A Solution in Doha?

In the spirit of cooperation and problem-solving, two bitter enemies from diametrically opposed camps have come together on Syria Comment to work out a joint agreement for the Lebanese political quagmire, in the hopes of demonstrating to Lebanon’s warring leaders that consensus and compromise are possible, even in the most adversarial of relationships. Therefore, and without further ado, Syria Comment presents…

The Qifa Nabki-Alex Accord

1. The cabinet alignment should adhere to the latest Qatari proposal: sixteen seats for March 14, eleven seats for March 8, and three seats for the president's ministers. Under such an arrangement, the opposition would have a minority veto, which it could use to block unpleasant legislation until next June 2009, when a new government is formed.

2. There should be a public commitment to one specific electoral law: either the draft law devised by the Boutros Commission, or the 1960 law with specific amendments agreed upon by both sides.

3. The immediate election of Suleiman as president.

As Syria Comment went to press, the two sides in Qatar were nearing a deal of this type, with no signs of an immediate breakthrough, however. The challenges that loom over this agreement are large, foremost among them the complete lack of trust between the Lebanese primaries, and the amount of foreign pressure being applied.

It is the belief of these two commentators that the most important outcome of these talks would be a caretaker government that blocks the road to further sectarian fighting in the streets, re-opens the downtown district, and allows the Lebanese people a chance to recover before the mudslinging recommences early next year, in advance of an historic election.

Comments (88)


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51. norman said:

By Nadim Ladki in Doha
May 21, 2008 09:30am
RIVAL Lebanese leaders have reached a deal to end 18 months of political conflict that had pushed their country to the brink of a new civil war.

Delegates from the US-backed ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition said disputes over a parliamentary election law and a new cabinet had been settled on the sixth day of Arab-mediated talks in Qatar.

“The deal is done. The text has been written,” an opposition delegate said.

A ruling coalition delegate also confirmed the deal, which will meet the opposition’s long-standing demand for veto power in cabinet.

Hezbollah, a group backed by Iran and Syria, increased pressure on the ruling alliance this month by routing its followers in a military campaign. The Qatari-led negotiations built on mediation that ended violence which killed 81.

It was Lebanon’s worst civil conflict since the 1975-1990 war and exacerbated tensions between Shi’ites loyal to Hezbollah and Druze and Sunni followers of the ruling coalition.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani joined the Doha talks shortly before midnight after returning from Saudi Arabia – one of the main foreign backers of the ruling coalition.

A deal paves the way for parliament to elect army chief General Michel Suleiman as president, a post that has been vacant since November because of the political deadlock.

The vote in parliament could take place as soon as tomorrow, delegates said.

The anti-Damascus ruling coalition had long refused to meet the opposition’s demand for cabinet veto power, saying the opposition was trying to restore Syrian control of Lebanon.

Syria, a close ally of Iran, was forced to withdraw troops from Lebanon in 2005 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

The US has held up the withdrawal as a foreign policy success story.

But Hezbollah’s military campaign this month was a major blow to US policy in Lebanon and forced Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government to rescind two measures targeting the Iranian-backed group.

The deal will include a pledge by both sides not to use violence in political disputes, echoing a paragraph in the agreement that ended the fighting.

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May 21st, 2008, 1:44 am

 

52. Alex said:

Qif Nabki,

If we see white smoke tomorrow, it will be the first real good news from the Middle East in years for all of us, Syria Comment addicts.

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May 21st, 2008, 2:20 am

 

53. majedkhaldoun said:

“The deal will include a pledge by both sides not to use violence in political disputes, echoing a paragraph in the agreement that ended the fighting”

very vague statement, it should read, no violence among lebanese,period.

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May 21st, 2008, 3:32 am

 

54. Enlightened said:

There will be an Official Announcement at 10am GMT time:

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May 21st, 2008, 3:50 am

 

55. why-discuss said:

The song they have on Al Manar TV : “Thank you QATAR” is more appropriate than ever..

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May 21st, 2008, 4:10 am

 

56. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

This is indeed good news. There will be quiet until the elections, whenever they happen. It looks though like Aoun has been really screwed. It will be interesting to see what he does.

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May 21st, 2008, 4:12 am

 

57. Shai said:

Indeed it will be good news. Perhaps Israel and Hamas should adopt a similar agreement… Or at least Fatah and Hamas.

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May 21st, 2008, 4:30 am

 

58. Enlightened said:

Good news indeed, maybe AIG and Shai you can come over and do the Dabke and celebrate with us?

Anyway I dont think the problem of the weapons will be solved, here is a copy of Times front page in Europe this week:

http://theinnercircle.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/time-cover.jpg?w=467&h=625

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May 21st, 2008, 4:35 am

 

59. Naji said:

QN,
What did I tell you…!! You heard it here first, and you owe me that beer on the corniche…!! 😉

(PS. It did not happen the way you think with thr general… History will record that he played the most constructive role of all…!)

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May 21st, 2008, 4:51 am

 

60. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Enlightened,
Any deal that agrees on democratic rules and has pledges not to use force is a good deal. As for the weapons, they are really a Lebanese problem. Hizballah will never use them against Israel again, even if Iran is attacked. The price of using them against Israel is just too high for the Shia community and for Lebanon.

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May 21st, 2008, 4:53 am

 

61. Shai said:

Enlightened,

If invited, I will do the Dabke, the Falafel, AND the Arak, all at once. Nothing would give me greater pleasure and honor than to celebrate the peaceful end to any conflict in our region. Incidentally, I may be found to be quite popular with the opposition, given that “Shai” is awfully close to “Shia”…

I already exhausted that “joke” with Zenobia before, but thought of bringing it up once more, in light of the situation… (poor humor runs in my family, sorry…)

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May 21st, 2008, 4:59 am

 

62. Naji said:

I was the only one here who was optimistic about all this for the past couple of weeks. Now, it is my turn to inject a bit of reality into all this euphoria…!
الخجل والحسرة

خالد صاغيّة
http://www.al-akhbar.com/ar/node/74433
بعد كلّ ما جرى، ها نحن أمام حوار في الدوحة، لا يستدعي جدول أعماله وطريقة تناول بنوده إلا الخجل والحسرة. الخجل من أنفسنا، والحسرة على أنفسنا أيضاً. فلنبدأ من بند رئاسة الجمهوريّة: حتّى كتابة هذه السطور، لم يرتفع صوت واحد في الدوحة يعترض علناً وصراحةً على انتخاب العماد ميشال سليمان رئيساً للجمهوريّة. ممثّلو الشعب اللبناني متوافقون على انتخاب رئيس لا نعرف شيئاً عن برنامجه. لا فكرة لنا عمّا سيطرحه للمساهمة في معالجة الأزمة الاقتصاديّة والاجتماعيّة. لا فكرة لنا عن تصوّره لبناء الدولة. لا فكرة لنا عن قدراته التفاوضيّة التي ستؤهّله لأداء دور الحَكم بين اللبنانيّين. لا فكرة لنا عن قدراته في قراءة التطوّرات الإقليميّة والدوليّة، لمحاولة تجنيب لبنان نيران المنطقة المشتعلة. كلّ ما نعرف عنه هو وقوفه على الحياد، اضطراريّاً، منذ ارتفاع حدّة الاستقطاب السياسي والشعبي في البلاد. نعرف أيضاً أنّ قيادة الجيوش ليست مدرسةً في الدبلوماسيّة والتحكيم السياسي. ونعرف أخيراً هول ما جرى في نهر البارد.
رغم ذلك كلّه، المتحاورون في الدوحة لا يكفّون عن إقناعنا بأهميّة انتخاب العماد سليمان رئيساً توافقيّاً.
أمّا في بند الحكومة، فما نعرفه هو أنّ قتال المعارضة المستشرس للحصول على الثلث الضامن أو المعطّل إنّما يحمل عنوانين لا ثالث لهما: المشاركة والمقاومة. وهما عنوانان يُراد لهما إنهاء تهميش التمثيل المسيحي في الحكم منذ اتّفاق الطائف، منع التهميش الشيعي، وامتلاك حق الفيتو ضدّ أيّ قرار يستهدف سلاح المقاومة وحريّة عملها. هذه النقاط، على أهميّتها، لا توحي بوجود اختلافات في طريقة الحكم بين الفريقين، أقلّه في ما يخصّ مسألتين باتتا تهدّدان الحياة اليوميّة للمواطن.
أوّلاً، المسألة الاقتصاديّة: للتذكير فقط. عرف لبنان في الفترة الأخيرة ارتفاعاً هائلاً في أسعار السلع، وخصوصاً المواد الغذائية. لا مؤتمر الدوحة ولا استعراض المعارضة العسكري أدّى إلى خفض الأسعار. نعرف تماماً قصور السلطة وتقصيرها في هذا المجال، ونعرف انحيازها الطبقي. لكنّنا نعرف أيضاً مساهمة المعارضة في مزيد من التهميش للعمل النقابي، ونعرف أنّ رؤيتها الاقتصاديّة ليست بالضرورة مناقضة لرؤية السلطة، ونعرف أنّ المسألة المعيشيّة هي في آخر سلّم أولويّاتها. يكفي النظر إلى ما آل إليه الإضراب العمّالي الأخير، حين «ذهب بين الأرجل». رصدت السلطة له قنّاصين وزّعتهم ميليشياتها على أسطح المباني، واتّخذت منه المعارضة ذريعةً لشنّ حملتها العسكريّة.
ثانياً، المسألة الطائفيّة: ليست المسألة المطروحة الآن تجاوز النظام الطائفي. لكنّ ما يجب أن يُطرَح بشدّة هو التخفيف من حدّة التوتّرات الطائفيّة في الشارع. ليس هذا على جدول الأعمال. على عكس ذلك، تجري الاستعدادات لمزيد من الحقن، إذ باتت قوّة كلّ فريق تقاس بمدى الحقد الذي يتمكّن من تعبئة جماعته به. يكفي إلقاء نظرة على وسائل الإعلام المملوكة من جانب الأطراف المتنازعة. أهذا هو الخطاب الذي يحكم ما يسمّى زوراً بـ«الحوار»؟
لكنّ عشّاق السعار الطائفي عليهم التركيز على البند الثالث من جدول الأعمال، أي قانون الانتخاب. هنا المهزلة الحقيقيّة. ليست الاقتراحات المقدّمة هي المهمّة، بقدر منطلقات هذه الاقتراحات. لقد بات تقسيم الدوائر من دون مبادئ أو ضوابط إلا مصلحة التيّارات السائدة، أمراً طبيعيّاً. واحتلّت مسألة النسبيّة هامش الهامش. فالحلم بالمحدلات وبتسكير المناطق وإلغاء الآخر وإخماد صوته بأي وسيلة، هو السائد. مصلحة الفئات السياسية الصغرى، إبقاء ولو هامشاً للصراعات غير الطائفية، الأخذ بعين الاعتبار مصلحة الوطن الجامع لدى النظر بمصلحة الطوائف… هذه كلّها مسائل لا مكان لها في الدوحة، لا على جدول الرعاة العرب ولا على جدول الفرقاء اللبنانيين.
إنّه حوار لا يستدعي إلا الخجل والحسرة. الخجل من أنفسنا، والحسرة على أنفسنا أيضاً.

عدد الاربعاء ٢١ أيار ٢٠٠٨

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May 21st, 2008, 5:04 am

 

63. Enlightened said:

AIG:

We will see how the election pans out in a years time, but it is a good start, a true election with no one ineterfering! Lets hope that in the future they take down the sectarian system, one man one vote.

I hope this has a little tsunami effect across the region! Especially that Pesky neighbour next door!

Anyway Photos of Demonstrators at Beirut Airport holding up signs
“If you cant agree Dont come Back!”

http://www.nowlebanon.com/Library/Images/MainPagePictures/airport-demon2.jpg

Shai:

I Know! I am in agreement maybe you can teach me the Jewish version of the dabke!

Ps what is Avram Grants chances tomorrow morning?

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May 21st, 2008, 5:17 am

 

64. Enlightened said:

Breaking News:

Ambassador Hisham Youssef, director of the office of the Arab League secretary general, told AFP that the statement announcing the agreement will deal with the issue of weapons according to the Beirut Agreement. This declaration will be the first step toward dialogue over this matter and will be continued later with the president in Beirut.
07:20 MP Ali Hassan Khalil to AFP: An agreement has been reached between the majority and the opposition. It is expected that the presidential session to elect Army Commander General Michel Sleiman as president will be held on Thursday or Friday.

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May 21st, 2008, 5:28 am

 

65. Majhool said:

Heading toward a Lebanese divorce
Heading toward a Lebanese divorce
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, May 08, 2008

Once we accept that this week’s alleged labor unrest was only the latest phase in Hizbullah’s war against the Lebanese state, will we understand what actually took place yesterday. And once we realize that cutting the airport road was a calculated effort by Hizbullah to reverse the Siniora government’s transfer of the airport security chief, Wafiq Shouqair, will we understand what may take place in the coming days.

Since last January, when Hizbullah and Amal used the pretense of social dissatisfaction to obstruct roads in and around Beirut, the opposition has, quite openly, shown itself to be limited to Hizbullah. Michel Aoun, once a useful fig leaf to lend cross-communal diversity to the opposition, has since become an afterthought with hardly any pull in Christian streets.

Long ago we learned that Hizbullah could not, in any real sense, allow the emergence of a Lebanese state free from Syrian control. Soon after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the party tried to suffocate the 2005 “independence intifada” in the egg, realizing that Hizbullah had no future as an autonomous armed group in a state that would seek to reimpose its writ after decades of subservience to Damascus. That effort failed on March 14, 2005 – mostly useful as an event in showing that a majority of people would not be intimidated by Hizbullah’s rally of March 8.

Hizbullah’s anxieties were understandable. As the party saw things, without a Lebanese state embracing the idea of open-ended conflict against Israel, and Hizbullah’s sovereign, vanguard role in that conflict (and what state truly independent of Syria would ever want to choose so reckless a path?), Hizbullah would not be able to justify retaining its weapons. But without its weapons, Hizbullah could not exist. Post-Syria Lebanon has posed existential problems for the party, problems that began when Israel withdrew from most of South Lebanon in 2000. The irony of this situation – that Hizbullah was always most comfortable when both Syria and Israel were present in Lebanon – the latter to fight against, the former to safeguard that fight – says a lot about the party’s future options.

Aoun will doubtless find an excuse to explain why the calls for a strike were ignored in predominantly Christian areas. But Hizbullah has to be careful. Now the party’s every move is one of the Shiites against the rest. The sharp decline in Aoun’s popularity, not to mention the pressure being felt by other Hizbullah allies like Elie Skaff in Zahleh, all emanate from a single source: Most Christians, not to mention vast majorities of Sunnis and Druze, see no possible coexistence between the idea of the Lebanese state and a Hizbullah that insists on demanding veto power over any decision that might limit its political and military margin of maneuver.

The ludicrousness of Aoun’s latest statements on Monday only underlined this reality. You have to wonder what the general’s electorate felt when he defended Hizbullah’s activities in Kisirwan and Jbeil, which he represents in Parliament. There will always be those who follow Aoun into a brick wall, who will even follow him to Damascus to bestow his blessings on the Assad regime, a trip he should be encouraged to make if only to be kicked to the outer circles of political insignificance. But most Christians are smarter and can see that the general, after having seriously damaged his own Maronite community by refusing to elect a president, does not even rate much inside the opposition, whose errors Aoun continues to endorse to his detriment.

In picking a fight with Hizbullah over its cameras next to the airport, Walid Jumblatt did something different than what the public imagined. The reality is that Hizbullah doesn’t need cameras to know what is going on at the facility. Through its authority over the General Security directorate, the airport’s security unit, and sympathetic employees, Hizbullah has all the information it needs on air traffic. Rather, what Jumblatt did was provoke a confrontation and, to dig up the old Soviet jargon, heighten the contradictions between Lebanese society and Hizbullah. Now the party’s true intentions are out there for everyone to see. Hizbullah can no longer hide behind its “resistance,” a fictitious “national opposition” or imaginary social protests. It is confirming on a daily basis that its minimal goal is to keep alive a Hizbullah state within the state and to force most Lebanese to accept this, even as the party infiltrates the government bureaucracy and has free rein in the airport and ports.

Yet the message on Wednesday was plain. Outside areas under direct Hizbullah control, no one respected the call for a strike. The labor unions were not even able to march through mainly Sunni neighborhoods, for fear of street fights. The only real weapon Hizbullah has is to hold the airport hostage by closing all access roads. But all sides can close roads. How such action can possibly be in the interest of the Shiite community is beyond comprehension. Isolating the airport amounts to thuggery, underlining that Hizbullah now has few means other than to collectively punish all Lebanese to advance its exclusivist agenda. As the commentator Uqab Sakr put it: “Shutting down the airport is what the Israelis did in 2006; it’s not what Hizbullah should be doing today.”

The Lebanese state cannot live side by side with a Hizbullah state. This theorem is becoming more evident by the day, as the party’s actions in the past three years have been, by definition, directed against the state, the government, the army and the security forces, institutions of national representation, the economy, and more fundamentally the rules of the Lebanese communal game. We’ve reached the point where Hizbullah, and more importantly the Shiite community, must choose. Will it persist in favoring a Hizbullah-led parallel state that will surely continue to clash with the recognized state? Or will Shiites try to find a new arrangement with their countrymen that forces Hizbullah to surrender its weapons?

The turmoil will continue, and at this point has already taken on a regional coloring. Hizbullah will not easily swallow Shouqair’s transfer, and the closing of the airport road is its leverage to coerce the government into going back on the decision. But all this will only raise the prospect of escalating violence while focusing hostility against Hizbullah, benefiting no one. If the party wants its semi-independent entity, it is now obliged to state this plainly. The masks have fallen. And if Hizbullah does decide to reject Lebanon, then we shouldn’t be surprised if some start speaking of an amicable divorce between Shiites and the rest of Lebanon.

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May 21st, 2008, 5:53 am

 

66. Zenobia said:

sorry M,
but the marriage was saved.

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May 21st, 2008, 6:14 am

 

67. Enlightened said:

Zen:

I don’t mean to sound condescending, but the marriage is still in counselling! The marriage is still a bit turbulent, but give it time, I think M’s statement was heading for a divorce!

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May 21st, 2008, 6:17 am

 

68. Zenobia said:

indeed, the marriage is a deeply troubled one, and divorce is always possible in the future. however, clearly Michael Young was a bit hopeful for the divorce and i guess, wrong that it is imminent. He also thought that allll had been revealed, “the masks have fallen”… however, he wrote that days before even this recent storm was finished. I believe in fact there are many masks to keep falling over time… we haven’t seen anything yet… there are veils over veils…

anyhow, i don’t think there is ever going to be a divorce. the lebanese are stuck with each other. they actually need each other, alas.

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May 21st, 2008, 6:23 am

 

69. Shai said:

Enlightened,

I’ll teach you the Israeli “Hora” if you teach me the Dabke. Name the time and place, and I’ll be there. The arak’s on me, if the argileh’s on you…

As for Avram Grant, I can only say that he mentioned that if his team wins tonight, he’ll drink more than one Vodka…

Personally, Chelsie’s been my favorite team also before Grant took over…

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May 21st, 2008, 6:27 am

 

70. Alex said:

What marriage are you talking about?!

The real marriage is taking place ten years from now inshallah …after both sides fall in love again.

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May 21st, 2008, 6:33 am

 

71. Majhool said:

A divorce is imminent in Lebanon. It’s just a matter of time. The Doha agreement is just a temporary truce. A re-marriage similar to what Alex is suggesting is possible in few decades (once Syria is more “free”) but not in few years.

Almost all the Lebanese I met (Including Shia) seem very much attached to idea of Lebanon. They seem to prefer political instability in Lebanon over stagnation (political and civic) found in Syria.

I am very pleased to see that all false banners (on each side) have fallen allowing many to see clearly.

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May 21st, 2008, 6:51 am

 

72. ausamaa said:

Majhool,

When you have divorce in the Arab world, it starts with the Wife leaving to here mother’ house. In the case lo Lebanon where would the Wife (FEb 14) go? They dont have even a mother’s house to go to.

Hanibi, no divorce, wi elli darab darab, wi eli harab harab. WE wish the Lebanese a new and fresh Lebanon, wi 7ubal el Entikhabat el Niabya.

AS to WINNERS, the First Winner is Calm Arab Lebanon, the Second the Opposition, the Third Syria. The Losers? Do we need to name Names???!!! There are many. The same ones, you know!

Mabrook, wi minha lili akbar minha ya rab.

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May 21st, 2008, 7:09 am

 

73. Naji said:

Thanks to that senile crook, Sfeir, and his little corrupt gang of warlords and village chieftains, the main losers out of this “deal” are the “Christians” of Lebanon…! General Aoun managed to advance their cause a little, this round, but the agreement was at their expense… again…!! Sad… 🙁

The biggest winner is, perhaps, Syria…! Our Moa’llem just announced that Syria approves the agreement… That is worth a hell of a lot more these days than the dozens of ratifications that Bush bestowed on other arrangements that utterly failed…

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May 21st, 2008, 8:14 am

 

74. ausamaa said:

I have to say it: Siniora in his relatively long speach at the end if Doha conerence did not even have the sense of loyalty or the greatitude to extend a word of thanks to Saudi Arabia who has supported his scame for the long last years.

I do not think Lebanon ows Saudi politicians much, but for Siniora and the Feb 14 gang, they did a lot.Every one ignored Saudi and were rubbing it in Saud Al Faisal face, but the Siniora in particular should have at least made an effort. He could have thanked all the efforts of the “international supporters” and ” our brothers in Saudi Arabia who might not be amongest us today, but have done their utmost to help Labanon throughout .. blah, blah, blah…”

Sahih aleel asel..

But don’t we that already!

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May 21st, 2008, 8:55 am

 

75. ausamaa said:

Saad Al Harriri had just talked in Doha about the agreement having NO Gahlib and No Maghloub.

Whoever talks about Winner and No loser in the cuurent agreement should talk something to rescue him from the state of self-deception they live in.

I also advise Xanax for Junnblat, heavy doeses of Prozak for Ja’ja and some thing to counter the LCD Bush and his Arab Moderates have been on for a while.

And for me?! just some sleeping pills any Panadol, a glass of white wine maybe; that is befroe someone here reccomends something else for my case!

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May 21st, 2008, 9:15 am

 

76. MSK said:

Dear all,

Seems to be a good day for agreements:

Israel and Syria to launch indirect talks

Israel and Syria are set to begin peace negotiations brokered by Turkey, the prime minister’s bureau and the Syrian foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

“The two sides have begun indirect talks under Turkish auspices,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office said in a statement.

“The sides have declared their intention to conduct the talks without prejudice and with openness,” the statement said. “They have decided to conduct the dialogue in a serious and continuous manner with the aim of reaching a comprehensive peace.”

Olmert’s aides Yoram Turbovitz and Shalom Turjeman, have been in Ankara since Monday holding indirect talls with Syrian officials under Turkish mediation. According to the messages passed between the two sides, Syria is ready to begin peace talks.

The foreign ministry in Damascus confirmed the report, shortly after it was released in Israel, Turkey and Syria.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/985721.html

Even more interesting is this:

Israeli, Syrian representatives reach secret understandings

In a series of secret meetings in Europe between September 2004 and July 2006, Syrians and Israelis formulated understandings for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria.

The main points of the understandings are as follows:

# An agreement of principles will be signed between the two countries, and following the fulfillment of all commitments, a peace agreement will be signed.
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# As part of the agreement on principles, Israel will withdraw from the Golan Heights to the lines of 4 June, 1967. The timetable for the withdrawal remained open: Syria demanded the pullout be carried out over a five-year period, while Israel asked for the withdrawal to be spread out over 15 years.

# At the buffer zone, along Lake Kinneret, a park will be set up for joint use by Israelis and Syrians. The park will cover a significant portion of the Golan Heights. Israelis will be free to access the park and their presence will not be dependent on Syrian approval.

# Israel will retain control over the use of the waters of the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret.

# The border area will be demilitarized along a 1:4 ratio (in terms of territory) in Israel’s favor.

# According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/813817.html

Cheers,

–MSK*

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May 21st, 2008, 9:53 am

 

77. Honest Patriot said:

Can we have the SC conference in Beirut now? 😉

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May 21st, 2008, 10:31 am

 

78. Akbar Palace said:

According to the terms, Syria will also agree to end its support for Hezbollah and Hamas and will distance itself from Iran.

Professor Josh,

Is this the “flip” you’ve been referring to these past few years? I wonder how all of this will be enforced?

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May 21st, 2008, 11:09 am

 

79. Shai said:

MSK,

This is indeed very good news. In Israel, however, this is being received with mixed reaction, as it comes “coincidentally” precisely the same day that the exposure limitation will be lifted regarding the latest corruption charges against Olmert. Even within his own party, Kadima, members are angry at the timing of this “release”. Still, it is a very positive development, at the very least in terms of its effect on public opinion. The real battle isn’t over the Golan, or over water, or even over the Palestinian refugees. It is, first and foremost, over public support in Israel.

HP,

If you have it in Beirut, AIG, AP, and myself will have to show up by boat… late at night… dressed as frogmen… (but without the weapons) 🙂

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May 21st, 2008, 11:09 am

 

80. MSK said:

Dear Shai,

Yes, I gathered as much from the Israeli media …

Well, maybe it was Olmert trying to weasel out of bad limelight. But the process had been underway for a while now, and thus is not a pure PR stunt.

And … sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. 😉

Obviously, the devil is in the details & I won’t hold my breath. Let’s see what this first round will bring, and then what the next round will bring, and then if there’s going to be a third, and if so, what its outcome will be, etc.pp.

The same goes for the Lebanon Accord – let’s see how it plays out over the next days, weeks, months.

Right now, we’re all happy that the downtown siege is being lifted & that Suleiman will be elected within the next few days (some say Sunday). But once that initial adrenalin surge subsides … we’ll have to see if this deal will “save Lebanon” or not.

Right now I just see it as an armistice agreement. None of the issues have been solved, or even begun to be addressed.

–MSK*

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May 21st, 2008, 11:22 am

 

81. Honest Patriot said:

Dear Shai, my friend, you’ve been living in that region for quite some time; we will have “ways” to sneak you in through the airport with further salutes by the guards and exemplary “guest” treatment by all. If Jewish rabbis can be guests of Ahmadinejad then that sets the bar pretty low for such friendly (albeit argmentative) folks as you, AIG, and AP to be guests of Beirut. Then of course there’s Skype.
On second thought… OK, Montreal or Nicosia it is.

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May 21st, 2008, 11:37 am

 

82. why-discuss said:

The opposition got exactly what it has been hammering for:

– The blockage minority
– a better representation in the parlement
– A new electoral law
– a non 14 march president
– a silence over the Hezbollah weapons

Plus the commitment of Qatar, that has always been neutral with strong sympathy to the opposition for implementation the deal.
After Siniora’s latest blunder KSA, USA, France and KSA dumped him and his team and they had not choice than to go to Qatar.
A big fuss is made about the victory of Hariri in the division of Beirut for electoral purpose.
Against all the obvious results, Hariri talks about No Ghalib wal Maghlub, funny.

On the other side, it is a amazing achievement for Qatar, who has succeeded where the French and the Arab league failed pitifully. Brilliant! Thank you QATAR!

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May 21st, 2008, 12:07 pm

 

83. Saroukh said:

Naji,

You have been saying this will work for the best.

Walking around downtown Beirut today was quite a scene. The feeling in the air was very similar to that on March 14, 2005. You could feel the hope in the air, and see it in people’s smiles. Let’s try to build on this feeling of hope rather than complain that we didn’t get out way. I know it sounds empty coming from Hamade, and it was probably a political slogan spewed out of his mouth in the first place, but nonetheless it was true. For the residents of Lebanon there was no loser in Doha as we the people won. Yes, a corrupt political elite from one branch outsmarted an equally corrupt political elite from another. But alas, this is democracy isn’t it?

Thank you for your words of encouragement and continued hope last week. If it means anything it did have a great impact on my well-being. Cheers to you my friend.

Johnny

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May 21st, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

84. Shai said:

Dear HP, MSK,

Where you go, I go. But putting jokes aside, today truly is a celebration for the Middle East. It is living proof that all of us, ex-enemies, ongoing-enemies, can all overcome our differences and make peace. Peace is not a dream, it is a reality, and one we must be ready to fight for. That’s one “reserves duty” I’m willing to show up to day after day after day.

Well Done M.E.!

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May 21st, 2008, 12:32 pm

 

85. Jason said:

QN-Alex,

Why didn’t you voice this resolution in the past? I’ve been saying Hezbollah should be given the one-third on here for months and no one ever responds. It was inevitable.

Jason

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May 21st, 2008, 1:48 pm

 

86. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

I think the main breakthrough here is that the Lebanese politicians have agreed on a set of rules to play by and it looks as if the Lebanese public will hold them to it. No more excuses about an unfair electoral system or an illigitimate government. A set of peaceful rules is a first step towards true democracy.

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May 21st, 2008, 1:52 pm

 

87. Qifa Nabki said:

Hi Jason

I made the same argument, three months ago, in my post “Diagnosing Failure”.

The government should have given up the veto a while ago, as soon as the threat of reversing the tribunal was over.

The opposition may have used it to make the government fall, which Aoun definitely would have taken advantage of to try and get elected president.

But I would have taken Aoun as president to avoid the deaths of innocent people, and all of the sectarian hatred that emerged from the conflicts.

Hindsight is 20/20.

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May 21st, 2008, 2:01 pm

 

88. Jason said:

QN,

Thanks for the info. I didn’t see too many people arguing this in the past, actually none of the so-called experts I read. Sorry I didn’t catch your analysis the first time.

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May 21st, 2008, 5:28 pm

 

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