Friday, May 25, 2007

A possible explanation

The words of the day in Lebanese and pan-Arab reporting today are hasm ("deciding" or "shutting down"), tasfiya ("settlement" or "liquidation"), nihaya ("termination") and similar expressions, all expressing the idea of completely shutting down Fatah al-Islam, once and for all, whatever it takes. This is no ordinary political expression of determination. Al-Akhbar stresses the Saudi ambassador is among the proponents of this, stressing that some fighters are people wanted in Saudi Arabia for belonging to AlQaeda. Along with Condoleeza Rice, who said from California that shutting down Fatah al-Islam will be a good lesson to other terrorist groups in the region challenging democratic regimes. The senior representative of the PLO in Lebanon, Abbas Zakiy is also part of the planning.

But what about the point that Fatah al-Islam and other similar groups had support and sponsorship from the Saudis (via Prince Bandar) and the Americans (Cheney faction) as a deterrent to Iran and the Shiite revival; and from the Hariri group, for domestic sectarian reasons? Didn't we just read in Al-Akhbar that it was Saudi and American pressure that impeded adequate surveillance of this group?

If the idea of supporting Sunni extremist groups was a Bandar-Cheney project, then today's over-the-top expressions of determination to exterminate, wipe out, and finish off Fatah al-Islam, from Saudi and American officials in addition to the Lebanese government itself, sounds a little like a repudiation of Bandar-Cheney. Bandar has already been reported to be on the skids, but what about Cheney?

Interestingly enough, back in Washington, Steve Clemons reported yesterday:
Multiple sources have reported that a senior aide on Vice President Cheney's national security team has been meeting with policy hands of the American Enterprise Institute, one other think tank, and more than one national security consulting house and explicitly stating that Vice President Cheney does not support President Bush's tack towards Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic efforts and fears that the President is taking diplomacy with Iran too seriously....This White House official has stated to several Washington insiders that Cheney is planning to deploy an "end run strategy" around the President if he and his team lose the policy argument....On Tuesday evening, I spoke with a former top national intelligence official in this Bush administration who told me that what I was investigating and planned to report on regarding Cheney and the commentary of his aide was "potentially criminal insubordination" against the President.
Strong words. Quite apart from the details of what Cheney is alleged to be doing, clearly some high-level people think it is time to shut him down if at all possible. This is something that would definitely dovetail with a decision to shut down his idiotic joint-venture with Bandar to fund Sunni terrorists for the purpose of deterring Shiites.

(ADDED NOTE: The Franklin Lamb piece in Counterpunch provides an interesting corroboration: He says the recent trouble started when the Bush administration started backing away from the project. He writes:
According to operatives of Fatah el-Islam, the Bush administration got cold feet with people like Seymour Hirsh snooping around and with the White House post-Iraq discipline in free fall....
This led the Hariri group, via one of its banks, stopping the paychecks of the Fatah al-Islam people, and the trouble mushroomed from there).

And there was the brief remark in an Al-Quds al-Arabi piece on the recent Cheney mideast tour, to the effect that the Palestinian issue wasn't brought up at all (in spite of the fact that official US policy ties Palestinian progress to Arab cooperation elsewhere in the region), and that the reason it wasn't brought up is that there had been a division of labor in Washington, in which Condoleeza Rice was to be in charge of Palestinian policy. Again, the point isn't to immediately try and understand all the details, but rather to ask ourselves: Who would be so idiotic as to assign foreign policy in one place to the Secretary of State and policy in a nearby place to her rival the Vice-president? And I would say the answer is that it is someone who would be idiotic enough to approve of the Cheney-Bandar scheme, then later, perhaps during a lucid spell, decide to let the rival group have it shut down.


Blogger dancewater said...

go read for some speculation on what the bushies might have planned for this area of Lebanon.

8:45 PM  
Blogger annie said...

here is a permalink to the dancewater's referral.

excellent post badger, as usual

6:26 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Is it possible that one motive for eliminating Fatah al-Islam is in order to make sure they are unable to implicate their sponsors? Kind of like executing Saddam without having any public testimony about his comfy relationship with U.S. Administrations past or any number of other appropriate examples.

4:21 PM  
Blogger James Barr said...

"Who would be so idiotic as to assign foreign policy in one place to the Secretary of State and policy in a nearby place to her rival the Vice-president?", you ask at the end of your piece, which I found really interesting.

It reminded me of a comment made by Winston Churchill in 1921. He had just taken responsibility for policy in Iraq and Palestine as Secretary of State for the Colonies and was angling to expand his brief because the Foreign Office controlled policy towards the rest of the region. He said:

"The more I study the Middle East problem the more convinced I am that it is impossible to deal with it unless the conduct of British affairs in the whole of the Arabian peninsula is vested in the Middle Eastern Department. The Arab problem is all one, and any attempt to divide it will only reintroduce the same paralysis and confusion of action which has done so much harm during the last two years." (Churchill to Lloyd George, 12 January 1921)

7:59 AM  
Anonymous tribalecho said...


A very uninformed person said.

10:14 AM  

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