23 August 2006

Amnesty International - Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or "collateral damage"?

Dear readers,

Amnesty International published today the following report:
Lebanon: Deliberate destruction or "collateral damage"? Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure - Amnesty International ; it is the most current and updated evaluation of the civilian destruction caused by Israeli bombardment to Lebanon. The extent of the damage is striking and even worse than anything I could have feared.

I will not go into any comment there, but just quote a couple of targets chosen by Tsahal in its unsuccesful campaign to undermine Lebanese popular support for Hezbollah. Two governmental hospitals were totally destroyed, carefully bombed to the ground, while the three quarters of all Lebanese hospitals were stopped due to destructions, lack of fuel or other supplies.

Most civilian industries or comercial facilities (as previously reported) were equally obliterated, including dairy factories, glass factories, plastic factories, shipping warehouses, local auto shops and gas stations and practically all supermarkets in Southern Lebanon. This can hardly be seen as a list of legitimate military targets... Despite the fact that Lebanon was already under total naval blocade, Tsahal felt obliged to also destroy or damage most port facilities in Beirut, Tyre and Sidon. These destructions can only be seen as "punishment" for Lebanese civilians as they can have no military purpose whatsoever.

Amnesty International report does not cover similar atrocities committed by Hezbollah against Israeli civilians. Alledgely, these should be the topic of a separate report. I couldn't find it on Amnesty's website, so I assume that it hasn't been published yet. This said, the disproportion of force means as well as use of force between the belligerant was so high that it seems difficult for Israel to justify what it has done in the last weeks. I can only repeat my suggestion in one of my previous post: Israel and Hezbollah should be sued for mutual war damages as well, according to Amnesty International, as for the war crimes against civilians. Let's hope that the UN or any other organisation will go along this way. After what we have seen lately for the implementation of the FINUL, I am afraid it is unlikely...

18 August 2006

RTBF.BE - Lebanon at war

Dear readers,

As the following article summarizes quite well, RTBF.BE, Lebanon has entered in a dangerous phase. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to be for the better. The different forces present in Lebanon, especially in the South, have either no reason nor any incentive to behave in a peaceful or even simply reasonable manner. They have not done it in the past and nothing in the current situation (except maybe their attrition level) would push them to change this.

Tsahal has always reacted with brute or not so brute force to any attacks coming from either side of the Litani river. These reactions have always more or less ignored the potential harm done to civilian populations. This has led even the most friendly minded Lebanese to distrust Israel for a long time. And who could blame them ?

The Lebanese Army has always been very cautious not to frontly attack anyone, be it Syrians when they were occupying the country, Tsahal in similar circumstances and especially Hezbollah. The fact that a majority of its soldiers are Shia Muslims too, of course never helped. But there is no reason to believe that this attitude of quiet observation will ever change. They actually made clear yesterday that they wouldn't do anything else than rising the flag, which is indeed a progress, but one unlikely to be more than symbolic.

The FINUL (led or not by France and reinforced or not) will not be more effective than before. It's mission (observing peace, a sad joke in the current circumstances) has not changed for a iota. This is particularly disgraceful from the Security Council members. They have shown disrespect for the numerous FINUL soldiers (particularly the dozens of French ones) that have been killed by either side without having the chance to defend themselves. Indeed, their UN mandate does not allow them to use their weapons to supress a threat to their own lives, and even less to enforce their mission. This mission does not include the only task which would actually improve the Lebanese situation: disarm Hezbollah manu militari.

The Hezbollah in the end has no reason to change its behaviour. It is likely that it will reduce its military activities for a while, at least until the situation cools a bit. But it already knows that the only force actually strong enough to force it to do so has already retreated South o'the border... The "replacement" force of the FINUL has no right to do so. So Hezbollah has already announced very directly what it will do (no one can really accuse them of lying, at least): they will hide their weapons, blend into the population again and resume their attacks against Israel asap. Under the usual pretexts: the Shebaa farms and the dozen of Lebanese prisonners in the Israeli jails. Everyone knows that at keast the Shebaa farms are a bogus one, but the prisonner issue is tougher.

Eventually, no problem has been solved. The situation is back to what it was before. With this huge difference: hundreds of innocents have been killed or maimed, and Lebanon has been sent back to civil war state for its infrastructures and economy. The only ones suffering from this will be the populations of Lebanon who haven't chose this situation and will pay again for the fanaticism of Hezbollah, the petty interests of Syria and Iran, the heavy handedness of Israel and the cowardice of the UN members. Indeed, the fact that no one had the guts in New-York to tell that the FINUL should disarm Hezbollah shows how Europeans and other powers are afraid about putting their hands in the oil (quite literally) and tackle the problems, with all the risks associated to them.

16 August 2006

The NS did it again !

Dear readers,

Yes, the NS did it again ! Isn't this company a disgrace ? What is so bad with it ?

Well, to make a long story short, I missed my train again this morning. Guys, you know me, when this happens, it's usually that I didn't really wake up that early... But this time, it was very different. I woke up nicely, went outside and began walking to the station. Time was ok, just a bit short...

When I reached the station, I heard the train coming in, I could see the damn clock showing a good two minutes left before departure. I ran anyway, sensing something wrong. When I reached the platform, the train was leaving already... 1 minute before the normal time !!! According to the NS own clocks.

I just hate this Dutch train company... I had to take two metros to reach the other station, take a fast train to the town where I work, take two other trams and eventually walk to my work to arrive 10 minutes late only. I will get violent one day, that's sure. No one can take so much shit from a stupid train company. I had goet used to trains being late, not running at all or going to the wrong place. But trains leaving earlier than expected, this is the first time... How are customers expected to cope with this? I wonder. I wonder if the NS cares at all, to be honest.

09 August 2006

EUobserver.com - EU Foreign Policy

Dear readers,

The following article was in today's EU Observer: EUobserver.com ; it is interesting to see that after the failure of the EU constitution, member States government have still not understood how important it is to have only one voice on the International scene. This is of course a nightmare for smaller countries. But even bigger European States are actually anihilating their own efforts by competing against each other instead of cooperating. This is not very much a surprise, coming from the UK or Poland, whose European links and good will have always been weak and the participation to the EU project suspect. But it is much more unexcusable from France or Germany who have preached the union "gospel" and are the most likely to lose ground with this kind of policies.

It seems to me that Europe and European need a major renewal of their political men and women. Until this is done and the "old politicians" are replaced with ones with a real vision, Europe will be condemend to be the battlefield of petty national ambitions and external power plays.

03 August 2006

Welcome to the Marelles, by Logrus

Dear readers,

The intention of this Blog is to continue the work begun with Logrus Amazing Stories on Expatforums.org with extra features. If you were reading L.A.S. before, you can continue doing so here. If not, I can only encourage you to have look.

Best regards,

Logrus aka Alphast