Lebanon is in a state of turmoil. Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite-Muslim guerrilla terrorist organization, is threatening to take over the country if the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicts its members in the murder of Rafik Hariri and demands their arrest. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (Rafik Hariri’s son) “walked” earlier this year in submission to the proverbial Canossa to bow before “Pope” Bashar Assad and asked “forgiveness” for his indirect accusations against the Assad regime, suggesting that it was responsible murdering his father. It now seems that Saad Hariri might swallow the bitter pill of truth about the murderers of his father by avoiding a confrontation with Hezbollah and “re-inviting” Syria back to Lebanon.
The confessional system in Lebanon, whereby a Christian holds the presidency, a Sunni-Muslim the prime-minister’s office, a Shiite-Muslim the speaker of parliament office, a Maronite-Christian the commander of the army post, and a Druze the army chief of staff position, is under siege.
The civil war in Lebanon has reduced the Christian majority in the country, as hundreds of thousands of Christians left the country and joined the large Lebanese-Christian Diaspora in the West.
The Sunni-Muslims led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri are seeking ways in which to enfranchise some of the 400,000 Sunni-Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to gain greater power in the country. The Shiite-Lebanese, in the meantime, have grown to become the largest confessional group in Lebanon, and are demanding the reshuffling of the National Pact of 1943.
Demographic changes alone, however, do not explain the turmoil in the Land of the Cedars. Neighboring Syria has reasserted its influence on Lebanon from whence it was ejected following massive demonstrations and international pressure in the aftermath of the assassination of Hariri. Iran, which supports Syria both militarily and financially, is also the singular force training, arming, and funding Hezbollah, and has become the major foreign power asserting its influence.
The perceived weakness of the Obama administration for having chosen to appease Iran and Syria rather than counter their growing influence over Lebanon, has undermined the emerging Lebanese democracy and the Cedar Revolution in particular. It has enabled Hezbollah to become the strongest military force in Lebanon, capable of intimidating the government and superseding the strength of the Lebanese army.
Revealed diplomatic dispatches via WikiLeaks support the assertion that the Obama administration’s pandering to Syria was an unrealistic fantasy. Obama sought to engage Syria and reactivate the Syrian peace track in order to distance Damascus from Tehran, and he did so against the advice from regional allies such as the Emirates Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed, who cautioned the Obama administration against wasting time on trying to pry Syria away from Iran.
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