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Bush’s New Middle East
" … under the sky
the self inside me dies …
I will always be from nowhere
Without a face, without a history
"Traveler without Luggage" by Abdul-Wahab Al-Bayyati
It’s hard to know what Bush hopes to accomplish by backing the bloody siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, but one thing is certain; things are never as they seem. In an interview on Democracy Now last week, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh stated that, Fatah al-Islam—the group of Sunni extremists inside the camp–were getting material support from the Saudis, the Bush administration and members of the Lebanese political establishment.
So, the Bush administration is supporting terrorism?
That’s right. Sy Hersh put it like this:
"The idea was to provide them (Fatah al-Islam) with some arms and some money and some basic equipment so — these are small units, a couple hundred people. There were three or four around the country given the same help covertly, the goal being they would be potential enemies of Hezbollah in case of warfare".
But if Fatah-al-Islam is an American-Saudi creation than why is the Bush administration shipping weapons to Lebanon to help kill them? Is this is another example of "blowback"—the unintended consequences of a misguided foreign policy?
Yes and no.
While it is true that the US uses terrorist organizations to further its policy objectives (The US supported Bin Laden in Afghanistan, the KLA in Kosovo, the Mujahedin Klaq in Iran) the situation in Lebanon is a bit more complex.
Fatah al-Islam is comprised of Sunni radicals who were recruited from the other Gulf States to counterbalance Hezbollah. Now, it appears, they have outlived their usefulness and the Lebanese warlords have decided to eliminate them.
According to independent journalist Franklin Lamb, who is reporting from the battered Bedawi refugee camp, the charges against the group are purely fabricated. "There was no bank robbery" and "no heads were cut off". The allegations in the western press were merely a pretext for restarting the fighting. The siege of Nahr al-Bared is probably just Phase 2 of Israel’s 34 Day War— a conflict in which "Israel’s air force, armed with U.S.-manufactured and -fueled F-16s, went on a rampage with more than 14 combat missions every single hour of the war, destroying, among other things, 73 bridges, 400 miles of roads, 25 gas stations, 900 commercial structures, two hospitals, 350 schools and 15,000 Lebanese homes." (Dahr Jamail)
The US-Israeli goals in Lebanon have never really changed. Israel wants a reliable client to its North and access to Lebanon’s water supplies. They also want to crush their main enemy, Hezbollah, the Shiite resistance organization which has routed the IDF twice in the last 15 years.
Bush, on the other hand, is trying to destabilize the entire region using the madcap neocon strategy of "creative destruction". He thinks that if he can erase the traditional borders and create a fragmented Middle East, the transnational corporations will be able to control the region’s vast resources.
Washington’s allies in Beirut like the idea, too. Walid Jumblat, Sa’ad Hariri and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora"all believe that the outbreak of violence will only strengthen them politically.
Siniora "The Lionhearted"
It’s interesting to watch how eager Siniora is to bomb of a defenseless refugee camp, when just months ago he was too afraid to deploy troops to the south of Lebanon to fight the invading Israeli army. Why is that?
Siniora showed his true colors during the 34 Day War. At one point he was photographed sipping tea with Condi Rice while Lebanese civilians in the south were being pelted with American-made bombs dropped from American-made F-16s. The Prime Minister has proved that he is every bit as worthy of Washington’s praise as Karzai in Afghanistan or Abbas in Palestine.
But there’s another reason for the present siege of Nahr al-Bared besides Siniora’s newfound courage, that is, NATO wants to clear the area for another military airbase.
According to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar:
"NATO has decided to join the Lebanese territories to North-African & African coast military region, to establish Military airbases". … .
"American-German-Turkish military delegation toured and surveyed Akkar region, reported to the NATO headquarter in Brussels, mentioning that the military bases will contribute to the development and the economic recovery in the region, advising the government to focus on the financial aspect and positive reflection on the population of the region, giving the bases a name "Lebanese Army and Security training centre".
So, it looks like northern Lebanon has been chosen as the site for further NATO expansion in the Middle East. That means that NATO-planners must have agreed on a credible justification for evacuating the people who presently occupy the land. That’s where Fatah al Islam comes in. The hobgoblin of terrorism always provides the perfect excuse for state sanctioned violence—in this case the group is being used to conceal a massive ethnic cleansing operation.
Iraqi poet and blogger Layla Anwar made these comments about the situation in Iraq, but they can be easily applied to Nahr al-Bared as well. She says:
"If you want to reconstruct a country, you need to eliminate its people and start anew right?
Like restoring the virginity to the land so you can build better and stronger fortresses. A brand new Iraq with a brand new population. A total Babel makeover.
You know, like the ones you see on these American TV reality shows. Revamped, relooked, redone…beyond recognition".
(Layla Anwar, "Aliens in Babel" An Arab Woman’s Blues)
Anwar is right. The siege of Nahr al-Bared is an attempt "to eliminate people and start anew" by pushing 30 or 40 thousand Palestinians out of their homes and onto the streets so their foreign overlords can "build a stronger fortress".
It is a tragedy and the Bush administration has only added to the crime by providing arms and equipment to the Lebanese Army.
According to the U.K. Guardian:
"The United States has sent planeloads of arms and ammunition for the Lebanese army, as tension grows around the besieged refugee camp in the north of the country. The weapons were welcomed by members of the Lebanese government, who said they wanted the army equipped "to the teeth" in the face of threats of renewed violence."
The siege of Nahr al-Bared follows a familiar pattern that we have seen in Gaza, Falluja, Tel Afar and Samarra. The camp has been surrounded and cut off, snipers have been positioned on the rooftops, civilian areas have been shelled with impunity, and the bodies of the dead have been left to rot on the streets.
Sound familiar? It should. These are the basic contours of the Bush Doctrine as it is applied to the (remaining) independent states in the Middle East. The options for the victims are always the same: One can either pack up and find shelter in another filthy refugee-hovel or stay home and die. There’s no other choice.
It’s easy to see why the number of refugees in the region has swollen to more than 4 million people in just a few years. Most of them are the victims of US aggression in Iraq, but the trend is now spreading to Lebanon. Is this what Condi Rice meant when she announced the "birth pangs" of a "New Middle East"—a humanitarian crisis extending from the Mediterranean to the Caucuses?
Many people are wondering why the United Nations has remained silent while Bush ships more weapons to the frontlines and the Lebanese Army continues to pound away at the most densely populated area in the Middle East. Is it because the UN has become a rubber stamp for US-Israeli colonial ambitions in the region?
Face it; the UN’s role is to feign concern for human rights while the US and its allies pursue their imperial goals. It’s only gotten worse under the newly-appointed Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. Moon has shown that he’s incapable of being evenhanded and that he’s little more than an American stooge. With less than a year in office, his credibility is already shot.
The only bright spot in this latest American-made catastrophe is the courage demonstrated by the victims. As Franklin Lamb says in his latest article "Inside Nahr el-Bared: Another Waco in the making":
"Amazing examples of humanity are happening here. There are many family connections between the two camps. Kids distribute and water bread when it arrives in cars from Beirut and elsewhere. Young girls picking up and caring for babies of people they don’t know, helping old people find a place to sit and listen to them when they tell of what happened. I could be wrong but I have rarely witnessed the solidarity among people as I see here with the Palestinians. Clean, smart, patient, charming, funny, and caring toward one another-determined to return to Palestine."
Even though they’ve lost their homes, the Palestinians have raised themselves above the squalor and cruelty of their predicament and shown selflessness and bravery. That’s a powerful statement about the affects of culture and national identity.
As the Palestinian poet Mahmud Darwish says in his poem "Passport":
"My nationality resides in the hearts of all the people,
so go ahead and remove my passport!"
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org