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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

11.27.2006

The Syrian Coup in Lebanon

Hmm, that's funny---you won't hear the LWM call it that for some reason, but that's just what it is:

For weeks Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah had been threatening to topple the pro-West anti-Syria Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Syrian President Bashar Assad was also been gunning for the fall of Siniora. In a now infamous August 15 speech, Assad predicted that Siniora’s fall was “looming.”

Then, when six pro-Syrian cabinet ministers resigned from the government last week, the Hezbollah-led bloc constitutionally needed only three more cabinet ministers to resign — or die — for the government to fall. For Hezbollah and Syria, Gemayel’s death put the magic number at two.

The context of Gemayel’s murder, of course, is the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005. Shortly after Hariri’s death, the United Nations Security Council launched a comprehensive investigation in the killing. As the investigation progressed — and preliminary findings emerged — the Assad regime became increasingly concerned that it would be formally implicated in the crime.

Compounding Assad’s problems, in December 2005, Lebanon started to discuss the establishment of an international tribunal to try those responsible for the Hariri murder. When the topic was broached in the cabinet, Hezbollah and Amal ministers went on strike in protest, returning only several months later. Nevertheless, work on the tribunal went forward, and the Lebanese justice ministry entered into negotiations with the U.N. to formalize an arrangement on the tribunal.

Quick progress by the Siniora government in moving the tribunal forward apparently set off alarm bells in Damascus. After all, if high-ranking officials in the Assad regime were indicted and/or convicted, it potentially could shake the very foundations of the regime.

In mid-November, when the draft of the tribunal agreement was returned to the Lebanese cabinet for a vote, Hezbollah cried foul. The Shiite militia’s protest focused not about the tribunal, but rather, on its allocation of seats in the cabinet. Nasrallah demanded that three more cabinet seats be apportioned to (presumably Hezbollah) Shiites, giving the pro-Syrians 8 of 24 cabinet seats and an effective veto of all government initiatives — including the international court.

If it did not receive what is known as the “blocking third,” Nasrallah said, the Shiites would resign from the cabinet and Hezbollah would go to the streets to topple the Siniora government. Initially, it had been expected that Hezbollah would organize mass demonstrations on November 22. In the aftermath of the Gemayel assassination, however, Hezbollah rallies were pushed back.


Of course, there'd be peace in Lebanon if it weren't for those darned warmongering Israelis, right Jimmy B.?

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