Reporting from Lebanon

This blog contains Dan Winter's live reports from Beirut Lebanon. Dan is a long time peace activist from Boulder Colorado.  He has been to Iraq 3 times and Palestine once.  He is  opening a non-profit office in Beirut to provide services for volunteers and the media.  Contact him for assistance.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Disarm Hezbollah ? - aint gonna happen

A few days ago I went to a massive ralley to hear Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, speak in Beirut. I was somehow able to get into the press box so that I was only about 50 feet from the podium.

I got the full effect of his dynamic style of speaking as well as the immense roar of perhaps 300,000 people behind me.

There was no question as to the approval he was receiving from the mass of people behind me. I will guess that the only reason Israel did not bomb - glad of that- was that such a killing of civilians would be over the top even for them.

In talking with ordinary people, and others, in the south of Lebanon there is no discussion about even thinking of disarming. When I asked a local if there were Hezbollah near by he laughed and asked - is anyone here not Hezbollah - but never really answered the question.

In the local press, just the day prior to Nasrallah speaking, General Alain Pelegrini, the head of the UN forces implied that the UN will disarm Hezbollah if the Lebanese Army did not (the main battle tank for the Army is the old Russian T54 or T52 tank - which was 10 years obsolete during the first gulf war of 1991).

As I read what Pelegrini said I thought this was an excellent way to go to war. The only way to disarm Hezbollah would be to break into civilian houses and point weapons at the families = a sure way to win hearts and minds. You can imagine that the response would be immediate and fierce. I could not believe he would imply such a dangerous course of action.

I guess I was not the only person to wonder about what Pelegrini was thinking of, if in fact he was thinking at all. The very next day, in large type, was another newspaper statement, from Pelegrini, saying that \the mission of the UN was NOT to disarm Hezbollah/. He probably got a very quick call from UN headquarters.

About what the Christian and some other sects think of Hezbollah is a bit hard to quantify. I did ask the question of a number of people in the mostly Christian area of Beirut. I got a general feeling - very unscientific- that perhaps fifty percent, or more, did not approve. I also asked if they thought there might be another civil war. Perhaps 10 per cent said yes. This did not take in areas north of Beirut which also have heavy Christion and Druz populations.

In conclusion, the UN will be there for a long time. If Israel finds itself under what it perceives as a threat from Lebanon (read Hezbollah) it will attack right over the UN. This will, of course, put the US in a difficult position. What will Syria do if this happens? Unless Israel hits Syria I do not think they will fire anything but words. Syria does not pose a serious military threat to Israel. Iran, on the other hand, is well Iran ...

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