The network

Samah Idriss (editor-in-chief of al-Adab) explains the importance of Hizbullah’s communications network and of the western-backed government’s attempt to dismantle it, in an interview for Electronic Lebanon in which he also discusses other important aspects of the current crisis from a perspective commonly ignored in western media:

‘It is critical to remember that this current situation started when the Lebanese government, a couple days ago, decided to declare the Hizballah communications system or independent telephone grid as illegal. This is critical because this communications system was a major reason behind Hizballah’s victory against Israel in July 2006. Given that the Hizballah system isn’t wireless it is harder for Israel or the US to crack or decode this communications network. This communication system was key to Hizballah preventing Israeli forces from knowing the positions and movements of Hizballah and it’s leadership during the war in 2006. So this current scenario commenced with an instigation from the western-backed government. Additionally the government wanted to kick out a person in charge at the international airport in Beirut who is close to Hizballah, in order to replace them with another person who would not be able to assist Hizballah to know who travels in and out at the airport. (…) Media that are allied with the government in Lebanon aims to present the current situation simply as sectarian strife. … First it’s important to highlight that Beirut was never strictly Sunni, while the people who are now fighting for the opposition, many belong to Beirut, live in Beirut, a city that has never been just Sunni but a mixture of all religious sects in Lebanon. This is one critical point. Clearly there is a strategy from the government and pro-government forces to portray Hizballah as the outsiders, to try to portray Hizballah as a force coming to change the nature of Beirut by bringing in Shi’ite elements, Iranian elements, Persian elements, barbarian elements, etc. All oriental stereotypes that mainstream western media and some mainstream Arab media will quickly adopt. It is not certain, however, that this portrayal for Hizballah could work in the Arab media because Hizballah is widely respected as the major defender for the Arab cause, for the Palestinian cause. Across the Middle East the mainstream Sunni populations don’t view Hizballah or its leader Hassan Nasrallah as a sectarian leader or simply a Shi’ite leader. However, the mainstream pro-government media in Lebanon attempt to portray Hizballah as a completely sectarian movement, in tune with the political lines fostered by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, France and the US. (…) Also it is critical to note that many pro-government forces who fought against the opposition in recent days, were people traveled from extremely impoverished areas like Akkar in northern Lebanon, led by the Future Movement to Beirut which was offering money to impoverished people to fight against opposition forces in Beirut. In certain cases people coming from Akkar weren’t even aware prior to arriving in Beirut that they were coming to the capital to fight, thinking that they were coming to Beirut to fill labor positions; these are people who were manipulated by the Future Movement. Many people from Akkar, in this context, quickly surrendered to opposition forces in West Beirut, declaring on local TV and radio that they weren’t aware that they were being led by pro-government forces, mainly the Future Movement, to Beirut to fight the opposition. Also some youths who fought for the opposition forces were led to fight with money, however this is a minority. It’s important to recognize that the terrible economic situation in Lebanon is leading people to fight in multiple cases. Unfortunately, now people are not speaking about issues facing workers today in Lebanon, the critical economic issues that the General Labor Confederation put forward have been lost in the mainstream discussions surrounding the violence of recent days, while economics played a critical role in creating the current situation.

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