.

Muharram starts January 20, 2007

And Rosh Shannah (Any speaker of Arabic would recognize that as Ras Sanna- head of the year) started this last Saturday September 23, 2006. Tishri 1

And Yom Kippur should be at the end of the month in a few days.

Best Wishes


Pulled from naharnet.com. Saudi newspapers miss more than they hit with speculation like this, but if true, this report is the next bombshell for Lebanon:

Report: Brammertz to Implicate Syria for 1st Time in Hariri's Murder

Chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz will reveal in his report Monday Syria's direct involvement in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination, the Saudi Okaz newspaper reported.
The report, that Brammertz will hand over to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York at 9:30 am Monday, will disclose details about a tape that former Syrian Interior Minister Ghazi Kanaan had recorded about the planning of the Feb. 14, 2005 murder.

The newspaper did not mention whether the recording was made on a videotape or a cassette. But it said that senior Syrian officers and former Lebanese Environment Minister Wiam Wahhab planned the assassination.

It added that Kanaan cut a deal with Brammertz's predecessor Detlev Mehlis to escape to Cyprus via the Lebanese northern port city of Tripoli. But a close person to Kanaan had reported him to the Syrian authorities that later announced his suicide.

Okaz also said that Brammertz will disclose in his second report in-depth information about the planning and execution of Hariri's assassination.

It added that the report will also reveal the names of those involved in the murder, including Syrian President Bashar Assad's brother-in-law Gen. Assef Shawkat and Bahjat Suleiman, the former head of the Security Department.

The newspaper said that the name of an Iraqi, who detonated the white Mitsubishi van that was seen at the site of the one-ton bomb explosion on Beirut's seafront, will be made public.

john stack

My problem is that a bunch of pirates has stolen my dream of the new Camelot (not new jerusalem or Mecca) with its honour, freedom, innovation, respect (wait George, I will explain them later) superman, science, Arts…..
My family has people there. My Parents have people there. My Grandparents have family still living there. I have a stake in the US. This dangerously incompetent man and his handlers do not have the right to hijack my hope for a better world. The present reality seen by most countries is power, arrogance, bullying, brutality, selfishness, my country right or wrong.
The UK is not a friend, just an "I'll hold your coat sir while you kick him" fairweather toady. No principals and totally immoral. As a previous PM said “We have no principles only interests”
Your friend questions what you do in your interest.

Our USA is better while using its strength through the UN for all our benefit. When I think of the US I do not want to have a picture in my head of a screaming, choking, prisoner being tortured by cowardly CIA for my benefit. How could the US descend to the terrorist level ?. The children loyalty swearing is not right. It creates a climate where ‘my country right or wrong’ is acceptable. (1945 Nuremberg-Nazis). It becomes difficult to criticise the President or Army even when they are wrong. They can be wrong.

Whether US get out of the mid east now really depends on the real reason for the invasion. Control. Dominance. Israeli foreign policy (which is not the US’s).

Does George really want captured US citizens to be put to the techniques he wants legalised ?. I find his use of 'Eliciting information' a torturous euphemism.

The Mid East has Oil. They must sell it. You want to buy it. The US has Pharmaceuticals, Computers, Luxuries and necessities. They want to buy these . It is called trade. You do not arrogantly kick the ass of your trading partner. You frighten the world which will welcome a counterbalance. It will arrive. Jaw, Jaw, not War,War. Talk to your enemies. Iran is a reality. Talk. There will be a solution. Threats of brute force will not work. Stop it. What Bush has done is not just wrong , it is so stupid. if there were a super super power would it make the USA go home and pay for the wrongful invasion, say 350 - 500 Billion?. And Israel pay say 10 Billion for its childish destruction. Yes and the Arabs....

If the Arabs gave the price of Oil in US gallons , instead of Barrels, it might help take the anger or fear of Arabs out of the equation. (In a barrel you can get 500 - 700 - 900 litres of petrol plus by-products so say 11 cents per litre or 41 cents per US gallon) . The cost is mainly the Oil COs and Government tax. If people are annoyed at the Arabs (etc.) charging $75 for a full barrel how much does the US charge for US oil in the US???. Cheaper or a premium ?. Why not hold the price down to $20 for a US barrel??

Real America, stand up with courage and honour and see how you are being manipulated and destroyed by a small-minded bunch of selfish people. We all deserve better.

Got A Watch

I am always informed by the learned commentary here. Not knowing that much of the details of Lebanese politics, when is the next election? How many seats can Amal/Hizbullah plus allies like Aoun hope to capture? Enough to form a majority government? How would Israel/USA react? (badly, I would expect)

Helena Cobban

The media coverage of the Hizbullah rally has been v. interesting. Far and away the best account in the western media that I've seen has been this piece by the WaPo's Anthony Shadid. In the clips that were shown on the only two western TV news shows I watch-- ABC and BBC-- Naasrallah was shown gesticulating wildly and talking in a generally "ranty" way.

Shadid, who of course understands quite a lot of Arabic, describes Nasrallah as "perhaps the most skilled orator in Arabic today" and writes this account of his performance at the rally: Nasrallah has an almost innate sense of a crowd. He builds an argument with highly formal Arabic vocabulary, then delivers a point in almost conversational slang. His most emotional refrains are delivered bluntly, in a stentorian staccato. Then he mixes in jokes, a few words in a softer voice, and sometimes a quick aside...

I can certainly remember all those same rhetorical skills when I watched a couple of his public speeches on Manar TV in Lebanon.

Nasr min Allah by the way, means literally "A victory from God", which means we may expect more... As opposed to An-nasr min Allah, which would have meant either "victory" (in general) is from God, or "The victory is/was from God." H'mmm.

By the way, at my Justworld news blog yesterday I posted a quick description of what the whole 33-day war had been about, with some questions about UNIFIL's role.


Soonmyong Hong: You confirmed what I thought. Bush's only Muslim adviser, Khalilzad, is Afghani, not Arab. Spaniards and Irish are Catholics too--but nobody goes to Madrid for advise about the Emerald Isle.


In response to Nabil for expert commentry on Syria and sometimes Lebanon read

This is Prof. Josh Landis' expert blog. The red headed youngster is quite good and has some personal interest being married into an Alawite family.

Speaking as an attorney, a tape would be pure hearsay. And Kannan would have been an interested witness having been bounced out of running Lebanon because he was skimming the operation with Abdul-Halim off the top. Moreover, there is the problem of his death, no opportunity for cross-examination.

Nevertheless, it may all be true. Lebanon has to be careful though about trying to go all the way to the top. Without peace w/ Israel, it is landlocked but for Syria. Lebanese products rot whenever Syria closes the border.

Best Wishes

Best Wishes


The Helen Cobban write up on the Israel-HA war is excellent. The emphasis on restoration of deterrence credibility by both sides is very insightful and cuts to the core.

It quotes the Col. at one instance on the victor as the one remaining on the field.

There is one part that is unclear. Some blame Halutz for keeping the war going. I blame Dumbya. Excuse me Bush. This is because i have seen a report in Haaretz stating that Halutz informed Peretz and Olemert that all the objectives had been accomplished in 6 days.

I read "objectives" as in Ms. Cobban's report as the restoration of deterrence credibility.

Again I blame our POTUS (President of the U.S.) for prolonging the War. I think the Israelis expected and prayed for a quick cease fire resolution. Worse, Dumbya and the civilian pentagon tried to egg them on to attack Syria.

Best Wishes

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