Friday, December 28, 2007

A power struggle!

At the current state of affairs the two main Lebanese coalitions are, not surprisingly, at opposite ends of another issue. The 14 of March parties are advocating electing General Suleiman as President immediately without any conditions or pre-agreement. Meanwhile, the opposition wants to agree on each and every political issue that divide the two coalitions.

The opposition argument is based on the their fear that the next President will suffer a similar fate to the infamous Emil Lahoud, who was practically shunned and isolated by the whole world and did not have a say on policy making. the argument sounds valid, however the timing is quite suspicious!

So why is Hezbollah forcefully postponing the presidential election, insisting on a political agreement with guaranties on all issue, and especially on the formation of the next government, even though once Suleiman will be elected he will still have a lot of influence on the formation of the new government as he co-signs the decree to from it. So if he is not happy with the proposed division of the number of ministers between the two coalitions, or the distribution of ministries, he can simply refuse to sign and all parties will have to keep on negotiating to reach a better deal.

The answer to that question has several facets: first Hezballah and Aoun do not completely trust General Suleiman, no matter what they claim. Second, Aoun cannot afford to lose his bid on the presidency, not for six years and especially not to a powerful and popular figure like the army chief, who would certainly threaten Aoun's own popular power base.

Third, at the moment the negotiations are between the 14 March and the 8th of March coalition, which hold the necessary MPs to enable a two third quorum in the parliament. But once Suleiman is elected the initiative will move from their hands to the hands of the president and he will be the one working on a deal with the 14 of March controlled parliamentary majority.

In the end it is all just a power struggle. This was the case since the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon and this is still the case. It is a power struggle between two coalition, one advocating democracy and liberalism; the other, well judging by its allies Syria and Iran, i will leave it to you to figure out what they are advocating...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy holidays!

Well allow me to send my holidays greetings and best wishes of peace and prosperity to all of you, let us hope that the new year will be better on all of us and especially on Lebanon.

I apologize for my sparse posting but as you know the Lebanese political scene is becoming unbearable these days. There is no progress whatsoever, each concession by the 14 March coalition is met by more stringent demands and conditions by Hezbollah and its allies.

as usual today's parliamentary session was, once more, postponed to Saturday. Somehow i have stopped believing that Lebanon will ever elect a president. I hope i am wrong...

With that i leave you to enjoy your holidays and happy Adha, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rumors of a deal, again...

As usual whenever a possible US-Syrian rapprochement looms over the horizon, Hezbullah mouthpieces start clamoring that a deal, between the two, is in the making and it will be on the expense of Lebanon.

Unfortunately, these conspiracy theorists are first of all biased, trying to project their twisted wishes on reality. For in the post September 11 world it is against the interests of the US to strike any deal that will strengthen Syria's (or any other Middle Eastern country) regional clout and influence. The days of sub contracting regional stability to a few power hubs are long gone.

Second, Lebanon is the US last beacon of democracy in the Middle East, allowing the Syrians to spread their control, once more, on the tiny country will be too high a price even for separating Syria from Iran. No the deal, if any, will be a lessening of Syria's isolation, increasing aid and investment in its economy, and a reinvigorated peace process that will return the Golan heights to Syria.

However, I believe that Syria will not break its alliance with Iran. Bashar is too weak and the Iranian have too much at stakes and invested in the Allawites regime to let him slip out of their hands.

Third, there are too many UNSC resolutions and vested interests in the current Lebanese democratic coalition to simply let it be, once more, overwhelmed by Syria or its allies' despotic and oppressive regime.

Finally, we are passing through a waiting period, where all parties, national and regional, are waiting for further developments before committing to a defined policy or alliance. And the 14 of March initiative to propsoe General Suleiman as a presidential candidate was extremely smart, as he is a candidate that the opposition cannot refuse. The initiative cornered Bashar Assad, as the Syrians and their allies were hoping for an extended void and all the clashes that it will engender, to increase their bargaining chips in the upcoming months. This move robbed them of a very important card and will allow the Lebanese to inch forward to strong and stable political system.