December 12, 2006

Waiting for Assad

By Abu Kais

More details have emerged about the Sudanese envoy's trip to Syria, during which he announced Damascus's alleged support for the Arab initiative.

According to the National News Agency, and an interview Voice of Lebanon conducted with Marwan Hamadeh, the envoy had obtained a tentative agreement on a set of points from Siniora, Nasrallah and Berri. But Berri and Nasrallah asked him to visit Damascus to get the regime's take on the proposed settlement--especially in what concerns the Hariri tribunal.

As was reported, Ismail went to Damascus and then came the announcement of Syrian support. Lo and behold, the Sudanese received a call after his visit from a Hizbullah official informing him that the opposition's approval was only on the "principle" and that his proposal or "working paper" needs a "deep discussion".

This "deep discussion" is really about the Hariri tribunal. Insignificant and self-marginalizing I-want-early-parliamentary-elections-or-I-take-Siniora-hostage Aoun apart, there seems to be a glimmer of hope in reaching a settlement by linking the formation of a national unity government to holding early presidential elections (we can all opine on this once more details emerge).  But the sticking point, and this is according to An-Nahar, is the tribunal, which still "needs negotiations between the opposition and Damascus, which has not given its final word on the issue."

So until the Assad regime releases the "opposition" and allows them to reach a settlement, expect the occupation of downtown Beirut to continue.

The jury is divided on whose side time is on right now. There should no doubt in anybody's mind that it is not on the side of Lebanon and its economy. Some in my comments section have said it's on Hizbullah's side, and others said it was on March 14's.

Here's something to support the second camp's argument:

The "opposition" is quickly losing the support of pro-Syrian Sunnis. Former Prime Minister Omar Karami had refused to address the Hizbullah hordes on Sunday, following Nasrallah's anti-Sunni speech last Thursday. Fathi Yakan, also a pro-Syrian, has publicly disassociated himself from Aoun's plan to storm the Serail and replace the Sunni PM with another one more to Hizbullah's and Aoun's liking.

And today, one of Aoun's allies in Zahle, Elias Skaf, visited Bkirki and announced he was in full support of the Maronite Church and against street protests.

Finally, the sixth UNIIIC report was released on Tuesday, and it looks like Brammertz will keep playing Clue until the tribunal is formed. Speaking of which, the Lebanese cabinet has met and confirmed the tribunal's plan after receiving it from Lahoud, who had sent it back "for a review by another, constitutional, cabinet". It is now on its way to parliament.

Theoretically, the ball is in Berri's court.

But for Berri and Hizbullah, it's in Bashar's court, and has always been.

Posted by Abu Kais at December 12, 2006 09:10 PM
Comments

Elias Skaff knows what is good for him. The Zahliots would have burned him alive if things kept going the way they're going.

My Zahliot friends have updated me about lots of maneuvering, public statements and public displays of anger against anything orange.

It was, and is, only a matter of time.

Posted by: The Perpetual Refugee at December 12, 2006 10:02 PM

Skaff actually said that the protests had done their job, and now it was time for a political solution.

Your playing with words to suit your purposes.

You have speculating about Skaff, and Abi Nasr and Khazen for a long time now. When are they leaving Aoun exactly?

Posted by: R.B at December 13, 2006 03:05 AM

I am writng to personally apologize to the Lebanese people for a vote that I recently cast. I voted to elect Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson to the post of Governor of the state of Florida, because I perceived him as being more steadfast concerning the War on Totalitarian and Theocratic Terrorists than most others in his party (he won the election). Boy, was I wrong!

Today, I ran across a pic of him having a sit-down eye-to-eye meeting, in Damascus, with none other than Bashar Assad!

I will never vote for him again, for any office, and will try my best to convince my friends to likewise refrain. At least as Florida's Governor, he most likely will remain stateside, and thus not get the chance to repeat such a horrific move.

Posted by: Salamantis at December 13, 2006 12:23 PM

Hi,

I appreciate this blog's in-depth coverage on Lebanon. I've noticed Lebanon has completely fallen off the main stream media, in the US at least, due to Iraq, Afganistan, Sudan, etc. Any chance Syria will re-occupy Lebanon thinking that nobody is watching?

David

Posted by: David at December 13, 2006 10:35 PM

As soon as I saw that the declaration of a possible breakthrough came out of Syria, my stomach turned. My only glimmer of hope was that finally, some of those caught up by the opposition's generic 'anti-corruption' and 'national unity' slogans would finally see the light and recognize this so called opposition for what it really is: a tool (in all meanings of the word) of Syria.

This was a clear message from the Syrians, they have just told the international community that the only road to stability in Lebanon runs through Damascus.

Salamantis, thanks for your candor. You know, if the US had invaded Syria instead of Iraq, they would have advanced their goals far more than they did by ousting Saddam. They would have removed an ally of Iran's (Saddam was Iran's enemy, he fought them in an 8 year war with hundreds of thousands of casualties); they would have helped secure Israel's northern border as a peace treaty would have surely followed and Hizballah would've been deprived of their primary backer; and they would have freed Lebanon from a corrupt and dominant autocratic power.

Ah well...

Posted by: Blacksmith Jade at December 14, 2006 06:49 AM

"You know, if the US had invaded Syria instead of Iraq, they would have advanced their goals far more than they did by ousting Saddam."

You know, that is an excellent point.

Of course, there was very little support for such a move. Iraq was a better target that way.

But I bet that Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel would not allow quite as many terrorists to pass into Syria.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at December 14, 2006 07:09 AM

But I bet that Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel would not allow quite as many terrorists to pass into Syria.

The number of captured and killed terrorists or insurgents in Iraq from a foreign country is actually fairly small. I believe the US military puts the number at less than 5%. So if that's the basis of thinking that Lebanon would have easier than Iraq, you're analysis may be a bit off.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2006 09:36 AM

Actualy, I see no way through the present indisputably regional conflict short of deposing both Syria's and Iran's regimes. As long as they remain as they are, they will continue to do what they are doing, and to expand upon it, and the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Israel, as well as the people within Syria and Iran themselves, will continue to bleed and suffer, and in ever greater numbers.

Such an action would be costly in both blood and treasure, but the longer the present circumstances continue and develop unabated, the greater the future costs will be to rectify them, and eventually such rectification will become unavoidable, as it has before, once the threat became existential (WW II).

Posted by: Salamantis at December 14, 2006 09:36 AM

Sorry, make that "...thinking that Syria would have been easier..."

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2006 09:37 AM

Of course, there was very little support for such a move. Iraq was a better target that way.

The US could only get to Syria from Israel. The Turks wouldn't let us stage an invasion out of Turkey, nor would the Jordanians. And invading Syria from Israel would make it politically impossible for pretty much any arab government to side with the US. Once you're in Syria, the only place you can go from there is Iraq.

Iraq, OTOH, was far more strategic. Kuwait would let us stage out from there, and once you're in Iraq, you have options- Syria, Iran, whichever is a higher priority.

The strategy was sound. It's the execution that has been f'd up.

Posted by: rosignol at December 14, 2006 10:02 AM

The strategy was sound. It's the execution that has been f'd up.

The military strategy was sound. The political strategy, ehhhh, not so much.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2006 10:37 AM

Wow, we agree on something... ;-)

Posted by: rosignol at December 14, 2006 10:40 AM

The high potential for political failure along with the enormous costs associated with said failure was why I opposed the war in the first place. The military strategy's only chance of failure was if Hussein actually possessed WMDs. Which is ironic in a way I can't quite wrap my mind around.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2006 10:46 AM

I've noticed Lebanon has completely fallen off the main stream media, in the US at least,...

Here, lots of US media coverage represented.

But yes, the perspectives here are excellent.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at December 14, 2006 11:15 AM

The high potential for political failure along with the enormous costs associated with said failure was why I opposed the war in the first place.

Interesting.

One of the main reasons I support the war is because I think it was a choice between fighting a (relatively) small war now, or a much larger war later.

That the strategy was unlikely to succeed was not particularly significant, IMO- attempting to avert the much larger war was the correct thing to do.

Posted by: rosignol at December 14, 2006 10:24 PM

That the strategy was unlikely to succeed was not particularly significant, IMO...

You support a war that is likely to fail, without concern for the consequences of failure?

Interesting indeed.

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Posted by: dabor at March 28, 2007 09:06 AM
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