Crossfire War – Lebanon Opposition Prepares to Paralyze Economy


Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – West Asia Theatre; Tehran – Beirut – Damascus – Riyadh/Paris – Brussels – Washington; Lebanon Opposition Coalition to Take Economic Measures Against Siniora Government – Direct Challenge to End Paris – West Economic Stranglehold on Lebanon

Night Watch: BEIRUT – AFP reports that the coalition opposition in Lebanon is planning to take steps that will paralyze the country’s economy, not only to overthrow the current government under Prime Minister Fouad Siniora but to also challenge the Paris III Donor Conference on Lebanon that will meet in Paris January 25. Christian nationalist leader former General Michel Aoun stated, “This movement will begin on Tuesday and in a progressive manner will extend to all ministries and will touch all the vital centers of the country.” No details were given but the opposition supports the call of the country’s main labor union CGTL for a massive sit in at the Finance Ministry. The union has 200,000 members and Druze leader Tala Arslan has called for a “massive turnout.” It has also been mentioned the opposition may attempt to block the airport. [ASHARQALAWSAT]

This is just two weeks before the Paris III Donor Conference convenes to regulate the payment of Lebanon’s massive 41 billion dollar public debt to France, European Union countries, U. S. and United Nations. The opposition is against the current’s government’s cooperation in any way with Paris or any other Western capital and institution. This is obviously part of Tehran’s long term strategy to remove the West’s influence from affairs in the region. Iran is not just after military victories but intends to replace the West as the main economic presence in the region after the war. Lebanon’s debt began with its fifteen year civil war, 1975-90, which was begun by a group that claimed to be Christian and no doubt directly connected to Paris the European capital that has long been the main influence in its decision making.

Any instability in Lebanon weakened it making it easier to manipulate and since Beirut had been the banking center in West Asia (Middle East) the regional impact was significant. It is no coincidence the French started the war less than two years after the region had become enormously wealthy as a result of the oil crisis of 1973-74. Lebanon then took on further debt as a result of being caught in the crossfire of last summer’s war between Hezbollah/Israel with the massive damage to Lebanon’s infrastructure as Israel attempted to destroy Hezbollah’s supply lines and apartment buildings Iranian military- technicians used when visiting the country, training Hezbollah in their advanced weaponry.

In a sense Lebanon is paying the cost for having been such a divided country for so much of its history. Tehran-Riyadh have provided badly needed financial support and definitely wants a government in Beirut more responsive to the region than to the West. I suspect that behind the scenes and before the demonstrations began, more than a month ago, Tehran-Riyadh convinced Beirut that negotiating Lebanon’s debt will be easier with them than with the West.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.