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25 May 2007


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Clifford Kiracofe

zanzibar, your excellent points are well taken. The situation is indeed complex and I believe it is a case in point illustrating Pat's emphasis on a regional solution.

It seems to me that if Lamb's reporting is in the right direction, the Hariri family made a calculation they could create (with US and Saudi assistance) hardline salafist militias (FaI is just one of those reported) and control them. Say like the Taliban operation that was a US-Pak-Saudi operation during the Clinton years to clear swaths of Afghanistan. I am now calling these criminal gangs "Neo-Taliban death squads."

If the Hariris wish to clear swaths of North Lebanon for politics and profit then an attempt to manage the well-established Sunni Islamist Tripoli networks and currents makes sense. They just brought into the mix a more extreme, violent, and battle hardened gang of outsiders to "inspire" locals, one might argue. Perhaps FaI did get out of control. Or perhaps all this mayhem is what the Hariri family wants to create. In this situation, perhaps they calculate it is possible to "ethnically cleanse" the refugee camp by relocating it so as to better develop the airfield project, as Lamb suggests. Also, all this violence hardens up new volunteers for the battle in the south against HA, as you suggest.

Iraq-Lebanon-Palestine-Iran-Israel-Gulfies-Egypt, etc.: the regional situation is all interrelated and has to be dealt with through a sensible comprehensive policy. Washington isn't at that policy stage yet from what one sees. (The O'Sullivan thing is an indication of a certain lack of seriousness, for example, as is Condi as a Secretary of State for that matter. Experienced diplomats in world capitals can hardly fail to take note.)

Dr. Lamb certainly seems to know his way around the area and Sy Hersh is one of the top investigative reporters in the US. From a journalistic point of view, this is a most compelling story with plenty of aspects to cover and plenty of sources to interview. It is not that US "journalists" are "ignorant." They are incompetent, silent, and deceitful for various reasons: careerism, the mortgage, kids in college, and all that. I am not saying the American stenographic corps are cowards and morally corrupted to the very last man and woman but where is serious reporting on this emergency?

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