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
Salah Nasrawi, writing in the Turkish Daily News, emphasized the growing concern among Arab nations regarding the increased power of Iran in the Middle East. many share America’s anxieties, but regard a military option an an invitaton to disaster. Among there greatest fears is an American-Iran military confrontation could set the Middle East ablaze and give rise to violence and insurgency. Iraq and Lebanon are major concerns among Arab leaders since both nations are suseptible to Iranian influence, particularly, since Iran is funding insurgent groups. Even befoe America got into the picture, Arab leaders have been attempting to curtail Iran’s influence over what happens in Lebanon and trying to hedge in Hizbullah which is closely linked to Iran.
Many Middle East experts like Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations, are warning that Arab leaders are probably hedging their bets rather than lining up behind the United States. Bush has confused most Middle Eastern nations, and they still wonder if he is serious about an Israeli-Palestinian peace or whether he simply lacks a copherent approach to dealing with the problem. That underlines the importance to Bush of being decisive and working to ensure both sides in the conflict are ready to accept compromise and move on rather than remained paralyzed in rhetoric.
Posted in Emerging Issues in the World, Human Rights, Iraq War, Islam, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, United States, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Arab nations, Iran, Iraq, Israel-Palestinians, Lebanon, Middle East, US
The political situation in Lebanon remains unresolved and for some reason President Bush saw fit to make a statement about what is happening. President Emile Lahoud stepped down from his position since his term of office was over and asked the Lebanese army to handle things. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that was an illegal action since the “situation is secure as the army is maintaining security in the country.” He argued that Lahoud was, in effect, creating a sense there was need for a state of emergency and argued that decision rested with the Cabinet, not the President. The opposition parties suggested that a neutral person take over as president for a two year term and the Siniora majority continue in office, but this was rejected by the majority. Siniora said he would keep parliament in session until they came up with a president. The outgoing president, Lahoud, commented: “No matter what (US president George W.)Bush says, this (Siniora’s government) is unconstitutional and illegitimate. They know it.”
Obviously, the situation is complex and there are times when the United States should simply mind its own business and allow other nations to deal with their own problems.
In a biting editorial that pulled no punches, editors of the Lebanon Daily Star, said it’s time for the Arab world to cease complaining and assume responsibility for change. As one reviews the Middle East, the situation is a disaster. Egypt is ruled by an autocrat who throws people into jail for questioning his health or plans to install his son as the next leader of the nation, Algeria is again entering a civil war situation that already engulfs Iraq, Turkey is preparing an invasion of Kurdistan, Syria doesn’t know whether to remain in its state of inertia or join the path of economic development, Palestinians are attempting to have a united front in a nation divided into factions, Jordan is overwhelmed by Iraqi refugees, Somalia is in utter chaos and the world is well aware of the Sudan/Darfur disaster. What can be done?
Two recent developments offer signs of moving ahead rather than remaining stuck in the quagmire of anger. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is creating a billion dollar university geared to preparing Saudi Arabians for the 21st century. Religious authorities are banned from the university and women will have equal rights with males on college grounds. The Mohammad bin Rashid al-Mkton Foundation(named after the ruler of Dubai) is creating a $10 project to foster economic development, expand women’s rights, fund research, stimulate scientific education, and move youth into the world in which they must live. As the Daily Star notes: “The idea is to ensure that the next generation can do more than complain about problems.”
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