Yesterday morning, the LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces) finally reacted to the ongoing provocation of daily overflights by Israeli warplanes and fired two missiles and 150 rounds of machine gun fire at them. Of course, the LAF’s air defence systems being what they are (i.e. antiquated and hugely inadequate – the US makes sure its support for the Lebanese army doesn’t include any material that would actually allow the LAF to stand a chance against either Israel or Syria) they caused no actual damage, but the message is clear. As a “senior army source” told the Daily Star: “Our firing is not for show but for effect: if we had missiles we’d shoot them down one by one for violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.” There has been deafening silence only on the Israeli side over the incident. The UN, as well as the Lebanese government, are constantly complaining about these violations of resolution 1701, which have been increasing in the last few days. However, as argued in the Daily Star editorial of today, titled “With friends like America, Lebanon doesn’t need any more enemies”, the only power which has any real influence over Israel, the US, have not done anything about it other than occasionally muttering something under their breath about “restraint”. Savour the sharp contrast with their constant and loud-mouthed pressure on Lebanon and Syria over that other clause in 1701, i.e. the disarming of Hezbollah, “despite the difficulty and dubious benefit of doing so, the danger of upsetting delicate internal balances, and the patent inability of the Lebanese army to replace the resistance as a deterrent.” That is pretty strong language coming from a usually fairly non-committal and definitely neither pro-Syrian nor pro-Hezbollah newspaper. The editorial continues by asking what the credibility of the US is in asking that a new Lebanese president would “abide by international resolutions” when they themselves treat these resolutions “as a buffet from which they can pick and choose. (…) To understand the seriousness of the situation, one need only ask what might have happened if, by some freak occurrence, the Lebanese Army’s crude anti-aircraft weapons had managed to down one of the Israeli Air Force’s US-supplied multi-million-dollar toys. Would the Israeli’s have punished Lebanon’s legitimate act of defending its airspace by slaughtering a few hundred of its virtually defenseless soldiers? Or might they have decided to exact revenge by murdering some civilians instead? Does anyone imagine that Hezbollah would stand by idly in the face of such an outrage?”
Meanwhile the lovely lush valley where I went for a picnic with Lebanese friends a few weeks ago was partially destroyed in one of the intentionally lit forest fires of the last few days that are still raging today in some places, I woke up to an electricity cut today, the US may have taken up the insane plan of building military bases in Hezbollah territory, and there is still no consensus or areement on a presidential candidate acceptable to both M14 and M8. As Lebanese stand-up comedian Nemr Abou Nassar, whom I saw perform in Bar Louie the other day, put it: “In Lebanon, we have so many problems we don’t even bother to differentiate between them anymore. We just lump them all together in this big cloud hovering over the country called “al wadaa” (“al-wada3” in email Arabic). Why is there no electricity? It’s al-wadaa”. Why did they put a checkpoint in my street today? Al-wadaa. Why is the forest burning? Al-wadaa. Oh no, watch out, al-wadaa is coming to Lebanon this summer!” Let’s hope not. Give this country a break. I’m leaving for Yemen tomorrow and won’t be back here till January. I’m gonna miss Lebanon. It’s fucked-up. It’s annoying. It’s complicated. It’s lovely. I hope it will still be there by January.