Dr. Walid Phares

www.walidphares.com

 

PHARES RESPONSE TO M SIROIS

MANAGING EDITOR OF THE DAILY STAR

BEIRUT

Subject: Getting Serious by Walid Phares

Mr Marc Sirois

Managing Editor

The Daily Star

Beirut, Lebanon

Dear M Sirois:

I can appreciate that you would correct as many "factual errors, twistings of the truth, and outright fabrications assembled in one place," that you pretend you've identified, as long as the so-called corrections are not exactly just that: Distortions of what I wrote, camouflage of what you want to  say, and defending who cannot defend themselves. You know the Arabic saying, "Darabani wa baka.." (Meaning: he hits me then cries). Now to the content:

1. You wrote: "Washington has been making war on Iraq since 1991, when the original Bush administration had Syrian support in return for having sold out Lebanon; Syria's attempt to prevent an outright invasion in 2003 was therefore anything but the first shot." First I really didn't see the rational of your equation and what point were you responding to? But nevertheless yes the First (not the original) Bush Administration sold out Free Lebanon to Syria in exchange of its nominal participation in the campaign against Saddam's occupation of Kuwait. We all know (especially in Lebanon) that the Syrian leadership of Hafez Assad was exceptionally shrewd and was able to outmaneuver not only the US, but also the Israelis and many other Arab Governments. The Syrian dictator awaited patiently for his moment, marginalized Arab moderate role in Lebanon, and set the stage for the final assault on East Beirut. The story is long of course, but on the 1991 affair, its is now common knowledge that Assad offered Washington a token of participation (which satisfied his plans of weakening Saddam), and his major victory in Lebanon, consented upon by the then Oil-interested US establishment.

2. You wrote: "Bashar Assad hoodwinked Jacques Chirac? Please." Well, you may find it strange, but Chirac's political establishment is bound to submissive relations to the Arab world in general, to the survival of its contracts with Iraq and to satisfying the Syrian controlled Hariri elite in Beirut. He often referred to mes amis a Beirut et dans le monde Arabe in his strategic speeches. Don't underestimate the Syrian leadership legacy. Those who outmaneuvered the US and Israel in the 1990s, can emulate this with France, no?

3. You wrote: "Hizbullah has not been accused of deliberately harming a civilian for something like a decade, which is far more than the IDF can say; Graham's description was childish." And who would be able to accuse Hizbollah when no opposition is left intact inside the country? We refer you to the long reports about Hizbollah's direct harming of civilians in Jezzine and the border areas, as well as its torture of South Lebanese through the decade and beyond. Besides, few years of lower activities doesn't grant amnesty to Terrorism.

4. You wrote: "Hizbullah has helped the Lebanese Army to fight Sunni Islamists, including a pitched battle in northern Lebanon a couple of years back that was wisely reported in the media."Surely, me and my brother against our cousin, and we and our cousin against the stranger. Hizbollah fought against the Syrians in 1987, against the Lebanese Army in the early 1990s, and along with Syrian and pro-Syrian Lebanese against the SLA and Israel. Normal no? As far as the incidents of Kfar Habou in 2000, the Syrians stood aside, the Lebanese Army crushed the Wahabi Islamists, and Hizbollah meets regularly with Islamic Jihad and Hamas, to coordinate. Both are Sunnis.

5. You wrote: "Even Israeli intelligence operatives admit they have zero evidence of ANY links between Hamas and Islamic Jihad on one side and Al-Qaeda on the other."You don't need the Israeli intelligence to read web pages. There, online, you can see the links

6. You wrote: "Hizbullah's principle sponsor, threatened to invade Afghanistan a few years ago because the Taleban and Al-Qaeda were mistreating Shiites. If a partnership ever develops between Hizbullah and Al-Qaeda, which are mortal enemies, it will be one of convenience forced by obtuse US policy. And even the it will mean nothing: Remember that the US military and OSS worked with the Mafia to undermine the Nazi defense of Italy."Well you answered it yourself: Hizbollah and al-Qaida are certainly on different sectarian and ideological grounds. So is Hizbollah, an Islamist group, and the Syrian Baath, a socialist nationalist regime. Yet they have established a strategic alliance. Haven't they? Read the speeches of Nasrallah about the Assad leadership. And vice versa. Hizbollah and al-Qaida have the US and the Free world on their agenda. Once they will defeat their enemies, they can fight each other for the next century. What interest would we have in that?

7. You wrote: "American volunteers fought in Spain's civil war. Did that make the United States a supporter of terrorism?" No, it made those individual Americans supporters for the causes they fought for. Either Socialists, or Nationalists. Had the US Government sent individuals to blow themselves up with allied forces in Bosnia and Kosovo, that would have qualified for Terrorism

8. You wrote: "The Marine barracks bombing killed 241 people, not 100. Your formulation makes for flippancy, but it's bad math and even worse history." I originally wrote hundreds of Marines, but the editors changed it to a 100 Marines. So, you don't have to play sarcasms. I was there at the time, and the editor of a weekly magazine which reported this accurately. Your poisonous words betray more of your anti-Americanism then your concerns with numbers of deaths.

9: You wrote "There is more, but I tire of this. The Syrian government frequently does things that no reasonable person will defend, but that is not the same as saying it should be threatened, tacitly or otherwise, with invasion. Think of the consequences of helping to build momentum for war. Or, at the very least, get your facts straight before you back a campaign that risks other people's lives for no good reason." It's quite interesting that the only space reserved for journalists in Beirut is to politely mention "things that no reasonable person will defend," when it comes to Syria in Lebanon. I do understand that you are under occupation and the Daily Star (whom I respect) need to be printed and distributed. So is the case for other media. But for us to be the hostages of those who chose to comply with Syrian guidelines on liberty and Democracy, frankly, no. One, we are not here to encourage anyone, including the US to invade other countries. We are here to convince Syria to withdraw its forces from a particular other country: Lebanon. We do not call for US invasion, we are simply calling for the cessation of the consequences of Syria's invasions of its neighbor. Our facts are straight and at least can be discussed, unlike the facts of (Iraqi and Lebanese ministers of Information) Sahhaf and the Aridi of this world. And finally, it is very considerate to be concerned about other people's lives. We certainly are. But it would be even more considerate to account for thousands of lives lost to the Syrian shelling from 1976 to 1990, the many journalists assassinated by them including journalism syndicate leaders, and the health of thousand of political prisoners both in Lebanon and Syria.With all my respects to the Daily Star, the profession, and my commitment to the Truth

Walid Phares