Posted by Joshua on Monday, April 27th, 2009
The US will work with a March 8 led Lebanon even though it includes terrifying Hizbullah, such is the conclusion of smart Lebanese analysts.
“The era of the M14/M8 rivalry is dead” concludes Qifa Nabki:
The era of the M14/M8 rivalry is dead. The game has already begun to change (as we’ve seen with the Jumblatt bloopers, Nassib Lahoud’s resignation, and Hariri’s welcoming of Syrian arch-crony Michel el-Murr on his Metn list). Unless Hariri and/or AIPAC can persuade the Americans that there is a politically expedient reason to make life difficult for a M8 majority, I’m sure the Americans will be able to get their heads around it…..
A March 8th win is really going to be all about the Free Patriotic Movement (Aoun’s Christian bloc). No matter how Fox News spins it, the reality is that the onus has been placed entirely upon Michel Aoun’s Change & Reform bloc to pony up the seats to push the opposition over the top. And while there may be a congressional effort to introduce something like a Lebanon Accountability Act, I just can’t see a politically expedient reason to do it if the Syrians are adding value to Obama’s Mideast efforts.
See Qifa’s full post:Will the U.S. Punish Lebanon For Electing The Opposition?
Ex Oriente Lux offers another smart analysis of the Clinton visit to Lebanon: Clinton in Beirut, hints at post-June 7 US policy towards Lebanon?
Perhaps the Obama administration is bracing for a March 14 loss in June and seeking to establish President Suleiman as the prime US interlocutor in Lebanon. Also in the as-Safir piece, Clinton reportedly asked Suleiman whether or not he will have a bloc in the next Parliament. This seems to hint that the Obama administration would prefer not to cut off aid to Lebanon in the event of a March 8 win in June. It is possible that the Obama administration would seek to work with Suleiman, March 14, and independents to temper the political program of a March 8 government and not cut off aid a la the Hamas win in January 2006….
Also see Lux’s analysis of Jumblatt’s crabwalk away from Hariri (pro-American) and toward Berri (pro-Syrian) in advance of the elections. Jumblatt is a key bellwether of Lebanon’s political future. He was out in front of the anti-Syria zig under the Bush administration and may also be in front of a pro-Syrian zag under Obama – at least that is the presumption of Lux’s smart article. Ex Orient Lux is a welcome new addition to the Lebanese blog world: he translates from the Arab press; he adds value with choice quotes to back up his argument, and he eschews invective and bombast for sharp opinion.
Respecting Democratic Outcomes?
During the recent Summit of the Americas, President Obama noted that his administration would respect the “legitimacy” of all democratically elected governments, even when it “might not be happy with the results of some elections” and that he “condemn[s] any efforts at violent overthrows of democratically elected governments, wherever it happens in the hemisphere.” It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration will extend these principles to democratic governments in other regions. But the administration’s apparent intention to allow for U.S. assistance to be provided to a Hamas-Fatah unity government suggests a willingness to apply this democratic “doctrine” even when politically risky.
By Steve Bryant
April 27 (Bloomberg) — Turkey and Syria began joint military exercises on their border today, training that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said was a “troubling development.”
Israel rejects Syria preconditions for peace talks
Sun Apr 26, 2009
JERUSALEM, April 26 (Reuters) – Israel’s new government would talk peace with Syria if it dropped preconditions such as an Israeli commitment to return the Golan Heights, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday.
“I would be happy to hold negotiations with Syria this very evening, but without preconditions and without ultimatums,” Lieberman told Israel Radio…. “Each of the sides has a position. Syria may want sovereignty on the Golan Heights, while we ask for a 200-year lease on the Golan Heights,” Lieberman said.
DAMASCUS (AFP) — Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi wrapped up a regional Middle East visit in Damascus on Sunday saying Israel should return the Golan Heights to Syria.
“China supports Syria’s efforts to recover the Golan,” which Israel seized during the 1967 war and annexed in 1981, Yang told reporters during a joint news conference with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.
Obama move alarms Israel supporters, By Paul Richter
The administration seeks changes that would permit aid to Palestinians even if officials backed by Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist group, become part of a unified Palestinian government.