Thursday, September 18, 2008

A slow unraveling of the state...

Despite all the agreement, reconciliation and dialogue day by day the security situation on the ground worsen. A shooting there, a killing here, some bombs in that neighborhood, an assassination over there, and the trends is growing.

The army, since Hezbolah attack on Beirut, has been sitting by, rarely getting involved for fear of clashing with the perpetrators and unraveling into several warring armies divided by sect. (Similar to what happened in the 1976-90 civil war)

People fearing for their lives, have either resorted to buying some weapons for self defense or resorted to the famed Lebanese tradition of nonchalance: we die when we die. Or simply immigrated to a less crazy country.

Meanwhile, everybody is waiting for the big explosion, the next war in the region. Unfortunately no one knows where it will start or between whom: Israel-Hezbollah, US-Iran, Israel-Iran, or any other possible permutations.

The summer is over, and once more we wait. We wait for a solution, a settlement that will never come and fear a crisis that is slow to erupt, living in perpetual limbo, while the state, our country, our lives slowly disintegrated around us...

Monday, August 18, 2008

What is brewing in Syria?

In the last couple of months Bashar Assad’s totalitarian regime have been subject to a series of high profile assassinations. First, Hezbollah’s military operations commander, Imad Mughnieh, who was killed in one of Damascus most secure neighborhoods. Then Mohammad Suleiman, Assad’s military right hand, was killed in his sumptuous villas on Tartous sea side.

When Mughnieh was first killed, my first impression was that the Mossad (Israel foreign intelligence service) was behind the assassination. But I felt that if we witnessed a certain rapprochement between Israel and Syria after the killing, it might means that the Syrian were somehow involved. And without much surprise, two countries started peace negotiations a few months after Mughnieh assassination.

So in view of all these developments, several scenarios were put forth, to explain Suleiman assassination: he was killed by the Iranian/Hezbollah for his involvement in Mughnieh termination, a scenario that I do not favor. Or it was an internal job caused by some inter-fighting between several Syrian clans (maybe Assad’s and Ashaf Shoukat’s). Or maybe the Mossad is once more settling some old scores...

Never the less that who did is less important than the act itself, and its immediate implications. Syria is witnessing a power struggle and there is a hidden power shift currently at work. Who will come on top is the question that should be asked.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My humanity cringed...

As most of the Lebanese politicians lined up to salute the returned prisoners, my humanity cringed... like it did when innocent children were killed in Qana, the South and even in Israel.

There are no worse criminals than those who kill children. And nothing, not a cause, no matter how holy or an ideology, no matter how right; or a demand, no matter how just, that can justify the killing of a child...

Samir Kuntar did not deserve a hero’s welcome, he is a child killer. Maybe he atoned for his crime, in his thirty year imprisonment, but that does not absolve him of his barbaric act and warrant him such a celebration. He killed a father in front of his four years old daughter and then smashed her head on a rock, with his machine gun...
In the future, when the next war erupts and children will die from both sides, refrain from condemning Israeli brutality and massacres, for on this day you stood silent... and silence is a crime.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Electoral projections!

As the new “national unity” government was formed, after much horse trading, the focus now shifts to formulating the government’s agenda. Yet despite all these petty squabbles the main issue remains the parliamentary electing that should take place in eight months or so. Each faction is preparing its electoral apparatus and starting the incessant polls and statistic gathering to succeed in the next crucial election.

However, I still believe that the election will not take place. The stakes are too high and both parties cannot afford to lose. A silver lining remains, if the two parties firmly believe that they will win then we might have a slim chance of holding a “peaceful” election, but I doubt that. Lebanon has a small population and at one point the election result will be know, to certain percentage.

Till this moment, at least 75 seats, out of 128, are already divided among the country’s power that be. The main electoral battle will rage among the Christian districts, between Aoun (Hezbollah’s ally) and the 14th of March coalition.

During the next few months I will try to keep an ongoing, gradually refined electoral projection, on my blog. My methodology will be as follow: I will collect as many projection and polls as I can find in the local and international press, and use the 2005 and 2007 by election results to try and form a projection. (For those interested you can view my earlier attempt at projecting the results of the 2007 by elections here and here)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hezbollah and Chebbaa farms

In 2000 when Israel withdrew from South Lebanon, Hezbollah decided to continue its resistance against Israel's occupation. So they dug up old maps of a 50 km2 strip of land called Chebbaa farms and decided that it was part of Lebanon.

However, that piece of land being under the control of Syria in 1967 it was occupied by Israel and considered Syrian. So Israel refused to give up this small plot...eight years forward, after one war, several clashes, thousands of casualties, the land is still "occupied” by Israel and Hezbollah is still trying to free it.

A week ago the US secretary Condoleezza Rice visited Lebanon and declared the US intention to work on placing Chebbaa under UN control until its border is firmly marked and placed under the Syrian or Lebanese sovereignty. (Syria to keep the resistance going in Lebanon always refused to deliver the necessary paperwork to the UN to award Lebanon sovereignty)

Lo and behold Hezbollah officials bristled with indignation, denouncing this move as a ploy to end the resistance and strip its weapons… in other words Hezbollah was against a full Israeli withdrawal from supposedly Lebanese lands because this will end their divine resistance.

A Lebanese paradox par excellence. A resistance that encourages an occupier “occupation” and attacks any effort at freeing the land, maybe Hezbollah has an exclusive dealership on freeing lands…

Meanwhile the political crisis drags on, slowly rotting the stats and its institutions away; at least we have a president. And this is what driving General Aoun (Hezbollah staunchest ally) even madder.