High Noon in Lebanon


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Tensions have already been high and the collapse of the government may cause an outbreak of violence between Sunnis and Shias; the former see Hezbollah as overstepping its role as the opposition and national “resistance” to Israel, while the Shias see the Sunnis as trying to keep them down. During the last cabinet crisis in 2008, 81 people died in clashes between Sunnis and Shias, with Hezbollah eventually moving into Sunni neighborhoods in Beirut, an act that almost resulted in open civil war. The crisis led to meetings in Doha, Qatar and an agreement where Hezbollah achieved almost all of its goals.

Hariri, or whoever is the next March 14th prime minister, will be faced with the same knotty problem that led to the collapse of government; what to do about the STL. If the next government disavows the Tribunal, it is likely that Sunnis will become enraged at this betrayal, seeing the STL as they do as the only way to achieve justice for the murderers of their beloved Rafiq Hariri. But not disavowing the STL might lead to a coup by Hezbollah if they feel their existence is threatened by the indictments.

The last cabinet crisis saw the majority March 14th forces fold their tents in Doha and give Hezbollah the power of the veto over decisions made by that body. Since then, another parliamentary election was held where the March 14 coalition triumphed. But elections are slippery things in Lebanon, and despite winning a clear majority of seats, the price of stability was once again granting Hezbollah and their allies enough cabinet posts to cause trouble if they chose.

Hezbollah has now chosen, and that choice is a familiar form of brinksmanship where they threaten civil war if they don’t get their way. This is an extremely effective tactic because so many who are alive today in Lebanon remember full well the hell on earth their country endured during 15 years of bloody conflict. No responsible politician in the majority can countenance a return to those terrible days. Hence, despite firm denials to the contrary, it is very possible that Mr. Hariri, or whoever replaces him as prime minister in the new government, will bow to Hezbollah pressure and disavow the STL, humiliating himself again in order to maintain the peace.

And so Lebanon’s descent into the Iran-Syrian orbit continues unabated as Hezbollah’s grip on the throat of the tiny country gets stronger and Syria circles around the carcass like a jackal waiting to pounce once the prey stops struggling. It’s a far cry from the heady days of the “Beirut Spring” just 5 short years ago when such high hopes were ignited by massive protests that kicked the Syrian army out of Lebanon and elections brought independent-loving democrats to power.

Now, many of those politicians are either dead, or cowed by events. And the people of Lebanon are on edge today wondering how long – or if – the peace will last.

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  • SHmuelHaLevi

    This is one case where being close by to the scene helps.
    Hizbollah and Iran as well as Syria are moving to take full control of Lebanon. Unless there is a solid wall of firepower nothing will stop them.

    • jacob

      ISRAEL stopped SYRIA cold in their tracks when it thereatened to attack JORDAN
      but with all that has been going on, will ISRAEL dare stopping the full take over of LEBANON by its sworn enemies ??

      It woukd have to ask permission from OBAMA and we all know what OBAMA's
      answerr will be

      • SHmuelHaLevi

        Valid points but the general feeling here is that Israel is moving on to its own national interests tack. We sincerely hope that those interests and rigid security objectives at some point coincide with the US people's interests, (I did not include the present administration by design).
        Israel is not seeking confrontation in Lebanon but I would say that if Hezbollah-Iran-Syria make any move likely to be interpreted as leading into attacking us, all bets are off. WIth or without Mr. Soetoro's OK… ;)
        Our natural gas and oil fields will not be pawns for anyone else nor are there any more "victims of peace" available.
        I am sure that those wise to reality will read the settings correctly…

  • flaedo

    Where are the Christians while all this is going on?

    • Satori_In_TO

      Ahem! Why do you ask? Would you actively help Christians in Lebanon struggle against Hizbollah?

  • jacob

    And of course, ISRAEL true to Political Correctness,will most assuredly wait until
    the smoking gun's smoke is seen at UN headquarters in New York and then abide
    by the same Engagement Rules dictated by UN's sages….

    Just imagine where would ISRAEL be if it would have followed all this nonsense in 1967…!!!

  • ObamaYoMoma

    What happened in Lebanon yesterday is the inevitable result of our naïve plans to spread democracy in the Middle East. The reality is, however, democracy just opens up the door for the most radical elements in any Islamic society to rise and seize power. In other words, it is about the most naïve policy possible that we could pursue.

    Indeed, why did President Carter pull the Persian rug out from under the Shah of Iran in 1979? It was because he harbored fantasy-based notions of pluralism and democracy in Iran. Instead, he got the Ayatollah Khomeini and a hostage situation that thoroughly humiliated America.

    Of course, all our current foreign policies with respect to the Islamic world have been formulated on the fantasy-based premise that Islam is a Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of radicals, and it is this naive assumption, which for some reason never gets challenged, that has been behind all our repeated failures in the Middle East for decades.

    The reality is Islam is not a so-called Religion of Peace™ being hijacked by a tiny minority of radicals. Indeed, for that matter it is not even a religion. It is instead a militant theo-political totalitarian ideology that seeks as its main goal to render the world into Islamic totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia, and as long as we continue to fail to understand what Islam really is, the longer we will continue to fail to formulate effective foreign policies that can be successful.

  • SteveO

    In all its dealings, Hezbollah has always shown and slow and methodical rise to power — it doesn't do reverse. It would be better for Hariri to just let the STL hang in limbo and plan to dissolve the government — but provide a mechanism to keep basic functions working. Your essay doesn't talk about the financial issues involved.

    One would suppose that all the publicity of these investigations are being followed by the people in Lebanon and it is fairly clear that Hezbollah was responsible for Rafiq Hariri's death. And if the government dissolves, that becomes another chip against Hezbolla.

    The issue is the same stalemate that existed in Gaza between Hamas and the PLO. There's not going to be any solution here. Just find a way to keep basic government functions operating and dissolve the rest.

  • TomSolomon

    What's most discouraging about this, is that the Christians have allied themselves with Hezbollah. Evidently, whomever is deemed to be the more powerful is the side they'll align themselves with.

    • DICK WATSON

      tOM YOU ARE AS WHACKY AS THE ARAB COMMUNITY, WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST THE CHRISTAIN? IS IT YOU ARE NOT SAVED, BECAUSE OF YOUR IGNORANCE OR UNBELIEF? GET REAL AND GET PAST THE TREES THE FOREST IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU,

    • Dick Watson

      Tom if you knew your bible you would know a true christain would ally with Israel not Hezbolla WE HAVE BEEN GRAFTED IN WITH THE JEWS by the blood shed on the cross. The greatest Jew that ever lived IS JESUS CHRIST… AMEN

      • Spirit_Of_1683

        Tom might well have a point. Brigitte Gabriel in her book "Because They Hate" details how she and her fellow Lebanese Christian classmates were taught how to hate Israel and Israelis. She admitted that she and her family only escaped to Israel from the Intifada as a last resort, because of what she and her parents had been taught at school, read in the newspapers, and listened to on the media, and when she and her parents received medical treatment in Israel, she realised that what she had been taught as a child was a load of rubbish. And she admitted in her book that she saw real evil when a Muslim patient who had received life-saving medical treatment in Israel screamed how much she wanted to murder those Israeli doctors and nurses who had saved her life.

    • Yonah

      The Christians or the Druze?

  • Paul

    Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

    All ‘Christians’ by definition adhere to this. The salvation that YHW promised the Jews that keep his commandments people by birthright was extended to Gentiles through Jesus (Yeshua) as a pathway to redemption for all mankind. YHW is not just the God of Jews but of all mankind.

    Allah ‘is’ Satan and therefore Islam is his evil religion upon this Earth as it is clearly the complete antithesis of the Judeo/Christian meme.

  • Irandissident

    Price of Stability in Lebanon:
    In order to avoid a civil war, avoid aggravating Syria and the Islamic Republic in Iran why not be a little imaginative:
    Lets blame Israel for the Hariri assassination! Everyone will be happy ( except those blood-in-their-Fatir/Matza jews )… Well, what was the down side of all those BLOOD LIBELS throughout history and all the ongoing Libels from Iran, the Arab and Muslim world? Didn't they bring about even more hate against the Jews ?
    So why not do it again?
    News: Iran is continuously threatening to destroy the thousands of years old Esther Shrine in Hamedan, possibly by the next Purim celebrations, a month away.