June 1, 2008


Hezbollah Triumphs in Lebanon (Daniel Steinvorth and Alexander Szandar, 5/31/08, Der Spiegel)

Hezbollah's newly confident party leadership is even allowing foreign visitors into its bastion once again. Nevertheless, this has done nothing to change the fact that Haret Hraik is in a state of emergency. In the heart of the radical Islamic movement, the group's own security forces continue to provide order. In fact, regular Lebanese police and soldiers have never been welcome in the Shiite neighborhood. And since the bloody fighting over control of Beirut three weeks ago, and the triumphant victory of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, this is now unlikely to change.

Hezbollah has further expanded its position as a state within a state, and it has remained unimpressed by an international monitoring effort by a fleet of UN peacekeeping vessels off the coast, which were deployed to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon. During peace talks between the parties to the conflict in the Emirate of Qatar last week, almost all of the "Party of God's" demands were met. The pro-Western coalition government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, on the other hand, was forced to make many concessions.

Hezbollah and its allies, the Shiite Amal Party and the Free Patriotic Movement of Christian General Michel Aoun, are expected to receive 11 cabinet posts in the new government of national unity to be formed in Beirut. This bloc will be large enough to veto any cabinet decisions in the future. Most of all, the Qatar agreement allows Hezbollah to keep its weapons, a sensitive issue that all parties to the talks were quick to remove from the agenda.

The agreement puts to rest the greatest domestic political crisis in Lebanon since the country's civil war ended in 1990. "The country would not have withstood another week of fighting," says political scientist Amal Saad-Ghureib. "Now pro-government Lebanese citizens can also breathe a sigh of relief, because after an 18-month standstill, there is finally some movement."

Where everyone realizes disunion is inevitable, the Western insistence on unity, though well-intentioned, is only doing damage to peoples' lives.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2008 8:24 PM
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