Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cassandra in Lebanon

It appears few people have concerns about our government’s appeasement of Hezb; of all the Fils de Pétain, only four ministers made any reservations regarding the statement.

They had just wanted to add:

under the state wing

Simple. Elegant. And Logical. But it was not to be. But we’re already beyond the manifesto. It now appears we’re moving beyond D’Oha.

Back to a sectarian nightmare.

And the tea leaves of this witches brew make interesting reading, both internally and externally.

Internal Hedging

There are signs that each “side” in the Lebanese “equation” is now looking past D’oha; the Sunnis are circling the wagons, the Druze are hedging, and Christians are capitalizing on this.

The Sunnis appear to be changing gear, particularly in the north. Regardless of the Saad’s great resources, it appears that many are now considering the possibility of a post-Hariri era. Ahdab has been manoeuvring himself closer to the Salafis, and has been growing increasingly vocal of late. Fatfat is already “there”, his political base shored up in one of the fastest growing demographic segments.

Not many cannons, but a lotta fodder.

The Druze are hedging. To them, post-Hariri does not necessarily mean pre-Bashar. However, while the Syrian dictator is weaker than he appears, unable to protect his own, he still has the potential to do us much harm thanks to his alliance with Hezb. Joumblat finds himself on the crossroads; having defeated hezb militarily, he’s now focusing on extracting the best tactical “deal” he can. Because of Western duplicity, they have little choice in the matter.

ألف قلبه و لا غلب

The Christians are now in flux, divided between Aoun’s allegiance with Hezb, and Geageas’ alignment with the Hariris. Whoever wins the battle for hearts and minds of this segment of the population will win Lebanon.

Their perennial division is protection... For now.

Among all those, only Aoun appears to be planning for elections in June ‘09; his FPM ministers will be working hard to dole out patronage in the hope to regain much diminished lustre. However, even if Hezb allows any elections to proceed on June 09, for all Ziad Baroud’s democratic leanings, they will be neither free, nor fair. And this is what it appears Geagea is expecting; to him, the post-Hariri does not mean pre-Hezb. he can prepare safely for now, for two reasons; Hezb is too busy learning lessons form their Chouf debacle, and they cannot confront him directly without damaging Aoun.

External Drumming-up

The external signs all indicate that everyone is now looking, beyond the post-Hariri era, to the post-Lebanon era. At least, to a Lebanon pre-Cedar Revolution, when we were under the thumb of various foreign occupiers.

To the Israelis, the immediate consequence of the ministerial statement is to make official Hezb’s “takeover of Lebanon”. This means a couple of things;

1- Hezb’s policy is now official Lebanese policy. Which means that UNSC 1701 is dead, since Lebanese will move away from its obligations under UNSC 1559;

Lebanese officials from the president down had always legitimized Hizbullah's resistance as a national cause. "This time, a vehemently anti-Hizbullah government - led by a majority that has significant Western support - has put its signature to a clause that allows Hizbullah to take actions in the fields listed without seeking government approval. It also puts an end to any dreams of disarming Hizbullah. It secures Hizbullah's armed existence."

And this means that he 1949 Armistice is also effectively dead. The only thing preventing Israel to act on it now is its own internal power struggle. This buys us time until the return of Netanyahu...

Who though D’Oha was so close to Cairo?

2- If the perception that Hezb’s has taken over Lebanon continues to get more “traction”, then it is Lebanon which will become a pariah state. As such, expect the brush that paints us all as terrorists to return. And worse; if targeted sanctions are applied, that will only accelerate everyone’s move away from the state.

No wonder everyone is moving post-Hariri. They all realize that, “without strong state institutions, the state cannot be strong”, but the net results of their policies ensures that it’s not much of a state anyway.

Interesting times ahead.

It now all hinges on Hezb. This was their best year ever, and perhaps their golden age. So, as they reach the zenith of their expansion, will they capitalize on their success and extract an optimal deal for their “side”? Or will they drag us to war by continuing their push beyond the limits of the possible?

It is more likely that they will go on pushing further; they didn't come that far by merely playing along with the band...


danny said...

HA seems to have accomplished most things it wanted at will...
Israel seems more content with an Iranian flavoured government in Lebanon than a Salafist or a Sunni fundamentalist one. They realize that the moderating forces had been the Christians who are about to become one of the "minute" minorities in the next decade or so.
Israel had always been content in having the Assads as their protector of the Northern frontier..Why change now?

As for 2009 elections. The Christian vote will decide on which way will the scale tilt...There's a lot of ground to cover till then. I would not hold my breath for it. March 2009 is more likely where these feudal warlords forge their "alliances". Lebanon has always been a patchwork canton whereas all could dump their terrorists/freedom fighters/refugees/malcontents...should I carry on more? It sometimes resembles a brothel and seedy spy infested alley and its pols are the mafia pimps!!!

So...We had the several partners in this dance during the past decades. Currently it is the HA Persian "belle"...Next? Who knows and who cares?

Anonymous said...

I don't know why many are labelling peoples' of Tripoli as Salafi...not necessarily ...But the weakness of Hariri and the humilation sunnis endured in Beirut opened the door for pro-salafis sentiments...What are we really expecting?
By the way, Amin Gemayel is teh first to warn HA about that...and Ahdab kept telling the army to interfere coz tripoli is boiling...
I feel that HA will suffer from few 'terrorist' attacks in their own strongholds...they cannot play with fire for so long

frenchy said...

"To the Israelis, the immediate consequence of the ministerial statement is to make official Hezb’s “takeover of Lebanon”. This means a couple of things;"

hmmm when they bombarded all the lebanese region, including the electrical power station etc... wasn't they already stating indirectly mixing hezbollah and the lebanese state?
I was stating that ... from 2005 and Noone was agreeing with me at that time. And now they are discovering the situation? Hey guys wake up, makes 3 years lost because of this stupid policy conducted by a so called majority and mismanaged from 3 years and messed up the whole progress of the so called cedar's revolution. Now we have to try to save what can be saved from all what we did in 2005 and the departure of the syrian forces. This is reality.

As well, I am sorry but this is not new and as well we wouldnt be here in the actual situation for exemple if the international community IE the USA were providing the lebanese army effective weapons such as anti airplanes weapons because of israelies pressures. Now the reports are showing that the hezbollah got anti aircraft weapons, it shows how badly managed was the situation from 2005 (entry of the hezbollah into the first saniora gov) to now.

Anonymous said...

Well, seems people are not reading their papers not listening to the Radio or watching TV. Hizb. tried shooting at Israeli planes in 2003-4. When some missiles fell on Israeli teritory the Israelies bombed villages in south Lebanon, that was the end of it. Assuming the Hizb. will send a missile at an Israeli air-plane, assuming this plane will fall into the sea or in Israel, or assuming that on the second the radar "see" the Isaraeli plane and lock on it a well placed missile will hit the radar station, what will happen then? Even Nasra. him self have said that if.. then.. he would not have...Some body in Iran and Syria would like very much for Israel and Lebanon to blead each other to death it seems that some people in Lebanon would like this too, strange.