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On Other Blogs: From Beirut to the Beltway

On Other Blogs: Jeha"s Nail - مسمار جحا

On Other Blogs: Blacksmiths of Lebanon

On Other Blogs:The Beirut Spring

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Lebanese Newspaper's Interpretation of the Jan 23 Riots

Read em and weep:

Some translated sentences from Annahar (Wednesday's edition) front page
- Security forces, especially the army, passes the test of preserving peace in a complicated multi-faceted security situation.
- The government supporters tested their resolve in the face of opposition pressure and challenged the latter's disruption of public life.
- The opposition tested their ability to make the strike... a success.

In other words ladies and gentlemen, in Lebanon, everybody is a winner. And maybe, just maybe, that was the whole idea behind this last opposition move.

Lebanese Streets Burn...

They burn so that a megalomaniac leader of a foreign funded militia can try to improve his own and his masters' local and regional bargaining chips... after all everything pales when compared to divine causes... Simultaneously, another megalomaniac leader longs for the presidential palace in Baabda and urges his supporters onwards... to chaos... to destruction... anything for that palace in Baabda... Meanwhile, the army and security services watch "helplessly"...

I don't have much more to say. Just that these are desperation tactics and should be recognized as such and dealt with accordingly by March 14. Oh, and that I expect more escalation in the coming days, weeks and months.

For older analyses of the situation, and why none of these events are surprising, and why the future is easily predictable please see here, here, and especially here.

For the latest coverage and pictures please see here, here, here as well as here

Friday, January 12, 2007

Give Them Enough Rope and They Will Hang Themselves

An Analysis of The March 14 Coalition Strategy Against the Hizbulla Led Opposition

It has been over a month since the Hizbulla led, Syro-Iranian backed opposition launched its campaign to topple the March 14 government which ironically they were part of. The campaign started with all the "opposition" ministers resigning and escalated with demonstrations in December and sit-ins in downtown Beirut demanding the resignation of Siniora's government. The opposition apparently tried to up the ante recently with the "Labor Union" staging demonstrations in front of various ministries objecting agains the government's reform plans and covertly the Paris III donor conference. Moreover, the speaker of parliament, Nabih Berri has refused to convene parliament effectively crippling the March 14 parliamentary majority...

In the face of pressure, the March 14 coalition simply held their ground. They staged counter demonstrations in many different Lebanese locales aimed at showing the popular support that the coalition enjoyed, called for the resigned ministers to rejoin the government and petitioned continuously for parliament to convene. The strategy seems to be simply to give the opposition enough rope to hang themselves. In other words, the government is simply letting the opposition make mistakes and escalate and burn bridges all the while somehow weakening them. What I continue to believe are half-measures and lack of initiative on March 14's side, seem to be "working" anyway. It appears that the opposition is running out of steam and/or struggling with internal squabbling resulting from the different intensity of political escalation which its various components (namely Hizbulla and Aoun's FPM) can withstand to achieve their various objectives and not lose popular support. The opposition continuously burned bridges over the past month and has not really offered anything in the way of an agenda except for toppling the government. As that goal seems further out of reach, I believe that they are now rethinking their strategy, counting to ten before taking further action.

Thus, the March 14ers seem to have the opposition caught in a deadlock or a stalemate which can only be broken through dialogue (either internally or with/amongst the foreign supporters of both camps). Assuming that the government manages to get the opposition to call off its campaign against Siniora, and to re-accept dialogue, it would achieve an important moral victory but nothing more.

The main issues that March 14 and March 8 disagree upon will not have been solved, the March 14ers will not have regained initiative and the March 8ers will still be able to play the impeding role that they have played since the inception of this government, serving Hizbulla's internal agendas as well as those of Iran and Syria. Upon closer inspection, I don't see that the eventual resolution of this particular conflict in favor of March 14 as useful in the resolution of the bigger conflict defined by establishing a certain high degree of Lebanese decision making capability, independent of (and sometimes against) Syrian and Iranian interest. One can even argue that March 14 is inherently incapable of such a challenge, but I won't get into that now.

Meanwhile, the political battle rages on, even though March 8 may have fumbled the ball on this one.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Hizbulla clashes with UNIFIL in South Lebanon?

Annahar reported the following in its Tuesday edition:

اشتباك في الخرايب بين قوة فرنسية و"حزب الله"

الجنوب – "النهار":

أفادت مصادر مطلعة ان قوة من الكتيبة الفرنسية اشتبكت ليل السبت الماضي مع عناصر من "حزب الله" في خراج الخرايب – المجادل، وحصل اطلاق نار استدعى تدخل الجيش اللبناني اثر تفتيش القوة الفرنسية خراج هذه المنطقة وأماكن استخدمها "حزب الله" نقاطا أمنية ومنها المغاور، بحثا عن أسلحة.


Informed sources reported that a force from the French Battalion (UNIFIL) clashed on Saturday night with members of Hizbulla on the outskirts of the village of AlKhrayeb-AlMjadel. An exchange of fire took place which called for the interference of the Lebanese army after the French unit searched this area and others that Hizbulla used as security points (?) including caves, in search of weapons.

Almustaqbal reported Wednesday that UNIFIL and Lebanese security sources denied that there were any clashes with Hizbulla...

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Perfect Day in Lebanon

Found this on youtube. I thought it was pretty funny.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

European Union Vs Lebanese Division

As 2007 witnesses the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the EU, bringing the total number of member states to 27 and the population of the Union to nearly half a billion people speaking 23 languages and sharing over 4 million square kilometers, I can't help but wonder.

I can't help but wonder when the ridiculously small population of Lebanon that has shared an even more ridiculously small piece of land for hundreds of years will even remotely resemble the European Union... Sigh.