Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lebanon descends into chaos as rival leaders order general strike

By Robert Fisk

".......Lebanon seems to feed on crisis, need crisis, breathe crisis, like a wounded man needs blood. The man who should be the president is head of the army and the man who believes he leads the resistance – Sayed Hassan Nasrallah of the Hizbollah – accuses Mr Jumblatt of doing Israel's work while Mr Jumblatt claims the head of Beirut airport security, Colonel Wafic Chucair, works for the Hizbollah and should be fired.......

What is it about Lebanon that creates these crises? Maybe at heart, it is the same old problem: to be a modern state, Lebanon must abandon confessionalism – the system which provides a Maronite for the presidency, a Sunni for the prime minister's seat, a Shia for the speaker of parliament, and so on. But if Lebanon abandoned confessionalism, it would no longer be Lebanon, because sectarianism is its identity; a fate which its children do not deserve but whose country was created by French masters on the ruins of the Ottoman empire. Ironically, the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora now rules – or tries to rule – his nation from a building which was once the Beirut cavalry stables of the Ottoman army."

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