Sunday, September 16, 2007

Faust's Bills

Big troubles for such a small country as ours…

In many respects, we are here because of the nature of our “system”; rather than “sharing” the pie with one another, different leaders found it more cost-effective to bring in “outsiders”, and leverage that support against their internal rivals.

This system “worked” for them for a while. Things were good during the heydays of the civil war, when all militias combined racked in more than USD 80 Billion over 15 years. Nice racket, if you can get it…

Comparatively, peace was not as good; the “take” between 1992 and 2000 had to be shared with Syria, leaving Lebanon with more than USD 40 Billion in debt. Officially, at least; the real damage will soon prove to be twice as large.

That’s if we get around to auditing the books; the Faustian bargains our leaders made is such that all bills are coming due, and all at the same time

Syria’s Bill: No More Retreat…

Even before 2004, it was clear that Hariri, Shehabi, and Joumblat would be “on Bashar’s anti-corruption hit list”. It was already clear in 2004 that a Alawite regime could not endure on the long term with a powerful Sunni figure in next-door Lebanon, especially one now intent on “kicking it out” of the place.To ensure his rise to power, Bashar had to neutralize internal enemies by anti-corruption campaign. To consolidate his power, he had to weaken outside adversaries, or eliminate them. We need to keep in mind two salient facts;

First, the Alawite regime’s survival in Syria cannot be seen outside Lebanon, especially not with such a powerful Sunni figure. That cash cow is far too valuable for them to give up, and its influence far too corrupting for them to allow to live on.

Second ,The Assad’s survival among the Alawites cannot be seen outside Damascus. This time, the enemies are too close to home for comfort. But the Alawites are still circling the wagons around the regime for now.

So the Syrians are now stuck; they have retreated so much, there is little ground they can give anymore. Syria’s internal weakness may well be such that Bashar cannot afford to follow Kaddafi’s example.

With this in mind, the Assad’s next move is predictable; they can only accept a Quisling as president of Lebanon, and will push their allies to the limit.

Pity the huddle masses gathered in Beirut on March 8th; the demands of their masters will now require a lot more than braying to celebrate the great Hafez’ anniversary. Now that the master’s weakness has been exposed, it will be up to the servants to make up for it.

Iran’s Bill: Tumbs?

For Hezb, all this Iranian investment allowed it to become a prime fighting force. Put in perspective, however, the other militias got far more from their war rackets than Hezb did; it is just that Hezb’s discipline and organization allowed to improve on Bashir’s and Joumblat’s model, and thus create a true army, and a true state. But in the process, Hezb may have made more enemies than they could handle…

Regardless of the needs of Lebanon, and the professed lofty aims of resistance; the Iranians did not invest all that precious cash to see it go away if 1559 is applied. For all their competence, however, the Mullah’s have an inherent weakness; for lack of someone to tell them what time it is, Hezb’s Iranian masters started believing their own propaganda.

At worst, the children of Khomeini may be intent on a great Armageddon to bring about the return of the Mahdi. This is how the Persian are “selling” this to their Arab cannon fodder.

At best, the Mullahs are still realists; after all, they have to keep that Gulf “Persian”, and may well be intent on leveraging one asset to secure another, far more important prize.

For this reason, Iran’s next move is not so obvious; those guys invented chess, after all. But with deadlines approaching, we’ll soon find out whether this pawn moving up front is indeed being sacrificed, or is part of the main assault. And the Iranians will soon find out that the Lebanese rarely follow a script.

America’s Bill: Bombs Ahoy!

The Americans are indeed in a quagmire in Iraq; having come in uninvited, they find that they cannot leave uninvited.

That does not mean they are out of the game, there is far too much oil at stake… And the Vietnam misadventure should serve as a cautionary tale not only Americans, but also to their regional opponents. Sure, the Americans lost in Vietnam. But the country’s neighbours did not fare too good; they had time to mess up Laos and Cambodia before they did…

And those modern-day idol worshippers in Lebanon need to keep in mind that rouge, yellow, or orange, a Khmer is Khmer…

In Lebanon, the American’s next move can be easily determined; they want Hezb out of business, Aoun in retirement, and they will push for a president they can “work with”. They cannot allow their potential failure in Iraq to turn into a certain failure in Lebanon, if that means they have to kill the patient to kill the disease.

In a way, it’s a good thing the French are involved, as they can help moderate America’s ire… But let’s hope Bashar does not learn from Kaddafi’s example.

The Saudi’s Bill: Property Rights!

The Saudi motives are complex, but one thing is certain; they may have allowed the Hariri assassination to slide, had Bashar known how to guarantee their interests. But as that pipeline to the strategic Zahrani refinery kept being delayed, and so is the link to a revised IPC, the only way for Iraqi Sunnis to see some profits from Kurdish oil, and the best way for Gulf Arabs to go around Syria… In the meantime, more Saudi oil had to find its way to costumers through Eilat and Ashkelon, since Suez and SUMED are already running at full capacity. Then Bashar got too close to the Iranians, who have no interest in diminishing the importance of Hormuz.

It is no wonder the Saudi royals have been growing ever more visibly impatient with the Assad clan, whose standing in the way of business… This is even more galling to the Saudis that the Assad clan’s lackeys are also trying to muscle in on many other businesses. Look back at period between 1992 and 1995, when “the Lebanese people committed $75 billion and mortgaged the future of generations to receive $6 billion in authentic public investments”, most of which went to “the few clean streets in Downtown and the Beirut airport”. Where do you think the Hariri government of the time found all this cash?

Those campers in the tent city may be on Lebanese soil, but they are really on private property.

The eviction notice will come soon.

Let’s hope it will not be addressed to Lebanon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hazbani saying
Jeha dear, I think you are so right and just to add a drop of salt to the fresh cut.
If there was one thing that Syria [ and Iran? ] learned [ again ! ] from the last war in South Lebanon and this flight over Syria it is that if Syria [and Iran ? and PRNC ? ] want to cause pain to Israel at the lowest cost [to them !] they sould do it via Lebanon and Palestine. The rest is clear and well kmown. Look for cover.