Lebanese Cartoonist Had To Defend Drawing of Sayyed Nasrallah

This caricature has landed famous Lebanese cartoonist Pierre Sadek in hot waters (Arabic) with “the people of the resistance”. I’m looking at it and I honestly can’t see why anyone would be offended by it. Unless the very portrayal of a man of religion is forbidden, but last time I check such reverence was reserved for the Prophet only..

American Soldiers Withdraw Publicly From Iraq. Nasrallah's Conspiracy Falls Flat on its Face.

American troops withdrawing from Iraq

- Oh look! they’re withdrawing! -

If you watched CNN today, you can’t escape the part of the news that covers the American withdrawal from Iraq. There are endless videos of military vehicles streaming out of Iraq. There are interviews with happy soldiers. There’s even a reporter embedded inside one of the withdrawing vehicles. It’s one of those news items that just go on and on without end and leave you wishing there was a “next item” button.

Why am I bringing this up? Because this is something Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told us will never happen. Here’s what he said in his Ashoura speech on December 7th:

If you open the Arab and international satellites you will not find any news about the withdrawal from Iraq, no picture about the tanks’ or the army’s pullout, knowing that yesterday I read in a newspaper the number of American soldiers who are still present in Iraq.

How did 150,000 soldiers pullout from Iraq without anyone recognizing or even knowing about the issue? They did succeed in that.

This was –you guessed it– a conspiracy to hide the humiliation of a retreating American army that was vanquished by the “Iraqi Mujahideen”. The great American propaganda machine supposedly took great care in hiding images of the dog running with its tail between its legs, and “it succeeded”, Sayyed Nasrallah magnanimously conceded…

Alas, with Hezbollah, there’s always a conspiracy lurking around the corner. It’s the tinted glass they see the world with: A world that is out to get them against which they have to stay guarded, armed to the teeth and united. It is one thing to know a paranoid person. It is completely another to be ruled by one.

Asking Them to Jump into The Fire?

Tony Badran has an interesting take on Sayyed Nasrallah’s Ashoura speech. In his view, the speech serves to prepare a reluctant flock for a confrontation with Israel over Iran’s weapons:

The overriding motif of the address was the perseverance of the faithful regardless of the hardships they must face and the sacrifices they must make. Nasrallah made it amply clear that what was expected of the believers was nothing short of self-sacrifice. To drive the point home, he referenced a story from Shia tradition about how the faithful—men, women and children—willingly jumped into a pit of fire rather than renounce their Imam.

And why did he make a surprise appearance in person?

The purpose behind that was to bind himself, Hezbollah and the Shia community in one fate [...] “I have chosen to be among you today for a few minutes … so the whole world can hear and we can renew our pledge,”

Sounds about right to me. When I first saw the title: “Jumping into the Fire”, I thought Tony was talking about something else. I thought the article was about how Nasrallah was going all in with the Syrian regime, but then again everything is connected in the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis.

❊ Is the Region on a War Footing? The Context for Sayyed Nasrallah's Speech

Today, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made a rare public appearance. One of the things he said was:

I address our enemies when I say that the Resistance is here to stay; day after day our troops are growing, our arms are developing and they are being constantly renewed

This can of course be dismissed as regular jaw jaw designed for local political consumption, but is it? As I look at the region, I see many signs that things aren’t quite right. A war between Iran and the west could very well be looming.

Consider the following points:

  1. November 8: The IAEA releases a damning report on Iranian nuclear weapons that surprises and alarms western powers and pushes the British foreign minister to issue threats
  2. November 14: A Big blast targets a missile depot in Tehran and is seen as a major setback to Iran’s Missile program.
  3. November 16: Israeli leaks news of a secret plan for attacking Iran, as the war drums in Israel get louder and louder.
  4. November 29: Iranian demonstrators storm British embassy in Tehran with the apparent support of the state.
  5. December 3: Israeli Prime Minister announces that sometimes leader have to make big, unpopular decisions. While he spoke, Syria tested a SCUD B missile.
  6. December 5: Iran captured an American surveillance drone with top American secrets in it.
  7. December 6: The Telegraph reports that Iran is now on high military alert and is expecting and preparing for an attack.

And I haven’t even started with the implications of the Syrian revolution, the success of which could be a major strategic setback for Iran and Hezbollah. It is against this backdrop that we have to read Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech.

Am I worried? Yes. Should you cancel your Christmas vacations in Lebanon? Not yet, but some caution can go a long way.

Now Lebanon Kills Blog Post Showing Lebanese Leaders Kissing

This morning while browsing Now Lebanon’s blog I saw a post (now removed, but you can see a screenshot I took here) featuring a Lebanese version of the now-infamous Benetton unhate campaign, with a couple of posters that pair together Lebanese politicians in a similar kind of steamy embrace.

I said to myself: There’s no way this is going to stay here. I was sure Now Lebanon was going to kill it (after all, they’ve done it before). So I wrote a comment on that post saying “let’s see how long those will last”.

My comment never showed up (but you can find it in the cache). The post was removed less than an hour later. At the time of the page’s removal, the post was seen around 6500 times. What was seen cannot be unseen.

Update: I wrote a follow-up post speculating on why it was censored.

Beware Of Al-Quaeda

All sides should try their best not to portray this as a defeat for Lebanon’s Sunnis.

Humiliated on Hezbollah TV. (Photo Credit: Yahoo!)

As Hezbollah moved into (Sunni) west Beirut and took on the moderate Future Movement, many will be tempted to portray this as a defeat for Lebanon’s Sunnis. That would be bad ideas whose repercussions will affect all parties in the country.

Unleashing the sectarian monster can seem like a good idea to Islamists allied with the Future Movement and to the Saudis, but they had better think twice before letting that genie out of the bottle. All parties, including the Future movement should actively portray this as a security and political situation, not a sectarian one.

Because before we know it, extreme elements can manipulate the sense of victimhood some Sunnis would have and target Shiaa symbols with terrorist operations that would unleash the same god-forsaken death spiral that exists in Iraq.

We don’t have to go through all what Iraq has suffered to realize that Al-Quaeda is not really what the Sunnis want for their protection.