Consensus on the Situation in Lebanon

Up to now there seems a consensus in words regarding the situation in Lebanon, especially after Qana tragic incident. The international community is calling for a ceasefire and an end to hostility. Israel government is unanimous on disarming and annihilating Hezbollah politically and militarily, putting this condition to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. Hezbollah is seeking to change the political map of the Middle East by calling for Israel to withdraw from Shebbaa farms. But the animosity between Israel and Hezbollah is so deep that even a territorial settlement will not put an end to the conflict even in the case of a ceasefire. It seems each has the right to exist at the expense of the other as co-existence is a remote possibility.

If there is any comparison to be made for this conflict, it is like a fight in a cowboy film when two heads of a gang get involved in a fight, surrounded by their men or companions who stand watching without intervening until one kills the other or inflict bodily harm on him.

So in this sense, the international community has been standing by to see first which side will have the upper hand before making a gesture that may change the course of the events.

Neighbouring Arab states, especially Syria, can’t intervene militarily as this will mean a declaration of war against Israel. For Syria, it can’t send its troops to Lebanon as its action will be seen as invasion liable to international sanctions. It also knows that it can’t get into such an adventure if it doesn’t have the support of a powerful country like Russia.

Israel is in Lebanon without facing such consequences as it is using the pretext of self-defence after having been “provoked” by Hezbollah which had kidnapped two of its soldiers.

But the powerful countries, especially permanent members of the Security Council, don’t seek an expansion of the conflict. It seems that for them, Hezbollah and Israel in open and unrestrained conflict is a lesser evil than an open war between Israeli army and another Arab army.

The world seems to have reached a consensus that when there is an international crisis of such a magnitude it becomes through time a daily routine, engendering ineffectual debates as it is happening in such areas as Palestinian territories, Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the conflict ends it becomes a history as the Israeli actions against the Palestinians in Southern Lebanon more than 20 years ago or the bloody incidents of Genin in April 2002. So the consensus for the international community seems: watch, talk as much as you can and forget about it altogether.


Hezbollah, a Twist of Arm or Fate?

Hezbollah is a Lebanese Islamist Shiite organisation with a military arm and a civilian arm. It can’t take power over as constitutionally not a single party can form a government. Power sharing is based on the representation of Lebanese population according to their faith. For example the President must be Christian and the Prime Minister a Sunni.

Its objectives are to be the arm and voice of those resisting the existence of Israel or having it as a military superpower in the region. It can enjoy support only among Muslim people as the Christians have their distinct way of life. It is the Christians for example who are reluctant to have Palestinian refugees on their soil. This means they don’t want to be involved in conflicts with Israel.
It will take a long time to disarm Hezbollah. It has acquired a pile of weapons during Syrian presence in Lebanon as it has learnt to make its weapons, especially missiles hitting Israel.

As long as it has support now within Lebanon and around the world, especially from those opposed to the US and Israel, it will remain a force to reckon with. Disarming it will mean to close all Lebanese borders and to make house to house search for weapons. Or to leave no stone unturned. As Israel failed to disarm Hamas which operates in a territory not yet recognised as an independent state, it will find it difficult to disarm Hezbollah which operates in an independent state with internationally recognized borders.

A Show of Strength, How long Can it last?

In this conflict, which is taking place on Lebanon’s soil,, Israel is seen as free to do what it deems necessary to defend itself. It has benefited from the toothless world reactions as the international community didn’t go as far as to send an international force to protect Lebanon from Israel invasion. Lebanon has become a theatre and the world as spectators who can’t come up to the stage to alter the play. Every day becomes a scene and the final act hasn’t been played yet for the curtain to fall. Meanwhile, the suspense continues for pro and anti Israel sides.

For Hezbollah, it can’t afford to have a long breath to resist Israel without the military and financial support, especially from the outside. With or without Israel, Hezbollah will have to carry its fight even in Lebanon, one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East. Lebanon is a multi-faith society. So it can’t impose its beliefs on it without dragging in it into a new civil war.

Lebanon has the right to live in peace. It is known to be one of the most civilised and modern countries in the region. But its geographic situation has made it a battleground between outside forces, especially the Syrians( in the past), the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Hezbollah has to be realistic in its approach in dealing with the situation in Lebanon without counting on countries like Syria and Iran, which gives justification to Israel to widen its military operations in Lebanon, enjoying the support of the US, which sees Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation and not a political wing worthy of treating as a negotiating partner.

Moroccan Government Reaction to Events in Lebanon

Morocco is moderate regarding the conflict in the Middle-East. At the start of the conflict the Moroccan government issued a declaration condemning Israel actions in Lebanon. But Morocco has direct and indirect links with Israel .There are about one million Jews of Moroccan origin, two third of them are living in Israel.

Morocco tries to act as a mediator. Although it has direct link with the Lebanese government it doesnÂ’t have an official link or influence on Hezbollah. There is little it can do to stop the violence. Some Israeli politicians likeShimon Perezss, the former PM, are welcome guests in Morocco. But this not enough to convinceOlmertt to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon. For balance Morocco sent aid to Lebanon as a gesture of solidarity in addition to official calls to stop the Israeli military actions in Lebanon.

The Media Dealing with the War in Lebanon

When there is a war, the media step in for coverage. But there are media that are ideologically oriented so they try to edit the events in accordance with their line by using forceful terms to win the hearts and minds of their audience.

The Arab media feel it is a duty to galvanize the Arabs against Israeli actions in Lebanon. Reporting the events objectively without inserting comments on them in favour of the Lebanese by the reporter himself or by an anti-Israeli speaker , also trying to have an interview with an Israeli official on the matter will be considered as a treason, that is siding with Israel or not being involved enough to denounce Israeli military actions. On the Israeli side, before Oslo Peace Accord, any Israeli journalist carrying an interview with a Palestinian politician could face prosecution.

Now that we have media boom through blogs and satellite channels, every side has a large space to put his case through. As many channels have become commercial, first they try to get the feel of their audience and report to them what they want to hear and see. So subjectivity gets over objectivity.

But there are channels like the BBC which does their best to balance their reports. The fact that the debate on the events in Lebanon has attracted thousands of responses, from pro-Israeli to anti-Israeli attitudes, shows that the BBC has won the trust of all sides. It has its reporters on both sides, Lebanon and Israel. Also in the wording of its reports it avoids words that can be considered as biased like “aggression”
or “martyrs”.

Now it has become the responsibility of the audience to make their opinion without seeking someone to tell them how to think. They should get the real background of the story and come with their own analysis. If they can’t make it public, at least they keep it to themselves as a guideline to know how to think instead of being made to think in an imposed way by sides who try to capitalise on events for their own sake.

Prospects of Ending Israel-Hezbollah Conflict

It is ironical that the international community, including US stood watching destructive attacks taking place without intervening in the right time. Now after the damages and reciprocal accusations, it seems the conflicting parties will seek diplomatic victory, showing the other side to be the aggressor. As calls from UN, Arab League, EU failed to stop the bloodshed, the US mission in the Middle East will be met with deaf ears as Israel and Hezbollah are trying to make their points their way.
There can be a lull, but the one that precedes the storm. As Hezbollah and Israel are set to make each other’s life a hell, the borders between Lebanon and Israel will remain a mine of potential major conflict as it is happening theses days or just the scene of frequent skirmishes as a provocation for an all out conflict. As usual those who decide remain immune from the consequences of this conflict. Only innocent people who are made to pay for this with their belongings, livelihood or lives.

Polish Immigrants in UK

Poland is known in history as the country that was the cause of the start of WWII after its invasion by Hitler’s forces. That was in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half, the trade union movement in the 80’s and the rise of Polish John Paul as the First non Italian Pope gave it more importance in the communist bloc.

Polish migrants in Europe, especially in Britain enjoyed the freedom their compatriots started to enjoy only 15 years ago after the fall of the Soviet Union and hence the fall of communist states from Europe altogether. Western Europe was freed from the Nazis thanks to coalition forces. Eastern Europe was freed from communism thanks to the support of free Western Europe although this took almost half a century to materialise.

The polish at home or in UK can have the same share of freedom but the economic divide is still there. Perhaps the EU, of which Poland is now a member, can bridge the gap.

Heterogeneity & Homogeneity in Great Britain

Opening a discussion on Asian communities and others of different backgrounds living in Britain is recalling a mixture for of past and present. It a mixture of nostalgia for the home country and a reflection on having a balanced lifestyle in which background and integration don’t cause identity crisis.

Having communities from different nationalities and cultural backgrounds living in the UK is a reminder of the days in which UK was the biggest empire in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Regardless of the colonial period which must have had some controversial aspects, it was beneficial for UK and its colonies to come into contact. Britain enriched itself culturally and economically from these colonies. The British were exposed to different lifestyles, with which they were influenced and which must have influenced by modernising if not civilizing these colonies. A striking example is the famous police hat, whose shape originated from Indian traditional turban. Summer carnival is another example of Britain’s cultural heterogeneity.

The British left many of their colonies. But in those colonies they left their legacy. Their “colonies” accompanied them through immigrants. Now there are mainly Asians and African immigrants living in it.

Now we can see the overseas parts of the British Empire severed from it, as they have disintegrated in independent states, but they are still keeping a link with Britain through the Commonwealth. There is also a miniature of the British Empire is in the UK through the Mosaic of immigrant communities from these former colonies.

When the Poor Ask the Rich : G8 & World Problems

G8 can’t alone solve the world problems, especially for African

Rich countries in G8 like the US are providing constant help to poor countries, especially those with scarce materials. There are humanitarian organisations like Oxfam. But such help seems to bear little fruits. It is based essentially on food donation and the like. Such help isn’t the infrastructure needed by poor countries. They need the adequate human resources who have adequate education and full integrity. Politically, there must be full democracy so government at the local and central level coordinate steps to reform and progress.

Instead of asking for generous help from rich countries without being able to use it to good effect because of corruption, countries in need should take the example of G8 and EU to form an economic block to become rich. After all EU started with small and relatively not very rich countries then called Benelux. Now it is a very powerful economic block.
In conclusion, Poor countries should learn to be efficient and self-sufficient.

countries with inefficient governments. Writing off debts for poor countries can be a good start. But such countries should get rid of their ills like corruption. If China, India and Brazil join G8, there will be a new Security Council in disguise. Other third world countries will be faced with a giant block that will set the agenda for them rather than treating them as partners. China, Brazil and India still have huge problems to cater for their own people. So they won’t give priority to other countries whose economy is ailing because of mismanagement. Rich countries like US have their political agenda. They have their economy to sustain in face of international competition and energy rising cost. There are troubled regions in the Middle East. There is the issue of nuclear programmes in North Korea. All this makes poor countries, especially those in Africa, put in the second rank when it comes to solving world problems.Transcript of participation on Haveyoursay about G8 Summit on Sunday, July 16th, 2006 ( see the video link under the title: Is the G8 fit for the purpose)

The role that G8 can play to help poor countries I don’t think that G8 that can solve the problem of poor counties. It is them who should set the basis for that. They should have good government at the local and the central level. They should deal with the problem of corruption. And of course even if they depend on rich countries like the United States this has to do with its foreign policy. If you take, For example, the case of the Middle East, we have three countries that benefit from large aid from the USA, we have Egypt, Israel and Jordan. And this has to do with the peace agreement.

But if you take for example Africa, it is not at the focus of the interest of the United States because up to now, it doesn’t threaten its interests. So it doesn’t care if these countries are plunged in problems or not. Ands let’s remember that former French President François Mitterrand asked that G7 should devote 1% of its gross national product to help poor countries, but this didn’t take place. So if poor countries want to help themselves, of course they should lay the basis through education, through good management. Otherwise of course, all the aid can be just momentary if it doesn’t help these countries to have the basic infrastructure to get a good start.

Capture: Resistance and Revenge

Hezbollah fighters (picture on the left)
Israeli soldiers in Southern Lebanon

The capture of Israeli soldiers from its southern and northern borders means that factions opposed to Israel in the region are coordinating their method of resistance. Whether it is a coincidence or a planned action, the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers will heighten tension in the region. Hamas government is apparently controlled by its military wing. The Lebanese government has no control over Hezbollah. Israel is apparently fighting militias, which governments from their countries have no control over them but they are controlled by other countries, mainly, Iran and Syria.

If the worst comes to the worst Israel will be obliged to hit targets in Syria to put pressure on it to put pressure on Hamas and Hezbollah to free the soldiers. These militias know in advance they have little to gain from their actions apart from publicity as a strike from them is met by loads of strikes from Israel.

Perhaps great mediators who have credibility among all sides should step in to solve the problem before skirmishes, limited bombardment turns into an all out war, involving Syria, Iran and insurgents from Iraq. Otherwise we will be in the Middle-East revisited prior to Oslo accord with constant Intifada, suicide attacks and strident measures from Israel in the name of legitimate defence

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