Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lebanon and Syria are holding together well right now

Bashar Assad's interview earlier this week with Seymour Hersch of the New Yorker publication included a statement about the instability of Lebanon that presents a threat of a sudden and unexpected descent into civil war unless there are reforms of its political system.
The civil war in Lebanon could start in days; it does not take weeks or months; it could start just like this. One cannot feel assured about anything in Lebanon unless they change the whole system.
In Lebanon "change the whole system" means move away from the current political allocation that disproportionately gives political power to Christians and Sunni Muslims and gives fewer seats in Parliament to Shiites than the population would reflect.

Parties in Lebanon that benefit from the current allocation of power might take offense at a statement like this, but it seems political parties in Lebanon are seeking good relations rather than confrontation with Syria.
Assad’s remarks drew reactions from Lebanese parliamentary-majority officials over the weekend with the Future Movement issued a statement Saturday saying Hersh’s reporting of Assad’s remarks was unclear. The Future Movement added that an official Syrian source later clarified Assad’s statement in remarks published by Al-Hayat, by expressing Syria’s rejection of all forms of political sectarianism in the Middle East region where several religious communities coexisted.

Similarly, Democratic Gathering Bloc MP Marwan Hamadeh said Sunday Assad was addressing sectarianism in general, not particularly in Lebanon, adding that the Syrians were not satisfied with “Hersh’s interpretation of Assad’s comments.”

“We can easily exploit Asssad’s speech if we want to blow things out of proportion but if we want to wrap the issue then let us adopt the Future Movement’s stance following the call between Hariri and Assad,” Hamadeh said.
And of course, there is Hariri himself who is carefully speaking against the idea that Lebanon is or should be divided.
"We hear a lot of Israeli threats day in and day out," Hariri said in an interview posted on the BBC's Web site Wednesday. "Every day we have Israeli warplanes entering Lebanese airspace. This is something that is escalating, and this is something that is really dangerous."

Hariri said Lebanon, which has a notoriously fractious political system, would unite if there is a fresh conflict with Israel.

"I think they're (Israelis) betting that there might be some division in Lebanon, if there is a war against us," Hariri said. "There won't be a division in Lebanon. We will stand against Israel. We will stand with our own people."
An emerging Lebanese nationalism that causes Hariri to refer to Hezbollah and its largely Shiite supporters as "our own people" is a very good development.

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