Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Lebanese politics, the more things change, the more they stay the same

Today, Lebanese politics are formally divided into two camps. One side represents the March 14 coalition of pro-Western and anti-Syrian politicians; the other the March 8 grouping of anti-American and broadly pro-Eastern politicians - neutrality is only an option if one is willing to renege political influence.

The disagreements between the feuding camps were echoed by March 14 coalition leader Samir Geagea proclaiming that the upcoming parliamentary elections would determine "which Lebanon we want." While a Hezballah politician attacked those seeking to convince the population that Syria and not Israel represented the biggest threat to Lebanon's future and sovereignty.

The U.S. for its part has thrown its lot behind the 'moderates' - a euphemism for the March 14 camp - against the 'extremists (meant to represent Hezballah and their supporters.) The Secretary of State pledged that "the United States will never make any deal with Syria that sells out Lebanon and the Lebanese people."

Egypt has admonished Hezballah for allegedly attempting to carry out terrorist activities in its territory.

Syria has banned Lebanese newspaper Al-Diyar for criticizing Michel Aoun (Damascus's ex-foe-turned-ally)

Iran for its part accused Israel - and indirectly the U.S. - of orchestrating a smear campaign against Hezbollah leaders designed to subvert the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon.

All this begs the question; will Lebanon ever be anything more than an arena for regional and international geopolitical competition by more powerful states? At this point it certainly looks like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

(photo from

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