Saturday, September 09, 2006

Myth: There is a plan to bring down Lebanon's government

I've seen this one place, at syriacomment.

Another story that has been circulating in the Arab press is that Syria, Iran and Hizbullah have a three step plan to bring down the Lebanese government with the help of General Aoun and other anti-Hariri politicians. The basic idea is: Stage one, stay cool while Israel withdraws its troops. Stage two, create paralysis in the government by opposing all Siniora measures. Stage three, begin large scale demonstrations which will give cover for special inciters to provoke clashes with the police and get people shot. Then push for a vote of no-confidence in parliament and force new elections. The only source quoted in this story is a "high placed" government official. There can be little doubt that opposition figures in Lebanon and their supporters further a field are strategizing to bring down the Hariri coalition that presently governs Lebanon, and which many have already accused of being complicit with Israel and the US during the war. Whether this is their plan is hard to say, but it is hard to think of a different plan.

I don't expect this plan to be followed, instead more like Stage 1: Lay low while Israel pulls out. (This stage is easy because they really are laying low already) Stage 2: Hold talks to implement the end of non-national militias in Lebanon. Stage 2A: Of course this means also giving Shiites full suffrage, instead of 40% of the population having 20% of the vote. Stage 3: The Shiites establish themselves as the permanent government of all of Lebanon and fold Hezbollah into the army.

This is all just guessing. It will be obvious in six months which plan is being followed though. I'll admit if I was wrong.

See, just as 9/11 radicalized the contemporary US government, the July/August War radicalized the Lebanese government in place. Nasrallah can't feel any strong urge to replace parliament immediately because everyone agrees with him now.

Remember the surge of support Hezbollah got in Lebanese polls? The Lebanese Parliament are Lebanese too. They felt the same surge, if not more because members of government are often more patriotic than the general population.

This ties to just how poorly Israel has been conducting foreign policy since at least July. Unbelievably, I am led to believe Israel thought that hurting Lebanese civilians would turn them against Hezbollah. The blockades and destruction of bridges all through the country made the Lebanese mad, but of course they were mad at Israel.

The war was really started by a border skirmish in which Israeli soldiers were captured and killed. Nobody in Lebanon believes Israel had no choice but to destroy the airport. Israel chose to escalate and everyone in Lebanon blames Israel for that decision.

I didn't predict that Israel would fail to advance by land into Lebanon when the attack first happened, but it became obvious to a lot of people when the first town was captured, then recaptured, then never had been an objective at all. By that time, Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil were just an exercise in stupidity.

I'd say the dumbest move though was maintaining the air and sea blockades after the cease fire. At that point the only way to get goods in was through Syria. Of course Syria and its Lebanese allies would not back down from that "threat", the threat to make Lebanon more dependent on Syria. If it was up to Syria, Israel would impose a permanent blockade. All Israel has done this summer is turned the population and government further and more permanently against Israel towards Syria and Iran.

That leads us back to the government. In 2005 it was relatively pro-Western. Today it is not. Nasrallah does not have to pull the trigger and bring down the government. There is a long term realignment in the works that is so favorable to the Shiites that Hezbollah can afford to be magnanimous.

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