Saturday, November 24, 2007
Amid a dangerous political vacuum in Lebanon, American tactics against Hizbullah resemble those directed against Hamas in Gaza
A Good Comment
By Karim Makdisi
(Assistant Professor of Political Studies,
American University of Beirut)
"......While the personal and sectarian dynamics of Lebanese politics (including the declining role of Maronite Christians in Lebanon that has so incensed Michel Aoun and even the Maronite Patriarch) should not be underestimated in terms of prolonging the current crisis, it is the larger US project to reconfigure the Arab (as well as larger Muslim) region - and the resistance this has engendered - that has played the decisive role. In this sense, Lebanon's constitutional predicament and effective state of emergency reflects the US failure to impose its will, and mirrors similarly botched US interference in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
For Lebanon the US project means eliminating Hizbullah, one way or the other, so as to remove Israel's only genuine security threat and deprive Syria and Iran of leverage in their own negotiations with the US regarding the Golan Heights and nuclear arms respectively.
However, in light of the failure of the US-backed Israeli war to destroy Hizbullah last year, the US has for now shifted its strategy away from a military solution to co-opting the Lebanese state itself to pursue these tasks on its behalf - much as it has done in Palestine with Abu Mazen's recent declaration of war against Hamas.
By recognising March 14's disputed claims to executive authority (now apparently reinforced with the governments' assumption of presidential powers), encouraging it to reject the opposition's repeated calls for a national unity government, and supporting its call for the full implementation of resolution 1559, the US appears to believe it has accomplished the first stage of this strategy which has focused on removing the Resistance's official cloak of state legitimacy it enjoyed under President Lahoud.
The second phase of US strategy is to create what the Pentagon calls a "strategic alliance" with the Lebanese army.....
All eyes in Lebanon turn now to Annapolis to gauge the likelihood of a deal over Lebanon in case US-Syrian relations thaw. However, while Syria influences the opposition's demands in some aspects, it by no means dictates them.....
In any case, it is more likely that Annapolis will represent another signpost in the US drive to solidify the de facto unholy alliance that has bound Israel and the so-called "moderate" Arab states under US patronage. In this case, it is difficult to be optimistic about prospects for Lebanon or the region."