A Lebanese Gaza

Zuheir Kseibati Al-Hayat 18/06/07//

Lebanon is at the risk of becoming another Gaza. Although people do not believe or understand Hamas’s vow to adhere to the Mecca Agreement after what this movement did to bring down the unity government with Fatah, the fate that the Palestinian Cause has come to because of the Palestinians and their two legitimacies makes many dark clouds loom on the horizon for the Lebanese people and their different legitimacies.

In Lebanon, they are doomed to a conflict between two governments, in which case they had better bid the country’s unity farewell. What is terrifying is a relative comparison between how “easily” the battle in Gaza has been wrapped up and Hamas took control of the Strip on the one hand and the frightening idea of any similar scenario starting in Beirut. This scenario would begin with the formation of another government opposed to the one led by Fouad Siniora, which President Emile Lahoud no longer considers as legitimate, nor does the opposition. The latter, for its part, insists on refusing dialogue unless priority is given to “participation”. How will the authorities fragment? And what does the future hold for the institutions and indeed for the constitution? How can presidential elections be carried out? More importantly, who can guarantee that the political division will not turn into street clashes?

“Either kill or get killed,” as Walid Jumblatt, President of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), said after the murder of MP Walid Eido. This phrase is the title of a new stage in Lebanon, where the confrontation is escalating at the internal level and with regard to the Syrian borders issue.

This confrontation will not be a mere political front to pelt one another with accusations and deny recognition, as opponents, or at least most of them, will do to those that will be elected to replace Minister and MP Pierre Gemayel and MP Eido. These opponents, especially Hezbollah, know that now that any chance of dialogue has been ruled out, there is enough congestion nationwide to produce many sparks on the streets whenever any friction is invented to challenge the by-elections due on August 5. Everyone knows, as well, that the opposition’s attempt to overthrow Siniora’s government on the streets, as Hamas did with President Mahmoud Abbas’s authority in Gaza, will push Lebanon toward a chaotic and nationwide division with the traits of a replicable absurd model.

Meanwhile, no one is calculating the main costs of a big explosion based, as is the case with Iraq, on resentment along with sectarian and confessional fragmentation. Whose interests will be served? Who will benefit from this violent destabilization on the Iraqi-Palestinian-Lebanese front? This is certainly no coincidence. It is well-known that a decision has been taken to change the conflict’s givens in the region and, therefore, speed up confrontations. Likewise, one can include this destabilization into a regional theatre, where pressures on Iran, which is being threatened with more sanctions and a war, are mounting, and Syria feels it is being targeted even more after the adoption of the International Tribunal to look into the murder of PM Rafik al-Hariri.

In Gaza, people are wondering who is behind the attempt to abort the Mecca Agreement. In Lebanon, on the other hand, the question is: Are these the final days of the Taif Agreement and Resolution 1701, now that everyone is choosing either to put an end to the country’s unity or oust Siniora from the government palace after the failure of the battle of disrupting the tribunal? Now, it is no use discussing who would acknowledge a possible Lahoud-formed government from abroad. At the same time, making Lebanon’s internal affairs more international (like the loyalists’ request for protection through international forces) is not an option easily within reach. Expectations stem from Hamas’s threats against such internationalization in Gaza, which is turning into an illegitimate entity for the international community.

These are really dark clouds, while the chances of successfully betting on the French endeavors to revive the Lebanese dialogue are equal to hoping that all the parties of the three fronts will learn the lesson. Meanwhile, most of these parties are expecting the Arab delegation visiting Beirut tomorrow just to confirm what the efforts of Amr Moussa, Arab League Secretary General, led to. In other words, it will demonstrate one more time that a miracle is impossible as long as there is someone who believes that time for miracles has not yet come.

Certainly, the Lebanese people will not make a miracle. On the other hand, something similar to that could have been achieved until the post-July war period by applying what was agreed upon in the dialogue to reduce regional repercussions without ignoring the fact that some of these are caused by the Lebanese themselves. The other side of this fact is that Iran and Syria are still part of the problem and the solution. Accordingly, it may be possible to explain the “test” of violent destabilization, either as a reaction to what is now mistrust in the US, which is just setting conditions for Damascus and Tehran, or a way to escalate the conflict to prove what Iran calls “the failure of the US project” in the region.

These two countries are part of the solution and also of the problem that causes confrontations. These are not in favor of the Palestinians, the Iraqis or the Lebanese, who are still addicted to the game of regional interests and change of fortunes, even if this ends up bringing down a State and risks ruining a country.
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