Crossfire War – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre: Beirut – Damascus – Riyadh – Tehran – Metn/East Beirut – Paris – Rome – Washington; Political-Militia Divisions Re-Affirmed by Lebanon Election – Dissolution of State Continues
Night Watch: METN – Divided loyalties were again revealed in Lebanon during and after the election within the Maronite Catholic community Sunday. What is extremely significant they were the dominant political power in the country ever since its creation by the French in 1920 and were used by industrial groups in Paris to begin the fifteen year civil war (1975-90) as a way of maintaining regional instability, the divide and conquest strategy of major powers to weaken areas targeted for manipulation. However, in the course of the fifteen-year war another power element entered, Tehran through Hezbollah in the early 1980s as an extension of the Islamic revolution in Iran (1979) led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. So while the war weakened the Maronite Catholic community, and political disputes and wars since then, it strengthened not only Hezbollah, but other political forces across the religious – secular spectrum, whose position became more nationalistic and no longer saw close political relations with France and the West as a benefit. [SWISSINFO]
Paris keeps insisting Lebanon owes them an enormous amount of debt due to the civil war and the French have played a major role in leading European units into south Lebanon through the United Nations military presence UNIFIL. The European presence is designed to support the current embattled Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who is still surrounded by street demonstrations and under a very real direct military threat in the north, the Islamic suicide unit Fatah al-Islam trained and armed by Damascus-Tehran. It is no secret that action, which began the war in Lebanon this year May 20, is intended to prepare Lebanon for Syria’s re-entry into the country as fighting spreads south to UNIFIL and Israel’s border.
What was also so alarming to France and the West, as they discussed regime change in Syria and eventually Iran, major political leaders close to Paris have been routinely assassinated by agents of Tehran for at least the past three years the most important being former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri (Feb. 15, 2005) and Pierre Gemayel last November. In addition, it was his father Amin Gemayel who just lost, by only 418 votes, yesterday’s election to another Maronite Catholic Kamil Khoury. Khoury was supported by one of the main Christian nationalist’s leaders supporting the demonstration against Siniora and the West, former general Michel Aoun, who will run for President next month, a position reserved for the Christian community. The English language paper Daily Star reported, as a sad commentary that during the contentious campaign there was no real discussions on policy issues and did nothing to achieve reconciliation between Lebanon’s diverse-hostile-warring political divisions. It had been mentioned by observers, ever since demonstrations began in December, Lebanese politics had descended to the base level of personality disputes and name-calling. Old hatreds, feuds and the “settling of scores” are the issues now. In the meantime, Tehran, either quietly or violently, increases its influence all over Lebanese society, a mirror of what Iran has been doing in Iraq.
One of the more astute observations after the election came from one of Lebanon’s elder statesmen, Sunni political leader and former Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss, quoted by Reuters, “The Metn elections ended politically without a victor and a vanquished. There was a loser, but there was no winner. If the contest was a contest of sizes, then both competitors were effectively downsized.” Gemayel leads the Phalange party that was founded by his father in the 1930s and has been the main foundation of France’s hold over the country. The coalition they belong to contain anti-Syrian Sunni, Druze and Christian groups led by the son of Rafik al-Hariri, who for a while after the assassination, had been in exile in Paris. A pro-government paper, Al-Mustaqbel acknowledged it was a shift in the Armenian vote that provided the narrow margin of victory for the Christian nationalists. Armenia has maintained excellent relations with Iran.
Al Jazeera reported that although the election was held in the Mount Lebanon Metn north of the capital there was some confrontation in eastern Beirut as both political parties celebrated. They contending parties had accused each other of fraud and there was some mild violence but a large presence of army and police units prevented any serious disturbances as political leaders on both sides appealed for calm. I suspect there is an understanding all over Beirut, perhaps even before demonstrations began in December that the future of the nation will not be decided in streets of Beirut but rather in the battlefields around the country. The political – military units supported by Tehran-Damascus have more of sense of commitment to that war and are better prepared than the West and its political allies. That is a reflection of the entire war on any theatre. [ALJAZEERA]