Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Checkmate in Beirut

I've been extremely busy lately, with Ramadan coming to a close, and unable to blog or read the news with any consistency. Furthermore, it seems like I will be visiting Syria again very soon. Still, there are a few things that have caught my attention recently, such as Saad al Hariri's public announcement that his accusing Syria of assassinating his father (and the former prime minister of Lebanon) as a mistake. This is a wise move to make, and it shows that the man is beginning to recognise the political reality in Lebanon and the wider region. This reality came into effect following the invasion of Iraq, where it was was intended that a kind of domino effect would give birth to a "New Middle East". The linchpin, Lebanon, was next in the equation and in effect, a block of hostile countries from Lebanon to Pakistan would be chopped up into pieces: first Afghanistan; then Iraq; and finally Lebanon. This would have left Syria and Iran surrounded and place considerable pressure on them; especially with regards to a peace-deal with Israel.

This plan did not work. Lebanon today is firmly within the orbit of Tehran and this reality took effect in two stages. In the first, external, stage, Israel attempted to crush Hezbullah in a month-long war that had been intended regardless of the capture of the two Israeli soldiers. The second stage, an internally orchestrated "coup" by Western-backed political figures was ended in roughly 6 hours when Hezbullah took over Beirut in 2008 and destroyed the fledgling militias that were being armed with Saudi and American assistance.

To talk about anything else in those two years is absolute nonsense, especially with regards to the Tribunal concerning Hariri's death. Regardless of who killed Hariri, it was obvious that this highly politicised witch-hunt, directed first at Syria and then shifted to Hezbullah, had fizzled out and one of the first people who recognised this was non-other than Walid Jumblatt. He went from bashing Damascus whilst on a visit to Washington to bashing Washington whilst on a visit to Damascus - all in the space of two years. Checkmate in Beirut, or should we say Shah Maat...

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