T Nation

Isreal/Lebanon A More Balanced Look

This is a viewpoint that isn’t shown much in the mainstream media about this latest conflict. It is once again from The Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.

I think Ivan is stretching the definition of terrorism as much as anyone else these days.

While I think policies over the decades have created an environment that fosters recruitment by groups engaged in radicalism and extremism, I don’t agree that one allows or excuses the other.

I also don’t like the idea of equating unintended collateral damage with blatant attacks on civilians. It seems Ivan does not care about the intent, but simply sees death and violence on both sides and equates them.

A somewhat strange viewpoint to take from where I’m standing.

Unfortunately, I think that we’ve entered into something of a one way trap. Once elements of Islam became radicalized, they have been successful at spreading anti-west propaganda and seem to have an ability to generate a large number of supporters under the most absurd conditions.

Religion is a very powerful tool, and they have wrapped it very tightly with their cause. At the same time, they operate like thugs. Just as an average Joe in the US would never take on the mafia, there is no way the average moderate Abdul in the Middle East would ever take on the radicals.

It took a lot of work, concerted effort, to dismantle the hold that organized crime had established. Who in the Middle East has the will and the resources to fight against the forces of radicalism, which now has proponents in all countries at all levels of industry and government?

When there was only the first generation of radicals and they didn’t have established ways of coopting the next generation of youth into their organizations they could have been easily wiped out. Now, until the recruitment machine is shut down, we will have at least another generation fundamentalists willing to die for the religion and propaganda they have received.

I haven’t heard anybody suggest any type of solution for the real problem. We no longer have a single snake with a single head. Fundamentalist Islam can spring up independently anywhere and anytime as long as there is even one radical willing to dedicate his or her life to their extremist beliefs.

Pandoras box has not only been opened, it has been left open. Maybe some day we will shut it, and then finally, perhaps a generation or two later, we can stop dealing with the pestilence that has been released.

I’m not sure that opinion is “more balanced”. I prefer reality to “balance”. It is more of a case study in corrupt moral equivalency. It argues that any civilian casualities caused by Israel amount to “terrorism”. Israel is at WAR and they have been for virtually their entire existence, and they are NOT the originators of terrorism. Israel has a clear defensive objectives in this operation, while Hezbollah’s only purpose is to kill as many Jews as possible.

The state of Lebanon has not dismantled Hezbollah or in any way prevented them from their constant attacks on Israel (as they are required to do under U.N. resolutions) and because Hezbollah is part of the ruling government, the state of Lebanon has suppoorted terrorist aggression. Israel has made many attempts at land-for-peace deals and all they have received in return are daily rocket attacks and suicide bombings.

Some times their is no other way than war when your enemy is sworn to destroy you. GET THIS IN YOUR HEAD–Israel IS morally superior superior to their enemies.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the middle east, and we must support them. The man who wrote that article enjoys the freedoms of western democracy, and if he really thinks Israel is some kind of terrorist state, I think he is incoherent at best, a traitor at worst.

Why does the left hate Israel so much?

http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson071006.html

Good replies, fellas. The writer of this article doesn’t have a clue.

I have some ideas for combatting the hydra of islamic jihadist extremism:

  1. Get the idle youth busy doing something besides weapons training. Real jobs = Good. It’s just like stopping gangs, guys. Raise the general standard of living through opportunity, and the need for youth to express themselves via firearms and explosives will dissipate.

  2. Punish states who support terrorism. And not with a fucking letter telling them how mad we are. Having hizbollah bankrolled and supported by legitimate governments is what emboldens these assholes. This is bullshit, Iran and Syria… you guys need to learn something from the international community regarding this outbreak of violence, methinks.

  3. The way we break the youth’s willingness to die for jihadists is to offer them some better alternative. Right now, these fucks get financial and moral support for their families whenever they sacrifice themselves and murder innocents. If you live in a shithole and have no hope or opportunity for anything better, and some slick willie type comes along and offers you a small fortune for your family as he brainwashes you into the jihadist mindset… well, you do the math. There’s got to be a way to short-circuit this process. Probably the fastest way is to stop the money. So concentrate on where the funding comes from and freeze it.

Can anybody add to this? :slight_smile:

Get the women involved. A mother getting together with another mother, and so on, will form an organization that literally bring peace to the Middle East. Doesn’t matter if they are Muslims or Jews, the mothers who confront these radicals will have their way.

No self respecting man of any culture or religion (and I know this is true even in “male dominated” cultures)will touch a woman. They may come across tough, but in front of an angered mother…whose baby they want to martyr off…

Hell hath no fury like a MOTHER scorned

You were doing relatively well, until…

[quote]andytipton wrote:
Why does the left hate Israel so much?[/quote]

That is retarded. Historically, the left has been quite supportive of Israel. If you do not want to take my word for it, think about this: the overwhelming majority of Jewish people in this country vote Democrat. A large number of preeminent and influential Democrat US Senators (starting with Dianne Feinstein right here from CA) is Jewish. Do you really think they “hate Israel”?

[quote]hspder wrote:
You were doing relatively well, until…

andytipton wrote:
Why does the left hate Israel so much?

That is retarded. Historically, the left has been quite supportive of Israel. If you do not want to take my word for it, think about this: the overwhelming majority of Jewish people in this country vote Democrat. A large number of preeminent and influential Democrat US Senators (starting with Dianne Feinstein right here from CA) is Jewish. Do you really think they “hate Israel”?[/quote]

i can’t believe that was the best counterpoint you could make. most jews are democrats, but most democrats are not jews. the issue of israel is where jews and the left typically diverge.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
Good replies, fellas. The writer of this article doesn’t have a clue.

I have some ideas for combatting the hydra of islamic jihadist extremism:

  1. Get the idle youth busy doing something besides weapons training. Real jobs = Good. It’s just like stopping gangs, guys. Raise the general standard of living through opportunity, and the need for youth to express themselves via firearms and explosives will dissipate.

  2. Punish states who support terrorism. And not with a fucking letter telling them how mad we are. Having hizbollah bankrolled and supported by legitimate governments is what emboldens these assholes. This is bullshit, Iran and Syria… you guys need to learn something from the international community regarding this outbreak of violence, methinks.

  3. The way we break the youth’s willingness to die for jihadists is to offer them some better alternative. Right now, these fucks get financial and moral support for their families whenever they sacrifice themselves and murder innocents. If you live in a shithole and have no hope or opportunity for anything better, and some slick willie type comes along and offers you a small fortune for your family as he brainwashes you into the jihadist mindset… well, you do the math. There’s got to be a way to short-circuit this process. Probably the fastest way is to stop the money. So concentrate on where the funding comes from and freeze it.

Can anybody add to this? :)[/quote]

Set up a system of free public education, with a comprehensive curriculum of science, history, geography, and math. The islamic youth are taught nothing of the world, and what little education they get is filtered through the Koran. Everything wrong in thier lives is blamed on Israel or the United States and the poor kids are too ignorant to form thier own opinions. It is easy to control people when you keep them stupid.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
3) The way we break the youth’s willingness to die for jihadists is to offer them some better alternative.[/quote]

I wonder about this point. The 19 hijackers from 9/11 spent quite a bit of time living in the US before they executed their attacks.

During that time, they saw our way of life; I’m sure they where aware of the various possibilites available to them to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Why didn’t they? Was their hatred so strong or their brainwashing so profound that they couldn’t in any way appreciate “the land of opportunity?”

If many radicals are like them, I don’t really know what alternatives we could offer them.

[quote]TWalton wrote:
No self respecting man of any culture or religion (and I know this is true even in “male dominated” cultures)will touch a woman.[/quote]

I disagree. In many cultures, the men won’t touch the women, as long as the women know and keep their place. If the women dare speak up or stand their ground they will get beaten back into submission.

[quote]BH6 wrote:
Set up a system of free public education, with a comprehensive curriculum of science, history, geography, and math. The islamic youth are taught nothing of the world, and what little education they get is filtered through the Koran.[/quote]

The educational background of terrorists involved in recent attacks (going back about 15 years) shows that about half of them are college educated or better, a few of them having doctoral degrees and that only a small proportion (around 10-15%) are madrassa (Islamic religious schools) graduates.

On average, as a group, they are better educated than the average american.

Education might be a part of it, but it’s not the whole picture or even apparently that big a part of it.

[quote]pookie wrote:
BH6 wrote:
Set up a system of free public education, with a comprehensive curriculum of science, history, geography, and math. The islamic youth are taught nothing of the world, and what little education they get is filtered through the Koran.

The educational background of terrorists involved in recent attacks (going back about 15 years) shows that about half of them are college educated or better, a few of them having doctoral degrees and that only a small proportion (around 10-15%) are madrassa (Islamic religious schools) graduates.

On average, as a group, they are better educated than the average american.

Education might be a part of it, but it’s not the whole picture or even apparently that big a part of it.
[/quote]

Thats a good point, and I don’t know if those terrorists attended colleges in the west or colleges in the Middle East. I think what I was aiming at was the seperation between church and state. The United States has been very successful at keeping the church (any church) out of the public school curriculum. There are some notable exceptions, the intelligent design vs evolution being one (disclaimer: It is not my intent to reignite this debate, all readers of this post please refrain from comment on ID vs Evolution unless it pertains direcly to the topic at hand). I think that is where we as a free society really make our money. Our children aren’t religiously indoctrinated in the school house. I don’t think that society in the Middle East allows its children to grow up without daily indoctrination in the islamic religion. My wife moved from S. Korea to Saudi Arabia when she was 7. She went to a Saudi school and sat through two hours of Islamic teaching every day, in the first grade.
It isn’t a realistic goal however. Islam is going to have to go through a major reformation for that secularism to take hold.

[quote]BH6 wrote:
lothario1132 wrote:
Good replies, fellas. The writer of this article doesn’t have a clue.

I have some ideas for combatting the hydra of islamic jihadist extremism:

  1. Get the idle youth busy doing something besides weapons training. Real jobs = Good. It’s just like stopping gangs, guys. Raise the general standard of living through opportunity, and the need for youth to express themselves via firearms and explosives will dissipate.

  2. Punish states who support terrorism. And not with a fucking letter telling them how mad we are. Having hizbollah bankrolled and supported by legitimate governments is what emboldens these assholes. This is bullshit, Iran and Syria… you guys need to learn something from the international community regarding this outbreak of violence, methinks.

  3. The way we break the youth’s willingness to die for jihadists is to offer them some better alternative. Right now, these fucks get financial and moral support for their families whenever they sacrifice themselves and murder innocents. If you live in a shithole and have no hope or opportunity for anything better, and some slick willie type comes along and offers you a small fortune for your family as he brainwashes you into the jihadist mindset… well, you do the math. There’s got to be a way to short-circuit this process. Probably the fastest way is to stop the money. So concentrate on where the funding comes from and freeze it.

Can anybody add to this? :slight_smile:

Set up a system of free public education, with a comprehensive curriculum of science, history, geography, and math. The islamic youth are taught nothing of the world, and what little education they get is filtered through the Koran. Everything wrong in thier lives is blamed on Israel or the United States and the poor kids are too ignorant to form thier own opinions. It is easy to control people when you keep them stupid. [/quote]

Great points by both of you, but bear in mind hatred of the U.S. and this president runs so high in the Middle East right now that any U.S. initiatives, no matter how well-intentioned, may simply be spurned or ignored by the majority of Arabs.

[quote]vroom wrote:
I think Ivan is stretching the definition of terrorism as much as anyone else these days.

While I think policies over the decades have created an environment that fosters recruitment by groups engaged in radicalism and extremism, I don’t agree that one allows or excuses the other.

I also don’t like the idea of equating unintended collateral damage with blatant attacks on civilians.
[/quote]

From the article :
4 Israeli civilians have been killed versus about a hundred in Lebanon and another hundred in Gaza.

When does it stop being collateral damage and turn into indiscriminate usage of force ?

[quote]k.elkouhen wrote:
vroom wrote:
I think Ivan is stretching the definition of terrorism as much as anyone else these days.

While I think policies over the decades have created an environment that fosters recruitment by groups engaged in radicalism and extremism, I don’t agree that one allows or excuses the other.

I also don’t like the idea of equating unintended collateral damage with blatant attacks on civilians.

From the article :
4 Israeli civilians have been killed versus about a hundred in Lebanon and another hundred in Gaza.

When does it stop being collateral damage and turn into indiscriminate usage of force ?

[/quote]

Good point.

[quote]andytipton wrote:
I’m not sure that opinion is “more balanced”. I prefer reality to “balance”. It is more of a case study in corrupt moral equivalency. It argues that any civilian casualities caused by Israel amount to “terrorism”. Israel is at WAR and they have been for virtually their entire existence, and they are NOT the originators of terrorism. Israel has a clear defensive objectives in this operation, while Hezbollah’s only purpose is to kill as many Jews as possible.
…[/quote]

This is simply not true. The state of Israel was founded through terrorism, ethnic cleansing and genocide. And the Palestinians were the victims. There is no way around this simple fact.

If you want to understand the current situation, you’ll have to acknowledge this.

[quote]pookie wrote:
lothario1132 wrote:
3) The way we break the youth’s willingness to die for jihadists is to offer them some better alternative.

I wonder about this point. The 19 hijackers from 9/11 spent quite a bit of time living in the US before they executed their attacks.

During that time, they saw our way of life; I’m sure they where aware of the various possibilites available to them to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Why didn’t they? Was their hatred so strong or their brainwashing so profound that they couldn’t in any way appreciate “the land of opportunity?”

If many radicals are like them, I don’t really know what alternatives we could offer them.[/quote]

You are right to wonder about this.

These people are fanatics. They have been infected by radical Islam.

There is no reasoning with them.

The only alternative is to kill them.

[quote]k.elkouhen wrote:
vroom wrote:
I think Ivan is stretching the definition of terrorism as much as anyone else these days.

While I think policies over the decades have created an environment that fosters recruitment by groups engaged in radicalism and extremism, I don’t agree that one allows or excuses the other.

I also don’t like the idea of equating unintended collateral damage with blatant attacks on civilians.

From the article :
4 Israeli civilians have been killed versus about a hundred in Lebanon and another hundred in Gaza.

When does it stop being collateral damage and turn into indiscriminate usage of force ?

[/quote]

When you step onto a bus full of civilians with a bomb strapped to you.

When you launch missiles indicriminately into civilian centers.

When you give suicide bombers’ families money and honor.

That’s when.

U.S. Disengagement Contributed To Middle East Crisis
By Andrew Tully

WASHINGTON, July 18, 2006 (RFE/RL) – Aggressive acts like the ones Hizballah and Hamas have perpetrated against Israel in recent weeks are rare against a country that has the strongest military in the region and the world’s only military superpower as its chief sponsor.
The raids are attributable less to U.S. engagement in Iraq, for instance, than to Washington’s disengagement in recent years from the Middle East peace process.

Since the start of his administration in 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush has put very little pressure on Israel to use restraint when dealing with its enemies, says Nathan Brown, who studies the Middle East at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Bush Administration Seen As Out Of Step

As a result, Brown says, the Israeli government has dealt more harshly with Palestinian militants and their leaders since Bush came to office. Brown notes that while United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are calling for a cease-fire and a UN force to stabilize southern Lebanon, the Bush administration is merely calling for restraint on all sides.

“The United States has taken itself out of the equation,” Brown said. "And by doing that it is, in essence, allowing this confrontation to continue. The United States could step in and say, ‘We’ve got to find a way out.’ And instead what they seem to be saying [to Israel] is: ‘We understand what you’re going through. Do what you need to do; just try not to inflict too many civilian casualties.’ "

According to Brown, one way to stop the fighting would be to bring pressure on Iran and Syria, both of which are said to be strong supporters of Hamas and Hizballah. But, Brown says, the United States has few opportunities to exert indirect pressure on Hamas and Hizballah because Syria’s troops have been withdrawn from Lebanon and Iran has Washington preoccupied with its nuclear program.

Reduced Options

“We want to deter them [Hizballah and Hamas],” Brown said. “The Israelis want to deter them, and we have absolutely no way of doing so: the Iranians, we have a full nuclear agenda with, and, the Syrians, we pressured to leave Lebanon. So at this point, the Americans and the Israelis really don’t have a lot of options when dealing with [Hizballah and Hamas].”

Brown adds that if the United States chose to get involved, it could achieve at least a short-term diplomatic or political resolution because of its influence with Israel. But its failure to do so, Brown contends, is creating the power vacuum that emboldened Hamas and Hizballah to challenge Israel.

Murhaf Jouejati, the Syrian-born director of Middle East studies at George Washington University in Washington, believes the Bush administration is hoping Israel will cripple or even destroy Hizballah. Otherwise, he says, Washington would have led the drive to end the bloodshed by now.

“[U.S. disengagement] is a major factor, and this is why we do not have a cease-fire in place today,” Jouejati says. “I believe the United States is delaying discussions of [a cease-fire] – or at least delaying a [UN] resolution that would impose a cease-fire – in order to give time for Israel to try, as best as it can, to destroy Hizballah. Now of course the down part of this is that in the process, many civilians are being killed.”

Coordinated Actions?

Another possible reason for the timing of the Hizballah raid is that it was coordinated with Hamas. After all, the two actions had close similarities. Jouejati concedes that Hizballah may have felt some solidarity with Hamas, but he stresses that it had more compelling reasons of self-preservation.

“I believe that Hizballah was under domestic pressure from the Lebanese government to disarm or disband or to integrate itself into the Lebanese Army,” Jouejati says. “And we know that the Lebanese government has been holding talks about national unity and national reconciliation. So I think it is within this context that this happened.”

Jouejati says he expects Hizballah will survive, despite the punishing artillery and rocket barrages from Israel. He says Hizballah is far too well rooted in southern Lebanon to be defeated militarily, much less eradicated.

And eventually, Jouejati predicts, Hizballah will return to haunt both Israel and the United States.

Tehran Times Political Desk
TEHRAN – ?Israel?s dream to dominate Lebanon will never be realized,? Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei said here on Sunday during a ceremony held to celebrate the birth anniversaries of the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (S), Hazrat Fatima (SA), and the Founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Imam Khomeini.

Ayatollah Khamenei condemned the Zionists? recent atrocities in Palestine and Lebanon and denounced the United States and some Western countries for their support for Israel, saying that the progressive and open-minded people of the world judge and condemn the atrocities of the Zionists, and this will definitely be effective.

He also denounced some Islamic and Arab countries for their silence about the recent crimes of the Zionists, and said that the human rights violations in Palestine and Lebanon over the past few days have once again proven that the Zionists? presence in the region is a satanic and cancerous phenomenon that threatens the Islamic world.

Declaring that the current U.S. administration is the most shameless one in the history of the United States due to its support of the massacre of defenseless men, women, and children in Palestine and Lebanon, Ayatollah Khamenei said that, on the contrary, the current truth-seeking movement in the Islamic world is in no way comparable with the situation in the past, and its independence, development, and dignity is a promising sign for all Muslim nations.

The Leader also pointed out that Muslim nations are proud of Hezbollah?s brave response toward the Zionist assaults and added that such sentiments did not exist in Arab or Islamic countries in the past, but now Lebanon, a country which was scheduled to become the main base of Western cultures, has turned into a base for jihadi and resistance cultures.

?This is quite contrary to the ideals of the domineering and dictatorial powers of the world,? Ayatollah Khamenei opined.

Commenting on U.S. President George W. Bush?s call for the disarmament of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Leader said that Hezbollah will never be disarmed because the Lebanese people are grateful and know that it has been the independent Hezbollah that has resisted the Zionists and frustrated their dream of dominating Lebanon.

President: Zionist regime lying about peace

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that the Zionist regime?s mission is to create division and tension among regional countries.

?They are lying that they want peace. Every day, they come up with a pretext to impose their demands,? Ahmadinejad told a ceremony to inaugurate the Mehr-Reza fund.

Ahmadinejad censured the international organizations for keeping silent over Israel?s brutal attacks on Lebanon and Palestine. He called upon the major world powers to make their stances clear and say whether they support or condemn the occupying regime.

?This regime?s barbarities were worse than Genghis Khan and Nero,? he added.

Lebanon accused Israel on Sunday of using banned weapons against Lebanese civilians in its military offensive against the country. President Emile Lahoud said Israeli forces have fired “phosphorus incendiary bombs, which are a blatant violation of international laws, …against Lebanese civilians.”

He called on the United Nations to help “deter Israel from using destructive weapons which violate human rights and the United Nations charter.”

“We are facing a real annihilation carried out by Israel,” Information Minister Ghazi Aridi told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

“Israel is using internationally prohibited weapons against civilians,” he said.

Military sources told AFP that Israel had used phosphorus incendiary bombs and implosion bombs, which suck up the air and collapse buildings.

Pakistan strongly stands by Lebanon: PM

Pakistan stands by the people of Lebanon, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday told his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora.

The mainly Muslim nation “strongly condemns the violence being committed against Lebanon” and urges that the loss to life and property stop immediately, officials said Aziz told Siniora in a phone call.

“Pakistan strongly stands by the Lebanese people and fully respects their sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

“We appeal to the world community, the permanent members of the Security Council, the UN and other relevant bodies to intervene.”

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait pledge $70m to help Lebanon

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait pledged $70 million on Sunday to help Lebanon after its prime minister said Israeli attacks turned the country into a disaster area.

Siniora said late on Saturday Beirut needed a comprehensive plan to rush aid into the country.

The official Saudi Press Agency said King Abdullah ordered the immediate transfer of $50 million “for the (Lebanese) prime minister to spend on emergency aid and basic services to alleviate the suffering of the Lebanese people”.

It said the move was in response to Siniora’s call.

The cabinet of Kuwait allocated $20 million “to provide urgent aid to brothers in Lebanon to help them in the face of this barbaric aggression and ease their suffering”.

More than 110 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on Lebanon since Hezbollah forces captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight on Wednesday. The attacks destroyed key infrastructure, including bridges, power stations and ports.

In Israel at least 12 people have been killed in attacks by Hezbollah.

Iraq parliament expresses support for Lebanon

Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers in Iraq’s U.S.-backed parliament often fail to see eye to eye, but on Sunday they stood united in their condemnation of Israel’s military offensive against Lebanon.

Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been pleading with fellow Iraqis to put aside deep sectarian and ethnic divisions of the kind that plunged Lebanon into civil war 30 years ago.

His pleas have gone largely unheeded, but Israel’s five-day-old assault on Lebanon that has killed well over 120 people, all but four of them civilians, has evoked strong feelings of solidarity among Iraqis, bridging the sectarian divide.

Hundreds of supporters of the Shiite Fadhila party, a small but locally powerful party in Basra, Iraq’s oil export hub, staged a street demonstration, rare in Iraq, in support of the Shiite group, chanting “Yes, yes to Hezbollah”.

Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the Sunni speaker of parliament, sent a personal message to his Lebanese counterpart on Sunday, telling him that Iraqis supported Lebanon’s efforts to defend its “sovereignty … against outrageous Israeli aggression”.

The Iraqi parliament earlier passed a motion unanimously condemning the Israeli offensive and urging the UN Security Council and Group of Eight leaders meeting in St Petersburg to intervene “to stop the … Israeli criminal aggression”.

It followed a statement by Maliki on Saturday, in which the Shiite Islamist prime minister, making a rare foray into foreign affairs, denounced Israel and warned of the dangers of escalating tensions in the region.

Civilians killed

At least 10 civilians were killed and 20 others wounded in an Israeli air strike Sunday on the southern Lebanese port town of Tyre, hospital sources said.

They had been in a building housing a Lebanese military office and topped by a radar installation that was targeted in the attack, police said. An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at the building, they said.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said several families had been in the basement of the building after fleeing Israeli assaults in their nearby home villages.

One of the missiles destroyed the top two floors of the building while the second hit lower where the civilians were huddled. Hizbollah rockets also killed eight people in the Israeli city of Haifa on Sunday. It was Hizbollah’s deadliest rocket

Hizbollah said the attack was retaliation for Israel’s killing of civilians and destruction of Lebanese infrastructure.

Solana in surprise visit to Beirut

European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana arrived in Beirut on Sunday.

Lebanese officials said Solana was set to meet Siniora shortly.

Solana, who was to hold a news conference after the meeting, could also talk with the head of Lebanon’s parliament, an EU official said in Brussels.

The EU has called Israel’s attacks in Lebanon, “disproportionate” and urged both sides to show restraint.

Solana is due back in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday.

Syria vows to respond directly to any Israel strike

Syria warned Sunday it would respond directly and by all means necessary to any Israeli attack on its territory, in its first official reaction to Israel’s offensive on neighboring Lebanon.

“Any Israeli attack against Syria will provoke an unlimited, direct and firm response using all means necessary,” Information Minister Mohsen Bilal told the official SANA news agency.

Bilal accused Israel of “state terrorism” and “operating above the law … ignoring UN Security Council resolutions” and sabotaging efforts toward Middle East peace, as he vowed Syria’s support for Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement.

“Syria supports the national Lebanese resistance against Israeli aggression. The resistance will triumph and Israel will be conquered,” he said, using a term that refers to Hezbollah.

“Resistance is a legitimate and sacred right,” he added, saying it was necessary to “make a distinction between resistance and terrorism”.

A coalition of Syrian political parties led by the ruling Baath party echoed Bilal’s comments and announced a series of measures aimed at “supporting the Lebanese people’s resistance” against Israel.

Damascus will arrange “facilities” for those Lebanese who wish to reside in Syria or pass through the country, send medical and food aid to Lebanon and “contribute to the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed by the barbaric Israeli raids”, the National Progressive Front said.

Tehran also warned arch-enemy Israel of “unimaginable losses” if it makes “the mistake of attacking Syria” and vowed that it was standing by the Syrian people.