To be honest, the situation that is currently unfolding in Lebanon is a difficult “nut to crack”, even for the most seasoned of analysts. The dust has yet to settle before any clear analysis can be made over the direction Lebanese and Israeli relations will go. Its just too early to tell how this will all play out.
The Lebanese PM, Fouad Siniora, appears to be sniffing a major opportunity here, which leads me to question whether or not other “talking heads” are missing something? Yes, its an undoubted fact that the Lebanese government has been functioning in only a sector of its country, and that in spite of the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese soil (at least the army), Syria still remains a key player in domestic Lebanese politics. True, that Hezbollah has been reduced in size, but by how much and what is the extent of their influence that remains over the central government?
Siniora’s recent statements of……:
“I Hope the (Lebanese) army will be the only military entity to be recognized by all residents of southern Lebanon,”
As well as believing that the Hezbollah will not be able to drag the country into another war with Israel:
“I don’t think Hizbullah is in the same position where it was before the war, and won’t be able to repeat what it did. It learned the lesson from what happened.” More here.
…….demand further scrutiny. Is he just hoping that the situation turns out in the way he wishes it to, or does he know something that the rest of us do not? Perhaps its an assertive “pro-active drive” based on the assumption that it will develop a momentum all on its own, to end not only Syrian interference in Lebanon, but to secure a peace with Israel as well. That is a policy that runs contrary to Syrian interests, and faces stiff opposition from Damascus, but maybe, ..just maybe Siniora has enough tenacity and political clout domestically as well as international support to pull it off.
The attention of the world, while momentarily sidetracked, has not forgotten the ongoing UN lead investigation on Syrian involvement in the high profile murder of Rafik Harriri, and what it means to the Lebanese people to finally find the guilty ones responsible. Bashar Assad has a lot on his plate presently, and the Siniora push to exert full control of the Lebanese government over all Lebanon…and its future, may be to much for the grossly inept Assad to handle.
Of course then there is Israel, who is currently undergoing a political crisis over the handling of the war. Here in Finland, arm chair analysists such as University of Helsinki’s, Hannu Juusola, owe the entire conflict to the inexperience of the current Israeli government, that escalated the conflict to show their “mettle”, when more seasoned politicians would have acted otherwise. That’s pure nonsense, but that’s his and others understanding, which runs counter to the way Ariel Sharon would have reacted, the more “seasoned politician” currently resting in a coma.
The debate in Israel is not over whether or not Israel should have gone to war, but on how Israel appeared to “dither” while the US (as well as Germany and England) gave her the “green light” to take care of Hezbollah once and for all, or greatly reduce its capacity to wage war. It appears that Israel has inflicted a major wound into the Hezbollah, if one interprets Siniora corretly, that it wasn’t a “knock out” by Israeli standards, as well as the growing dissatisfaction over the way the Israeli army reserves (the backbone of the army)were equipped (poorly), has people calling for the removal of the current government. 65-70% of the people is a number hard to overlook. KGS