FRESNO, CA — OK, we’ve just gone through a really exciting time in world military moves, so let’s test your strategic IQ. What’s the relation between these three recent developments:
1. On May 9, Hezbollah took over West Beirut against feeble resistance.
2. The Iraqi Army, such as it is, is now moving into Mosul in a major anti-al Qaeda operation.
3. At the end of March, the Iraqi Army attacked Sadr strongholds in Basra and East Baghdad, and got its ass kicked.
If you want some clues, you can read my account of event #3 in detail from my April 2nd column:
The other clue that might help is that Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq is totally based on Nasrallah’s Lebanese Hezbollah, so—to kinda give it away a little—in just over a month’s time, you’ve got two Shia militias stomping the better-armed and -funded old-style powers in Arab countries a thousand miles apart. Kind of a trend.
Item #2, the move on Mosul, is the trick question here, because there are no Shia to speak of up there; the Iraqi Army is moving against Al Qaeda in Iraq up there. What’s the connection?
As you chew on that food fer thought, let’s fill in the details on what happened and why in this week’s sudden Shia-ization of what the media always call "fashionable West Beirut." "Fashionable"—I love imagining these Shia puritans with Kalashnikovs and RPGs stalking through rubble filled with confused airhead supermodels: "Like…hel-LO? What are you…I mean…doing here anyway? In that ugly Kevlar vest which doesn’t match your beard at all, I mean YUCK, and that so-eighties gun accessory…don’t you realize I’ve got a SHOOT today?" The Hezzies don’t get her babble, but they hear the word "shoot" and it all goes to pieces very fast. That’s one of the first thing a supermodel’s got to learn: don’t say "shoot" around a nervous militiaman who thinks women should wear black hefty bags, head to foot, even when showering. Or "if" showering; for these boys, Sharia tops hygiene every time.
South Beirut or Sadr City: Can You Tell The Difference?
Hezbollah took their beach trip on May 9, but it wasn’t announced to anybody in the media. The Lebanese elite was stunned. This was not supposed to happen. It would be like West LA being overrun by Baptist gangs from Bakersfield. And there was nothing the cool Lebanese could do about it but sneer and whine and blog. Boy, did they blog. In the blog-o-sphere battle, the West Beirut coolsters won hands down. Out on the streets, though, it was all Hezbollah. They came, they saw, they burned down a TV station that had been broadcasting anti-Hezbollah stories…and a couple of days later, they left. It wasn’t like your classical military maneuver; these are commuter troops, and what they did was pack their weapons—mostly rifles and RPGs, some of the rifles looking surprisingly new and expensive—in the trunks of their little fuel-efficient sedans, and head back to the slums of South Beirut. No word on whether traffic was snarled by the sudden withdrawal: "KBRT’s traffic helicopter, Beirut’s only traffic reporter with look-down-shoot-down capability, brings you this update: avoid the Shia-town expressway, which is jammed with weekend Hezbollah visitors evacuating the capital…."