U.S. empire drags Lebanon towards civil war

Mourners chant slogans as they hold a placard with Arabic that reads “Our choice is resistance” during the funeral of three Hezbollah supporters who were killed during Thursday clashes, in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, Friday, October 15, 2021.

Seven people were killed on Thursday in Lebanon, as an unarmed protest was ambushed by snipers in a Beirut suburb.

The protest had been organized to call for the removal of the judge investigating the horrific Beirut port explosion last year. The protesters say that the investigation has been politicized by judge Tariq Bitar.

The killings were widely blamed in Lebanon on the Lebanese Forces, a right-wing, sectarian Christian militia. Al-Akhbar, a left-wing daily, compared Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to Hitler on its front page the next morning.

The protesters were mostly supporters of Hizballah and Amal, as were the victims.

In response to the killings, supporters of Hizballah and Amal brought out their weapons and engaged in a four hour gun battle with the snipers.

Hizballah is a Shia Muslim political movement. Its armed wing led the resistance forces that kicked Israeli occupation forces out of South Lebanon in 2000, and inflicted a second defeat on Israel in 2006.

But the Lebanese Forces actually collaborated with Israel during Lebanon’s civil war. In alliance with Israeli troops during their invasion and occupation of Beirut in 1982, the Lebanese Forces — along with other far-right sectarian Christian militias — massacred more than 3,000 Palestinian refugees during the infamous Sabra and Shatila massacre.

Israeli troops surrounded the camps, stopped the refugees from escaping the slaughter and even fired flares to literally light the way for the bloody rampage to continue.

Thursday’s killings invoked for many the spectre of reigniting the Lebanese civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 1990. The neighbourhood where the snipers massacred the protesters — Tayouneh — was actually the same one where the Lebanese civil war started.

On that day in April 1975 the Phalangists — a precursor to the Lebanese Forces, and modelled on and named after Franco’s fascists Falange militia — attacked a bus, massacring 26 Palestinian refugees.

Geagea is today a politician. But his move into politics was only possible thanks to the US-backed, fake “Cedar Revolution” of 2005, which ejected Syria from the country. Before that Geagea had spent 11 years in jail, after having been convicted of murdering a rival Christian politician. There’s no doubt he still commands the loyalty of Lebanese Forces gunmen today.

Geagea is today funded by two of Israel’s regional allies: the dictatorial Saudi Arabian and Emeriti regimes. The US has for decades demanded the disarming of Hizballah, in order to support the Israeli settler-colony.

US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks showed that Geagea in 2008 offered to start a war in Lebanon against Hizballah, as a proxy force for the United States. The diplomatic cable stated that:

Geagea said he wanted to make sure Washington knows he has between 7,000 and 10,000 well-trained Lebanese Forces fighters who could be mobilized. “We can fight against Hizballah,” he stated with confidence, adding, “We just need your support to get arms for these fighters.

Although Hizballah is a essentially a Shia militia, it takes seriously its role as a defender of the nation against armed aggression from Israel, and from takfiri terrorists like al-Qaida and ISIS. It acts in alliance with other, pro-resistance Christian factions in Lebanon.

I was living in Palestine, in the West Bank in 2006 during Israel’s war of aggression against Lebanon. I will never forget the enthusiastic and unequivocal support the Palestinian masses — the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims, remember — gave to Hizballah.

The resistance is a national calculus.

As I write this on Monday night, Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah is giving a live speech detailing the Lebanese Forces’ responsibility for the massacre. During the war in Syria, Hizballah has protected Christians in Lebanon and Syria against ISIS and al-Qaida.

To learn more, I recommend this Twitter thread by the brilliant Lebanese-American academic As’ad AbuKhalil, as well as these two videos by the wonderful Lebanese-American journalist Rania Khalek and the brilliant Syrian YouTuber Richard Medhurst.

 

Source: Palestine is Still the Issue