Sunday, December 31, 2006
By Dahr Jamail, IPS, 31 December 2006
"......Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, head of a fractured and largely impotent government, is now facing a crisis as Hezbollah withdrew its ministers from government positions following demands for a "unity" government free from "western influence."
Having emerged from the war with claims that it is the victor, the group has flexed its newfound political muscle in making these demands to pressure what it sees as a U.S.-backed government.
A southern Beirut victory demonstration late September brought over a million supporters on the streets - a quarter of the entire population of Lebanon. The demonstrators later reassembled to carry out continuing protests against the Siniora-led government.
Portrayed as sectarian by most western media outlets, or as supporters of a coup attempt engineered by Hezbollah allies Iran and Syria, the demonstrators are really Lebanon's poor and disenfranchised, mostly the Shia community. They are seeking a government that gives them both representation and basic services.
Hezbollah, now in a position to provide these demands more than ever following the war, promises to deliver.
As forces outside Lebanon continue to influence internal politics, the people in Lebanon seem caught in the middle once again. But to avoid a sectarian divide this time, Hezbollah has allied itself with Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian politician who promises to "clean up" the corrupt Lebanese government.
Unless the Siniora government makes large concessions to include the massive and growing power of Hezbollah and its followers, instability in Lebanon could build up in 2007."