August 26, 2013
Middle Eastern Conspiracy Theories 101
On August 15th a powerful car bomb exploded in Beirut’s Dahia neighborhood, turning a summer day into yet another hellish scene of terrorism, leaving at least 20 people dead. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman (Maronite Christian) reacted to the attack saying that “The Dahia blast bears the hallmark of terrorism and Israel”. Prime Minister Tamam Salam (Sunni) reasoned that “Israel has the most gain out of the blast”, a line used by his Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour (Shi’ite), the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri (Shi’ite) and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Watch Lebanese politicians' conspiracy theory in all its idiocy, in this Iranian TV report:
Only blaming Israel can bring the sectarian leaders of Lebanon so heart-warmingly together. This is a rare wall-to-wall agreement in a country scarred by a 15-year civil war (1975-1990), one that constantly moves between bursts of sectarian violence and attempts to diffuse it. In this sectarian settings lies the actual background to the bombing as well: Dahia, a Hizbullah stronghold, was struck by Sunni terrorists, as a retaliation to Hizbullah’s (Shi’ite) alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad (Allawite Shi’ite) against a tapestry of Sunni opposition groups. A Sunni organization took responsibility for the blast, promising “More attacks, God willing”.
This sort of claim of responsibility in the Middle East is just a means to show-off, it doesn’t mean they actually did it. But the context of this attack is clear, to President Suleiman as well as anyone else. The same Hizbullah neighborhood was struck by a car bomb on July 9th, and on August 23rd the Shi’ite retaliation came, in the form of - you guessed it: A car bomb, which ripped through two Sunni Mosques in Tripoli right as the crowd got out of Friday prayers, killing 42.
Lebanon’s current snapshot of sectarian power-balance shows Hizbullah, a political party with a powerful army, representing the foreign interests of Iran (Shi’ite) and Assad (Alawite Shi’ite), dominating the country politically and militarily. There’s nothing anybody in Lebanon can do to stop the brutal intrusion of Hizbullah’s army on behalf of chemical Assad, therefore there’s nothing that can stop the spill-over of the sectarian war in Syria across the border into Lebanon, a tiny country extremely prone to sectarian chaos.
This is an ominous reality for any Lebanese, and the fact that the entire leadership wouldn’t deal with the gravity of the situation, but rather blame Israel in a surreal display of Middle-Eastern fantasy, is even more menacing.
How I’d want to be a Lebanese fly on Michel Suleiman’s wall... Does the President believe that his reaction serves to solve the very real sectarian problem? It already failed to do so, 42 dead in Tripoli can attest to that.
The same question goes to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, who announced last Tuesday that Israel is behind the ousting of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. His evidence: Bernard-Henry Lévy, who “is also Jewish” said in a conference two years ago that the Brotherhood should not be allowed to take power in Egypt. Scientific.
Erdogan’s fantasies tend to shamelessly resemble old-school European Antisemitism, where “The Jews” were known to be responsible for any malaise to begin with, requiring only a ridiculous circumstantial excuse in order to prove their connection to any specific event. This is, ladies and gentlemen, the leader of the modern powerhouse called Turkey, a country of over 70 million, and a NATO member. The seat from which this man, wearing proper suits and carried by the esteem of state protocol, preaches his idiotic antisemitism is the most problematic thing about Erdogan, a man who poses many challenges.
Does the Prime Minister believe that his statement may serve to solve the situation in Egypt? Does any action or inaction by Israel stand to relieve the very real enmity between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood - a war that precedes the founding of the State of Israel?
In the streets of Egypt both camps blame their adversary for supporting or enjoying the support of “The Zionists” and “The Jews”. This is really just an adjective, another synonym to reflect one’s belonging to a certain crowd and the consequential disdain towards the other crowd. You probably won’t see the Lebanese President or the Turkish Prime Minister actually burning an Israeli flag or sticking a Star of David onto their opponents’ likeness - that’s below their office and stature.
But the un-evolved, irresponsible idea certainly seems to fall within their sets of appropriate conduct.
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