Lebanon: The 'civility', and the ignorance, of March 14th.

Every time Lebanon is steered in the direction of USrael it goes in the other direction. This artificial entity that is the Lebanese state is based on two tendencies: pro-western (which is now synonymous of USrael) and anti-western (which is now synonymous of resistance to USrael). The bitter taste US policies have left in the region and in Lebanon has increased anti-western sentiment and therefore sympathy for the resistance (i.e. Hezbollah), especially among christians.

I was in lebanon recently and I noticed a clear increase in support for Hassan Nasrallah among Lebanese christians. The riots that are being held in Tripoli to protest the ousting of Hariri and March 14th from forming the Lebanese government can only reinforce this anti March 14th and anti-USrael sentiment among christians. Christians in the north for example did not forget Nahr-el-Bared and the impact of sunni radicalization and its backing by Hariri, and christians in traditionally Lebanese Forces (formerly Phalanges) dominated areas are tired of Geagea and Gemayel leading the community to disaster by forming alliances with enemies of Lebanon (Israel), they see what happened to christians in Iraq and Egypt and know that the US won't lift a finger for them.

My guess also is that, here again, the region's new political equilibrium is being played before our eyes in Lebanon. Entangled in two wars, with an economic crisis, unemployment and social unrest, and devoid of a clear Middle East policy, except the one that is dictated by Israel, the US is becoming weak in the Middle East and its allies are noticing. Pro-US dictators are increasingly fragile and Hariri was probably let down by his Saudi mentors who, in turn, fear being let down by the US if their unpopular regime is threatened by the street (as in Tunisia). Saudi Arabia has been damaged by the recent revelations of wikileaks in which it appears as a staunch USrael ally and it cannot afford right now to be seen more USrael aligned, disconnected from Arab public opinion.

Hariri ignores Lebanon's history. He should know better, and the US should know better. No one can impose a unilateral direction to politics in Lebanon. Lebanon as an artificial entity created by the post Ottoman French mandate can live only by consensus, and Lebanon has always been the mirror of the power equation in the region. Instead of going to the streets young Hariri, the leader of March 14th, should learn his lesson from playing it along the US and Israel and against national Lebanese interests (which are survival by consensus). He should accept the new power equation.

Angry Arab: Mini-Hariri self-destructing before our eyes.

Foreign Policy on Lebanese Christian community's support for Hezbollah.

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Since March 29th 2006