Category Archives: Lebanon

Like the Middle East 15 years ago, Europe has underestimated the destructive force of nationalism

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

iraq-war-13.jpgI started working as a journalist at the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland, between 1972 and 1975, and then moved to Lebanon where the 15-year-long civil war was just beginning. I saw both countries as interesting but bloody and atypical, sad casualties of their divisive histories and out of keeping with the modern world.

Unfortunately, over the following 40 years it turned out that the Lebanese war was a foretaste of the violent sectarian, ethnic and social divisions that were to tear the Middle East apart. Nation states ruled by despots became more politically fragile by the year and foreign powers exacerbated civil wars by military intervention and by backing their local proxies. Extreme Islam flourished in conditions of chaos, replacing nationalism and socialism as the ideological vehicle for opposition to the status quo.

Just how Britain plunged into this morass without much idea of the dangers it was running should be illuminated at great length by the Chilcot Report when it is published next Wednesday, but the risks involved were obvious from the beginning.

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Prominent American Professor Proposes That Israel “Flatten Beirut”

Ben Norton reports for Salon:

(A screenshot of the Haaretz headline, which was later changed)A prominent American scholar who teaches international relations at George Washington University has publicly proposed that Israel “flatten Beirut” — a city with around 1 million people — in order to destroy the missiles of Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.

Professor Amitai Etzioni — who has taught at a variety of prestigious U.S. universities, including Columbia, Harvard and Berkeley, and who served as a senior advisor in President Jimmy Carter’s administration — made this proposal in an op-ed in Haaretz, the leading English-language Israeli newspaper, known as “The New York Times of Israel.” Haaretz represents the liberal wing of Israel’s increasingly far-right politics.

Etzioni’s op-ed was first published on Feb. 15 with the headline “Can Israel Obliterate Hezbollah’s Growing Missile Threat Without Massive Civilian Casualties?” (the answer he suggests in response to this question is “likely no”).

“Should Israel Flatten Beirut to Destroy Hezbollah’s Missiles?” was the next, much more blunt title, chosen sometime on or before Feb. 16.

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It’s True, Media Did Cover Beirut Bombings–About 1/40th as Much as They Covered Paris Attacks

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

New York Times front page: Paris attacksMax Fisher takes issue in Vox (11/16/15) with people who complain about the lack of media coverage of ISIS’s bombings in Beirut compared to its attacks in Paris:

The media has, in fact, covered the Beirut bombings extensively.

The New York Timescovered it. The Washington Post, in addition to running an Associated Press story on it, sent reporter Hugh Naylor to cover the blasts and then write a lengthy piece on their aftermath. The Economist had a thoughtful piece reflecting on the attack’s significance. CNN, which rightly or wrongly has a reputation for least-common-denominator news judgment, aired one segment after another on the Beirut bombings. Even the Daily Mail, a British tabloid most known for its gossipy royals coverage, was on the story. And on and on.

Yet these are stories that, like so many stories of previous bombings and mass acts of violence outside of the West, readers have largely ignored.

Let’s grant Fisher one point: The much-retweeted Twitter complaint that “no media has covered” the Beirut bombing is wrong—as is most media criticism that asserts that “no media” did anything.

But Fisher’s overarching argument—that because “the media does cover Beirut,” it’s wrong to blame media for the fact that “the world truly does care more about France”—is equally absurd.

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Western Media Reporting on the ISIS Bombing in Beirut: Interview with Rania Masri and Vijay Prashad

Jessica Devereux talks to Rania Masri and Vijay Prashad. They both agree that the western media’s reporting on the ISIS bombing in Lebanon is deeply racist and accepts the ISIS narrative by describing the southern Beirut neighborhood as a “Hezbollah bastion”. (The Real News)

Obama: ISIS ‘Contained,’ No Longer Gaining Strength

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

An interview recorded Thursday and aired Friday morning saw President Obama claiming that ISIS has been successfully “contained” by the US military, and that the group is no longer capable of gaining ground in either Iraq or Syria.

Obama conceded that ISIS hadn’t been fully “decapitated” by the military operations, but credited US forces with keeping them from taking new territory, even though they’ve taken a massive amount of new territory in both Iraq and Syria since the US airstrikes began.

US officials are hyping their “progress” against ISIS, citing what they believe is “reasonable certainty” that a drone strike Thursday killed “Jihadi John” a British ISIS member who they’d sought to kill for some time.

The timing of Obama’s claim of containment likely couldn’t have been worse, however, as Thursday saw a massive ISIS dual suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon, and Friday evening saw an even bigger round of attacks in Paris, with speculation ISIS was involved there as well.

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Hezbollah threatens ‘long war’ as Lebanese capital reels from deadliest terror attack in years

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

Beirut.jpgA Russian airliner blown out of the sky over Sinai, and now the slaughter of Hezbollah’s Shia Muslims in Beirut – it’s the same war.

Thursday night’s suicide bombings by Isis in Lebanon, causing almost 50 deaths and wounding 250, displayed the same savagery, the same attention to detail, the same target: the enemies of Isis who are supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. The Lebanese were waiting for these latest attacks for weeks.

General Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon’s “General Security” apparatus, has been saying for months that he is “fighting Isis” – which is perfectly true – and his men, along with the Lebanese army, have for the past two weeks been raiding the homes of Sunni Islamists in Tripoli and around Sidon, reportedly finding explosives and at least one suicide vest. The sinister black Isis flag can now be seen in both Tripoli and hanging over the main street of the  Palestinian Ein el-Helwe refugee camp in Sidon.

This does not mean Isis is about to “take over” Lebanon. Nor does it imply a sectarian conflict is about to overwhelm the nation that suffered its own 15-year civil war, which ended a quarter of a century ago. But the Isis struggle against the Russians, Hezbollah, the Iranians, the Syrian regime, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s military rule in Egypt and the Sunni Arab Gulf states will consume the innocent anywhere in the region, and perhaps outside it.

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Dozens Killed in Beirut as Islamic State Continues Attacks on Foes Outside Its Territory: Interview with Rami Khouri

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez talk to Rami Khouri, columnist at the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper, about the Islamic State bombing in a Shia suburb in Beirut, Lebanon and their recent attack on a passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai region. (Democracy Now!)

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

[…] It amazes me that all these warriors of the air don’t regularly crash into each other as they go on bombing and bombing. And since Lebanon’s Middle East Airlines is the only international carrier still flying over Syria – but not, thank heavens, over Isis’s Syrian capital of Raqqa – I’m even more amazed that my flights from Beirut to the Gulf have gone untouched by the blitz boys of so many Arab and Western states as they career around the skies of Mesopotamia and the Levant.

The sectarian and theological nature of this war seems perfectly clear to all who live in the Middle East – albeit not to our American chums. The Sunni Saudis are bombing the Shia Yemenis and the Shia Iranians are bombing the Sunni Iraqis. The Sunni Egyptians are bombing Sunni Libyans, it’s true, and the Jordanian Sunnis are bombing Iraqi Sunnis. But the Shia-supported Syrian government forces are bombing their Sunni Syrian enemies and the Lebanese Hezbollah – Shia to a man – are fighting the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Sunni enemies, along with Iranian Revolutionary Guards and an ever-larger number of Afghan Shia men in Syrian uniforms.’

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U.S. Ships $25m of Weapons to Lebanon to Aid Fight Against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra

Jason Ditz reported recently for Antiwar:

A ship loaded down with $25 million worth of US weaponry, mostly artillery, has arrived in Beirut today, the first shipment of US military aid to Lebanon to fight against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra.

[…] The US has been unwilling to give any official show of support to Syria, which is bearing the brunt of the ISIS fight, but seems to feel more comfortable bankrolling Iraq and Lebanon as a way of getting more involved in the war while keeping its distance from Syria.

Lebanon’s involvement in the war is fairly minor, with only intermittent clashes along the Syrian border. Despite this, the war has also fueled sectarian tensions inside Lebanon, and US weaponry also risks getting involved in that.’

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The US, ISIS and the conspiracy theory sweeping Lebanon

Suzanne Kianpour reports for BBC News:

Image grab taken from a propaganda video released on 17 March 2014 by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, ISIL) al-Furqan Media shows fighters (militants) raising their weapons in Anbar province. “In the Middle East, conspiracy theories are in our blood,” one former Lebanese official said over lunch in a restaurant in central Beirut. He was referring to the latest talk of the town: the United States is behind the creation of the Islamic State group (formerly known as Isis, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and Hillary Clinton admitted it in her book “Hard Choices”… To back up their claim, conspiracy theorists online pointed to a powerful piece of “proof”: the word of Hillary Clinton – the former US secretary of state widely expected to make a bid for the presidency.

[…] Instead, what Hillary Clinton has said is that the failure to help Syrian rebels led to the rise of IS. It’s not completely shocking that such a theory may have started, given America’s history of supporting militant and guerrilla groups; the mujahideen in Afghanistan, from which al-Qaeda emerged, quickly comes to mind. The fact that US allies in the Gulf are accused of supporting IS also doesn’t help their case. “Such theories abound, largely because Washington has shown a propensity for outsourcing regime change. Support for insurgent groups in that context is certainly not a new practice and, as of late, has not been a particularly effective one,” says Octavius Pinkard, a Brussels-based specialist in foreign policy analysis and Middle East politics, who has been conducting fieldwork in Beirut.’

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Hezbollah sees Islamic State insurgents as threat to Gulf states

Tom Perry reports for Reuters:

‘The Hezbollah leader described the radical Islamist movement that has seized large areas of Iraq and Syria as a growing “monster” that could threaten Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states, according to an interview printed on Friday.

In a separate speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Islamic State also posed an existential threat to his own nation, Lebanon, the target of an incursion by Islamist insurgents from Syria this month. He said his heavily armed Shi’ite Muslim group was ready to fight the threat in Lebanon – if required.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah has been helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fight a Sunni Islamist-dominated insurgency that spilled into the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Aug. 2, triggering five days of battles between the Lebanese army and militants including members of Islamic State.’

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US to supply more weapons to Lebanese military citing ISIS threat

The Associated Press reports:

‘The United States will soon deliver additional weaponry to help bolster the Lebanese military as it faces a growing threat from Islamic militants amid the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria, the US ambassador said Thursday. Ambassador David Hale said the deliveries come in response to a request from the Lebanese armed forces for emergency assistance after Islamic militants overran a Lebanese town near the Syrian border, killing and kidnapping soldiers.

Hale did not say when the munitions would arrive, nor did he provide a price tag for them, but he did say the new assistance it is part of Washington’s long-standing partnership with the Lebanese military. The US has provided more than $1bn in military assistance since 2006, including over $120m in training and equipment since October, he said. That assistance dwarfs in comparison, however, to a $3bn pledge Saudi Arabia made in late December to help strengthen Lebanon’s armed forces. The grant stipulated that the military hardware must be purchased from France, although none of the money has yet been delivered. Separately, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who enjoys close ties with the Saudi monarchy, last week announced an additional $1bn grant from the kingdom to help the Lebanese army in its fight.’

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Frankensteinian Hubris: Bush’s “Redirection” and the Rise of ISIS

Dan Sanchez writes for Antiwar:

6-photo-henry-his-monster‘[…] It is good to remember that the policy that led to this mess was initiated under the Bush Administration, with full cognizance of the possibility that it could result in severe terroristic and destabilizing blowback. It was in 2007 that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia launched what Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in The New Yorker, called “the Redirection.” Under this policy revolution, the U.S. and the Saudis (with Israel’s blessing and prodding) began trying to bolster Sunni radicals in an effort to “contain” the “Shiite resurgence” brought about by the U.S. empowerment of the Shiites in Iraq. It all started in Lebanon.

[…] As reported by Patrick Cockburn, not all of the Saudis embraced such a blowback-inviting policy, so it would be more accurate to call it a victory for the Prince Bandar bin Sultan line. The fact that U.S. policymakers concluded that beleaguered Iran, with its long track record of not attacking a single country, is more of a danger than Sunni radicals, like the ones responsible for 9/11 and every other Al Qaeda attack, is an indication of just how little our overlords care about actually protecting us, as compared to pursuing regional power politics.

[…] Some of the radical Sunnis the U.S. has bolstered in Syria (namely, ISIS) have now crossed over into Iraq, conquered much of the northwest, and may soon take Baghdad, Maliki’s capital. I imagine this has put plenty of “fear” into his government: mission accomplished. Although, I don’t know how much “incentive” they’ll have to “cooperate” when they’re all dead or in exile.

[…] They have indeed outsmarted them, and it has indeed been ugly. Obama and the Saudis ramped up in Syria the same policy that Bush and the Saudis started pursuing in Lebanon, and the result was the same but worse. Salafi psychos in Syria, as in Lebanon, were able to get their hands on plenty of U.S. and Saudi aid. And through the course of the U.S.-supported bloody rebellion in Syria, ISIS acquired experience, recruits, arms, and territory, which they used to launch their conquest in Iraq.’

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My Neighbour, My Enemy: Inside Lebanon’s Sectarian Battleground

‘Welcome to the frontline of sectarian warfare: Tripoli, North Lebanon. In Jabal Mohsen and Bab al Tabbaneh, violent clashes between Alawite and Sunni neighbours erupt every few weeks. These two slum communities have been slugging it out since the 1970s. Neither has the energy or will to escape the futile, bloody conflict that has come to define them both. A mother of two would rather hide her children in darkness than flee the city: “Even if they enter our houses, we will slaughter them, kill them: it’s either us or them”. Abu Rami is one of the 50,000 people crammed onto the hilltop called Jabal Muhsin. “My enemy and their enemy is hunger, poverty and ignorance. My enemy is not the guns they hold and fire at me”. So says this war-weary veteran they call ‘the living martyr’, thirty-five years a militia leader – a gunman since his teens.
Down below in the predominantly Sunni district of Bab al Tabbaneh, Salafist preacher and father Sheikh Bilal al-Masri is trigger-happy and eager for a fight.”I’ve only witnessed death and killings, jail, torture, displacement, rape looting” he says of the Syrian regime. As the conflict seems to pass on from each generation, the population can only hope for a common solution to emerge from the carnage.’ (Journeyman Pictures)

Isis brings its war to Lebanon – and it could be key to a masterplan

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

‘[…] The world’s attention, of course, has been concentrated on the slaughter in Gaza. In the Middle East, tragedy must come one day at a time, so the Syrian civil war and the Isis takeover of western Iraq continued in the shadows of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But the Islamists’ arrival in Lebanon and the prospect of a mini-civil war around Arsal – and perhaps as far as Tripoli – could have repercussions far graver than the Gaza war. As Islamists take over Lake Mosul and other districts from the Kurds in northern Iraq and press harder against Syrian government troops, their extension into Lebanon marks their furthest progress yet from the Tigris towards the Mediterranean.

In Arsal, the fighters – officially from el-Nusra, whose own members are already joining those of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate – adopted their usual practice of seizing large buildings in the centre of the town (in this case, the technical college, a hospital and a mosque) and clinging to them in the hope that their opponents would disintegrate. The Lebanese army, which has twice defeated Islamist rebellions inside Lebanon in the past 15 years, claimed to have retaken the college, but the statements from both the Lebanese commander and Prime Minister may be taken as accurate: that the takeover of Arsal had been planned long in advance and is part of a far greater rebel strategy.’

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Syrian rebels led by al-Nusra invade Lebanese border town

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

Yesterday’s [August 2nd] attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal by Syrian rebels led by Jabhat al-Nusra continued apace today, with Lebanese officials now convinced this was no one-off raid but a concerted effort to capture the town outright.

13 Lebanese soldiers were reported killed since the fighting began Saturday, and a fourth civilian was slain today. The toll among the rebels is unknown, and no updated figures have been released since yesterday’s report of 11 killed.’

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Cluster Bombs: The Savage Legacy Of Israel’s 2006 Lebanon Bombardment

Robert Fisk: Pluralism was once the hallmark of the Arab world, so the exodus of Christians from the Middle East is painful to one Islamic scholar

Robert Fisk writes for The Independent:

Tarif Khalidi is a big, bearded bear of a man, the kind you would always choose to play Father Christmas, or perhaps a Cossack leader sweeping across the Russian steppe, reins in one hand, sword in the other. But Tarif – or Uncle Tarif as I invariably call him – is an Islamic scholar, the most recent translator of the Koran and author of a wonderful book of Muslim stories about Jesus. I am thus surprised – but after a few seconds not at all surprised – to hear how well this Palestinian from Jerusalem got on with the Imam Musa Sadr, the Shia leader in southern Lebanon who did more to lift his people from squalor than any I can think of – until Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had him murdered in Libya in 1978.

“He took on the Christians of Lebanon in an extraordinary manner,” Tarif says. “He revived Islamic interest in Jesus and Mary. He was an extraordinary performer. He almost embraced Christian theology. He would lecture in churches with the cross right behind him!” But as we weave our way between religions, I realise what is grieving this most burly of professors – he teaches at the American University of Beirut – as he speaks slowly and eloquently of the almost biblical exodus of Christians from the Middle East.

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Israeli Air Force to Target Residential Areas in Next Lebanon War

From Antiwar:

From the perspective of Israel’s military leadership, the nation is never really not at war with any of its neighbors, and at best is just in-between major invasions of those nations

So when top Israeli military brass like IAF chief Major General Amir Eshel talk about what they’ll target in the next Lebanon War, it is important to keep in mind that those officials envision such a conflict kicking off at literally any moment.

Maj. Gen. Eshel made clear today that Israel’s intention is to launch mass attack on residential areas and that the nation will inflict high civilian casualties while doing so.

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Lebanon’s Hariri says ready to form govt with Hezbollah

From AFP:

Ex-premier Saad Hariri [backed by the U.S.] has said his bloc is prepared to form a government with Hezbollah to resolve Lebanon’s months-long political deadlock, although they back opposite sides in the Syrian conflict.

The shift by Hariri, who heads a so-called March 14 coalition, comes despite a Beirut car bombing last month that killed a Hariri adviser, Mohammad Chatah, that his bloc blamed on Syrian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah.

Hariri, in an interview with his Future TV broadcast late on Monday, also stressed that Hezbollah ministers in any future government he heads must not have veto powers.

For nine months, since the resignation of prime minister Najib Mikati, Lebanon has been in political paralysis, with March 14 on one hand and Hezbollah and its allies on the other unable to agree on the formation of a new government.

Chatah’s was the latest in a string of high-profile assassinations in Lebanon of anti-Damascus politicians that began in 2005, with the killing of Saad Hariri’s father, Rafiq Hariri, another former premier.

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Lebanese army to control troubled Tripoli for six months

From Reuters:

The Lebanese government has told the army to take over security in the restive coastal city of Tripoli for six months, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday.

Ten people were killed in weekend clashes between Tripoli’s Alawite minority, which supports Syria’s Alawite President Bashar al-Assad, and majority Sunni Muslims who back his foes.

Violence in the northern city has killed more than 100 people this year and paralyzed business activity there.

Mikati, a Sunni from Tripoli, told Lebanon’s LBC television he had agreed with President Michel Suleiman and armed forces commander General Jean Qahwaji to “put Tripoli under the complete supervision of the army” for six months.

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Israel Denies Involvement In Assassination Of Hezbollah Commander In Lebanon

Al Qaeda affiliate claims credit for double suicide bombings on Iranian embassy in Beirut

Syria’s refugee crisis ‘a humanitarian calamity’

An aerial view shows the Zaatari refugee camp near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, some 8 kilometres from the Syrian border.From The National:

Syria’s refugee crisis is one of the biggest tragedies of our times, the United Nations said yesterday, with more than two million Syrians, half of them children, fleeing their country and about 4.2 million displaced internally.

[…] While Mr Obama seeks congressional support for a strike on Syria, the UN also revealed the growing human toll of the Syrian civil war.

“There are no words to express this tragedy,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva yesterday, adding that the amount of refugees fleeing shows no sign of abating and risked destabilising the region.

“Two million people, many have lost their houses, members of their families, their possessions,” he said.

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Syria: Where key countries stand

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Click on the above image to view the BBC report

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Undermining Lebanon: Bombings are part of US-Israeli strategy to sow civil war

From Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya:

Tensions have been building in Lebanon as a result of the events in Syria. External actors now seek to capitalize on these internal tensions in Lebanese society by igniting a new civil war of some sort.

Their specific objectives are to manipulate the Muslims of Lebanon into a fight between Shiites and Sunnis with the hope of destroying Hezbollah.

The terrorist attacks in Lebanon started with the bombing of Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. The first attack took place in the neighborhood of Bir Al-Abed on July 9, 2013. The second twin attacks took place in the neighborhood of Al-Rouweiss on August 15, 2013. Then the Lebanese port city of Tripoli faced twin attacks outside two mosques on August 23, 2013.

Here we can see how the mainstream media is used to (mis)lead the public into seeing things in a way that buttresses foreign policy objectives. Like a united orchestra, the mainstream media in NATO countries, like the US and UK, and GCC countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, all provided the same by-lines and almost the exact same talking points. Their reporting has actually strived to legitimize the terrorist attacks in subtle and indirect ways. Referring to bombings as “blasts” and civilian neighbors as “Hezbollah strongholds,” these media outlets have attempted to casually distort and reframe the events in Lebanon. The word “terrorism” is even omitted from a lot of their reporting.

Through the lenses of their reporting, the bombings in Beirut do not give the impression of being terrorist attacks against poor neighborhoods or unarmed civilians, but as legitimate military “strikes” on Hezbollah garrisons. The goal is to (mis)lead the public into believing that the terrorist attacks are a legitimate retaliation against Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria or just another event that is part of the mythical Shia-Sunni war that the media is working so hard to construct.

In contrast to their reports on Lebanon, these media outlets sensationalize and exaggerate the events in Syria to the benefit of the regime change agenda against Damascus. These same outlets instead, over and over again, opt to entertain dubious claims about the Syrian government using chemical weapons instead of looking at news like the discovery of the mass graves of people murdered in Latakia by the US/NATO/GCC-sponsored anti-government thugs rampaging in Syria.

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Israel Says Bombed Lebanon in Retaliation for Rocket Attack

Reprisals threatened for Beirut bombing in resurgently violent Lebanon

From McClatchy:

The family of a man who was killed this week in the deadliest car bombing to hit Lebanon’s capital in decades said Friday that it would wait for orders from Hezbollah’s leadership before seeking revenge on Syrian rebels.

In turn, Hezbollah’s top leader responded to the developments with an eye-for-an-eye speech that suggested more cross-border involvement in the bloodshed that’s overwhelmed Syria.

It was a bracing sign that Thursday’s attack threatens to return Beirut and other parts of Lebanon to the violent chaos that ripped the country apart from the mid-1970s through the 1980s, stoked now by sectarian vengeance leaking across the border from the protracted Syrian civil war.

Hamad Maqdad, a Hezbollah fighter who ran a well-digging company, died Thursday when a car exploded across from his house. The blast, which killed at least 23 other people and wounded hundreds, harked back to the Lebanese civil war that ended in 1990.

A previously little-known group, the Brigades of Aisha, took responsibility for the blast. The outfit claimed that the attack was in retaliation for Hezbollah’s support for the regime in Syria as it battles primarily Sunni Muslim rebels in the neighboring country’s civil war.

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Hezbollah Unlikely to Feel Sanctions After EU Terror Listing

"מי שחושב שההחלטה תכניע אותנו, שוגה באשליות". נסראללה (צילום: AFP)From Spiegel:

The fact that outsiders are unable to discern where Hezbollah’s civilian wing ends and the militant one begins is likely to mean that the organization will escape the EU’s measures unscathed, say Western diplomats in Beirut. The decision in Brussels was purely symbolic, serving only to appease the United States, which declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 1995 after two devastating attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish organization in the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires. Since then, the US has been pressuring its allies to follow suit.

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Official Syrian refugee figure tops 600,000 ~ Daily Star

The Daily Star

The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon topped 600,000 this week and humanitarian agencies are becoming increasingly concerned with ensuring adequate shelter for new arrivals, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in its weekly update, issued Friday. As of Thursday, the number of refugees officially identified with UNHCR stood at 604,954, with roughly 517,000 people registered, and 87,000 awaiting registration.

Municipalities and local authorities in north Lebanon and the Bekaa Valleyreported 6,100 new arrivals over the past week alone, the agency said.

Government officials and refugee organizations estimate that the actual number of refugees is higher by several hundred thousand people. Some government officials have spoken of a total of 1.2 million Syrians in Lebanon, but a segment of this group are not receiving assistance, and are living on their means.

The report noted that women and children form more than 70 percent of the Syrian refugee population.

FULL ARTICLE @ THE DAILY STAR