Bush's New Middle East
By Mike Whitney
" ... under the sky
the self inside me dies ...
I will always be from
Without a face, without a history
Luggage" by Abdul-Wahab Al-Bayyati
05/29/07 "ICH" --- - 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
So, the Bush administration is
That's right. Sy Hersh put it
"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
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
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
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
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
According to the Lebanese
"NATO has decided to join
the Lebanese territories to North-African & African coast
military region, to establish Military airbases". ... .
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
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
You know, like the ones you
see on these American TV reality shows. Revamped, relooked,
(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
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!"
lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:
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