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26 November 2006

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Duncan Kinder

One aspect of insurgent funding comes from the looting and smuggling of archeological objects.

A maling list devoted to covering this topic is the Iraqcrisis list.

IraqCrisis: A moderated list for communicating substantive information on cultural property damaged, destroyed or lost from Libraries and Museums in Iraq during and after the war in April 2003, and on the worldwide response to the crisis.

zanzibar

Asked whether he saw a solution, Naoum said, "I don't think so.

"I don't know, I'm scared. I'm scared," he said. "They are so mobilized, the Sunnis and the Shiites, that once they go into the street, it's possible that no one can control them."

The tone of Shadid's report felt like there would be imminent clashes between Sunni and Shia in Lebanon. On the surface it would seem that Israel would benefit the most from internal conflict in Lebanon. They may get an opportunity to settle scores with HA while many HA cadres are occupied with Sunni militias. But Syria is next door too. They have a history of intervening in Lebanon. Would they calculate that the US is in a weakened position in Iraq and re-enter Lebanon militarily? I have also read reports that HA have fully rearmed and their rocket strength is back up to 20,000. This is obviously a complex situation but with increasing tensions any miscalculation may be difficult to control once it has been unleashed. Will Nasrallah and Hariri come to an arrangement or is it out of their hands and the decision making is in the hands of their patrons?

zanzibar

Mr. Goksel, the former United Nations forces spokesman, said he sensed a risk for renewed conflict that was not negligible.

“There are still people in this country who are nostalgic for the civil war,” he said. “They miss the days when they were somebody, when they had militias.”

Chilling Echo for Lebanon

Mo

Zanzibar, there is no Sunni militia and they were the only militia to be wiped out during the civil war. Lebanese Sunnis are in the main quite well off and therefore in the context of war are too "soft". Furthermore, any civil chaos would not benefit the Israelis. HA would gain strength without a state to act as a check. They are far more powerful today then they were at the end of the civil war, and to be frank I doubt the combined forces of the Christian right wing and any Sunni armed group could even think about taking them on. That is why there will be no war in my opinion. The Israelis were held back without HA's special forces even engaging in actual combat (tank attacks not withstanding).

Col,
Saad is not even a whisker on his father. His father knew how to play the game or at least until he made his big mistake that cost him his life.

What is the US playing at? I honestly think they are now trying to salvage anything they can from the intended goals of the Summer war. They are trying to put the pressure on Syria to reign in HA in order to keep this govt. in power. I now believe, considering all the evidence, that the summer war was about a. removing HA from the Lebanese political arena and not as stated removing its arms and on the back of that b. Seniora would have been "forced" to agree to some sort of ceasefire that allowed the Israelis access to Lebanese waters. If HA were to get their demands that possibility would in effect be forever gone. That is the reasoning behind the desperation of their plays now.

Grimgrin

Mo: So you're suggesting that the Lebanese Prime Minister was in effect willing to exchange water rights in the south in order to have the Israelis come in and destroy his biggest political rival?

Actually, if there was active collusion, that makes Siniora crying at the Arab league make allot more sense. By early August it was clear Israel wasn't going to be in a position to remove Hezzbollah, and the poor bastard had probably started feeling a noose around his neck.

zanzibar

Mo, if the Sunni have no militia why do you think the Hariri group seem so intransigent? Do they believe that HA will show more sense by not engaging with militia force. It seems HA has some legitimate argument that the Shia do not have adequate political representation that reflects current demographics. I would believe the Hariri block will get the best deal now rather than later - specially if HA have the military muscle to force the issue.

Despite US and Israeli machinations to keep the Hariri block in power, I would believe that due to the current situation in Iraq both Syria and HA will be more emboldened to take advantage of this oportunity when they probably have relative strength domestically in Lebanon. What is the scuttlebutt in Lebanon? What are the expectations on the street?

Mo

Grim,
While I cannot, without more evidence, state an active collusion, there definitely was a confluence of interests. The US, Israel and the Saudis (represented by Hariri and Seniora) all would have danced a merry jig at the removal of HA. And to the Lebanese ministers currently in power, money has always been far and away a higher priority than any kind of patriotism or national pride. In order to keep making money they need to stay in power, and a southward water bearing pipe would be of little consequence to these people.

Zanzibar, I think they are playing a game of political chicken, hoping the other side blinks first. They know for a fact that HA wont use their arms because if they did they would gain the power but lose the popular mandate. Even all but the most hardened HA supporters among the Shia would not support such a move.

I think youre right. If they give now the will get a better deal than later, esp. after the paltry showing of support at the Gemayel funeral - contrary to Western media reports (and Al jazeera for that matter who have, since the war, turned strangely anti-HA) there were no more than 100,000 people there.

I doubt the situation in Iraq has any bearing on HA's decisions in Lebanon. That is why so many Lebanese question the Gemayel murder as Syrias work. Syria and HA are the only ones with anything to lose by the killing.

The street expectations are quite fraught right now. As I mentioned to Grim, those that lose power lose income. These are the same people that ran the militias during the civil war and made a lot of money. If they lose power they may become nostalgic for the 80's. This whole crisis is as much to do with money as it is with proper representation of the Shia. The irony is that most Lebanese are relying on HA to make sure there is no war.

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