Saturday, December 16, 2006

Lebanon Next Week - a preview

Grass-roots activists in Western democracies like to believe that all politics is local. Or, alternatively, they like to say that "change" starts in people's backyards.

In Lebanon, on the other hand, every taxi driver knows that almost every aspect of his life is affected, in one way or another, by decisions made in Riyadh, Tehran, Cairo, Damascus, Paris, Moscow, Washington DC, and increasingly, even Beijing.

Starting from this premise, I will quickly glide through developments across the world today - developments that I believe will have an impact on Lebanese politics in the coming week. Events will be pigeonholed into three categories: International, Regional and the Regional-International nexus.

Allow to start with,

INTERNATIONAL

1. US North Korean Bilateral Negotiations. It appears that the US is quietly conceding to North Korean demands to hold direct talks. Agence France Press says, "US chief negotiator Christopher Hill has said he will meet with his North Korean counterpart in Beijing ahead of the opening of next week's six-way nuclear disarmament talks." Hill, "arriving in Japan for an overnight stop, said he will meet with North Korean envoy Kim Kye-Gwan in Beijing on Sunday."

US To China: I scratch your back, you scratch mine. I'll meet with the N Koreans if you vote a certain way at the UN Security Council. On another level, I wonder how Iran would feel if the "Axis of Evil" all of a sudden loses the venerable Kim Jong Il.

2. The Republic of Georgia, lead by Mickeil Saakashvili will not back down to Russian pressures and will continue on its Western-oriented trajectory. The Washington Times quotes the country's Prime Minister saying, "Georgia will not retreat from democratic reforms or its pro-Western foreign policy despite Russian pressure that could produce a total cutoff of oil and gas shipments this winter."

Hold On: I know what you're saying: what the hell does this have to do with Lebanon? Well the only way that Georgia manages to remain somewhat independent of its giant neighbor to the north is through US support. (sound familiar?) Russia sees this "breakaway" country as a major irritant, and definitely uses it as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other "international giants."

REGIONAL

1. Palestine. Hamas (backed by the Tehran-Damascus axis) and the PLO (backed by the Cairo-Riyadh, Amman axis) are on the verge of civil war. Mahmoud Abbas has just called for elections as a way to avert bloodshed.

The Wash Post says, "factions exchanged gunfire Friday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving more than 30 people wounded, as leaders from both parties warned of an escalation that could push the territories toward a deeper conflict"

The NY Times writes, "
the violence and the heated oratory in recent days have increased talk about [an outright] confrontation, or even the possibility of a Palestinian civil war."

Concerning the elections, BBC World writes, "Mr Abbas' call for elections is a dangerous political move. It comes at a time when inter-factional violence between his own Fatah faction and Hamas has left several Palestinians dead in Gaza and the West Bank. A senior Hamas leader rejected Mr Abbas's call for early elections, saying that would be tantamount to a coup. (sound familiar?)

I wonder: if one faction is able to win over the other in Palestine, what the implications for Lebanon's two coalitions will be. Will the pressure on Lebanon increase? You betcha! Whoever loses is gonna want to compensate somewhere else, right?

2. Iraq. The
Iraqis are apparently holding a "National Reconciliation Council." I wonder how effective such a conference will be in quelling the violence. However, at least it seems to be attracting some attention. Al Jazeera writes, "A national reconciliation conference designed to halt mounting sectarian violence in Iraq has opened in Baghdad. Hundreds of delegates from the country's divided political factions gathered at a conference centre inside Baghdad's Green Zone on Saturday in a bid to draw up a peace process."

Draw up a peace process? Is there a war? Anyways, sarcasm aside... if Sunnis and Shi'is are actually able to stop killing each other over there - or at least minimize the killing - we'll all be better off. Cross your fingers.


3. Iran. The Iranians are voting for municipal representatives, and for members of the "Assembly of Experts." The NY Times writes, "
Iranians went to the polls Friday in large numbers, which analysts said could be good news for reformers and could work against the hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." The newspaper goes on to say, "in Tehran, many voters said they were casting ballots for reformers, not out of devotion, but because they wanted more moderate figures to confront Mr. Ahmadinejad."

The Associated Press notes that "
Polling hours in Tehran were extended for three hours to accommodate long lines. The head of the electoral organization, Deputy Interior Minister Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi, told state TV that many polling stations had asked for more ballots."

The Financial Times writes, "
The turn-out was far higher than the 11 percent in Tehran's last municipal election, in 2003, when the reformists' defeat followed a period of internal bickering - and led to their setbacks in 2004 parliamentary elections and the 2005 presidential poll."

Please, Please: Iranians, vote for sane people this time! I beg you! On second thought, vote for whoever you wish. Khamenei really matters in your country. Besides, Hizballah gets its "guidance" straight from him.

REGIONAL-INTERNATIONAL NEXUS

1.
Turkey-EU negotiations. The Financial Times reports, "Europe's leaders will agree in Brussels on Friday to endorse the partial suspension of Turkey's membership talks until Ankara opens its ports to ships from Cyprus, an EU member since 2004." The summit "is expected to set tough new entry rules for all future EU members in an attempt to allay public concerns that the club is growing too quickly." However, "Tony Blair will on Friday fly to Ankara to reassure Turkey that its path to the European Union remains open."

Now that Turkey is being nudged to play an increasingly active role in the Middle East by, among others, the Saudis as well as the Europeans (witness Erdogan's recent trip to Tehran and Damascus), I am sure these negotiations will consider this new role. The question being asked: How will Turkey help the EU project its influence in the region? Maybe Erdogan's shuttle diplomacy is meant to answer that question.

2. Blair's "Legacy." After Blair leaves Turkey he'll visit Egypt.
Agence France Press writes, "the British Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected in Egypt to hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak," according to "presidential sources." The two "are expected to hold talks on regional developments during a lunch meeting, the sources said, without giving a precise time. AFP writes, "state-owned Akhbar Al-Yom newspaper, citing an unnamed spokesman from the premier's office, said the two leaders would seek ways to revive the Middle East peace process and discuss developments in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Sudan's troubled region of Darfur."

In light of the situation in the Palestinian territories, I find this meeting to be intriguing. How it will impact Lebanon? Well... I'm not sure. But it definitely has something to do with the PLO-Hamas "near" civil-war.

3. Saudi-American relations. It seems that the Saudis are bickering among themselves. They're trying to decide who gets to occupy the second most important seat in the kingdom: the family's ambassadorship to the US. Israeli backers in the US are jumping all over this one. The Wall Street Journal quotes the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Simon Henderson saying, this incident "provides yet another reminder that one of America's most important relationships is laced with surprise and mystery."

Of course, Saudi-American cooperation in the region, including Lebanon, transcends the matter of who is actually the Saudi ambassador in the US. However, I wouldn't discount this affair as irrelevant. I am confident that the ambassador plays an important day-to-day role in DC - at least as important a role as Amr Pasha is playing at this moment in Lebanon. I would keep an eye on this development.

CONCLUSION:

So what am I trying to say here? Where is Lebanon going next week? The answer to the first question is that it seems the two "grand regional-international alliances" are still on a collision course - their posture remains one of confrontation, which brings me to my answer to the second question. The implication for Lebanon is that the country is going no where. The stalemate will continue. Seniora's visit to Moscow may lead to something positive, but I doubt it. None of the players in the "bigger game" appears to dominate the other, and that stalemate will more than likely reflect itself on the ground in Lebanon.

I feel that the violence in Gaza, however, is an attempt on the part of one group of powers to break the deadlock. We'll have to wait and see what happens there before we assess the repercussions on Lebanon. Moreover, let's wait and see what comes of this new initiative to take the Iranian nuclear issue to the Security Council . Maybe something will give on that front as well.

Otherwise... well, I'm sure that taxi driver is giving all his riders some free advice: get out while you can!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

interesting story, this stalemate you speak of, it is being felt in the US as well, especially in the seat of goverment where you have Repplican president and democratic dominated congress.
You are so right Lebanon is like a mirror of what going on in the rest of the world, interesting. It seems like Lebanon is assuming more amore national unity, especiall in opposing the more radical elements.

Suha said...

Under regional-international you forgot US-Iraq. All's waiting to see what Bush will decide for Iraq in the New Year. Of course by then the Palestinian conundrum and Iranian elections will have reaped results (or not). So, while all awaits Bush, Bush awaits all.

As for Russia-Georgia, there is another rather intriguing aspect to it. If al-Akhbar sources are right about Saniora's visit to Mosco (and it seems they are since now Saniora is talking about normalizing relations with Syria), it seems Putin is interested in keeping the International Tribunal from setting a precedent for Georgia.

Fun, fun, fun. Why would anyone want to leave the country.

Darweesh Qaimari said...

The civil war, Lebanon witnessed many of them and now their main concern should not return to the Arab and bloody wars, has vowed the Lebanese people in the 14th of March to remain united in perpetuity, Muslims and Christians chanted that behind Shahid Jubran Twini, Palestine, and is now about to fall into the trap of civil war, which the government has Israel is behind the assassination of children and the elderly.
Free Palestine T-shirts, Free Lebanon T-shirts

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

game gold said...

Buy World of Kung fu Gold is the chance. I always have a bad dream when my account was theft, since I buy World of Kung fu Gold ; I had not had the bad memory. At present, I want to say thanks to the people who stole my account, if he did not to do that, I would not play game, I would not have WoKf gold . Although I have little cheap World of Kung fu Gold , I will on the way of the game for long time. At one time or another, I am a pessimistic person, but when I have World of Kung fu money , it changes my attitude of life.

Remembered the first time I played the game and bought Lineage 2 gold , it is about two years. Since the first day I bought Lineage gold , we should know that the day will come sooner or later. And I will not leave my Lineage money . My friends forever, even though I will leave you one day, I will remember you forever. At that time, I was a naive; I must used money to have Lineage 2 money , as that I would not depend on myself. But I was not regret to buy it. It is just a way bring me to the success.

xuemei said...

Now do you worried about that in the game do not had enough aion kina to play the game, now you can not worried, my friend told me a website, in here you can buy a lot aion online kina and only spend a little money, do not hesitate, it was really, in here we had much aion gold, we can sure that you will get the cheap aion kina, quick to come here to buy aion kina.

Now do you worried about that in the game do not had enough Anarchy credits to play the game, now you can not worried, my friend told me a website, in here you can buy a lot Anarchy Online credits and only spend a little money, do not hesitate, it was really, in here we had much Anarchy gold, we can sure that you will get the Anarchy online gold, quick to come here to buy AO credits.

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.

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

Boundless Adventure said...

Trekking in Nepal is delighted to welcome to you tiny but amazing country in Nepal. When you will have boundless adventures, there are attraction sharing and memorable in your life. Nepal trekking company, found by the team of enthusiastic and the trekking specialists is devoted to impart you a fondest memory during your Nepal holiday with us. We have been serving not here in Nepal only, also in Tibet, India and Bhutan as well. No matter, what type of trip you choose in Nepal. Either Nepal trekking, rafting and cannoning, Nepal Tour , mountaineering, Nepal Peak Climbing , jungle safaris and Nepal trekking activities. Nepal traveling with us is more than just a brief to stay somewhere; it is a real connection with the people, the unique countryside, distinctive culture, the Nepali cuisine, the environment and the flora and fauna of the country. Nepal tea house trekking offering for small trekking groups and big trekking groups. We are offering you, as your choice trekking service as well. You will find out our Nepal trekking guide will be the warm hospitality and government trended license to lead the Nepal historical place And Nepal Himalayan ranges .
For more details click on the below links:
Trekking in Nepal
Nepal Trekking
Everest Trekking
Everest Base Camp Trekking
Annapurna Trekking
Langtang Valley Trekking
Mustang Trekking
Manaslu Trekking
Nepal Hiking
Nepal Tour
Nepal Helicopter tour
Nepal Peak Climbing
Everest Three Pass Trekking