the State of Lebanon is in conflict with UN Resolution 1701, have let Hezbollah into their government and have become a vassal of Syria
Although the Obama administration has hesitated before rushing headlong into renewing relations with Damascus, it has undertaken a series of gestures that have demonstrated that any real policy of isolation is over. This goes hand in hand with the broader regional stance of the administration of attempting "engagement" with the Iranian regime.
Far from signaling to Middle Eastern powers that a new world of cooperation is about to commence, what this US stance conveys to friends and foes in the region is that Washington no longer has the stomach for holding fast against the bid by Iran and its allies for regional hegemony.
The clients, and the clients of the clients, therefore move to make their accommodation with the changed reality.they can't control themselves from murdering people? Do you have any idea how much money these people in power in the Middle East have? every criminal organization has conflicting parties that people might have empathy for. Every great dramatic villain has a sob story. That is the nature of evil. Were not the Germans themselves victims of harsh punitive actions from WWI?
In Washington, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman failed to persuadePresident Barack Obama to drop objections to Hizbullah's rearming, and instead "exert further pressure" on Israel to withdraw from disputed areas along its border with Lebanon. Suleiman acted "more like the Syrian ambassador than the Lebanese president," observed Farid Ghadry, the Washington-based head of the Reform Party of Syria.
Obama publicly told Suleiman he should enforce UN Resolution 1701 by disarming Hizbullah and halting its "extensive" arms smuggling, which poses "a threat to Israel." Suleiman disagreed, insisting that part of the resolution no longer applies to the militant group because it is a legitimate political party and part of Lebanon's government, which has authorized it to retain its weapons. The real threat, he told Obama, is from Israel.
original post 12/27/09Last week's visit by Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri to Damascus is the latest marker in the return of the coercive Syrian presence in Lebanon. It is also an indication of Syria's successful defiance of the west.Assad’s regime assassinated Saad Hariri’s father, Rafik, in 2005 for just gingerly opposing Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. There is no alternate universe where Saad Hariri is OK with this or where his generically “positive” statements at a press conference were anything other than forced.The pro-western and pro-Saudi March 14 movement, led by Hariri, achieved a modest victory in elections in June. This victory was effectively nullified in the lengthy coalition "negotiations" that followed. The new government as finally announced in November represented the unusual spectacle of a wholesale capitulation of the electoral victors before the vanquished.jpost.comThe Hizbullah-led opposition kept their effective veto power in the Cabinet. The government's founding statement included an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Hizbullah's continued armed presence.
Now, with Hezbollah playing a more active role in the Lebanese government, Lebanon could be held more responsible for Hezbollah actions against Israel, Israeli security officials and experts say.via nytimes.comLebanon has to decide which side it's on. Either it can stand up to Hezbullah the way the Iranian people are now standing up to the mullahs or it can bear the consequences when Hezbullah uses their infrastructure to fire cannon fodder at Israel. While I feel sorry for those Lebanese who don't support Hezbullah and want to live in peace with us, I feel more sorry for the Israelis who are likely to be under fire by Hezbullah in the next war.
I was invited to dinner at Hariri’s house earlier this year and had a long and frank discussion about politics with him and some colleagues. I can’t quote him because the meeting was off the record, but trust me: the man is no friend of the Syrian government or Hezbollah, and it’s not just because someone in that crowd killed his father. His political party, the Future Movement, champions liberalism and capitalism, the very antithesis of what is imposed in Syria by Assad’s Arab Socialist Baath party regime and the totalitarian Velayat-e Faqih ideology enforced by the Khomeinists in Iran and in the Hezbollah-occupied regions of Lebanon.
Hezbollah and its sponsors in Tehran and Damascus have forced Hariri to do a number of things lately — to give it veto power in his government’s cabinet and to surrender to its continuing existence as a warmongering militia that threatens to blow up the country again by picking fights with the Israelis.
Hariri and his allies in parliament resisted an extraordinary amount of pressure on these points for months before caving in, but cave in they did. They didn’t have much choice. The national army isn’t strong enough to disarm Hezbollah,
and unlike Iran’s tyrant Ali Khamenei, Hariri doesn’t have his own private army. Hezbollah militiamen surrounded his house last year and firebombed his TV station when the government shut down its illegal surveillance system at the airport. At the end of the day, Hariri has to do what Hezbollah and its friends say unless someone with a bigger stick covers his back when push comes to shove.
No one has Hariri’s or Lebanon’s back, not anymore. He and his allies in the “March 14″ coalition have sensed this for some time, which is why Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has grudgingly softened his opposition to Assad and Hezbollah lately. When Hariri went to Damascus, everyone in the country, aside from useless newswire reporters, understood it meant Syria has re-emerged as the strong horse in Lebanon.
Walid Jumblatt is another member of what David Schenker calls the Murdered Fathers Club. Assad’s ruthless late father, Hafez Assad, put Jumblatt through a similarly gruesome experience back in the 70s during the civil war. First Assad murdered Walid’s father, Kamal, then summoned the surviving Jumblatt to Damascus and forced him to shake hands and pledge his allegiance. Who can even imagine what that must have felt like? Hariri knows now, and Jumblatt still tells everyone he meets all about it.
Hariri generally doesn’t like having long conversations with journalists on the record because he doesn’t want to calculate how everything he says will be simultaneously interpreted in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Israel, the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia. I can’t say I blame him. He lives under virtual house arrest as it is, with barely more freedom of movement than Hassan Nasrallah. Here is something he said, though, back when it was safer for him to do so: “Action must be taken against Syria, like isolation, to make the Syrians understand that killing members of [Lebanon's] parliament will have consequences.”
The U.S. and France did effectively isolate Assad with Saudi assistance when George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac were in charge, but presidents Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy think they can save the Middle East by “engaging” its most toxic leaders. Syria, therefore, is no longer isolated. Lebanon’s little anti-Syrian government doesn’t stand a chance under these circumstances, especially not when Hezbollah is the dominant military power in the country.
“It’s a dangerous game these people are playing,” Lebanese activist and political analyst Eli Khoury said last time I spoke with him in Beirut, “but I think it’s only a matter of time until the newcomers burn their fingers with the same realities that we’ve seen over and over again. I’ve seen every strategy: Kissinger’s step-by-step approach, full engagement — which means sleeping with the enemy, basically — and the solid stand as with the Bush Administration. I’ve seen them all. The only one that works so far in my opinion, aside from some real stupid and dumb mistakes, is the severing of relationships. It made the Syrians behave.”
It did make the Syrians behave a bit for a while, but now the U.S., France, and Saudi Arabia are bringing Assad in from the cold and giving him cocoa. His influence, naturally, is rising again, in Lebanon and everywhere else. That’s good news for Hezbollah, of course, which means it’s also good news for Iran. It’s bad news for the Lebanese, the Americans, the French, the Saudis, and the Israelis. None of this was inevitable, but — in Lebanon, at least — it was predictable.