As the siege of the Nahr al-Barad refugee camp in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli enters its third week, the last piece of this strange puzzle has finally been put in place. For completing the jigsaw of Tripoli, we have no less than the Bush administration itself to thank, along with the three stooges of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.
It was a real mystery initially. The Salafis of Fatah al-Islam were first brought into Lebanon (or released from their prisons) under the auspices of the Siniora government and the money of Saad Hariri. This has been well-documented by Seymour Hersh and does not need repeating here. Hariri the hypocrite, who would probably blame the Syrians if his tea was served too hot, did not miss the opportunity to do likewise over the standoff between the Lebanese army and the foreign fighters of Fatah al-Islam.
So if the well-armed extremists were invited into Lebanon by Siniora and Hariri Inc., why now turn against them? If they were to do their bidding against Hezbollah (their real nemesis; presciently calling on the government to resign for the past several months) what led to the current conflict?
It was by no coincidence that shortly after hostilities began with the unwelcome guests, the United States and their Arab allies did not hesitate an instant to either send or pledge sophisticated weaponry and arms to the Lebanese government in order to combat “al-Qaeda’s” presence there.
We should remember that none of these countries lifted a finger to stop the Israeli onslaught of Lebanon last summer by even appealing to the United States to call for a ceasefire. They too wanted Hezbollah destroyed.
So what Israel could not accomplish last year will now be done from within.
In both Lebanon and Iraq, the solution is to foment division among the people in order to ignite a civil war. It is already well under way in Iraq. And if Israel was unable neutralize Hezbollah prior to a US strike against Iran, it appears an attempt to create a similar climate is taking place in Lebanon.
When was the Siniora government co-opted in this endeavor? Probably sometime last year, after Siniora was seen crying on TV over the war but before shamelessly hugging Condoleezza Rice during it.
Having Fatah al-Islam and similar groups in Lebanon are a double bonus for Siniora and company: a radical Sunni presence to agitate against Hezbollah, while the government, under the guise of combating this new threat, acquires more weapons which they can then use to do their domestic dirty work.
The Lebanese, however, are not so naïve as to fall into a trap they have been in before. Nor is Hezbollah likely to be provoked into taking up arms against their fellow countrymen. That is a chance the United States, Israel and the Arab dictatorships are willing to take though, in order to neutralize the Lebanese front prior to taking on Iran.
Fouad Siniora, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, in this most ugly game, have indeed proven the Lebanese government to be one for hire.
RANNIE AMIRI is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.