Context of the Lebanese Crisis

[Taking a stroll in downtown Beirut]

American media never pro-actively follow political developments in places like Lebanon, nor sufficiently explain the deeper issues even when crises breaks out. That is why Americans are left scratching their heads when violence erupts so suddenly and unexpectedly. And that is why I turn to British media. No gasket ever blows without simmering pressure, and there’s been a lot of that in Lebanon. For a very in-depth explanation of the situation in Lebanon, The Economist has a great article. Also see Patrick Seale’s quite informative piece, Lebanon Steps Back from the Brink of War.

Probably the most significant lasting fallout from the previous week’s events surrounds Hizbullah crossing the Rubicon by using its arms for internal Lebanese political machinations, which the militant group had previously vowed never to do. That, and the pro-Western Lebanese government may fall. The argument that their weapons are reserved only for use against Israel is now totally undermined. Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah demonstrated in both words and actions last week that, “We no longer have red lines.”

Writing for the Daily Star, Rami Khouri believes the reconciliation talks going in Doha may lead to short term or even long term peace and quiet in Lebanon, but not before a new power sharing formula is devised, or before the country goes through some major soul searching about its place among the regional and global power rivalries.

It’s often said that Middle Easterners have long memories (there are people in my field who would call that an Orientalist cliche but I believe it’s true). So do Lebanese who remember the civil war years (1975-1990) really want to go down that road again? Did they forget it wasn’t pleasant? Ask Robert Fisk for his opinion on that


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