Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lebyriana

The recent undetonated explosives found across the Lebanese capital over the past week are a message from Syria to its closest ally, Iran.
The allies are bickering. At least according to a number of analysts and journalists, one of whom put the question to the Iranian Foreign Minister on Monday, only to receive the following answer:

''Damascus is informed of the joint efforts made by Iran and Saudi Arabia to help different parties in Lebanon...there exists no difference of views between Iran and Syria in that regard.''

Maybe, but then again, maybe not. It was almost exactly one month ago that Iran, with one call to the primary vehicle of its influence in the country (Hizballah), managed to bring a day of strike, dangerously spiralling out of control, to a complete halt. All this while Syria's allies in the country were actively pushing for a continuation of the violent disruptions in an effort to bring down the government, thereby bringing to a stop any progress on the ratification of the International Tribunal. The impetus for that call? Another call, this time made by the Saudis to the Iranians to remind them of the understandings reached between the countries in their talks throughout that past month.

Through their negotiations in Mecca, Riyadh and Tehran, the Saudi government has sought to provide the Iranians with a mechanism to ease Iran's isolation in the region. This, in return for a series of measures that could clearly indicate intentions on the part of Tehran to ease the crises in both Lebanon and Iraq. One, not accidental, reprecussion of this deal, however, has been the isolation of a Syrian regime the Saudis have been none too happy with since the assassination of Rafic Hariri, but more poignantly, since the start of Hizballah's summer war. In short, the deal reached by the Saudis and Iranians was one in which the last remnants of Syria's influence in Lebanon would be killed off. The Syrians, as might be expected, are themselves none too happy with this arrangement and they're not afraid to show it.

Enter Bashar Al Assad's trip to Tehran this week, where he met with top elements of the Iranian regime. A consensus seems to be emerging that the trip was in fact a summoning of Bashar by the Iranian regime in order to impart on him their 'strong belief' that it might be wiser for the young president to abandon his bus-bombing kit and fall in line with the agreement reached by the Saudis and Iranians. The Syrians, however, have been keen to remind both their allies and their enemies not to disregard them so easily, hence the undetonated bomb in a Muslim area of the city - a message to the Iranians and the Saudis reminding them of the potency of Syria's capabilities in Lebanon - and today's unexploded ordanances found in the Christian heart of the capital - a continuation of a string of attacks on Christians (which have spread from politicians to the terrorizing of regular citizens) which themselves are subject to a theory that they are a message to stay out of the Sunni vs Alawite-Shiite conflict currently aflare.

Symptoms of this hidden malaise between the two allies, have been surfacing among their agents in Beirut. This week alone has seen a bevy of strangely contradictory speeches and signs coming out of the opposition camp. While Aoun has been silent - except for one compromising speech (possibly an indication of Aoun's realisation that the game has gotten far bigger than his myopic aspirations had allowed him to perceive) - Berri has been on the offensive, threatening to play the card Syria's allies have been attempting to play for the past month and half, and which will expire with the next UN Investigation report (that of revealing the names of the 10 countries purportedly 'hindering' the advancement of the investigation). Hizballah, for its part, has been heeding the call from Tehran and has, over the past week, issued a number of consiliatory remarks meant to open the path towards an acceptance of the compromise deal reached between its patron and that of the young Hariri. In the meantime, however, it has continued to gun for those two arch enemies of the Syrian regime, Jumblatt and Geagea (the latter of which has already moved to counter Hizballah's accusations of intransigence by outlining his party's acceptance of the lines upon which the deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran were struck).

So where does this leave Lebanon? Nearly one full month after the Opposition's (in order to bypass criticisms of my calling them Pro-Syrians, I shall refer to them as the 1/3 Pro-Syrian, 1/3 Pro-Iranian, and 1/3 Confused Narcissist - opposition forces) deadly riots we find ourselves at exactly the same junction (and compromise deal) proposed at the time of the commencement of that other failed attempt at bringing down the government, the opposition's downtown protests and sit-in, nearly three months ago.

8 comments:

  1. I only have one minor disagreement with your analysis; it should be "1/3 Pro-Syrian, 1/3 Pro-Iranian, and 100% Confused Narcissist".

    Narcisse may have been Greek, but his descendants are all Lebanese.

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  3. I have been meekly trying to point out that while Syria and Iran share a lot of joint interesests and goals in Lebanon, they may not completely agree on how to achieve those goals or on how many of their allies and their capabilities they are willing to sacrifice to achieve those goals. They may also disagree on the timings...
    So I agree with you in that regard. However that should not be construed as a weakness of the Syrian regime's capabilities in Lebanon. Many a time in the past, especially in the 80's, the regime's old guard managed to turn seemingly unfavorable odds and international opposition to a very strong hand in Lebanon, over the dead bodies of many Lebanese and their assassinated or exiled leaders - who by the way underestimated the regime or expected its demise, only for them to meet their own.

    Caution is still key. The Syrian regime is brutal, unrelenting and too heavily invested in Lebanon to just let go, even if Iran says that they should - which by the way they won't.

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  4. Other than that, great post!!!

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  5. Thanks R.

    And yes, the Syrians are still capable of killing and terrorizing us. They will always be able to do so as long as their allies within and without the security apparatus are allowed to operate unhindered.

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  6. Anonymous9:59 PM

    check out the shia death squads:

    http://www.filfil.net/modules.php?name=Video_Stream&page=watch&id=4593&a

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  7. hem-p-ower2:27 AM

    this is a disgusting sectarian video!

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  8. Arabic Coffee Pot5:09 PM

    This video is from Iraq, a different country with a different set of circumstances and problems. Its scare-mongering.

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