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Sunday, September 24, 2006 

Lebanese Forces militia rearming

Two helicopters landed yesterday in Lebanon carrying arms for the Lebanese Forces, an extremist right-wing Christian militia which carried out some of the worst atrocities of the Civil War.

Yesterday's shipments arrived from Jordan (Eastern Israel).

During the Israeli war on Lebanon last month, Israel destroyed the Lebanese Army's coastal radar system (killing dozens of Lebanese soldiers in the process, at an Army base in Tripoli). There was speculation that they did that to allow them to bring in arms for the Lebanese Forces, without the Lebanese Government seeing.

It certainly answers the question, why would Israel attack Tripoli. The northern Sunni city was not involved in the war, and a Lebanese Army seems like a strange target - they didn't fire a single shot against the Israelis. In fact, they were ordered not to.

The Lebanese Forces, we know according to BBC sources, had been stockpiling arms even during Syria's time in Lebanon. Their leader Samir Ja'ja was in prison for murder, but released by Hariri days after Syria left. His TV channel LBC airs some of the worst sectarian incitement, and employs no-one but Christians.

Our fear of Jumblatt may be greatest because of his sharp words, but this suggests that our fear of Ja'ja should be stronger.

I'm no fan of the LF, but you should be fair.

1. "There was some speculation", you write, that Israel bombed the Lebanese Army's radar system in order to sneak weapons to the LF. Actually this was an accusation made by the LF's civil war-era enemy and present rival for Christian za'ama, the president-wannabe Michel 'Awn! You should be fair enough to attribute this "speculation" by "some" to its actual source.

No evidence was ever provided for this claim. And it's highly unlikely to be true. Israel bombed Lebanese Army installations several times during the war, perhaps as a precautionary measure or out of sheer brutality, who knows. Why did they bomb a frickin' tractor in Ashrafiyeh?

2. There's a lot of rumors that the LF are rearming. If you repeat that accusation, please provide your "BBC sources".

During Syria's time in Lebanon, the LF was a banned party and their political leadership was imprisoned. You were beaten and arrested for so much as displaying LF logos or symbols. So it's highly unlikely the LF would have been able to "stockpile" weapons during this time under Syrian military/mukhabarat occupation.

And, it's disingenuous to speculate (spread rumors) about the LF RE-arming when Hizballah never DIS-armed in the first place - in violation of the Ta'if agreement that stopped the war. In contrast, the LF (and all other militias) willingly gave up their arms.

3. Whether LBC engages in sectarian incitement is your opinion (I disagree. For starters, it's certainly less sectarian than Hizballah's Al-Manar.) But it is a sheer lie to state that LBC employs no-one but Christians.


Kamal, you make some valid points, thank you for those.

1 - You're right, I should have attributed the claims to his Ja'ja's rival Aoun. You will know that I don't hold any words that come out of the chamaeleon Aoun's words in high esteem. But the explanation that Israel was rearming the LF certainly filled the gap in the explanation: why did Israel target radar stations, and how have the LF been rearming.

2 - I discussed the BBC's allegations that the LF has been stockpiling arms here.

The difference between the LF and Hizbollah is two-fold. First, Hizbollah never made any secret of keeping their arms. The LF did.

Second, Hizbollah has given assurances that it will never turn its arms on fellow Lebanese. The LF haven't. Ja'ja was in prison because he bombed a church. It is not just Sunnis, Shia and Druze that have reason to fear this man. Even fellow Christians who don't accept his leadership are at risk.

3 - LBC employs no-one but Christians. Fair enough - they rarely employ anyone who isn't Christian.

Al-Manar may be virulantly anti-Israeli. But anti-Christian? Anti-Sunni?

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