[Marxism] Lebanese army aligns with Hezbollah
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 19 07:28:06 MDT 2006
Guardian, Saturday August 19, 2006
Stand alongside Hizbullah, Lebanon's army tells troops
Statement casts doubt on hopes for disarmament
· UN, US and Israel fear local force cannot secure south
Clancy Chassay in Beirut
An internal Lebanese army statement, circulated among forces in the past
week, has called for troops to stand "alongside your resistance and your
people who astonished the world with its steadfastness and destroyed the
prestige of the so-called invincible army after it was defeated".
The circular has alarmed ministers in the Lebanese cabinet who had been
calling for the army to disarm Hizbullah.
It will also fuel the concerns of Israel, the US and the UN security
council that the Lebanese army is incapable of securing the south of the
country, adding increased urgency to the calls for a multinational force to
be swiftly deployed.
According to sources close to the army command, there has been a tacit
agreement between Hizbullah and the army that those fighters who hail from
the south will return to their villages and all arms will be put out of
sight. Publicly displayed weapons will be seized but any further attempt to
disarm the group has been ruled out for the time being.
Retired general Nizar Abdel-Kader, a former deputy chief of staff for army
personnel who is in close communication with the army command, told the
Guardian: "The army knows there is a gun in every household, they are not
going to go out and look for them ... What we are concerned about is the
launchers. There is an agreement with Hizbullah that any weapons that are
found will be handed over." A mutual respect and cooperation exists between
the army and Hizbullah, according to Gen Kader. "They are two very separate
entities but they cooperate on security issues," he said, adding that many
of the army's troops were from southern Lebanon.
One defence analyst who asked not to be named said that, in the south, the
army often acted as a subordinate to Hizbullah's military apparatus. "All
intelligence gathered by the army is put at the disposal of Hizbullah but
Hizbullah does not offer the same transparency to the army," he said. "In a
sense, military intelligence in the south is operating on Hizbullah's behalf."
Another retired general, Amin Hoteit, now a professor at the Lebanese
University, said: "The army sees Hizbullah as a group that is defending the
country and so assists them as best it can."
Speaking last year, the Lebanese army chief of staff, General Michel
Suleiman, said: "Support for the resistance is one of the fundamental
national principles in Lebanon and one of the foundations on which the
military doctrine is based. Protection of the resistance is the army's
The relationship had been strong for many years, Gen Kader said. "From 1996
onwards there has been a consensus in the army command that Hizbullah was a
legitimate national defence force and that the government should extend its
umbrella to protect the resistance." He said most army officials viewed the
deployment primarily as a "counter-penetration force" working to prevent
the infiltration of Israeli intelligence and military patrols.
Hizbullah's top official in south Lebanon, Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, told
reporters in Tyre this week that the group welcomed the Lebanese army's
additional deployment in the south. "Just like in the past, Hizbullah had
no visible military presence and there will not be any visible presence
now," he said. "We are helping them with our experience by advising them on
the best strategic areas to deploy and the best means of protecting this
land from Israeli and US violations."
The UN's expected deployment of 15,000 troops is seen as an additional
force to assist in Lebanon's defence against Israel. "We are happy with
such a large force to provide sufficient deterrent to Israeli aggression,"
said Gen Kader.
Reinforcing the fears of many in Israel that Hizbullah would continue to
pose a threat, Amal Saad Ghorayeb, a Hizbullah specialist, said the arrival
of the army and Hizbullah's redeployment further north was a largely
superficial transformation. "The fact they have insisted on retaining their
weapons in that area suggests that they intend to use them if and when the
Suggestions from Washington that the Lebanese army should forcibly disarm
Hizbullah have been met with alarm by the army command. "If the mission of
the army is to defend the people then the whole country will be behind it,
but if it is to act against the resistance, it puts a big question mark
over the future of the country," Gen Hoteit said.
Major-General Moshe Kaplinsky, Israel's deputy chief of staff, said his
country intended to keep unmanned "outposts" in southern Lebanon.
Ordinary Americans are now enemies of Hizbullah, a Shia cleric said
yesterday at the funerals of the 29 victims of the July 29 Qana bombing, above.
"American people, you are partners in these massacres, you are partners in
this war," said Nabil Kaouk, the leading Hizbullah official in southern
Lebanon. "After this no Lebanese can trust an American. You are all
murderers and criminals."
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