Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A few thoughts I would like to share...

Two bombs have exploded in the past few days, killing at least two people and causing considerable damage. The message that this sends seems to be that the Lebanese have to choose between SECURITY and SOVEREIGNTY. But it may well be that this time the Lebanese want both.

Leaders taking part in the ARAB LEAGUE SUMMIT in Algiers -although most of them asked Assad to comply with UN resolution 1559- did not speak with a strong enough voice. With Lahoud asking them for help in the face of foreign interference, and the opposition urging them to support their fight, the Arab leaders must have found it hard -or simply too politically costly- to take sides. On another note, their rejection of Jordan's proposal for unconditional diplomatic ties with Israel would make it potentially impossible for Lebanon to engage in normalisation talks with Israel before the step is taken by more powerful Arab countries (excluding Jordan and Egypt). Does that strengthen Hizballah's argument for retaining its arms?

-On Bush's position concerning the 'democratic wave' seemingly sweeping the Middle East ( in today's International Herald Tribune)-
In response to an article entitled "still think Bush was wrong?", E. H. Gould wrote: << Thanking President George W. Bush for the "Arab Spring" is like crediting a crowing rooster for the rising sun. In fact, the Arabs' move toward freedom is despite Bush, not because of him. The same brave Egyptians who now call for free elections in their country were beaten and arrested in the streets of Cairo when they protested the US invasion of Iraq. Bush, unlike any other American president in memory, is widely detested in the Arab world. Bush's espousal of "democracy" only cheapens the world in the Arab eyes and embarrasses reformers.>>
(I thought the first sentence presented a good analogy and wanted to share it with you).

Hizballah Secretary General Sayyed Nasrallah announced that he wanted to discuss the Party of God's status in Lebanese political life with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir (By the way, have you noticed that both men have 'Nasrallah', or "victory of God" in the names?). Both men are widely recognised by most Lebanese as reasonable, rational men. This may perhaps come as a surprise considering the fact that they are both religious figures. But in a country where politicians do not always inspire great trust, the two men appear to have, if not the trust, at least the respect of the people. Such steps that are guided by reason -rather than interest- give some reassurance that not all is to be determined by force and events beyond our control.


Anonymous said...

do not kid yourself that bush does not get the credit for the protests. if the world wasn't closely watching and the u.s. forces nearby in iraq, we would never challenge syria so openly. they would mow us down with tanks and machine guns. do u remember hama and tianenmen square?

reem said...


I completely agree that the fact that the international community and the media are keeping Lebanon as a front-page issue lends much support to the opposition's activities. All I am saying (or reporting) is that the desire and hope for democracy was not sown in the middle east by Bush. I suppose the people just seized the opportunity when the time was right, and their calls would be heard.

reem said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hummbumm said...

Sfeir has gone down in my estimation, the economist article posted on Beirut Spring blog, clearly points to the patriarch viewing the presidency as a maronite only concern with a willingness to protect one of their own. Not to argue the whole confessional system here, but if Sfeir wants to speak for the maronite community that is his perogative, but that makes him just like hte other nasrallah, neither one of them is a national figure in my eyes. Which leaves us back to the Hariri family as the only hope, and even then the sectarian forces in lebanon are too strong. Removal of syria is great, but the foundations of a strong lebanon are not being built here, all the leaders are too narrow minded, Sfeir unfortunately, now also falls into that category. Not all is lost, lebanon worked okay with this system. Of course someone like me could never be president, or maybe i could never be prime minister or speaker of the house, or head of the army or blahblah. I know these are delicate times, but one would hope the rhetoric at least would be more grandiose

Doha said...


I totally agree that Bush simply jumped on the bandwagon in the case of Lebanon. I believe that if any western power was involved in our affairs, it was France. And frankly, Chirac is showing Bush how change can take place through the UN and through dimplomatic means, securing international legitimacy (of course, unlike Iraq's case).

hummbumm said...

Chirac kissed ass with Syria for years, and did didly squat. I agree that the best method for international community is through the UN in this case, as the use of diplomacy can and hopefully will be effective. However, bear in mind that 1559 was a joint resolution, and one that Syria is taking seriously because of American muscle. there are many resolutions, we only need to look south, that are ignored if power is not behind them. I am glad that Chirac is finally doing something constructive in the region beyond mere rhetoric, but I know in my heart, that what prevented the overt use of force by syria in order to remain in lebanon was American power not french diplomacy. Let us hope that they both continue to work together and that lebanon benefits. In general, the who gets credit for what is a total sideshow for pundits. If the lebanese people on the ground did not take the lead, the international community could have done nothing. It is the lebanese who deserve credit for lebanon, and if one must, the US deserves "credit" for changing the status quo. Positive or negative, one thing is for sure, the middle east is a different place because of US policy.

Solomon2 said...

I totally agree that Bush simply jumped on the bandwagon in the case of Lebanon.

In my judgment, this argument should be suspended for now. What is more important is whether or not Lebanon will shape up as a democracy or not. Things seem to have slowed down a lot, and arguments like this, the Arab League summit, and even random bombings are the sorts of distractions that favor the dictators.

Raja said...

Solomon, I agree that things are slowing down. Hummbummm, I wouldn't read too much into statements being released by Sfeir, and others as well. Sometimes, people say things for public consumption; nothing more.

What's clear to me is that there's some serious negotiating going on in Lebanon now. The post-Syrian "order" is being decided as we all contribute to this blog.

We all know what the most contentious issues are. I think the most basic one is: "how syrian is Lebanon gonna be after the syrian withdrawal?" There are other issues of course, but this one is way up there.

Anyways, the politicians all have their basic positions. That is what matters. I mean, if Jumblatt comes out tomorrow and says: "oh, this was all a big mistake;" then I'd start worrying. But, when Lahoud should be kicked out of Baabda, and what kind of government we should have are all details that can sway back and forth w/o any serious consequences.

I say this again and again to everyone: the glue of the opposition are the four basic demands:

1.Syrian withdrawal
2.Resignation of security officials
3.Hariri investigation

All other issues are secondary.