Monday, May 12, 2008

Hezbollah's street fight just a first step

By Mona Alami
Asia Times

"BEIRUT - At least 38 people were killed and 30 injured in the recent gun battles pitting opposition Shi'ite Amal and Hezbollah fighters against members of the Sunni Future Movement, which is part of the majority March 14 alliance in government. As the opposition's militia clamped down on government headquarters, the balance of power seems to have been shifted permanently in the Land of the Cedars.......

"This is nothing short of a new phase in Lebanese politics," said political scientist Amal Saad Ghorayeb, author of Hezbollah: Politics and Religion. "The government's decision [to remove airport security head Shoucair and denounce the party's private communication network] was unprecedented, and de-legitimized the party's right to resist. I do not see, however, the conflict prevailing for more than a few days," she said. "I expect it to come to a quick resolve, due to the obvious disequilibrium in the balance of power."

The political scientist stated that Hezbollah's proven military superiority will pressure the majority into a compromise. "It is inevitable - the government will have to resign," she said. Saad Ghorayeb predicts that an interim consensus government will call for early parliamentary elections, a longstanding demand of the opposition.

As fighting subsides and the opposition asserts its control over the city's western areas, the implications of the events unfolding in Beirut will certainly reach beyond the country's boundaries. "This will lead without a doubt to a drastic reconfiguration of the political order and might pave the way to a revision of the Taef accords, in order to correct the system's imbalances," said Ghorayeb."

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