Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and parliament speaker Nabih Berri issued a statement Friday reiterating Hezbollah's demand for representation by it and its allies in the government that would give it effective veto power.Syria and Iran are helping Hizbullah rearm, despite the fact that UN SCR 1701 requires Hizbullah to be disarmed. Where's the world's outrage over this? Never mind, this is the UN we're talking about. James Joyner thinks that the UN peacekeepers are powerless to do anything about this. He's on to something, but it has more to do with the rules of engagement than anything else. The UN can and should change the rules of engagement to forcibly disarm Hizbullah and put a stop to the cross border shipments, but those steps would put those UNIFIL peacekeepers into harm's way against a force that is not only dug in, but highly motivated and determined to keep its weapons. The problem is that the member nations that have contributed peacekeepers to the Lebanon operation would not permit any changes that might put their forces into harm's way by demanding action. So, UNIFIL sits back and watches as Hizbullah rearms right under the nose of UNIFIL operations. Instead, UNIFIL members make threats against Israel - threatening to shoot down Israeli jets keeping track of Hizbullah's movements.
To obtain their goal, they vowed to use "all democratic and legal means," a reference to peaceful demonstrations.
The resignation earlier this month of six pro-Hezbollah ministers and the assassination of a Christian Cabinet minister last week have fueled political tensions in Lebanon.
Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Saturday he would be willing to postpone "for a few days" the Cabinet meeting to approve the tribunal if the six ministers would return to the government.
If the Cabinet approves the tribunal, as it is expected to do, that is expected to spark a new round of disagreements. Before the United Nations pushes ahead with setting it up, the Lebanese president must approve the document and then parliament must ratify it.
But Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud, who is closely allied to Syria, has expressed reservations on the draft document setting up the tribunal to try the suspects in the February 2005 assassination of Hariri.
Lahoud has described the government's approval of that document earlier this month as "unconstitutional." The anti-Syrian parliamentary majority in Lebanon has accused the president of seeking to block the tribunal, a charge he denies.
Further complicating matters, Syria suggested Friday it may not cooperate with the planned tribunal because Damascus was not consulted on the plan, according to a letter it sent to Secretary-General Kofi Annan and circulated Friday at the U.N. Security Council.
Hot Air wonders just how much digging Time did to come up with the 'scoop' that Hizbullah was being rearmed by Syria and Iran across the Lebanon-Syria border. Not much, since that's how Hizbullah has been armed since its inception. The difference now is that UN SCR 1701, 1559, 425, and 426 all call for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon, including Hizbullah. The rearmament flies directly in the face of the carefully crafted piece of paper that promised peace in our time. All the UN resolutions have done is delay the inevitable. Hizbullah is promising war, and they're going to get one - much to the detriment of the Lebanese people.
FFDB notes that Hizbullah has a timeframe on which to take down the Lebanese government by hook and crook. One month. The political assassinations speed up the process since if one more member of the cabinet resigns or is somehow eliminated from the equation, the government is no longer constitutional. Hizbullah would get its way, and mayhem and chaos would erupt as Hizbullah is the faction with the most weapons.
Blue Crab Boulevard takes exception to the Washington Post's David Ignatius who throws his hands up on the situation in the Middle East and the use of violence. Spreading democracy is still the best way of dealing with the violence, and supporting nascent democratic states is the best way to give those countries a chance at stability and modernity. That means helping Lebanon and Iraq, not walking away.
The US must do much more to come to the aid of the anti-Syrian forces in Lebanon. This means taking sides, and while the Arabists and the so-called realists in and out of the Administration might balk at this idea, it provides the best option for the US. Democracy and individual rights are the core of the US experiment. It's proven to be quite successful thus far here within the United States despite our own pitfalls and infighting. Lebanon and Iraq need our assistance in these troubling times because they offer an alternative to the thugocracies and theocracies that dominate the region and harbor Islamic terrorists that threaten the West.
The so-called realists would be wise to observe that the countries responsible for the situation in Lebanon - Iran and Syria, are behind the empty seats in the Lebanese cabinet that have resulted in the Lebanese polity coming dangerously close to the precipice. Syria and Iran have goals that oppose not only our goals for the region, but those of Iraq and Lebanon. A free Lebanon and Iraq would make life incredibly difficult for the totalitarian regimes in both Syria and Iran. That cannot stand, so both Iran and Syria are engaging in state-sponsored terrorism in both Lebanon and Iraq to foment crisis in both that the terror-states can exploit.
Michael Totten finds the NYT reporting and analysis of the situation in Lebanon to be infantile at best. I'd concur. The analysis is sorely lacking and approaches the ignorance seen among the so-called realists.
Shunning Hizbullah isn't what is needed. Hizbullah is a state-sponsored terrorist group that is determined to destroy Israel and has repeatedly attacked US interests. It is a terrorist group at odds with the US. The group doesn't need to be shunned. It needs to be shut down - for the good of the Lebanese, the Israelis, and anyone with a pulse not connected to the regimes in Damascus, Tehran, or aligned with the Islamists.
Lebanese bloggers think we're getting close to the precipice. His impression is that the mass demonstrations after Gemayel's funeral as a wave - and just as temporary in nature. He also thinks that all the sides in the political infighting are absolute in their positions and unwilling to compromise. Where I disagree with him is that there are some positions that are inherently good and those that are inherently evil. Hizbullah and Syria are inherently evil - they want to subjugate the Lebanese people, do not respect the religious and social views of all other religious groups, and seek to use Lebanon as a staging ground for the next conflict. March 14 does not want that to happen, and sees the Syrians and Hizbullah as the mortal threat. The Western countries may be more than willing to throw March 14 and the anti-Syrians under the bus in the name of 'peace in our time' and that cannot be allowed to happen.
Others blogging the crisis: Blue Crab Boulevard, Wake Up America, Rick Moran, The Belmont Club, Hyscience, and Right Truth.
Lebanon has approved the tribunal to determine who killed Rafik Hariri.
The approval, though widely expected, was bound to deepen the country's political crisis and spark mass street demonstrations threatened by Hizbullah and its allies to topple the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.UPDATE:
Hizbullah head, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah , along with the chairman of the Lebanese parliament and head of the Amal movement, Nabih Beri, issued a joint statement Friday saying that they back the formation of the court, but stressing they were standing firm by their ministers' decision to resign the government.
Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora said in response that he was willing to postpone the government session on the tribunal, if there was still a chance that the ministers withdraw their resignations. In light of their refusal to do so, the meeting took place as planned.
About two weeks ago, six ministers associated with Hizbullah, Amal, and President Emile Lahoud resigned from the government. The official cause for the resignation was their demand to set up a unity government in which Shiites constitute a third of the ministers.
However, the anti-Syrians camp in Lebanon claimed that the actual reason for the resignation was Nasrallah's objection to the establishment of the international tribunal.
Posted to Basil's Blog, Jo's Cafe, bRight and Early, and Stop the ACLU.
Allah notes that the Lebanese cabinet flipped Assad the bird. Rick Moran has more about the possible next steps - and how the situation is now in Hizbullah's court. Small Town Veteran also comments.
Technorati: assassination, lebanon, gemayel, syria, hizbullah.