Monday, December 04, 2006

Civil War?

A new civil war in Lebanon?

I do not know. But I know one simple premise: no Shiite will be allowed to topple a Sunni prime minister. As you watch events unfold, recall this brutal mantra.

Shiite Crescent ?

Jordan had been clamouring since forever about fears of a Shiite Crescent. Saudi Arabia has apparently come round to this, and now Egypt’s Hosni Moubarak is cautioning against Iranian involvement in Lebanon.

The message from the Sunni powers is clear; the low Christian participation to this jamboree ensured that this is perceived as a purely Shiite affair. This means that, having “lost” Iraq, no Sunni power would allow another Shiite power overthrow a Sunni government.

Yes, March 8th has been able to show up some real numbers, but no one said Hezb was not organised. But most of their followers will soon recognize how much of an oxymoron a conservative revolution really is.

Syria is out, and will stay out. Still, there is a deal in the works that will let them all save face:

Deal Making

The outline of a “deal” was hinted at by Minister Marwan Hamadeh at his Al-Jazeera intereview. It is a deal in four parts:

- Aoun is out. Period. The absence of most Christians from the Jamboree has rendered him irrelevant. Let us hope the Christians, most of whom rallied around “March 14th” are not betrayed again by their “March 14th” allies. Otherwise, Lebanon will never “work”.

- Berri has a limited time offer to go back to the ranks. Otherwise, they will be out of power permanently, and their followers will have to give up the empty promises of patronage.

- Syria has a limited time offer. It better realise that it is permanently out of Lebanon, and adapt. By stoking the fires of a Shiite-Sunni war, Syria’s Alawite regime has united the major Sunni powers. The longer they keep at this, the shorter their tenure over Syria itself will be. Recall Saad Hariri’s little reported message to the Alawis.

- Hezb has a VERY limited time offer to come back to the ministry. It may have already expired. Watch Hariri’s Future TV, one of their slogan is directed against Hezb’s ministers;

وحياة يلّي راحو ما بترجعو!

The Lessons of History

Christians once followed a single leader, flocking around Aoun; they got a 15 year “stay out of power” card.

The Shiites would make the same mistake by flocking around Hezb, his “jusqu’au boutisme”, and his promise of martyrdom. All this requires money. Dinero. Money does not grow on trees, and Iran can’t endlessly pump it out of the ground. Ultimately, the dying is easy; it is the living that defeats us.

Yes, Hezb has weapons. But no Sunni power would allow for a Sunni defeat in Lebanon, no matter the cost. Even at Lebanon’s expense. This time, with the conflict painted in “existential” terms, it will have longer-term repercussions. Aoun’s alliance with Hezb may not augur well; Herr General has a knack for picking losing sides… and destroying Lebanon in the process.

A necessary Evil

For now, those who rally around the government will remain. Most of us consider them to be an acceptable evil; corruption for corruption, we still prefer the Lebanese kind.

March 14th is not one-dimensional. When we all took to the streets on March 14th, it was for a very complex reason; simply put, we want a normal country, with a normal, accountable government, and normal politicians.

It is called CIVILization. It was born here. Time it came back for a visit. Otherwise, the airport is still open. Alternatively, Cyprus is a boat ride away…

They say that if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. In our case, it is not the heat that we fear; we have the scars to prove it. It’s the food that stinks.

Lebanese cuisine is not what it used to be…