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Lebanon: Violence, Paris 3 and Cluster Bombs

The past week was a violent week for Lebanon. Fighting broke out around one of the universities in Beirut between pro and anti government students. This was two days after a general strike, accompanied by riots, that was staged by the opposition. On the same day of the strike, the government, represented by the prime minister and other ministers, was taking part in an international conference to aid Lebanon in Paris (Paris 3 Conference). As a result there were many posts discussing these topics in the Lebanese Blogosphere. Most of which can not be mentioned here because of lack of space and time. I have chosen a representative sample, especially those that have not been mentioned before in a summary. In addition to the topics mentioned, there are posts on the issue of the Israeli cluster bombs leftovers from last year's July war that are still causing casualties.

Posts about the violence:

The Arabist summarizes a lecture/analysis about the situation and the fears that the violence may escalate into a civil war:

Khoury and Traboulsi said that it is not in Hezbullah’s interest to start a civil war, and that Hezbullah knows this; but the movement it started–which has been using the exact same methods as last year’s “cedar revolution” to topple the government–has now painted itself into a corner, and Hezbullah’s allies (Syria and the party of Christian General Michel Aoun) may be pushing for a war because they have virtually nothing to lose from it.

Dmitri Marine writes on the Blogger News Network about the same topic and does not see an imminent violent escalation of the situation:

There is a significant segment of the Lebanese population that dislikes the way the current government is handling the country. And instead of doing things un-democratically, through terror, the disenchanted are taking peaceful means to voice their concerns and demands. No one can doubt that Hezbollah, a key player in the protests, is capable of acts of terror (and ones of magnitude). After all, it was Hezbollah that seriously challenged the reputation of the IDF this summer. However, Hezbollah has not been violent.

Badger at Arab Links translates (from Arabic) an editorial from a local newspaper that explains why the events in Lebanon last week were an early implementation of the new strategy that Secretary Rice seems to be implementing in the Middle East.

Joseph Samaha comments on where Lebanon fits in Condoleeza Rice's new “realignment” strategy, outlined in a WaPo column by David Ignatius yesterday. There are the “moderates” on one side and the extremists on the other, but in the middle are the Iraqis, Palestinians and Lebanese, democracies that need to be helped and supported by the (non-democratic) “moderates” to resist the “extremists”, but these target administrations are also required to take aggressive actions themselves in order to earn this support.

Body on the Line writes about her daily experiences during these crisis while Nostalgic Story Teller writes a lengthy sarcastic post (Ar) about the events.

Abu Kais expresses his pain upon seeing the volatility of the situation in Lebanon but explains his attachment to his country:

Political commentaries feel useless now. As far as I am concerned, the country is living a low intensity war. Some might look at this as a necessary evil, a balance of terror to redress matters. Others will view it as a catastrophe, a regional war played out on Lebanese soil. Whatever it is, the pain is too deep, and much is at stake for many of us with attachments to that country. Lebanon may be the graveyard of our hopes and ambitions, but for all its faults, it's where our dreams take us at night. No one likes to see the kingdom of their dreams destroyed.

Does the situation in Iraq have anything to do with what is happening in Lebanon? Liminal seems to think so:

What did everybody expect when the Iraq war was instigated? For the conflict to just stay within its borders? While the Lebanese situation is a long-time in the making, nobody can tell me that the sectarian strife in Iraq has not spread to Lebanon. Iraq became the new Lebanon of the 70s on the grandest scale, while the new Lebanon is preparing to become the old Lebanon again.

Charles Malik warns of the uncontrollable situation especially when it comes to sectarian anger which no one has power over.

Posts about Paris 3:

Sophia sees and discusses the economic dimension of the political crisis:

It is plainly obvious that lending to the Sanyura government is foreign political interference disguised under the banner of economic reforms and aid. Because, in the present climate of political instability in Lebanon, no reasonable investor would lend money to such an embattled government if it wasn't for political gain. The end result will be to take the country and its inhabitants as hostages to foreign investors, later justifying a more active military foreign interference to support the already embattled government.

Abu Ali at Ms Levantine discusses the economic implication of the international aid conference for Lebanon:

I don’t like the Paris-3 manifesto because, among other major flaws, it is not pro-poor. It does not try to address the causes of poverty, but only to mitigate some of its ill effects, and very inadequately so. It tries to give itself a social conscience by using fashionable terminology such as “social safety nets” but it avoids details about the means of implementation, which would undermine its other reforms. The plan does not depart from the banking, commissions and tourism-of-a-special-kind creed, which heralds another tragic cycle of deruralization, impoverishment, migration and immigration. And, while there are some lonely voices pointing at these obvious flaws, no one is offering any convincing alternative. … For the poor of Lebanon, this may prove to be the real tragedy.

Posts about Cluster Bombs:

Richard Silverstein writes in Tikun Olam about the issue of the cluster bombs that were used by the IDF last summer during the bombing of Lebanon and which are still causing casualties till this day:

Those of you who remember my coverage of the Lebanon war will remember the stories about the IDF's virtual carpet bombing of southern Lebanon with cluster bombs. I called them the “gift that keeps on giving” because of the numerous civilian casualties caused during and after the war by the duds which never exploded on impact. The Times reports that 30 Lebanese have died, mostly children, and 180 have been injured since the war ended. Last summer, Israeli journalists and analysts speculated that such offensive use in civilian areas violated a U.S. agreement Israel pledged to adhere to banning their use in such circumstances.
Well, quel surprise! The U.S. is just now, six months after the fact, getting around to saying: “Well, heck it looks like the IDF kinda did a bad thing there maybe:”

Tears for Lebanon also has a post on the issue of the cluster bombs.

That’s all for this week, see you next week.

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