Across the Bay

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Cole insists on digging deeper reiterating today that it was Shaalan who declared the detention of the Hizbullah members, and adding another invective: "The arrests had been announced by the fanatically anti-Iran interim minister of defense in Iraq, Hazem Shaalan." Hilarious!

Meanwhile, Hizbullah is being asked by Mahmoud Abbas to stop interfering in the Palestinian Territories. It was reported (Arabic) that a Palestinian official said that Hizbullah was attempting to recruit Palestinian activists to plan attacks against Israel under the guise of the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, in an attempt to disrupt the truce. Hizbullah denies that they were contacted by Abbas, and they denied that 18 of their members were arrested in Iraq.

The funny thing about Nasrallah is that under pressure, he's fallen back on the most maximalist of rhetoric. Now he wants the "liberation of all Arab land" and wants the Israelis to pack up an go "back where they came from" and leave the region to its "original inhabitants." And he made sure to reiterate how Hizbullah is a party that makes victories! There's a lot of pressure on Hizbullah; there is the possibility of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, the possibility the Syrians might pull out (and also taking away the Shebaa Farms card), etc. Clearly, Hizbullah is willing to play that game on its own because its rep as a resistance group depends on it. It needs it to maintain relevance (besides, they have publicly put their bets on Syria joining in an anti-opposition meeting sponsored by their Shiite rival, Nabih Berri, which by itself is telling). But I wonder if Iran (or Syria) is not encouraging that behavior. I clearly don't know, but it was interesting that all of a sudden Hizbullah's interference surfaced in both Iraq and the Palestinian Terrirories at the same time, when the political scene in both places is in a fragile state, looking to move forward. It would be very risky for the Syrians to let Hizbullah loose in either of these places. But they have done dumber things so who knows. They have threatened to blow up the Lebanese interior if pushed too far, and they might threaten that way in the Territories in order to keep the Golan issue from being totally forgotten. But publicly they have been supporting Abbas, and the Jordanians have made similar assertions after meeting with the Syrians. The Egyptians have also expressed (Arabic) confidence, after the Sharm al-Sheikh summit, that "in due time" the Syrian and Lebanese tracks will be addressed, adding that Sharon proposed a couple of ideas on the issue. But the last thing the Syrians want is for the Palestinians to get a deal leaving the Golan on an indefinite hiatus.

My point is that all three (Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah) are under tremendous pressure on all fronts, Iraq and the Territories being two of those fronts. I don't know, we'll have to wait and see. But maybe Cole wants to claim now that Abbas is a mole, and a fanatically anti-Shiite guy for calling out Hizbullah's interference! After all, it's most likely the Hizbullah guys in the Territories are just "Shiite pilgrims!" You know, like Hamid Dabashi!

Addendum: Now Cole is a Lebanon expert too (after all, he was in Beirut)! The guy is multi-talented! He has proposed a new theory for the Lebanese war in that same post I linked above. You'll see it's identical to the one proposed by nut job Robert Fisk (see my "Truth about Dalrymple" post below for the quote). But Cole puts a twist on it, blending it with his Iraq expertise. The result is an expertaganza of Cole-ossal proportions:

    The old Sunni Arab power elite, mainly Baathists or the officer class, has not reconciled itself to the political ascendancy of the Shiites and Kurds. They still think they can destabilize the country and take back over. I would compare them to the Phalangists, the fascist Maronite Christians in Lebanon, who fought tooth and nail 1975-1989 against recognizing that Christians were no longer a dominant majority in Lebanon. Eventually they had to accept a 50/50 split of seats in parliament (which is generous to the Christians, given that Muslims are now a clear majority). That the Sunni Arab elite might be quicker studies than the Phalangists is possible but a little unlikely.

He hath spoken! What a fool.