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,
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
Courtesy: Weekly Internationalen, Stockholm