The last ten years have witnessed some of the strangest contortions in Middle Eastern political history. Tracking the maneuvers and realignments of Lebanese, Syrian, Qatari, Turkish, Palestinian, Saudi, and Israeli leaders as they navigated the shoals of SALSRA, the STL, the Doha Accord, the July War, the Iraq War, the Turkish flotilla incident, Operation Cast Lead, the 2008 global recession, and the Arab uprisings is a case study in the fickleness of regional relations.
In 2004, Michel Aoun was convincing American lawmakers to disarm Hizbullah and kick Syria out of Lebanon along with its political ally, Rafiq al-Hariri. In 2006, Aoun allied his party with Syria and Hizbullah, while Hariri’s son took up the mantle of anti-Resistance resistance. In January 2011, Turkey and Qatar were cozying up to Bashar al-Assad as Europe welcomed him back into the embrace of the international community. Today, Turkey and Qatar are helping to coordinate and fund the rebellion against him while Europe considers other military options.
SAADNAYEL, Lebanon: Some 1,500 packages of food aid donated by Hezbollah were burned by Palestinian refugees from Syria and local residents in the Bekaa Wednesday, the second such incident in a week. Omar Halabi, the head of the Saadnayel Youth League, told The Daily Star that a truck with boxes of aid was unloaded in the morning at the offices of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Halabi said when the aid was distributed, the refugees noticed the labels attached to each package explaining that the aid was a gift from the “Islamic Resistance in Lebanon to our brethren, the displaced Palestinians from Syria.”
“When the refugees realized that the aid was from the same party which is killing their people in Qusair and in other places, they, with dozens of locals, took the boxes from the Palestinian Cultural Center and burned them,” Halabi said.
Cynics will say that the refugees were paid off by Saudi Arabia to burn the Hizbullah aid packages, while a reporter from the Hariri-owned Daily Star took notes and snapped pictures. Maybe so. On the other hand, this scene would have been unimaginable a year ago.
JERUSALEM — Rebels fighting the Syrian government seized the only border crossing along the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan Heights on Thursday, according to the Israeli military and rebel groups, forcing the United Nations peacekeeping soldiers who patrol the crossing to vacate it and bringing the Syrian conflict ever closer to Israeli-held territory…
Amnon Sofrin, a retired Israeli brigadier-general who now lectures at Israel’s National Defense College, told reporters in a telephone briefing that the rebels were sending a message to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that they were prepared to attack the government’s symbols after Syrian government forces and their Hezbollah allies from Lebanon pushed the rebels out of their symbolic stronghold of Qusayr this week.
Mr. Sofrin said that if the United Nations peacekeeping force withdrew, the buffer zone on the Golan Heights would become “a no-man’s land” where Israel might have to face the rebels more directly.
So let’s get this straight. On the same day that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon burn aid packages donated by Hizbullah, Israel mulls military options to deal with Hizbullah’s opponents in Syria.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s news, which will feature Kurds rallying in support of Erdogan, Al-Qaida thanking America for its military largesse, and Israel providing air cover for Hizbullah’s attack on Jabhat al-Nusra positions near the Golan border.