Sunday, June 29, 2008

Déjà-Fools

It's déjà-vu all over again…

Déjà-Fought

Someone needs to sign-up all those déjà-idiots in Baal-Mohsen and Bab-El-Tebbaneh for a collective Darwin Award.

Maybe we should add those braying déjà-fools who adulate Nasrallah; before déjà-bowing to the Vali-Faqih, may be they should ponder the meaning of the words " ."خاتمة الأنبياء

Maybe one should also add those other déjà-fooled idiots who still déjà-insist on a choice between a “prison-adjusted” déjà-Geagea, an “exile-weathered” déjà-Aoun, a “now wiser” déjà-Gemayel… Not to mention Slimy-the-Younger.

Maybe … Oh well, you get the picture; if our leaders are unable to learn from their déjà-failures and déjà-overreach, it’s because intelligence is genetic. Life is unfair, now deal with it; either get new leaders, or wait it out till they weed each other out.

Just déjà-survive.

Déjà-Died

We’ve been down this civil-war road so many times we could drive through it blindfolded. I would just note that, here again, no one can déjà-prevail in such a war, or in any other; the last one reconciled Kamal and Bashir in death, and this one will reconcile Ali and Omar in the same manner.

I would just reiterate a couple of elements here, as they give this latest civil-war edition a renewed twist. The path to this particular little war-in-a-war was started by two “mistakes”;

- One mistake was déjà-committed by "the Alawites", many of whom served in Rifaat's "Pink Panthers", and some of them “veterans” of Hama. Much like Lahd's men, they have déjà-elected to serve a foreigner rather than try to live with their own neighbours.

- Another mistake was déjà-committed by "the Sunnis", many of whom followed the luminaries of the “Tawhid”, a group that vanquished the once-powerful communists and déjà-imposed Sharia on Tripoli. They make Ben-Laden’s choir boys look like the local pansy division outfit…

The net result of those two mistakes? The déjà-fight, if it is not stopped in its tracks, will spread outside Lebanon. No amount of Syria’s Mukhabarat’s Energy will bring down this system’s increasing entropy of a Sunni-Alawite fight, especially in the context of the ongoing succession fight over Hafez’ throne.

Déjà-Survived…

The greater the love at the onset of the wedding, the greater the hate as the divorce gets underway. As Ali and Omar prepare to déjà-duke it out, I am not sure who will déjà-survive this “War of the Roses”, but it hardly matters; so what if only a diamond can cut a diamond? You’re still left with a “diamond” at the end… And not the kind that’s a girl’s best friend.

Or your kid’s… but they will be long gone by then, having déjà-emigrated out of this fools’ nest.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Political Alchemy

Lebanese political alchemists are hard at work.

Vae Pecunii…

By June 05, Saad Hariri had started the transmutation of a name respected across sectarian lines into a sectarian symbol of all that ails the Lebanese “system”. His transformation from hope to hindrance was finally achieved this past May 08, when his incompetence was laid bare for all to see.

Vae Soli…

By end of May 08, a once admired national “Syed al-Moqawama” transmuted himself into another Arafat. Proud warriors who defeated the Middle East’s mightiest army transmuted themselves from once-national resistance into a sectarian PLO on a Grail Quest. Sh… No, it’s not Shebaa they’re after, and a new war with Israel will not stop this transmutation

Vae Pauperes Spiritu…

By end of June 08, efforts were made to transmute the “Doha Accord” into another “Cairo Agreement”. In the process, this will turn a potential Shehab into a failed Sarkis, and potentially, the idiotic ClAoun back into the Great Orange Hope…

What next? By October 08, a few new transmutations are afoot; they have already turned the secular promise of the Cedar Revolution sectarian ugliness, so if they do not have a Civil War to occupy them, they could still turn the Lebanese Pound into crapola.

Again

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Porcupines at Work...

It’s been slow going in this neck of the woods. Much hype, but little action; for all their new found ardor, Israelis and Syrians are merely talking about “peace”. But Just like two porcupines making love, their embattled leaders need to “tread” very carefully.

Each has to achieve a three-way balance; aside from ensuring their personal survival and guaranteeing their country’s piece of the regional pie, they also have to contend with the interests of their respective patrons.

Personal Survival

Each leader’s personal survival is at stake here.

Bashar’s succession of Hafez is not yet fully secure. In the immediate, he is helped by “delays” in the setup of the Hariri tribunal, but the pressure at home is not abating, considering the in-laws...

Olmert’s own future does not look too rosy either. As the corruption scandal grows, his many challengers are eager for a fight. They may find allies “inside” his fast-disintegrating Kadima party; with most MK’s are worried about their own future, some of his ministers are ready to ditch him; those “فخاض” killed before, you know.

Literally

...What a way to go

Regional “Place”

For all their bravado, both Syria and Israel remain essentially limited regional players.

Over the past 50 years, the Syrians have tried hard to punch above their weight, but the days of the Omeyyads are far behind us. As the bills have piled up, Syria found fewer willing patrons wiling to subsidize its quest for Gandeur; for all practical purposes, “Greater Syria” had to be defined down to a conquest of Lebanon, an ambition now limited to keeping its cards active, which is becoming an unqiquely dangerous game. Such confessional tensions can easily spill over; when Aoun was agitating, Hafez had only Bab Touma to worry about. But a Sunni-Shiite war is another matter. In addition, Bashar has some nuclear fallout to worry about, even if the UN is keep relatively quiet about Syria’s beach of its nuclear engagements.

In contrast, Israel has been able to punch far above its weight for the past 50 years, but it is fast reaching the limits of this success, and it cannot grow further without the the Palestinians. Rather than settling the deserted Negev, Jews have elected to settle the populated West Bank. As a result, they find themselves increasingly enmeshed with the Palestinians who make up at least 20 % of its own citizenry, but 55% of the inhabitants of the land of Palestine.

For better or worse, Israel’s consolidation of “defensible borders” led it to an expansion that has now reached its demographic limits, and Israelis and Palestinians are growing into one another, just like aging Siamese twins. As time goes on, the links will deepen, and “separation” will become ever harder. . Talking to the Syrians may feel good for a while, but it will do nothing to address the key issue; while we all need peace, Israel needs legitimacy. The secret word?

Right of Return.

They can redefine it. They can fudge it. But they cannot, ever, avoid it.

The Patrons

Finally, both Israelis and Syrians have to contend with their respective patrons; the Americans and the Iranians.

There has been much talk that, under the current administration, no peace deal is possible. In that view, the best the two sides can achieve is very careful foreplay until a more accommodating new guy is in place in the White House.

However, that talk misses the point; the disagreement between Iran and the United States is systemic, and the Persians do not hold too many cards. And whoever comes to the White House still needs the oil to flow in.

So, if Syria cannot wean itself from Iranian petrodollars, Israel will find that the keys to its “carte du tendre" with Damascus’ now lays at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, in a couple of small rock outcrops fought over by Persians and Arabs

... Ouch?

One wonders why the Turks decided to drag themselves in the midst of this fun fest; the current AK leadership maybe among the most adept and thoughtful this country had for a long time…

Turkish involvement could well reflect the internal politics of a country split between the “secular” establishment and their supporters in the army, and the “islamists” parvenus and its support among Turkey’s Kurdish population. Alternatively, it could be that the Turks know something we Lebanese don’t, or dread.

In either case, it’s a high stakes gamble for Turkey. While I understand Turkey’s interest for a stabilized regional game, even the potentially high rewards of a “success” deal do not justify the high cost of failure. There are cheaper, more durable ways to maintain regional stability, after all…

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Lion's Dinner

When a lion invites you to dinner, better make sure you’re not the dinner.

I remain unsure about what exactly took place over the past few weeks. However, I think some "context" may help enlighten some aspects of those events; click on this link, go to the 49:00 minute mark, and listen. If your connection is slow, here is the interesting tidbit, among many whoppers spewed on that day.

We have discussed the 400,000 Palestinians living in Syria, and close to 300,000 living in Lebanon, and we have the feeling that, as part of the agreement between Israel and Syria, [the Syrians] would be granting citizenship to the Palestinians in Syria […] It would dramatically “change the attitude” of the Lebanese, and this can be very helpful from the point of view of defusing part of the this very explosive issue of Palestinian refugees

The speaker is Mr. Aaron Liel, the Israeli-negotiator who led the latest Syrian-Israeli love-fest. Such crass politicking at Lebanon’s expense makes “realists” looks good in comparison. To such worthy intellects, one only needs to quote is from no one else than a certain Laden, Ossama B., in his 1998 ABC Interview;

We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions

To those who may be tempted to sell Lebanon’s freedom to ensure their temporary security, can rest assured that snuffing our freedom will not yield any security.

Today, our time may have come. If it does, tomorrow will be the turn of those “realists”. When the time of those Chamberlain's comes, when some guy (or gal) blows them away to paradise, there will find that empathy has emigrated out with the luckiest amongst us. And the last thing they will hear will be a loud Lebanese snicker, and a even louder;

I told you so.

Didn't we tell you to watch out?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Self-Delusion

This past Thursday, the episode of the political chat show, Kalam el- Ness, was very instructive. Marcel Ghanem was hosting Nouhad El-Mashnouk, advisor to Siniora, and Nawaf el-Moussawi, a Hezb analyst.

Mr. El-Mashnouk is smart and a well reasoned analysts. And even/especially when one disagrees with his points of view, one often learns something from him. But the show was not instructive for what either had to say, but rather for Mr. Moussawi’s display of powerful self-delusion. In his mind’s eye, it was all true;

The “resistance” was attacked back then. They were the victims.

Hezb did not invade Beirut, and it was only a “civil disobedience campaign”.

Hezb did not attempt to invade the Chouf.

There are no prisoners held in Syrian jails.

The real militias in Lebanon are those “rent-a-cop” outfits who search ladies purses at malls.

???

To the skeptic watching such a display of self-delusion, one questions come to mind;

How can such self-deluded demagogic bunch be the same organized outfit who defeated the formidable Israeli military in 2006 and who lost to a shotgun-equipped Druze municipal police in this past “mini-war”?

Nothing really fits

Thursday, June 05, 2008

a Tale of 3 Generals

The situation in Lebanon is easy to summarize;

A General left,

A General Arrived,

And the General’s screwed.

Back to the Future?

In that context, the rest of this week’s manoeuvres are easy to understand. Aoun is indeed aware of his predicament, and is fighting hard to maintain his position. But it will not work.

June ’08 is much like June 05

If “the” General holds off for too high a price, his “partners” in the “opposition” will sell him out in a deal with Hariri, just like Hariri did in June 05 when he made a deal with the then-“majority”.

However, there is one difference with June ’05. Back then, Aoun was perceived to be the only Christian alternative, and in many ways, he was. However, he squandered that opportunity, and now finds himself increasingly isolated, with a potentially formidable rival in the Presidency.

Ahoy, Matey!

With a president Suleiman in place, Aoun will have a very hard time staying afloat this coming election season. If he last that long; heading Murr’s example, the rats will start leaving his sinking FPM ship very soon.

Unlike Lahoud, this General knows his way around a battlefield. Let’s hope he knows his way around the far more dangerous antechambers of Lebanese “power”.

If he does, then president Suleiman could grow from the current Sarkis to the future Shehab. Indeed, the field is wide open, and there is a wide room for a secular-minded leader to manoeuvre himself and occupy the centre. The extremes are ripe for “downsizing”; Aoun’s diminished, Hariri’s discredited, Nasrallah’s uncovered, and Berri’s unmasked

If he does not, God help the Armadillos.