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Lebanon: USS Cole in the Neighborhood

The deployment of the US warship USS Cole off the Lebanese coast has added to the nervousness and concern about the political deadlock and stability in Lebanon. The warship is anchored about 96 km (60 Miles) off the Lebanese coast. The United States has declared that the aim of sending its warship was to ensure its support for the stability of the country. The deployment comes at the same time when some Arab countries are asking their citizens not travel to Lebanon or calling upon them to leave the country. These events are adding to the tension and unease felt by Lebanese citizens of an impending war, whether it is internal civil strife or another external war. Following are some reflections from Lebanese bloggers on the presence of the USS Cole warship in the vicinity:

Amal has this cartoon depicting the Cedar, which is the symbol of Lebanon, with an Arabic script above it that is pronounced as “Cole” but which, in Arabic, means “eat”:

Sophia recounts the US military involvement in Lebanon since 1958 and grimly concludes that the current deployment of USS Cole warship near Lebanon will lead to events similar to 1982 massacres that followed the Israeli invasion:

It doesn't matter to the US that the Lebanese opposition is legitimate and enjoys the support of the majority of Lebanese. What matters for them is Israel and its clients in the country, March 14th and its illegitimate, ill elected, weak, unpopular, and amputated government. Oh yes, a show of force for the Lebanese people in order to send the message that whatever their will, if it doesn't match USrael's will, then it is not acceptable. And it is wishful thinking if the US thinks that the Lebanese people will adore this exhibition of military force…

Jamal mocks the Lebanese who support the deployment of the warship with a small play of which is this part:

- I don't know, Men. Can we do that alone.

- We will not be alone man, that's the beauty of it. The Gringos will bomb Fidel by air, to open the way for us. Señor Jon Jon senior promised us support. The Gringos already deployed 3 warships to cover our butts. It'll be over in a week. Even the prisons are ready, we just need the prisoners.

Kodder ridicules the move and plays on words and their meaning, doubting whether such a move will bring more stability than similar moves in nearby countries:

Anyway, the F-word according to Bush is coming to Lebanon in the shape of a Floating atrocity called USS Cole, like Cole Khara (for the non lebs: Cole Khara means Eat shit). It will Bring stability, Freedom, Democracy to Lebanon exactly the same kind that the Afghan and Iraqis have and cherish so much that they blow themselves up in market places, its pure happiness I tell you.

Sursock also scoffs the deployment and its claimed mission to support democracy:

It seems the US have decided to send a battleship to sit off the Lebanese coast. The USS Cole, the ship that was almost sunk by Al-Qaeda, will support “democracy” by firing volleys of ballot boxes at Beirut.

Walid el Houri affirms that the mere presence of the battleship is raising tensions which it claims it is there to relieve:

How many meanings can the dispatch of a battleship to the shores of a country in crisis have?
The U.S. affirms that the battleship is sent for the purpose of relieving tension in Lebanon. Of course the fact that the tension is rising by the mere idea of the battleship (and the very technical description of its arsenal and destruction capacities that emerged rapidly in the Lebanese and International news) only justifies the need to relieve it.

Beirut Spring, on the other hand, sees that the presence of the warship may create a balance between the two conflicting sides in the Lebanese political arena, which may then lead, in the end, to resolving the current deadlock:

But who said anything about the US warships invading or bombing Lebanon? The USS Cole and the other ships coming soon to our neighborhood are just going to hang around. In fact, they’ll be so far we won’t be able to see them.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t make a difference. Lebanon is divided into two, roughly equal groups that are struggling for power. One is backed by Iran and Syria and the other is backed by the west and the rest of the Arab world. Hezbollah had an advantage: It possesses an Iranian arsenal that it’s using for leverage in internal politics. The pro-westerns were being outgunned, and their American allies have decided to fix the situation by lending them some deterrence of their own. […]

Now that the threat of mutual destruction is established, the two sides can hammer a deal out and hopefully progress can be made.

In the Middle of the East sees the move as contradictory to its declared mission:

In any case, rather than ’stabilizing’ or ‘reassuring’ anyone, all the move is doing is making all sides here more nervous.

Stay tuned for more from Lebanon in the coming weeks.

2 comments

  • Amal, I love your Cartoon.

  • May I remind Mustapha that the Syrians entered Lebanon, with US blessing, in order to create a balance, ironically helping the same camp the US is helping today ?

    Lest just renounce the old ways of thinking in Lebanon. The US is not interested in a deal between the Lebanese factions, it did all it could for any deal to fail, facts speak for themselves.

    Mustapha’s judgement is either naive or manipulative…

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