Bas les Masques:
More seriously, the strike will reveal 3 things:
1- We will know how much political weight Aoun still has left. And whether he can deploy as much muscle as his senior partner. My guesstimate is that Herr General can only count on a hard core of 30% of the Christians. Most of those who stay with him remain repulsed by the stench of corruption around some leading lights of “March 14th”.
2- We will also see, and how much weight ShaterHassan can still throw around, and what their real staying power is. My guesstimate there is that he can still move much of the Shiite street, but not as easily as before. It took Hezb a while to mobilize this time around; before then, they could “move” 300,000 at the drop of a hat.
3- The real Staying Power of the demonstrations will be clear beyond Monday. Until now, expect a 100% following of the strike till then; it’s a weekend, after all. My guess is that the timing has more to do with Arm-Wrestling between the
The answers to our woes lie, as always, beyond our shores and our mountains.
The “openings” by Tony Blair got us the Gemayel assassination. The report that James Baker is working on is raising our Sister’s hopes. Time will tell whether we’re being sold again in a grand bazaar, or not.
My guess is not this time; Tony asked, but Bashar’s price was too high, so Chirac ended the deal.
In the meantime, whatever side you're on, mull over this statistic; in Lebanon, Bread consumption is down 30%.
So they did this after Dec. 01, to make sure their supporters got their salaries paid. They apparently think that they can stay for the duration, but I think the "first move" has already failed. In a crass confessional political game, Hezb moved first, Future/March 14 stood firm, the Christians essentially stayed away, Hezb blinked...
But I digress..
While it may be too soon to talk about "staying power", we can already ascertain the following:
1- I think it is confirmed that Aoun has lost tremendously. From 500,000 to 700,000 supporters who greeted him as he came back from France, he could only mobilize 50,000 to 100,000, in the most optimistic headcount. Let us see how many of those will endure in the tents with Hezb's "Barbudos"... Sleiman Franjieh is all but discredited; after he insulted the Patriarach, and denigrated the morals of Lebanon's war widows, he is lucky to have such a large clan around him.
2- Hezb's losses are not significant; most Shiites fear being left-out of the coming deal-making more than they dislike his proselytizing. This is especially the case since too many of them are part of bloated government bureaucracy on which the axe has yet to fall.
In the end, it may be all about Jobs. They could all make a "deal", Iran/Saudi willing. Then, it will be a snow job for Aoun, governement jobs for Hezb/Berri. Time will tell where all this goes.