Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nahrainnet: The campaign against Hizbullah tracks the campaign against the Mahdi Army

The Sadrist news-site pays a lot of attention to recent statements by the top Sunni mufti in Lebanon Mohamed Rashid al-Qabbani, and by the right-wing Christian militia leader Samir Geagea. Nahrainnet's point is that the ideological campaign against Hizbullah in Lebanon, by the US allies and agents there, tracks very closely the current Iraqi-government campaign against the Mahdi Army: the campaign being to try and strip them of their nationalist identity, and make them appear to be sectarian groups, aimed at controlling the state with foreign support, at best, and criminal gangs at worst. Here is how the article begins:
The mufti of the Republic of Lebanon...Qabbani, adopted the position of the Lebanese government, which is supported by America and Saudi America, in launching a PR war against Hizbullah, and an attempt to impose a sectarian image on the growing differences between the loyalists and the opposition. [The mufti said in a speech yesterday] "Sunnis in Lebanon are fed up with the excesses of Hizbullah," accusing the party of undertaking an "occupation of Beirut"!
The Nahrainnet reporter says Qabbani described Hizbullah as "trying to establish hegemony over Lebanon, with foreign support, under the pretext of resistance."
And the March 14 forces were quick to support the attitude of the mufti and the government, accusing Iran of supporting [Hizbullah] with the aim of an armed coup to control the country. The government, for its part, accused Hizbullah of bringing in armed gangs with the aim of seizing power.
This "Hizbulah=sect/gangs" part of the public-relations campaign is obviously very similar to the Maliki administration's campaign against the Mahdi Army, but on these particular points the Nahrainnet reporter draws the parallel only implicitly.

The explicit comparison is made for him by the US-allied warlord Samir Geagea, whom he quotes as follows:
The president of the executive council of the Lebanese Forces [a political party, despite its name], which is part of the March 14 government coalition, accused Hizbullah of being behind the current workers' agitation. And along the lines of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Geagea, known for this close relationship with Israel, said "Hizbullah is becoming another Mahdi Army in the alleyways and streets of Beirut"!!
And the journalist adds a few remarks on Geagea's own militia, its training in Jordan, and so on.

So what the Nahrainnet reporter sees is the another example of the same pattern: US allies, supported by their own militias (Badr Corp in Iraq; Geagea/Jumblatt et al in Lebanon) accusing the resistance forces of being nothing more than street-gangs themselves, in an attempt to drain the resistance of its nationalist identity and appeal.

(For a survey of different and detailed views on the current events in Lebanon, a recommendable approach would be to start with the comments to a collection of articles on the website. Without, however, losing sight of the main point. In Lebanon, as in Iraq, this is an attempt by the US and its agents to try and strip the major nationalist groups of their nationalist credentials, and turn the story into one of sectarian gang-fighting and nothing else. For instance, one might want to be particularly careful when reading the on-the-street Nir Rosen accounts, whether they have his name on them or not, because the latest from him ("...even in Iraq I haven't seen this kind of anti-Sunni sectarianism...") looks a lot like his earlier attacks on the alleged anti-Sunni sectarianism of Moqtada.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qabbani is a Sunni mufti not a Shiite mufti...

5:52 PM  
Blogger badger said...

oops. typo. thank you

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger, any other comments about Nir Rosen? I have noticed the slant you mentioned in his stories (ie the first priority of Sunni and Shia is to kill each other, US is a moderating influence). I don't agree with his take on things, but am hesitant to disregard his views totally because he seems to have spent alot of time on the ground, speaks arabic, etc. So just wondering what you think of him. and thanks for blogging. I read your blog every day.

3:56 PM  

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