Friday, September 01, 2006

Power Struggle

The Israeli Army is leaving parts of southern Lebanon.

The IDF evacuated large areas in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, including several posts in the eastern sector and in the city of Tyre, and handed them over to UN forces who are set to be replaced by the Lebanese army.
What does that mean for the future? It all depends on the outcome of the power struggle between the March 14th Movement (also called the Cedar Revolution) represented by Prime Minister Siniora and Hizballah represented by Nasserallah.

Now come the threats from pro-Syrian politicians.
Siniora reassured Aoun and his "remote-controlled" pro-Assad friends yesterday that his government will stay as long as it enjoys the support of parliament, reminding them that Lebanon is a democracy. But Aoun won't have it. In one of his most scathing attacks on Siniora to date, he said the prime minister will "pay the price of his stubbornness (to resign) and this could happen any time…then he won't even have time to gather his belongings because he will find himself forced to leave quickly."
The mafia at work.

Beirut to the Beltway continues:
How will Aoun "achieve the desired change?" Obvisouly not through parliament, but through an Assad-favorite technique: treason charges.

Aoun's mouthpiece has been circulating rumours that Siniora and March 14 cut a deal with the United States even before the war, implying that they may have given concessions and "guarantees" leading to signing a peace treaty with Israel (this is what prompted Siniora yesterday to say that Lebanon would be the last Arab country to sign such a treaty). The site is also citing reports (no source provided) that some of the ministers in the cabinet were "involved" in Israel's war on Lebanon in order to weaken Hizbullah politically and militarily.
It is quite possible that some of this is true. Or at least believable. We expect people to act in what they percieve to be their best interest. The tricky part is figuring out what the world looks like through another man's eyes. The easiest thing to do is to assume he sees things the way we do.
Aoun's instability and lust for power aside, his anti-Siniora campaign is consistent with Assad's accusations of March 14 that they are implementing Israeli objectives, and indeed, Aoun re-launched his attacks right after Assad delivered his infamous "half-men" speech.

Aoun is now the spearhead of the renewed Assad-Hizbullah attempt to topple the Siniora government, with Hizbullah and Assad happily letting him lead the way, given the belief that he represents the majority of Christians in the country, and the new fondness his former enemy Bashar Assad has of the "Free Patriotic Movement" leader.

Speaking to reporters before leaving to attend a donor conference in Stockholm, Siniora yesterday made it clear that Aoun and Hizbullah have lost the right to pick and choose from international demands. Those who got us here, he said, have to live with the consequences of their actions.
I covered the "half-men" speech at Assad in Trouble With Arabia. I think the March 14th Movement is determined to make UNSCR 1701 and 1559 work because they are past tired of Syrian domination. In other words the interests of the Lebanese and Israeli Governments coincide.

Beirut to the Beltway also notes that Siniora has raised $1.2 bn in the cash sweepstakes for buying Lebanese support. See Lebanon's Cash Flow Problems for details on what that means. The short version: he can outbid Iran.

Update: 01 Sept '06 1422z

Captain's Quarter's discusses Assad's promise not to re-arm Hizballah.

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