Some salafis are different from other ones…

Strange goings-on in Lebanon these days, and I’m not referring to the inability of the new government to agree on the new head of the army… Yesterday, Hizbullah and a salafi group (‘Belief and Justice’) headed by one sheikh Hassan al-Shahhal signed a memorandum of understanding in which they promised to end sunni-shia strife. Good news, you would think, at a time when sunnis and (alawi) shias are battling it out full-scale in Tripoli. Not so according to Hariri and the founder of salafism in Lebanon, sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal (who happens to be a cousin of the other sheikh). They mumble something about bilateral agreements getting in the way of national reconciliation, but the real reason is spelt out today by Fida al-Itani in al-Akhbar: the MOU is signed by small group which is funded by Kuwait, while the opponents of the MOU are funded by Saudi-Arabia (through Hariri of course). At least, as Angry Arab points out, it is now clear that Hariri is the greatest sponsor of the salafi groups in Lebanon…

In other news, the Belgians are sending a warship, the F930 Leopold, to Lebanon to help intercept arms shipents to Hizbullah. This is a typical job for the Belgian army – as everybody knows, the shipments from Syria and Iran (and soon Russia?) do not have to cross any sea to get to Hizbullah – they simply cross the Syrian border overland, as they have always done, or are flown in to Rafiq Hariri International airport in Beirut (head of security: a Hizbullah man). Sounds like some people found a good excuse to cruise the Mediterranean this summer (actually, they got the idea from the Germans, who have been doing the same thing since 2006). Back in the days of the 1992 Gulf war, the Belgians sent in a minesweeper, which was equally convenient, as there were no mines to sweep. The ship was actually filled with beer, and became the favoured hangout, in the dire alcohol-free Gulf, of the ‘alliance troops’ on their days off, staying well out of reach of any Iraqi artillery. This is one of the reasons why I am occasionnally proud to be Belgian – even if we are forced to pay lip service to someone else’s war every now and then, we don’t actually participate… The only vaguely military feat performed by the tough Belgian sailors in 1992 was shooting dolphins in the Mediterranean on their way to the Gulf. I kid you not. Let’s hope they leave that out this time around…

Here is an interesting (though old) article discussing Hizbullah’s tactics in the 2006 July war, and here is some more warmongering by Israel, vowing not to ‘show the restraint (sic) they showed during the 2006 war’ next time around… they actually say ‘this time civilian infrastructure will not be spared’… So it was in 2006? Wallaw! Could have fooled me… Bridges, roads, airports, oil reservoirs, book deposits, dairy factories, refugee convoys, UN posts, hospitals, flat blocks, entire towns and city quarters… all legitimate military targets for the IDF apparently. Makes you wonder what they will target ‘without restraint’ next time. Actually, rather than restraint they showed blind murderousness coupled with sheer incompetence, which they have since exported to Georgia, with the result we all know…

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