Wednesday, August 09, 2006

All in the Family

Family ties are very important in the Middle East. Many personal and family ties link Shiites in Lebanon and Iraq. For example, Musa as-Sadr, founder of Amal, from which Hezbollah split off, was from a family of prominent Iraqi Shite clerics that also includes Motqada as-Sadr, leader of the Mahdi army and Shiites in Baghdad. Mohammad Husein Fadl allah, a spiritual leader of Hezbollah was born in Najaf, Iraq, and Hasan Nasrallah is reported to have studied in Irag in his teens. The United States's support of Israel thus particularly compounds the Iraqi Shiites' grievances toward it as occupier of their country. I am remined of these connections by a fresh Israel media report that an IDF missile attack at Mashghara, a Bekaa Valley town in Lebanon, assassinated Hasan as-Sadr, a senior Hezbollah leader, and five of his family. I suspect, on the basis of the name, he was related to the Iraqi as-Sadr. So expect an extremely large demonstration in Baghdad this Friday in support of Hezbollah and against the United States.

Families ties also figured in remarks by Israel Justice Minister Haim Ramon during the security cabinet meeting today that decided to authorize expanded ground operations in Lebanon. Ramon said afterward
I told the Defense Minister and IDF to attack without mercy all areas from where rockets are fired. They must shoot to pieces every house where Katyushas are fired. I know there is a risk of repeating tragedies, like the one at Qana. But if someone uses children as shields and forces me to choose between the safety of his children or mine, I will choose my children's safety.
Ramon forgets that was not the choice at Qana or, per Human Rights Watch, many other places where IDF bombs and shells killed children and families. But he also seems bent on sharing with Alberto Gonzales the dubious distinction of being a Minister of Justice who advocates violations of Geneva conventions and offers flimsy excuses for doing so. (Mr. Ramon is a member of Ehud Olmert's Kadima party. However he did not begin his political career as a fascist in Likud, but as a socialist in the Labor party.)

For tracking the war closely, the University of Texas online collection of war related maps is outstanding. It is updated daily with maps that track Israel troop movements, bombings, missile launches, humanitarian relief efforts, etc. It also has maps on the topology and ethnic distributions of Lebanon.


Anonymous Montag said...

There was a bitter joke in the old Communist Czechoslovakia:

"Have you heard? Czechoslovakia's going to have a Navy."

"But that's ridiculous! We don't have access to the sea."

"So what? We've also got a Ministry of Justice, don't we?"

2:14 PM  

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