the friend online
04 August 2006

Letter from Lebanon III
Dear Friends,
The war on Lebanon is well into its fourth week of destruction and havoc and the score is:
Hizballah: Losing ground but gaining stigma and Arab popular support. They have lost about (unreliable sources) a hundred of their militants but many of the dead are amongst their people.

Lebanon: Lost most of its infrastructure with over 800, 0000 displaced (potential demographic problem and social bomb), 1000 dead out of which 33 from the Lebanese army. Gained nothing.

Syria: Worried and watching. Hopelessly trying to gain ground in Lebanon. Overtaken by Iranian involvement.

Iran: A major player. In full control of Hizballa. Has asserted its presence in the Middle East arena through its nukes and now through Hizballa. Has proved to the world that Israel is not untouchable. If this remains valid, it will secure a major place on the negotiating table if there is anything left to negotiate.

Israel: Lost the halo of a major power in the area as the war drags on without a firm and quick conclusion. Lost the possibility of comprehensive peace in the area as it creates more hatred and revenge. Lost international popular support to a great extent. Gained the elimination of Lebanon as model of diversity and co-existence, an economic competitor and a democratic system. Succeeded in dragging the US into a long term antagonistic position with the Arabs.

The Bush Administration: (carefully not the US) lost its credibility in the area and maybe in the world. Lost its neutrality and evenhandedness. Exposed to revenge and hatred. Gained nothing.

Arab Rulers: Seem to be overtaken (depasse). Rushing funds and help to Lebanon to help them calm their rising people. Worried and afraid of the aftermath of this war as it may bring tremendous changes to the
middle east. Arab populace would have wished the Arab armies to pitch in and help.

Europe mainly the French with whom Lebanon has a long standing cultural and economic ties. Trying to fill the gap that the US has created in this war. Bridging the cultural gap. This is greatly represented by the
French Foreign Minister Costblazi accepting to dine with the Iranian Foreign Minister at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut when both were visiting Lebanon. The communiqué was in favor of future major French role in
the area.

The UN: Totally incapacitated. Completely overruled. Even in,
The environment: An oil spill of huge proportion from the Jiyeh power plant when it was uselessly hit by Israeli planes. The oil spill is said to be as big as the Exxon Mobil spill in Alaska some years ago. The Lebanese coast from south of Beirut to wards the north is now blackened with oil. We will not here of this in the press till it starts affecting Turkey and Cyprus.

Kuwaitis have promised to send experts as they have
the experience from their 1990 war with Iraq.

Last Sunday the 31st of July, a massacre occurred in Qana in the south of Lebanon whereby 37 children and 23 adults were pulverized by Israeli bombs on a residential building. This is the second time Qana is traumatized by powerful Israeli shelling.

Television stations do not hesitate to show dreadful and horrific pictures of scattered body parts and destruction. All day long flashing news of battles in so and so southern villages and southern Beirut. Pictures of destroyed bridges, main roads, telecom posts, electrical plants, ports, airports, wheat silos, buildings, schools, fleeing civilians keep coming up afresh. All of this to the demeaning morals of the civilian population of Lebanon who is now completely demoralized and shattered as they see their country destroyed and back to war after 15 years of costly rebuilding.

Israeli planes keep hovering day and night over all Lebanon promising gloom and doom and they really do it. Every now and then we get politicians and war leaders promising the end of this war is around the
corner and winning the war is claimed by both warring parties. In the meantime the destruction is colossal.

More and more people are questioning the objectives of this war. If Hizballa started it, did they know they were going to have so much damage to their country? And if the Israelis started this, what is the point in destroying so much of Lebanon's infrastructure. Is it displaced aggression? Do they want to cancel the Lebanese model of diversity, multi-confessional co-existence, prosper economic model? Hizballa is the
primary target in this Israeli war on Lebanon. Their losses are minimal and still they are functional and attracting more sympathizers from all over. Even those Muslims that were once anti Hizballa are now showing
sympathy and proposing physical and material help. It seems to be turning into a war of cultures and ideologies. One culture believes that death for a cause (the cause being Israel's presence and existence) is God's wish and promises heavenly retribution for those who die in this war while the others call it a war on terrorism. The US is clearly taking the side of the Israelis, supplying them and pleading their cause while the Iranians and the Syrians are doing the same for Hizballa, the scales of support being disproportionate. Attempts of ceasefire are still hoax-like and seem to be more like buying time for the winner to keep on his war of annihilation. What those warriors don't know is that the outcome is not anything guaranteed for either side. This level of destruction and annihilation is unprecedented and its aftermath can be overwhelmingly
dangerous for world leaders as it will create so much revenge and hatred that mending the feelings of the losers will be practically impossible. All Islam will be up in arms. Many moderate Arab regimes may tumble
and be replaced by more radical ones. This may create a spreading dangerous world situation of terror and horror.

While Europe is more understanding of the Arab culture, the US seems totally ignorant of it. They depend largely on what Israel feeds their system. The US is clearly using its power and leverage in favor of Israel. They are offering nothing to the Arabs.

Nothing in Iraq, nothing in Gaza, nothing in Lebanon. Only Wars. What a pity for all of us who were brought up on the old traditional fair values in American schools and universities. Arabs would have wished the US be more neutral, evenhanded and more solution oriented. Now the US is in the middle of this war and, visibly, only Europe can play the mediator and negotiator at this stage. I hope they'll be up to it. Mr. Blair can be better informed.

Conclusion: We are all in for a long unhappy, unsuccessful story. It may get worse before it gets any better.

Best case scenario: Some divine power will make a ceasefire possible. No one else can bring this about. From there on, Santa will pay for the rebuilding of Lebanon and invite all world leaders to a retreat where they will agree on fairness in the world, redistribution of the earth's resources, unify all Gods in one, collect all arms from everybody and compensate arm manufacturers.

Worse case: Medium term widening of this war into a war of ideologies and cultures. More nations are sucked in and it will get harder and harder to stop it.

Tony Manasseh

Tony Mannaseh, Beirut


This week's .pdf
In this week's online edition... rss edition
Travels in the North of Scotland
Jo and Jim Wickens
My Faith/Your Faith
Frances Blair

Beirut days continued...
Tony Manasseh
News round-up
Negotiations stop but work goes on
Martin Watson, Quaker UN Office, Geneva
Pick your cotton carefully
Steve Trent
Voices from the backwater
Sonia Waterton
Oasis of peace
Tony Crofts
From my scrapbook

Brummana postscript
Gillian Turner
Letter from Lebanon III
Tony Mannaseh, Beirut

Things to do, where to stay, people to see etc...

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