Thursday, April 05, 2007

Para Bellum (?)

The place reeks of 1973, when each player had the illusion of having gained the upper hand over his opponents. As each dug their heels in maximalist positions, Lebanon was dragged back into war, and the budding dream of a secularism in the Middle East was extinguished for a while.

Regional Games

Regional powers have been playing a tricky game of cloak and dagger.

In Iraq, interesting Timeline. After the disappearance of Askagari, some Iranian diplomats were made prisoners by the Americans, then some others were mysteriously kidnapped. Following the kidnapping of the British sailors, an Iranian diplomat reappeared, released by his captors… Then presto, the sailors were "pardoned". Askagari and a few others remain unavailable, however, but the Iranians have some hope of visiting those who remain under lock and key.

In Syria, Clutching at straws. Pelosi’s idiotic trip, for all here protests to the contrary, only gave the Syrians renewed hope. The Syrians and their apologists are making much hay out of a trip whose prime reason was crassly political, related to the coming presidential election in the United States.

In Saudi Arabia, Leadership. The leadership of the Saudis is all but confirmed. The Egyptians may not be too happy, but they have to play along for now; as they are mired in succession squabbles of their own, they lack the credibility, and need the resources. An little noticed development is the timid Saudi moves towards Israel, as both gear up to confront Iran.

In Israel: Crisitunity. Ehud Olmert remains the idiot-in-charge, in the face of many who think he should have resigned eons ago… As long as this government remains in Israel, it might attempt to shore up its waning popularity by doing something rash this summer to make up for last year’s defeat. In this context, we should view renewed “stories” about Israeli’s supposed incompetence with concern, in addition to Olmert’s rants.

In Lebanon: Revving Up…

In response to March 14th new assertiveness, Hezb has been acting particularly nervous.

While I understand their concerns about their own safety, their adamant is not helping ease tensions. Even those who support their right to arm bears lest open season be declared on them are being political opportunists; on the long run, few Lebanese are willing to go back to the days of the "Cairo agreement" and the Fatahland.

As they consolidate their little canton, Hezb is only “fixing” its weaknesses. They may be under pressure by Iran to do something to earn their keep, but the fact remains that there are no lines of communications among the three “regions” under their control.

In any war, Hezb has nothing to “fall back” on. For all practical purposes, the “Dahyeh” has already fallen militarily, with supply lines effectively closed at Damour. Control of the South depends on coastal cities, as well as the region around Hasbaya and Marjeyoun, none of which is securely under Hezb’s control.

The Beqaa and Baalbeck may appear to be a stronghold to outsiders, but Hezb’s control there is vulnerable in two ways. First, any significant supply is controlled from Anjar, with the mountain passes limited to smuggling. Second, Hezb’s control over the region depends on the goodwill of rival Clans, so any alliance with one clan upsets all the others...

Hezb is aware of it, as evidenced by reported attempts to consolidate a continuous territory with land purchases and intimidations. They though they had hoodwinked them into fruitless talks, and did not expect March 14th latest cornering of Berri, which brought us closer to either reckoning, or the deflation of Nasrallah’s soufflé...


ghassan karam said...

In Ecclessiastes we are told that "There is a time for everything, there is a time to born and a time to die, a time to tear and a time to build..."

This is the time to govern and take a stand for what is right.

It is in that spirit that I would like to suggest again that M14 are finally adopting what they should have done a year or more ago. I am not sure that , is this case, better late than never applies although I hope that it does.

M14 should have pressed the legal case against Lahoud, should have welcomed the initial walk out of the HA cabinet members should have accepted the resignation of the HA/Amal/Lahoud ministers and should have ended the war during the summer with a 1701 passed under chapter 7.

The absence of a backbone among the Saniora/Hariri axis led to unproductive dialogues, weak positions that are best interpreted as appeasement and utter inability to take decisions and govern effectively. Now that M14 is acting as if it has seen the light they are moving on all the above fronts in an attempt to demonstrate that they are in control.

Lets hope that they persist in these endeavours and they make it clear that HA and Aouns vision of how to rule is unacceptable and is actually undemocratic. "quisling" Lahoud must not be allowed to get away scot free. It will be difficult to implicate Bashar even if he was the mastermind of the Hariri assassination because of the political immunity provided to him but Lahoud's culpability can be established through his underlings and hopefully through evidence from Syrian officials.
M14 must defy evolution, develop spine and save the country by establishing clearly the unpatriotic role of Lahoud and the impossibility of allowing HA to become a partner in the government. As for Aoun maybe grounds can be found to link him to Lahoud and show that he was willing to sell his soul for a political position. And since we are at it I hope that they will see the essential need to introduce a meritocracy and to eliminate all signs of sectarianism. What better way to show that than to elect Jumblatt as a President.

Roman Kalik said...

I hate it that the Israeli political reality can be summed up in such a sad manner. It may very well be that the worst act of Ariel Sharon was to work himself to (near-)death.

Where is Bibi? Where is Barak? Where are the short-sighted morons of old who could at least tie their shoe-laces?

As for the rise of the Saudis, I find it a bad development in the long term. What the Saudis touch tends to fester and rot. I keep wondering what might have been had the Hashemites managed to rise to prominence...*sigh*