Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hope There's No Civil War For Lebanon

The term of Emile Lahoud as President of Lebanon ends Friday night. It looks like no agreement that includes a consensus candidate who would have the support of both Hezbollah and March 14 camp will be reached.

Hopefully, and I think most likely, the post will be left vacant until an agreement is reached. Any eventual agreement will include not only the personality of the next president but also the armed status of Hezbollah and possibly early parliamentary elections.

I think and hope its less likely that one side takes unilateral action. March 14 leader Sanyora may assume executive power himself or Lahoud may appoint a successor. This would lead to rival administrations that would fight it out.

I think Hezbollah has more than an edge if there is to be a fight. If the country is to split, Hezbollah will get the border with Israel and much of the border with Syria and its part of the country will move much closer to Syria. March 14's share of Lebanon would be of limited value to Israel or Israel's supporters in the West.

If three more March 14 parliamentarians are removed, for example by assassination, it will be impossible to prevent new elections, and the Parliament elected by these elections will reflect the dramatic anti-Israel/anti-US shift Lebanon has taken since the 2006 war.

New elections is the outcome the Israel's supporters are trying must urgently to prevent. As with Abbas, once there is an election that produces a result Israel is comfortable with, preventing future elections becomes a high priority. This is the cost of Israel, the cost of maintaining an colonial ethnic state against the active wishes of everyone else in the region.

Anyway if shooting starts, March 14 parliamentarians will be targeted and it won't be long until at least four either die, are incapacitated or resign because preventing elections is just not worth this to them. Then Hezbollah gets new elections and gets a new parliament is much less accommodating to Israel.

Between three and four out of every five Lebanese, a majority in every measured ethnic group, consider Israel then the United States the worst enemies of Lebanon. No Lebanese ethnic group, not the Christians or the Druze, considers Syria or Iran a worse enemy than Israel. A Parliament that reflects this general understanding among Lebanese will probably be the ultimate outcome either of a peaceful negotiating process or of war.

I'm hoping we get a peaceful negotiating process, no matter how drawn out.

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