Lebanon Crisis Meanders On With Name Calling

The ongoing crisis in Lebanon which has left that nation without a president for months continues along the normal course of various groups charging their opponents are at fault. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prine Saud al-Faisal urged Syria to cease interfering in the internal affairs of Lebanon which secured a retort from Damascus that Saudi Arabia was the culprit which is creating problems in that nation. The Arab League has been attempting to come up with a compromise which might get all sides to work together. The Arab League plan entails electing Lebanon’s army head, General Michel Suleiman as president, creating a national unity government, and drafting a new electoral process which would govern parliamentary elections in 2009. An important issue is what does “national unity sharing power” actually mean. Hizbullah blames the United States for the impasse, President Bush blames Syria and Hizbullah, and accusations go round and round.

Lebanon over the past thirty years has become emeshed in power politics from outside sources ranging from Israel to Syria to Saudi Arabia and the United States. There is now so much mistrust it appears unlikely this nation can remain as a viable entity unless there is dramatic changes in leadership. Historically, Lebanon divided power between Christians and Muslims since it was assumed each faction represented half the population. Since there has been no official census in years, most probably at least 60% of the populationis Muslim. So, Christians prefer living in the past since they do not trust a government in which Islamic fundamentalist groups like Hizbullah would exert power. This problem is also accerbated by divisions within both Christian and Muslim factions resulting in several competing groups each of whom wants power but by themselves are incapable of attaining such power.