Hezbollah, Lebanon, March 14

No Victors in Lebanon

I’ve written something about the current showdown in Beirut for Foreign Policy. The first couple of paragraphs are pasted below, followed by a link to the rest of the article. Comments and critiques are welcome.

No Victors in Lebanon

Lebanon’s dysfunctional political system has once again been set back to square one. Months of speculation, rumors, and unconfirmed press reports about a negotiated settlement to the latest crisis came to an abrupt end Jan. 12, when Hezbollah and its allies resigned from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government, precipitating its collapse. This step sets the stage for a confrontation over the makeup of the next government. And in this showdown, all sides stand to come out losers.

Political divisions over the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is charged with prosecuting those responsible for the 2005 assassination of Saad’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, are the cause of the crisis. A number of explosive leaks to the media have signaled that the tribunal plans to indict members of Hezbollah for the crime. Hezbollah and its allies, in a bid to contain the domestic fallout from this revelation, have demanded that Hariri cut Lebanon’s funding for the tribunal and disavow any indictment issued by the court. Because Hariri refused to give in to their demands, Hezbollah and its allies have now upped the ante by toppling his government.

The opposition’s walkout had an air of inevitability about it, but also one of desperation. Hezbollah now faces the difficult task of bringing to power a new Sunni prime minister — under Lebanon’s political system, the premier must be a Sunni — who would heed its call to end Lebanon’s cooperation with the STL. But even if the Shiite militant group musters the majority in parliament to do so, it’s unclear what the practical effect of its victory would be. The STL indictments will emerge regardless of who sits in the premier’s chair in Beirut, and funding will come from other states even if Lebanon declares that it will no longer contribute financial support to the court.

As has long been recognized, Hariri’s value to Hezbollah was never his ability to disrupt the progress of the investigation of his father’s murder. Hezbollah’s goal was for Hariri to join the party in denouncing the court as a politicized organ whose legitimacy had long been compromised by “false witnesses” bent on misleading the court, or even a vast Zionist-American conspiracy targeting the Lebanese resistance against Israel. The chances of Hariri acceding to Hezbollah’s demands on this score have grown far slimmer now that the party has brought down his government. He has nothing to gain by giving in now.

(Keep reading)
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Discussion

104 thoughts on “No Victors in Lebanon

  1. Thanks for explaining so well the complex situation.

    Please, could you precise what this means :

    “vulnerable in the court of Lebanese public opinion to Hezbollah’s own counternarrative” ?

    Posted by Yann | January 14, 2011, 3:39 am
  2. Great article QN.

    In terms of the of the end game. Lebanon is subject to a court with the powers of ch 7 of the UN. Hezbollah will ignore the UNSC, the question is will Lebanon be treated like a pariah state like Iran subject to sanctions over the reluctance to cooperate, or will this resolution be ignored like many other countries do in the region without consequence. An argument that m14 always uses is that this court under ch 7 and Lebanon as a “founding” member of the UN and it must cooperate or it will face sanctions etc etc etc. m14 has all their chips behind the un and its western allies and I think that is extremely shortsighted by their leadership.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 14, 2011, 4:48 am
  3. “the un and its western allies”

    Hmm. The US complains that the UN is dominated by anti-US countries. Your phrase is implicitly accusatory that the UN serves the interests of “western allies.” Which is it?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 14, 2011, 5:42 am
  4. Did you see Abukhalil’s ridiculous post yesterday?

    Hizbullah’s core support would be upset if it is revealed that they were behind Hariri’s assassination? What planet does Cambanis inhabit? Hizbullah’s core support would be proud, gleeful, and cheerful if it is revealed that Hizbullah was behind Hariri’s assassination. It shows you how clueless this person is, not knowing the hatred that is harbored by Hizbullah’s core support against the entire Hariri family and their sponsors.

    I don’t know who he hangs out with, but I haven’t spoken to a single person who thinks along those lines.

    Posted by sean | January 14, 2011, 5:43 am
  5. Sean,
    That was weird, almost as if he was writing drunk. In a sense, yes, I doubt any revelations would dent the loyalty of their core support but it certainly wouldn’t result in that kind of reaction, maybe not so much because of Hariri but because the number of others the bomb took out aswell. Yes, the Shia community did not like Hariri much but the level of hate Assad is describing is alien to me too.

    Posted by usedtopost | January 14, 2011, 6:08 am
  6. HP,

    The general assembly can pass resolutions from here til kingdom come. I am referring to the Security Council and P5 members, and as of late I do believe China and Russia are on almost the same page with the US when it comes to middle eastern affairs.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 14, 2011, 6:11 am
  7. Sean and usedtopost,

    As`ad was exaggerating a little bit, but I don’t doubt that many people would privately say: “Well, if they assassinated him, there must have been a good reason. He was probably a principal architect of 1559, and must have had Zionist contacts, etc.”

    What do you think?

    Tamer K,

    That’s certainly a possibility (pariah statehood).

    Yann,

    What I meant was that if the STL’s evidence was based, for example, entirely on telecomms, this could be undermined by the Hizbullah’s point to the revelations of Israeli infiltration of Lebanon’s telecommunication network. Whether or not the argument is true is irrelevant; what matters is how persuasively the Hizb can make its case.

    I don’t think they succeeded entirely with the drone footage argument. Not that many people (apart from their core supporters) seem to have been swayed by it. But the telecomms thing has some purchase in Lebanon

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 14, 2011, 9:11 am
  8. Well, I think it’s a moot point since I doubt there’s much that one could say, short of showing a video of Mughniyeh detonating the bomb himself, that would convince hardcore Hezbollah supporters of the party’s guilt.

    That said, if the situation were really the same as Abukhalil paints it, then we wouldn’t be having the conversation in the first place. The STL would just be ignored. I mean, if their base’s opinion was “well, anyway, he needed to get got,” then Hezbollah wouldn’t be so intent on getting Hariri to preemptively absolve the party.

    I mean, they don’t really care what the “Sunni street” thinks about them anyway. That’s been shown in Egypt as well as West Beirut in 2008. (The exception to that might be Saudi Arabia, but that would apply more to the government than the street.)

    So I think the desire to keep “clean hands” is as much, if not more, about their own base than it is the rest of the country or region.

    Posted by sean | January 14, 2011, 9:41 am
  9. UTP
    Obviously the Angry Arab’s statement about Shia-Sunni relationship is based on his own contacts and experience just as yours is based on your personal experience and so is mine.
    I have been surprised by many things at various points in time over the past few decades but I have never been as surprised as I have been by the depth of the animosity that I have seen expressed by Shia of Sunnis and the reverse. I still do not understand where all these virulent feelings came from. I have spent most of my life , since I was a tot, with a truly diverse group of people who had next to no religious identities irrespective of what their ID cards claimed.
    You can imagine my surprise and astonishment over the past 4-5 years when I constantly run across this deep rooted hatred between the two Moslem sects that borders on being an obsession.
    Political, social and economic exploitation of the Shia in Lebanon might help explain their feelings of resentments towards their former oppresors; a Maronite-Sunni coalition but how does one explain the deep seated hatred of the Shia by the Sunnis? Is the question of the legitimacy of a line of Caliphate more than a thousand years ago still the issue when the Caliphate itself has ceased to exist? For how long are we going to enslave ourselves to superficial religious baggage?
    To paraphrase Voltaire: We are born free but insist on leading our lives chained to sectarian myths.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 10:06 am
  10. sean,

    You can not narrow down the HA “motives” or reaction to one point. Even if Muggsy was ID-ed by Bashar himself the HA street will not believe it. They will find a “rationale or excuse or conspiracy” behind that.
    HA’s attempts are NOT HA’s alone. They are Syria’s and Iran’s. If the trail leads to Iran/Syria that you can judge the backlash and consequences of this state sponsored terrorist act. As for HA; they will disintegrate much like much more powerful movements have before them.

    Posted by danny | January 14, 2011, 10:44 am
  11. GK,

    “but how does one explain the deep seated hatred of the Shia by the Sunnis? ”

    How about racism, bigotry, elitism and entrenched class discrimination.

    Posted by V | January 14, 2011, 12:04 pm
  12. Abukhalil’s sentiment was echoed by many mainstream HA supporters right after the assassination. I personally saw the glee and the cheers exactly as Assad described from the mouth of dozen HA supporters in March 2005. Do not be surprised.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 12:16 pm
  13. tamer @6, yes, thank you. This distinction between the security council and the general assembly makes sense. Sorry I wasn’t deep enough in my thinking to see this.

    In a way it’s quite interesting to ponder this distinction and how, these two bodies of what should be the same organization are often at odds. Maybe that’s part of the paradoxes that the UN embodies.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 14, 2011, 12:19 pm
  14. anonymous, indeed!

    The same glee was displayed on some – at least one – of the subsequent assassinations. Remember the TV anchor who was caught on camera (when she didn’t think it was turned on) saying essentially ‘what took so long?’ for one of the assassinations?

    My own perspective is that many otherwise moderate, intelligent, and decent folks, are blind to the obvious guilt of HA/Syria and the clear evidence for it to anyone with an analytical mind and with the distance to see the chess game from outside.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 14, 2011, 12:22 pm
  15. or… to be fair…

    maybe I and folks who think like me are blind to evidence of the contrary; wanted to put this out there before I get hammered by some commentators.

    We don’t know. And. We don’t know what we don’t know.

    These, in what I believe are the expression first coined by Ed Teller, the father of the Hydrogen bomb, the “unk unks”

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 14, 2011, 12:24 pm
  16. *is the expression (instead of are the expression).

    Ya QN — shoo, look at the superb mechanics of the SyriaComment blog for editing, etc.
    Can you at some point move to such a platform?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 14, 2011, 12:25 pm
  17. HP,

    You would surprised to know that one of those gleeful HA supporters I interacted with was a dentist living and practicing in Belgium for over 15 years. He also happens to descend from one of the most prominent families in the community of HA supporters.

    In addition to that reporter you mentioned, recall the behaviour of the gang when they entered certain buildings in W. Beirut on May 7.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 12:52 pm
  18. HP

    Syria Comment has good comment editing, but the site gets brought down at least once a year by hackers. 🙂 I’m sticking with the current platform!

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 14, 2011, 1:00 pm
  19. This is what Hariri had to say back in Beirut,

    http://www.14march.org/news-details.php?nid=MjY5MzM2

    Some may find the following quote interesting,

    واعتبر أن “قرار الاستقالة هو حق ديموقراطي في أساس الدستور، لكننا نريد أن نسجل، أن هذا القرار يشكل تطوراً لا سابق له في تاريخ الحكومات في لبنان، وهو الأول من نوعه، منذ قيام إتفاق الطائف، ونخشى ان يتحول، الى نموذج عن فشل اللبنانيين، في تشكيل حكومات وحدة وطنية، بالقدر الذي تظهر فيه، الإستقالة الجماعية للوزراء، خروجاً على روح إتفاق الدوحة، والإلتزامات التي تعهدت بها الأطراف المعنية، من خلال هذا الإتفاق”.

    But before elections he also ruled out NU governments. So he seems to be saying we proved ourseleves wrong.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 1:33 pm
  20. Latest from Tunisia: Bin Ali resigns and is out of the country. A six-man junta is in charge.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 1:45 pm
  21. Ghassan,#9
    I don’t have a way of measuring the depth of animosity between Shiia and Sunnis or Visa Vera, but I , growing up and schooled in a diverse environment , am as surprised as you are.
    It can’t just be the old time conflict over the caliphate alone. My guess is that it has to do with leaders on both sides, politicizing the conflict to the point where old animosities are being fed up by both for political justification of their leaderships.
    How else could the leaders on both sides justify their claim of representation of the sect?
    We’ve all witnessed during the last five years how the scare tactic was used during election time, or at any serious juncture that required the bases to line up behind the leadership. This will continue to be the case, until a miracle solves our problem with sectarian system.
    One thing the Angry Arab’s post, is that both A’sad and Cambanis, didn’t get it completely right; The shiia/sunni conflict was marked by two major historical events ,that both sides can’t escape.
    The first is karbala, and the second is the murder of Othman. Most shiia I talk to, always mention those events and continue to say that ‘We already have Othman’s Kamiss, and we can’t afford Hariri Kamaiss”. I imagine HA and other shiia leaders are, as worried as many shiia people, over the STL indictment and its effect on the shiia/sunni conflict. Very few people are worried about evidence or trial or verdict. History will always point out to the political indictment instead of the court verdict.
    These, to me, explain, not necessarily justifies, the way HA was furiously trying, so that a solution is found before the indictment is out. Once the indictment is out, the damage is already done, and another major event in Sunni/Shiia is marked in history. Political parties (HA and others) don’t survive for ever, but the Sunni/Shiia conflict will, carrying along another inflaming issue.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 1:46 pm
  22. Ghassan,
    Bin Ali is out. Congratulation to the people of TUNISA. This is great day(GOOD BEGINNING) for Arab people. I hope it rolls over the neighboring Arab countries soon,lol

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 2:04 pm
  23. ” I imagine HA and other shiia leaders are, as worried as many shiia people, over the STL indictment and its effect on the shiia/sunni conflict. Very few people are worried about evidence or trial or verdict. History will always point out to the political indictment instead of the court verdict.”

    How does that reconcile with Abukhalil’s sentiment and the glee and cheer?

    Was it appropriate for HNA to call for demonstrations on March 8 while the blood of the victims has not dried yet?

    Where is the concern over that historical conflict in such behaviour?

    Wasn’t that demonstration politically motivated even before the STL or the investigation started?

    Is it not the most normal behaviour, that when your neighbour dies even from natural causes and you happen to have some animosity with him, to take a low profile even if you cannot fake grief for him in the open?

    What do the Sunnis have to do with the events at Karballa?

    Were they not the same people who called upon al-Hussein to come out from Medina promising him 30,000 swords ready to fight on his behalf and failed him and turned against him when he answered their call?

    Do you recall Al-Hussein’s speech just before he was killed?

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 2:08 pm
  24. Well, I for one say Bravo to the Tunisian people.
    It’s not quite clear what’s going on there, but at the very least it shows that when a populace puts its mind to it, it doesn’t matter how scary the guys with the guns are, they can be taken down.

    I don’t want to hear one more Lebanese complaining about they are powerless to hold their leaders accountable and how they must suffer because of grand conspiracies that they can’t control.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 2:09 pm
  25. Thank you anon for breaking the news on QN.I will always remeber that an anonymous on QN broke the news FOR ME,LOL

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 2:10 pm
  26. Twitter is a goldmine for those of you following the Tunisia story.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 14, 2011, 2:18 pm
  27. hmmm…

    I think I have to side with Sean on Shi’a response to the Hariri assassination. Even among those most critical of Hariri, I haven’t heard anything remotely resembling glee. There are some Sunni figures that are targets for profound hatred and incitement (Fatfat, as for example on the infamous NBN incident). (And of course, I think it is fair to say that this is true for all confessions). BUT I think this does not necessarily hold true for Hariri (esp Rafik) and a blase attitude (or reflexive support) of the base to killing the prime minister seems a tad far-fetched to me.

    As for the footage/quotes, it is not that difficult to find these sorts of clips–on any issue. However, we cannot conclude they are representative of mass public opinion. Should we also believe that because there are clips circulating of Arabs/Muslims/etc. “celebrating” after 9/11 that all Arabs and Muslims were delighted with the attack?

    More specifically, I would really like to get folks’ thoughts on two things: Mikati and GLC.

    Was anyone else a little intrigued by Mikati’s recent statement on Hariri’s stance? It seems to be breaking rank a little bit…? Although he headed the M14 Tripoli list, he was named as a possible consensus PM in 2009. Could he perhaps a compromise PM (after a respectable period of time has passed…and with some presidential wrangling?) M14 language increasingly moving from majoritarian to consensus cabinet would support this outcome. Thoughts?

    Also, has anyone been tracking what’s going on in the GLC? Previous eruptions of clashes on the streets have coincided with their strikes (Jan 2007/May 2008). They have fuel strike planned for Feb 10, which was endorsed by Bassil previously. They don’t seem to be postponing the strike. These seems to be something to watch.

    In the mean time, the GLC is having ExComm by-elections on Monday with M14 supporters trying to wrest leadership from Opposition. Perhaps in an attempt to remove the power of the street from the Opposition during this key period? Anyone got some insights on how that will unfold? It seems to me that this might make Monday an even more high-stakes day (PM/cabinet negotiations starting, the beginning of the “early next week” when indictments are possible…) Thoughts?

    Posted by mickanthrope | January 14, 2011, 2:21 pm
  28. Yes indeed, QN, it is a goldmine. Even Khamenei is reported to be using it – no kidding.

    Peaceful demonstrations are taking place in Jordan – same idea, inflation, jobs, blah, blah, blah… When will we see similar demonstrations in Damascus?

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 2:28 pm
  29. anon,
    I usually do not discuss religious issues .where her it is Sunni Shiia or Christian Muslim. I could careless about the religious differences, or the religion altogether. I limit my discussion to political issues. However, there are times where you are forced to touch on sectarian/religious issues to make or clarify a point ,but not to discuss religious aspect of any conflict.
    The shiia /sunni conflict is interpreted differently by different people.
    I wanted to point out that As’ad didn’t completely get it right. I was not agreeing with him.
    You are pointing out to HA behavior, when I was blaming both sides.
    You need to read the Sunni/shiia history , anon, you are asking questions that indicate your no-knowledge of that history, or your intention of dragging me into a religious/sectarian issues I REFUSE TO DO.
    You are not getting more of me on this one.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 2:39 pm
  30. Prophett,

    Then may be you should not have felt the need or the urge to open such topics as Kamiss Outhman and Karballa.

    It was obvious that you are being apologetic in your previous comment. I limited my replies to mostly current issues (post 2005). I wish you addressed those instead of becoming defensive. I am not trying to drag you into a showdown. As for my historical knowledge about the conflict, you would be surprised to know.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 2:47 pm
  31. Mickanthrope

    Many Aounists are already blase about the killing. Just read their forum. I’m sure part of Hizbullah’s base would feel the same way.

    Miqati premiership is a definite possibility; the opposition already seems to think it would satisfy the Saudis as well as the Syrians. Anyway, the old guard is a bit too old these days, and don’t have the economic clout anyway to stand in Hariri’s way, which Miqati kinda does.

    Have not followed GLC stuff much, but Bassil is feeling embattled these days…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 14, 2011, 2:53 pm
  32. anon,
    I’m not defensive about anything. You seem to misread or read what is not there.
    I was simply presenting a view that I encounter when I talk to people.
    I repeat, I won’t address religious issues at all. I don’t give crap ,really.When I read about religion, I always read it with more of a historical content.
    It was very clear that I was addressing Karbala and Othman events from a historical point of view and their effect on both sects.
    I’m pleased that your historical knowledge about the conflict is as good as you claim.I might feel a bit of jealousy,BUT that is not your fault.lol

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 3:03 pm
  33. Mickanthrope,
    Let me weigh in also with my read re the possible future PM in Lebanon. I will be surprised if Mikati is named based on the initial consultations onnext week . I expect Saad Hariri to wind up with the largest number of nominations but if he declines the offer, which he might and let me add that I think he should decline and leave politics , then Mikati will be the front runner by far. Hoss is too old, Karami Sr. does not have the nerve, Karami Jr. is too young, Safadi does not have a wide constituency outside of Tripoli, Layla Solh is seen as a proxy for Saudi and Prince Talal. Mikati has the experience and the respect. He could act one more time as a care taker until the next elections. I would hope that if it is to be Mikati, and I don’t see who else it could be, then I hope that he will overcome the challenge of a national unity government by forming a cabinet from experienced qualified individuals that do not belong to any political parties.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 4:54 pm
  34. prophett/BV/anon…
    It is too early to open the bubbly over the developments in Tunis but as we have already stated a number of times over the past 4-6 weeks wouldn’t it be grand if 2011 turns out to be the Annus Mirabulus of the Arab world. May this new spirit for accountability and democracy asweep through every single Arab country including the Gulf States.
    I don’t want to overreact but what a dream come true if finally we get a chance to catch up with the rest of the world. I would love to see Mobarak and Assad hop on a plane and take a overdue extended vacation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 5:00 pm
  35. I don’t know about the Base or not the Base.

    But I don’t think Angry Arab’s remarks are completely off-Base.

    We already saw in his dithers that Jumblatt posed the question of the Murder as: Does it really matter who pulled the trigger.. those who killed Hariri are those who pressured him on 1559.

    This also fits in with the argument made by some that the STL is politicized. Politicized in my mind can only be an admission that HA was in fact behind the killing, but that the court has taken a prejudiced view of whether that killing should be considered wrong.

    The question is how many within the readership of QN see things this way. And how many within the broader Lebanese society do so as well.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 5:15 pm
  36. If Hariri was to decline the PM post maybe M14 will push Saniora for a PM, an excellent statesman and for sure would ruffle some M8 feathers..

    Posted by MLK | January 14, 2011, 5:15 pm
  37. Ghassan,
    I always doubted that I’ll see this day where an Arab dictator is ousted by popular revolt.But the Tunisian revolt gave me hope,and I’m very pleased.
    As I stated in my last comment to you last night,I could see Algeria being next ,but I’ll be very pleased to see any of the Arab dictators deposed next.I’m not going to be picky now.lol
    The fact that Bin Ali’s plane can’t,as of now, find a European airport to allow it to land, should be a good incentive to all of these tyrants to leave on their own,while they can ,and live with some “integrity” some where else.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 5:23 pm
  38. An Iranian dictator was ousted by popular revolt.

    Nothing nice came out of that!

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 5:24 pm
  39. “I mean, they don’t really care what the “Sunni street” thinks about them anyway.”

    I think this is quite incorrect. Hizb’s desire to keep their hands clean is to properly continue functioning as a resistance movement, and they can not do this if the street, mostly sunni, would consider them guilty of killing this high profile leader of the sunni community.

    Hizb’s devine victory in 2006 has actually put them on the defensive. Their room for maneuver has decreased, and not being exonerated by the son of the slain leader will further the notion of Hizbollah as a sectarian militia acting in the interest not of Arabs, but of the Shia and Iran.

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 14, 2011, 5:29 pm
  40. Ghassan,#33
    I agree that Hariri might get the highest number of votes, and then decline. But I doubt that Mikati or any one else would take the PM position at all. I think that M8 plan is to leave the country without a government for an extended period of time.
    Political Vacuum would serve them better. A transitional government will not have the political mandate to face all the critical issues at hand, starting with the STL. No government means, no cooperation at all.
    The current ministers will take care of their ministries like they did before. They won’t notice that there is no PM, since He was never there.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 5:36 pm
  41. Ghassan,

    I feel the same. But I am more interested in seeing Assad on such a plane for well known reasons I mentioned not long ago. As for Mubarak, I wouldn’t worry much about him. He may not even make it the plane. Don’t count much on the Gulfies. By the way, is it not time for the Arab policies to be set again by the more traditional centers, instead of the shift that began around the mid or early 70s? Or am I being a narcissist here? Many would argue the Gulfies have far surpassed us in terms of knowledge and being up to date while we may have regressed.

    Now to the Lebanese issue of Hariri/Mikati or whoever else:

    Mikati is being floated by Syria as a candidate and Syria is hoping from that to have its cake and eat it. To be honest, no other stupidity of Bashar can surpass or even come close to this. He still doesn’t seem to have come to grips with the latest developments not to mention the past ones.

    Saudi Arabia would care less if its rapprochement with Bashar goes forward or backward. As mentioned in a previous thread, most centers of power in SA were and still are opposed to a Syrian rapprochement

    I must disappoint you QN and say that Mikati Premiership is not definite. It is a possibility but by no means definite. Are there others besides him and Hariri? Yes, but that is irrelevant.

    No figure from the Sunni community will step into the fray unless certain issues are made clear and agreed upon by all concerned. So the question is not who, but what will he do or not do.
    As things stand now, the next PM-to-be needs a clear and public pledge from centers of power within Lebanon as well as Damascus that the issue of the STL is un-touchable, that everyone will submit to its legitimacy and cooperate with its current and future requests. And these would be spelled out clearly and agreed upon as the main clauses in the next Government formation statement.
    Short of that, Syria is experiencing the symptoms of mid-day visions of night stars and infecting the so-called opposition in Lebanon with the same ailment.

    And the other alternative is the long drawn out period of procrastination.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 5:39 pm
  42. Ghassan,

    Re: Tunis.

    To me, it almost doesn’t matter how successful this uprising is, or what happens after.
    A certain psychological barrier has been broken. In the history of the modern arab world (ie, in the modern post-WW2 era) I cannot think of one single instance where an Arab population has taken matters into its own hands and made that psychological leap against a “zaim” (which is what most of these Arab despots are, in the end). This marks a first, in my mind.

    As I said above, the Lebanese populace has ZERO excuse. I’ve said it time and again. I am tired of hearing that defeatist exuse attitude that Lebanese are so prone to. How many of us have heard something along the lines of “All these leaders M8/M14 alike are corrupt and bad and they should all go away.” followed by some kind of excuse as to why 1) We re-elect them and 2) How some big conspiracy controls us (implying we have no say so, and that everything is pre-determined in Washington/Paris/Damascus/Tel Aviv/Tehran).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 5:40 pm
  43. If I may add, UN Secretary General, Ban ki moon, Just said, during a press conference, that: “
    Amid threats of a possible halt in funding for the tribunal, the secretary-general underlined that it is the responsibility of the Lebanese government, “whoever may be in power,” to continue to provide funding for the investigation.”
    What would Mikatti or anyone else do, when asked to Fund the Tribunal, or any other request from the STL?

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 5:46 pm
  44. Nabi:

    Interesting. So could this statement completely shatter the confidence with which GK, QN, etc. state that the STL will go on, whatever the case may be?

    And if the UN has no interests in pursuing this further independently of a Lebanese involvement… then maybe the story was a lot more complex all along..

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 5:52 pm
  45. Prophett @40:

    “The current ministers will take care of their ministries like they did before. They won’t notice that there is no PM, since He was never there.”

    This is precisely what I think will happen.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 5:53 pm
  46. BV:

    Get a grip on things.

    Corruption exists everywhere. Maybe the Lebanese system is not perfect.

    But it is MILES ahead of ALL countries in the region.

    The confessional system may not be desirable. Maybe it’s not the best thing. But it’s a lot better than the system is every other country in the Region.

    Maybe you don’t like (as I don’t) the type of “accountability” being demonstrated in Lebanon today.

    But the government can be made to rise and fall within the existing system. This would never happen in any of the countries in the region.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 5:57 pm
  47. Gabriel #38,
    That is an excellent point but in my mind it should not be used as a rationale to accept the dictatorships and do nothing. All revolutions run the risk of failure and one can even argue that revolutions always fail in the long run for the simple matter that the oppressed become the oppresors. That is what happened in Iran of 1978, that is what happened in Russia of 1917 Cuba… If revolutions fail to renew themselves they will always fail.An excellent classic was written about this 30-40 years ago by Pablo Freire.
    Anyway, I would rather take the risk of having a revolution go awry right from the beginning rather than accept the rule of a dictatorship fearing that the revolution might not succeed. Only death and taxes are a sure thing 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 5:57 pm
  48. GK:

    I think in the long term, something excellent will come out of Iran.

    I don’t know when this will happen. But happen it will.

    So I agree with you, the revolution is always best.

    All I’m saying is that roses won’t be budding in Tunis any time soon.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 6:05 pm
  49. prophtett #43,
    I am noty disputing the quote that you used but that was not the intention of the SG if you read the full transcript. He could not come out and say ‘ well you do not have to live to your end of the bargain” but he did make it clear that nothing will affect the STL. He has spoken of this a few times in the past, if Lebanon does not honour its financial responsibilities then the UNSC has asked the SG to use his good offices in order to make up for the shortfall.

    The following is the relevant part dealing with Lebanon:

    “SG: I have stated my position, the position of the United Nations, many times in the past, and it remains the same. As you have already read my statement last week, I had a good meeting with the Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, and I had also a good meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in New York. I have been following very closely the situation. And it is quite regrettable that the Government has not been able to function properly with the pullout of Hezbollah ministers. I call for dialogue among the parties, all the parties, to continue, and for all to respect the Constitution and the law of the country. As far as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is concerned, this is an independent, international judiciary system whose work should never be interrupted or interfered by any parties. I fully respect their integrity, and their integrity should be preserved. That’s what I can tell you at this time.

    Q: Just very briefly, sir, as far as the statute of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon – if any government – this government, the next government – decides to take these three actions, stop its part of financing, pull out its own three, I think, judges, and say after the indictment, “I do not want to cooperate with you”, would that, de facto, stop the action of the Tribunal? Or is there something in the statute that allows it to go on with its work?

    SG: When the Special Tribunal was established by the mandate of the Security Council, clearly, one of the two parties is Lebanon who has to provide the funding. And that’s what they did, and another part is the international community – that’s what I did to secure funding. And I believe that this responsibility should continue. The Lebanese Government – whoever may be in power – has the responsibility to provide the funding. “

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 6:09 pm
  50. Gabriel,

    Do you really expect me to take your comment #46 seriously? Or was that a joke?
    You’re honestly trying to use the “Our system is slightly better than that of our neighbors, so let’s count our blessings and do nothing about it.” argument?
    Really?
    Wow.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 6:27 pm
  51. From Al Manar, “The Fate of The Indictment Under a Caretaker Government ”

    http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=170036&language=en

    One can read, “Following the government’s resignation, the expected indictment will have absolutely no impact on Lebanon at any level,”

    Could this be the strategy of the opposition, ensuring that there is 1) no cooperation during a caretaker government, and 2) no Lebanese official to properly receive the indictment?

    Posted by Pas Cool | January 14, 2011, 6:32 pm
  52. Gabie, 44
    This has been my argument from the beginning, that a political Vacuum is the intention of M8, and it‘s one of the tools to fight the STL.
    This is not what I’m advocating though; it is just my reading of the move to bring down the government by M8.The SS dialogue could not accomplish anything, so why have government, unless you have a government that is will to disown the STL.
    I know that no one here agrees with me.

    Ghassan,49

    As I told GABIE, M8 and HA have no intentions of forming a government, nor do they have any intentions to allow for a government to be formed, unless this government is willing to disown the STL.
    Disowning the STL will not happen by a transitional government, neither by a government loyal to HA AND M8either. Such a government would be similar to the one in Gazza, and HA isn’t stupid enough to try what has failed.
    Not funding the STL is only one of the things that would be demanded by the UN. The United States and Europeans will cover the funding, but they can’t cover for all the cooperation which will de demanded of the Lebanese government once the indictment is out.
    The international community will get to a point where maintaining stability (in the absence of a government) is more important than the proceeding of the STL.
    I Think M8 seems to have changed the equation from the STL,INDICTMENT,AND EVIDENCE, to a Need of a government security(military rule/government?), and stability without shooting a bullet.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 6:36 pm
  53. Pas Cool,

    I’m afraid that guissam was reading my comments before He gave his interview to Al-Manar,LOL
    A little humor won’t kill anyone, I hope.lol

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 6:53 pm
  54. GUY’S NAME IS ISSAM

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 6:56 pm
  55. BV.

    As I said. Get a grip on things, and get those utopic glasses off.

    Yes, I expect that you take my comment very seriously.

    What are you going to do about the fact that the government was stalled?

    You want to go Tunis style and go out and demonstrate? If so, 10 more BV’s will come and demonstrate the counter position.

    The system in Lebanon is not the ideal or perfect one. But it is a system that we can see quite clearly that allows the “government” to self-regulate. When one group doesn’t like the direction of the government, it can squeeze, control and stop the government.

    In that sense, this is democracy in action.

    It is unfortunate that the issues with which this group or that group squeezes are stupid issues like the STL, instead of Economy, Human Rights, etc. But it is not for a lack of power and ability.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 14, 2011, 6:57 pm
  56. If the opposition’s sole objective was to halt cooperation with the STL under a care taker government, then that objective may not have been achieved.

    The STL has been approved by the previous government. The concerned ministers, such as Najjar and al-Hassan can respond to STL requests based on earlier approval.

    They can also always argue exceptional circumstances and continue cooperation.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 7:00 pm
  57. anon,
    If it was not for the STL, why would they do that? The whole crisis has been the STL.
    I’m not sure Najjar can arrest anyone, or Al Hassan can write checks for millions of dolors without the approval of a government.
    At any rate, things will get very complicated.It’s hard to guess how things will turn out.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 7:51 pm
  58. prophett #52,
    I am as guilty as anybody else but why are we wasting so much time and energy speculating about what will happen in a few weeks?
    Maybe I have never made myself clear on this . I do not think that it is important whether Lebanon continues the funding, arrests the accused or cooperates with the STL. Irrespective of what the Lebanese government does the STL will issue its indictments, will find a way to fund the STL and will hold trial in absentia if that is what is needed.
    Lebanon is free to cooperate or not but the train cannot be stopped and even if it could it should not. The only reason that some want to stop it is because they fear what it has to say.
    Outlaws can always refuse to honor subpenas and cooperate with the law. They might even get away with their crime for a while but I choose to believe in the process and I am betting that many others share my thoughts. Mark my words, we have seen the apex of HA blackmail and fearmongering.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 7:54 pm
  59. Back to Tunisia. Those of you who are old enough to remember the dissolution of Communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe one after the other will appreciate the facebook revolution that is taking place in Tunis. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if this revolution spreads as to take every single country, bare none, in the Arab world by storm?

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 14, 2011, 8:03 pm
  60. Ghassan,

    Your reply to Prophett is very accurate and straight to the point. In my previous comment I meant to refute his argument that this was the opposition plan, and if indeed it was then it will not achieve its objective in preventing GOL cooperation under a care taker regime.

    I think Prophett is still putting forward two arguments as follows:

    1) Time factor will burry the case and the STL with it.

    2) The world community will somehow acquiesce to a military government in Lebanon due to some unforeseen instability that may arise in giving HA what it wants in the process.

    Argument # 1 is easily refuted. Time seems to be irrelevant to this case. We are still talking about the case 6 years after the crime was committed. It just keeps reincarnating.

    Argument # 2: military governments do not work in Lebanon.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 8:16 pm
  61. Ghassan,

    I am old enough to remember the dissolution of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. And I was indeed reminded of that earlier today.

    I was hoping you’d respond to Gabriel’s bizarre statements above regarding Tunis vs. Lebanon. 🙂

    I’m also wondering howcome no one has come out yet to claim that the Tunis unrest was fomented by the USA and Israel….(As silly as that accusation may be, we are all too aware of how some conspiracy theorists love to fall back on that).

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 8:19 pm
  62. Ghassan 59,

    I just saw your last comment after posting my previous.

    Again, I will be more than satisfied to just see Bashar and Co. on a one way trip on a plane. That will change the whole region.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 8:22 pm
  63. To me, the most significant aspect of the events in Tunis is this: “The first time that street protests had toppled the leader of an Arab country”.

    Regardless of the outcome, in the end, it is the fact that the people of a country were able to stand up to an Arab authoritarian leader. For whatever reasons (if I were to expound, I’d have to talk about certain Arab mentalities and tribalism) Arab peoples have always been somewhat complicit in letting themselves be ruled by dictators, all the while complaining about it and blaming the US, Colonialism and of course Israel, for that state of affairs.

    The events in Tunisia, while not definitive in any sense, mark a major turning point for the Arab “mentality”, IMO.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 14, 2011, 8:35 pm
  64. Ghassan,
    We are guilty, but we seem to enjoy our guilt.
    My only reason of mentioning the STL, and the cooperation of Lebanon with the STL, was really meant to explain ,what I thought the reasons behind the bringing down of the government, by M8,and definitely not to promote “non-cooperation” of the Lebanon.
    Is this going to work for them? I have no clue. Do they have the right to do what they did? Again constitutionally yes, realistically, maybe yes, maybe No.
    Every one has, including HA, accepted the fact that the STL is there to stay, and that
    HA has, in my opinion, accepted the fact that the STL can only be eliminated by another UN resolution.
    Their demand of Hariri to disown it was meant to discredit it in the eyes of Lebanese people for domestic reasons, and especially HARIRI supporters, and for history books which will continue to write about shiia/sunni conflict.
    That being said, your argument about the legitimacy of the STL is well noted, and understood by me for a long time.
    After many exchanges, I accepted the fact that we (You and I) disagree on this, and I respect your views regardless. My views and reservations about the STL do not matter. The question of politicizations has been exhausted already with arguments .This whole debate is over now.
    The debate, at this juncture is about what would happen in Lebanon as a result of the breaking down of the political system, which I view as more serious than the actual results of the STL work.
    For you to simplify the whole crises as some outlaw not honoring a court Supina is the ultimate simplification. That would bring back the debate to its origin of whether the system is legitimate or not, or whether the process is fair or not. I have no intention of exhausting you again. I will spare you the headache. LOL

    anon,
    If you read my comments again, you would realize that I was not promoting anything. I was simply putting forward what I THOUGHT M8 and HA intentions are, and what their plans are. It’s just a point of view/wild guess/prophecy, called what ever you want, but not promoting or advocating any argument. When I choose to promote an argument, as I have in the past, I will tell you that this is my argument.
    I’ll go back to Tunisia development .lol

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 8:42 pm
  65. “I’m also wondering howcome no one has come out yet to claim that the Tunis unrest was fomented by the USA and Israel”

    BV,

    You may be interested to know that Obama just openly praised the bravery of the Tunisia people.

    So there you go. Your wish just came true. May be you should have not said that. Now they will start saying exactly what you said. And they can prove it based on Obama himself. And you cannot say to them you’re victims of conspiracy theories. What can be worse?

    And by the way, it doesn’t seem to be over. There is wrangling on who should take over and accusations of another Bin Ali replacing Bin Ali.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 8:46 pm
  66. Does anyone know if Bin Ali’s plane found an airport to permit it to land?I Read that the French didn’t want him.
    If you are wondering why I’m interested in knowing, it is because I wish no country permits him to land,so other tyrants would think about their final destiny.

    Posted by prophett | January 14, 2011, 8:51 pm
  67. “When I choose to promote an argument, as I have in the past, I will tell you that this is my argument.”

    Prophett, I can only judge what I read. Whether the argument is yours or someone else’s, I also judge the argument not you or whoever is behind it.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 8:51 pm
  68. Prophett 66,

    Yes, he seems to be in Jeddah.

    Posted by anonymous | January 14, 2011, 8:52 pm
  69. As I was rereading the statement issued by Sa’ad Hariri a phrase that has been used by all sides stood out: “No one in Lebanon can cancel the other”. This phrase essentially admits that both sides are important for the integrity of the country and that more or less they are of equal power. That is a fair statement but what jumped at me for the first time is that this fact is being used, wrongly, to justify a national unity government . It is as if Mr. Hariri is implying that if a party is not part of the government then that is tantamount to its being cancelled by the majority. That is totally wrong rationale. The party that has the majority does not have the power to cancel anyone even if it so choses because of the constitutional gaurantees that defend the rights of all to free speech and expression in addition to all other constitutional privileges that are to be applied to every citizen irrespective of her political and religious affiliation.
    This rationale by one of the most powerful political leaders in Lebanon speaks volumes about the current crisis. He does not seem to understand what is democracy and how it works. To occupy the benches assigned to the opposition is not equivalent in any way and under any set of circumstances to canceling the other side. It should be an honor to play that crucial role without which there will not be accountability and dynamism in the state. A state without active opposition is one that is stagnant. A true democracy is one that protects its citizens and gives them the right to dissent.
    Mr. Hariri, if you truly value Lebanon and respect its sovereignty and integrity then you will never again agree to the unnatural , undemocratic and unworkable national unity government that offers the opposition the right to veto legislatio n. In a true democracy no one is eliminated or canceled irrespective of their share of the electorate. All are equal under the law. It is time that we stop using this false logic as a justification for a form of government that ends up in usurping the role of parliament.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 12:18 am
  70. ” He does not seem to understand what is democracy and how it works. To occupy the benches assigned to the opposition is not equivalent in any way and under any set of circumstances to canceling the other side.”

    Ghassan, you also need to look at this,

    أضاف الحريري: “سبق لنا، أن علقنا قواعد اللعبة الديموقراطية، وارتضينا التخلي عن حقوق الأكثرية النيابية في تشكيل الحكومة، إلتزاماً بموجبات الوفاق الوطني، وبمسؤولياتنا تجاه جميع اللبنانيين دون إستثناء، ورفضنا الإنجرار، وراء أي رغبة في الهيمنة أو عزل الآخر وأقرينا مع العديد من قيادات البلاد، بجدوى الدعوات المتكررة لتغليب منطق التوافق على المنطق الأكثري، وها نحن اليوم نواجه عاصفة سياسية في الإتجاه المعاكس، ويطلب منا دعاة التوافق قلب المعايير من جديد فيتم تعطيل جلسات مجلس الوزراء، بذريعة عدم إدراج هذا البند أو ذاك على جدول الأعمال، ثم تتم المطالبة بالدعوة الى عقد مجلس الوزراء، ويجري تحديد جدول الأعمال، خلافاً للأصول والدستور، ووفقاً لمقتضيات المصالح التي يحددها الفريق المعني بالدعوة. هذا إسمه صيف وشتاء على سطح واحد. وأنا شخصياً لن أعطي، أياً كان، فرصة الإلتفاف على الصلاحيات التي أناطها الدستور برئاسة مجلس الوزراء”.

    It is not fair based on the above to say he (Hariri) doesn’t understand democracy and how it works. But, he was addressing the other party by saying we suspended the rule of majoritarian democracy based on your (opposition) understanding of con-sociational governance and this was the result, blaming them for abusing their own pledge for dialog and such understanding of governance.

    But I cannot predict if he or any other candidate will form a majoritarian government.

    In the current circumstances, I would rather see a government headed by him and made up of technocrats with no party association and made up of representatives of all the sects from outside the parliament.

    Posted by anonymous | January 15, 2011, 1:14 am
  71. Anon,
    I should have noted the above lines that you have pointed to. But I am not sure that it would have changed my basic point that in a democracy no one eliminates another. That is a fear only in a non democratic setup. I have never noted before the way that phrase ( in Lebanon no one can cancel/eliminate the other and therefore we need a national unity government) was being used, as if it is an aphorism when in fact it is everything but that.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 2:01 am
  72. Both sides are like clusters of pimples on a teenager’s face , got to Oxycute’em to regain your healthy face and confidence. we may all agree that it is time for a change but how can we bring about a change in a country like Lebanon ? to begin with , are we a true state ? a sovereign state ? until we figure this out and begin to transition into becoming one,
    the pimples are going to run the country and nasrallah is going to rule from his mice hideaway, and Billy ( or bibi? )the exterminator is going to show up, this time to fumigate indiscriminately.

    Posted by abdo | January 15, 2011, 2:53 am
  73. Ghassan,

    Your understanding is sound and applies in a well established and functioning democracy. But in a quasi-democratic dysfunctional state, you need to address the crowd according to the common understanding and established customs. If you recall the flip-flop from ruling out NU government before elections to acquiescing to it after elections, you would understand his reasoning in that speech.

    Posted by anonymous | January 15, 2011, 3:11 am
  74. GK…

    I don’t really understand how the system works in Lebanon. But from what I gather the Shia get 27 seats out of the 128 parliamentary seats.

    That’s 21%.

    I hear the number of Shia in Lebanon is almost twice that.

    While I agree that this whole “veto” business is absurd, it seems at least understandable given that the democracy is non-representative.

    I go back to my point to BV. I don’t see that however else you change the political system, the outcome would not be essentially the same.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 15, 2011, 3:21 am
  75. Naharnet:

    “Mufti Qabbani Voices Attachment to Hariri: Premiership is Not a Pawn to Be Exploited”

    I do not want to be a prohet or Jr. Nabi…But I so predicted! The stalemate will last a long time!

    Posted by danny | January 15, 2011, 7:53 am
  76. Gabriel,
    Many of us have been raising the issue about the inequitable representation for years. I will not bore you by reciting numbers but I hope that you are aware that you cannot be for Taef and for representative democracy at the same time:-) In Lebanon , the Maronites and the Sunnis consider Taef to be almost sacrosanct. The most ergregious aspect of Taef is that it considers each Christian vote to be equivalent to 1.25 non Christian and yet the Maronites want more. Maybe the new younger Patriarch can reverse this very shortsighted Maronite policy.
    Ther is a simple and elegant solution for all the above and it is also found in Taef: abolish sectarianism from all aspects of the political process. Sectarianism is tantamount to discrimination pure and simple.
    When I saw your post yesterday in which you see merits in the Lebanese system since it is less oppresive than the Tunisian one I decided to look the other way and pretend that I did not notice it. But here you are bringing it up again:-) Gabriel, are you seriously suggesting that a slavery would be acceptable if the slave master provides better housing stock? The Lebanese system is rotten to the core despite the fact that it offers more personal freedoms than is found in its dictatorial authoritarian geographical neighbourhood. Michael Young premised his whole book on that argument that the tribal make up of Lebanon as corrupt as it is has resulted in a standoff of sorts by the political adversaries and that has prevented the rise of a strong authoritarian cult of personality a la Syria, Egypt, Tunisia … That is a valid argument in describing what is but it makes no sense to use it in defense of the status quo.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 10:03 am
  77. I think that Lebanon should think out of the box and appoint Jumblatt as PM , he is the one to decide at any way he has the votes needed ,if the PM from M14 or 8

    Posted by Norman | January 15, 2011, 10:25 am
  78. Indictments are to be submitted to Franzen this Monday.

    The timing is almost choreographed (!?)

    Now we wait for Franzen. 2-3 weeks I hope. Then we’ll know.

    Posted by PeterinDubai | January 15, 2011, 11:29 am
  79. To our Lebanese brothers of Hezbollah,

    Don’t you worry, the Whole World is with you, and 90 percent of the Lebanese People are with you no matter what you do, because we trust that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah will always do the right thing for Lebanon as a WHOLE… and we have full confidence in his LEADERSHIP, no matter what the March14th thugs, idiots , stooges and lackeys of CIA/MOSSAD will say or do, they are doomed to utter failure. AMERICA is finished, it is an utterly corrupt ZIONIST THUGGISH Government run by crooks and barbaric war criminals. Long Live Lebanon, Long Live HIZBULLAH’s valiant Resistance to occupations of ALL sorts….We value your dedication and thank you for your courage and wisdom….

    Posted by Jim | January 15, 2011, 11:45 am
  80. Since many of the leaks about the STL indictments have turned out to be true I share with you the latest : Haartez claims that Grand Ayatollah Khomeini is the person who gave the order for the liquidation of Rafic Hariri and that Iran asked the Kuds brigade to execute i.e Mughanieh was put in charge. If that turns out to be true then that explains the ferocity with which the STL indictments have been fought and it also explains the concern of Saudi Arabia and others in what otherwise would have been a purely Lebanese domestic affair. We will know soon if there is any truth to this recent bomb shell.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/report-un-tribunal-to-link-iran-s-supreme-leader-with-hariri-assassination-1.337118

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 11:46 am
  81. LOL,

    Haaretz, MOSSAD must be really desperate to start the Sunni/Shia war….STL is a Joke and a toll of CIA.

    Posted by Jim | January 15, 2011, 11:49 am
  82. LOL,

    Haaretz, MOSSAD must be really desperate to start the Sunni/Shia war….STL is a Joke and a tool of CIA to avenge the marine barracks bombings of 1983 in Beirut…..

    Posted by Jim | January 15, 2011, 11:50 am
  83. GK:

    Don’t worry about boring me with the information. I am actually interested in understanding it better.

    The most ergregious aspect of Taef is that it considers each Christian vote to be equivalent to 1.25 non Christian and yet the Maronites want more.

    OK. But isn’t that just a paper exercise. Does this power on paper really reflect in any meaningful way on how things are going?

    Sectarianism is tantamount to discrimination pure and simple.

    I am against the sectarian system, but I do take exception to your description of it being “discriminatory”.

    Not because it is not. It actually is. But discrimination can always be spun to be (and actually be) a positive thing.

    e.g. affirmative action.

    are you seriously suggesting that a slavery would be acceptable if the slave master provides better housing stock?

    I don’t think this analogy is fitting at all.

    Look, if the IPI statistics I posted earlier are accurate, then we would see quite clearly that the majority of the Lebanese (60%) are in fact in favor of the STL. (Again, I’m speculating based on a report whose accuracy I don’t know).

    If Aoun was to do the right thing, he and his block of ministers should really simply adopt a pro-STL position.

    But if they did that, we would end up with a situation that is definitely NOT representative of the Lebanese position.

    I don’t know why Aoun cozied up to HA. I don’t know if it’s because of his aspirations for power, or because he just wanted to take the anti-Hariri position, or or or.

    But the end result is that in an indirect way, this has provided a greater parliamentary representation for the Shia.

    (When I say Shia, I don’t mean it in a religious sense, but the sense of the human beings cursed with this word on their identity paper hence being deprived of the representation they deserve).

    I don’t know if the “effective” result (not the academic one- the 1 Maronite = 1.25 NonMaronite formula) is that the system provided indirect representation that don’t pop out when you simply do a tally of seats etc.

    Is it equitable? No.

    Is it for me (or you, or any other non-Shia) to decide whether this arrangement is acceptable? Absolutely Not.

    But I’m willing to bet that for a Shia, seeing their effective representation increased in this way by the political alignment of Aoun is a big improvement from not having it. (Shias on this forum can weigh in and tell me if I’m off the mark or not).

    I was not comparing the Lebanese system to the Tunisian one.

    I was simply stating that if you were, today, to abolish political sectarianism in Lebanon, then current events as they are unfolding will likely unfold in exactly the same way.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 15, 2011, 12:00 pm
  84. This last twist by Newmax and Haaretz…..is the end of western civilization….the arrogance is starting to taint their judgment….it only goes so far before you fall….how about adding North Korea and Hamas to the list of perps….

    Posted by Jim | January 15, 2011, 12:10 pm
  85. The Americans resemble – and even upstage – the Israelis in their arrogance, corruption, criminality and ignorance, which border on fatal irresponsibility. Their intervention this week, emanating from a frivolous contempt for the incredible complexity that is called Lebanon…they will soon find out….

    Posted by Jim | January 15, 2011, 12:20 pm
  86. Ghassan,80
    “Since many of the leaks about the STL indictments have turned out to be true”
    So much for the credibility of the STL which you have so much faith in.
    I thought that NO one knows (or supposed to know) what the indictment will say. What happens to the secrecy of the investigation? Do you really expect people to have any faith in this process? Do you blame HA for not cooperating with a process, which keeps leaking information to its enemy?
    If they leak information to the suspect’s enemy, they can easily fabricate evidence.
    Can you guarantee that the STL would not fabricate evidence?
    You selectively use the leaks to promote accusations when you always want us to believe that you are an objective and independent thinkers. Now, you are not being objective at all.
    When someone else mentions leaks that may not suit you, you discount them as “media peculation.”, and then lecture us on how everyone should wait for the indictment to come out, and then the accused should defend them in the court of law.
    Why do you, and everyone else keep Telling us to wait for the indictment to come out, and judge the evidence, when “most of the leaks have turned out to be true’?
    Than, you go on to say “We will know soon if there is any truth to this recent bomb shell.”
    If this ACCUSATION turns out to be true, what would that say about the STL, and its credibility?

    Posted by prophett | January 15, 2011, 12:31 pm
  87. Gabriel,
    If you are interested in some numbers the following is a link to a post ( one of Many) about the issue:

    http://rationalrepublic.blogspot.com/2009/06/privileged-and-disenfranchised_09.html

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 12:33 pm
  88. anyone heard that the indictments are expected this coming Monday?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 15, 2011, 12:41 pm
  89. prophett,
    You are mixing up leaks with the credibility of the STL. How can the leaks, by a disgruntled employee be used as a proof that the institution is not credible? There is no logic in that line of reasoning.
    It does not pay to pretend that something has not happened. There is an elephant in the room. The Der Speigel story appears to have been accurate otherwise HA would not have undertaken all of these measures and acts in the past few months. Where did Der Speigel get its leaks? Ask them. Look at the current sensation in leaks , Wikileaks. I hope that you are not going to tell me that the US administration was behind the leaks. It was a disgruntled pfc called Manning. The same is probably true about the STL. Tha leaks are there and we will have to see if they are accurate but if they do turn out to be accurate then that says nothing about the credibility of the process.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 12:44 pm
  90. Me thinks that the opposition’s action of bringing down the government is what SS agreement is. Each side gets something out of it and save face in the standoff. The opposition will have vented its anger at the STL, while M14 can see the indictments get through under a caretaker government.

    This stalemate could be what was agreed upon and could last until the next election. So be it, as long as there no violence and the citizens can go on with their daily business and lives.

    Just my two 2roush.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | January 15, 2011, 12:46 pm
  91. Ghassan,89
    I really thought I was done discussing the STL legitimacy, but the inconsistencies in the views which you’ve promoted lately provoked me with little disappointment, to reply.
    If your comment was posted by someone else, I would not have bothered reply to it.
    There is big difference between wikileaks and the leaks from the STL.
    We know who leaked the US diplomatic cables to wikileaks, and that person has been arrested. There was no denial by the US government. We know that those cables have always existed due to the nature work of embassies.
    The STL findings are supposed to be secrets, and the investigation is supposed to be an ongoing process, even after the indictment is out.
    The STL indictment leaks seem to be systematically leaked for political reasons by the same institution which is supposed to guard the secrecy of the investigation.
    That does not seem to faze you, and a good observer
    The secrecy of the investigation is as important as the investigation itself.
    You basically confirming my point that the leaks are most likely true, but you won’t admit that they are leaked on purpose. You won’t admit that when the STL leaks its findings, it raises questions about its work and results. You won’t admit that by leaking its findings, there is a political objective behind it, because you have made a decision not to give the accused the benefit of the doubt when the STL leaks leaking information to the enemy of the accused.
    That raises questions about your objectivity, which I never questioned before.
    I’ve always suspected that those leaks are true, and based on that I keep questioning this whole process, while , You, on the other hand, maintained faith in a process that does not respect its own most basic rule, which is secrecy of its investigation.
    You are willing to believe anything the investigation finds, regardless of its possible fabrication, and without questioning the credibility tarnished, by no one except the STL people themselves. That is puzzling from a good observer like you.

    Posted by prophett | January 15, 2011, 1:18 pm
  92. We know, and HNA knows best, that the rogue elements scenario is vetoed by the HA because no one will buy that argument. There simply cannot be rogue elements in HA in order for HNA to claim ‘divine guidance’ and appear invincible from underneath down in his bunker.

    So would it be a surprise you if Khamenei ordered the killing if any rogue HA member were to be indicted? HNA cannot be rogue and definitely Khamenei is not a rogue member of HA

    But seriously, I am more interested in finding out how the STL broke through the labyrinth of the spider’s web if that leak turns out to be true.

    If they can prove it, then they must have achieved a monumental task. The dram will even get more interesting.

    Ghassan,

    Your statistics in the Rational Republic are based on the voters list. Do you still have that list which I assume will show the breakdown of the population into the various groups?

    Posted by anonymous | January 15, 2011, 1:19 pm
  93. Ghassan @ 80

    That would be Khamenei.
    Khomeini died in 1989.
    Surely you of all people are not pushing an order from beyond the grave Imam Zaman scenario.

    @ 93

    Asgari has been floated before.

    Posted by blackpoint | January 15, 2011, 1:29 pm
  94. Now, I understand why Prophett does not like President Suleiman any more. Actually, I am also convinced that Prophett is, as he said, presenting the point of view of HA and not his own – but what is the difference?

    http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&69E8C6C8A6B6A5F8C2257819003DA345

    blackpoint,

    I am putting forward the following conspiracy theory based on your observation,

    The STL was formed by Khamenei in order to force the exit of the Asgari from the surdab who is still unwilling to exit on his own.

    Posted by anonymous | January 15, 2011, 1:44 pm
  95. anon 95
    My criticism of President Suleiman does not mean I don’t like him; I Just find him irrelevant in Lebanon’s politics. Any leader, and especially a president, who is not capable to make decisions, is useless, and irrelevant. In away, I blame him, and feel sorry for him, being in a toothless position ,where he’s either incapable ,or unwilling to take at least one solid stand since the day He took office.

    He had a chance, to demand more authority as a condition to be elected, but He was so eager to become “Fakhamat” president, that He started visiting every party leader to promote himself.
    As far as Minister Sayyed, He is as much of a looser as the person appointed him. Not an impressive guy at all. Any one, who wants to be on both sides of an issue, is a looser.
    As far as me promoting HA position, I find it very laughable that HA, needs “me” to promote their views when they own so many media outlets… It seems to bother you when some one presents a view different than yours, and you start labeling people.
    How can you give yourself the right to quote something I NEVER SAID? “I am also convinced that Prophett is, as he said,” When did I say that?

    I don’t label you when your views coincide with LF or Israel, or anyone else. I still give you the benefit of the doubt, that you and I see things from a different angle.
    It would be more productive if you debate the views instead of label them.

    Posted by prophett | January 15, 2011, 2:10 pm
  96. Shame shame shame on Naharnet for promoting fringe Newsmax’ notorious neocon Zionist wackjob Kenneth Timmerman.

    Note that neither Naharnet nor the Israeli media sources (JPost, Ynet, Haaretz) gleefully repeating this disinfo have bothered to link to the original. Somehow, the Israeli repeaters must believe that citing Naharnet’s version of the tale tales gives it “legitimacy”.

    (Ami Issacharoff of Haaretz’ MESS Report has just shred his own credibility by his active participation in this farce. How disappointing)

    For those who are less inclined to eagerly swallow regurgitated propaganda, here is a link to the original purveyor of the same:

    http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/israel-lebanon-Dave-Lapan/2011/01/14/id/382862

    In addition, some background information on the fanatic who is once again pushing his radical agenda for attacking Iran:

    “Kenneth Timmerman is a conservative writer and policy advocate who directs the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI), which he founded in 1995 with Joshua Muravchik and Peter Rodman to push hawkish U.S. policies on Iran. The National Endowment for Democracy provided the group’s start-up funding. Timmerman has also been a member of a number of neoconservative-led pressure groups, including the Committee on the Present Danger and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, both hardline pro-Israel outfits that have supported an expansive “war on terror” aimed at Islamic countries.”

    (The above para contains live links to descriptions of the mentioned orgs for those who are unfamiliar with them and their notoriously warmongering ways)

    http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/Timmerman_Kenneth

    Caveat emptor, ya’ll.

    Posted by lally | January 15, 2011, 2:43 pm
  97. TV Aljadeed aired an audio tape with PM Hariri, Wisam Al- Hasan, German investigator, Gerhard Lehmann, and Mohamad Zuhir Siddiq.
    Now it becomes clear why Hariri and Co. opposed the demand by the opposition to refer the “false witnesses” issue to the Justice Council.
    This is the same Siddiq that implicated the four Lebanese generals, and based on his testimony, they were jailed for four years.
    The most “impressive” part is Wissam Al- Hassan’s horrible English. He was supposed to be an interpreter for Siddiq.
    It’s beyond me why they brought some one, with bad English to interpret for Siddiq. Couldn’t they afford to bring in a professional interpreter? Again, I won’t speculate why the head of the Internal Security department in Lebanon would be the official interpreter for the UNIIIC.
    As to why Hariri himself was meeting with Siddiq, that is another question…..I bet it had “nothing” to do with the so called “false witnesses” issue, and who fabricated them.

    Posted by prophett | January 15, 2011, 2:55 pm
  98. anon #93,
    You are right to assume that the data on which the calculations was based is the official data as supplied by the Ministry of the interior. And I did not keep a copy of it but I am almost sure that they did not have the data broken down by sect.
    What is interesting about sectarianism in Lebanon is that it is a product of applicable laws but not constitutional ones. The constitution does not specify the religious affiliation of the President, Speaker or PM. All of these are as a result of tacit agreements.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 3:19 pm
  99. Blackpoint #94,
    This is what happens when one is not very adept at multitasking 🙂

    To continue with the rumours. The newest rumour in Beirut is that Hezbollah has a video clip connecting Saad Hariri to Sedick and that it is going to be released at any moment.

    Two rumours within one day, I better go and read a book or something:-)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 3:39 pm
  100. Please disregard the last post. prophett had already posted about this at 2:55. ( At least this rumour turned out to be true).

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 15, 2011, 3:43 pm
  101. HERE IT IS, THE MEETING BETWEEN PM Hariri, Wisam Al- Hasan, German investigator, Gerhard Lehmann, and Mohamad Zuhir Siddiq.
    http://www.tayyar.org/Tayyar/Multimedia/Video/VideoPlayer.htm?ID=431607

    Posted by prophett | January 15, 2011, 3:53 pm
  102. @Prophett The video shows that Hariri was duped by Siddiq. Wisam Al-Hasan has a lot to answer for too. I would not be surprised if he is part of the indictment. Siddiq was a plant to mislead the investigation and the UN investigation has disregarded his testimony. This should prove to you that the investigation is professional and not easily lead.

    Posted by TOGuy | January 15, 2011, 5:01 pm
  103. See the main page. I have a commentary on the Jadeed video up. Eager to hear what you guys think. Yalla.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 15, 2011, 5:23 pm

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