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Occupation is Liberation

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By Farooq Sulehria

Replace ‘Big Brother’ with Uncle Sam and whole world seems to have become Oceana as delineated in George Orwell’s 1984 where :

War is peace (Iran, Syria)

Freedom is slavery (Iraq)

Ignorance is strength (Fox News to NYT, list is long)

Add one more slogan: ‘Occupation is liberation’ and present-day Oceana doctrine is aptly described. Having incorporated Iraq, Oceana is ready to liberate Tehran and Damascus. The tragic incident in Lebanon on Valentine Day claiming , among others, ‘Mister. Lebanon’s’ life has set the stage for future liberation of Damascus. Mister USA ---of late joined by Monsieur Chirac --- has turned heat on Syria since Valentine’s Day. Loose US media cannons, playing the Thought Police, are firing one single demand: ‘Troops out of Lebanon’.

All we are told since February 14, if one sticks to Western mainstream media, is the great services rendered by Rafiq Hariri in re-building war-torn Lebanon. A billionaire who used his personal contacts to take Lebanon off the front pages and placed his country on ‘travel sheets’. A politician that wanted his country rid itself from Syrian domination thus killed by Syria.

No mention how an upstart business graduates turned to a business tycoon. Not a word about the contracts for Beirut reconstruction landing in his own company. His obsession for reconstruction was so strong that even the building not damaged by civil war were razed to be reconstructed. Often this kind of reconstruction is spelled c.o.r.r.u.p.t.i.o.n. But not in Hariri's’ case. He was not corrupt. He was ‘self made’., declares the Though Police. And a would be liberator who would have , in the forthcoming election, delivered Lebanon’s ‘liberation’ from Syrian ‘occupation.’. Damascus anticipating its ignominious discomfiture at the hands of ‘Mr. Lebanon’, plotted to murder him. Proof? No proof needed. Better have pretext instead of proof. Remember Iraq! The proofs proved embarrassing. In Afghanistan, it was pretext not proof.

Next few weeks, Thought Police will spread so much ignorance (which is strength) that neither proof nor pretext would be needed. One may also call it Orwell’s ‘Doublethink’ in reverse.

The US media Newspeak smoulder any such notion that abundantly finds space in Arab press : ‘Could Syria be so politically obtuse as to mount an operation of this nature at this time? Or could it be that some agency hoped to embroil Damascus even further in Lebanon so as to divert it from its successive offers to resume negotiations with Israel? Certainly chaos on the Lebanese- Syrian front would deprive Damascus of the relative stability it needs to mount a successful negotiating offensive’. ( Al Ahram, Feb 17-23)

Hariri’s murder in fact is a disaster for Damascus because Hariri’s assassination provides a suitable excuse for the opposition to criticise President Lahoud and Syria. Damascus must have been aware that the assassination would come as a blessing in disguise for anti-Syrian politicians like Maronite General Michel Aoun, who will exploit such an assassination for political reasons to whip up anti-Damascus agenda.

True, Syria wanted to marginalise Hariri's power in order to increase that of Lahoud, but the methodology was to sideline him, manipulate his followers, undermine his opposition and award him a reward if Syrian influence in Lebanon was maintained. But killing Hariri is like Syria shooting itself in the foot, because ultimately his death means one less cooperative politician to deal with. For last fifteen years, Hariri's objectives were: power and money. For Hariri, Lebanon's interests should coincide with his own. He would have tolerated a Syrian-sponsored Lebanon so long as he was prime minister, as he did from 1992 to 1998 and then again from 2000 to 2004. Had Syria not empowered President Lahoud at Hariri's expense, the latter would not have joined the opposition in the first place. He would have willingly maintained the status quo, not because it maintained Syria's influence, but because it guaranteed his own.

For it was under Hariri's premiership that the security bureau cracked down on anti- Syrian demonstrations from 1994 to 1996. In April 2003, as US pressure on Damascus grew following the take-over of Baghdad, Hariri immediately re-shuffled his cabinet -- in a gesture of good will towards Al-Assad -- to include Syria's strongest allies in Lebanon, such as Karim Pakradoni and Assem Qanso.

Logically, its not Syria but Israel that stands the chance to gain something out of Hariri’s murder. But hardly any loose US media cannon mentions Israel who stands to gain most, as Jordan Times points out, ‘because it increases US pressure on Syria, and could lead to a weakening of Hizbollah ’ ( Feb 17).

Also a war-torn Lebanon would provide fit ground for Israel to infiltrate to carry out covert operations in the Middle East. Even Arab kids know the fact that Israel has a history of carrying targeted assassinations in Beirut. In 1992, Israeli helicopters assassinated Hizbollah leader Sheikh Abbas Al- Musawi. Similarly, fingers were pointed at Israel in 2002 when Israel’s one-time ally Elie Hobeika was assassinated in Beirut, weeks before he was to reveal evidence before an international court incriminating Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the 1982 massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Also in 2002, during the heyday of Lebanon's security and Syria's influence, Israel murdered Jihad Jibril, the son of Palestinian resistance leader Ahmed Jibril, in Beirut. By killing Hariri, Israel could also possibly help incriminate Damascus and provide U.S. with an opportunity to push ahead with the neo-con Middle East agenda : ‘Occupation is liberation’ war against another Israel Middle East foe.

Meantime, world is made to forget that the Syrian troops entered Lebanon in 1976 with full US blessing. The troops were invited by the than Lebanese president as the primary component of an international peacekeeping force. The Arab League authorised the action. In fact, The US blessing and Arab authorisation of the action was lent to impede the likely

victory of the leftist Lebanese National Movement and its Palestinian allies. Again in 1990, when Syrians helped oust Lebanese Prime Minster Michel Aoun thus paving the way for an end to 15-year old strife, US lent its quiet support to Syria. After all, Aoun was supported by hated Saddam Hussain.

While Thought Police keep reminding us a UN Security Council resolution 1559 from September last year , calling upon ‘ all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon’, but we are made to forget : no such pressure was brought on Israel for violating Security Council’s 10 such resolutions calling upon Israel to withdraw from Lebanon. On the contrary, Clinton Administration at one point was urged upon Israel not to unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon. But Israel is an exception when it comes to UNSC resolutions, nuclear weapons, human rights, democracy and even occupation. Israeli occupation of Palestine is called settlements.

Also, while Thought Police reminds us day in and day out how Syria pressurised Lebanese parliament to extend Emile Lahoud’s term, we are made to forget Washington attempted a similar manoeuvre in 1958 to extend the term of pro-US Lebanese president Camille Chamoun. There was a popular uprising against US manoeuvring. President Eisenhower sent US marines to crush the uprising.

It is fact nothing but same old double standard exhibition is on display. The same old US demand that Damascus should eliminate its long-range and medium range missiles. But no such demand is put in case of Syrian neighbours: Turkey and Israel. Same is true about Syrian chemical weapons. Syrian chemical weapons must be eliminated, demands USA. Egypt and Israel pose no threat , however, with their chemical weapons stockpiles. One laughable demand is ‘free and fair elections’. A person having cheated election should at least refrain from such demands. Syria, however, is not likely to meet these demands. Even if it meets all

the conditions, ‘liberation’ is being dispatched to Damascus anyway. Most probably Damascus achieves liberation before Tehran.

Courtesy: Weekly Internationalen, Stockholm

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