Friday, December 29, 2006

Parallel fates?

Since the late 60’s it seems that the fates of the Lebanese and Palestinian people have been intertwined, for good or for ill. Recently political developments between the two states have been strikingly similar…

Currently, in Palestine there are two main political factions, Fateh and Hamas. Fateh is a moderate, secular party that is calling for a peace settlement of the Palestinian problem and western like democratic development. On the other hand, Hamas is a religious, extremist faction that preaches a never-ending war with Israel. The West supports the first, while Iran and Syria are backing the second.

In Lebanon there is a similar division, between March 14, a moderate, democratic and peaceful coalition supported by most Arab states and the west; and Hezbollah, an extremist, religious and militant party supported by Iran and Syria, with a declared aim to continue its armed struggle against Israel.

Additionally, during this last summer, Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldiers and Israel retaliated, destroying bridges, homes and roads, blockading the whole Gaza strip. A few weeks later Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and Israel predictably retaliated, also destroying bridges, homes and roads, and blockading Lebanon.

Recently Hamas have been also clamoring for a national unity government, and refused to accept any early parliamentary and presidential elections. The situation in Lebanon is the similar, but with the single difference, that 14 March coalition controls the government, while Hezbollah hold the presidency, in Palestine it is the opposite.

At the moment, Hezbollah and 14 March are calling for early election, but they differ on the order. Hezbollah wants to hold parliamentary elections first them presidential, while 14 march want the opposite.

What makes this comparison daunting is the eruption of a small-scale civil war in Gaza, between Hamas and Fateh. If the current parallelism continues -I fervently hope not- then we should witness similar events in Lebanon in the next few weeks…

Finally, It seems that lately I have not been able to find any cheerful news to write about, but in an effort to end this article on a bright note, I can claim that throughout history no two cases are exactly similar. So hopefully, Lebanon will not be subject to any internal strife...
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