Global Voices
US Pressure on Lebanese Society Will Fail
Next Post

Press {{ keys }} + D to make this page bookmarked.

Close

US Pressure on Lebanese Society Will Fail

6261
Experts:

There is no doubt that the failure of  the war policy against Lebanon was not in line with the pattern adopted by the US and Israeli regimes since the 1970s, which called for another kind of aggression aimed at the supporters of the resistance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran since 2005. The plan failed to take down the resistance in Lebanon, the main force confronting Israel, so Washington decided to attempt to stifle the resistance and to maim and distort it through the activation of economic sanctions and the classification of Hezbollah as an international criminal terrorist organization.

This process required the manufacturing of judicial arguments and the fabrication of incriminating files to implicate Hezbollah’s involvement in crimes of terrorism and drugs on the one hand, and the assignment of Israel’s lobbyists in the US administration to oversee the implementation of sanctions and the prosecution of persons alleged to belong to the party on the other hand.

However, by examining the background of these sanctions and their mechanism of implementation, we can conclude that just like the policy of war, this process is also deemed to fail.

"Strike first and ask questions later” was the slogan of US attorney Matthew Whitaker, who was announced by President Donald Trump as the US’s acting Attorney General following the forced resignation of Jeff Sessions, who is currently overseeing the strategy for prosecuting Hezbollah and imposing sanctions on those who support it.

Whitaker wasted no time in getting to work with the Assistant Attorney General Ilan Graff to chair the Judicial Subcommittee for the prosecution of Hezbollah and its supporters. Graff, who was assigned to do the job by Sessions before he resigned, started working in October 2018 on the prosecution of two men he claims belong to Hezbollah's “External Security Organization.” He said these would be "the first agents to be charged with terrorist crimes in the United States."

Sessions had explicitly ignored the principle of presumption of innocence by stating that "members of the anti-terrorist group and its ‘narco-terrorism’ (founded in January 2018) will join the Graff team." The Subcommittee was then given 90 days to submit its recommendations, but less than a month later the “hard-hitting sanctions on Hezbollah to further starve them of their funds,” as Trump called them, were up and running.

The Criminalizing Mechanism

The appointment of Assistant Attorney General Ilan Graff as head of the Judicial Subcommittee for the Prosecution of Hezbollah does not seem to have come as a coincidence. Graff is a loyal Zionist who graduated from the Shalhevet School in California--"More than just a school," says its director, Rabbi Ari Segal. One of Ilan Graff's colleagues at Shalhevet is David Keys, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is currently under investigation after 11 women accused him of molestation.

Graff's boss, the US Attorney General Whitaker, had expressed extreme racist attitudes during his nomination for a Senate seat in 2014. He said he favored religious judges from an evangelical background in a clear sign of discrimination between sects. He also expressed his rejection of any judicial accountability for executive decisions. However, the most disturbing thing about the Attorney General is not his racist stance under Trump's administration, but the approach he adopts in his performance.

In 2014, Whitaker was a member of the advisory board of World Patent Marketing, which the US Federal Trade Commission subsequently decided to dissolve and to withdraw the license from because it adopted illegal methods of collecting compensation from violators of intellectual property rights. According to an article published in Vanity Fair on November 8, 2018, Whitaker had issued several threats to use the company's "security team" which consisted of “Israeli special forces" whose members trained in the Hebrew Krav Maga martial arts, which Vanity Fair described as "deadly.”

Manipulating Judicial Documents to Demonize Hezbollah

Whitaker and his predecessor, Sessions, base their accusations on a number of US judicial files to justify stigmatizing Hezbollah as being involved in international "narco-terrorism" in 2018. The US-Israeli offensive was expected to increase in 2019, as it has, especially when warfare against Lebanon is not possible at the moment given the US and Israel’s failed plans to topple the government in Syria and the ineffective and dubious verdict reached concerning the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri at the Hague.

To understand how the US judicial system works in order to falsify documents against Hezbollah and hence demonize the party, here is a case example that can be studied. Among the files that underlie the judicial attack was the case of a man named Ali Issa Shamas (File No. 20913-16) who was arrested at the Santiago de Este airport in Paraguay in 2016 while allegedly "trying to smuggle 39 kilograms of cocaine into the United States" and was handed over to the US. The US prosecution in Miami claimed then that Shamas was a member of Hezbollah and operated on their behalf. However, after reviewing the judicial documents, the following was evident and was published in most Lebanese newspapers but not once mentioned in the mainstream Western media:

  • The indictment against Shamas on 7-12-2016, which accuses him of drug trafficking and recommends his imprisonment for 40 years, does not contain any information about a relationship with Hezbollah or simply contact with anyone connected to the party;
  • The official judicial document that presented the facts, which was added to the file on September 24, 2017, indicated a connection between Shamas, through investigations into his contacts, with a person named “Coco” residing in Texas. The contacts between Shamas and “Coco” continued until Shamas was arrested. These included details of the smuggling of cocaine into and out of Canada and Turkey and details of transferring funds through MoneyGram. However, there was no link or any reference to a relationship or connection between Shamas or "Coco" and Hezbollah;
  • On October 31, 2017, the court issued the initial judgment in which Shamas was described as belonging to Hezbollah, claiming that he was working for the party's "external operations" without revealing any evidence to prove it or even proving that there were actual "external operations."

At this point, it is necessary to point to facts that prove that the US’s allegations are incorrect and reveal serious manipulation in judicial documents:

  • First, Ali Issa Shamas, 36, migrated to Paraguay more than 15 years ago and has not visited Lebanon at all since then;
  •  Second, Shamas got married in a church to a Christian woman with whom he had children, who were not educated according to the Islamic teachings; he did not even speak to them about his Islamic identity;
  • Third, Shamas admitted that some of his family members are indeed members in the party of Hezbollah (like any Lebanese Shia) but denied any relationship with them himself and denied that his father or his brothers are members of the party.
  • Shamas even admitted before the US judiciary that his father had been “kidnapped” at the hands of Hezbollah (maybe hinting that his father had worked with Israeli intelligence against Hezbollah);
  • Fifth, the amount of cocaine that was seeking to be smuggled to “Coco” did not exceed 3 kg for a sum of money that did not exceed $6,000, which Shamas cashed out through a money transfer company.

Hence, on what exactly did the US court base its accusations when it linked Shamas’ criminal activity to Hezbollah?

The answer is simple. Just as the indictment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon was based on allegations without any legal evidence to prove its validity, the US administration in turn based its own verdict on analyses that are, to say the least, ridiculous.

As a result, the court in Miami, directed by Judge Kathleen William, sentenced Ali Shamas to five years in prison. Judge William pointed out that his file contains classified information for reasons of national security, which may be declassified in the years to come.

Sanctions are doomed to fail

If we consider 1985 as the date of the actual foundation of Hezbollah, when the party addressed its "open message to the vulnerable," then we are left with almost 34 years of Hezbollah not only engaging in fighting for liberation, but also in offering a viable living experience.

Hezbollah's interaction with its incubating environment was not only through charitable aid or through various social and economic projects. The party intellectuals toured the villages, held mostly house discussions, explained Hezbollah's views on various issues, presented a coherent view to the regular public to help them express themselves in discussions about their resistance as a people and to listen in return to different views. Thus the party became closer to the village, neighborhood, family, and individual.

In short, Hezbollah did not build a methodology in the fight against the Zionist project, but presented a viable vision: how to fight Israel and build a society that protects its mission in the long term. Moreover, Hezbollah gave its people hope that they can survive without US directives.

Those who visit south Lebanon and the Beqaa can see photos of martyrs on every street lamp and in the public square of every village. Inside homes, party intellectuals and charity workers are very active. Thus, Hezbollah secured its future with blood and interaction.

In an academic study concerning the “Arab Spring” (for Patrick Higgins), an interesting methodology for reading political history is presented in the case of post-colonial countries. The idea is that when you make a "scrapbook" of the history of the state and the past decades that have passed through our country, the result is not only the political system and its corrupt citizenship and all the problems and challenges that it immerses in. Whether in Algeria, Libya, Syria or elsewhere, history also stores "gains" that have been made for the benefit of peoples in the past and in case of Hezbollah, the past, the present, and as it seems, the future: independence, sovereignty, almost free education, public service institutions, food support, etc. Even when these "gains" are few and incomplete, they still exist.

Liberation, resistance and few public services are what some might deem as the "only gain" achieved by Hezbollah in the historical sense in Lebanon. It was the experience in which the Lebanese were organized, worked collectively, and attained the success and achievement that they are entitled to be proud of, and they see the results around them every day.

The toll of the accumulation and sacrifices lasted for more than three generations. The issue here is not "theoretical;" the land was liberated, its people returned to it, and a force that protects them against the enemy and provides them with confidence is present right there amongst those people. It has been more than a decade since the last war, the longest period of stability South Lebanon has known for over half a century.

In the meantime, many houses were built, villages returned to life, and a whole new generation grew up. This new generation also organized and trained to defend their land when the time came against the western funded Takfiri terrorist. On the border, they see their enemy every day. People there know that the war is coming, that it will be an expensive one, and that they may have to rebuild everything again. However, in a sort of consensus, they are willing to pay the price of steadfastness when it is worth it, because they know very well what the alternative is and have experienced its bitterness for a long period. That is why the US sanctions against Hezbollah will not work.

Author: Marwa Osman