The continued US, Israeli and Saudi obsession with Iran (which these days is being used interchangeably with “Shia’a” in a bid to fan sectarian flames) means that they will already be planning ahead for the next battle, probably in Lebanon and almost certainly in Gaza (since Hamas is placed in the “Iran” column), in order to halt the perceived Iranian gain in Lebanon last week. In such a case, the recent conciliatory sentiments expressed by some March 14 leaders like Walid Jumblatt must be read as a strategic objective to gain time and space to regroup.
The disconcerting silence of Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most troubling. Not only have the Saudi-sponsored sectarian militias in Lebanon been defeated, but now its tiny but increasingly ambitious Gulf rival state of Qatar has rubbed salt into its wounds by stealing the diplomatic limelight and consolidating its role as regional peacemaker. The Saudis have both the means and influence to mobilize Sunni Salafist groups in Lebanon in a protracted sectarian war against Hizbullah, or precipitate the collapse of the Lebanese economy, if it decides it has ‘lost’ the country to Iran. As such, the Doha participants will want to pacify the Saudis.
And what of the Lebanese themselves? The very fact that the ruling political class needs once again to undertake negotiations in another country in order to resolve internal political disagreements illustrates the core problem in the Lebanese political sectarian system as bequeathed by the colonial powers beginning in the 19th Century. This system creates disenfranchised “non-citizens” that allow the elite (of all sects) to plunder state resources during economic boom times such as occurred during the post civil war period of the 1990s...
Accordingly, the very idea of the national resistance in Lebanon, so effective in militarily defeating the Israeli occupation and puncturing the myth of Zionist supremacy vis-à-vis the Arabs, has been eroded following the battles of last week. Under these circumstances, it is not difficult to imagine yet another US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the coming months but this time, some of those that lost the street battles in Beirut might join the fight against Hizbullah.
the Lebanese have two choices. They can retain the existing political
system and thus continue to endure persistently unstable conditions
--and potentially further conflict-- until the US drops its disastrous
‘war on terror’ policy in the region and starts engaging
its perceived enemies. Or they can throw out the inherently corrupt,
sectarian political class and demand real changes to the political and
economic systems in order to come together as a nation.
one person interviewed on Lebanese TV half-joked when asked to comment
on the potential resolution at Doha: if they don’t agree we
should close the airport to prevent them all from returning.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Karim Makdisi: In the Wake of the Doha Truce