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52 Words That Shook Washington

by FRANKLIN LAMB

Beirut

“It is the right of the Lebanese people, Army and the (Hezbollah led—ed.)Resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the northern part of the village of Ghajar as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available and legal means.”

So reads the Policy Declaration of the new Government of the Republic of Lebanon, issued on November 26,2009, four days after the celebration of Lebanon’s 66 years of independence from the French colonial power, achieved in 1943.

Legally, constitutionally, and politically, Lebanon’s new National Unity Government policy legitimizes, embraces, and incorporates by reference, the National Lebanese Resistance.

For the US-Israel axis, the 52 words signal that Hezbollah – which since 2006 has enjoyed majority popular support – and the State of Lebanon are inseparable and indivisible with respect to defending this country from foreign interference and occupation. It affixes the governmental imprimatur for liberating Lebanese lands still occupied by Israeli forces.

According to some international lawyers, it also fulfills UN Security Council Resolution 1559 regarding disarming militias because Lebanon has in effect declared that the arms of the Hezbollah led Resistance are part of the defense of Lebanon itself and not a particular movement or political party.  This Policy statement satisfies UNSCR 1701 for the same reason.

Apart from the Phalange (Kataeb) Party and the Lebanese forces, and their spokesmen Samir Geagea and Amin Gemayel, who will continue to condemn the policy declaration, the issue of Hezbollah’s arms has been essentially settled.

Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri stressed that “Hezbollah’s arms belong to all Lebanese and their existence is linked to Israel’s withdrawal from all Lebanese territory.”

Tawhid (Unifying) Party and Druze leader Wiam Wahhab went further and, following the Policy Statement approval, advised the media this was the same wording as was reached at the 2008 Doha conference:

“Hezbollah’s arms will remain as long as there is conflict between the Arabs and Israel. When the world tells us how the naturalization of Palestinians issue will be resolved, then we will give details on how to deal with the arms of our national resistance. They now belong to all of Lebanon.”

The message from Lebanon’s new government to the US administration is clear according to Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil:

“You can have very friendly relations with Lebanon but that means dealing with Lebanon and our new government as a whole, not cherry picking certain ministries or parties in Parliament. Aid, defensive arms and equipment, economy, trade, should be negotiated with equality- not the US Embassy’s color coded push pin political affiliation map used previously. Hezbollah is Lebanon and Lebanon is Hezbollah. Try to understand and get used to it. You might be pleased if both the US and Lebanon work for our own interests but dialogue with mutual respect.”

Many people in Lebanon and the region who support Hezbollah do so not because they know all about or even very much care about the pillars of Shia Islam or the role of the Wali al Faque but because they have experienced six decades of Israeli aggression and six wars funded and armed by a US Congress that puts Israel before its own country and way before any Arab country including Lebanon. They realize that 18 years of a fake ‘peace process’ has brought nothing but misery to the Palestinians and Lebanon whereas 18 years of Resistance has freed most of Israel occupied Lebanese territory.

And they realize that there is more yet to be done.

UNIFIL sources reported this week that they expected Israel to withdraw from the Lebanese village of Ghajar before the 12-member Cabinet committee voted to legitimize Hezbollah’s arms, in order to upstage the Lebanese government decision. The Israeli government, under US and EU pressure agreed, knowing that its army could not hold the village during its next attack on Lebanon and realizing that holding Ghajar meanwhile is not worth the political and military price.

Actual Israeli troop withdrawal is expected at any moment against the backdrop of more “cry wolf” threats such as yesterdays from Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak that “all of Lebanon will pay the huge price for giving Hezbollah its Government.”  More than ever Lebanon’s population believes that Israel will also pay a huge price if it launches a 7th war against Lebanon or attacks Iran or Syria.

A conference call

In Washington and Beirut the response to Lebanon’s legitimization of Hezbollah’s arms was publicly subdued. The US Embassy, for the second year in a row mistakenly sent Eid al Fitr greetings to Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman, whereas this week’s holiday, which commemorates the annual  Hajj Pilgrimage and the   1,400 year old  Muslim tradition of giving of meat to the poor, is called Eid al Adha. Eid al Fitr actually follows Ramadan which ended this year on September 19th.  Anyhow, for sure it’s the thought that counts and the White House did promptly correct the Beirut’s Embassy error and sent President Obama’s and the American peoples Eid al Adha greetings yesterday at 2:15 p.m. Beirut time.
Privately, the reaction to legitimizing Hezbollah’s deterrence to Israeli aggressions is causing a strong reaction on Capitol Hill. AIPAC has another Congressional Resolution ready to condemn Lebanon for capitulating to ‘terrorism’. Hard to believe as it is, some members of Congress are actually tiring of all the Israel Lobby’s resolutions and the pressure tactics AIPAC uses to get them passed irrespective of what they say or whether they are read.

Before the Thanksgiving break, AIPAC organized an urgent conference call among 11 Chairmen, of key US Congressional committees, including Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations, Banking, Homeland Security, Environment, and Aging, and Rules held a conference call arranged by AIPAC.

Together, the group forms what AIPAC calls “Israel’s Firewall” which it and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations conceived of and formalized in late September 2001  “ to assure consultation and dialogue with respect to how best  to launch Congressional initiatives that will preserve the special and unbreakable US-Israel relationship.”

In addition to  the above members, others who have been approached to form the ‘firewall’ in the 111th Congress include all 13 Jewish members of the US Senate and the 28 Jewish House Members as well as  a couple of dozen trusted evangelical Christian Zionist members.

According to a Zionist Organizations of America (ZOA) source, the group has not been very active until recently.  Decisions, if any that were taken the past eight years by what is referred to by some on Capitol Hill as the “Israel Synod” is not currently known.

One recent decision that has been taken was revealed by ZOA.  The ‘fire wall’ project is to ‘fast track’ a dramatic increase in US military aid to Israel to deal with supposed Hezbollah, Hamas, Syrian, and Iranian threats to Israel. “These people see an urgent need to clean house and restore Israel’s military dominance and credibility”, claimed the ZOA source.

According to a staff member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the ‘ fire wall’ group plans to expedite US Congressional approval for more subsidies for all or part of the funds needed by Israel to purchase U.S. weapons.  This will be in addition to Israel receiving over the past 24 months $ 2,070.1 billion from US taxpayers earmarked for this purpose.

AIPAC’s new ‘fire wall’ group will work for  the  2010  deployment  of  the   so called “Iron Dome” that can unleash a metallic cloud to bring down incoming rockets in the skies over Gaza or Lebanon as well as funding for a new generation of  Israel’s  Arrow defense system designed to shoot down Iran’s long-range missiles at high altitudes.

In addition, Israel will receive US funding for more German-made Dolphin submarines that can be equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles for positioning off the coast of Iran.

AIPAC’s problem is to get Congress to overrule  Pentagon skepticism of much of Israel’s ‘new weapons’ projects which some view as more psychological warfare than reliable or usable effectively in future conflicts. AIPAC appears confident and with good reason.

The Congressional Israel lobby has already achieved a commitment from the Obama administration to add Israeli systems and munitions to a new U.S.-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and deliver 25 to Israel by 2015 with another 50 delivered by 2018.  The Obama administration will also integrate bombs that use an Israeli precision guidance kit called Spice along with Python 5 air-to-air missiles made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.  The ‘fire wall’ group is to assure that Israel will also get a relatively inexpensive path for hardware and software upgrades to add future weapons.

This season’s ‘mother of all bombs’

Another major Congressional weapons project for Israel is the Boeing Corporations new 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb.
The MOP carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and delivers more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the 2,000-pound BLU-109, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which has funded and managed the seed program. It is also about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb – last season’s “mother of all bombs” — that was dropped twice in tests at a Florida range in 2003.

The 20-foot-long (6-metre) MOP is built to be dropped from either the B-52 or the B-2 “stealth” bomber and is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding, according to the U.S. Air Force. The Pentagons Central Command, which is preparing for war with Iran- just in case- is backing a acceleration request according to Kenneth Katzman, an expert on Iran at the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. Israel wants them to attack Hezbollah’s deep bunkers in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

If AIPAC can get Congress to shift enough funds to the program, Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N)’s radar-evading B-2 bomber “would be capable of carrying the bomb by July 2010. This claim has been verified by Andy Bourland, an Air Force spokesman, who added, “There have been discussions with the four congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Officially no final decision has been made.”

In fact the decision has been made according to AIPAC and Congressional sources and its “all systems go”.

FRANKLIN LAMB is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at fplamb@gmail.com

 

Franklin Lamb is a visiting Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, Damascus University and volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program (sssp-lb.com).

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