December 2, 2006
As usual, here in America, the corporate media has a problem counting. "A siege on Lebanon’s American-backed government continued Saturday with tens of thousands of demonstrators sympathetic to the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah militia and its allies packing downtown Beirut and calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his cabinet," reports the Mercury News.
Meanwhile, closer to the "siege," actually a widespread call for the neolib sponsored government of free trader (or free plundering by international financiers) Siniora to step aside, the counting is a bit more realistic.
"Hundreds of thousands of opposition protesters crammed into the heart of Beirut Friday and besieged the headquarters of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government in a peaceful show of force to bring down the ruling Cabinet," reports the Daily Star, a Lebanese newspaper. Some observers put the number well over 800,000.
It is interesting, as well, the corporate media prefers to use the word "siege" to characterize the demonstrations.
My dictionary defines "siege" as "the act or process of surrounding and attacking a fortified place in such a way as to isolate it from help and supplies, for the purpose of lessening the resistance of the defenders and thereby making capture possible," and "a series of illnesses, troubles, or annoyances besetting a person or group," in other words, there is nothing positive to say about the massive demonstration, obviously representative of a large segment of Lebanese society.
It is an illness, an attack, an attempt to capture the government of Lebanon, all at the behest of Syria and Iran. Hezbollah, naturally, is a sucker for Syria. "Early last month, a White House spokesman said there was evidence that Syria and Iran were planning to overthrow Saniora’s government."
As usual, it’s all about Iran and Syria, two targets figuring prominently on the target list of the Israelis and their neocon fellow travelers. It has nothing to do with the Lebanese people sick and tired corruption, neoliberal gangsterism, and the fact Siniora cannot protect the Lebanese from the predatory and psychopathic Israelis to the south, able to dispense a million cluster bombs and landmines with ease.
For all the predictable reasons, the corporate media has not bothered to mention that a majority of the population supports Hezbollah. According to a poll conducted on July 26 by the Beirut Center for Research and Information, "support for Hezbollah soared to 87 percent and crossed all religious lines" after Israel attack last summer. Even Christians believed Hassan Nasrallah was more of a leader than the pathetic neoliberal Fouad Siniora, who openly sobbed during his address to Arab League diplomats in Beirut as the murderous Israelis killed civilians with uranium-based weapons and phosphorous bombs, latter proudly admitted, much the same way a serial killer brags about his perverse exploits.
In the terrible wake of Israel’s illegal and immoral invasion, the Siniora government was nowhere to be found when it came to rebuilding efforts, while Hezbollah immediately launched a "Construction Jihad," which included participation from the Christian Free Patriotic Movement Party, also known as the "Aounist Current." As to be expected, any American who offers assistance in the Hezbollah effort to rebuild Lebanon will be prosecuted as a supporter of terrorism.
Such cooperation horrified the neocons, prompting Elias Bejjani, a Maronite Catholic and head of the Lebanese-Canadian Coordinating Council, who supported Israel’s targeting of Shia civilians as "a legitimate form of self-defense," to declare cooperation between the Christian Free Patriotic Movement as a "bizarre and groundless marriage of opportunism," never mind the effort the shelter the homeless who paid a heavy price, as usual, for Israel’s "self-defense."
Facing nearly a million demonstrators yesterday, Michel Aoun declared "Siniora must resign and be replaced by a Sunni prime minister who better understands the Lebanese social fabric. We do not criticize him because of his ethnic origin, but due to his deficient performance. He must go, and his ministers must go, in order for a unity government to be established," according to Yedioth Internet, an Israeli news source.
Of course, the Israelis and the Americans, or at least neocon Americans, no shortage of them Israel Firsters, don’t give a whit about the Lebanese social fabric.
In 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon, "Israel’s Likud government coalesced around three objectives: the destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure in Lebanon, the redrawing of the political map in Lebanon, and the reduction of Syria to manageable proportions," explains Nasser H. Aruri in the foreword to Livia Rokach’s Israel’s Sacred Terrorism. "The 1982 'operation,’ as well as its predecessor, the 'Litani Operation’ of 1978, were part of the long-standing Zionist strategy for Lebanon and Palestine…. [a strategy] formulated and applied during the 1950s [and] envisaged at least four decades earlier."
Siniora and the Arab version of "free traders" are unable to protect the Lebanese people from such vicious provocations, as they are more interested in selling the country wholesale to their bankster associates.
As Sami E. Baroudi writes, the "neoliberal ideology (or orthodox neoliberalism)" has a "great hold … over the minds and actions of the Lebanese political and economic elite," part of a growing process throughout "the Arab world" where "one sees growing evidence of the rise to dominance of neoliberalism in inter alia: the yearning for open markets … the reduction in governmental social spending and the broadening of the tax base, the welcoming of advice and intervention from the World Bank, and the breaking of old alliances between regimes and labor in favor of new alliances with local and foreign entrepreneurs."
In essence, this is what 800,000 people encamped outside the office-turned-residence of PM Fouad Siniora is all about, not the facile nonsense pedaled in American newspapers about nefarious Syrians and Iranians pulling the strings of Hezbollah.
Siniora will not be saved by his military or commiserating "German and British foreign ministers and calls of support from a host of Arab leaders and Western officials," as Reuters puts it. "Although the dispute is political, many Lebanese fear the situation could spark sectarian violence. Tension between Sunnis and Shi’ites is high, in addition to bad feeling between Christians who support leaders allied to the rival camps."
Obviously, this would be a preferable situation for the Israelis and neocons, who have managed to reduce Iraq to a bloody quagmire of sectarian violence and insanity, but such is not a foregone conclusion in Lebanon.
Hopefully, the Lebanese will get rid of their neoliberal beholden government and send a message to both Israel and the United States.