Lebanese bloggers are weighing in on the agreement between the government and Hezbollah, while the rest of the blogosphere wonders if the Democratic primary will ever end.
D'oha: After days of intense factional violence—with Hezbollah's takeover of western Beirut last week—Lebanese parties met in Doha, Qatar, and on Wednesday announced a deal for power-sharing, putatively ending an 18-month crisis that has brought the country repeatedly to the brink of civil war. Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the United States, has been granted veto power and has been allowed to retain arms, continuing the image, prominent among Lebanese bloggers, of a "state within a state."
Mustapha at Beirut Spring, a Lebanese blog, sums up the agreement as "a form of cease fire between Syria and Iran on one side and the rest of the world on the other. The civil war that was about to break looked like a major distraction that the power brokers decided to quench with a dose of feel-good compromise and a president on top."
Jonathan Kay at the National Post's Full Comment frames the current struggle in the broader context of the Middle East: "Colonialism, oil, Israel and the Iraq war are all regularly cited as the bogeymen responsible for the backwardness that pervades the Middle East. Lebanon's failure to become a normal country after all these years suggests there is something more basic at the root of the region's problems: a regressive climate in which power is wielded not through consensus and diplomacy, but by warring sects and clan leaders." At Voices on the Wind, a Lebanese blogger living in Canada is also pessimistic: "That our country needs foreign mediators to resolve a national crisis is a testament to the failure of the current Lebanese political and social culture. That even then, no serious issues were solved in Doha, but only a power sharing agreement was reached is a testament to the lack of a will for progress and a consecration of the patronage mentality that has plagued us for centuries."
Charles Malik at the Lebanese Political Journal reports: "Supposedly, the opposition will receive its veto-wielding 1/3 of the cabinet, and will be able to block any decision the government takes. The 14 March Coalition will agree to this because it believes that the government created in Doha, Qatar will only be temporary, before 14 March claims a massive victory in the next parliamentary elections Their goal is to placate the opposition, but not allow the opposition to take power and undue all of the 14 March initiatives that came into existence since the creation of the government in 2005."
Jeha at Jeha's Nail, another Lebanese blog, is angry over the deal: "[T]he weapons are THE only issue, and should be monopolized by the State in a law-abiding country. As such, the agreement signed was nothing but an act of surrender to Hezb&Co, thereby confirming their takeover of Lebanon. The valiant leaders went after the crumbs Nasrallah left them, discussing electoral arrangements, ignoring the work their commission did."
The blog of the Lebanese faction Future Movement displays a map showing Hezbollah's telecommunications reach. Was the siege of Beirut really fought over the right to maintain a separate "closed communications system"? No, the network is means to an end—controlling the strategically invaluable Lebanese border with Syria: "[T]he Lebanese-Syrian borders are all that count to Hezbollah's terror network. As long as these frontiers are open for Iran to supply weapons and logistics via Syria, the state within the state can thrive and grow." "The other elephant in the room, of course," says Tamara Cofman Wittes at Middle East Strategy at Harvard, "is Iran's role in the Levant, as revealed by these events. From an Israeli perspective, perhaps a deal with Syria helps in this regard: the testing (and likely failure) of this long-perceived linkage between a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement and the disarmament of Hezbollah would clarify the extent to which Iran has invaded the Levant (via Hezbollah), and thus free Israel's hands further in confronting this threat."
Read more about the Doha deal.
Hillary stays alive: Not dead yet. Or so last night's Kentucky primary showed; Hillary Clinton won a whopping 65.5 percent of the vote against Barack Obama, though she lost Oregon by double digits. She vows to stay in the race, now blaming sexism for her failure to secure the nomination. The New York Times claims she's hoping that narrowing the margin between herself and Obama in the popular vote will be enough of a jolt to superdelegates to keep her relevant.
Duha at Daily Kos suggests: "Hillary Clinton is steadily but surely moving toward making herself Al Gore of this primary contest, the candidate who 'really won' even though she lost the nomination. Now, this may assure her spot at the top of the ticket in 2012 if the democrats lose this fall, but it will be incredibly damaging to our chances in 2008."