Socialist Worker

George Galloway on the streets of Beirut

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2016

George Galloway visiting the South Lebanese town of Bint Jbail which was destroyed by the Israelis

George Galloway visiting the South Lebanese town of Bint Jbail which was destroyed by the Israelis

George Galloway warned last week that plans to use United Nations (UN) troops to disarm Hizbollah and patrol the border with Syria will spell disaster and lead to more conflict.

The Respect MP was in the Lebanese capital to do a special edition of his weekly radio show live from Beirut. Over three million people tuned in to hear him defend the resistance and condemn Israel’s war.

Speaking at a meeting in Beirut, Galloway argued that the Lebanese government should resist pressure to disarm Hizbollah.

He said it is “important that the Lebanese government does not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. When you win it’s important to act like you won - and not offer the enemy what they failed to achieve on the battlefield.

“Lebanon should demand the enemy leave its land, air and sea.”

He added, “The impact of Israel’s defeat is reverberating around Ehud Olmert and his allies George Bush and Tony Blair.”

“The anti-war movement has, over the last five or six weeks, been protesting and marching, demanding the recall of parliament.

“We have shown our solidarity with the Lebanese people who have suffered so much during the Israeli, British and US aggression.

“Thousands have died or have been injured. Billions of dollars of damage has been done to essential infrastructure - to schools, hospitals, the electricity grid, water, bridges and roads.

“We extend our congratulations to Lebanon on a great and historic victory against this aggression.

“I congratulate Hizbollah, who have achieved a great victory, and in particular Hassan Nasrallah, whose name is ringing across the world.”

But he warned there are many dangers in the US plan for a “new Middle East”.

There is deep unease in the country about the arrival of tens of thousands of UN troops, led by former colonial power France. Now the US is promising Lebanon $200 million reconstruction aid.

The condition is that the government disbands the resistance.

“No one can disarm Hizbollah,” Galloway said. “If Israel cannot, then no one can. Hizbollah are a part of the Lebanese armed forces, and should be treated as such.”

Talk of foreign troops patrolling Lebanon’s border with Syria has sparked widespread anger.


“If any foreign soldiers are sent to the Syrian border it will mean war,” Galloway warned.

“Syria is not at war with Lebanon, Israel is at war with Lebanon. If European governments allow their soldiers to be sent to the border they will enter a conflict that they will lose.”

Galloway was given a tour of the Dahieh area in the south of Beirut. The working class Shia Muslim neighbourhood was levelled during Israel’s 34-day bombardment of the country.

“The destruction of the Dahieh was more shocking that I expected,” he said. “It looked like Hiroshima, every stick and stone has been destroyed. What the Israelis did to this neighbourhood is a war crime.”

Galloway also visited the southern town of Bint Jbail, which repelled repeated Israeli ground assaults in the month-long war.

The MP was given a tour of the hospital and the historic market, which was devastated by aerial bombardment.

He told resistance fighters in the town, “You have destroyed forever the myth that Israel is invincible, that Israel is too great to be confronted.

“Never again do the Arabs have to surrender to Israeli aggression.”

He added “the Intifada, Iraq and Lebanon have shown that not only can Israel be defeated, but that the US can be defeated.

“The main problem for the Arabs is not Washington or London, but the capitals of their own regimes. We are used to their silence when Arab capitals are in flames, but this is the first time they have openly supported aggression.”

Galloway condemned US allies Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia after they denounced the resistance for being composed of Shia Muslims.


“We thought the Arab rulers could not go any lower - but their attempt to infest the poison of sectarianism into the war on Lebanon marks the lowest point,” he said.

“The good news is that they failed. The people of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan refused to be divided. The Arab masses were 100 percent behind Lebanon and the resistance.

“One of the most impressive things has been the unity of the Lebanese people. We know that 80 percent of Christians and 89 percent of Sunni Muslims supported the resistance.

“These 34 days of war have exposed the systematic failings of the Arab regimes. These puppet presidents and corrupt kings - who rule their countries on behalf of others.”

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Sat 2 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2016
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