Allah's Politician

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New at Reason: Mohammed Fneish, the right honorable gentleman from Bint Jbeil, Lebanon, gives Hizbollah's answers to the minister's questions.

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  1. Fneish is a true practioner of sophistry. He likes to avoid answering questions directly. He’s putting on a nice show for english-speaking readers so he can try to convince you that Hizbollah are freedom-loving peaceniks who just want to ‘resist’ ‘occupation.’ Then they should be resisting the occupation of the fascist Syrians who control their country.

  2. I have a number of comments.

    Regarding:

    “…In terms of the new situation in Iraq, that’s the Iraqis’ responsibility. But we would like to ensure and protect international laws. The occupation shouldn’t go on, but more important, the U.S. shouldn’t act apart from the international community.”

    It’s nice to know that, in the future, Hezbollah won’t be acting apart from the international community, and I’m sure we’ll all sleep much easier at night knowing that Hezbollah will always be there to ensure and protect international laws.

    Regarding:

    “…We have not attacked the United States.”

    In 1983, Hezbollah killed 200 American soldiers in Beirut with a suicide truck bomber. The statement that they have not attacked the United States is a lie.

    Regarding:

    “reason: Was Hizbollah involved in the bombing of the Marines’ barracks in Beirut in 1983?

    Fneish: Our group wasn’t even formed until 1985. There were many groups active in Lebanon in 1983.”

    It seemed like a yes or no question to me.

    Regarding:

    “…Just to be clear, I’m speaking of the American administration, not the American people. Our problem is with the American political decision to side with Israel and oppose our people and our concerns.”

    Speaking as one of the American people, my problem isn’t with muslims in Lebanon and Palestine, my problem is with Hezbollah.

    P.S. Great interview.

  3. planethoth:

    “Then they should be resisting the occupation of the fascist Syrians who control their country”

    It is upto the Lebanese, not you nor the US government nor Israel, to decide whether the Syrian presence in Lebanon is an occupation or not and what to do about it.

    Shultz:

    “reason: Was Hizbollah involved in the bombing of the Marines’ barracks in Beirut in 1983?

    Fneish: Our group wasn’t even formed until 1985. There were many groups active in Lebanon in 1983.”

    It seemed like a yes or no question to me.”

    His answer was clear. If the party wasn’t formed until 1985, then it wasn’t involved in anything before that. You seem convinced that they were involved. Do you have any evidence of their involvement Or the existence of the party before 1985?

  4. In any democracy, the civil society has an important role. The vision that the government does everything for the people is the wrong vision. The government should be taking a limited role in social services. It’s human nature that people will help each other out, but when the government takes control of providing social services, people lose that instinct.

    Allah leans libertarian! To bad yesterday’s thread proved he doesn’t exist.

  5. Anon:

    I didn’t say it wasn’t up to the Lebanese—I was pointing out the hypocritical nonsense of his argument against ‘occupation’, which he claims is the very reason Hizbollah exists.

    And as for your comments about what Shultz said, are you unable to understand what a cheap weaselly dodge that was for Mr. Fneish to say that?

  6. He’s putting on a nice show for english-speaking readers so he can try to convince you that

    Not commenting on whether he’s trying to put on a show, but just to be clear, he was speaking Arabic throughout the interview.

  7. planethoth:

    you refered to the Syrian presence in Lebanon as “occupation”. As far as I know, Hizbollah does not share that view. However, they considered the Israeli presence as an occupation. So, where is the hypocracy.

    As for the question of their involvement, I haven’t seen a proof neither from you nor from Shultz. So unless you come up with one, I wouldn’t consider his answer as dodgin the question.

  8. Ahh, I was very impressed at his English proficiency, as I was expecting something more like that Iraqi minister of whatever.

    “There is no conflict. There are no car bombs, and the Israelis are stupid.”

  9. planethoth,

    I have no idea myself if Hizbollah carried out the Beirut bombing. But two things about his comments and your reaction. One, there is nothing ambiguous, and thus nothing inherently “weaselly” about his answer prima facie. Furthermore, he said as directly as possible that Hizbollah never attacked the US, and your reaction is that that was a bald faced lie. If he’s willing to make such a bald faced lie in that instance, why would he have needed to resort to a “weaselly dodge” in the other? And since you disbelieve his one direct answer, why would you have been any more impressed by a direct “no” for the other? Bottom line, you believe he’s guilty and don’t believe him whatever he says to the contrary. Now, maybe you’re right, I don’t know. But don’t pretend it’s the guy’s supposed evasiveness that’s at issue.

  10. Does present-day Hezbollah denounce the barracks bombing completely or simply deny responsibility? If “there’s a difference between terrorism and resistance,” does he draw the line at attacks like this one and Buenos Aires, which have more than anything else most shaped Americans’ attitudes toward his ‘party’?

  11. Tim — great interview — guy sounded down right reasonable though he may be Hizbollah’s version of Clinton; one smooth talker who knows what his audience wants to hear.

    Is he related to Rothbard in anyway 😉

  12. Anon,

    Regarding: “You seem convinced that they were involved. Do you have any evidence of their involvement Or the existence of the party before 1985?”

    I went looking for references, and I found as many that state planinly that Hezbollah did it as I found stating that elements of what became the leadership of Hezbollah did it. You have access to Google, right?

    Regardless, Hezbollah coalesced out of a number of disparate groups that arose in reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Leadership hasn’t changed much since then. In the references I saw, there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that Hezbollah was a force as early as 1982.

    Regarding:

    “His answer was clear. If the party wasn’t formed until 1985, then it wasn’t involved in anything before that.”

    His answer wasn’t clear, but you’re clearly putting some extra english on his spin.

    He didn’t say what you wrote, that his “party”, suggesting Hezbollah, wasn’t involved. He said his “group” didn’t exist until after the fact.

    I know this was translated, but it sounds like Hitler claiming he wasn’t responsible for atrocities against the Jews because he wasn’t a member of the SS at the time.

    He could have just said no. He could have said Hezbollah wasn’t involved, but he didn’t.

  13. Sorry Anon–someone’s credibility also hangs on the way they answer the question. And who cares if the Hizbollah considers Syria an occupier? The absolute fact is that Syria is a far greater occupier of Lebanon than is Israel—so why claim they are against occupation? The truth is they are not against occupation—just being occupied by Jews. For someone who suggests he is just concerned about Lebanon’s territorial sovereignty, he doesn’t seem all too concerned about Syria the occupier nor his foreign patrons in Iran.

  14. planethoth:
    “The absolute fact is that Syria is a far greater occupier of Lebanon than is Israel”

    Again, this is your opinion, not his or hizbollah’s. Are you saying that whenever foreign army units are stationed in another country, then they are occupying it. If so, then nearly half of the countries in the world are occupied by the US.

  15. “Hezbollah was conceived in 1982 by a group of clerics after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1908671.stm

    “The origins of Hezbollah date back to June 1982, when Syria decided to permit the Shi’ite Islamist revolutionary government in Iran to dispatch around 1,000 Pasdaran (members of the Revolutionary Guards) to the Beqaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, an area occupied by Syrian forces.”

    http://www.meib.org/articles/0202_l1.htm

    “It was founded in 1982 in response to the invasion of Lebanon by Israel that same year, having subsumed members of the 1980s coalition of groups known collectively as Islamic Jihad.”

    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2002-03/03rn42.htm

    “The history of Hezbollah begins with the 1982 occupation of Beirut and southern Lebanon by Israel.”

    http://www.military.com/Resources/ResourceFileView?file=Hezbollah-History.htm

    “Hezbollah was formed from numerous other Lebanese Shia groups shortly after Israel’s 1982 invasion of the southern, Shia region of Lebanon. It’s organization was greatly aided by the arrival of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards from Iran, only three years after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hezbollah

    “?Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah were in some way connected. Both organizations pledged fervent allegiance to Iran, both were based in the Baalbeck region of the Bekaa valley and both were known to have received weaponry from Syria. In addition, the groups shared the same leaders, including a man named Sheikh Hussein Mussawi.”

    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/lebanon/tl03.html

    “U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the suicide truck bombing was carried out by the group Hezbollah with the approval and funding of Iran’s senior government officials.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/05/30/iran.barracks.bombing/

    “Hezbollah has been credited with inventing the modern notion and use of ‘suicide bombing’, and is said to have provided training to terrorist groups HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Its most infamous attack is probably the October 1983 suicide bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 US and 56 French soldiers.”

    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2002-03/03rn42.pdf

  16. Anon,

    By “evidence” do you mean physical evidence? Are you one of those people who doesn’t believe that OBL was responsible for 9/11?

    Every reference I’ve seen on the net suggests that Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing. Why can’t we get a straight answer from them about their complicity?

    P.S. The idea that Hezbollah will abide by and ensure international law is, apparently, too ridiculous to defend.

  17. Israel went into Lebanon, for good or ill, because they were being attacked by forces within Lebanon’s border. This is an occupation, for sure, but it has a reason behind it, regardless of whether or not you want to see Israel driven into the sea.

    At what point was Syria under attack from Lebanon, or in any way threatened by its government? I don’t see how anyone could think having Syrian forces inside Lebanon is anything but an occupation (or conquest), unless it is plainly in your self-interest to view it this way, as with this God-Partier in the interview.

  18. Shultz:

    Allow me to comment on the quote you provide.

    “The history of Hezbollah begins with the 1982 occupation of Beirut and southern Lebanon by Israel.”

    “shortly after Israel’s 1982 invasion of the southern, Shia region of Lebanon”

    This is non sense. Israel invaded Beirut in 1982, but invaded southern Lebanon 4 years earlier in 1978.

    “Hezbollah has been credited with inventing the modern notion and use of ‘suicide bombing'”

    The early suicide bombings against the Israeli Army in Lebanon were not carried out by Hizollah or any of the Islamists group, but by some of the nationalists/leftists groups. So I’m not sure why is Hezbollah credit with this ‘invention’.

    “Iran to dispatch around 1,000 Pasdaran (members of the Revolutionary Guards) to the Beqaa Valley ”

    “It’s organization was greatly aided by the arrival of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards from Iran”

    So which one is it, 1000 or 1500? not much accuracy there.

    The quotes you provide mention the shia groups in Lebanon, but mysteriously no mention of Amal Movement. Amal was founded much earlier than hizbollah and was the dominant shia group when hizbollah was founded. In fact, the two groups fought for control for many years.

  19. Rick, whatever machinations went on with Sharon & Likud & the Israeli Knesset, what is true is that Palestinian groups had long been attacking Israel from Lebanon. I don’t have any opinion in particular about the Israeli invasion except to note that it apparently didn’t work in the long run. I also think that the Palestinians have unfortunately gotten pretty much what they deserved with Sharon as Prime Minister, given their ultimate rejection of the ‘peace process’ negotiated with Barak and Clinton.

  20. Riveting counter!

    But back to the subject, Hezbollah existed in 1982, Hezbollah attacked the United States in 1983, and the man that Tim interviewed is evasive to the point of being a liar.

    The only question I have is why you’re defending an organization that is a sworn enemy of the United States and that uses military tactics to target civillians.

    P.S. That’s the only question I have left because the suggestion that Hezbollah would conduct themselves in accordance with international law, and , indeed help ensure international law is entirely ridiculous.

  21. Douglas,

    The invasion wasn’t a necessary response but Sharon engaged in a lot of duplicity to make people believe it was. I agree that the actions of the Palestinian leadership helped bring Sharon to power, but there is nothing that they could have possibly done that would justify inflicting him on the Palestinian people.

    I would just like to see an end to US tax dollars going to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the PA, etc.

  22. kwais,

    I think it’s because they’ve been teetering on the edge of upheaval for so long.

    Did you see the mullah’s strike all those reform candidates off the ballot?

    Their time is short. Why invade when they’re falling on their own swords?

  23. Anon,

    Let’s be generous and say that the Hizbollah rep isn’t engaging in some really fanciful lies about the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks.

    1985 saw the hijacking of TWA flight 847, during which the hijackers (Hizbollah members all) murdered a US Navy diver and flung his body on the tarmac.

    There were also a rash of kidnappings during that period..among other things, the CIA chief of station for Beirut was murdered, and a US officer working with the UN peacekeepers, Richard Higgins, was kidnaped, by Hizballah, and murdered in a particularly brutal fashion.

    Saying that “Hizbollah has never attacked the US” is true in the sense that Hizbollah has never conducted a terrorist attack in the US (Argentina is a different story), but it kind of glosses over the fact that, even if you believe that Hizbollah didn’t exist in 1983 (and I do not think anyone but the naive, the stupid, the willfully ignorant and those who fall into that category of people Lenin once referred to as “useful idiots” honestly beleives that), they’ve killed US citizens before.

    Incidentally, they did bomb that barracks. And the US embassy.

  24. Douglas Fletcher:

    “Israel went into Lebanon, for good or ill, because they were being attacked by forces within Lebanon’s border.”

    That was the pretext for the Lebanon war.
    Deception was employed by the then, Israeli Minister of Defense, Ariel Sharon and Chief of Staff, Rafael Eitan in order to deceive the Israeli Prime Minister, Knesset and public to believe that the invasion was the only response, and necessary, in fact it was a war of offence.

    The Israeli likudniks despise Hizbollah because they ran the Israeli military out of most of Lebanon amid heavy casualties that the Israeli public became intolerant of. The main thing for us to remember is that this in not our fight. Our government need not be involved and it will likely make things worse anyway.

    For this history see Israel’s Lebanon War
    by Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari. The authors employ classified government documents to reveal the deception Sharon used during this episode. This volume was a runaway best seller in Israel and was responsible for changing the Israeli public’s mind about this tragic and unnecessary war.

    Read this book and you will be even more horrified that Sharon is now the head of state in Israel. Of course, as valuable as the volume is, it is from the Israeli perspective. For the war for Lebanon’s point of views see: Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk

  25. I wonder why we have treated Iran with kid gloves for so long? Perhaps we were wrong to support the Shah long ago, but Iran has made so many acts of war against us for so long, through the Hezbollah and on their own. I really would like to see us take out this member of the axis of evil.

  26. For those of you who believe that the US would be justified in going after Hezbollah for its attacks on American interests 15+ years ago, do you think the US would’ve been justified to attack Vietnam in 1990? (I.e., 15 years after the last killing of an American by Vietnamese forces.)

  27. Yes, Kwais, I would agree with that. But the last time Hezbollah targeted Americans was the late 1980s. (Even if you want to count from the time the last American hostage was released, that is still over 10 years ago.)

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