Friday, December 22, 2006

Amr Pasha - the Vanguard

Some would like for us to believe that Amr Pasha does not merely seek to save us Lebanese from ourselves. No, no, no... You see, Amr Pasha represents the vanguard of a new initiative by regional powers to forge an independent path that would save the entire region from American folly, Russian machinations, European temerity and Iranian expansionism. The Christian Science Monitor (12/22, Murphy) wrote yesterday, "this high-level dialogue appears to reflect a new reality: With US prestige crippled by the war, regional actors are bypassing the West to forge partnerships and find solutions on their own." (By the way, I'm tickled whenever I find the word "solutions" and "regional actors" in the same sentence).

Anyways, let's look at this "high level dialogue" between "regional actors" who seek to find "solutions of their own" from a different angle. In fact, let's just look at one of these regional actors - arguably one of the most influential.

The New York Times (12/22, Fattah) wrote yesterday that "across Saudi Arabia" the "once-quiet concern over the chaos in Iraq and Iran's growing regional influence has burst into the open, with many saying a showdown with Iran is inevitable." The Times added that the "apparent split burst into the open last week when Prince Turki al-Faisal...abruptly resigned [as ambassador to the US]." His resignation, writes the newspaper, "is seen by part of a long-running battle over Saudi Arabia's foreign policy," and "privately some Saudi officials and analysts with knowledge of the situation say Prince Turki resigned over deep differences with Prince Bandar bin Sultan," who is "believed to favor the tough American approach of confronting Iran, analysts say, while Prince Turki advocates more diplomatic tactics, including negotiating with Iran."

Even the Washington Post (12/23, Wright) pitches into this discussion surrounding the bickering within the Saud family. The newspaper writes, "the woes within the royal family reflect a tug of war over how to handle foreign policy." Over a year ago, "Prince Bandar bin Sultan ended a legendary 22-year career as the face of Saudi Arabia in the United States. ... As it turns out, however, Bandar has secretly visited Washington almost monthly over the past year - and is at least as pivotal today in influencing U.S. policy as he was in his years as ambassador." The Post also points at factional infighting, unrelated to matters of foreign policy, when it writes, "The rise of Bandar, who is now Saudi Arabia's national security adviser, may reflect the waning influence of the sons of the late King Faisal, who dominated the diplomatic and intelligence services for decades, say sources close to the family."

Here we have an embarrassing portrayal of, arguably, the most powerful "regional actor" struggling to find "solutions" of its own - never mind one working with other regional actors in such a quest. In fact, the notion that there is this "Arab" or "Regional" path, autonomous from the influence of other major powers, is as preposterous as the existence of the Arab League. No... the lines in the Middle Eastern sands have been drawn, and it is clear where each player stands, who they're allied with and who they depend on. Moreover, the rise of Bandar bin Sultan out of the tumult in Riyadh - a development that both newspapers seem to agree on - reconfirms where the Saudis themselves are headed, and I am quite certain, it has nothing to do with "the crippling of US prestige by the war in Iraq."

So, for his sake, let's not make Amr Pasha out to be more than he already is. The man is already the governor of Lebanon's Mutasarrifs! He has enough on his plate.


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Lebanese blog is a new way of viewing Lebanon without the political connotations.

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