Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bad Omen, good omen...

If needed, a quick (albeit basic, since none of these go into the history of how these parties have shifted alliances through the years) refresher course re the various players in Lebanon can be had at any of the following sites:

Who’s who?
A Rogue’s Gallery
Lebanon: Explainer

Much has unfolded in Beirut & Lebanon in the last five days, beginning the day after this blogger added the headline ”Headed back down the toilet?” (entirely coincidentally it must be admitted). Who are the winners and who are the losers of this latest exchange?

At this point it is entirely unclear (what did you expect, this is Lebanon after all…). The two main theories would seem to go as follows (note: the Christians mostly sat this one out, references to Hezbollah include Amal as well):
  • Hezbollah has dropped its mask and it is now clear to all that they are a menace to society. The “resistance” has turned its arms (which Nasrallah had sworn were to be used exclusively against Israel) on the Lebanese people. Yes, they may have “won” militarily in the short-term, but in the longer-term this will work against them. Some holding this theory posit that the March 14th leaders goaded Hezbollah into this action, deliberately did not resist, and as a result have strengthened their position politically.
  • Once again the March 14th leaders have shown their incompetence. First they pushed Hezbollah without realizing what they were starting, and then once hostilities broke out they were woefully unprepared and their militias were a thin reed which wilted before Hezbollah’s advance.
It’s likely that both these scenarios are true to a certain extent. On the other side, the list of losers is much easier to determine and it includes all the people. Since this is Lebanon, chances are that there’s a lot more going on under the surface, and it will be interesting to see what emerges. It could be most anything…

This blogger is going to throw out a possibility, which may turn out to have some validity or may turn out to be arrant nonsense. The opposition March 8th acted because they saw their position weakening. The split between Michel Murr (Reform and Change bloc) and General Aoun weakened Aoun/FPM, and Nasrallah also saw Aoun loosing support in the Christian community (e.g. see the poll results below). Originally, when the presidential candidacy of Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Michel Sleiman (Suleiman, Sulayman) was floated, March 14th was resistant since Sleiman was appointed by (pro-Syrian) Emile Lahoud and therefore suspect. From there it ended up with March 14th pushing his candidacy while March 8th was resisting it, mostly because Aoun coveted the position for himself. This most recent Hezbollah move has “tested” Sleiman, who passed with flying colors by keeping the army “neutral” (in fact some have felt that the LAF aided Hezbollah, though that’s probably going a little too far.) Now, with Hezbollah turning over the over-run area to the army and with Sleiman strengthened as a result it might be easier for Nasrallah to get Aoun to go along with Sleiman for president…

Other Lebanon-related posts:

May 3rd - Needed in Lebanon III (Updated)
May 2nd – Needed in Lebanon II
April 16th – Needed in Lebanon
March 26th – Rogue’s Gallery II
March 2nd - A Rogue’s Gallery

Note: The picture at the top is from the Bayeux tapestry. Halleys' comet was seen at the time and in Medieval period comets were thought to be bad omens and a warning of impending doom. Subsequently Harold was killed at the battle of Hastings and William was crowned king of England.

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