I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012 with US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.
On Monday, President Obama fulfilled the first of three promises he made a month ago to resume releasing prisoners from Guantánamo, by appointing an envoy at the State Department to deal with prisoner transfers.
American secretary of offence Chuck Hagel kicked off his Middle East tour this week with outrageous warmongering threats towards Iran, while at the same time giving a license for more state terrorism from Washington’s Israeli rogue regime.
Hagel’s cozying up to Israeli partners-in-crime nails the lie that the Obama White House is somehow at odds with Tel Aviv over Middle East policy and Iran in particular. Nothing could be further from the truth. Washington is as wired for war as ever, and this belligerent impetus comes from Washington, not the rogue entity in Tel Aviv.
The killings of three Palestinian refugees this past week including Ahmad Qassim from Nahr al Bared (‘cold river’) camp near Tripoli and 15 year old Khaled al-Youssef from Ein el Helwe (‘ the beautiful eye’) 30 miles south of Beirut in Saida, and the wounding of more than a dozen others by the Lebanese army were not, as some Lebanese politicians are claiming, “accidental security incidents”. They were avoidable negligent homicides as much so as Zionist occupation forces and settler/colonists in Palestine regularly commit.
In early spring 1983, shortly before her death, the American journalist Janet Lee Stevens urged this observer to visit Libya and meet some friends of hers who were active in the Palestine armed resistance. In those days, thanks to Yasser Arafat’s skill, passion, charm and cash, there were ten Palestinian groups publicly associated, and another half dozen more shadowy ones, sometimes in and sometimes out, depending on shifting political considerations, of the then large tent of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The idea to have American allies summarily expel Syrian diplomats was hatched, according to a US congressional source, in the fertile office of outgoing US Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, rumored to be on his way to New York to become, unimaginably one might be forgiven for thinking, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs.”
Three or four gentlemen regularly sit outside a small grocery store, opposite this observer’s flat, drinking coffee and smoking argileh water pipes, in the Hezbollah neighborhood of Haret Hreik in south Beirut. I rely on them and value their insights into the swirling events in Lebanon and credit their analyses and gut instincts about developments on the streets.
It might require a semanticist with Noam Chomsky’s erudition to explain to some of us more obtuse the meanings, context, and policy nuances of two similar and repeated phases heard in Lebanon earlier this month by two well listened to guests . During over-lapping visits of top US and Iranian officials to Lebanon; one warned and threatened Lebanon, while the second praised Lebanon’s “achievements”. Admittedly, divining these Lebanese ‘achievements” is no mean task.
It would be an incautious stretch to suggest any sort of parity between Watergate and the unfolding Lutfallah II arms shipment-to-Syria drama, that each day brings more revelations. But some of what we are daily learning about the who, what and why of Lutfallah II reminds some of us of a Watergate, type atmosphere including “bit by bit, drip by drip” revelations, denials, setting up fall guys and remarkable examples of incompetence.
It may be that researchers would want to examine as long ago as the period from the 3rd century BC until the beginning of the 17th century in order to find a regime so frenetically building walls and barriers in a hopeless quest to hold onto stolen lands as we in Lebanon may soon witness in the south of the country. It was back in 221 BC that in order to protect China from the land claims of the Xiongnu people from Mongolia, the Xiongnu tribe being China’s main enemy at that time who sought the return of lands they claimed the Chinese had stolen, that the emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of a wall to guard China’s territorial gains.
University students surveyed last month in Lebanon on the subject of how to improve their society and move it in the direction of meeting international human and civil rights norms identified three groups most in urgent need of immediate Lebanese governmental action.
Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), the doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of high-yield weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the potential annihilation of both the attacker and the defender, thus becoming a war that has no victor but only reciprocal destruction is increasingly becoming relevant to the Iran/Israel regional confrontation.
One fellow who works at the Beirut US Embassy tells the story of how, each year around the time of the vernal equinox, since 2005, when Jeffrey Feltman became the American Ambassador—(given Jeff’s domination of US Middle East Policy, he is still essentially US Ambassador to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf, and much of the region, although other names appear from time to time on the local US Embassy doorplates)—the now multi-hatted US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs would perform a sort of ritual.