Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bargaining Chips: Another Set of Concessions?


...And as if Faris Khashan has read your last post entitled "So...why Hawi?"...He wrote today about how Hawi's murder is a bargaining chip for another set of concessions that the National Opposition has to agree to in order to move forward in the face of decisive political, consitutional, and national matters ahead of our country.

And I say, "another" set of concessions, because after a series of bombs in the month of March culminated by the Tele Lumiere bombing, right after the success of the March 14th uprising, and as we were facing a constitutional and political vacuum represented by Omar Karami's "intentional" inability to form a government...the Opposition faced a set of concessions, presented and blessed through international and Syrian consensus: to bring Mikati as PM (Bashar Assad's business partner), to accept the 2000 electoral law, and to ally with Hizbullah/Amal so as not to alienate the Shiite component in this new phase.

Raja, you wrote: "I believe that some intense negotiations are taking place between the opposition and the Syrian regime as I am typing up this post; and I fear that the opposition is going to have to concede to at least some of the Syrian demands."

This is exactly what is happening...and shall we say that that new set of concessions might be Berri, Hizbullah's question, Lahoud, the fate of the new government, and the Hariri investigation that is threatening all heads inside and outside Lebanon??? Are we doomed to either face death or forever concede, in what Khashan calls the "Hariri formula"?

George Hawi (RIP) recently said that when Kamal Jumblatt was killed, no investigation went forward, because there used to be always a power that covers for the power that has committed the atrocity. He said that in Hariri's case, and for the first time, no power was willing to cover for the party that has perpetrated that crime. Are we going to witness anew the old way of doing things?

We are being silenced, but are we going to rise up to the challenge and say NO?! Khashan believes that those who chose to die instead of conceding are those who are worthy of building our nation, on whom our nation depends the most.

P.S.: Talking about the subject of concessions, yesterday in an interview on NBN, Jumblatt said that if the choice is between either the end of the security regime or opening the corruption files, he admitted for the first time that he is with opening all the files of corruption and seeking an international investigative body to look into this issue (provided that ALL the files are opened.) Moreover, when asked whether he endorsed Berri, he said that he did not endorse Berri by name, but rather supports whomever the Shiites nominate and if it is someone other than Berri that Hizbullah picks, then be it (a change from previous claims, but anyways, Hizbullah met yesterday and chose Berri.)

P.S.: Read this moving poem by Zahi Wahbi: Daily Questions in Anticipation of Death! (As'ila Yawmiyya Isti'dadan Lil-Mawt!) By the way, today he faces defamation charges formally before the courts.

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


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ThinkingMan said...

Great, so the fate of Lebanon is now decided by Hezbollah as they choose the Parliament Speaker who has a habit of manipulating it to his whims.
Nice fate.
What happens to the other half of the Chiite population?

And on the first part of this blog, I would find it utterly irresponsible if whoever is still negotiating with the Syrians about any concessions. I think this one belongs to the series of Middle-East conspiracy theories.

Btw- the US is gaining more worldwide support against Syria and are strengthning the Syrian opposition. I don't think they will make the same mistake as Iraq, but they definitely see Syria as the last remaining stumbling block to peace in the Middle-East.

Doha said...

But, thinkingman, isn't it true that a "deal" was struck when Mikati assumed the PM position? All newspapers talked about this deal. And it wasn't only an American-French-Saudi deal, but also Syrian. So who was negotiating with the Syrians?....I have no clue! Perhaps Terje Roed Larsen?? But he's not around anymore; I believe he was about to retire before Annan gave him the Syrian-Lebanese portfolio. So I wonder who's negotiating now...

Raja said...

Doha, this is where Hizballah and even Amal come in - and also, where Jumblatt's efforts start to make sense. Without the two parties just mentioned, Lebanon is hopelessly weak because it is divided - toothless. How do you dismantle certain institutions that are holding a knife to your throat if you're divided and weak? How do you face a country like Syria, which has ruled you and manipulated you for 15 years when two crucial members of your team refuse to cooperate?

In my opinion, it is this point that a lot of Lebanese fail to understand. Lebanon is simply goin' nowhere without the Lebanese Shi'a. And today, the Shi'a happen to be lead by Hizballah and Amal. Both of these organizations have to be given the incentives to join the "opposition"/i.e. "the Lebanon team" no matter what (force is not an option!). Otherwise, at least some segments of the security services will continue to operate under orders from Syria with impunity, and the assassinations will continue. In the final analysis, it is much easier to convince a politician to change his convictions than it is for a military man. Most of the times, such a trait is a flaw, but other times, it is a blessing.

The Christian-Sunni-Druze "coalition for Lebanon" was missing a final component - in fact, a major component! When the Shi'a were brought on board, through Hizballah and Amal, some cried foul. Eventhough a lot of what happened was unfair, Lebanese should have accepted such politiking for the time-being at least. Not everything is going to be fixed in a matter of months. Moreover, look at what is happening today! Concession after concession. Assassination after assassination. Why? Because we're not only the weak party in this conflict, but we're also divided and bickering amongst ourselves.

Ken Lezim i koun fi shweyyit bu3ud nazar!

Raja said...

a lot of people say that the political elite we have, starting with Jumblatt down to Berri are not fit to rule the country. My response to that is: let us get over this really delicate stage with what we have, and once this whole mess is all over, we can start challenging them and comming up with a real counter-elite. Let's not declare victory too soon and start acting like Syria is nothing but a benign neighbor with nothing but the best intentions for Lebanon yet. I will go as far as to say that Lebanon is at a state of war with Syria. Or rather, the Lebanese political elite is at a state of war with the Syrian political elite. So long as this situation persists, I will be on the side of the Lebanese political elite, and not unwittingly fall into the Syrian side of this duel.

ThinkingMan said...

Raja- i agree with your analysis.
Being strong is a prerequisite to survival and also to dealing with Israel, Syria, all others.

But I thought that at least 50% of the Shi'a wouldn't be categorized as die-hard Amal/Hezb, i.e. if there was an alternative and they were not pressured, they might opt out of Amal/Hezb?
Anyways- it's up to a strong Lebanese government to deal decisively with Israel so that Hezb feels more secure about laying down their arms (since that is their biggest concern). That would be good for all Lebanese. Perpetuating the state of war and uncertainty doesn't benefit us- if anything it benefits Israel more since they have managed to grown their economy and continue to be strong despite of the Arab conflict. So, I don't understand why Hezb would want to drag their feet on solving that one, if it means more prosperity for Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why Hezb would want to drag their feet on solving that one, if it means more prosperity for Lebanon."

thinkingman, the quick answer that pops to mind is based on "what" hizbollah is as an ideology: a fundamentalist social project, that in spite of their current official stance, still believes the best solution for government (in any country) is an islamic rule of law.
that said, hizbollah's power base, or public support comes from mainly three necessary factors:
1. the continued perception of them as protectors from Israel
2. the continued perception that they are the only real alternative shia leadership (even through a clever deal with berri, who represents only himself relatively speaking)
3. the continued perception of them as protectors of the "mustad3afeen", the poor and the dispossessed

so if 1559 takes out their weapons and thus factor 1, and if kornet chehwan+aoun+(hopefully a neutral hariri) take away factor 2, and "prosperity" takes away factor 3... there goes their long term big plan of transforming lebanon into a religious state. (from the logic that it is easy to manipulate poor people into following your path to religion etc)

bottom line is, a peaceful prosperous lebanon has no place for hizbollah, and hence it would be self-destructive for them today NOT to drag their feet until they find a better footing in the future middle east.

Raja said...

Doha, William Harris says the following in his long commentary regarding the situation

"Damascus and its Lebanese clients look to salvage their position in Lebanon by frustrating international investigation of Hariri's murder and fracturing the multi-sectarian opposition."

He goes on to say:

"Bashar may also play on fears in the Arab world and elsewhere about "instability" in Syria to try to sideline the Hariri investigation. The Syrian regime undoubtedly hopes the passage of time will diminish concern over Hariri's murder. Meanwhile, if the opposition triumphs in Lebanese elections and Lahoud steps down, the Syrian regime will work to preserve influence in Lebanon through its deep penetration of Lebanese security forces, the joint profiteering interests of regime-connected Syrian and Lebanese business mafias, and perpetuation of the Syrian intelligence presence. Bashar has proclaimed that "the power and role of Syria in Lebanon are not dependent on the presence of Syrian forces there," and the Syrian information minister has also dismissed the Syrian-Lebanese border as "phony.""