Sunday, May 31, 2009

New names, same games for Lebanon

".... Influence in Lebanon is both a means to an end, and an end in itself, they say, and proven culpability for the assassination of al-Hariri would seriously hinder this status quo. With each criminal action, goes the tale, Syria is attempting to jeopardise the work of the tribunal and blackmail Lebanon.  ....In a process which Syria had always condemned as being politicised from the start, it was ruled there would be no judging without sufficient evidence. While this should have momentarily brought the accusations to a full circle, there seems to be little wish to tone down the rhetoric....

Amid the crescendo of accusations about Syria and its allies, the biggest threat which never ceased to manifest itself remained Israel, whose savage July 2006 onslaught sent droves of Lebanese refugees across the Syrian border, where they were welcomed with open arms and homes. 


Not only did this war bring back a dose of reality about the bigger stakes, but it also put Lebanon's current majority in a difficult position against Hezbollah and effectively on Israel's side.

 The war was a turning point where real alliances could not remain in the background any longer....

 No matter how it is packaged, and even if it was explained as Hezbollah being responsible for provoking Israel by seizing its soldiers, the enormity of this situation was unprecedented. It laid the ground for the next big crisis which would hit Lebanon in May 2007,.....


In the days of Pax Syriana following the Taif agreement which ended the Lebanese civil war and established Syria as the de facto boss, most parties complied with the S-S dynamic ruling their lives - as long as Syria and Saudi Arabia agreed on the path to follow, Lebanon was relatively quiet. 


Today, while the major regional players are the same, they are betting on different horses.... Until there is a new census reflecting current demographics, most groups in the country are secure in the fact that they have a voice in government. It does matter, of course, who wins the most seats and who is charged with forming a government, and many observers wonder whether Hezbollah's time has come to become the majority. 

 Given the clumsy foreign interference.... there seem to be real questions on the latter's capacity or even desire to reach office.

 While Aoun would certainly welcome a presidential role eventually, Hezbollah would probably be happy to remain in opposition, especially since it has already proved its capacity to overturn decisions when needed. ....This situation would also serve Syria's interests for the time being.... Even without their own man in office in Lebanon, the Syrians know there is now little chance for any government to provoke it on the big issues and only need to wait for the other foreign powers to come to terms with this reality..."

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