Saturday, February 03, 2007

Will the Lebanese come to a compromise?

Last week in Lebanon street battles between the opposition and government groups left six people dead and many more injured. Two months ago the opposition started an open-ended strike in the capital and the suburbs. The strikers ask for increased representation in the Cabinet and call for improved national defense, reduction of poverty and political reform. These events remind the Lebanese of the start of the 15-year civil war that ended 17 years ago.

The current crisis emerges from a cumulative record of events. A long civil war that ended in 1990, an Israeli occupation of the South that ended in 2000, a four-decade Syrian domination and exploitation that ended in 2005, an intermittent series of battles with Israel that culminated in summer 2006, a 40-year militia culture that was started by Palestinian refugees, copied by Christian politicians and perfected by marginalized Shi'a, all the above and more have made Lebanon a web of domestic, regional and international conflicts.

The street action is led by Hizbullah and Michel Aoun's (secular Christian) party. Hizbullah is a political party (known locally as a resistance movement) with a private army; its popular social service program is for the Shi'a, the largest community in the country. While Hizbullah leaders are most concerned about military defense against Israel, Aoun's party is focused on political reform. Aoun is a charismatic reformer with a militant and a military past. The opposition, Aoun's party and Hizbullah, have found common ground in their campaign to defend and reform Lebanon. The opposition is keen on leading a peaceful campaign. But civil resistance easily turns uncivil. In times of crisis, unresolved issues, open wounds and past grudges re-emerge from the previous civil war.

In a sense, the current revolt is a continuation of the summer war. Last summer Hizbullah surprised Israel with what it hoped to be a daring act that would lead to "negotiation." This risk-prone militia carried out a border raid that involved the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. To Hizbullah's dismay, the hostage swap with the Jewish state turned into a war of disproportionate retaliation. The result of the July/August battle of 2006 was the death of a thousand Lebanese civilians, destruction of South Lebanon's infrastructure, displacement of a million people, spread of a million unexploded cluster bombs and pollution of the sea coast. Hizbullah's war machine survived the Israeli assault but the militia's leaders had to confront a new strategic reality in South Lebanon. Through a rushed, U.S. led resolution, United Nations forces and the Lebanese Army took over control of the southern border region. Hizbullah lost its stronghold in the South, the principle domain of the Shi'a community.

Since Lebanon was pieced together by French generals in 1920, it has been almost a "no-sovereignty zone," conducting politics with international remote control. The current Lebanese government receives orders from Washington, Paris and Saudi Arabia; the opposition receives support from Syria and Iran.

Domestic disunity invites regional and international intervention. Government leaders and their allies lack credibility and the leaders of the "Reform and Change" opposition exercise almost tribal control over their constituencies.

But while Lebanon is starting to unravel again as a state it still remains a country with a rich intellectual potential and a phenomenon that is unique in the region. This country is blessed with personal freedoms but cursed with insecurity of governance. In contrast, the rest of the Arab world suffers from restriction of personal freedoms but enjoys security of the ruling regimes.
Lebanon, like its Arab and non-Arab neighbors, is experimenting with modern state building. But this republic falters every decade or so. Power sharing among its communities is what makes Lebanon a "democracy" of some sort. A relatively sophisticated middle class, an open economy and a culture of personal freedoms contribute positively to the special character of this country. But the sectarian nature of power sharing makes Lebanon an insecure and weak democracy. Moreover, a feeble national army, poor leadership and corruption make Lebanon volatile.

It is difficult to know if the worsening conflict in Lebanon will escalate into a civil war. An optimistic assessment would point out that the Lebanese have learned a few lessons from the past civil war. Sectarianism is not as fierce as in the past. Political alliances extend across the religious divide. Despite disguised sectarian tensions within the Muslim and Christian communities, no single politician dares in public to voice his platform in religious terms. Ironically, all the Lebanese see the danger of sectarian politics but they hold on to the system for not knowing how to get out of it. Moreover, no political side is sufficiently comfortable with its external partners of support. The government's attachment to the U.S. and France is driven by money and insecurity. Similarly, Hizbullah and Aounism are not blindly attached to Iran and Syria.

Alternatively, some observers see a political "tsunami" coming to the Lebanese shores in the near future. Those observers argue that the conflict seems to have established a momentum of its own. They state that the opposition is too comfortable with an open ended sit-in strike: unemployed protesters enjoy group living in the center of the capital with music, story telling, water pipe smoking and public rhetoric filling the air. Critics of the opposition wonder if the contagious, communal and "interfaith" strike has turned into an extended but senseless carnival for too many young people who are dislocated or alienated in the wake of the Israeli summer war and a worsening economy.

Regardless of their internal differences, the Lebanese feel that their country's future morally impacts the entire region. For in Lebanon Islam meets Christianity on equal terms, tradition is matched by modernity and the open market ideology is challenged by populist ideals. Lebanon is a vital laboratory of social change.

Lebanon has only a short period to find a solution to this standoff between the opposition groups and the government. The economy alone cannot stand delay, not to mention explosive pent-up emotions. It is likely that the leaders will soon reach a face-saving compromise. The recent street fighting and the public's reaction have sobered the opposition. The government in turn has been under pressure to restore normality since the outbreak of civil disorder. Recent Saudi-Iranian contacts which sounded positive may bring a breakthrough. Soon, the General Secretary of the Arab League will make his third visit of conflict resolution to Beirut. A plan of compromises has already been drawn up. What is expected is a face-saving and short term solution. Regrettably, long term solutions for Lebanon do not have a chance today.

Email the author for commentary at grubeiz@adelphia.net

10 Comments:

Blogger oakleyses said...

ray ban outlet, prada handbags, tory burch outlet online, christian louboutin, michael kors outlet online, coach purses, coach outlet, christian louboutin outlet, kate spade outlet, burberry outlet online, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp outlet, nike free, michael kors outlet, polo ralph lauren, michael kors outlet store, jordan shoes, red bottom shoes, louis vuitton outlet online, burberry outlet online, longchamp outlet online, coach outlet, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton handbags, oakley vault, oakley sunglasses, gucci handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, tiffany and co jewelry, prada outlet, louis vuitton outlet, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, kate spade outlet online, nike air max, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, nike outlet, nike air max, true religion, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp handbags, louis vuitton outlet, coach outlet store online, michael kors handbags, tiffany jewelry

10:45 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

vans pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, nike air max, air max pas cher, longchamp, louis vuitton pas cher, converse pas cher, hollister, nike free pas cher, nike roshe, nike air max, mulberry, louis vuitton uk, ralph lauren, michael kors canada, air jordan, air max, chaussure louboutin, tn pas cher, lacoste pas cher, true religion jeans, true religion outlet, barbour, sac louis vuitton, ralph lauren pas cher, oakley pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, burberry pas cher, michael kors uk, ray ban uk, hermes pas cher, north face pas cher, longchamp pas cher, hollister, nike roshe run, north face, louis vuitton, timberland, nike air force, lululemon, sac vanessa bruno, nike free, guess pas cher, ray ban pas cher, scarpe hogan, sac michael kors

10:49 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, soccer shoes, soccer jerseys, canada goose outlet, insanity workout, canada goose, p90x workout, abercrombie and fitch, longchamp, nfl jerseys, ugg soldes, instyler ionic styler, giuseppe zanotti, canada goose outlet, reebok shoes, ghd, herve leger, nike huarache, ugg outlet, bottega veneta, jimmy choo shoes, celine handbags, ferragamo shoes, ugg, canada goose outlet, babyliss, mcm handbags, uggs outlet, asics shoes, north face jackets, lululemon outlet, north face jackets, hollister, marc jacobs outlet, replica watches, valentino shoes, uggs on sale, birkin bag, uggs outlet, nike roshe, vans outlet, chi flat iron, new balance outlet, nike trainers, beats headphones, ugg boots, mont blanc pens, ugg boots

10:50 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler outlet, wedding dress, supra shoes, uggs canada, louboutin, coach outlet, canada goose, air max, ugg, lancel, moncler, converse, moncler outlet, louis vuitton canada, thomas sabo uk, moncler, pandora charms, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, links of london uk, swarovski uk, replica watches, juicy couture outlet, moncler, nike air max, swarovski jewelry, timberland shoes, montre femme, hollister, oakley, moncler, hollister clothing, ray ban, hollister canada, pandora uk, vans, pandora jewelry, baseball bats, ralph lauren, gucci, parajumpers outlet, converse shoes, moncler, canada goose pas cher, iphone 6 case, karen millen, canada goose, toms outlet

10:51 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

burberry outlet, nike free, oakley sunglasses wholesale, gucci handbags, longchamp outlet, replica watches, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, ray ban sunglasses, christian louboutin uk, ugg boots, nike air max, polo ralph lauren outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, ray ban sunglasses, kate spade outlet, tiffany jewelry, michael kors outlet, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet online, michael kors outlet, nike outlet, michael kors outlet online, prada handbags, christian louboutin shoes, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin, jordan shoes, polo outlet, cheap oakley sunglasses, burberry handbags, christian louboutin outlet, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet online, longchamp outlet, uggs on sale, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet store, tiffany and co, prada outlet, ugg boots, chanel handbags, uggs outlet, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches

12:35 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

michael kors, converse pas cher, new balance, north face uk, true religion outlet, nike roshe, sac hermes, nike tn, true religion jeans, timberland pas cher, vans pas cher, michael kors outlet, mulberry uk, coach purses, nike roshe run uk, nike free uk, lululemon canada, michael kors pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, oakley pas cher, nike air max, polo lacoste, polo ralph lauren, nike air max uk, abercrombie and fitch uk, hollister uk, nike free run, longchamp pas cher, north face, hollister pas cher, hogan outlet, true religion outlet, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, jordan pas cher, air max, sac vanessa bruno, guess pas cher, nike air max uk, kate spade, louboutin pas cher, ray ban uk, ray ban pas cher, burberry pas cher, coach outlet, nike air force, coach outlet store online, sac longchamp pas cher, coach outlet, true religion outlet

12:39 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

vans, ralph lauren, giuseppe zanotti outlet, nike roshe run, ray ban, p90x workout, herve leger, asics running shoes, nike air max, timberland boots, ghd hair, reebok outlet, new balance shoes, north face outlet, iphone 6 cases, mac cosmetics, wedding dresses, nike trainers uk, converse outlet, celine handbags, lululemon, hollister clothing, soccer jerseys, instyler, longchamp uk, converse, soccer shoes, babyliss, insanity workout, beats by dre, gucci, north face outlet, vans outlet, abercrombie and fitch, hermes belt, ferragamo shoes, hollister, bottega veneta, nike huaraches, nike air max, louboutin, jimmy choo outlet, valentino shoes, baseball bats, nfl jerseys, chi flat iron, oakley, mcm handbags, hollister, mont blanc pens

12:45 AM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

karen millen uk, doudoune moncler, canada goose, michael kors outlet online, louis vuitton, moncler, moncler, replica watches, pandora uk, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, ugg uk, coach outlet, michael kors handbags, canada goose outlet, moncler, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, ugg, canada goose outlet, marc jacobs, pandora jewelry, lancel, wedding dresses, moncler, moncler outlet, links of london, moncler outlet, barbour uk, canada goose outlet, canada goose uk, doke gabbana, michael kors outlet, barbour, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, canada goose, supra shoes, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, canada goose, juicy couture outlet, louis vuitton, swarovski, hollister, toms shoes, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, pandora jewelry, ugg pas cher, thomas sabo, moncler uk, montre pas cher

12:50 AM  
Blogger Jomana Yosef said...

http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-7.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-8.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-6.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-5.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-4.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-3.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies-2.html
http://www.prokr.net/2016/09/apartments-cleaning-companies.html

4:44 PM  
Blogger omar ali said...

Your site is very helpful
http://antiinsects.nation2.com/saudi
http://antiinsectss.brushd.com/blog
http://antinsectss.page.tl/antinsects.htm
https://www.prokr.net/ksa/jeddah-water-leaks-detection-isolate-companies/
http://3rbclip.com/

8:16 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home