As we noted here last week, "all these ideological and religious labels don't matter at all to the leaders of the Terror War; the only thing that matters are the temporary expedients of power." Fight al Qaeda in Iraq; fund al Qaeda in Lebanon; arm and train Shiite militias and death squads in Iraq, then fight Shiite militias and death squads in Iraq -- what's the difference, as long as the game goes on, the waters stay murky with blood, and the war profits keep rolling in? Who cares?
As AbuKhalil has noted, the current blow-up in Lebanon is the result of yet another shift in the power game dynamic. The Hariri-Saudi-Bush-backed extremists, Fatah al-Islam, were allowed to prey on the Palestinian refugees as part of the broader "anti-Iran" strategy -- until the Saudis recently cut a side deal with the Iranians:
Ahmad Musalli (an expert on Islamist movements from AUB) appeared on AlJazeera to comment on the developments. He believes that Saudi Arabia and the Hariri family (he was less explicit than I am here, but it was clear what he meant) were behind arming and financing the Al-Qa`idah groups in the Middle East (and he lists Fath-Al-Islam as an affiliate of Al-Qa`idah) and that Saudi Arabia changed its strategy after an Saudi-Iranian agreement that sought to diffuse Sunni-Shi`ite tensions in the region. He believed that the Iranian-Saudi agreement changed the status of Fath-Al-Islam (in the eyes of Hariri Inc) from friend to foe.
Now some of the Sunni extremist groups are no longer needed and they've been cut loose -- for the moment. (We'll see them back in the fold after Bush strikes Iran, and holy Shiite hell breaks loose. And yes, they're going to do it. And yes, they are that stupid.) Fatah al-Islam suddenly became expendable, and the Lebanese government, eager for a unifying enemy, moved in, with the backing of Hezbollah. However, many innocent Palestinians have been killed -- and thousands have been ruined and dispossessed -- in the blunderbuss attacks on Fatah al-Islam -- most of whose members are not even Palestinians, but had been shipped in from other countries.
AbuKhalil is an indispensable source not only on Lebanon but the entire Middle East, damning with eloquent anger and savage wit all those, of every nationality, ethnicity and religion, who continue to subject the region to endless chaos, brutal repression and needless death. He is an excellent guide through the labyrinth of mirrors -- the ever-duplicitous public statements and the unbridled ignorance (and paid propaganda) of media reports -- that surrounds the blood-soaked reality of these tormented lands.