Can Political Forces in Lebanon Unite to Confront the Israeli Aggression?

The View of the Lebanese Communist Party on the Latest Developments

Friday, 21 July 2006

The Situation on the Ground

The Israeli enemy has continued making intensive air strikes at the districts and villages in the south, turning southern villages into isolated islands.  Meanwhile the intensity of the bombardment on other parts of the country has decreased (the southern Beirut suburbs, the Beqaa, Baabda, an-Na’imah, the North).  This has meant more casualties among the peaceful civilian population and more destruction of civilian facilities, residences, bridges, roads . . . .  There have been somewhat longer battles on the ground all along the border where the Resistance has inflicted more losses on the enemy.  Refugees are moving out of the area and Israeli warplanes have dropped leaflets calling on the residents to leave their villages for locations north of the al-Litani River.

Economic Losses in Lebanon

Some experts say that the amount of material loss as a result of the Israeli aggression against the infrastructure, public facilities, and private economy has reached about 3.2 billion dollars by today.  These estimates do not include losses suffered by the citizens such as the destruction of private homes, cars, and personal property in addition to the thousands spent by Lebanese fleeing from the area and securing the vital necessities for themselves such as food, medicine, transport, etc.

New Position Statements by Various Forces

Kofi Annan — the United Nations — condemned the violence on both sides (Israel and Hizballah) and the excessive use of military force by Israel, as well as the rockets that rain down on Israeli cities.  He reviewed a report by an international deputation that had been sent to Lebanon and could be summed up as follows:

  1. The two captive Israeli soldiers should be transferred to the legal Lebanese Authorities under International Red Cross supervision and there should be a ceasefire.
  2. An expanded peacekeeping force should be formed to work with the Lebanese government to help imposing Lebanese army control over the border.
  3. President Siniora should confirm clearly to the Security Council and Annan that the Lebanese government will respect the UN-delineated blue line until an agreement has been reached on the location of the border.
  4. A framework for donors should be set up so they can fund an immediate aid package to rebuild Lebanon.
  5. An international conference with Lebanese participation should be organized to set a time schedule for quickly implementing the Ta’if Agreement (specifically the provision concerned with disarming the militias) and UN Resolutions 1559 and 1680.
  6. The international community should be called on to work out a framework for final delineation of the Lebanese border and the resolute activation of the peace process for the Middle East.

Annan indicated that Hizballah had taken Lebanon hostage and that the deputation had said that the [Israeli] military operations had not yet nearly approached its set objectives.

He made no mention of the matter of an exchange of prisoners, that is, nothing was said about the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Russia has called for a comprehensive solution in the Middle East and an immediate ceasefire.  A new element in the Russian position came in a statement by the Russian Foreign Minister, who is to visit the region, that the aims that have been announced in the name of securing the release of Israeli prisoners have in actuality gone far beyond the framework of a so-called “anti-terrorist” operation and that a comprehensive settlement must be reached for the current Middle East crisis.  “The time has come — and it has become objectively necessary more than at any time in the past — for a comprehensive discussion of all sides of the situation in the Middle East without exception on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions.”

The American position: “the allies of Washington in the region, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan are regarded as important countries for finding a solution to the Lebanese crisis, as a new indication pointing to America’s strategy for solving the conflict between Hizballah and Israel.”

Rice went to New York to restore the cohesion of the European and American position, which had begun to show signs of difference.  The Americans appear to be in no hurry to stop the shooting before the main Israeli goals have been achieved, namely to finish off Hizballah.  A spokesman for the White House said that “it is premature to hold discussions about sending a force to keep peace or to aid in rebuilding Lebanon.”  Rice now is coordinating with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt on the situation in the region and the coming diplomatic routes to be followed in dealing with it in order to work out a unified position.

Saad al-Hariri: His statements after his meetings on his trips contain demands for a final and comprehensive solution to the crisis and the issue of sending an international force to Lebanon.  He also said that “Iran and Syria have their interests in the region and even though other countries interfered we must find a final solution to the conflict” while repeating the same position: “only the Lebanese government is authorized to declare war and peace with any side”; and he emphasized the importance of fighting against any internal divisive strife.

The French Position: the Europeans, specifically France, are offering a proposal on a “humanitarian truce” and the opening of routes to supply humanitarian aid.  There is difference concerning the nature and location of these routes: one proposal being by sea between Lebanon and Cyprus, another overland via Syria — all this is “under study”! There are Israeli preconditions concerning routes that have not been disclosed.

Nabih Barri addressed criticism in general at the Council of the Arab League, seeking solidarity at least with the disaster-stricken people in Lebanon and support for an immediate ceasefire and the holding of a prisoner exchange.

Walid Junblatt sent a delegation from the “Democratic Encounter” group to Barri declaring that the Jabal Druze region [Junblatt’s region] is in solidarity and his Progressive Socialist Party is taking part in relief operations and in receiving refugees, but in his latest interviews he focused on the idea of “the axis” and the idea that Lebanon is paying the price, while blaming Syria, Iran, and Hizballah for the situation.

Hizballah: Hasan Nasrallah said that the reason for the capture of the Zionist soldiers was the need to use that as a basis for a later prisoner exchange, expressed his satisfaction with steadfastness, and confirmed that Hizballah is holding fast to its conditions and that it is ready for battle even if the battle becomes prolonged.  He contested the proposals of some political forces but softly, noting the party in the negotiations is the government.  In addition, he noted that what has happened and will happen will have a big impact on the internal situation.

Salim al-Hoss harshly criticized the position of some Arabs, in addition to Saudi Arabia, saying, “What do they think they’re doing standing by and watching?”  He warned that the goal of the aggression is to drag the country into sectarian strife like the sectarian strife in Iraq that has been manufactured by the American occupation.

The Legislative Council: “We must either fight Israel together or we will fight each other.”  The war that Israel is waging against Lebanon has gone beyond the stated reasons for it.  It is aggression against a people and a state, but the aggression will never attain any political results.  It called for continued steadfastness until international initiatives crystallize and for closing the door to any form of sectarian strife — the thing that Israel is trying to provoke.  It called for extending the authority of the state and the withdrawal of Israel from the Shebaa Farms area, praised the efforts of the government through the Supreme Relief Board, and warned against attempts to impose private security arrangements in any region.  It concluded by praising the army and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Saudi Arabia: The time has come for a ceasefire, and “the Hebrew state must not be given free rein to do whatever it wants.”  It supports the deployment of an international force.

The Viewpoints in the Zionist Newspapers:

Haaretz: Air power cannot be decisive in the battle in Lebanon, even if the air force succeeds in attaining goals and even if it kills Hasan Nasrallah.  The air strikes injure more than they injure Hizballah.  The air strikes did not succeed in stopping the firing of missiles and in breaking up the guerrilla army, and at the end of the battle Nasrallah will emerge to threaten Israel.  And if he is killed, then Hizballah will rise and turn the south into an Iranian mini-state and continue their rocket threats.  Then the lesson for the Middle East will be hat a small ideological army will remain capable of provoking Israel, which becomes unable to accept this situation.  What is needed therefore is a decisive response and therefore the dilemma facing Israel is: do you complete the air war with a political solution policy that might return to Hizballah its power, or do you complete the air war with a land war that could lead to huge losses and to getting stuck?

Elsewhere the paper noted that Israel knows that it will never get back its prisoners without an exchange but it wants to carry out that exchange from a position of strength, not of weakness.

Maariv  confirmed that the land war is beginning, recognizing that the first land battles have produced losses and showed that there is fear of direct engagement between the army and Hizballah and of the mine fields and the rockets that will be a part of ground operations.  It concluded that the war is still a long way from its end and that the army will be forced to bring more of its forces into the depths of Lebanon, but in small groups so as to avoid losses.

Some preliminary conclusions:

First: disagreement and difference is on the rise within the Zionist Israeli army entity, especially after the recognition that the air force cannot attain a clear military victory over the resistance structure and Hizballah, or succeed in stopping the rocket barrages, even though military operations have reached their peak.  Therefore there has begun to be talk about the need for a decisive solution able to break up Hizballah and the Resistance, getting rid of their armed strength.  Thus the likelihood of an imminent ground offensive has increased, despite the dangers of this course for the Israeli army.  Indications that this is the most likely prospect are:

  • The failure of the military so far to achieve “some kind of victory” with air strikes.
  • The transformation of the villages in the south into a bunch of disconnected islands,
  • The Israeli demand that residents leave their villages,
  • The need to take advantage of the fact that the grace period given to Israel by the international community and in particular by the United States has not yet expired,
  • The preconditions for the other alternatives (like expanding the aggression outside Lebanon’s borders, for example) have not yet been completed,

The Zionist enemy might use more than one scenario for its ground offensive (an invasion of the area south of the al-Litani River, airborne landings, special operations).

Second: although some distinctions have appeared in the unified international stance, this is still within the grip of the American administration which is pushing for giving more time to Israel to make progress in its military operations such that it is able to draw benefits from them in its plan for the region, taking advantage of the disgraceful position of the official Arab regimes that are providing cover for the aggression.

Those differences that have emerged so far do not affect essential issues but are only matters of appearance.  (Agreement on the French request for secure humanitarian routes, but with the stipulation that they be by sea, in accordance with Israel’s desires; the proposals of the UN General Secretary that are in essence no more than the Israeli conditions with a bit of makeup).

The essential point of the American position is complete support for Israel until it attains all its goals by means of aggression and military action.  For this reason the convening of the UN Security Council was postponed and Rice’s visit to the region was postponed.

Third: On the Lebanese Internal Situation:

The Lebanese government continues to maintain its policy of “looking the other way” as if what is going on doesn’t concern it.  It is waiting to see what the military operations and the “international orders” will produce.  Rather than being in the van of those calling for resistance to the aggression and for removing this issue from the realm of internal disputes, the authorities have fallen behind the “14th of March Coalition” forces [anti-Syrian, “Lebanon First” political forces] that have taken positions that have had a negative impact on the resistance and increased the level of internal tension within Lebanon, including religious sectarian tension.  Various dimensions of this have benefited the Israeli enemy and have provided support for the Arab regimes and international community, which are giving cover for the Zionist aggression and encouraging it.  This stance of the authorities has also weakened the unity and solidarity of the nation that are necessary as a basic weapon in confronting dangers threatening the country (which today means Israel) and after the end of the conflict.

In addition it has greatly lagged in undertaking relief work and does not want to press for the opening of all possible routes for bringing in aid, particularly the land route, as if it were required to conform to the international position that is working to open a sea route exclusively through the port of Jounie.

This policy will complicate the internal situation more as the aggression continues and expands, moving to a land offensive, and in view of the economic difficulties and problems with services — all of which will expose the internal situation to more divisions and sources of tension and could push things towards a serious governmental crisis that opens the door for anything to happen in Lebanon.

This situation makes the political forces’ conflicts worse.  Along these lines, we believe that there is a danger of rhetoric about resorting to arms and establishing private security increasing tension.  (For example, the statement by Michel Aoun yesterday in as-Safir — and the Declaration of the Islamic Legal Council).

This necessitates that we undertake more political initiatives together with various parties in order to insure that political forces really line up to confront the aggression.  To that end, Hizballah must participate on this side of things, first, by helping to turn the task of confronting the aggression into a national task that is not the monopoly of Hizballah alone; second, by dispelling the predominant feelings of some people that Hizballah deals with the country as if it were an arena for fighting out a regional conflict.  (Nasrallah’s interview yesterday might help in this regard); and, third, by exercising a certain discipline on the Syrian axis group and also on Salim al-Hoss and the Michel Aoun faction, so that they enter more into this effort to get political forces lined up against the aggression.

Fourth: The battle that is going to take place will have many ramifications internally and externally and will decide the course of the political operation that will be taking place in Lebanon and the region.  This demands that we draw on all our Arab and international contacts, so that these forces may take part in curbing and halting the aggression.

Fifth: The activism of the Party mush increase in all fields of work, so that it can play the best possible role in resisting the aggression and securing the things needed for popular and national resistance.

The Political Bureau of the Lebanese Communist Party

The original text in Arabic is available at the Web site of the Lebanese Communist Party.  Translation by Muhammad Abu Nasr.