Photo: Iran's A-jad and Hezbollah's Nasrallah: Will the UK be making it a threesome?
Writing over at The Corner, my friend Andy McCarthy reports on the UK's disgraceful decision to open an official dialogue with Hezbollah. The decision is thought to pave the way for the US to follow suit. The Guardian piece he cites explains:
Britain overturned its policy on a key Middle East issue yesterday by agreeing to talk to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia movement which fights Israel and is banned as a terrorist organisation by the US.
Bill Rammell, the Foreign Office minister, told MPs the government would authorise "carefully selected" contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah, which is represented in the Lebanese parliament. Other EU countries, including France, already deal with the group.
The move, urged privately by British diplomats for some time, may be partially intended to encourage the US to follow suit as Barack Obama's administration pursues a fresh approach of engagement with parties shunned by George Bush.
How do you say "reset" in Arabic? (I'm telling you, if the Obama foreign policy weren't so evil and immoral, it would look like a playground strategy out of "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.")
But Foreign Office officials said the decision would not create a precedent for talking to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement in control of the Gaza Strip, although calls have increased recently for the government to do just that.
Oh no, not much.
Hezbollah (Arabic for "Party of God"), was created after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. In its early years, it was linked to hostage-taking and acts of terrorism, and claimed credit for leading resistance to Israel's 18-year occupation.
Stop. "Linked to hostage-taking and acts of terrorism"? That's it for background? Yup. That's all we get from the Guardian in the way of historical context--nothing about attacks on US and other targets leaving hundreds dead; nothing about airplane hijackings, multiple kidnappings, zippo. The Guardian's Hezbollah "story" picks up (see below) in 2006, with its war with Israel.
Because it is vital that we not forget what Hezbollah was and is, here is a timeline from CAMERA of Hezbollah atrocities through 2006, many of which consisted of unmatched brutality directed against United States personnel including CIA Beirut Station Chief William F. Buckley, Army Col. Rich Higgins and Navy Diver Robert Stethem. These acts, incidentally, have never been avenged by the United States.
1982: Israel invades Lebanon to drive out the PLO's terrorist army, which had frequently attacked Israel from its informal "state-within-a-state" in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, a Shiite group inspired by the teachings and revolution of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini, is created with the assistance of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. The group is called Hezbollah–or "party of God"– after initially taking responsibility for attacks under the name "Islamic Jihad." (Not to be confused with the Palestinian terror organization Islamic Jihad.)
July 19, 1982: The president of the American University in Beirut, Davis S. Dodge, is kidnapped. Hezbollah is believed to be behind this and most of the other 30 Westerners kidnapped over the next ten years.
April 18, 1983: Hezbollah attacks the U.S. embassy in Beirut with a car bomb, killing 63 people, 17 of whom were American citizens.
Oct. 23, 1983: The group attacks U.S. Marine barracks with a truck bomb, killing 241 American military personnel stationed in Beirut as part of a peace-keeping force. A separate attack against the French military compound in Beirut kills 58.
Sept. 20, 1984: The group attacks the U.S. embassy annex in Beirut with a car bomb, killing 2 Americans and 22 others.
March 16, 1984: William F. Buckley, a CIA operative working at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, is kidnapped and later murdered.
April 12, 1984: Hezbollah attacks a restaurant near the U.S. Air Force Base in Torrejon, Spain. The bombing kills eighteen U.S. servicemen and injures 83 people.
Dec. 4, 1984: Hezbollah terrorists hijack a Kuwait Airlines plane. Four passengers are murdered, including two Americans.
Feb. 16, 1985: Hezbollah publicizes its manifesto. It notes that the group's struggle will continue until Israel is destroyed and rejects any cease-fire or peace treaty with Israel. The document also attacks the U.S. and France.
June 14, 1985: Hezbollah terrorists hijack TWA flight 847. The hijackers severely beat Passenger Robert Stethem, a U.S. Navy diver, before killing him and dumping his body onto the tarmac at the Beirut airport. Other passengers are held as hostages before being released on June 30.
Dec. 31, 1986: Under the alias Organization of the Oppressed on Earth, Hezbollah announces it had kidnapped and murdered three Lebanese Jews. The organization previously had taken responsibility for killing four other Jews since 1984.
Feb. 17, 1988: The group kidnaps Col. William Higgins, a U.S. Marine serving with a United Nations truce monitoring group in Lebanon, and later murders him.
Oct. 22, 1989: Members of the dissolved Lebanese parliament ratify the Taif Agreement. Although the agreement calls for the "disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," Hezbollah remains active.
Feb. 16, 1992: Sayyad Hassan Nasrallah takes over Hezbollah after Israel kills the group's leader, Abbas Musawi.
March 17, 1992: With the help of Iranian intelligence, Hezbollah bombs the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring over 200.
July 18, 1994: Hezbollah bombs the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires–again with Iranian help–killing 86 and injuring over 200.
Nov. 28, 1995: Hezbollah bombards towns in northern Israel with volleys of Katyusha rockets in one of the group's numerous attacks on Israeli civilians.
March 30, 1996: Hezbollah fires 28 Katyusha rockets into northern Israeli towns. A week later, the group fires 16 rockets, injuring 36 Israelis. Israel responds with a major offensive, known as the "Grapes of Wrath" operation, to stop Hezbollah rocket fire.
Aug. 19, 1997: Hezbollah opens fire on northern Israel with dozens of rockets in one of the group's numerous attacks on Israeli civilians.
October 1997: The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Dec. 28, 1998: Hezbollah opens fire on northern Israel with dozens of rockets in one of the group's numerous attacks on Israeli civilians.
May 17, 1999: Hezbollah opens fire on northern Israel with dozens of rockets in one of the group's numerous attacks on Israeli civilians.
June 24, 1999: Hezbollah opens fire on northern Israel, killing 2.
May 23, 2000: Israel withdraws all troops from Lebanon after 18 years patrolling the "security zone," a strip of land in the south of the country. The security zone was set up to prevent attacks on northern Israel.
June 2000: United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan certifies Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. Shortly thereafter, the U.N. Security Council endorses Annan's report. Hezbollah nonetheless alleges Israel occupies Lebanon, claiming the small Shebba Farms area Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war as Lebanese territory.
Oct. 7, 2000: Hezbollah attacks an Israel military post and raids Israel, kidnapping three Israeli soldiers. The soldiers are later assumed dead. In mid-October, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah announces the group has also kidnapped an Israeli businessman. In 2004, Israel frees over 400 Arab prisoners in exchange for the business man and the bodies of the three soldiers.
March 1, 2001: The British government adds Hezbollah's "military wing" to its list of outlawed terrorist organizations.
April 9, 2002: Hezbollah launches Katyushas into northern Israeli town. This assault comes amidst almost daily Hezbollah attacks against Israeli troops in Shebba farms.
Dec. 11, 2002: Canada lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
Aug. 10, 2003: Hezbollah shells kills 16-year-old Israeli boy, wound others.
June 5, 2003: Australia lists Hezbollah's "military wing" as a terrorist organization.
Sept. 2, 2004: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," a reference to Hezbollah.
December 2004: Both the United States and France ban Hezbollah's satellite television network, Al Manar. A U.S. State Department spokesman notes the channel "preaches violence and hatred."
March 10, 2005: The European Parliament overwhelmingly passes a resolution stating: "Parliament considers that clear evidence exists of terrorist activities by Hezbollah. The (EU) Council should take all necessary steps to curtail them." The European Union nonetheless refrains from placing the group on its list of terror organizations.
July 12, 2006: Hezbollah attacks Israel with Katyushas, crosses the border and kidnaps two Israeli soldiers. Three Israeli soldiers are killed in the initial attack. Five more soldiers are killed as Israel launches operation to rescue the soldiers and push Hezbollah from its border. During the ensuing war, Hezbollah launches rockets at civilian targets across northern Israel.
Aug. 11, 2006: The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1701, which calls for a cessation of hostilities, the deployment of Lebanese and U.N. forces into southern Lebanon, and the disarmament of armed groups in Lebanon.
One bright spot came in February 2008 when Imad Mugniyeh was assassinated.
Back to the Guardian:
Hezbollah fought Israel for a month in 2006 and has rearmed since. But the group, which has close links to Syria and Iran, refrained from attacking Israel during the recent Gaza war. Most significantly, Hezbollah has MPs in the Lebanese parliament and a minister serving in the national unity government. It participates in municipal government and undertakes social development projects. Hezbollah members did much of the reconstruction work in the south and Beirut's Shia southern suburbs after the 2006 war.
"We have reconsidered our position on no contact with Hezbollah," the Foreign Office said, "in light of more positive recent political developments in Lebanon, including the formation of the national unity government in which Hezbollah are participating. We are exploring certain contacts at an official level with Hezbollah's political wing, including MPs."
In other words, the positive political developments are the consolidation of Hezbollah's power.
Britain faced a classic dilemma of how to distinguish between a movement which engages in political and military activities. Last July the government announced it was banning Hezbollah's "military wing" - Foreign Office officials insisted that the distinction was valid.
Why not? Everything's "valid" down the rabbit hole.
Rime Allaf, a Middle East expert at London's Chatham House, said the decision was the right one. "If you want to have influence, you cannot ignore a party which represents a significant part of the population of a country. If the UK or US or anyone else wants to have influence they have no choice but to speak to Hezbollah," he said.
No. This isn't about the US or UK influencing anyone. It is we who have been "influenced"--beaten--by Hezbollah and their ilk. Having failed for 25 years to respond to its attacks on the US and our Israeli ally, we are fooling no one but ourselves if we think that "dialogue" is a means of "influence." Indeed, dialogue is only confirmation of Western surrender. What the Chatham House expert should have said was: If you want to surrender, you cannot ignore a party which represents a significant part of the population of a country. If the UK or US or anyone else wants to surrender they have no choice but to speak to the victors.