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by Garbis Altinoglu
Saturday, Jun. 25, 2005 at 9:51 PM
Bombings and assassinations continue in Lebanon. The latest victim of this wave of terror was the 67-year old George Hawi, who was killed when a bomb detonated in his car; the former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party lost his life on June 21st, only a day after the so-called “anti-Syrian bloc” claimed victory in the parliamentary elections.
REACTIONARY TERROR CONTINUES IN LEBANON
Bombings and assassinations continue in Lebanon. The latest victim of this wave of terror was the 67-year old George Hawi, who was killed when a bomb detonated in his car; the former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party lost his life on June 21st, only a day after the so-called “anti-Syrian bloc” claimed victory in the parliamentary elections. The White House immediately accused Damascus and angrily linked Syria's ‘long and continued presence’ in Lebanon to George Hawi's assassination and demanded a formal investigation into his death. “These are not random killings, these are targeted assassination of political figures," charged White House spokesman Scott McClellan. On June 22nd, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Syria and prompted it to end destabilization activities in Lebanon, obviously referring to George Hawi's assassination.
The assassination of Hawi is and very probably will be only one of several links in the chain of terrorist actions aimed at destabilizing Lebanon, pushing this unfortunate country into a spiral of renewed civil war and isolating the Syrian regime and forcing it into capitulation. The recent despicable acts of terror began with the killing of billionaire capitalist and former prime minister Rafiq Hariri on February 14th, 2005. On March 19th, a bomb explosion in the Christian suburb of Beirut wounded 11 people. On March 23rd, another bomb killed three people in the Christian town Kaslik north of Beirut. On April 1st, a bomb explosion wounded seven people in Broumana, a mountain resort overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean coastline.
After a lull in May, bombings have begun once again. On June 2nd, Samir Qaseer, a prominent journalist of An-Nahar newspaper was killed after a bomb destroyed his car in the Ashrafiyeh neighborhood of Beirut. And this was followed by the assassination of George Hawi.
* * * * *
In almost all these cases, Lebanese reactionaries, US imperialists, some Western powers, especially Britain and France, plus the Western corporate media immediately blamed Syria. The Damascus regime was accused of attempting to maintain its hold over Lebanon even after it had withdrawn its forces there; it was accused of attempting to intimidate its opponents in Lebanon and aiming to destabilize its smaller neighbor. Everybody in the corporate media has automatically assumed Syrian culpability as proven and a foregone conclusion. As expected, none of these mouthpieces of imperialist robbers have mentioned the names of the US and Israel among possible suspects. This has been so, despite the fact that, Washington and Tel Aviv terrorists have openly been advocating and practicing a policy of preventive strike and targeted assassination of their opponents, especially after the events of 11 September 2001. Besides, a survey of the historical record and the day to day conduct of US imperialists and their Zionist stooges provide us with innumerable instances of such acts of provocation and terror. Indeed, it will not be an exaggeration to argue that, they have long adopted state terrorism, including bombings and targeted assassinations as a regular way of “neutralizing” and defeating their opponents or intimidating and pressuring them into submission and capitulation. Furthermore, they have enriched the ancient art of provocation utilized throughout history by the ruling classes and their intelligence agencies. These masters of deceit regularly undertake terrorist actions, which frequently are blamed on their enemies and opponents, by means of disinformation campaigns. Here, it would not come amiss to remind the reader that most of the armed attacks in the present-day Iraq targeting ordinary people, mosques, aid workers, reporters, plus the gruesome killings of hostages and actions targeting country’s already crumbling infrastructure, are conducted either by certain sections of the occupying US military and/ or the private “security” firms and puppet Iraqi elite forces under their control. By committing bloody and loathsome terrorist acts imperialist powers and their intelligence agencies aim to discredit and vilify revolutionary forces and resistance movements and to undercut their mass support. They also utilize such methods to build up some sort of reactionary mass support and to accuse, weaken and isolate their bourgeois opponents, such as Syria, which seems to be the case in the present-day situation in Lebanon.
The recently exposed provocative and terrorist plans of the US military shall shed considerable light on the nature and aims of these methods. In the early 1960s, the US military drafted plans to murder innocent civilians, conduct a wave of terror in American cities and in this manner create public support for a war of invasion against Cuba. These plans were collectively called Operation Northwoods and envisaged the killing of Cuban migrants, sinking boats of Cuban refugees at sea, hijacking planes and blowing up American ships. American generals even contemplated causing US military casualties to trick the Alerican people into supporting an invasion of Cuba. “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba” wrote a general, according to James Balford, who disclosed the dirty plans of the military clique in his book Body of Secrets, “casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.”
Despite all attempts at disinformation and distraction on the part of the mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie, the sharpening of all basic contradictions of capitalist-imperialist system and the growth of fascist and militarist sentiment among the most aggressive sections of finance capital, has been laying bare the terrorist nature of its advance guard, comprised of the US, Britain and Israel. In fact, in January 2003, Israel openly announced its intention to conduct a campaign of so-called targeted killings in the US and other friendly countries, in the context of a “more aggressive role in the war on terrorism”. Eight months before the September 11 attack, US Representative Robert L Barr Jr had introduced a "Terrorist Elimination Act", which designated even the so-called al-Qaeda fundraisers as legitimate targets for assassination. After the events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent declaration of the war on terrorism, American neo-fascists laid claim to unprecedented global jurisdiction. They vowed to pursue Osama bin Laden's followers with force wherever they may be or hide.
One should not, however, be led to believe that, the US and Israel have begun to tread a path of terrorism, that is a path of provocation, assasination and massacres especially after the events of 11 September 2001. First of all, this feature has been inherent in the nature of the internal and external policies of all property-owning and exploiting classes throughout history. Secondly, reactionary bourgeosie and its apparata of repression have further refined and developed this practice in the age of imperialism. Thirdly, US imperialists, the main enemy of workers and oppressed peoples of the world, have been directly or indirectly responsible for the killing of tens of millions of people in various parts of the world throughout the 20th century. One should only remember the massacres conducted by the death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala, planned and financed by the US military, the numerous attempts of US intelligence agencies on the lives of foreign leaders, such as Congo's Patrice Lumumba, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier, Indonesia's Sukarno, South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, the Dominican Republic's Rafael Trujillo and Chilean Chief of Staff Rene Schneider, CIA-led Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, in which nearly 20,000 local leaders, such as mayors, doctors, teachers suspected of revolutionary sympathies were killed. In 1986, US President Ronald Reagan himself ordered the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi’s compound, remarking that he would shed no tear if the Libyan leader were killed. Another terrorist President of the US, George Bush Sr made a similar remark in hitting Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad in 1991. At the time he stated that, “No one will weep for him when he is gone.” His successor, President Bill Clinton prepared a secret memorandum expanding the use of deadly covert actions and authorizing in 1998 lethal force against al-Qaeda and ordered the more or less systematic bombardment of Iraqi territory which led to the killing of hundreds of innocent people and the degradation of the defensive capacity and the civilian infrastrutrure of this unfortunate country as a prelude to its invasion in March 2003.
As to Israel, its brief political life span has been characterized by a rich inventory of state terrorism, including, torture, provocation, assassination and massacres. Let’s take a look at a few instances of the record of the Zionist state.
After the creation of Israel in 1948, Zionists worked relentlessly to create fear among Jews in the Arab countries to insure the migration of the Jews of Middle Eastern countries into Israel. This tactic of terror was successfully employed in Yemen, Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia. According to the detailed accounts of Naim Giladi, for instance, to provoke the departure of Jews from Iraq, Zionist agents carried out bombings against synagogues and other Jewish institutions in Baghdad at the beginning of the 1950s. Zionists were also successful in inducing through bribes the puppet Iraqi government to pass anti-Semitic laws which further encouraged Jewish immigration into Israel.
In July 1954 Israeli government agents conducted several acts of sabotage against British & US property in Egypt. Israel aimed at incriminating “Egyptian terrorists”, thus driving a wedge between Britain & Egypt, and postponing British evacuation of the Suez Canal. The plan failed. Several Israeli agents were caught by Egyptian authorities, who confessed to their crimes during their open trials. This fiasco led to the resignation of the Israeli “Defence” Minister Pinhas Lavon in February 1955.
On April 27th, 1997 Yediot Aharonot published a 1976 interview with Moshe Dayan. Dayan, who was the defense minister in 1967, explains there what led, then, to the decision to attack Syria. At the time of the Six Day War of June 1967, Syria was portrayed as a serious threat to the security of Israel, and a constant initiator of aggression towards the population of northern Israel. But according to Dayan, neither before 1967, not after that date did Syria constitute a threat to Israel. “Just drop it”, he says, “I know how at least 80% of all the incidents with Syria started. We were sending a tractor to the demilitarized zone and we knew that the Syrians will shoot. If they did not shoot, we would instruct the tractor to go deeper, till the Syrians finally got upset and start shooting. Then we employed artillery, and later also the air-force... I did that... and Itzhak Rabin did that, when he was there (as commander of the Northern front, in the early sixties).”
The instances of systematic bombing of Palestinian and Lebanese civilian population by the Israeli army, use of car bombs to eliminate Israel’s opponents, launching of missiles from armed helicopter and warplanes at the leaders and members of resistance movements, demolition of homes of the people by armed bulldozers and destruction of Palestinian and Lebanese economy and infrastructure etc. are too numerous and too well known to be mentioned separately here. Therefore, it is obvious that –together with its American boss and partner- the terrorist Israeli state is a much more likely candidate for the recent terror attacks in Lebanon. Besides, as the following analysis demonstrates, Israel has been and remains committed to a divided, weakened and destabilized Lebanon, which has been a regular target of Israeli aggression and was under the occupation of the Zionists for nearly a quarter of a century.
Especially under the present circumstances, neither Syria and Iran nor the Lebanese Hezbollah have anything to gain from the assassination of Rafiq Hariri that took place on February 14th. They also do not have anything to gain from the bombings and assassinations that have followed it. One, however, cannot say the same for the US and Israel, who more or less openly pronounce their intentions of redrawing the map of the Middle East in accordance with their interests, of enhancing the “security” of the Zionist state, their aim of securing the control of oil and natural gas sources and their “right” to assassinate, destroy and terrorize all who stand in their way.
Here I present a recent analysis of the Hariri assassination, the starting point of the last spate of terrorist acts in Lebanon. I hope it will shed some light over the causes behind the continuing acts of violence in this unfortunate country.
Garbis Altinoglu, 21 June 2005
The Significance of the Assassination of Rafiq Hariri in the Light of the Strategic and Tactical Objectives of Israel
11-15 March 2005
A very professionally executed act of assassination resulted in the death of Rafiq Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon on February 14th by a very powerful bomb. A hitherto unheard of organization called “Victory and Holy War in Syria and Lebanon” claimed responsibility for the assasination. Right after the event, the US, Israel and the imperialist media put the blame on Syria. In tandem with this propaganda campaign, the reactionary Lebanese opposition led by Maronite Christian bourgeoisie and their opportunistic allies (mainly “Progressive Socialist Party” of Druzes and some Sunni politicians) took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops and an end to the Syrian domination over Lebanon. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice upbraided Syria, while Margaret Scobey, the American ambassadress in Damascus was withdrawn. Already, the Bush clique and its mouthpieces had for months repeatedly marshalled their lies and slanders with regard to the support Syria was allegedly providing to the enemies of the US and Israel; Damascus was being accused of helping the Iraqi resistance, harboring Iraqi Baathist chiefs and weapons of mass destruction, supporting the Palestinian resistance and Hezbollah “terrorists”, which had to be disarmed, if progress was to be made towards a “peace” between Palestine and Israel.
The Current Significance of Hariri Assassination
The causes and motives behind this assassination cannot be understood by observing solely Lebanon, where the wounds of the long drawn-out civil war have not been healed entirely. Neither can these causes and motives be understood by solely observing the present-day Middle Eastern scene. These latest developments in Lebanon can only be understood in the light of the decades-long imperialist-Zionist strategy of liquidation of Palestinian revolution, almost two decades-long imperialist-Zionist strategy of dismemberment of Iraq and present imperialist-Zionist aggression targeting the Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese resistance movements and the regimes in Syria and Iran.
Moreover, the track record of the Zionist bourgeoisie has clearly shown and continues to show that it can go to any lengths to achieve its evil ends. These include torture, systematic killing of civilians, including children, poisoning of wells, assassination of both opponents and “friends”, systematic use of provocations, widespread deception and disinformation, violation of all international treaties and trampling of all known norms of civilized conduct, massive bombings of residential areas etc.
In view of these incontrovertible facts, we can start to discuss the matter and ask that classical and salient question: Who has gained from the assassination of the multibillionaire capitalist and the former prime minister? Whose agenda has been served and promoted through this barbaric act? Who stands to profit from the ignition of the flames of civil war of 1975-1990 in this country, during which tens of thousands had been killed and the economy and infrastructure was thoroughly destroyed? Was not this civil war provoked by Israel, who held its southern half under a brutal occupation for 22 years? Was not this country the target of several military operations and invasions of Israel, whose policy included systematic killing of political and military leaders of Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, by car bombs, armed helicopters and missile strikes?
It is patently clear that neither Hezbollah and Palestinian resistance, nor Syria and Iran, who have been declared as enemies, terrorists, rogue states etc and targeted by the axis of evil comprised of the US, Israel and Britain and therefore are under threat of aggression, do not stand to gain anything from the assassination of Rafiq Hariri; it is beyond a shadow of doubt that this act of assassination benefits only,
a) Israel, who has been acting in keeping with the fascist principle of “preventive war” and been preparing its plans of aggression against Syria and Iran in front of the whole world,
b) the US imperialism, the boss and partner of Israel and
c) the reactionary Maronite bourgeoisie of Lebanon, the lackey of the US and Israel.
The Syrian bourgeoisie, who already has been pushed into a corner and accused of various attempts to undermine the Israeli-Palestinian “peace” process and the US effort to crush Iraqi resistance, cannot be expected to be behind this act of assassination and play into the hands of its enemies, who are looking for excuses to further isolate Damascus and move against it; nor can it be expected to alienate its vacillating neghbors in Lebanon and the Arab world in general and help to push cowardly and hypocritical Western European and Russian imperialists into the arms of Washington and Telaviv. So, these allegations do not amount to anything beyond third rate disinformation work.
Flynt Leverett, who served on the National Security Council under George W. Bush as the Senior Director for Mideast Affairs, from February 2002 to March 2003 conceded this state of affairs to a certain extent in his article “Don’t Rush on the Road to Damascus”, published in New York Times on March 2nd, 2005. In this article, he urged the Bush administration to move cautiously in any attempt to force Syria out of Lebanon, citing pitfalls that could well result in the strategy backfiring; he drew attention to the fact that any effort to engineer pro-Western Lebanese government would be resisted by Hezbollah, largest party in Lebanon's Parliament, which because of its record in fighting Israel is at least as legitimate in Lebanese eyes as the anti-Syrian opposition and contended that efforts to establish pro-Western government would fail, creating more instability in region when the US can ill afford it. There is, however, very little data indicating that the more realistic views of this representative of the more cautious sections of American imperialism are heeded.
By putting the blame on the shoulders of Syrian bourgeoisie for the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, imperialist and Zionist reactionaries are in reality targeting armed Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese resistance and to a certain extent the Damascus regime and the nuclear ambitions of Iran. That is the real reason behind the endless reactionary bourgeois demagogy over terrorism, rogue states, democracy, women’s rights, proliferation of nuclear weapons, dictatorship etc.
A Look at Recent Past
The invasion of Iraq and its “neutralization” as a potential threat to Israel, had been planned years, if not decades before. The embargo enforced upon Iraq in the wake of the Second Gulf War of 1991, led to the death of more than 1 million people in this country according to the UN, to the destruction of Iraq’s economy, infrastructure and public services. The US, Britain and France also established no-fly zones in the north and south of the country and imposed an illegal ban on the entry of Iraqi armed forces into Iraqi territory north of the 36th parallel (that is Southern Kurdistan) and south of 33rd parallel (that is part of the region inhabited by Iraqi Shiites). Together with the embargo, this ban constituted a sort of prologue to the invasion of Iraq and the operation to redesign the map of the Middle East. Therefore, the Clinton years when there occurred a slow-motion genocide of Iraqi people was in essence no different than the reign of neo-fascist Bush clique following the elections of 2000.
Still, these neo-fascist forces, who represented the most reactionary sections of American finance capital were raising their voices even during the Clinton era; they were pressing for a more aggressive policy vis-a-vis other imperialist powers for the “protection” of the positions of the US, for strengthening and extension of the control of the US on oil and natural gas resources of the Middle East and Central Asia, for taking more radical steps to improve the strategic position of Israel and for crushing the resistance of workers and of peoples through more naked, extensive and systematic military aggression. For instance, David Wurmser, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Middle East Advisor, Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defence for Policy, Richard Perle, former Chairman of the Defence Policy Board and a member of the Advisory Board of JINSA (=Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) had published a report to be presented to the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu back in July 1996. The report, entitled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, urged the Zionist bourgeoisie to abandon the traditional of “land for peace” formulation and to adopt a more aggressive policy. Smearing the Hezbollah-led resistance of Lebanese people against the UN-condemned Israeli occupation as “aggresion” in a spirit of utter hypocrisy and advocating the weakening of Syria and the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime, the report told:
“Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which Americans can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:
*striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan.
*paralleling Syria’s behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces.
*striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, *striking at select targets in Syria proper.
Israel also can take this opportunity to remind the world of the nature of the Syrian regime. Syria repeatedly breaks its word. It violated numerous agreements with the Turks, and has betrayed the United States by continuing to occupy Lebanon in violation of the Taef agreement in 1989. Instead, Syria staged a sham election, installed a quisling regime, and forced Lebanon to sign a "Brotherhood Agreement" in 1991, that terminated Lebanese sovereignty. And Syria has begun colonizing Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while killing tens of thousands of its own citizens at a time, as it did in only three days in 1983 in Hama…
Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”
In 1997, that is more than three years before the Bush clique took the reins of power, American, Israeli and Lebanese neo-fascist forces had organized the USFCL (=United States Committee for a Free Lebanon) chaired by Ziad K. Abdulnoor, a Lebanese Christian banker. The USFCL, which had the support of Christian fundamentalist and pro-Zionist organizatations, such as JINSA, Project for a New American Century, American Enterprise Institute, Center for Security Policy, US Institute for Peace, stated its purpose to be “to rid the Middle East of dictatorships, radical ideologies, border disputes, political violence and weapons of mass destruction.” In fact, the forces who formed and supported the USFCL were none others than those who in October 1992 had formed and supported the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi. In 1998, during the Clinton administration, US imperialists, who had been responsible for the death of more than a million Iraqi children, women and elderly due to the UN Security Council embargo, had proclaimed “The Iraq Liberation Act” and thus prepared the political infrastructure for the invasion of this country in March 2003.
In 2000, David Wurmser helped to draft a somewhat similar document entitled “Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon: the US Role?” This document called for a confrontation with the regime in Damascus, which it accused of developing “weapons of mass destruction.” Among those signing the document were Feith and Perle, as well as Elliott Abrams, Bush’s chief advisor on the Middle East, who was recently appointed deputy national security advisor.
This document urged the use of US military force, claiming that the 1991 Persian Gulf War had proven that Washington “can act to defend its interests and principles without the specter of huge casualties.” It continued:
“But this opportunity may not wait, for as weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities spread, the risks of such action will rapidly grow. If there is to be decisive action, it will have to be sooner rather than later.”
In April 2003 Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz warned: "There's got to be a change in Syria."
And in December 2003, Bush administration passed “The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act” into law with the support of the US Congress in an effort to prepare the US and world public opinion for the envisaged invasion of Syria and/ or the overthrow of the Syrian regime.
In brief, at least part of the ruling classes of the US, Israel and Britain had decided upon the destabilization and if possible invasion and dismemberment of Syria and Iran along with Iraq, long before the events of 11 September 2001 and before the advent of George W. Bush’s presidency. This observation, however, will not take us to the origin of the story. A cursory examination of the process of formation and history of Israel, shall be enough to disclose the fact that the policy and strategy of this illegitimate child of British and US imperialists has all along been characterized by naked aggression as well as plots and intrigues against the countries and peoples of the region. As Edward W. Miller had said in his May 1996 article, titled “Lebanon, Israel’s Killing Fields”, “The basic Zionist plot is unchanged, only new players have appeared on Israel's stage.”
Expansionist Strategy of the Zionist Bourgeoisie
Zionist chiefs had formulated their ambitions toward Lebanon, decades before the formal foundation of Israel. In 1918 during their discussions with the British authorities, they had demanded the extension of the northern borders of Palestine, then under British mandate, to the Litani river in Southern Lebanon. At the time of the armed clashes between Palestinian/ Arab and Jewish forces in 1947-48, Zionist military units had approached the Litani river, but had to retreat under intense international pressure. In 1954, during the discussions with the representatives of the Eisenhower administration, İsraeli leaders had gone so far as to threaten the use of force against Lebanon in case it utilized the waters of the Litani river for the economic development of Southern Lebanon.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett’s diaries, which were published posthumously by his son in the face of the threats of Zionists, expose the targets and intrigues of Israel. In her book, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism, Livia Rokach presents extensive excerpts from Sharett’s diaries. “Sharett's Diary, however,” says Rokach, “provides the entire documentation of how in 1954 Ben Gurion developed the diabolic plans to ‘Christianize’ Lebanon, i.e., to invent and create from scratch the inter-Lebanese conflict, and of how a detailed blueprint for the partition and subordination of that country to Israel was elaborated by Israel more than fifteen years before the Palestinian presence became a political factor in Lebanon.”
In another section of the book, we come across another facet of Zionist aggression:
“On May 16, during a joint meeting of senior officials of the defense and foreign affairs ministries,” writes Sharett, “Ben Gurion again raised the demand that Israel do something about Lebanon. The moment was particularly propitious, he maintained, due to renewed tensions between Syria and Iraq, and internal trouble in Syria. Dayan immediately expressed his enthusiastic support:
“According to him [Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan] the only thing that's necessary is to find an officer, even just a Major. We should either win his heart or buy him with money, to make him agree to declare himself the savior of the Maronite population. Then the Israeli army will enter Lebanon, will occupy the necessary territory, and will create a Christian regime which will ally itself with Israel. The territory from the Litani southward will be totally annexed to Israel and everything will be all right. If we were to accept the advice of the Chief of Staff we would do it tomorrow, without awaiting a signal from Baghdad... (16 May 1954)
“The Chief of Staff supports a plan to hire a [Lebanese] officer who will agree to serve as a puppet so that the Israeli army may appear as responding to his appeal ‘to liberate Lebanon from its Muslim oppressors.’ This will of course be a crazy adventure.... We must try to prevent dangerous complications. The commission- must be charged with research tasks and prudent actions directed at encouraging Maronite circles who reject Muslim pressures and agree to lean on us.” (28 May 1954)
Zionist bourgeoisie has consistently followed a line of gradual colonization of Palestine and seizing Palestinian land by naked force; moreover, it has always conducted a strategy of “divide and rule” vis-a-vis its other neighbors, including Lebanon and that of supporting separationist movements of non-Arab minorities in Arab countries, a strategy of expansionism, terrorism and war. Oded Yinon, a former senior analyst with the ministry of foreign affairs of Israel stated the position of the Zionist bourgeoisie quite frankly in an article published in February 1982 in a journal called Kivunim (=Directions). Here he told:
“In reality, however, Egypt's power in proportion both to Israel alone and to the rest of the Arab World has gone down about 50 percent since 1967. Egypt is no longer the leading political power in the Arab World and is economically on the verge of a crisis. Without foreign assistance the crisis will come tomorrow... Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front.
“Egypt is divided and torn apart into many foci of authority. If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt. The vision of a Christian Coptic State in Upper Egypt alongside a number of weak states with very localized power and without a centralized government as to date, is the key to a historical development which was only set back by the peace agreement but which seems inevitable in the long run.
“The Western front, which on the surface appears more problematic, is in fact less complicated than the Eastern front, in which most of the events that make the headlines have been taking place recently. Lebanon's total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel's primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon, so that there will be a Shi'ite Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus hostile to its northern neighbor, and the Druzes who will set up a state, maybe even in our Golan, and certainly in the Hauran and in northern Jordan. This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.
“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north. It is possible that the present Iranian-Iraqi confrontation will deepen this polarization.” (Italics mine)
In his article, “Israel: The Ultimate Winner”, Palestinian political scientist Saleh Abdel-Jewwad examined the strategy of the Zionist bourgeoisie vis-a-vis its Arab neighbors. His article published in the 634th issue of Al Ahram in 17-23 April 2003, confirmed the conclusions of Oded Yinon’s analysis:
“For this reason, successive Israeli governments have adopted policies based on the principle of supporting non-Arab ethnic minorities such as the Kurds in Iraq or the Maronites in Lebanon. Literature on the Zionist movement -- particularly those published at the end of the 1930s and the beginning of the Arabisation of the Palestinian question -- indicate that the Zionist leaders in general, and yeshiva leaders in particular, placed their hopes and concerns on on establishing relationships with every minority within the Arab world and neighbouring non-Arab countries.
“Since the end of the 1930s, Ben Gurion articulated some principles which would become indisputable Zionist tenets:
“1. The Arabs are the primary enemy of the Zionist movement. To confront this chief enemy, it is necessary for Zionism to search for allies in the East to stand with its allies in the West. These are needed to act as a counter force and support the power of the Zionist project when faced with this (primary) confrontation. At the end of the day it is a 'bloody struggle between us and them'. Therefore, any group or sect which opposes Arab nationalism – ‘the primary enemy of the Jewish people’-- or is prepared to fight against it, is an ally which helps Zionism implement its settlement and state-driven policies...
“It is against this backdrop that Israel has supported secessionist movements in Sudan, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon and any secessionist movements in the Arab world which Israel considers an enemy. Yet the concern for Iraq and its attempts to weaken or prevent it from developing its strengths has always been a central Zionist objective. At times, Israel succeeded in gaining a foothold in Iraq by forging secret yet strong relationships with leaders from the Kurdish movement. In sharp contrast it failed to gain allies amongst the Coptic community in Egypt primarily because of the historical continuity of the Egyptian state.”
Zionist Aggression Against Lebanon
This strategic approach of Israel to Lebanon, the weakest link in the Arab world, has found its expression in almost interminable interference in the internal affairs of this country and aggresion against its people. In fact, the history of Lebanese-Israeli relationship is a history of the military aggresion of Zionist bandits against Lebanon under the protective wings of US and British imperialists. Here I mention the most significant instances of such acts.
*In 1969, under the pretext of retaliating against the killing of an Israeli citizen in Athens by an Arab, Zionist forces bombed the newly built Khalde airport of Beirut. The airport complex and 13 civilian airplanes were almost entirely destroyed as a result of this attack.
*At the beginning of the 1970s, Zionists had started to launch more or less regular assaults on PLO bases in Southern Lebanon. This was directly related to the relocation of the main body of Palestinian resistance in Lebanon in the wake of the Black September days of 1971 in Jordan.
*In 1975-1976, a civil war took place in Lebanon between reactionary and fascist forces defending mainly the interests of Maronite bourgeoisie and the progressive and leftist forces, defending mainly the interests of Druze and Sunnite Muslim toilers allied with Palestinian resistance. This war, which led to the death of tens of thousands of people and the destruction of the economy and infrastructure of Lebanon was instigated by Zionists. In fact, as I have mentioned above, as far back as 1954, the latter were preparing plans to dismember Lebanon and establish a pro-Western and pro-Israeli Christian state there. On 27 February 1954, Ben Gurion, the founding father of Israel, had written a letter to Prime Minister Moshe Sharett.
“It is clear” he said, “that Lebanon is the weakest link in the Arab League... The creation of a Christian State is therefore a natural act; it has historical roots and it will find support in wide circles in the Christian world, both Catholic and Protestant. In normal times this would be almost impossible... But at times of confusion, or revolution or civil war, things take on another aspect, and even the weak declares himself to be a hero. Perhaps (there is never any certainty in politics) now is the time to bring about the creation of a Christian State in our neighborhood. Without our initiative and our vigorous aid this will not be done. It seems to me that this is the central duty - for at least one of the central duties, of our foreign policy. This means that time, energy and means ought to be invested in it and that we must act in all possible ways to bring about a radical change in Lebanon. Sasson ... and our other Arabists must be mobilized...” (Italics mine)
The growth of the progressive movement in Lebanon, with the support of the Palestinian resistance in the first half of the 1970s alarmed not only reactionary Maronite bourgeoisie, but their Zionist and American backers as well. It was time for Zionists to implement their strategic plan of dismemberment of Lebanon. Long before the first shots were fired in the civil war of 1975-1976, Israel had been secretly supplying weapons and military training to the Lebanese rightists for several years. Israel, like the United States, wanted to see the Palestinians defeated in Lebanon. In April 1975, when a reporter asked Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin why Israel failed retaliate against a Fatah attack on a Tel Aviv hotel, he replied, “We have chosen not to reply to this operation because we are planning on and waiting for a confessional war in Lebanon which would have the same result.”
*Zionist forces once more invaded Lebanon in March 1978 up to the Litani river in Southern Lebanon. Around 1,000 people, mostly civilians were killed during the clashes and Israeli bombing of villages and towns. More than 250,000 civilians were forced to flee their homes. As a result of international pressure, Zionists were compelled to evacuate most of the territory they invaded. However, they formed a 100 km-long and 8 to 10 km-wide “security belt” at the Lebanese-Israeli border before they retreated. This “security belt” was manned by a puppet Christian mercenary force, called SLA (=South Lebanese Army) and led by the so-called Major Saad Haddad.
*In July and August 1979, Israeli army conducted a heavy bombardment against Southern Lebanon, on the pretext of retaliating against the actions of Palestinian guerillas. This assault was followed by the bombardment of Beirut in July 1981. Hundreds of people lost their lives and thousands were wounded as a result of these piratical acs of aggression.
*On 6 June 1982, Zionist forces began another major assault on Lebanon under the pretext of retaliating against an assasination attempt targeting the Israeli ambassador in London a few days before. During the assault nicknamed “Operation Peace in Galilee”, Israeli aggressors occupied a major part of Lebanon after bombing the Palestinian guerilla bases in Southern Lebanon and then proceeded to encircle Beirut itself on 13 July. The capital of Lebanon was pounded by Israeli artillery, tanks and warplanes for almost two months and reduced tu rubble. 650 Israeli soldiers and 20, 000 Lebanese and Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, are estimated to have died as a result of this military operation.
In the wake of the retreat of Palestinian guerillas from Southern Lebanon and Beirut in the second half of August, Bashir Jemayel, the leader of reactionary “Lebanese forces” and a close ally of Israel was elected president of Lebanon. Jemayel was assassinated on 14 September 1982. This immediately triggered a bloody attack by the Phalange militia of Bashir Jemayel on unarmed Palestinian civilians residing in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in West Beirut. In the Zionist-inspired and planned Sabra-Shatilla massacre, Lebanese reactionary mercenaries killed in cold blood approximately 3,000 women, elderly and children under the protection and supervision of the Israeli army.
*After the killing of 5 Israeli soldiers in the so-called “security belt” in Southern Lebanon, Zionist forces conducted another military operation against Lebanese people and resistance in July 1993. During this assault, called “Operation Accountability”, around 130 people, most of whom were civilians, were killed and 300,000 people forced to flee their homes.
*On 11-27 April 1996, Israeli army conducted another military operation against the Lebanese resistance led by the Hezbollah. During this attack, nicknamed “Operation Grapes of Wrath”, 154 people were killed and 351 wounded.
However, all these operations leading to the death of thousands of people proved powerless to crush and stop the resistance of Lebanese people to occupation. The same can be said about the incarceration, torture and killing of thousands of other people in the notorious Khiam prison/concentration camp –directed by the SLA and supervised by the Israeli military intelligence- in Southern Lebanon. On the contrary, this oppression fueled the resistance and contributed to its victory. In the end, Zionists and their mercenary puppets, who were continuously harassed and forced into a defensive position through guerilla warfare, were unceremoniously thrown out of Lebanon as a result of well-planned and coordinated military attack on 23-25 May 2000. In fact, the defeat of the Israeli army in Southern Lebanon in mid-2000, was and remains the first instance of Zionist aggressors being militarily beaten and thrown out of an occupied Arab territory. This victory of the Lebanese resistance in turn, would contribute to the reawakening of the dormant Palestinian resistance, the second intifadah would begin in earnest in September 2000, four months after the liberation of Southern Lebanon. In passing, let me stress that, this is one of the main
reasons behind the fanatical insistence of Israel and the US and their henchmen in the so-called international community on the disarming of the Hezbollah.
At least since the formation of Syria as a sovereign state, after the termination of the French mandate in 1943, the Syrian bourgeoisie had voiced its intentions to reunite with Lebanon; it had argued that, historically Lebanon was a part of Syria and was torn away from the main body of the country at the end of the First World War, when the defeated Turkey was compelled to leave all Arab territories to the victorious Allies. To achieve its objective, throughout the last decades Damascus has entered into a variety of shifting, unprincipled and opportunist alliances with various fections in Lebanon; at times it has not refrained from acting in unison with the US and even Israel to prevent the supremacy of anti-imperialist and democratic forces as was the case during the civil war of 1975-1976. Without discussing the pros and cons of the historical claims of the Syrian bourgeoisie, we can say that, it is the Lebanese workers and toilers of different nationalities and religious confessions, who have the right to determine the destiny of their countries and to decide on the content and form of the relationship of Lebanon with Syria. No outside force, including Syria has the right to impose its will upon the Lebanese people.
On the other hand, it should be made patently clear that US imperialists, the main enemy of workers, other toilers and oppressed nations of the world, have no right whatsoever to interfere in the internal affairs of Lebanon or of any other country. Neither US imperialists, who have massacred tens of millions of workers and other toilers, planned and executed hundreds of reactionary and fascist coups d’etat, committed countless provocations and war crimes against the toiling humanity, nor their bloodthirsty Zionist partners and lackeys have the right to do so.
The position of Syria and its policy with respect to its smaller neighbor, cannot make us forget, even for a moment, the fact that US imperialism and Israeli Zionism are and remain the main enemies of Lebanese, Palestinian and Iraqi workers and other toilers. This is especially true at present, when the US, Britain and Israel have declared and initiated a new world war against the workers and peoples of the world in general and the workers and peoples of the Islamic world in particular and have been trying to pressure and threaten all political forces and states to toe their line under the motto of “you are either with us or with the terrorists.” Under the present circumstances, states such as Syria, Iran, North Korea etc. objectively become indirect, though vacillating and questionable reserves of the workers and peoples of the world, depending upon the extent of their resistance against and the level of their rejection of the threats and blackmails of the neo-fascist axis of evil of US-Britain-Israel.
Therefore, all class-conscious workers and consistent revolutionary forces should decisively reject the so-called democratization game of the Lebanese reactionary bourgeios forces inspired, financed and supported by the US and its allies. They should unequivocally oppose all interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon, Syria and Iran and a probable aggression of the axis of evil on these countries, notwithstanding the anti-democratic and reactionary nature of these regimes. In the case of an open military aggression against these countries (and other countries in a similar position) they should wish the victory of these regimes against American-Israeli-British aggression and take a definite stand against these rogue states.
“For example”, said Lenin in 1915, “if tomorrow Morocco were to declare war on France, or India on Britain, or Persia or China on Russia, and so on, these would be ‘just’, and to ‘defensive’ wars, irrespective of who would be the first to attack; any socialist would wish the oppressed, dependent and unequal states victory over the oppressor, slave-holding, predatory ‘Great’ Powers.” (“Socialism and War”, Collected Works, Vol. 21, Moscow, Progress Publishers, 1974, pp. 300-01)
Such a stand cannot in any way be portrayed as an endorsement of these bourgeois regimes, which are ready to cooperate with the US and already do so to a certain extent. Therefore, Marxist-Leninists and consistent revolutionaries do not for a moment forget the fact that, only under the leadership of the communist party of the working class, can imperialist-Zionist aggression be defeated and democratic and socialist demands of the masses of exploited and oppressed people of the Middle East be met.
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