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November 23, 2006 (the date of publication in Russian)

Vladimir Kruglov

THE US’S SECRET ALLY?

Osama bin Laden wants to fight against opponents of the United States once again

Recent events only go to show that there really is one "great Middle East problem" and not several separate smaller ones (the "Iranian", "Iraqi", "Palestinian" and "Lebanese" issues). Let's outline what has been going on and look at the pattern that emerges, starting from the most recent events.

On November 21 Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in the suburban neighbourhood of Jdeideh near Beirut.

Not long before this tragedy Tehran proposed to hold a meeting between the leaders of Iran, Syria and Iraq to discuss joint measures to be taken to improve the current situation in Iraq, where violence has escalated dramatically and terrorist attacks have become more common than ever before. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani agreed to only part of the proposal: he expressed willingness to attend talks in Tehran, but only if Syria were not invited (these talks have since been postponed for an indefinite time).

However, the Iraqi government wasn't the only one to respond to the proposal. Before the official response was even published Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, summoned "Sunnites to fight against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah". Later, in a longer and more eloquent statement (also published on al-Qaeda's official Iraqi web site) the Moudjahid of Lebanon organization called out to do this, especially emphasizing taking a stand against Hezbollah, "which aims to gain complete control of Lebanon, uniting with Christians to annihilate the Sunnite community".

After analyzing this sequence of events we can see that the moudjahid are displeased with the actions of the Muslim-Christian allegiance formed mainly by supporters of Hezbollah and Maronite General Michel Awn. This alliance was created to overthrow the government of Fouad Siniora, which came into power after last year's "Cedar revolution", which George Bush compared to the Rose revolution in Georgia, the Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Tulip revolution in Kyrgyzstan. After recent clashes with the Israeli army, in which the government position was very vague and unspecific, the authority of the "Cedar revolutionaries" fell dramatically, while the self-proclaimed victorious Hezbollah together with anti-American Christian activists began a political advance using non-violent "Orange" methods, which Washington-supported freedom fighters employ all over the world.

At first the "Cedar revolutionaries" tried to "duel" with Hezbollah using the same methods, but it soon became obvious that the majority on the streets wasn't on their side. As soon as they realized this they changed tactics and started accusing Hezbollah of carrying out terrorist attacks (which, considering the overall situation, inadvertently became much more frequent), even though such assaults could be of little use to the opposition.

Pierre Gemayel's death is the most "significant" (or even "symbolic") of the chain of politics-related murders that have swept Lebanon as of late. The deceased was the Industry Minister and belonged to a very influential clan, around which the Phalange party is based (the main "antagonists" of Michel Awn). Pierre Gemayel's closest relatives took an active part in the Lebanese civil was in the 1970s and 80s: his uncle Bachir Gemayel was president over a quarter of a century ago (until he was assassinated in 1982), after which Amin Gemayel, Pierre's father, served as president for six years.

Gemayel's murder was a well-planned psychological attack that had virtually returned the Christian community to the times of civil war and religious strife. As a result, the Shiite and Maronite coalition was on the verge of dissolving and Michel Awn (in accordance with the wishes of his allies) was forced to join in the Phalangist protest marches, who (as it is only to be expected) blamed Syria and Hezbollah. Pierre Gemayel's death has been a much greater blow to the coalition than the scandal regarding the Pope's recent "Bavarian lecture", which was used by some to heighten Christian-Muslim tensions. This was probably the worst "surprise" the year 2006 brought to both Bashar al-Asad and Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. And General Awn had a very hard time explaining what had occurred to his followers and re-establishing the status quo.

Gemayel's murder, however, took place in the right place at the right time from a completely different point of view as well. This tragedy stands in line with the assassination of Lebanese ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which was the "detonator" of the "Cedar revolution" (like the murders of Georgy Gongadze in Ukraine and Ivan Stambolic in Yugoslavia). Pierre Gemayel was killed on the exact day when the UN Security Council was to vote on (and, shocked by the minister's murder, unanimously endorsed) the creation of an international tribunal to investigate political murders in Lebanon.

This once-tested scenario is being used again, but with the addition of a new key element: al-Qaeda is taking part in the game … to the US's advantage…

This might seem unbelievable for those who still buy Washington's claims of conducting an "international war on terror". But this IS a fairly reasonable statement, especially considering the close ties between Osama bin Laden and his allies and US intelligence agencies (this link has existed since the early 1980s and until at least 1996). Therefore, the fact that the interests of the US and al-Qaeda coincide isn't that surprising. Perhaps, this isn't a coincidence at all: there are those who have interests and those who help them bring these interests to life.

The train of events outlined in this article leads us to a surprising hypothesis: might Pierre Gemayel's murder be the first "sally" in a war that al-Qaeda has declared on Hezbollah?.. And if it was, then the next "shot" should be expected in Iraq.

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