Saturday, April 25, 2009

Washington's Take: "Michel Sleiman wants a 'stalemate' in Lebanon's Elections ..."

1. Elections 2009. The view from Washington is that while the Administration wants March 14 to win, they think Michel Sleiman wants a stalemate, with independent candidates holding the balance. The best informed US officials have noted the absence of violence, so far. They believe that is because both sides expect to win. Should either side [especially the Opposition] feels it is going to lose, Washington Officialdom believes that violence will erupt prior to the election.

2. There also has developed something of a split between the US and France with regard to Lebanon. With Chirac gone, the "tilt" towards Hariri has gone as well. US officials say the French would like to see the "balance" created by Doha to be continued and enhanced. They, however, are quietly pleased with themselves that they have been able to keep the tilt towards the government despite the change in Administrations in Washington.

3. Israel. Not much importance is given to Bibi Natenyahu's call for the Arabs to accept a Jewish state. It's like his latest idea that nothing can be done on the Palestinian issue until Iran is solved. It's Bibi being too clever by half. He will back down on both, especially if, as expected in Washington, the Administration will play it just a little bit tough.

4. Lieberman, is a very important player [unless and until he is indicted]. He is a member of the inner Cabinet of 5 (considering the full Cabinet has over 30 members, the largest in Israeli history). Barak is also one of the five and the Administration consider it to be an excellent political pairing with Bibi for a US audience.

5. Syria. Inside the beltway, people in the know believe that both, Bibi and Bashar are playing games. Each wants to use the prospect of progress to gain advantage with the US: Bashar to unravel the sanctions & isolation regimen, and Bibi avoids pressure on the Palestinian front.(...)

No comments: