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.