Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fortune Telling Lebanon's Future

Today in Lebanon,

Security

Reuters reported that Lebanese police found and confiscated large quantities of explosives, detonators and timers in houses owned by members of a pro-Syrian group in north Lebanon on Thursday, security sources said. They said police had also moved to encircle some offices of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Beirut after making some arrests in the northern Koura province. Alas, the state flexes its miniscule muscles. I Expect protesters tomorrow to chant against an "autocratic" and "dictatorial" regime.

Politics

The Daily Star reported, "A meeting of Parliament's Administration and Justice Committee scheduled for Wednesday was cancelled after a clash between" MPs Neamatallah Abi Nasr and Walid Eido. Apparently, "Abi Nasr had taken issue with Eido's rejection at a separate committee meeting earlier this week of a proposal to create a separate electoral governorate in Mount Lebanon comprising the qadas of Kesrouan-Ftouh and Jbeil." You know what really caught my attention here: the fact that a parliamentary committee is actually meeting! So parliament's doors are locked, but committees are holding meetings? Interesting

Economy

The Daily Star reported, "hundreds of bankers, businessmen and merchants held a meeting at Beirut's Phoenicia Inter-Continental Hotel on Wednesday to condemn the standoff between the government and the opposition over the latter's demand for more influence in Cabinet." If Lebanese were sane, and Lebanese politics not so dysfunctional, this group would constitute the most influential body in the country. Politicians would appeal to them for support, and would coordinate pulic-private initiatives to help boost economic performance. But, of course, Lebanese are not sane, and politics in Lebanon is dysfunctional... which brings me to the real news of the day,

What International Developments Will Steer Lebanon In The Near Future?

Yesterday, in a press conference, President Bush emphasized commitment to the Iraq mission despite the fact that his party lost both houses of Congress, and his recent declaration that the US is not winning the war. The New York Times writes that as he spoke, he "showed no indication that he was inclined to change goals or pull out of Iraq." The newspaper writes that he "used the news conference to confirm his plans, disclosed Tuesday in an interview with The Washington Post, to propose an increase in the permanent size of both the Army and the Marines. He called the global campaign against terrorism 'the calling of our generation,' and he said the military needed to be beefed up to fight it.

On that note, the Wall Street Journal published a very telling article about the how the State Department percieves the region, and what it plans to accomplish in the foreseeable future.

The newspaper writes that Condi Rice is about to embark on “a new diplomatic push in the Middle East to win increased support in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories from what she calls ‘mainstream states’ such as Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.” She “touted what she described as ‘a new opportunity’ to get moderate forces in the region 'to support the development of stable new governments in Iraq and Lebanon...and to make progress toward the emergence of a Palestinian state that is founded on the same principles.’”

As the White House continues to weigh changes to its Iraq strategy, Rice, writes the Journal, “argues that a new alignment is shaping up in the Middle East that offers fresh promise for a new US diplomatic effort.” According to her, the US is “calling upon Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and key Gulf states to help calm the sectarian passions in Iraq, even going so far as to recognize the current Shiite-led government in Baghdad.” They are also are being asked to “ramp up support for the embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to weaken Iranian-aided radical groups” such as Hezbollah and Hamas. In exchange, the Bush administration is “promising its Arab partners to try to reinvigorate the long-moribund peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

For its part, the Washington Times notes that Rice said the US will not even “wait for Palestinians to agree on a unity government or to hold elections in order to push for a renewed peace effort with Israel and will step up its support for President Mahmoud Abbas.” Rice pointed out that “the chief mission of US diplomacy in the Middle East in the next two years will be to strengthen the ‘alignment’ of moderate forces so they can take on extremists who have enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years.”

Now if we juxtapose this American position (as articulated by both Bush and Rice) with that which Russia articulated two or three days ago, you see two powers that perceive themselves playing fundamentally clashing roles. Neither power mentions the other in their discussions - nor even institutions or entities designed to foster at least a facade of cooperation (like the Middle East Quartet).

This collision makes me worry that Putin will continue to play the role of "spoiler" to American policy in the Middle East until he gets the kind of recognition from the Americans that he wants. He uses oil and natural gas for leverage in Europe, and he'll use weapons (as well as the nuclear issue) as leverage in the Middle East. Yesterday phone call to PM Seniora, in which Putin "expressed concern" about Lebanon falling into the same sort of chaos that the Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing was not a good omen at all - I perceived it to be more of a warning than anything else.

Yalla... let the roller coaster ride begin. Truth is: whether you believe that Hizballah or March 14 is the "righteous" party, righteousness is irrelevant. In fact, I'll take it one step further and say: Lebanon no longer matters now. The big boys apparently have only just started to get their hands dirty.

17 comments:

R said...

"I'll take it one step further and say: Lebanon no longer matters now. The big boys apparently have only just started to get their hands dirty."

It was bound to happen, we are too fragmented and lack the loyalty to the state that would have protected a small country from foreign interference.

But then again, after 30 years of Syrian domination there wasn't really much chance for state building...

I guess decades (if not centuries) of irresponsible politics and lack of vision as well as refusal to de-sectarianise the country will come to bite Lebanon in the ass (real hard) every now and then.

Suha said...

Lebanon never really did matter. We think too much of ourselves when we think it is actually about us.

On another note, I love the critics of the American "realists" (i.e. Gates and others) when Condi and others in the current US administration call countries like Egypt, Saudi, and Jordan "moderate". Saudi Arabia has no parliament and political parties are not allowed. I will not tell you how many people I know have been tortured by the absolutist Jordanian royal regime. And the Egyptian Mubarak dynasty speaks for itself. Uhuh. If saying those countries are moderates is not another permutation of the "realist" school, I wonder what is.

le maronite said...

Raja, As usual an excellent post.

Russia certainly does not have the power to guarantee peace and stability anywhere but they do have the power to guarantee instability and chaos. They will use that leverage whenever they can to pester the U.S. without actually confronting them hostily.

The U.S./Russian duality will be returning over the next few years to a decade as Russia seeks to reestablish its perceived rightful place as a superpower. They don't have nearly as much clout as before but are perhaps more adroit at using their soft power. So they will align with the bad - North Korea, Iran. Syria, Venezuela, Belorussia, Serbia, Cuba, Zimbabwe etc. whenever convenient and the not bad but interested at gaining prestige by diminishing the U.S. such as France, Germany, China and assorted others.

Luckily for Lebanon, the EU will only slightly obstruct U.S. peace goals in that arena. For example, "exactly how many rockets have the French removed from hizbullah?"

Interestingly, peace, progress and prosperity in Lebanon will be achieved by addressing Iran. The Lebanese standoff will therefore likely continue for a very long time. I would recommend that the U.S. do the following:

1. Not have direct talks with Iran or Syria as this will ligitimize the regimes further and discourage a growing disillusioned population in Iran of reform.

2. Demand an audit of the U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon - how much disarming have they actually done? Where are the missing soldiers? Has Isreal complied with all of their obligations?

3. Provide emergency funding to Seniora's government. just as Iran gives Hizbullah "walking around money" the U.S. should discretely give the government same.

4. The U.S. should encourage the Lebanese, Saudis, Egyptians, Jordainians and others to only refer to hizbullah as "the Iranian/Syrian supported Hizbullah" therefore reinforcing into everyones consciousness that they are foreign puppets moreso than anyone else in Lebanon.

3li- said...

Suha,

I am sure I don't need to tell you this, but "moderate" refers to the attitude of those Arab regimes towards US foreign policy, and not towards the freedom and welfare of their own people. Pakistan is "moderate;" Ghadafi's Libya too is now on the "good guys" list.

Even the late Shah had the title attributed to him more often than you know. In the last year of his empire, no other than the now seemingly guilt-ridden Carter called the Shah's Iran "an island of stability in the Middle East." Bloodbaths were taking place in the streets of Tehran while he said that. There is not limit to the obscenity.

The US will play up Sanyura’s gov’t as similarly on the side of “freedom” and “democracy” as long as he serves their purposes, or aligns himself with their plan and vision for the area. Watch the rhetoric change as soon as an agreement takes place where the gov’t accepts power-sharing with the opposition. Sanyura will be dropped like a hot-potato. It is the way of the beast. I am sure we’ll never learn.

Liliane said...

I agree with you Raja especially on the Economic Level, politicians are mostly idiots and I wish smarter people can put their hand on this country, because obviously politics and sectarianism is not working well.

On the regional level, we all know it was never about Lebanon and lebanon is nothing but a pawn in the middle east's chess game, led by US vs ... (just too many)

And most Lebanese people are joining the chanting and celebration of each time the pawn is moved to whichever way

Suha said...

3li,

I was referring to the hype these days for distinguishing between the "realist" school (Baker report) and the Utopian (Bush admin) according to their willingness (or lack of) to talk to rogue regimes. The realists prefer stability over democracy whereas Bush admin works for a greater vision of democracy and therefore refuses to talk to "rogue states" at the risk of instability, the logic goes.

Of course there is a difference between the two, but this simplistic realist/utopian distinction papers over the nature of the "moderate" states and, more importantly, makes the so-called "realists" seem like they had nothing to do with the Taliban, Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War etc... Because they just looooorve stability.

wow gold said...

wow gold
wow gold
wow gold kaufen
world of warcraft gold
wow
wow gold
buy wow gold
cheap wow gold
wow gold
cheap wow gold
wow gold
cheap wow gold
cheapest wow gold
eve isk
mp3 players
sell wow gold
portable mp3 players
portable mp3 player
buying gold world of warcraft
4GB MP3 PLAYER
2GB MP3 PLAYER
wow gold
cell phones
phones cell
wow gold kaufen
cheap cell phones


ipod
wow
ipods
ipod nano
wow gold
ipod touch
apple ipod
wow leveling
ipod shuffle
digital cameras
wow powerleveling
digital camera
canon digital camera
wow gold
dvd player
portable dvd players
eve isk
mp3 player
zubehoer mp3 player
cheap world of warcraft gold
8GB MP3 PLAYER
mp3
world of warcraft buy gold
mp4
mp3 players
buy cheap wow gold



mp3 player
free online games
wow geld
play war games
free online war games
wow level service
online games
wow europe
wow gold verkaufen
mp3 player accessories
mp3 player accessory
gold wow
cell phone accessories
Bluetooth Headset
po wow
Bluetooth Headsets
dvd players
des po wow
portable dvd player
digital camcorder
gold wow
digital camcorders
mp3 mp4 player
wow leveling service
4GB MP3 PLAYER
mp3 player kaufen



wow lvl 60
lecteur mp3
mp3 mp4 player
cheap wow power leveling
mp3
mp4
wow powerlevel
mp3 mp4 player
mp3 mp4 player
power level
mp3 player kaufen
wow lvl
wow lvl 70
wow power leveling
wow leveling
wow powerleveling
power level
wow lvl
level wow
wow level
wow powerlevel
lord of rings online gold
lotro gold
lotro gold
HDRO gold

PMB Pedan said...

im sure thats

jaya said...

I like to visit your blog about online friends and searching girls and boys for fun. I have a social networking website and indian friends online community to get more friends to be reached our personal and official friendship.



Indian Friends Online Community


Social Network website


Make Money Online

伊凡姐姐 said...

酒店打工

酒店兼職

台北酒店

打工兼差

酒店工作

酒店經紀

禮服店

酒店兼差

酒店上班

酒店PT

酒店

vella said...

fortune-telling

vella said...

А вы гадаете на Рождество? вот как надо - рождественские гадания

Godar said...

There was this guy who believed very much in true love and decided to take his time to wait for his right girl to appear.
nike shox nz shoes
cheap nike shox nz shoes
nike shoxs
Chaussures puma
wholesale nike shox nz shoes
cheap ugg boots
nike womens shoes
hommes nike chaussures
femmes nike
mens puma shoes
hommes puma chaussures
femmes puma chaussures
Nike Air Max 360 chaussures
Nike Air Max 90 Chaussures
Nike Air Max 95 Chaussures
Nike Air Max Ltd Chaussures
nike shox
Nike Max Tn Chaussures
nike 360 air max
nike running shoes
NIKE air shoes
nike shox nz shoes online store
nike air max
Nike Air TN Spider Chaussures
Nike Max Plata Chaussures
Nike R4 Plating Chaussures
Nike Shox Rival Velcro
Nike Shox Deliver Chaussures
Nike Shox Classic Chaussures
Nike NZ Plating Chaussures
wholesale nike shoes
nike shox torch
sneakers shoes
Nike Tn
discount nike shoes
nike shox r4
tn dollar
cheap nike shoes
nike tennis shoes
cheap nike shox
free shipping shoes
Paypal Credit card Accept
nike shoes
nike discount shoes
cheap puma shoes
nike shox shoes
chaussures nike
nike free shoes
buy shoes online
You may painfully regret, only to realise that it is too late.

genesis said...

Women make up half of the population, more than any other political group; it is no doubt that if we start moving, we will cause a stir! Supporting each others businesses will directly affect the development in the Arab region and their economical standings.

tingting said...

There was this guy who believed very much in true love and decided to take his time to wait for his right girl to appear.
nike shox nz shoes
cheap nike shox nz shoes
nike shoxs
Chaussures puma
wholesale nike shox nz shoes
cheap ugg boots
nike womens shoes
hommes nike chaussures
femmes nike
mens puma shoes
hommes puma chaussures
femmes puma chaussures
Nike Air Max 360 chaussures
Nike Air Max 90 Chaussures
Nike Air Max 95 Chaussures
Nike Air Max Ltd Chaussures
nike shox
Nike Max Tn Chaussures
nike 360 air maxSo he hardened his heart and turned her down cruelly.
nike running shoes
NIKE air shoes The guy went on with his life..... still searching for the one but somehow deep inside him,
nike shox nz shoes online store
nike air max
Then,
Nike Air TN Spider Chaussures
Nike Max Plata Chaussures
Nike R4 Plating Chaussures
Nike Shox Rival Velcro
Nike Shox Deliver Chaussures
Nike Shox Classic Chaussures
Nike NZ Plating Chaussures
wholesale nike shoes
nike shox torch

hxl said...

tn requin

chaussures tn

women's shoes

chaussure requin

air max

chaussures sport

air 90

air 95

chaussures pas cher

air bw

air max

air 90

air chaussures

discount handbags

timberland

timberland chaussures

bottes ugg

ugg classic

ugg

bottes ugg

Chaussures Femmes

ugg classic

ugg

moncler

Chaussures mode

doudoune moncler

健康365天天网秉承为大家带去健康365天为己任,联合各大国内外知名品牌,其中国外加拿大营养屋系列产品为主,健康药品大全几乎被加拿大营养屋产品所覆盖。国内知名品牌欣乐佳以高纯度提取技术为优势,给大家带来高纯度、高质量,健康365天优质生活。欣乐佳的高纯度提取技术堪称国内提取技术行业领头人。中食月太也是保健品行业的新生力量,肽产品是中食月太不可忽视的主推品牌力量,完全符合国家食源性低聚肽标准和行业标准。健康365天天网集国内外,知名三大品牌,成就保健品行业先锋。带给大家最新、最安全、纯度最高的,保健健康药品大全

Dharel Ajay said...

Welcome you all to World Sight Journey, a Nepal-based travel operator offering world class trekking and touring services!
Established a decade ago, World Sight Journey has been specializing in providing premier trekking, expeditions, and touring packages in the various hotspot destinations of Nepal. Besides, we also have been organizing hiking, jungle safari, river rafting, bungee jumping and mountain biking packages successfully throughout the popular destinations of Nepal. Since the inception, World Sight Journey has been proudly showcasing the scenic beauty of glorious Himalayas, the grandeur of incredibly diverse and wonderful Nepalese culture, amazingly rich flora and fauna, some yet-to-be discovered landscapes and many more to its valued clients from around the globe. We are so proud to showcase Nepal to the world.
trekking in Nepal, Trekking Company in Nepal, Everest base camp Trekking, Annapurna Base Camp Trekking, Upper Mustang Trekking , Peak Climbing in Nepal, Manaslu Circuit Trekking, Kanchenjunga Trekking, Island Peak Climbing