Thursday, January 04, 2007

2007: The Light at the End of the Tunnel...

Merry Nu Yea!

Time for every idiot and his brother to come up with their predictions, forecasts, wachamacallit for 2007.

All predictions are summarized in this simple sentence; “a glorious future after this last hurdle”, or most notably by Nostra-Hayek’sgloom then boom in Lebanon”.

Whatever the case, our plate is full. Here are Jeha's predictions for 2007;

The International Tribunal

It will be set up, no question about it.

The real question is whether it is able to function, prosecute the perpetrators and their masters, all of this within delays.

Expect more Mediation efforts; in the race to find the Assad clan some sort of figleaf, the diplomats will be racking up them air-miles…

The Kidnapped Lebanese

One thing we learned over the years is that Hariri mattered more that all the tears of all the mothers of Lebanon. True, he was a great man, but his past silence when those kids were being kidnapped to Syrian jails is unsettling. The real measure of our “nation”; No one cares that SOLIDA represents the only worthy cause in Lebanon

And no government will try to bring them back. Not in 2007. Not as long as there is such a thing as a Baath party. Aoun is not the only one with his 30 pieces of silve (Who could EVER stomach this latest dozy?).

Paris III and Economic Reforms

More Money? Yes. More Debt? Yes. Reform? None.

It is a fact that Paris III is essential for Lebanon. Yet the proposed reforms are likely to be less than meet the eye; there can be no economic reform without drastic administrative reform. And this cannot happen without the decentralization agreed on at Taef. This means far less potential for patronage, in a country where 35% of the workforce is employed by the government, in one form or another.

Unlikely. Aoun is not the only one stuck in strange alliances; in opposing Hezb, Saad Hariri finds himself some strange bedfellows. Administrative reforms may simply mean that Sunni patronage will replace Shiite patronage

Electoral Reform

Won’t happen. We will get an electoral law that will be more like “2000 Lite”. The Aounists are right that the past election was stolen. But they have chosen allies whose raison d’être is to steal, elections or other. His opponents steal too, but in a more sophisticated manner.

Everyone steals. The next election will be stolen as well. But not in 2007.

And why not? Why would our “representatives” give us a law that will allow us real choice? Turkeys do not vote for thanksgiving…

Presidential Elections

Lahouss’ term ends soon. Before you rejoice to be rid of this "waste of oxgygen", recall how happy we all were to see the back of Gemayel. Then how much we all were grateful to see the back of Hrawi

And the trend will continue, I have an idea of how they will pick the next president. And no, no matter how anal retentive he becomes, it will not be Aoun; Herr General may disagree, but he is more likely going back to Deir El-Salib…

All hail President/Poodle Ghattas Khoury?

Hezb and Israel

Hezb will stay far from Israel for now, but expect more “internal” intransigence. It is now leveraging its “victory” and expanding its demographic base to take over Lebanon. It is already negotiating with States on an equal footing… For a temperance party, they are getting drunk on hubris; reality check, anyone?

Israel can do nothing without a new leadership. Olmert maybe secure because all those MK’s are too scared to lose their jobs in case of an early election. But this may well happen by June, regardless.

This comes with a few of wildcards:

1- Iran’s interests; will Shater Hassan’s masters ask more of him?

2- The kidnapped Israeli soldiers? It is likely that they are long dead. Their fate will largely determine that of the Olmert government, and of the tenuous peace in Southern Lebanon.

3- The economy is doing so badly that, during 2007, there will be internal pressure on the government to crack down on Hezb… More and more people will start to beleive that a civil war would be cheaper.

Last but (unfortunately) not least; Syria

Syria will never give up the hope of moving back into Lebanon; it is hopelessly hooked on its rich pickings. All attempts to pry Syria away from Iran will not work; at the very least, Iranian petrodollars have replaced Lebanese smuggling rents for now. Indeed, for Assad, "no deal would be sweet enough [since] survival is more important than sovereignty".

The increase in Syria’s intransigence is therefore systemic, and has little to do with the rise of Ahmadinejad. By excessively focusing on him, the West is losing sight of the real issue of Iran’s long term strategy.

It will not give up the PSNS, no matter how nasty it is. Or especially because it is so nasty; Syria made it “more” this way, in the late 1980’s, when it forced a “rift” within the party, and the rise of the nastiest elements…

On the downside for Syria, and especially after Saddam's Assassination on Eid El-Adha (yes, this is how it is perceived), its alliance is increasingly viewed as one with Persians against fellow Arabs may backfire into increased sectarianism. The end, when it comes, will be uniquely bloody, but Bashar is safe for 2007.

Light at the end of the Tunnel?

More like a train coming the other way…

Run Forest! Run!

3 comments:

Amir in Tel Aviv said...

Interesting.!!!
My predictions for Israel: Defense Amir Peretz goes, Ex-PM Barak comes. Chief of stuff Halutz goes, A retired military figure comes. Olmert Stays (=90% ; Tzipy Livni replaces him as PM = 10%)
.

R said...

Very nicely said. I wonder about a couple of things though..
I am not sure about the tribunal getting set up in 2007 (i.e. up and running)... Things are painstakingly slow at that and Brammertz seems to be taking his sweet time with his technical reports.

The other thing is the Lebanese presidency. We will be lucky (or unlucky perhaps) to get a new president in 2007 but I think that is becoming more unlikely without a package deal. Unfortunately that package deal is highly dependent on Syrian and (more importantly) Iranian intentions and how far they are willing to go in this game of wits they are playing with the US...

Jeha said...

R,

I think each player is playing "for keeps" this time; there is no likely package deal that will satisfy their hunger.

In this context, any candidate that put his foot forward too early is automatically out of the race. The only one playing smartly, in my opinion, is Charles Rizk...