In the Wake of the Doha Truce
A Good Piece
By KARIM MAKDISI
(Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut)
"......There is little doubt that the Doha truce averted a descent into the nightmare of a large-scale civil conflict most Lebanese were dreading, and as such was welcome by all. However, there is equally little doubt that this truce represents a temporary pause in an on-going regional war fomented by the unrelenting US ‘war on terror’. In this larger war, unlike the street battles of last week, there can be no winners among the Lebanese people, only losers, just as their has been among the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis and others who have been caught in the same global, and apparently perpetual, conflict.
The continued US, Israeli and Saudi obsession with Iran (which these days is being used interchangeably with “Shia’a” in a bid to fan sectarian flames) means that they will already be planning ahead for the next battle, probably in Lebanon and almost certainly in Gaza (since Hamas is placed in the “Iran” column), in order to halt the perceived Iranian gain in Lebanon last week. In such a case, the recent conciliatory sentiments expressed by some March 14 leaders like Walid Jumblatt must be read as a strategic objective to gain time and space to regroup.
The disconcerting silence of Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most troubling. Not only have the Saudi-sponsored sectarian militias in Lebanon been defeated, but now its tiny but increasingly ambitious Gulf rival state of Qatar has rubbed salt into its wounds by stealing the diplomatic limelight and consolidating its role as regional peacemaker. The Saudis have both the means and influence to mobilize Sunni Salafist groups in Lebanon in a protracted sectarian war against Hizbullah, or precipitate the collapse of the Lebanese economy, if it decides it has ‘lost’ the country to Iran. As such, the Doha participants will want to pacify the Saudis......
....The Doha negotiations will likely reinforce this sectarian tendency rather than address its root causes, and as such the Lebanese, rather than coming together as citizens of a nation, will once again be divided into disparate communities regulated by sectarian patrons......."