Walid --2 letters from beirut -- 07.15.06

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Yet another day of bombing all over the place. In the mountain here,
we were subject to about three different bombing runs: 1 to continue
destroying the Beirut to Damascus road; another to destroy the cell
phone antennas; and another to again hit the Beirut to Damascus road.
Just a few minutes ago, the house was shaking again, and I only
assume the Israelis are pounding the same area. The safe areas are
much further to the north, the northeastern enclave, an area
traditionally christian. Listening to Nasrallah's speech tonight was
not reassuring one bit. After pleading with the Lebanese to stand
firm, and after denouncing Arab government leaving Lebanon to pay the
price for Israeli aggression, he asked us all to look at sea and watch
the Israeli gunboat that had been pounding the coast and hills all
day. he said that it was about to be hit by a HizbAllah missile. He
promised that it will burn, that it will sink, that its sailors will
die. It made me sickto my stomach, almost as much as it makes me sick
to hear Olmert, Bush, the Saudi, and Palestinian position about this.
Nasrallah also called for an open war against Israel, and that he
will hit Haifa, and what is behind Haifa, and behind and behind Haifa.
What this means remains unlcear. But clearly it is worrying. Within
minutes of the speech, parts of West Beirut were celebrating. The
city is about to be reduced to rubble, and fireworks are being fired
in the air. Incredible. Al-Jazeera and most local networks pointed
their lenses towards to sea, to look for a missile launch, which came
but was not visible. This is just not good. This is just about to
get worse. I dont know what to think anymore. Pundits are
speculating, making noise: Did HizbAllah need to drag Lebanon into
this mess at this time? How can HizbAllah monopolize the decision to
launch a war, to destroy the country? Others are convinced that Israel
is simply intent on enforcing resolution 1559, namely to disarm
HizbAllah by force. HizbAllah is asking everyone to stand form, and to
be patient. This has happened before and we have triumphed. We will
triumph again, they say. Whatever all this leads to, one thing is
certain, the scale of the destruction is enormous. People are dying
in the south and elsewhere. Too many. The bombing has moved to the
north and in the past hour positions inside Syria were hit. Iran has
said that were Syria to be hit, they will respond. A regional war?
What's going on?

Embassies here are starting to remove their citizens. the French,
canadians, germans, and the americans just announced the same.

I cannot imagine this going on for months, despite what some officials
up high are stating. I assume that the regional ploy is to disarm
hizbAllah. This will only happen if Syria and Iran get something in
return. What is the U.S. willing to grant them? Also, they have to
find a way out for HizbAllah. Which means that their position inside
the Lebanese government will have to be negotiated. They may disarm
them, but they have to give them a way out as well. After all,
HizbAllah represents 1 million folks here. Israel and the U.S cannot
kill them all.

Rumors aplenty, every ten minutes. The news, all of it, Arab and
international, makes me sick. We are stuck with a false choice:
Support HizbAllah, or be an Israeli agent. That is at least what
HizbAllah and their Syrian allies are saying. The Christian right's
position is equally naive. They want to assume that HizbAllah will
just go away. they are wishing it at least. That wont happen, no
matter what. Everyone is miscalculating it seems: HizbAllah, the
Americans, the Israelis, The Saudis, the Palestinians, The French, The
Russians, The Chinese. You name it. The effects on the ground will
remain once this crisis is resolved, and has already generated enough
antagonism to last us another decade.

We are trying to think of what to do. To leave, and be stuck in the
U.S glued to the TV trying to figure out what is happening will be
maddening.

This will clearly get worse before it gets better, and we have not
seen the worse yet. Now, all parties are slowly revealing their cards.

best

w.

This evening ....

We still have the land-line. Cell phones are working from time to
time. Electricity is being rationed. We are getting around 8 hours a
day. Generators provide the rest at this point. It is a situation we
are used to, one that is decent -- even very good compared to what
other areas of the country are living through at the moment.

More idiots on Lebanese TV speculating some more about Israel's and
HizbAllah's intentions. More shelling in the Southern Suburb. More
massacres in the South. More missiles to northern Israel. More
fireworks celebrating HizbAllah's resistance.

Doi we need to say this again and again and again: There is no such
thing as targeted/surgical shelling in a city with hundreds of
thousands of homes, built cheek to cheek. Israel shelled the house of
Hassan Nasrallah. I suppose they thought he would be home enjoying
his afternoon tea at the time. They took out the light house that
stood on the Corniche, lest it send out distress signals that the
world will not see. A family leaving, fleeing its village in the
South was pulverized -- surely the smoke from the shelling blinded the
scope of the gunner, preventing him/her from seeing that the small
people in the car were not extremely short HizbAllah fighters. Should
we tally numbers? Do we need to open more morgue doors b to reveal
yet another mangled body, yet another weeping parent, yet another
angry relative denouncing this or that government? this or that policy?

Amr Moussa stated tonight, after the spineless meeting of Arab
ministers, that it is clear now that the U.S. has handed Israel a free
hand in solving the Mid-East crisis, as it sees fit. Whether it
decides unilaterally to withdraw from Gaza, from the West Bank, from
destroying Gaza again, from destroying Beirut, etc. I wonder what
took them so long to figure this out. Is the oil in the Gulf still a
weapon in their hands? Surely not, as we are reminded time and time
again. What is the price of oil again? How much of Europe's oil
supplied by the Saudis and the Kuwaitis? How much of the U.S. oil is
supplied by the Middle East? Did we reach 78 USD a barrel yet? Maybe
the Saudis will use some of the surplus to rebuild the country again.
What's a billion dollars when the price of oil reaches 78 USD?
Someone knows this somewhere, and is most likely depending on it.

Israeli cease-fire conditions announced -- as I write this:

-Retreat of HizbAllah fighters to behind the Litani river in the south.
-Hand-over of all HizbAllah missiles to the Lebanese Army
-Deployment of the Lebanese Army in the South.

On this end, I am tired, and am not able to think straight anymore.
Hoping for a quiet night, and to wake up with a cease-fire declared.

w.






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