Saturday, February 26, 2011

From Public to Private Wars

In Re Barak, Bullahs, BlackWater, Bounties & the STL

Franklin Lamb
Saturday 26 February 2011

Beirut - When the US marines were in and out of Lebanon in 1983-1984, some of those I met, when visiting their barracks with American journalist Janet Stevens to discuss Israel’s use of American cluster bombs against civilians, had the habit, as did sailors from the USS New Jersey, of referring to the Lebanese Capital simply as “Root.”

Or sometimes they would call it: “The Root” as in, “We came to “The Root” to kick some butt!”

The Marines were responsible for unexploded ordnance clearance in the area around Beirut airport while Italian, French and a small British forces worked in adjoining areas of West Beirut following the Israeli siege with sometimes carpet shelling. They did a good job in their area trying to make it safe for civilians and took 12 casualties, two fatal, from Israeli dropped American cluster bombs. Unfortunately the American forces were ordered to support the Israeli backed government of Amin Gemayel against the popular resistance and soon became participants in domestic conflict. This led to the Marines departure and despite recent Israeli proposals, it is not likely they or even NATO forces will arrive in Lebanon anytime soon.

But Blackwater - USA just might.

Despite a series of publicly announced “disassociations” periodically issued from the media offices at the Pentagon and State Department, plus a couple of image polishing name changes including currently, Xe Services LLC ( Xe being short for Xena, the mythical goddess of war) the hydra headed Blackwater (BW), founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark is still quite active.

BW continues to sign US tax payer funded contracts while spreading its tentacles around the region ever scanning the horizon and sniffing out softer underbelly money makers to meet the payroll of its $500 per day operatives. Prince told the US Congress last year that his organization is” “A professional organization serving as a solutions provider to the U.S. government. We operate in the defense, training, logistics, and intelligence spaces, priding ourselves on getting the job done right.”

Two weeks ago in Leidschendam - Voorburg, which abuts The Hague and is the site of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Blackwater USA representatives looking to land a lucrative bounty hunter contract with the STL’s registrar’s office preferred to label Hezbollah simply as ‘Bullahs’. Apparently it’s some sort of BW macho lingo term from the organizations combat training bases in North Carolina and California. Some Blackwater mercenaries also used the “Bullahs” label in Iraq in addition to racist terms like “Ragheads”, “Hajiis”, and “Sand Niggers.”

In addition, Black water representatives, presumably offering “to get the job done right” have reportedly met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and will again during his current visit to Washington.

According to an email message from a Congressional Staffer who works for a Committee that receives intelligence briefings, BW has been getting cozy with Israel and may be in the process of setting up a BW “training center” in occupied Palestine north of Kabri which is about 20 miles south of UNIFIL’s HQ in Naqoura along the Lebanon-Palestine ‘blue line’.

Barak, according to the same source will meet on February 26 with National Security chief Tom Donilon and Dennis Ross to discuss Iran, Hezbollah, the STL, and the impact of recent regional events on the Israeli-Iranian strategic balance in the region.

During his meetings with BW representatives his message to BW may be along the lines of “Hey, don’t worry. We’ll hold your coats” as Israel increasingly considers following the American lead and hire mercenaries to confront its enemies.

Barak may and have a job for BW.

Based on sources who attended the recent Special Tribunal for Lebanon media briefings, as well as sources in Congress and North Carolina, it appears that the STL Registrar’s 1/17/11 announcement that the Court might be seeking help of the International community to arrest and deliver to the Hague those against whom Judge Daniel Frensen is widely expected to issue arrest warrants is indeed generating applications.

Following the STL’s implied job announcement, Blackwater’s HQ, still based in Moyock, North Carolina was abuzz with talk of “business opportunities.” According to a stringer for the Daily Southerner in nearby Tarboro, NC, who claims that she dates “BW special forces guys”: “Who better to go after the terrorists with arrest warrants from that Court than our local Confederate bounty hunters par excellence?”

By the morning of 1/20/11 and again on 1/21/11, Blackwater representatives, who arrived two days earlier in The Hague on a flight from Israel, tried to convince the Office of the STL Registrar, and, that evening, anyone listening in the nearby Hilton Hotel Grand Café Pearl that Blackwater could do the job better than Interpol. All they needed to know was that the proposed per head bounty dollar amount was guaranteed and they would do the rest.

After a dinner of pan fried wild sea bass and enjoying bottles of German wine, the more they drank and partied, the more the Blackwater reps claimed to actually relish a long overdue fight with “Bullahs.” One operative, according to two Dutch journalists who were present for part of the evening, told the group’s ”tourist hostess” dates, “when even one of them “Bullahs” needs to get busted, cuffed, and dragged to the Hague, we can do the job young ladies! Ya got our word on that!”

Blackwater to help Israeli army reoccupy Lebanon?

Ehud Barak’s statements this week about Israel reoccupying south Lebanon might lead some to muse whether the Defense Minister perhaps forgot why, when he was prime minister, he ordered the precipitous Israel nighttime stealth pullout, during which some local villagers claim they saw some elements of the Golani brigade literally skidding down the hill at Maroun al-Ras during the night of May 23, 2000 on their back sides as other Israeli occupation army units fled across the exiting points south of Aita Shaab and Bint Jbeil with resistance fighters hot on their tails.

In fact the reason then Israeli Prime Minister Barak ordered his army out of Lebanon, was partially under electoral pressure from the Israeli public, because Israeli causalities were skyrocketing. Barak also acted on the advice of his well-paid campaign advisor and Bill Clinton confidant, James Carville, who advised Barak that ‘moderate Israelis’ would vote for him if he did. As it turned out James underestimated the number of ‘moderate Israelis’, and Barak lost the election by a wide margin to Ariel Sharon who got 1,698,077 (62.39%) to Barak’s 1,023,944 (37.61%).

“Funny Jimmy” as he’s known in the Big Easy where he grew up, returned to the “James Carville and Mary Matlin show.” Not one to easily give up on lost causes it is being rumored in Washington that James, the apparent eternal devotee of “Le and La Clinton,” is spending much of his time these days trying to figure out how to get Hilary elected President and he is studying the odds for the 2012 Democratic primary. Carville, and others including remnants of his former campaign team in Israel, see the possibility of the Democrats dumping Obama as doable if former Israeli army reservist, Rahm Emanuel, the new Mayor of Chicago, will dump Obama, sign on with Hilary, and bring the US Israeli lobby and their cash with him.

Contrary to the Israeli lobby spin that Israel left Lebanon in May of 2000 as a unilateral goodwill gesture to advance the “peace process,” Israeli army statistics leading up to Hezbollah’s expulsion of the occupation forces, and the collapse of its collaborationist South Lebanese Army (SLA) matched those explained recently by Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General, former chemistry professor Sheikh Naim Qassim.

Also, Israeli TV audiences had grown weary of watching footage - often courtesy of Al-Manar - of Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon as a result of Resistance operations. Even today, fighters who were on the scene in the spring of 2000, report that they were surprised at the Israeli debacle as were SLA’s Lebanese collaborators. In some instances retreating Israeli soldiers used their former Lebanese “partners and brothers” as human shields hoping that the Lebanese resistance would not fire on Lebanese as the Israelis fled. The Israeli army did not inform their SLA allies that they were withdrawing. Ever hopeful of igniting a civil war in Lebanon, the new occupation army chief Benny Gantz and Israeli intelligence meticulously left behind lists of the names of many of its Lebanese collaborators hoping for a Lebanese - Lebanese bloodbath.

As it turned out Hezbollah quickly, and some say reluctantly, instructed their units to adhere to a strict policy or no retribution and to “let bygones be bygones.” Only modest punishment was administered by the Lebanese State Judiciary partly because the number of Israeli (US taxpayer) paid killers was high and there was not enough prison space to house them.

The issue of whether Hezbollah was too lenient with these collaborators following the expulsion of the Israeli occupation army is, eleven years later, still sometimes discussed in Southern villages among families who lost loved ones to the turncoats, many of the latter living today, as next door neighbors to their victims’ families.

If the STL decides to hire Blackwater - USA to execute any arrest warrants in Lebanon, or if Israel decides to use seek and kill Blackwater units during its predicted coming invasion, whatever that does for Xe’s Stock prices, its BW’s stock of fighters that will be much watched for in Lebanon.

As for Barak’s boast that the new Israeli army Chief Benny Gantz “knows south Lebanon” he might want to recall as he remembers why Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May of 2000, that as one Hezbollah veteran told this observer this week, “South Lebanon knows Benny Gantz”.

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