FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lebanon Marks Liberation Day

by RANNIE AMIRI

“On this day, ten years ago, the residents of the Qonaytra and Ghandouriyeh were gathering for the funeral of a woman from occupied Qonaytra. On this day, the first decisive step was taken on the path of liberating the south. Those people took the initiative to storm into the crossing and remove all roadblocks to return to their occupied town. When this … took place, every other fence tumbled down on 22, 23 and 24 May 2000. By the 25th of May, the battle had [been] settled.”

– Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, 21 May 2010

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s first official visit to the United States coincided with the day his country celebrated—also for the first official time—“Resistance and Liberation Day.” Lebanon marked the 10-year anniversary of Israel’s 2000 withdrawal from the country on May 25, ending a brutal 22-year occupation.

Was it a “strategic withdrawal” as Israel’s apologists often contend, or a “retreat” as Hezbollah supporters prefer to maintain?

Colonel Noam Ben-Tzvi (ret.), the last commander of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) western sector in south Lebanon, characterized their exit quite differently:

“It wasn’t a withdrawal and it wasn’t a retreat. We ran away, pure and simple.” (Haaretz, May 21).

Each year following the end of the two-decade occupation is cause for celebration among those who endured it. Its decennial anniversary however, did not go unnoticed in Israel.

Rather than contemplate the important lessons learned from the long conflict, such as how ordinary citizens’ indomitable will to resist can overcome even the most powerful of military force (and apply this to the futility of continued occupation of Palestinian territories), the IDF and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, bereft of the ability to reflect, returned to muscle-flexing.

On Sunday, Israel began five days of massive, “routine” national military and civilian drills, dubbed “Turning Point 4.” This had the immediate effect of increasing already high tensions along its northern border. In response, Hezbollah mobilized thousands of its fighters and put them on high alert.

In the wake of the intimidating sounds of gunfire and explosions just miles away, turnout remained high as southern Lebanon held municipal elections in the third of four nationwide rounds this week. As if to underscore their solidarity, reports surfaced that many contenders had voluntarily withdrawn their candidacy in order to allow Hezbollah and Amal-supported nominees to run uncontested.

Members of Hezbollah’s opposition “Loyalty to the Resistance” parliamentary bloc form part of Hariri’s cabinet as do their Christian allies in Michel Aoun’s “Change and Reform” bloc. Together, they have the ability to veto cabinet decisions, though this has been unnecessary to date. Indeed, since assuming the premiership, Hariri has begun to appreciate that he represents more than just the Sunni Muslim and Christian constituencies which form his popular base in Lebanon. He now seems to acknowledge that Israel’s belligerence toward (Shia) Hezbollah can no longer be addressed in mere sectarian political terms but must be viewed as a threat to the nation as a whole.

During a tour of Arab states and Turkey to bolster support for Lebanon before heading to Washington, Hariri blasted the Israeli action:

 “To launch military exercises at such a time runs counter to peace efforts. How can you launch peace negotiations with the Palestinians while holding military maneuvers?”

While the top priority on Obama’s agenda in meeting with Hariri was the alleged (but unsubstantiated) claims that Syria had transferred Scud missiles to Lebanon, high on Hariri’s agenda was persuading Obama that it is in the U.S. and the region’s interest to restrain Israel’s trigger finger.

Recognizing that Israel is itching for revenge after its July 2006 assault failed to eliminate the strength or popularity of Hezbollah and that an attack will involve a manufactured pretext (like the Scud missile allegations), Hariri knows Lebanon’s economically vital summer tourist season could be when they elect to strike again. The alternating cycle of tears and celebration to which Lebanon has grown accustom may not be over yet.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 23, 2017
Chip Gibbons
Crusader-in-Chief: the Strange Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Michael J. Sainato
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Chuck Collins
Underwater Nation: As the Rich Thrive, the Rest of Us Sink
CJ Hopkins
The United States of Cognitive Dissonance
Howard Lisnoff
BDS, Women’s Rights, Human Rights and the Failings of Security States
Mike Whitney
Will Washington Risk WW3 to Block an Emerging EU-Russia Superstate
John Wight
Martin McGuinnes: Man of War who Fought for Peace in Ireland
Linn Washington Jr.
Ryancare Wreckage
Eileen Appelbaum
What We Learned From Just Two Pages of Trump’s Tax Returns
Mark Weisbrot
Ecuador’s Elections: Why National Sovereignty Matters
Thomas Knapp
It’s Time to End America’s Longest War
Chris Zinda
Aggregate Journalism at Salon
David Welsh
Bay Area Rallies Against Trump’s Muslim Ban II
March 22, 2017
Paul Street
Russiagate and the Democratic Party are for Chumps
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer, the Progressive Caucus and the Cuban Revolution
Gavin Lewis
McCarthyite Anti-Semitism Smears and Racism at the Guardian/Observer
Kathy Kelly
Reality and the U.S.-Made Famine in Yemen
Kim C. Domenico
Ending Our Secret Alliance with Victimhood: Toward an Adult Politics
L. Ali Khan
Profiling Islamophobes
Calvin Priest
May Day: Seattle Educators Moving Closer to Strike
David Swanson
Jimmy Breslin on How to Impeach Trump
Dave Lindorff
There Won’t Be Another Jimmy Breslin
Jonathan Latham
The Meaning of Life
Robert Fisk
Martin McGuinness: From “Super-Terrorist” to Super Statesman
Steve Horn
Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council
Binoy Kampmark
Grief, Loss and Losing a Father
Jim Tull
Will the Poor Always Be With Us?
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s “March Massacre” Budget
Joe Emersberger
Rafael Correa and the Future of Ecuador: a Response to James McEnteer
March 21, 2017
Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
On Being the “Right Kind of Brown”
Kenneth Surin
God, Guns, Gays, Gummint: the Career of Rep. Bad Bob Goodlatte
David Rosen
Popular Insurgencies: Reshaping the Political Landscape
Ryan LaMothe
The Totalitarian Strain in American Democracy
Eric Sommer
The House Intelligence Committee: Evidence Not Required
Mike Hastie
My Lai Massacre, 49 Years Later
James McEnteer
An Era Ends in Ecuador: Forward or Back?
Evan Jones
Beyond the Pale
Stansfield Smith
First Two Months in Power: Hitler vs. Trump
Dulce Morales
A Movement for ‘Sanctuary Campuses’ Takes Shape
Pepe Escobar
Could Great Wall of Iron become New Silk Roadblock?
Olivia Alperstein
Trump Could Start a Nuclear War, Right Now
David Macaray
Norwegians Are the Happiest People on Earth
March 20, 2017
Michael Schwalbe
Tears of Solidarity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done
Peter Stone Brown
Chuck Berry: the First Poet of Rock and Roll
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail