An Awful Lot of Hummus

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I just returned from the opposition demonstration in Beirut, and can safely say Lebanon never saw anything like it. Of course, the first thing that will be done is to compare numbers with the Hezbollah demonstration of last Tuesday. Last week's rally probably brought in around 250,000 people, whatever the absurd numbers thrown up by the media (inflation that was as visible in estimating earlier opposition demonstrations). I would guess–and it's just that–that this was double what Hezbollah brought in, if not more. The demonstrations covered an open space roughly double that covered by last week's rally, as well as dozens of side streets, a fifth of the square that Hezbollah had used, and a four lane overpass. People came in from all over Lebanon, and as of noon, they began descending in huge crowds on Beirut's city center.

Ultimately, however, one should look beyond the numbers, since the Lebanese problem won't be resolved solely in the streets. But it is with considerable satisfaction that I expect to read the shit-eating explanations of all those who sneered at the opposition rallies, calling them a "hummus revolution" or, in reference to the stylish clothing of some of the demonstrators, a "Prada spring." Perhaps, too, we will hear the latest take of those analysts who will swallow whatever line they are fed by the Syrians, or who doubted the significance of the opposition in past demonstrations because there were, quite simply, too many Christians and too many middle class protestors for the whole thing to somehow be "authentic".

Well, today there was, well, everybody: Christians and Muslims from all around Lebanon, from all social strata. The professional doubters will, of course, double back and try a vain counterattack, but this is a historic day for the Lebanese, even if the Syrian government and its local appointees do what they have systematically done whenever faced with popular protests: ignore it all. Their time is over.

The latest news is that the government wants to, henceforth, ban all demonstrations. I can see why.

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  1. I hate to interrupt the cheerleading, but is there any word yet on that “secret underground tunnel” that was supposed to be where Syrian intelligence planted the bomb that killed Rafik Hariri — the one that Walid Jumblatt insisted was there, in spite of the protestations of the management of the St. George Hotel and Yacht Club?

    How about the DNA evidence proving that Abu Adas — who appeared in a video taking responsibility for the assassination — died in what was apparently a suicide bombing? Does this shake Michael Young’s faith in the official opposition story that Syria HAD to be behind the murder of Hariri — or has he completely resigned from the “reality-based community,” along with most of the rest of the Reason staff?

  2. Michael Young,

    Like those you criticize you believe what you want to believe. Like I wrote in an earlier post, the Lebanese rally war continues.

    I would guess–and it’s just that–that this was double what Hezbollah brought in, if not more.

    Why make the guess then?

  3. http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=7809924

    Suicide Bomb Probably Killed Hariri-Lebanon Source
    Fri Mar 4, 2005 08:52 AM ET

    BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s investigations show that ex-Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was almost certainly killed by a suicide car bomb, a judicial source close to the probe said on Friday.

    The source said results of the probe would be released next week. He expected them to show that a Muslim militant who had appeared in a video tape claiming responsibility for the attack was in the car that ripped through Hariri’s motorcade in Beirut on Feb. 14.

    “The attack happened when a car slowed up to allow Hariri’s motorcade to pass it. As the motorcade passed it, the car blew up,” the source said.

    He said evidence came from a security camera at a nearby bank which caught parts of the incident.

    Lebanon’s opposition and the international community have made revealing the identity of Hariri’s killers a key priority. Many have pointed the finger at Syria, which is under intense pressure to quit Lebanon. Damascus has denied any role.

    The source said investigators were working on identifying the brand of the car used and expected the arrival of Swiss experts over the weekend to help find out the type of explosives, which he said weighed around 660 to 770 pounds.

    A previously unknown Islamist group said in a video aired a few hours after the bombing it had carried out a suicide attack against Hariri because he supported the Saudi government.

    Lebanese security sources identified the man who read the statement as on the video as Ahmed Tayseer Abu Adas and authorities did DNA tests on the remains of a body found at the scene to establish they belonged to Abu Adas.

    The source said Abu Adas was in the attack car but that his father had told investigators that he did not know how to drive.

    “He could have been driving the car or sitting next to the driver,” the source said.

    Abu Adas told his family in January he was leaving for Iraq. They had not seen him since Jan. 15 when he left the house, officials had said.

  4. Justino, baby, in fact the latest reports I’ve heard here in Beirut are that the Irish investigator working for the UN was close to packing up and going home in recent days, to write a report on the Lebanese government’s covering up of the crime scene. Have you, by the way, heard any more on the DNA test “proving” that Abu Adas was the perpetrator? Perhaps you have more details on the Islamist group that “killed” Hariri. The last I heard, the Hariri family scoffed at the “unidentified sources” making such claims, which you seem so keen to swallow, despite your avowed skepticism toward anything governments say and do.

    Sorry to break this to you, but you’re going down a blind alley in your presumption that the official Lebanese version is the correct one. But let’s wait for the UN report on this.

  5. “But let’s wait for the UN report on this.”

    Wait a minute, for the record Mr. Young, are you convinced that Hariri was killed by, or at the behest of, Syria?

  6. joe,

    If I recall correctly, a few days ago Young seemed to be completely convinced it was the Syrians.

  7. Let’s see:

    A DNA test that links Abu Adas to the blast (they also found part of a leg).

    A claim of responsibility by Lebanon’s local Al Qaeda branch in a video featuring Mr. Adas.

    A VIDEO from a nearby bank SHOWING that it was, indeed, a suicide bombing.

    All this evidence is blithely dismissed by someone who has come to a conclusion BEFORE any evidence came in. Hmmmmm…. You’re going to have to change “Reason”‘s name, if you keep it up — perhaps “Faith” will do.

    And what about that tunnel, which the “opposition” was braying about in the beginning of this little drama? I’m surprised the Reasonoids didn’t turn it into a parable of why Big Government is a Very Very Bad Thing: after all, the tunnel turned out to be nonexistent because, although the plans for it were on file, it was never built because of bureaucratic obstructionism. Yet the reality-challenged “opposition” has never admitted this, and still insists, to this day, that the bomb that killed Hariri was planted in the road by all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful Syrian intelligence.

    Puh-leeeeze.

    Admit it: you don’t give a damn who really killed Hariri. If it was Al Qaeda, or somebody other than the Syrians, you just don’t want to hear about it. You just want your freedom. Why not just say it?

  8. The “judicial source” and “security sources” cited here Justin are, I’m afraid, under the authorities’ thumb, so that’s really not a very good hand you’ve played. We don’t have an independent judiciary, and what you had here was really just spin as Fitzgerald began his work.

    By the way, do you always so easily buy into leaked information, by people remaining anonymous, particularly when the Lebanese authorities have not even prepared a final report on the assassination? I mean where are your warning bells here?

  9. Gary,

    I recall that, too, which is why Mr. Young’s apparent statement that the jury is still out caught my attention.

    I remember noticing that the Israeli government, the State Department, and Middle East hawks like Michael Young made conclusive statements about Syria’s guilt within hours of Hariri’s death, long before any evidence came out.

    Remember the Maine!

  10. A DNA test that links Abu Adas to the blast (they also found part of a leg).

    A claim of responsibility by Lebanon’s local Al Qaeda branch in a video featuring Mr. Adas.

    A VIDEO from a nearby bank SHOWING that it was, indeed, a suicide bombing.

    Why is any of this inconsistent with the Syrians being behind the killing? I find it very conceivable that the Syrians got AQ to do their dirty work for them.

  11. joe & Gunnels, you’re like a couple of dogs that bark at every car that goes by. zzzzzzzz

  12. The “warning bell” could clearly be heard when members of the “opposition” began making accusations without evidence — and in tandem with the U.S. government, which has its own agenda here. Another bell went off when you, Jumblatt, and others started going on about the “secret underground tunnel” that didn’t and doesn’t exist.

    A DNA test cannot be faked. It doesn’t matter who performs it, under whose auspices the test takes place, and who “leaks” the information that is learned from the test. This is called objective reality — a concept that you really ought to familiarize yourself with, given the name (and origins) of the magazine you’re writing for.

    You don’t like “leaks” — but that’s how we learn the truth about what’s going on in government, behind closed doors, in spite of the best efforts of government officials to keep it to themselves. Remember “Deep Throat”? Dan Ellsberg? And it seems to me that you yourself are citing these supposedly nefarious leaks — but selectively, as with the alleged news that some Irish guy is going back to Ireland because the Lebanese insist on their own sovereign right to investigate a crime that took place in their country.

    I repeat my question: why not just admit that you don’t care who really killed Hariri, that you just want the Syrians out (and the French and the Americans in), and that the whole “Cedar revolution” is an opportunistic ploy to effect “regime change” in Damascus (with U.S. government help, of course)?

  13. Douglas Fletcher,

    Are you channeling Andrew again? ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. A video? Which one? No one has actually seen a video. As I explained in a previous post, the single video that was cited, that of the HSBC bank, did not show the point of impact. The bank is behind a corner from where the explosion occurred, so it showed nothing. People in the Hariri convoy said there was no suicide car, and the alleged driver didn’t even know how to drive.

    Your very far from Beirut, and while you’re free to your opinion, I’m afraid you really don’t know what has been going on on this particular issue.

  15. Ok, we have Justin Raimondo making claims about what Young claims is dubious evidence.

    In the other corner we have Young claiming that they jury is still out when he – as I recall – claimed in the past that it was the Syrians that dun it.

  16. Just so I’m clear on this (I’m also very far from Beirut), Hariri became an anti-Syrian activist after his term ended, and “People in the Hariri convoy” would be his political allies, right?

    Not that I actually have an opinion about who did the hit – it’s just that major world events have been set in motion by the perception of Syria’s responsibility for Hariri’s death. If that charge is untrue – if it was a tool conjured up for political purposes – then that’s going to taint every liberal, reformist movement in the region as American/Zionist pawns, which is the last thing anybody wants.

  17. If no one has seen the video, then how do you know what it shows?

    If the video doesn’t show the point of impact, but shows a car racing toward Hariri’s motorcade, why isn’t that significant?

    The “alleged driver” — a 24-year-old Palestinian refugee with known Islamist sympathies — may not have been the only passenger, and, aside from that, he wouldn’t have to be the best driver in the world to carry out a suicide bombing.

    Finally, you don’t have to be in Beirut to understand the rules of logic. Nor do you have to be up that close to smell something awfully fishy about this whole rush to judgement where Syria’s alleged responsibility for the assassination is concerned.

    I see you’re evading my question, but I’ll ask it again: Why not admit that you don’t give a hoot about the real identity of Hariri’s killers, that you just want Syria out, and the whole thing is a pretext?

  18. “even if the Syrian government and its local appointees do what they have systematically done whenever faced with popular protests: ignore it all.”

    Ignoring it all = caving to their demands and starting the evacuation of their forces? Man, I hope Bush starts “ignoring” opposition protests the same way!

  19. For the record, I said let’s wait for an investigation to see how the murder was committed. Do I think it was Syria? Yes, for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here. Partly because all the other theories, including Raimondo’s, have been backed by no evidence (other than leaks by “security sources”, who are suspected of involvement in the crime), and have been publicly questioned even by some people in the government–including the justice minister.

    Evading your question? Your question is sophistry. I’m telling you I think the Syrians did it and that the other theories are utterly discredited. Let me turn the question around at you: would you admit it was the Syrians, even though that might disturb your claim that that ill informed argument of yours is somehow based upon “rules of logic.”

    On the video query, no one has seen a video of the suicide bombing, as you claimed earlier. The only video that has been seen, and mentioned in the press, is the one from HSBC, which actually shows nothing. It does not, repeat not, show a car racing toward Hariri’s car. So now you argue that the suicide bomber had a driver? A chauffeur driven car-bomb; very clever. Very chic.

  20. Michael Young,

    Lack of evidence for one position is not a justification to believe in a differing position.

  21. Mr. Young, you said one thing that caught Gary’s attention, and then you said something else that caught Gary’s attention. And those 2 things, at first glance, don’t sound 100% in agreement, even though they can be reconciled.

    A few more posts and Gary will be calling you a liar.

  22. thoreau,

    *yawn* *pat mouth*

    So, when are you going to come out and admit you are Cathy Young?

  23. Last week’s rally probably brought in around 250,000 people…

    As opposed to the equally absurd numbers associated with the most recent rally? Two million my ass.

  24. So, when are you going to come out and admit you are Cathy Young?

    Well, Gary, one the one hand, my comments might seem tiresome to you. But on the other hand, I don’t always like your tactics. And neither one of us has an exclusive monopoly on tired debate tactics. For instance, the editor of a college newspaper recently published a comic strip that offended a lot of people. On the other side of the spectrum, some of the people on Freerepublic.com have made some pretty inflamatory comments. Really, our quarrel here is just one more skirmish in a larger culture war where neither side has a monopoly on bad tactics.

    So, am I Cathy Young? Well, on the one hand, I frequently draw lines down the middle and declare my distaste for both factions. On the other hand, there are significant issues where I disagree with her, including the invasion of Iraq.

    So, on balance I’d have to say that I’m not Cathy Young. On the other hand, you can never be sure on a forum that allows anonymity.

    How was that? ;->

  25. “Let’s wait for an investigation” — oh, but “I believe the Syrians did it.” You sure do believe that, since you were on television saying just that even before the smoke had cleared. Evidence, who needs evidence? Not Michael Young.

    I have no theory of my own: only what facts I glean from what you call “leaks” — but since anything the “security forces” come up with is ruled out of order by you, it’s a very convenient way of ignoring evidence (including DNA tests, which cannot be faked) that doesn’t fit your ideological assumptions and the political needs of the “opposition.”

    If you haven’t seen the HSBC video, then how do you know what it shows?

    I am perfectly willing to believe that the Syrians, or some domestic allies of the Syrians, killed Rafik Hariri. The difference I have with you, however, is that I am waiting for evidence. Furthermore, such evidence as we presently have points toward a suicide bomber, not a bomb planted in the road. But these are preliminary conclusions.

  26. thoreau,

    Yep, you’re definately Cathy Young, or at the very least you are channeling her.

  27. Justin Raimondo & Michael Young,

    I ain’t very impressed with either of your arguments. Both of y’all have your own pigs to slaughter. Now that’s me channeling Cathy Young.

  28. Gary, menya zovut thoreau, nyet Cathy Young.

    That’s about all I remember from taking a few weeks of Russian in college before dropping the class. And I’m sure I did it poorly.

  29. My $.02, because you all care …

    Young seems to be overconfident with so little hard evidence in play.

    Raimondo’s version of healthy skepticism is the same as that advanced by every conspiracy theorist in history – a vigorous critique of the dominant narrative by way of a vigorously blind acceptance of anything purporting to be contrary evidence.

  30. Can I be Cathy Young now?

  31. Can I be Cathy Young now?

    Well, on the one hand, you certainly did a good job of it in the post above. But, on the other hand, I have squatter’s rights on the identity.

    So, in a word, nyet! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  32. Just when I think I’ll barely make it through another boring Monday afternoon, I go to Reason and find everybody’s favorite child of Lyndon LaRouche and Gilbert Gottfreid, Justin Raimondo, in full glory. There’s almost too much to choose from, but let’s start with this.

    “including DNA tests, which cannot be faked”

    This is quite similar to the argument that it’s impossible to cheat at cards. Try it on some one who actually works in a lab that plays with DNA and you’ll get the same look Las Vegas casino security will give you when you tell them it was impossible for you to have been cheating (without all the broken fingers).

    It is true that when you run the PCR on the target areas of DNA they won’t actually change into some other combination of A’s and G’s and such, but then again a 4 doesn’t magically turn into a fifth ace. Switching the samples is as easy a switching the cards, and there’s a lot fewer people looking for it.

  33. The latest leaks seem to confirm that there was an underground explosion according to Robert Fisk, who writes that the UN investigators are about to report this. Moreover, there is evidence that Lebanese and Syrian authorities tried to hid evidence at the scene.
    See below.
    Also see http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000334.htm for a photo analysis that says the explosion came from underground.

    For an interesting first hand accound of the previous demonstrations (including the Hizbollah one) see
    http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000342.htm

    Article about Fisk follows.

    Ami Isseroff
    MidEastWeb

    Report says UN has evidence of cover-up in Hariri murder
    (DPA)
    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2005/March/middleeast_March398.xml&section=middleeast
    14 March 2005

    LONDON – The United Nations (UN) team investigating the assassination of former
    Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has found evidence of an official cover-up
    of the murder, the London Independent newspaper reported on Monday.

    The paper’s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk also reported that US President
    George W. Bush will say on Wednesday that “Syrian – and perhaps Lebanese –
    military intelligence officers were involved in the murder on February 14.

    The Irish-led UN-team, which was supported by Swiss bomb experts, found that many
    of the smashed verhicles in Harari’s convoy were moved from the scene within
    hours of the attack, and well before an independent investigation could begin.

    First reports that Hariri – together with 18 other civilians – was killed by a
    car bomb were being challenged by the evidence, Fisk wrote.

    Investigators believe that the estimated 600 kilogramms of explosives could have
    been buried beneath the seafront avenue.

    Suspicision is also focused on a photograph obtained by the Independent, which
    had been handed over to the UN team, the paper said.

    The “unique photograph”, taken on February 12, showed a “mysterious object” at
    the edge of a drain cover in the road at exactly the spot where the massive
    explosion happened, the Independent said.

    In their search for evidence, the UN team had interviewed General Rustum Ghazale,
    the senior Syrian army intelligence officer in Lebanon, the article added.

  34. Nobody has answered my question about why the evidence pointing to AQ isn’t perfectly consistent with AQ working for/with the Syrians.

  35. “Nobody has answered my question about why the evidence pointing to AQ isn’t perfectly consistent with AQ working for/with the Syrians.

    Comment by: R C Dean at March 14, 2005 07:04 PM”

    Al Qaeda is a Sunni Islamist group related to those who despise the Damascus regime as both secular and heretic (Alawites — like the assad family — are considered heretics even by mainstream Shiite Muslims, they believe in a trinity of sorts). From that logic it seems *unlikely* that any wilfull cooperation of the Syrians with AQ would happen. (In addition, it appears that Syria has been cooperating with the US against AQ types).

    Of course, anything is possible. It is just that an AQ Islamist association tends to make a Syrian official one far less likely.

  36. “Well, today there was, well, everybody: Christians and Muslims from all around Lebanon, from all social strata.”
    This is absolutely true. We have read articles -in the french Humanite for instance- saying that demonstrators last Tuesday belonged to the Lebanese “proletariat”, implicitely assuming that those of yesterday belong to the christian bourgeoisie. I think yesterday proved them wrong.

    By the way…I can’t believe there are people who believe the Abu Adas theory. I mean all the Lebanese people -prosyrians inluded- are telling jokes about it. But I now know those liers’ efforts are not being vain… at least they have an audience… strangely enough in the US.

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