Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lebanon's Tragedy

Tragic and very frightening news today out of Lebanon---the assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, scion of the Maronite Christian political world (his father was formerly PM of Lebanon).

Gemayel was an opponent of the Syrians. His father has called for no retaliations and Saad Hariri--son of the slain Rafik Hariri--has already declared Pierre a matryr for the cause of Lebanese independence, in a fiery speech.

But Foud Siniora's government is in major trouble right now.

Hezbollah is riding high after its victory (non-loss) against Isreal. It knows that it is more powerful than the Lebanese army and rules the fiefdom of the south. Hezbollah only uses the Lebanese government to further its own aims.

The US' isolation of Syria during the Bush II era has caused the Syrians to move much closer to Iran and by extension Hezbollah. Bashar Assad, Syrian head of government, after an initial period of instability and possible suspectibility looks stronger than ever through his Shia alliances.

Asaad wants no part of a planned UN investigation of the murder of Hariri, which would likely go high up in his government. This newest killing (of Gemayel) has already ratched up the rhetoric from John Bolton at the UN. This complicates (and perhaps though no idea was intended to do so) James Baker-led talk of diplomaitc avneues with the Syrians and Iranians.

It is very unclear with Syrian invovlement, Iranian support of Hezbollah and its non-allegiance to the central government, Israeli bombing of civlian targets, what exactly the Lebanese government can actually do. It is has been seriously weakened after its moment of glory--the Cedar Revolution and the expulsion of the Syrian Army.


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