Sunday, July 30, 2006

Druse Chief Jumblatt Sees Hezbollah Revenge Coming His Way

The wise old man of the mountain, Jabal Qamar, in the beautiful Druse heartland south of Beirut and north of the Shi'ite stronghold further south, has little hope that Syria can be kept from taking over Lebanon again, since the Americans appear befuddled over the real reason, in his mind, for the Hezbollah kidnappings.

And in a Wall Street Journal opinion journal interview, the venerable sectarian leader waxed pessimistic, as he obviously believes Syrian crosshairs are focussing on him as they did on his father, assassinated by the Syrians almost thirty years ago [by murderers using a car with Iraqi license plates, a nice Syrian touch!]. And Jumblatt may not be exaggerating when he cites Shi'ite megalomania:
Quite a few politicians, including Mr. Jumblatt, have implied that Hezbollah's abduction of two Israelis soldiers was irresponsible, which many of the group's faithful deem to be a stab in the back. This prompted Mr. Nasrallah to declare, ominously, in an Al Jazeera interview last week: "If we succeed in achieving the victory . . . we will never forget all those who supported us. . . . As for those who sinned against us . . . those who let us down, and those who conspired against us . . . this will be left for a day to settle accounts. We might be tolerant with them and we might not."
What does Mr. Jumblatt think of that threat, obviously directed against him and his political comrades? "Nasrallah was talking in the name of the Syrian regime. He thinks he's a demigod. Like [Iran's President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad he's waiting for the 12th Imam, the Mehdi. This aspect of Shiite religious mobilization can be frightening."

Imagine the Christian authors of "The Rapture" in charge of the USA, if you can strain your brain that much. And Jumblatt complains the Hezbollah are using Druzi towns and factories as shields for their rocket-launch sites:
"But if Hezbollah's missiles are pushed back, they will soon be here; no, they may soon be on Hamra Street," a shopping drag in the center of Beirut. "It took us a full 24 hours to negotiate the removal of a single missile from near the Pepsi-Cola factory," an enterprise just south of Beirut owned by a wealthy Druze family.

Mr. Jumblatt laughs at the absurdity of the episode, but he is making a serious point. Hezbollah can wage war from wherever it wants, regardless of its countrymen's preferences.

But Jumblatt's underlying theme is that his country is being hijacked by Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, with Syrian support. No long-term solution, in his mind, will be possible unless these two outside powers can be restrained. And an armed UN peacekeeping force with a tough charter may be the only band-aid.

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