Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Peace Meal Strategy: Part I

While 2007 has proven to be a year of violent protest, terrorist attack, and horrific murder for the streets of Beirut, it is the road from Beirut to Damascus that has witnessed the greatest traffic from the world’s top statesmen (women) and diplomats. A road the sirens of peace in Syria hope to run from Damascus to Beirut, through Tel Aviv.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding, and that pudding is none other than the preliminary peace agreement, drawn up under Syrian auspices, and informally negotiated with Israeli "academic" experts. And while the massive media blitz the Syrian regime has engaged in to promote these negotiations has concentrated on such niceties as turning the occupied Golan Heights into a shared Syrian-Israeli park, the details of the agreement hold dire consequences for the Lebanese state, and the future of the country as a whole.

Specifically, where the document clearly identifies Israeli control over “the uses and disposition” of the waters of the Sea of Galilee, it is Syria that is tasked with ensuring that those tributaries feeding the Sea remain untainted, "both in quantity and quality". Tributaries, many of which run through, and originate in, Lebanon, and over which Lebanon has sovereignty (point V). A sovereignty that is explicitly overlooked and implicitly nullified with references that single out the Lebanese – and not the state of Lebanon, a single mention of which is not found anywhere in the document – alongside references to Israel, Syria, and even Iran, as sovereign entities.

In short, the document offers Israel military monitoring sites on the Golan Heights, visa-free access to the park on the Golan, control over all waters in the Sea of Galilee basin with reservations over the quality and quantity of the tributaries feeding that basin, and finally, the dismantling of radical Syrian-controlled Palestinian groups based in Damascus (points IV.8 and V.9). In return, the Syrians receive implicit acknowledgement of territorial claims over Lebanon, and a dictatorial claim over the governing of the Lebanese. In short, Syria gets Lebanon, and abandons any strategic military gains that could be derived from the Golan Heights, and from the possession of two negotiating cards now fleeting in value : Hizballah and Hamas.

But while negotiations over this agreement have proceeded in secret for well over two and a half years now, it is only in the last several months that any public declarations have been made on their behalf. Months that have come in the aftermath of a devastating war for both Lebanon (in terms of lives, property, and revenue) and Israel (in terms of public confidence in its government and military institutions and the philosophies on which those institutions operate). A war that has brought the issue of security along Israel’s northern border to the forefront. A war started by a close Syrian ally (Hizballah) and preceded by a similar operation by another card in Syria’s hand of negotiation.

See a pattern yet?

25 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:20 PM

    LOL....So its Hizballah who are giving away Lebanese sovreignty and Hariri Inc. who are protecting it now? While they spread toxic waste across the country, steal govt. property and produce lie after lie about monies paid? Yeah I really want these guys looking after my welfare and the welfare of Lebanon.

    In fact, even if the opposition was totally subservient to Iran/Syria/Andorra I'd rather they were in charge then this bunch of odious criminals

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  2. Anonymous,

    May I ask you what sort of Lebanon it is that you want to live in? Where do you want this country to be in a generations time? and how you believe that a Government which is 'totally subservient to Iran/Syria' will get us there?

    I'm just trying to work out how a part of the population is thinking.

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  3. "In fact, even if the opposition was totally subservient to Iran/Syria/Andorra I'd rather they were in charge"

    I bet you would Anonymous.

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  4. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Tony,

    A country not ruled by people who:
    - think the coutry is their own personal property
    - think the people their servants to do whith as they please
    - believe the nations treasury is their own personal bank account
    - plunge the nation further and further into debt after sucking that treasury dry
    - poison the land with toxic waste and destroy the environment by letting their "friends" dig up vast swathes of the countryside so they can make a quick buck
    - kiss and hug the people who arm my enemy

    With these people this country will be nowhere in a generations time

    jade,

    Yes, I said so didn't i?

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  5. Arabic Coffee Pot3:25 PM

    What the hell does this have to do with corruption? Thats your answer to everything, another mindless slogan!

    Good post Blacksmith Jade, you speak the truth!

    (Whats in part II?)

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  6. With all due respect Anonymous, I don't believe that being subservient to anybody is the answer for an independent nation (and I know that you chose this versus having the current Government).

    Do you really believe that the cuurent Government is evil? do you believe that they have not done anything positive since being in power, taking into account all the obstacles which have been put in its way? and do you fail to realise that there are those in the opposition who are corrupt and who were part of the ruling class cashing in, when Lebanon was under Syrian control?

    Frankly, your negative response to my question shows alot of hatred and is not the attitude required to build a nation.

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  7. Anonymous4:00 PM

    anonymous,

    i can use that little list you put up to describe any of the opposition's leaders, so don't be too proud of writing that useless garbage.
    as for ur dear hizb and their idiot general, their days are numbered. lebanon has weathered bigger storms and we will overcome a band of backward, criminal and fundamentalist iranian/syrian "yes-men".
    don't come crying for help after your real leaders in damascus and tehran sell you out.

    mike

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Anonymous5:41 PM

    tony,

    Of course its not but as you note, I said that given the choice between the 2.

    Evil? Some aspects of it are in my opinion yes. But mostly, my dislike of them is based on the fact that I do not believe any of them care for anything but their own gain, wealth and advance. What is it yo believe they have done thats positive since they came into power?

    Do I realise that the opposition contains people who profited from Syrian control of Lebanon? Of course I do, and there are members of the position I dislike as much as any member of govt.

    Coffee pot,
    I suppose blaming Syria for everything bar the extinction of the dinosaurs isn't your answer to everything?


    anon,
    "as for ur dear hizb and their idiot general, their days are numbered"

    Your sophisticated understanding of the Lebanese political arena leaves me with no option but to bow to you superior intellect

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  10. Arabic Coffee Pot6:12 PM

    Oh give me a break Anonymous, spare us the illusory attempt to portray any opposition to Syria as some depraved fetish. The evidence is there for you to see.

    But whats the point, you're just another puppet strung along by your personal hate for some politicians. The funny thing is that you'd sell the country out just to satisfy your hate. You're no better than those you argue against and their pursuit of self-interests.

    You should be ashamed of yourself!

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  11. Anonymous10:37 PM

    Coffee pot,

    Sometimes the double standards or even hypocrisy coming from anti-opposition guys is so blatant, I gotta wonder if its knowing.

    I dont believe I said what u are claiming I said. To spell it out, what I said was that the anti Syrian mantra is no less a mindless reaction to the opposition as corruption seems to you to be a pro opposition one.

    Or to put it another way for you: give me a break Coffee Pot, spare us the illusory attempt to portray any opposition to govt. corruption as some depraved fetish. The evidence is there for you to see.

    Erm, make up your mind, is it my hate for politicians or i am a puppet?

    Do I oppose the govt becasue I hate some politicians and their policies? You bet I do. Thats what politics is all about.

    I dont believe you know me nearly well enough to claim what I would or would not do and if you are basing your statement on what I said above, then I suggest you think about it a little deeper.

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  12. anonymous,
    your comments get more and more ridiculous each time i read them.

    for example:
    "what I said was that the anti Syrian mantra is no less a mindless reaction to the opposition as corruption seems to you to be a pro opposition one"

    Let me explain something to you, we have many reasons to oppose Syrian interests in Lebanon, and you know them as much as anyoby else. It isn't merely a reaction to the opposition's support of the Syrian government (see Hassan's speech on March 8th, 2005).
    We don't take kindly to people who "kiss and hug" Lebanon's enemies either.

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  13. Anonymous1:02 AM

    ok I guess Im having to spell this out very clearly so you I amy be understood seeing as I am obviosly not making myself clear.

    Coffepot stated that corruption was my answer to everything, another mindless slogan.

    I replied that it was no less or more a mindless slogan or answer to everything than those who blame everything on Syria or the Syrian agenda.

    Yes yes I know you dont agree but by the same token I have many reasons to oppose Hariri Inc's interest in Lebanon.


    But of course we have had this debate before and just go around in circles - You believe that the opposition are serving an Eastern agenda and I believe that the govt. is serving a Western one.

    We won't, much like the politicians of Lebanon find much common ground.

    The situation will remain as it is for the next 2 years and the next elections will deliver a final blow to one side or the other - unless of course Mike, our politically sophisticated friend above gets his way, but call me optimistic when I say I doubt it.

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  14. Anonymous,
    How are we to know when we've had the same debate before when the only moniker you use an anonymous one by definition?

    Second of all, I agree with everyone else in this comments section when I ask why you don't address the issues brought up in this post instead of trying to deflect any and all criticism away from Hizballah and the Syrians?

    In this context, you are undoubtedly wrong when you compare your tourette-syndrome-like outbursts ("corruption corruption") to a 500 word post replete with supporting documentation and references.

    So please just argue the points or leave, we really have no time for childish quarrells or mindless slogans.

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  15. Anonymous, one of the more significant positives from the current Government that springs to mind is the Paris III donor conference. Another would have to be replacing Hizbollah military on the southern border with UNIFEL after the Second Lebanon War - at the very least it has neutralised the southern border.

    I fear that if the situation remains like this for the next 2 years the country will be beyond repair.

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  16. Anonymous2:52 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. Abu Diab8:42 AM

    This debate/argument is childish....we have to pick the lesser of two evils at the moment. It's tough..it really is. Anon is right in saying that people like Geagea, Jumblatt and Hariri do not deserve to govern an ant hill in Somalia. Unfortunately we have no alternative..its either them or Iran/Syria.
    What we can do is try to get rid of them asap after this crisis is resolved.

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  18. I say lets give this Government an opportunity to govern when the conditions are more conducive i.e. no obstructionist iniatives from the Opposition, who control two out of the three arms of power....then we can judge!

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  19. very interesting discussion.. going up top to read the rest

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  20. Anonymous10:58 PM

    blacksmith,
    How many anons have you had long and trying debates like this with in recent times? ;)

    Ok, analysis of both posts. You state that Syria is negotiating its peace with Israel with the aim of being "handed" control of Lebanon. " questions. What influence do the Israelis have over Lebanon that they are in a position to give the Syrians control? Are you suggesting that the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon is backed by Israel? I see a lot of speculation but I dont see any explanation on how this comes about.

    You answer in the comments of part 2 that there is no mention in the Syrian-Israeli negotiations that there is no mention of Lebanon. You can't have ur cake and eat it too. If there was mention of it you would be ranting about how the Syrians are negotiating over Lebanon as if it was theirs. Who is Syria to be discussing Lebanon with Israel?

    I am wrong to compare my "tourette-syndrome-like outbursts" to your 500 word post? Would a 500 word reply be more satisfying for you? And if you actually read I did not compare your posts to my comment- And refering to my arguments as tourette syndrome like and acusing me of childishness and mindless slogans is quite pathetic. But hey, your place so I will leave after this post and you guys can continue to live in your idealisitc cocoon where only your beliefs your count.


    Tony,
    Im sorry but I do not agree that plunging the country into even more debt (and raising taxes that harm the poor the most to pay for them) is a positive.

    And how is UNIFIL, who are never going to protect Lebanon a positive? How does the daily aerial and so far 6 land breaches of the blue line by Israel make the border neutral?

    But I agree, I dont think the country can take 2 more years but unless a consensus is reached for a national unity govt. i fear that is what will hapen.

    abu diab,
    Thats the point though. Your choice of the lesser of 2 evils is the govt. At least half of the country however believe the opposition is the lesser. The only way forward is a govt. made up of both sides.

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  21. Anonymous,
    My post talked about the Syrians pushing their plan along the Israeli track of U.S. Middle Eastern interest. That means they were pushing on the Americans through the Israelis (trying to at least). And yes, the Americans do have influence over the Middle East. It was only with American consent that Syria was able to fully occupy Lebanon in the early 1990's. That much anyone knows, but apparently I still have to explain it to you ("Are you suggesting that the anti-Syrian camp in Lebanon is backed by Israel?"...good one genius).

    My answer in part II, as in the post as a whole, is that the language in the proposal is offensive precisely because it mentions territories and waters in Lebanon but doesn't recognize Lebanon as a sovereign state over these territories and waters.

    It seems to me Anonymous, that every post has to be painstakenly explained to you, and after hours of discussion if you don't hear the answers you want to hear (e.g., all the March 14th leaders are filthy scum) you discard everything that was said. So instead of wasting more hours hunkered down in my comments sections re-explaining points everyone else seems to grasp pretty easily I will suggest that you freshen up on your political underanding and reading (check out the books in the sidebar), open your mind to possibilities other than the ones you (or most likely someone else) have engraved in your brain, and hope for the best.

    See you around.

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  22. Anonymous,

    The Paris III Donor Conference was a forum to raise money for the Lebanese economy. That $7.6 billion was raised I consider a positive. If you are alluding to these monies being linked to economic reform and blaming the inequities of the reform on Paris III, then I disagree with your link. There is no doubt that the Lebanese economy is in need of much needed reform, however all which I thought you asked me for was the positives which the Government has contributed - lets not confuse the issue please.

    As for my second point on UNIFEL neutralising the southern border - it's all relative you know. You can have an armed group/resistance/militia on the border that will act unilaterally an expose the entire country to war OR you can have an international body that may allow the occasional drone into Lebanese airspace (which I am not condoning by the way). You obviously know which one most would prefer and hence the reason why I stated it as a positive.

    I think it's healthy that we can argue different points of view on these matters but we should also be objective enough to give credit to those we don't usually agree with if it's warranted.

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  23. Anonymous,

    just one final point in reference to your response to Abu Diab - you say that half the country supports the Government and the other half supports the opposition and the only way to break this impasse is to form a government composing both sides. How about the alternative solution which is let this elected government do the job which it was elected to do and then at the next ballot, the democratic process will run its course, and whoever is the majority can form a government and will be treated with the same respect ie. allowed to govern!

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  24. Which is, by the way, called democratic alternance. What the opposition is now proposing is simply a street (and foreign) backed coup. And the opposition backs it up by rioting and targeted killings. That does not sound to me as very constructive and democratic opposition, but rather like creating anarchy to get the rewards of a worse scenario politics.

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