Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre: Tehran – Beirut – Damascus/Paris – Berlin – Rome – Washington – Jerusalem – Cairo; PM Siniora Under Siege – Hezbollah – Christian Coalition – Tent City in Third Day – Massive Demonstrative Insult to Paris
Night Watch: BEIRUT – AP reports, as the Hezbollah-Christian opposition protests enters its third day that Jerusalem is saying if the government in Beirut, under Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is overthrown, it could lead to war again on Israel’s northern front next year and on a larger scale than the war against Hezbollah last summer. Former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, stated in an interview with Israel Army Radio, “I have no doubt that if this government loses its power, and there is a shift there, the northern front might heat up again and there could be even more escalation than there was this year.” [ASHARQALAWSAT]
This is no exaggeration. But because of the military presence of Europe in Lebanon, through UNIFIL, Tehran will have al-Qaeda and perhaps Hezbollah concentrate on them as well as Israel during the next wave of war.
In the meantime Tehran’s current concentration is in controlling Beirut. Tens of thousands of Hezbollah – Christian opposition political groups are occupying an area of Beirut that is within shouting distance of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s office that now seems to have become his residence. The demonstrators have pitched a tent city and have stated they will not leave until a unity government under their control replaces him. I suspect what Tehran-Hezbollah have in mind is for Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a supporter of the opposition to become the new Prime Minister. The Christian leader and former general Michel Aoun to become the next President and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah as Foreign Minister. [ASHARQALAWSAT}
Aoun’s participation is an immense insult to Paris since they have long been the West’s main presence in Lebanon through Maronite Catholic groups. The Christian opposition has called themselves a Patriotic Movement, which could mean they are more nationalistic than religious and no longer want the West to have the influence in Lebanon’s decision making that it has had for so long, ever since Lebanon’s independence in 1943. Reuters reports that one of their leaders, Suleiman Franjieh stated in front of their gathering in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh square, “We will stay in the square…we will not leave until this illegal and unconstitutional government goes.” Other Aoun supporters massed in front of St. George’s Church where a Maronite Priest held Sunday Mass.
Tehran has never insisted on working only with or through Shi’ite or Muslim people. Iran has military security agreements with Belgrade and has called Catholic Croatia their entry into Central Europe when they established diplomatic relations in 1992. Iran has very serious relations with Christian Orthodox Greece to the extent where Athens has stated publicly they have no problem with Iran’s nuclear program. And in the past year Tehran has increased its investments in non-Muslim Georgia, in the South Caucasus, to such an extent Tbilisi can easily afford to increase its defense budget in order to strengthen their position in its military confrontation with Moscow. Tehran therefore has no problem with embarrassing the West and Russia with its non-Muslim Axis partners. Iran is definitely saying governments and societies will benefit more from working and fighting alongside Tehran instead of with anyone else.
The Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa has arrived in Beirut for consultations with Siniora and his administration. Moussa stated, that the Arab world cannot be a bystander during this crisis. “The stability of Lebanon and moving towards a solution that would bring about a sure future for the country is one of our concerns. All of us are worried about the situation in Lebanon.” Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, still a supporter of Siniora advocated “solution through dialogue, then welcome.” I am not sure how serious Jumblatt’s support is since Tehran received him on April 24, 2005 where he met Iran’s then President Mohammad Khatami as reported on crossfirewar.com at the time. Before Jumblatt went to Tehran he had met with Nasrallah and afterwards the two of them issued a joint anti-Israel statement. If Jumblatt officially and publicly ends his support for Siniora then the Prime Minister will have to step down.
If the proposals the opposition is making are convincing and forceful enough then the Siniora government will be replaced with very little and perhaps no violence. I suspect Nasrallah is saying behind the scenes that violence can be used if need be. Supporters of the current government were told to stay away from the demonstrations in order to avoid street fighting.