Day By Day

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lebanon On the Line

Things are getting very complex and very dangerous in Lebanon. The term of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud has ended and what will follow is still very undecided. For a while things were very tense. For several weeks pro-Iranian Hizbullah leaders had been calling on Lahoud to launch an anti-western Jihad [here] and for a while on Friday it seemed he was about to. Lahoud declared a "state of emergency" and ordered the Lebanese Army into the streets to "keep order" [here]. This move was denounced as unconstitutional by the pro-Western Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora [here]. It seemed a pro-Syrian coup was imminent.

But then at midnight, Friday Lahoud backed down and left the presidential palace. This left a problem since elections to choose his successor had been postponed several times. Siniora and his cabinet have formed a caretaker government until Parliament can choose a new president, but this interim government has been declared illegitimate by the Hizbullah.

Pro-western crowds took to the street to celebrate Lahoud's departure, but the situation remains very unsettled. Hizbullah has announced that it will oppose any effort on the part of the caretaker government to take any actions and demands a voice in the choosing of a new President. Negotiations are going on between the pro-Western majority and Hizbullah, but so far they have been inconclusive and the jihadis are threatening violence if they break down.

Read the NYT account here.

Both the Bush administration and that of President Sarkozy are actively involved in this crisis, trying to supervise a peaceful transition to a pro-Western regime. The MSM is currently focused on the Annapolis meeting and the Israel/Palestine problem, but I suspect that the actual delegates to the meeting are far more concerned about what goes on in Beirut than Gaza and the West Bank.

Lest you become too stressed worrying about the threat of more jihadi violence in Lebanon, I've posted a picture of Haifa Wehbe, the Lebanese superstar singer/model. Much more pleasant to contemplate, don't you think, and a reminder that Lebanon is in many ways very Western. Here's a sample of her work, an interesting blend of Arabic and Western styles: