Thursday, June 28, 2012

Syria and Turkey's Phantom War


Once upon a time, not too long ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was the prime proponent of a foreign policy dubbed "zero problems with our neighbors" - derided by many in the West as "new-Ottomanism".

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meets this Tuesday in Brussels not only to craft its response to a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet shot being down by Syria's anti-aircraft artillery but to seal what sort of "new Ottomanism" is emerging from what actually turned into a "big problem with one of our neighbors" policy.

Davutoglu insists the F-4 was shot in international air space - although conceding it had briefly entered Syrian air space. Contradicting Syria's official explanation, he said the jet was clearly marked as Turkish; was on a "training flight" to test Turkey's "national radar system"; and most of all had "no covert mission related to Syria".

Previously, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi had stressed this was an "accident, not an attack". According to Makdissi, "an unidentified object entered our air space and unfortunately as a result it was brought down. It was understood only later that it was a Turkish plane."

Davutoglu, in a Turkish media blitzkrieg, as reported by Today's Zaman, reiterated this was a "solo flight"; the jet was "unarmed"; there was no warning before it was shot down; and as for Syria trying to connect the "not ill-intentioned violation" of its airspace to the shooting of the F-4, that was "irrelevant".

Violation of another country's air space, trying to avoid its defenses by flying at low altitude, is as normal to Davutoglu as a sheesh kebab for lunch; "There were many violations of Syrian air space by other countries before. But Syria shot down our unarmed plane."

But then the foreign minister started deviating (or not) from the script. He stressed, "No matter how the downed Turkish jet saga unfolds, we will always stand by [the] Syrian people". And this; "We will always stand by Syrian people until the advent of a democratic regime there." Forget about the F-4 Phantom; the "Syrian people" may sleep soundly because the heart of the matter remains regime change.

Everything else is irrelevant

NATO will consider Turkey's case under Article Four of its charter - which allows consultations whenever "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened". We're not - yet - at Article Five, which is all about armed response. But we could be, depending how NATO interprets Turkey's assertion that the F-4 Phantom was "hit 13 miles off the Syrian coast, in international air space".

So according to Davutoglu's story the F-4 was briefly deviated to Syrian airspace by some irresistible force (Thor?); soon realized its mistake; left in a hurry; but then was shot down. By the way, it was not a "solo flight"; witnesses told Turkish TV they saw two low-flying fighter jets speed by in the direction of Syrian waters, but only one return.

As predictably as England being kicked out of Euro 2012, the usual European warmongering poodles of the William Hague kind have already stepped in, blaming Syria because Turkey violated Syrian airspace. Yet there's no evidence - so far - that Ankara warned the Syrian government and military they would be conducting some sort of reconnaissance very close to a by now very explosive border.

Whether the F-4 (or the pair of F-4s) was armed or not is, to quote Davutoglu, "irrelevant"; try telling the Pentagon, for instance, that an unknown, low-flying, fast-moving, unidentified object entering your air space is not a threat. If this was a military reconnaissance mission, as Davutoglu himself argues, the F-4 had to be armed.

And imagine if this was a Syrian jet flying over Turkish or Israeli territory.

Burn, Anatolia, burn
Ankara will certainly ask Damascus for a formal apology and payment of reparations. Tehran - which until virtually yesterday, that is, before the Syrian uprising, was part of an Ankara-Damascus-Tehran axis - is calling for cool heads to prevail.

As much as professional warmongers are encouraging a Gulf of Tonkin remix, that remains pure folly. Still, Asia Times Online has learned from a local source about "frantic" movement at NATO's sprawling Incirlik base in Turkey for days.

Everyone knows - but nobody talks about - NATO's command and control center in Iskenderun, in Turkey's Hatay province, near the Syrian border, set up months ago to organize, train and weaponize the motley crew known as the Free Syrian Army. Everyone knows Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the CIA are advising and weaponizing these Syrian NATOGCC "rebels" with essential Turkish help in the logistics/safe haven front.

Everyone knows Washington will settle for nothing less than regime change in Syria - to the benefit of a pliable, sub-imperial puppet (certainly not an Islamist). Everyone knows every provocation advances the not so hidden agenda of an all-out NATOGCC attack on Syria without a UN Security Council resolution, bypassing both Russia and China.

If "neo-Ottomanism" persists with its regime change obsession in Syria - to a large extent tied to the Turkish dream of finding a solution to the Kurdish "problem" - it had better start evaluating how Damascus could shower the Kurdish PKK with funds and logistics so they may unleash hell in Turkish Anatolia.

No doubt this will get much uglier. But in Wag the Dog terms - and that's what this is all about - no one knows for sure; is Turkey trying to wag the NATO dog into a war, or is it the other way around?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His latest book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com (Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fars News Agency get the prize for the most delusional version of "The Russians Are Coming"

I don't have much respect for the corporate media and, for that matter, very little for most of the alternative media.  But the prize for stupid, delusional, or even outright psychotic reporting goes to the Iranian Fars news agency which managed to print the following:


"Russian atomic submarines" and "1000" tanks will soon come to Syria. Right.  I don't know what the hell the folks at Fars are smoking, but they all should be fired and get a job at the National Enquirer or DEBKAfile.

Just to be absolutely clear, let me repeat:

==>>The Russians are NOT, repeat, NOT coming<<==

The Saker

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Brits are going crazy again

From the BBC website this morning:
Ship 'carrying Russian attack helicopters to Syria' halted off Scotland

The UK has made moves to stop a cargo vessel allegedly carrying refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters from completing its journey to Syria. The MV Alaed had its insurance withdrawn by The Standard Club in London while it was about 50 miles (80.4km) off Scotland's north coast.  The insurer said it had sought more information on the boat's cargo.  Withdrawal of insurance prevents the MV Alaed from sailing until its owner can secure new cover.  It is thought that the vessel has stopped off the Western Isles.  The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it was unclear where the vessel would now go.  The Russian embassy in London has not yet commented.  The UK and US have raised concerns with Russia about shipments of weapons to Syria, which is subject to a European Union arms embargo.  In a statement, the FCO said: "We are aware of a ship carrying a consignment of refurbished Russian-made attack helicopters heading to Syria.  "The foreign secretary made clear to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov when they met on 14 June that all defence shipments to Syria must stop.
It sure looks like the USA's "poodle" is fancying itself as a fierce Rottweiler who will courageously protect the world from the Russian bear.  And you got the admire the macho language of the foreign secretary who "made it clear" to Lavrov that "all defense shipments to Syria must stop".

The fact that the British poodle is growling only because it has Uncle Sam to protect him from the Russian bear is apparently lost on the BBC.  As is the fact that no UNSC resolutions have banned the fulfillment of military maintenance contracts with Syria.

As for the Russians, they need to make sure that the Standard Club in London pays for its subservience to political interests and insure its ships elsewhere.  The Russian commercial fleet is very big, and by taking its business elsewhere it can probably hurt the SC where it counts: is pocket.

For the Brits and their traditional Russophobic hysteria all this is God sent: it's an opportunity to brown-nose its US patron and a way to put itself back on the map of big politics, or so they hope.  The real, meaningful bargaining and horse-trading over Syria did, of course, happen during yesterday's meeting between Obama and Putin.  The Brits were not invited.

The Saker

PS: also check out this piece on Mikhail Voytenko's excellent Maritime Bulletin.

Still totally misreading Moscow on Syria

A much quoted article of the Moscow Times says the following:
Russia is preparing to send Marines to defend its naval base in Syria amid continued unrest in the Arab state, Interfax reported Monday, citing a Navy source.  The information confirms reports in Russian and Western media Friday.
No, in fact it does not, as shown by the very next sentence:
Two large troop transport vessels and a rescue tugboat will defend Russian citizens and infrastructure in the port city of Tartus and also evacuate equipment if necessary, the source said.
Russian Naval Infantry
Two large troop transport vessels and a rescue tugboat are not at all equivalent to Friday's "one Motor-Rifle Division, one Airborne Division and one Spetsnaz Brigade".  In fact, what these ship will be carrying are Russian Naval Infantry units, a very different kind of force.

Russian sources are quite clear that these units would be tasked with defending Russian personnel and infrastructure in Tartus.  They will not intervene in the civil war or deter and/or repel a NATO attack.

An RT article provides all the needed clarifications:
"The crews of the Nikolay Filchenkov, Ceasar Kunikov and SB-15 tugboat – together with the marine units they carry – are capable of protecting security of Russian citizens and evacuating a part of the property of the logistics base," a source at the Russian Navy General Staff told Interfax-AVN on Monday.  But according to an officer stationed with the Black Sea Fleet, the Nikolay Filchenkov and Ceasar Kunikov are still sitting in dock in Sevastopol. Moreover, the crew is said to be on “regular service duty” and are under no emergency orders. He pointed out, however, that Russian naval ships must be prepared to dispatch anywhere in the world in 12 hours notice.
So, to summarize, should these forces ever be sent to Syria, it would be only to defend Russian interests, nothing more.

I hope that this chorus of "the Russians are coming!" (interpreted in unison by both opponents and supporters of such an option) will not be sung again.

The Saker

Monday, June 18, 2012

Outstanding coverage of Greek elections by the Real News Network

Check out the excellent analysis Paul Jay and his guests offer us:


What happened?!

The way I see it the results of the vote in Greece are a huge, tectonic *disaster*.  

When I heard of these results, my first thoughts were exactly like Carlo's: "The Greeks are either crazy, or there was severe fraud in the elections".

Indeed, how anybody in their right mind could ever not vote for Syriza and the only person with a clear concept for a solution to the Greek crisis, Alexis Tsipras, is simply beyond me.

I just cannot believe that those who courageously resisted for so long are now just going to surrender.

What happened?
What will happen?
Will there now be a violent uprising?

Any ideas?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

About totally misreading Moscow on Syria and Muslim units in the Russian military

Press TV recently interviewed Webster Tarpley in a report Press TV entitled Russia will confront any US-led attack on Syria. In that interview, Tarpley mentioned an article in the rather reputable Russian newspaper Nezavisimaia Gazeta which, according to Tarpley, mentioned the preparation of one Motor-Rifle Division, one Airborne Division and one Spetsnaz Brigade for this operation, I looked up the article and I found it (here).  Tarpley made it sound like Russia was about to dispatch these divisions and brigades into Syria to either crush the insurgency, or prevent NATO from invading, or both.   Tarpley said: "Putin is a deterrent" and "how he will respond to an attack in Syria, nobody knows how".  This is in fact not at all what the article said.

What the article does say is the following (main points):

a) Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the anti-terrorist element of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are working together on a new plan to deploy Russian forces outside Russia's borders.

b) Syria is, according to anonymous sources, one of the countries in which Russian forces "could" be deployed in the future.  However, such a deployment could only happen with the authorization of the UN Security Council.

c) Special training programs have been implemented in some Airborne, Spetsnaz, Ground Forces and Naval Infantry units including special training in the norms of international humanitarian law and language courses.

d) The two Chechen special battalions "West" and "East", which performed with excellence in South Lebanon in 2006-2007 and in the war against Georgia in 2008 are now also receiving special training to be deployed outside Russia.

Now, does that look to you like preparations to join the civil war in Syria or to fight NATO?  Of course not!

What is really taking place is that the Russian military has been given the mission to prepare a mix of various military forces for operations abroad, mainly for possible CSTO and SCO operations.  What we are talking about here is operations in the "near abroad" and not at all long-distance interventions.

People often assume that the Russian Airborne Forces are something like the US 82nd or 101st divisions.  They are not.  Nor are they anything like the Marine Expeditionary Brigades.  Unlike their US "counterparts", the Russian AB Forces are fully mechanized, and come with their own armor and artillery, and that means that they are far, far, heavier.  Their main purpose is not to invade some island like Grenada or or be a tripping-wire like the the 82nd did during Desert Shield.  Russian Airborne forces are ideally suited to operate at a battalion-regimental level in the operational depth in the enemy's rear, and they are designed to hold on to some strategic location until the main, ground, forces arrive.  They were never designed to be sent far into the strategic depth and to operate independently for more than a short period of time.  As for the Spetsnaz, they are even more specialized, mainly as an reconnaissance/intelligence/diversionary force.

The factual reality is that Russia does not have the power projection capability to send enough forces into Syria to threaten a NATO operation.  In fact, such power projection has never been a goal of Russian force planning or strategic thinking.  The Russian armed forces are, by their very nature, as is clearly demonstrated by their structure, defensive forces whose maximal offensive capability is limited to the near abroad.  This is not a political statement of intention, this is simply what the structure of the Russian military clearly proves.

Now, it is true that Russia did send Airborne and Spetsnaz units to Bosnia and Kosovo, but only as a part of a much larger international operation and it is possible that this is exactly what is being prepared for here: a UNSC mandated operation of peace enforcement under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.  Now, let me make something clear here:  I am not, repeat, not, saying that Russia is about to back-stab Syria, like it did with the Serbs in Bosnia and Kosovo or like it did with Libya.  All I am saying is that Russia is preparing for any contingency which might include a military role in Syria under UNSC authority as part of a multi-national operation.

Does that make sense?

Yes, of course it does!  The Russian political leadership will have to take the decision of whether such a Russian participation in a military operation in Syria makes sense or not, but the military does have to be prepared for such a contingency.  The fact that they are looking into it does not at all mean that Putin is about to betray Syria or hand it over to NATO.

As I have said many times before, Russia will oppose a US/NATO aggression against Syria at the UNSC.  It is not impossible that with a lot of rock solid guarantees from the US and NATO Russia might agree to some kind of Chapter VII operation in Syria if, and only if, that means that the mandate is extremely limited and precise.  Russia will not acquiesce to such vague and dangerous formulations as "all measures needed to protect the civilian population".  Unlike Bosnia or Kosovo, I don't even believe that Russia would agree to participate in US/NATO lead operation.  But a truly multinational one with, say, a meaningful Chinese military participation, and national sectors of responsibility?  Maybe, that I would not categorically exclude.

What about the two Chechen battalions?  Allow me a short historical digressions here.

These ethnically Chechen battalions, mainly formed of ex-insurgents from the Iamadaev clan, are now formally part of the 42 Guards Motor-Rifle Division based in Chechnia.  The battalions have a rather good military record and a, shall we say, "checkered" record in terms of being law-abiding citizens.  Initially, their role was central to the Russian concept that Chechens should be in charge of Chechnia, but rapidly another, more interesting, concept began to be floated: the creation of purely Muslim forces to deal with any conflicts involving Muslim parties.

This is very controversial in Russia.  The Russian military has always been profoundly multi-national, from the very early Russian history to the Soviet era, and to create "ethnic units" is something rather atypical for Russian military thinking.  The one famous exception is Cossack forces, but these are not so much ethnically distinct as politically, culturally and organizationally distinct (though not different in the sense of "alien").  But historically, this was the exception which proved the rule.

The wars in Chechnia saw the parallel creation of Chechen units and Cossack units (initially they fought each other, of course).  The Cossack units still exist, but really do not, I believe, play an important role in Russian force planning or strategic thinking.  These Chechen battalions represent something possibly much more complex. 

While the Russian military does not comment too much on this topic, it is quite evident that "Muslim" units in the Russian military could be far more acceptable in some environments than primarily Russian and Orthodox Christian units.  Furthermore, by being able to find a "common language" with the locals, "Muslim" units could also be an excellent source of human intelligence.

Anyway, whatever may be the case, these Chechen battalions have not been disbanded after the end of the Chechen wars and, furthermore, the military command has praised them for their excellent military performance.  If they can be convinced to become truly law-abiding, disciplined,  and well-integrated, sub-units of larger Russian military formations they could form the basis for a "Muslim" force which could be most useful in certain circumstances.  Oh, and did I mention that these Chechens truly hate the Wahabis, having seen them in their own land?  The know these al-Qaeda types personally and well, many having been conned by them in the past, and they would love nothing more than to eliminate as many of these crazed murders as they can.  Russian very much share such feelings.

I am not sure that this Chechen-battalion experiment will be a success in the long term.  It is possible that it will, I just honestly don't know.  As any radical departure from the normal practice, it is full of dangers and opportunities.  Come to think about it, maybe I should also mention something else: there is a little-known quasi-precedent to these Chechen battalions during the Soviet era.

Just before the invasion of Afghanistan, the Soviets formed a special "Muslim battalion" though it was not, of course, officially designated that way.  It was initially called the "154th separate special purpose detachment" and it was staffed only by Uzbeks, Turkmens and Tadjiks.  Since a Spetsnaz detachment is roughly the equivalent of a battalion in the regular ground forces, the unit was soon nicknamed the "Muslim Battalion".  This first detachment actually participated in the initial Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, dressed in Afghan uniforms, and in possession of Afghan identity papers.  Later, four more such detachments were formed, including the the 173rd and 177th.  As far as I know, all of these units were disbanded after the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan.

I referred to these "battalions" only as quasi-precedents because while they were called "Muslim" they were not truly Muslim at all.  The idea behind these special ethnic detachments was to mislead and trick the Afghans and not to openly engage a truly Muslim unit as part of an official and larger Russian military operation.  The idea being floated around today is very different: to truly entrust delicate operations in Muslim territory to Muslim units and try to let theses units operate with as much autonomy as practically possible.

In conclusion I want to say the following: folks like Tarpley are doing everybody a big disservice when they entertain a pipe-dream of Russia militarily protecting Syria from a US/NATO military aggression. That is simply something Russia cannot do, and therefore, will not do and, I believe, should not do.

As far as I recall, all the post WWII US/NATO operations were preceded by all sorts of delusional grandstanding and predictions about how the "invaders would be crushed" or about how Russia will intervene.  The Serbs committed that mistake (twice!) the Libyans did it too, the Iraqis most definitely tricked themselves into believing their own propaganda, and now there is a group of pro-Syrian activists who hope to see Russia protecting them from Uncle Shmuel.

Guys - it ain't gonna happen!

Russia is not the world policeman (and neither is China).  There is only one country arrogant and reckless enough to believe that it must be militarily involved in every single conflict on the planet.  The rest of them much prefer a mid to long term strategy of a careful use of soft power.  This is the main reason why the big US/Israeli empire is on the decline and the BRICS countries on the rise.

The Saker

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moscow demonstrations report - basically, a non-event

As promised, here is a short report on what took place today in Moscow.  First, let's see what the BBC had to say:

The caption is priceless!!  Turns out that some heroic freedom fighter & "activist" called Katz is *secretly* filming the protest to get his own crowd count.  I did not find the count, but I am sure that it must run in the millions.

But, seriously, is the BBC not aware that Moscow must have the highest ratio of cellphone/human in the world, and that all these cellphones have rather decent cameras.  What is the point of 'secretly' filming an event which is openly filmed by all its participants?

Actually, the Russian cops did something rather smart this time.  They send a helicopter up in the air who was broadcasting video and images live on the Internet.  Here is such a picture:


And just to be clear, of the various pictures offered, I chose the one with most people on it.

Also, for the fullness of the picture, here is an official RIA-Novosti picture:


I would say that our freedom-loving Katz need not have worried about the demonstrations not being filmed, wouldn't you say?

Lastly, here is a TV report from one of the main channels about today's demonstrations: (no need to understand Russian, its all rather clear)

video

Bottom line - there was not even a hint of suppression in the "Kremlin controlled media" and the demonstrations were amply covered.

How many people showed up?  The cops say that the numbers began at 15'000, then swelled to about 18'000 during the march, then down to 10'000 due to rain at the concert.  One Eltsenoid spoke of 100'000, and another of 200'000.  We do know that the march organizers called the march the "March of the Millions", but that they scheduled it for 50'000.  My best guess is that the figures must have oscillated between 15'000-25'000 max.

The Western corporate media had predicted a massive turnout in protest against the laws against riots recently passed (increase of fines) and against yesterday's searches.  As far as I can tell, today's demonstrations were either on par or a tad larger than the ones on May 6th.  In other words, this was a non-event.

To recap: in a city of 10'000'000 (ten million) people, a demonstration bringing together pro-US liberals, communists, monarchists, homosexuals, anti-corruption protesters, ecologists, Stalinists, Fascists, Nationalists and any other type of discontents brought out well less than 50'000 people even though it took place on a major national holiday, in perfect weather, and with the full authorization of the authorities.

In other words, this was a non-event, Mr. Katz notwithstanding.

The Saker

Interesting developments in Moscow

You probably have already seen the horrified news reports in the Western corporate media about the "crackdown" on Russian "dissidents" in Moscow.  If not, check this one by AP for a more sober tone.  What is really taking place?

Putin = Stalin
Is Russian really going back to Stalin's year 1937 as the local tweeter-freedom-fighters have been posting?  Not quite.

What happened is this.  The authorities were investigating the violent demonstrations which had taken place in Moscow on May 6th.  In the course of their investigation, they decided to look a little deeper into the activities of some well known figures of what I call the Moscow  "dissent jetset":
This is quite a combination.  If I 'translate' all these labels what we really have is 3 ex-Eltsenites, rabidly pro-US (Navalny, Yashin and Nemtsov), one nutcase (Yashin) and one "career slut", literally (Sobchak).  Now remove the two "fig-leaf dummies" (Yashin and Sobchak) and what are you left with in terms of brains behind the movement?  Three hardcore US puppets.

Most people in Russia understand all that perfectly.  But still, there was no proof of that.  Until today that is.  Guess what?  According to official Russian sources, the cops found over 1'000'000 Euros (one million!) in spread out in about 100 envelopes in the apartments of Yashin and Sobchak.  And before anybody begins to suspect that this money was planted, Russian law forbids any searches without witnesses which, in this case, participated in the entry and search of the apartments (grant you, the money could have been planted sometime *before* but considering how public these individuals were, I just don't see FSB goons covertly coming in two apartments to deliver packs on money).

The main guy in all this drama is Boris Nemtsov.  He is a very good speaker, he is charming, charismatic and has a great sense of humor.  By far the smartest of all of these dissidents and the most valuable to the CIA.  He is also the only one who was tipped off and managed to hide from the authorities which prevents them from legally searching his apartment.  Interestingly, since Nemtsov never was served a search warrant, he is not even breaking the law by not showing up.  Still, he contacted a local radio station, admitted that he is hiding in the Moscow region, declared these searches an "act of intimidation, total lawlessness and arbitrariness", and announced that he will show up at tomorrow's demonstrations.

Yup, there is another "march of the millions"  is scheduled tomorrow.  Last time around, the march of the millions only got 10'000 people in the streets.  It will be interesting to see how many come out tomorrow. 

Media hounds 'cover' each search
This all looks very good for Putin and very bad for the pro-US camp. Now that there is a money-trail labeled in US dollars and Euros, the public opinion in Russia will not need much further proof of who exactly was behind the attempt at a color-coded revolution in Russia. This is also why State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland immediately declared that "the U.S. is deeply concerned by the apparent harassment of Russian political opposition figures on the eve of the planned demonstrations on June 12.  Taken together, these measures raise serious questions about the arbitrary use of law enforcement to stifle free speech and free assembly". 

In other words, expect yet another Russia-bashing media-firestorm for tomorrow and the following days (with footage of Nemtsov being arrested).

The Saker

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The definition of insanity

They did it again.  This time it is Spain - or rather, Spanish banks - which are getting a 100 billion Euros bailout in exchange for a wide and comphensive program of austerity measures by, no, not the Spanish banks, but the Spanish people.

You got to admire the brazen arrogance of this system.

First, the banks screw the people, then the international plutocracy makes it a condition to further screw the people before bailing out the banks (and not the screwed people, of course!)

And the entire Establishment and its lapdog corporate media try to out-compete each other in not seeing the obvious solution: to nationalize the banks, criminally prosecute their administrators and, possibly, shareholders, and jump-start the economy by bringing down unemployment.

First there was Greece, then Ireland and Portugal.  Now Spain is next, possibly followed by France.  Have the Europeans really forgotten that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results?

The Saker

Friday, June 8, 2012

Moscow bans homosexual "pride" parades for the next 100 years

First, when I saw the RT news item announcing that "Moscow bans gay pride for century ahead" I went "no way!" and had the giggles thinking of how the doubleplusgoodthinking Lefties in the West would cry in outrage if such a decision had really been taken. Then I saw an outraged statement by Human Rights First confirming that the folks on Moscow had really taken such a decision.  Now some of you might wonder what a self-proclaimed "Left Libertarian" like myself might think of all that.  Let me tell you:

I am totally DELIGHTED by this decision!

Now before the inevitable verbal stoning beings, let me explains my reasons, okay?  Then you can hate me for being the bigot that I am...

Before I begin making my case, I would like address two issues: one semantic and one dialectical one.  First, I refuse to use the word "gay" on principle as it should not be applied to homosexuals because it is a "value-loaded"  use of an otherwise perfectly legitimate word designed to shape any discussion of the topic.  Furthermore, there is nothing gay about gays, any psychologist or addiction specialists will confirm that to you (if only in a private conversation).  Frankly,  I always thought that "gays" should really be called "sads", but that would be loaded too.  So  I will thus use "homosexual" - an accurate and value-neutral descriptor.  Second, I will not use any religious arguments in discussing this topic for a very simple reason: most religions already have a clear stance on homosexuality which should be normative for the followers of these religions but which are also irrelevant for everybody else.  Simply put - to discuss the topic of homosexuality to religious folks is preaching to the choir.   So there shall be no mention of "sin" or "fallen human nature" in my argument below.  Now let us turn to the issue itself.

What is homosexuality, really? Here is what Wikipedia reports about it:
In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. The American Psychological Association Council of Representatives followed in 1975.  Thereafter other major mental health organizations followed and it was finally declassified by the World Health Organization in 1990.
It is interesting to get some background on how this decision was taken. I have found the following details in the article of Philip Hickey Behaviorism and Mental Health. Here is what the author writes (stress added):
Then in 1970 gay activists protested against the APA convention in San Francisco. These scenes were repeated in 1971, and as people came out of the “closet” and felt empowered politically and socially, the APA directorate became increasingly uncomfortable with their stance. In 1973 the APA’s nomenclature task force recommended that homosexuality be declared normal. The trustees were not prepared to go that far, but they did vote to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses by a vote of 13 to 0, with 2 abstentions. This decision was confirmed by a vote of the APA membership, and homosexuality was no longer listed in the seventh edition of DSM-II, which was issued in 1974. What’s noteworthy about this is that the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses was not triggered by some scientific breakthrough. There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change. Rather, it was the simple reality that gay people started to kick up a fuss. They gained a voice and began to make themselves heard. 
Got that? Yup, this was a 100% political decision which had no scientific basis whatsoever. From a scientific point of view, it was as nonsensical as declaring - simply by vote - that cancer or schizophrenia are not more diseases but are "normal". Wikipedia deals with this problem in a single, and yet very telling, sentence:
"A normal and positive variation"
While some still believe homosexuality is a mental disorder, the current research and clinical literature demonstrate that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality, reflecting the official positions of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association.
Right.  Brilliant. So "same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings and behavior are normal and positive variations of human sexuality".  And yet pedophilia is still considered a psychiatric disorder (source).  What about incest?  Well, guess what? Psychiatry puts incest next to paraphilia, i.e. pathologic sexual activities which is a group name for every sexual activity that is considered unnatural in psychology and sexology.  Apart from incest, paraphilia also includes paedophilia, sadism, masochism, sexual fetishism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, necrophilia, nymphomania… (source).

And how does one distinguish between "normal and positive variations of human sexuality" and paraphilia?  Since up until 1974 homosexuality was considered a paraphilia, why were no arguments presented to remove it from this category?

This is all utter nonsense, of course.  There are only three possible solutions to this conundrum:

a) declare that only one specific form of sexuality is "normal"
b) declare that any form of sexuality is "normal"
c) arbitrarily discriminate between various forms of sexuality with no logical basis for it.

Most developed countries have opted for the third option, making a completely arbitrary, illogical and absurd list of "normal" and "not pathological" sexual behaviors.  By the way, the same dumb approach was used in dealing with sexual practices between consenting adults (the so-called "sodomy laws") or the codification of a legal age of sexual consent.  Even a cursory look at these laws clearly shows that they are based on nothing except political expediency.

And what does "normal" really mean?  It can mean one of two things: a) consistent with some average or minimum or b) within expected norms, for example, of society.

In the first case, I would gladly admit that homosexuality is "normal" simply because of its prevalence.  But I would immediately add that so are many, if not all, of the forms of paraphilia.  And I would also agree that homosexuality has become "normal" in the 2nd meaning of the word simply because it is socially acceptable to most developed societies, in particular in the post-Christian 'West'.  So to speak of the normalcy of homosexuality is absolutely nonsensical.

Furthermore, is there anything in the above which suggest that the decision of the City of Moscow to ban so-called "gay pride" parades is morally, ethically or even logically wrong?!  Is it not the right of any society to establish its own social norms?

"Gay Pride" in Paris
Furthermore, compare the situation of Russian homosexuals with the situation of Western pedophiles who are the victims of a systematic campaign of vicious persecutions.  Oh, I am not saying that it is wrong to persecute pedophiles, I am only saying that I don't see any logical reason to viciously prosecute the adepts of one form of paraphilia while allowing the adepts of another form of paraphilia to engage in "pride parades".  And if Moscow has no right to ban "gay pride parades" then the West has an obligation to allow "pedophile pride parades" in its Berlin, New York or Rome.  But no, the West gets away with its massive anti-pedophilia campaign while, in July of 2011, the European Court of Humans Rights condemned Russia to pay 30,000 euros in compensation to gay activists over its decision to ban so-called pride marches.  Talk about absolute hypocrisy!

I would like to add one more thing here.  I find militant homosexuals particularly offensive and irritating.  Frankly, to each his own.  There are plenty of sexual psycho-pathologies out there and plenty of people engaging in them.  I don't force everybody to give a standing ovation to my own sexual preferences, and I don't see any reason why somebody would demand from me that I approve and cheer on his/her sexual preferences.  Keep your bedroom in your bedroom and leave the rest of us alone.  But no, that is not good enough for what I call the "Homo Lobby".

"Gay Pride" in Paris
Homosexuals are the only ones who, not content to be left alone, are demanding not only equal rights, but special protections.  They have the nerve to demand that society treat them as some kind of oppressed minority, they want their "marriages" to be considered as equivalent to heterosexual ones, and they even want the right to form "single sex couples" and adopt children.  Amazingly, the very same society which considers it to be a felony to possess photos of naked children on your computer finds its perfectly acceptable to give away its children to homosexual "couples"!

I am delighted that Moscow is pushing back against the "Homo Lobby" and its cultural fascism which considers that "live and let live" only applies to individuals and not to nations.  I say let the Western homosexuals do whatever the hell they want in their own countries - that is the West's problem - but don't let them engage in cultural imperialism and demand that the rest of the planet submit to their completely subjective and illogical system of double-standards.

I have said above that I will not make use of any religious arguments to make my case in defense of the Moscow City Council.  Since I have made my case on this topic, I will now add a few general comment about homosexuality, religion and society.

First, this entire topic is yet another illustration of Dostoevsky's truism that "if there is no God everything is permitted".  The very concepts of "right" and "wrong" must, by logical necessity, either be anchored on some absolute (such as God) or become absolutely arbitrary and subjective.  Secularists can bawl in impotent rage and frustration but there is no logical argument which can be made against this fundamental truth.  In other words, no secular society will ever be able to logically distinguish between right or wrong (other than by convention), much less so in the case of sexuality.

Second, traditional Christianity affirms that since the Fall man has lost his original, true, nature and that his current fallen nature is the cause of his suffering.  The fact that some percentage of any given population is affected by any one type of psychopathology is therefore something Christians fully expect from all humans.  To the homosexual argument "I was born that way" a Christian simply replies "brother, we were all born dysfunctional in some way" and "what we now must do is reclaim our real nature and our full potential" (conversely, the word "sin" really means "missing the target" or "failing to act according to one's true potential).

Thus while Christianity never condemns a condition as such, neither does it consider any putatively "natural" condition as good or in any way "legitimate".  In fact, the very purpose of life is, according to traditional Christianity, to re-claim our *true* human nature by a process of theosis (which I shall not describe here; those interested can read this).

Third, the one and only reason why homosexuality is the only paraphialia which gets an official stamp of approval is that there is a strident, wealthy and well-organized "Homo Lobby" (well, a LGBT lobby, really).  This lobby was very effective in presenting the issue as one of "homophobia" and "hate" against one of tolerance and diversity.  Of course, there will always be some insecure idiots out there who think that their manhood will be somehow enhanced if they beat up a homosexual, preferably in a group.  But to present any rejection of the Homo Lobby's dogmas (because that is what they are!) as an expression of homophobia is, of course, a total misrepresentation of what is really happening.  As far as I can tell, most people do not care at all about what adult and consenting homosexuals do in the privacy of their bedrooms.  What bothers people is the extremely rude and strident "in your face" attitude adopted by what I call the "militant homosexuals".  Frankly, if they did not dress like clowns (or birds! see photos) and if they refrained from organizing "gay pride" parades they would gain far more acceptance from most heterosexuals.  My 2cts.

Now let the stoning begin :-)

The Saker

Monday, June 4, 2012

Speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on June 1, 2012 at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of Imam Khomeini

I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World. Peace be on our Master and Prophet – The Seal of Prophets – Abi Al Qassem Mohammad and his chaste and pure Household, chosen companions and on all prophets and messengers.

Dear audience! Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.

Marking the anniversary for the decease of our dear Imam, and before ushering into the reign of the Imam, we also recall today the anniversary of the Naksa on June 5th, 1967 as well as the anniversary of invading Lebanon on June 6th, 1982. The Israelis used to call this event an invasion; however following July War they noticed that it was tantamount to a war. Thus they called it Lebanon War I and dubbed July War Lebanon War II.

Indeed, both anniversaries call on the Arab and Islamic peoples as well as the peoples of the region always to draw lessons and morals so as to benefit from all the experiences, all what took place, and all the pains, sufferings, mistakes, gaps, deficiencies, achievements and positive points. That's because the battle is not over yet, because Palestine is still under occupation, because the sanctities of Muslims and Christians are still being violated, because an entire people are still being displaced and tortured whether on their homeland or in exodus, because there are thousands of detainees in prisons, and because hundreds - if not thousands - of martyrs are still in cemeteries of numbers.

Here I pause before the scene of the 91 Palestinian martyrs' coffins which were distributed yesterday among Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Man may read many messages in this scene which combines melancholy and pride. The most important messages are two:

First, it highlights the brutality of the enemy who intentionally keeps the bodies of martyrs to harm the morals, feelings and emotions of an entire people so as to make them feel humiliated and degraded.

The second message highlights the long era of the history of Palestinian resistance which was and is still marked with courage, bravery, heroism, qualitative operations, determination to carry on the way of resistance and jihad no matter how great the sacrifices are. This also calls on us on the prelude of the word to recall the rest of the Lebanese martyrs whose remains are still in cemeteries of numbers as well as the cause of the Lebanese missed and prisoners whose their life or martyrdom is debatable. We have always said that this is the responsibility of the state which it must assume. When the resistance calls for assuming responsibility on this perspective that would actually be because of the lack of responsibility.

On the occasion of occupying Lebanon, we must remember the rest of our occupied territories in Kafar Shouba Hills and Shebaa Farms. The national responsibility is on the shoulders of the state, the people and all of us to liberate our territories which are still occupied.

Ushering into the reign of the Imam, we say that the Imam indeed had personal characteristics besides his external deeds. He is a great jurisprudent, a grand philosopher, one of the great men of Gnosticism, and an innovative, renewing Islamic thinker who had several personal characteristics. He also had special characteristics in action. What the Imam created and caused in the lives of people, the life of the nation not only in modern history but rather in human history and what he established for the future had also several characteristics. However, I will tackle two points swiftly.

The first point is that we call the Imam the leader of the massive popular Islamic Revolution that was launched in Iran and led after all to the toppling of the tyrant Shah regime which was the American Gulf police and Israel's strategic ally.

He was also the founder of the Islamic Republic. In action, he had several characteristics but I will tackle these two characteristics.

As for the first characteristic, he is the leader of the revolution. In fact, he is distinguished because it was he who launched the revolution in the early sixties. The revolution started with one individual called Ruhuallah Al Musawi Al Khomeini. He started making speeches, yelling, condemning, guiding, preaching and calling on people to be aware, to have a stance and to rise. He moved along with his pupils, students, friends and companions. Thus was the starting point.

He was the leader of the revolution and the man who triggered it. He was the first to shoulder its burdens and repercussions whether through personal security threats, breaking into his house, robbing his library and arresting him. He was about to be sentenced to life penalty. He was also exiled for long years, his son – Sayyed Mustafa – was martyred and all through the years of the revolution his students, pupils and closest companions used to be hanged, hurled in prisons or expelled. Still he followed up, led and guided this revolution. The qualitative change was marked in the spiritual, humanistic moment which manifested extreme determination and bravery when the Imam insisted to board the plane from Paris to Tehran while the possibility of downing the plane was very strong.

This leader – who used to proceed himself and confront death and all risks - was the leader who made the revolution and launched it with success granted by Allah Al Mighty. It was he also who led it to achieve victory. The day will come – as today there is clamor in the region and the general atmosphere does not tolerate making bets – when in calm atmosphere the important establishing role of Imam Khomeini, the victory of his blessed revolution in Iran, the major changes which took place in our region and led to the revolutions which were launched even if decades later as well as the establishing role of this revolution in the Arab- Israeli struggle, the resistance movements and their victories will be made clear.

The second characteristic is that he was the establisher of the Islamic Republic. We all know – and this is very evident and it does not need any verification – that demolition is easier than building. Demolition needs brief time while building needs more time, capabilities, and effort. Perhaps many succeed in demolition but do not succeed in building. This is the true challenge.

Last year during the anniversary, I talked about the importance of the Imam's dependence and reliance on the will of the people in creating the alternative and in building the state. I will talk today about building the state itself. That was the greatest and most important achievement because building the state and success in building it is more complicated than the victory of leading the revolution and its final achievement. This trial is now faced by several Arab peoples who had moved with their revolutions to the final stages or to a high percentage or to a moderate percentage apart from the difference in evaluation and milieus. This is the true trial now. You may topple a regime but the true trial is that you be able to build a state.

This status quo is now experienced by more than one country and more than one people. Principally, the Imam (May Allah bestow His content on him) moved from an intellectual, convictional background in building the state. As we don't have much time, it is enough to hint that in principle, in the Islamic intellect – as the Imam says – the concept of the existence of the state, the existence of a political regime and the existence of a ruling government – not in the sense of a cabinet but rather in the terms of that time it is the presence of a prince, imam or a caliph – is a natural need for any human community. It is an innate need, and this is obvious and does not need evidence as man's need for food, water and sleep. The need of the human community to a state in the Islamic intellect and the intellect of the Imam is obvious and does not need evidence.

Well, what is disputable is the nature and the identity of the state, and the form of the regime which rules the community. This issue is theoretical and needs evidence, discussion and making use of human experiences, divine religions and human philosophy.

However the essence of the existence of the state and the need for the establishment of a state to manage the public affairs for any community in any stage in human history is natural and obvious, and the public affairs for any community won't stand without a state and a regime. Thus as soon as the Islamic Revolution in Iran made victory on February 11th, 1979, the process of building the state started. The Imam along with his friends, students and the essential figures in the revolution were ready. They had discussed the ideas beforehand. There were drafts on a theoretical structure and on the identity and nature of the state.

That was prepared for one way or another; however, mastery and great wisdom in leadership started from the very first moment.

The Imam ordered and his supporter backed him and his people responded first to the preservation of all the state institutions. As for the Iranian Army, the senior generals who were under the Shah, the Mosad, the Americans and the Savac fled. However, the army as an army was guarded. The same applies to the state administrations. Thus on the following day they told the employees to go back to their work. The public property were guarded. The political class ran away or were forced away or were held accountable. The Imam called on the Iranian people to return the confiscated items whether arms, money, or documents. We all remember on that days how the Iranians used to stand in long lines to return what they confiscated during the last days of clashes with the regime. Thus was the early stage of establishing the pillars of building the state. Thus the Imam called on the Iranian people to elect a council of experts - he did not appoint a council of experts – to set the constitution which comprised jurists and law scholars and political and intellectual elites, university professors, men of intellect and economists…. Then he called for electing a council of experts and gave it a definite time limit. The constitution draft was set. The Imam presented the draft on the Iranian people through a referendum. It was approved on.

The constitution is the basis for any modern state. On the light of the constitution which was approved by the Iranian people, the process of building the political regime started. Thus the first president of the Islamic Republic in Iran was elected.

So within less than a year, brothers and sisters, the council of experts was found as well as the constitution, the referendum, the president was elected, and state institutions and properties were guarded. Look what did the Americans do in Iraq. When the Americans came to Iraq they dismantled the army and the state and demolished everything. Indeed this is a special story.

In a year and a month only, the first Iranian parliament was elected. I want to say that the political regime institutions, the pillars of the political regime, the council of experts, the constitution, the president election, the parliament election, the constitution of the government were all achieved in a year and a month or in a year and two months despite all the exceptional, emergency and difficult conditions which surrounded the Islamic revolution from within and from without.

The Imam made this achievement. Well, why did the people respond to this great extent? That's because of the Imam's moral and spiritual influence.

The Imam did not unsheathe his sword on the people or anything of that sort. He used to speak or write a statement and the people used to respond in an extraordinary way. This is the greatness of the Islamic republic in Iran.

We are talking about the popular nature which is manifested here. Well, the Imam could have said there is an extraordinary situation. The revolution is threatened by factors internally and by foreign risks and international and regional conspiracies. Thus he would not tolerate elections and referendums or constitutions. He'd say let's set an emergency law, an interim leadership or an interim government and he would remain the absolute ruler for years. That might be tolerated for a year or two or three or four. However, the Imam did not do that because it never crossed his mind that he wanted to establish an authority for himself. He rather wanted to build a state for the Iranian people… a state that would carry on, develop, proceed and face all threats and risks even if he was not present. That's why he wrote in his will that with a tranquil heart, a reconciled, confident soul he leaves to his eternal resting place because he knows what and whom he left behind. The primary trial and the greatest achievement for Imam Khomeini (May Allah bestow His content on him) is his success in building a modern state which joins originality and modernity and confronts all challenges and risks and responds to most of the requirements and the aspirations of the Iranian people. He had presented a sublime model on this perspective. This model must be studied with objectivity and realism. The misleading voices of disfiguration and delusion which are launched here and there must be discarded. These voices do not want this model to spread. They don't want a model that combines originality and modernity, original principles and liberty and development. Thus this sample which was found by Imam Khomeini must be approached in a scientific objective and not in an oratorical way as what is taking place in these dim atmospheres.

Before ushering from hereof to the Lebanese situation, I must show loyalty to the Imam and say that the Imam (May Allah bestow His content on him) showed interest in Palestine and Al Qods from the very beginning, before the start of the revolution, since its onset, to the establishment of the state and until his death and departure. Neither the challenges he faced during the days of the revolution, nor the challenges he confronted during the days of building the state, nor all the risks and international and regional threats caused the slightest change in the stance of Imam Khomeini towards Palestine, Al Qods and Israel. I hope we are very careful of this point. He used to believe that Palestine, the Palestinian cause and Al Qods are a central cause. It is a convictional issue. It is a strategic issue which is not subject to negotiations, tactics or manipulations. I must remind that Imam Khomeini (May Allah bestow His content on him) was the perpetual caller for unity, proximity, cooperation, support and integration between Muslims and among the deemed-weak. On a scope wider the circle of Muslims, he used always to talk about the Ibrahimi common point between the divine religions and the followers of the divine religions. The Imam was very truthful in this commitment, and he did not alter his commitment despite all the conspiracies.

You know that while building the state and when he was old in age an eight-year-war was waged on him and on his people and state. It was waged by Saddam Hussein with an American, western and international support. Then many of the Arab states stood with Saddam Hussein at a time the sin of the Imam was known! Few Arab states including Syria did not back Saddam. Hundreds of billions of dollars were spent by several world and Arab states on the war against the Imam and his people and state while the Arab peoples were still sufferings from poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, hunger, deprivation and underdevelopment. The Palestinian people were suffering from all of this; all through these years they were suffering.

When I tackle this point, I mean to address all of the people saying despite all what Saddam Hussein and some of the Arab regimes in the name of Arabism did to the Imam and his people – the killing, the demolition and the war – the Imam did not retreat one step in the intellect of unity, proximity, cooperation, integration and fraternity between Muslims and the deemed-weak. This issue was a convictional issue according to him. It is an issue of belief which springs from his relation with Allah and his seek to reach the content of Allah. The issue has nothing to do with reactions to events that might take place here and there even if they were as tremendous as an eight-year-war. I will interpret further. I believe that a man other than the Imam and the companions of the Imam and the Iranian people when most of the Arab governments do what they did for eight years – would have the right to say from whatever perspective that I have nothing to do with the Arabs, the Arab peoples, Palestine and Al Qods. He would have turned his back to this part of the world and started searching for his interests in Mid Asia and Europe as once Turkey of Ataturk did when it turned its back to the Arab and Islamic world and headed towards the west. Well, the Imam did not do that in any moment.

From this main topic I want to tackle the Lebanese affairs in a couple of words. Reform is required in Lebanon as it is required in Syria, Bahrain and other countries. However as a Lebanese people we are before this challenge. The evidence is that up till now (2012) – for how many years Lebanon has been independent – the political speech among all parties is as follows: Some say we want a state. Others say we want to cross to the state. Others say we want to build the state. That means that inclusively there is Lebanese consensus that we do not have a true actual state and this is what we must achieve and undertake.

For years and up till now everybody is preoccupied. All the Lebanese whether the political forces and political leaderships are preoccupied with the developments and events. Allow me to tell you that we all work on daily basis in politics: What is this story about? How is this event to be addressed? How are we to address its reactions? How are we to tackle this topic and take a position in it?

On the anniversary of Imam Khomeini and when talking about the strategic and essential causes we step out of details as when we used to talk about the events in Syria. We used to stand on the top of the mountain and from above and contemplate for a while on the situation in Lebanon: What must we do? Shall we go on with this state of confusion and chaos. The anxiety which afflicted many of the Lebanese during the past few weeks is logical and valid. Some people started feeling that the country will become uncontrollable. Civil war is looming. Where are we? Is Lebanon as a nation and as a people amid the wind?

At a moment of contemplation, let's say what we will do. Even when tackling priorities, we must ask people about their priorities through polls and not from behind our offices. Really we must see the views of the people and their priorities. We would find that there is a group of priorities on top of which are two priorities.

The first priority is security and civil peace. Some time ago this possibility did not exist. Now and as a result of the repercussions of the events in Syria, the developments in the region, the lassitude of the state institutions in dealing with security affairs, the disorder in the judicial situation, the agitation, mobilization, and factional and sectarian provocation, we are in a difficult situation. Why? Let's not hide behind our finger. We always used to say that preserving stability has the first priority. Today besides the political crisis, there are robbers, criminals, attacks, kidnapping… The issue is open. Ask the people and they would say the priority is security. They might require that before reform and before anything else.

Accordingly, the second priority would be the living situation. Two or three months later, people will go back to schools and winter will return… So what will be the case? So the priority of people now is security and the living situation. The living situation is important – their food, water, health, well being, children… These are what Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) talk about when he says: Two blessings are unfelt: health and security. Man would be dwelling in security until he feels insecure; he then senses the blessing he was in. He would be dwelling in good health while not feeling this blessing. When he losses health, he becomes aware of this blessing. It is exactly like oxygen which we breath day and night. We are dwelling in this blessing; however when we feel like suffocating, we feel this blessing.

However, how are we to address these two priorities?

Through these two priorities, I reach the point I would like to say:

Security is the pressing topic in all regions. Indeed some media outlets try to magnify some security events. Some media outlets and political sides try to magnify some security events to embarrass other political forces. For example, when it is said that in such and such region there is security disorder or the like, as if it is required that we be responsible for security or the political forces which exist in that place be responsible.

Brethrens! In brief I say that human experiences, the Lebanese modern experience during the last ten years, knowledge, investigation and reality say that security and internal peace in any community is the outcome of an integrated process and it is not an absolute security action. It is the result of an integrated process which includes all factors whether the cultural, educational, legal, judicial, economic, political, security, media… The skillful professional security action is part of an integrated process that leads to guarding security and guarding civil peace. Who owns the elements of this integrated process in any society? It is the state and the state institutions only. No one else owns these factors whether any organization or party. See the Lebanese experience. People tried civil administration, self-security, the security of the Christian society above any other consideration… Everyone had his trial. Did that lead to true security? Never!

Any party or any organization no matter how strong might be able to guard his leaderships, headquarters and celebrations; however, they won't be able to secure a community and a people because they fall short behind that and because they do not possess all the factors of the integrated process which leads to security and civil peace. This is the responsibility of the state. We want security, internal peace, civil peace and we want the people to stay living with each other. We want a true, strong, just, active state. The assumption of parties – even if they are just, strong and professional – for self-security responsibilities in any region would achieve goals different from the target. Instead of leading to security, it would lead to civil war and war among clans, families and the various components of the civil community. The state is the side able assume this responsibility without taking its people and community to civil war.

As for the economic, living and financial issue, we also say that human experiences, knowledge, investigation and reality say that the welfare of any society, providing the least limit of the people's needs in any society on the level of food, water, education, health and welfare – in Lebanon we add that addressing social and living crises which the Lebanese citizens as well as foreigners who live on the Lebanese territories suffer from – is the outcome of an integrated process also. So it is not limited to industry, trade, culture, import and export. These are just part of the process. The living welfare is the outcome of an integrated process which includes the judicial, legal, security, political, cultural, educational, and economic factors. Today in Lebanon, no one can say we have a crisis called the region of Akkar. How am I to create an economic status for this region and address its living and social crisis and make it enjoy good living standard and welfare? We may say the same to the north, Baalbeck-Hermel, Bekaa, Mount Liban, Beirut and its suburbs, and the south. There is nothing called region economy. No one can address the economy of a region. No one can say how am I to address the Sunnite economy, the Shiite economy, the Christian economy, or the Durzi economy. This is wrong. Today there is the Lebanese economy which is not apt for disintegration according to regions or sects. There is a state which must take care of the economic affair to address the social and living crisis of its people.

That's not the whole story. In fact, in the world today, if the state which takes care of its national economy is not part of a strong, regional, economic system, it won't be able to stand for long that's - if we are not to say address its crisis.

The status is even worse in the world today. There are historically strong states which are part of the strongest economic systems in the world such as the European Union which are kneeling down such as Greece, Spain, Holland, and Denmark. Even Britain and France are now suffering. There are states at the verge of falling. So the economic, financial, living, and social issue can't be addressed by a party or an organization or an alliance of parties. The best a party or a movement or a side can do is providing some job opportunities for some nationals, securing some services, or making some achievements. However, are they able to address a living and social crisis which need an integrated process of this kind? Indeed no! They would fall short behind that. The state is responsible.

I would like to conclude saying the following: If we in Lebanon want a united Lebanon in the region that is facing the danger of division, if we want that Lebanon stays secure and lives in internal and civil peace really, if we want that Lebanon addresses all its economic, social, living and administrative crises and problems, we must look forward to the state and state institutions.

I am not saying this talk for consumption or as slogans. We believe in this and we educate our followers and cadres accordingly in internal session. Why do we do that in internal sessions? That's because no one be misguided that this talk is for political consumption. No! this is internal education.

We as Lebanese must reach this conviction. All parties, movements, sects, the residents of all regions must reach a conviction that this Lebanon does not tolerate division or federalization. It's future is one; it is in unity. As such it may confront all its crises and realize the aspirations or most of the aspirations of the Lebanese people. The solution is in a true, national, strong, active, just and respectful state in which law and not fanaticism and personal disposition rules. This is true aspiration. We have the right to aspire. The people who do not aspire, have hopes, put before their eyes an aim – even if there are difficulties in achieving it – are not a people who deserve to step out of their crises. We will inherit our crises to our children and grandchildren and the following offspring. Do we want that or not? We are today a people fit to assume responsibility even in national defense, confronting the enemy, and guarding Lebanese sovereignty. Why are we obliged to say: the army, the people and the resistance. Had there been a state which assumes the responsibility and is able to assume the responsibility from the very beginning, why were people obliged to quit their schools, religious classes, institutions and fields and make popular resistance? The state would have defended and liberated, and the people would have helped the state and backed it.

Even when we head to the dialogue table and talk about a defense strategy, instead of discussing and addressing the results, we must address the reasons. Why did we reach this far? Why did we resort to these choices? Let's give the remedy. The remedy is in building the state. I believe that there is theoretical consensus on this by the Lebanese. However, there remains seriousness. Let's discuss the obstacles. How are we to remove the obstacles? This is what we believe in? In fact, this is the intellect of Imam Sayyed Mussa Assadre (May Allah return him and both his friends safely). This is our faith, intellect, commitment and culture. Whoever says otherwise must provide his evidence.

Thus today I make a call for the national dialogue table which will be held in few days. We are going to the dialogue table. I hope no one will boycott it. I propose the following: Do you want serious discussion, let's start with the reasons and address the reasons. That means let's talk about how to build a true strong state in Lebanon. I even say more than that. I call for a national dialogue table, and I call on His Eminence the President in particular to discuss this option. Let's hold a national conference – national dialogue conference - in Lebanon and not only a dialogue table. The idea may be further developed as well. Why don't we hold a national constituent conference in Lebanon such as the constituent conferences which are held today in some countries in the Arab world. That means a new council of experts. Don't we as Lebanese deserve that. Don't our people, country, nation and future deserve even if once in history to sit together before shelling each other. When the Lebanese used to make dialogue in Geneva, Luzan, Damascus, or in Baabda, they used to do so under rocket shelling and while corpses were disjointed and people displaced. However today – Praise be to Allah – our security status is relatively acceptable. People are controlling their nerves and themselves. We have a chance to sit together and talk to each other. So why don't we hold a constituent conference. We may also develop the idea even further. We may elect a constituent conference. The Lebanese people may elect not on sectarian or regional basis however. Let there be lists or percentages. There are options. Let's say a definite number of politicians, a definite number of professors, a definite number of judges and men of law, a definite number of syndicate and laborers' representatives… We would set percentages to elect or form a constituent council of 50, 75 or 100 representatives. We would give them a six-month-time limit or a year-time limit. For thirty years we have been fighting and battling and searching for a solution. Let's give them a chance for dialogue and discussing all options.

There are some people in Lebanon who when you talk about the state, building the state, a strong active state would say we have Taef Accord and implementing Taef Accord. Others would say develop Taef Accord. A third section would go for agreeing on a new social contract or a new social covenant. Others might say the solution is in annulling political sectarianism. Others would say absolute secularism. What is the problem, then? If there is a true national conference which represents all or most of the Lebanese sections or a named or elected constituent conference, people would sit and discuss how to build a state. This is what we need if we are to say strategic, primary and original talk in the anniversary of Imam Khomeini (May Allah glorify his holy secret). Otherwise, we will go on working on daily basis. We may carry on working on daily basis for years and we may inherit that to our children and grandchildren. This generation of leaderships and elites may let Lebanon move on the right firm track so that it does not stay dependant on one person, a group of persons or a definite structure. The Islamic Republic continued to exist despite the decease of a great and historic personality unmatched in Iran and even in the current time at least. It continued to exist forcefully and vigorously. That's because it is on the right track. I call that we work industriously to put Lebanon on the right track.

There are two points which I would still like to hint to. First and in the occasion of the anniversary, we recall another dear precious anniversary. We must recall the first-class-man of state – meaning martyr PM Rashid Karameh – who was in fact a national historic leader and man of state whose assassination created a great gap on the national and even regional level. On the anniversary of his assassination and martyrdom, we renew our solidarity with this honorable, national family on top of which is PM Omar Karameh. We renew our stand by this family and all their just and rightful demands.

The last point is the Lebanese abducted in Syria as we can't but tackle this issue even if with one word. From the very first moment, we – whether Hezbollah or Amal Movement – committed ourselves on the political level and called on the families of the abducted and all the sympathizers to show self-control, calmness and patience. We also said since the very beginning that these kidnapped are Lebanese nationals. Consequently, the Lebanese state - the Lebanese government - is above all responsible for restoring them and setting them free. It is also responsible for their dignity, integrity, and security. All of us as political or religious forces or leaderships would help the state. However, the state is responsible.

In fact, the state and its principle, on the level of the government, on the level of several ministers and on the level of several state institutions as well are working seriously. I bear witness on that. They are working seriously day and night to lead this cause to its good ending.

Since the start of this event and during the past days, some misconceptions took place. There is no need to tackle them or to comment on them for the good of the kidnapped themselves in the current stage. In the future we might talk about that or not.

Today and amid these incessant efforts which the Lebanese officials are assuming I would like first to stress on the responsibility of the government and the state to address this file. We would help; however, the responsibility is on the Lebanese state and government. The state is as well the side concerned in communicating, negotiating, and responding.

Second, we must all hail the patience of the families of the kidnapped, their self- control and morality, their great sense of responsibility - and these days before some sorts of pressure – and their noble and honorable stance. This is indeed always excepted from them and their likes.

Third, I call on carrying on being patient and calm, to practice self-control and tolerate so as to give the state more time and a chance to follow up with this cause so as to reach the required result.

I would like to thank the great brother and teacher, His Eminence Sheikh Ahmad Zein for his stance, sympathy and adoration for me and for the resistance.

Finally I have a word to say to the kidnappers. Yesterday, you said you have no problem with the sect. That is fine. Now, you have to prove that. These are visitors. They are innocent. They must return to their families.

If you have a problem with me, there are many ways and ways to address the problem. There are many methods and levels for that. I do not wish to go further into details. If you want war, let it be war. If you want peace, let it be peace. If you want love, let it be love. Let it be solved the way you want. If you have any problem with me, with Hezbollah, or Hezbollah and Amal Movement or any political side in Lebanon who had a stance from the events in Syria, let's separate the cause of the kidnapped and put it aside and let's solve your problem with us. Using the innocent visitors as hostages to resolve the problem – regardless of its nature and essence - is great injustice you should abandon.

This is the word I wanted to say. In all cases, we said and always say that we have a certain vision towards what is taking place in Syria. We have a stance. We call for calmness, dialogue, peace, reform, transcendence of wounds, preserving Syria’s unity and the unity of its people and preserving the blood of its army and people.

As is the case with every Syrian, our heart is aching for Syria, its dignity, position, strength, welfare, security and stability. We may differ with others in Lebanon or abroad in approaching, understanding, and reading what is taking place, the backgrounds, targets, and interactions. This is our right which we practice daily.

We ask Allah Al Mighty to bestow freedom and a safe honorable return on the kidnapped, to grand us wisdom and insight to know how to deal with similar issues. May Allah have mercy on our great Imam and all the martyrs and seniors of the nation. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings.