October 15, 2007

THERE IS NO LEBANON:

Lebanese Malaise (NIBRAS KAZIMI, October 15, 2007, NY Sun)

The March 14 coalition, which brings together most of Lebanon's Sunnis and Druze, as well as a significant portion of the country's Christians, and is generically labeled as anti-Syrian, holds on to a slight majority in parliament and would like to see one of its own as president.

The position is to be filled by a Maronite Christian according to an unwritten understanding between Lebanon's primary sects that goes back to the early days of the republic. The March 14 coalition wants its candidate to safeguard the United Nations' mandated investigation and tribunal into the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri.

The opposition, speaking for most of the country's Shiites and claiming to speak for most of the Maronites, wants its own candidate to safeguard Hezbollah's weaponry. They are stigmatized as pro-Syrian. One of the opposition's main leaders is the former general and interim president, Michel Aoun. He makes a somewhat convincing case for his own candidacy by claiming the mantle of Maronite representation — he earned the most direct votes from this community in the 2005 elections.

A new president would have the wherewithal to pick a new head for the Lebanese Army and a new head of military intelligence. This could potentially disrupt the security arrangement that still is in place from the time when the Syrians ran the show in Beirut. Hezbollah is comfortable with the current arrangement, but is fearful that all this may change at the stroke of a pen. Yet the March 14 coalition cannot go on living with Hezbollah's menace and military prowess, which could be unleashed at any moment to take over the state.


They oughtn't live with it--they ought to live in separate states.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2007 6:10 AM
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