Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Dilemma in Lebanon

Events in Lebanon look grim. For some excellent analysis, see Faysal at The Thinking Lebanese. Michael Totten, better versed than most on matters Lebanese, weighs in as well.

Wide-ranging summary of reporting up at Pajamas Media, while the Right Wing Nuthouse focuses on the potential for conflict, stemming from calls for “competing protests,” from March 14th Forces and Hizbullah.

The Opinion Journal editorializes that those who make the argument that we must talk with more than just our friends, might take serious note of who that means we engage, and what they’re all about:
Curiously, Gemayel was killed just as the U.N. agreed on the composition of an international tribunal to try the case. It is no secret that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been pulling out all the stops to quash the trial. Six pro-Syrian politicians in the Lebanese cabinet recently resigned en masse in an attempt to cripple the government, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been threatening huge demonstrations to bring down the anti-Syrian Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who is also backed by the U.S. and France. Killing Gemayel removes another obstacle to Syrian dominance in Lebanon.

Which brings us back to Mr. Baker and the rest of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment now urging a new entente with Damascus. It's true that every Administration must deal with the world as it is. But when it comes to Syria, do the sages of the Iraq Study Group really want the Bush Administration to seek the benediction of a country that stirs such mayhem in Beirut?
For those who think the internecine battles of the Red and the Blue in the US brutal and unprincipled, should consider the contrast with Lebanese politics, as practiced by Hezbollah, as well as other Syrian and Iranian interlopers, with assassination as the primary means of forcing a change in government. As Faysal observes:
Following the summer conflict with Israel, radical Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah has seized the opportunity to fortify its political position in Lebanon by forcing an expansion of the Lebanese Cabinet that would give Shiite parliament members veto power to counter the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition. To achieve this, Hezbollah has escalated sectarian tensions in the country and organized massive demonstrations in Beirut in an effort to prove it can control the decisions of the Lebanese government with or without majority political representation. Now that Gemayel has been eliminated from the Cabinet, only one more Cabinet position needs to fall in order for the government to lose its constitutionality. Gemayel's assassination is part of a strategy to bring down the Lebanese government and force new elections that could favor Hezbollah and its Shiite allies.
Observers argue over the Shia and Sunni dimensions (and differences) entwined in the dilemma of Lebanon, over Hezbollah or Syrian intents, and potential conflicts of interests, beyond what is obviously the most conflicted interest of all: that of a weary and terrorized Lebanese people, who may well fear that a new and more horrific history of violence will now be written. (It seems like they’re already past the Introductory chapters…)

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