These days it requires a scorecard to keep track of the situation in Lebanon. Shiites in Iran are influencing Lebanon politics as are Sunni Syrians while Sunni Egypt and Saudi Arabia are supporting the Lebanon government. Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo in an attempt to sort out the situation which has paraylzed the Lebanese government. The Arab League issued a statement which implicity is critical of Hizbullah and made clear “the ministers reject the principle of resorting to armed violence to achieve political ends.” The Arab League would like to send a delegation to Lebanon but the Beirut airport is closed since all roads leading out of it are blocked by Hizbullah forces.
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are unable to play key roles because of their close association with the Lebanese government. Syria can not play a part in resolving the situation because it has close ties with Hizbullah and has helped to create the current chaos. Iran hovers in the background attempting to portray itself as being innocent for the conflict even though its support for Hizbullah is a key factor in what has happened.
It is possible the once powerful Arab League can play a role– provided it can even get into the country.
If President Bush’s record in the Middle East was compiled in the manner of batting averages, the president would be headed back to the bush leagues for some more seasoning before being allowed to play in the big leagues. Hizbullah gunmen have taken over large parts of Beirut as the US backed government backs away from any confrontation with masked gunmen who roam the streets chanting victory and waving flags. The Iranian supported Hizbullah has firm command of major sectors of the capital while the government bunkers down behind the army. Key leaders such as Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri, son of the murdered Lebanese leader, are trapped in west Beirut and unable to move without permission of Hizbullah.
Part of the difficulty in figuring out what is going on in Beirut is that Hizbullah is not overthrowing the government, it is not a coup d’etat, it is something, but, as of this point no one knows exactly what. The army exists and it is not controlled by Hizbullah, the government is trapped within its offices, the streets are being controlled by Hizbullah gunmen, and there is stability amidst a loss of power on the part of the government.
The only certainty is that Bush policies of trying to keep Iran out of Lebanon have failed. The Iranians are in Lebanon, they are in Iraq, and they certainly are refusing to back down to UN demands for nuclear reduction.
Hizbullah militant Imad Mughniyeh, who masterminded several killings in the past twenty five years including the bombing and deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Lebanon, was blown up and killed in Damascus. It is assumed the Israel intelligence played a role in kiling this notorious Hizbullah leader. The Syrian government denounced his death and cast blame directly upon Israel for the action. Sheik Afif al-Naboulsi, warned there would be an eye for an eye.
Most Arab newspapers that blamed Israel argued the killing was unfair. For some reason, these periodicals never condemn suicide bombers who blow up innocent civillians or children. The killing is merely another example of failure on the part of all sides in the current Middle Eastern conflict between Israel and Arab nations to accept the reality of compromise as the only way in which peace can be achieved. Undoubtedly, Hizbullah will respond with suicide attacks and more people will die. The cycle of death goes on and on.
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.
Posted in George Bush, Human Rights, Iran, Islam, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy
Tagged Hizbullah, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria
Zaher Mahruqi, writing in the Jerusalem Post, raises the question as to whether or not there has been a fundamental misunderstanding among Israelis about Hizbullah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. He notes Nasrallah’s comments after the Israel invasion of Lebanon which did not lead to recapture of Israeli soldiers and fierce fighting, “We did not think, even one percent, that the capture 9two soldiers) would lead to at this time and of this level. You ask us, if we had known that the operation would have led to such a war, would we have done it? I say no, absolutely not.” His comments shocked many Arab people who initially regarded him as a hero who had stood up to Israel. According to Mahruqi, Nasrallah was attempting to make the Lebanese people aware he did not wish further war or violence and wanted to play a role in creating a viable Lebanon. He understands the Lebanese people are sick and tired of war. Last week, Nasrallah agreed to an exchange of bodies with Israel. He is a politician who wants power and authority, and, if necessary, he is willing to forgo violence to achieve his ends.
Perhaps, it is time for Israel to discover the extent to which Nasrallah really wants peace by offering to negotiate with Hizbullah on a wide range of issues, including return of the Israeli soldiers. If Nasrallah is a pragmatist, he will engage in negotiation. So far, the continual resort to violence on the part of Israel has not been particularly successful.
Posted in Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics
Tagged Hizbullah, Israel, Israel soldiers, Lebanon, Nasrallah
Banafshenh Keynoush, former translator for President Ahmadinejaf of Iran said Israel’s invasion of Lebanon last year and inept Saudi Arabian policies have strengthened the hand of Iran in the Middle East. He noted a result of Israel’s failed invasion was to enhance the image of Iran which furnished aid and strengthen the power of Hizbullah which stepped into the void created by Israel’s destruction of homes, roads, and bridges by assuming responsibility for giving aid to people. Keynoush believes Saudi Arabia has lost influence because it gave Saddam Hussein $50 billion to support the invasion of Iran and it continues being connected to American foreign policy. He also noted Hamas and Fatah, two Palestinian groups maintain offices in Iran and work closely with Iranian officials.
The Bush policy of isolating Iran does not move America toward meeting its goals of a stable and peaceful Middle East. The United States has antagonized groups like Hizbullah and Hamas allowing Iran to step in and become a major supplier of money and arms. he is correct that Israel’s invasion of Lebanon only resulted in the death of hundreds without accomplishing the goal of rescuing two soldiers.
Posted in Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Politics, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah, Iran, Israel