Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It's official. Hezbollah has officially taken over Lebanon, and will now administer it as a colony of their Iranian masters. Ex-Prime Minister Said Hariri and the March 14th movement are history.
Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, seeing the writing on the wall threw his support and his votes in parliament behind Syria and Hezbollah, the murderers of his father and of his friend, Rafik al-Hariri in order to ensure his personal survival and that of the Druse.
That meant that Hezbollah could pick whomever they wanted as Prime Minister, and their choice was Najib Mikati. He's been given permission by Hezbollah's hand picked President Michel Suleiman to form a government.
Part of their discussion, I'm sure, was Mikati's pledge to refuse to cooperate with the UN Special Tribunal investigating the murder of Rafik Hariri and other Lebanese political figures and to repudiate its finding when it announces them.
Mikati is a Sunni, because Lebanon's constitution - as of now, anyway - mandates that he be one.
But he will serve without the support in the Sunni community but will be at Hezbollah's beck and call, because they the votes in parliament to put him in, and to throw him out if he fails to do their bidding. And as Mikati knows very well, if he fails to follow orders and by some remote possibility Hezbollah has any problems getting rid of him legally, they will simply murder him as they did Hariri.
This is going to have major implications in the region far beyond Lebanon. To observers in the region, it's obvious that Iran is the strong horse now and US influence in the Middle East is declining.
Hezbollah, Iran and Syria not only got away with defying UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calling for Hezbollah's disarmament, they rearmed Hezbollah right under the UN's nose and moved back into their old strongholds in South Lebanon with the UNFIL peacekeepers doing nothing to stop them.
Hezbollah then used their forces in 2008 to blockade the Lebanese government in Beirut, and assassinated enough parliamentary members of the March 14th movement to enable them to push pro-Hezbollah tool Michel Suleiman into the presidency and claim 11 ministries in Lebanon's government as a legitimate political party.
Through all of this, the West and particularly the US did nothing concrete to stand with the pro-western government of Lebanon or to take action against Syria and Iran for destabilizing the country. On the contrary, the magic words for these murderous regimes were 'engagement'.
That 'engagement' culminated in President Obama's puerile decision to send an ambassador to Syria by recess appointment because the Senate refused to confirm the candidate he wanted or his mission.
If nothing else, that sent a message to Syria, Iran and Hezbollah that they could get away with pretty much anything in Lebanon - so, with the indictments from the UN tribunal imminent, they saw no problem in collapsing Lebanon's government and taking over the country.
While the Obama Administration has made statements to the effect that it would find it 'difficult' to continue aid to Lebanon with a Hezbollah government, it remains to be seen whether they would actually curtail aid, even with Hezbollah dominant.
Lebanon's Sunnis spent today in a 'day of rage', violent protests against Mikati and Hezbollah. It remains to be seen whether they or the Maronite Christians will continue protests or even take things to the point of a renewed civil war. I doubt they would without firm western backing, and since they likely won't get it what's more likely is that the Sunnis will take their cue from the Druse and hunker down, while the Christians will do the same..and continue their exodus out of Lebanon, which was once a Christian majority country.
Another factor, as Michael Totten presciently noted, is Israel.
All of Israel's wars with Lebanon have been waged against terrorist organizations like the PLO or Hezbollah that were not officially part of the Lebanese state, which meant these groups could hide to a certain extent. If another war breaks out with a Hezbollah government in Lebanon, the gloves wil definitely be off.
It will be interesting to see how this play out, to say the least.