July 22, 2006

العدوان الثلاثي

Fifty years ago, one Arab leader stood to nationalize and recuperate the Suez canal. Less than three months later, the armies of three countries went into full invasion to seize the Sinai peninsula and bring Nasser’s nose into the mud. The Chosen State had its good reasons. It wanted to put an end to skirmishes with the Egyptian army near and around Gaza. The French had theirs, they wanted to punish Nasser for aiding and abetting the guerillas in Algeria. But it was Britain that had the biggest stake of all. Imperial Britain had never swallowed the surprise change of regime in Cairo in 1952, nor the unceremonious evacuation in 1954. Their grudge and animosity toward Nasser was in overboard.

It was a hugely successful operation from the military point of view, but a political disaster nonetheless. Thanks to a change of heart by Eisenhower. Sir Eden had to resign. Nasser emerged victorious.

Fifty years on, another Arab leader, with another n.s.r rooted name, stood to declare an operation to recuperate his compatriots. Less than three hours later, the mightiest army south of the Atlantic, backed by the mightiest nation under the sun, and the biggest plus the wealthiest countries north of Eden, went into action.

This time around, the Chosen State of God -and Immaculate Conception of Lloyd George -had its excellent reasons too. It wanted to keep a militant PoG well at bay from its border. But it’s the U.S. that seems most adamant on seeing this operation go to its full-fledged natural conclusions. Syed Nasrallah called it an account settling operation. And a settling of accounts operation it is. To fathom the phantomlike state into which the southern suburb of Beirut was reduced to, one must go beyond the cold calculus of total disarming of PoG, cutting Iran to natural S-size, and tightening the noose around Damascus. The near complete destruction of Harat Hreik (a la Second World War) may have something to do with evening the scores for the dark old days of hostage taking and marines’ disaster of the 80’s. The U.S has yet to swallow the loss of Iran, the embarrassing speedy withdrawal of the Marines from Beirut, and now the derailment of its plan in Iraq. A Bedouin Arab, unlike what al-Maghout thought, is not the only grudge-bearing species. A Bedouin of Anglo-Saxon stock is no forgetful, much less forgiving. Especially when the time is finally right. Turning-in the pother cheek is best left to Arabs.

Speaking of which, one chosen newspaper of the chosen people may have been truthful in reporting that a leading Arab leader had called a Chosen Prime Minister to urge him to keep up the good work. The speed by which the normally lethargic Larger Kingdom reacted to the break of hostilities is both bewildering and suggestive. It is either a new found Washingtonian efficiency -in the person of Prince Bandar- has inched closer to the ears of his uncles than originally thought, or that the text was readied a long time beforehand.

Arab regimes are in no position to join or supply the war effort themselves of course – except in cases where control of their own street is involved, but they have an awesome technology at their disposal: satellite TV and earthly newspapers. If you watched Al-Arabiya TV, or read Al-Watan’s of Saudi Arabia, of Kuwait and of Bahrain, you just can’t miss it. In the 60’s and 70’s it was the presumed menace of Communism,this time it is the Shia arc. This is a Kissinger-Perez war at its best.

Just like in 1956, this may very well turn into a similar result. A military win, but political disaster for nonetheless.


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