Friday, August 18, 2006

Making a Failed State

Nasrallah crows and threatens. Joumblat lashes out at Nasrallah. Hariri blasts Bachar for playing armchair quarterback.

One absence is notable; as of August 18th, no Christian leaders said anything. None. Nothing. Nada. In the context of a sectarian system, this is remarkable; in the absence of an outside overlord, Lebanon can only be governed by alliance of two of its major constituting parties.

Lebanon is essentially a “sectarian democracy”, if there ever was such a thing. Voters are free to chose, but they tend to align themselves along sectarian lines.

The Druze and Sunni Alliance makes up only 1/3 of the country; with their opposition to the current Syrian government, they need a local ally.

The Shiites another 1/3; even though they are well organized and funded, they still do not have sufficient Pasdaran boots on the ground to cow the other 2/3 into submission.

The Christians make up the last 1/3… But they are politically “watching”. They appear to be watching to see how this turn up before they make any commitment; they have been burned before.

An alliance of either 2 of those players can effectively rule the country. In the present context, the only immediately viable alliance would be Sunni-Druze-Christian, with the hope that they would reform the system to rid it of its sectarian nature (fat chance).

In any case, most Christians recall how the Druze leader Joumblat (a.k.a Svengali) made a deal with the Sunni leader Saad (a.k.a Saad) and the Shiite leader Berri (a.k.a Henlein), to circumvent the Christians and win himself a few extra MPs. All this in spite of the fact that Christians bore the brunt of the Syrian occupation; while Hezb whines after the 3 prisoners in Israeli jails, he forgets the more than 1,000 kidnapped by Syria. To this maneuvering we owe the current government, a chimera of pro-Syrian Shiites and Anti-Syrians, which left the most Anti-Syrian of all, Michel Aoun (a.k.a I need Prozac), in opposition. To wiggle out of his isolation, he made an uneasy alliance of sorts with pro-Syrian elements…

The internal Lebanese situation is hopelessly blocked; in this context, Joseph Hitti can be hardly excused for his pessimism. No matter that the balance sheet is woefully negative, Mr. Shater Hassin will still continue in this path;

Bigger balls notwithstanding, we still have brains to take stock of the results of the “liberation” enterprise, and it does not take much to see that, no matter how big Nasrallah’s balls grow as a result of this conflict, Lebanon will still be the biggest loser.

In this context, Lebanon is locked in an internal stalemate. But we are not alone in this game; ever since UN Resolution 1559 allowed us to get rid of the Syrian overlords, our internal squabbles have become internationalized.

And UN resolution 1701 is no exception. Israel may soon be vindicated in attacking again; by pulling out, it projects an image of total compliance with the resolution. The Lebanese government, by dithering on disarming Hezb, is placing itself in clear violation of its provisions.

This will lead to some other stunt by Hezb, who is now neither withdrawing nor disarming, while under pressure by a weakling Lebanese government who is "peacefully, internally, and without outside pressures". I am not sure how this bullshit will work on what is effectively “the best guerilla force in the world”, or how much ice it will cut with France, and for how long. Making up the UNIFIL force is already proving problematic, as France has already said that “will not send its troops” without "serious guarantees" on the disarming of Hezb; first a withdrawal of Hezbollah forces north of the Litani, and then their disarming under resolution 1559.

Thanks to Hezb’s obstruction, the enduring stalemate will not last; Israel still has its prisoners to free, and soon could be easily justified in “defending itself” again. Its propaganda will have a field day with this. The Lebanese government would then be accused of "harbouring terrorists"; it would have only sent its troops to Southern Lebanon to die there. Or to desert and join some militia.

Let us hope I am wrong. I did not enjoy the last civil war, and I will not enjoy the next one; as Dory Chamoun recently said, "we have neighbours I would not wish on my worst ennemy". And we are giving them reasons to go after us.

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