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14 July 2006

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Dan

Not much of a contribution but i've seen a lot of those kinds of comments in print and on TV. I think Americans have a very hard time understanding how parliamentary systems work. Just another element in our blindspot arsenal.

canuck

Looks to me from those numbers that Lebanon didn't elect a majority government. This one is a coalitions government that has to please more than one party to get any legislation passed. Minority governments are usually moderate--they have to be to get legislation passed. Hizbollah has only 1/3 of the seats, the other major party has a few more seats.

canuck

Oops...math never was my strongest subject 36 seats out of 185 represents less than 20% not 33 1/3%. Makes them even less of a factor, but their vote could be needed for some legislation.

canuck

My bad...total seats are 128 not 185...making my original math more accurate. 50% + 1 vote are needed to pass legislation in parliamentary governments.

W. Patrick Lang

Canuck

35 out of 128. That is their parliamentary strength. the Lebanese like the Istaelis never manage to create other than coalition governments.

Amal, the other major Shia party has become completely subordinated to Hizballah during the last year or so.

The controlling coalition is unstable and if it is pressed to act against HB it will fall apart. The coalition is unstable because these parties like all Lebanese parties other than HB are merely congeries of the supporters of an individual or a family.

The Shia political and para-military forces are highly disciplined which is a rarity among the Lebanese and it is this that gives them a disprortionate strength. pl

canuck

Gotcha, raw number can be deceiving can't they? On the surface, it looks like the Martyr list, total 71, would have little difficulty getting the remaining 23 votes to pass legislatation. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that his list would vote as one? If not, that governmenet is in really deep doo doo!

If Hizbollah's factions combine together and always vote as a block of 35, they would have undue influence if the remaining parties don't have cohesion.

If that is typical of a Labanese parliament, they have much to do to before they would be able to thwart Hizbollah's strength.

zanzibar

Hizballah and Hamas must know that Israel can rain a lot of devastation.

Sheikh Yassin was taken out. How long before Nasrallah goes? With "collective punishment" Gaza's power plant has been bombed, so too Beirut International airport and the Hizballah offices.

In the reprisal spiral the best that Hamas and Hizballah can achieve are "moral" military victories such as the UAV attack on a Israeli warship - but that is at best just a black eye for Israel. On the other hand Israel can inflict "mortal" defeats on Hamas and Hizballah. Gaza and Southern Lebanon can be razed to the ground and occupied by the IDF. Their leaders assasinated.

Why did Hamas and Hizballah kill and capture IDF soldiers in this current reprisal cycle? What is in their benefit?

Duck of Death

'Why did Hamas and Hizballah kill and capture IDF soldiers in this current reprisal cycle? What is in their benefit?'

I'm not an expert but I guess for the same reason AQ hit the towers...to get their adversary to over-react. Personally, I've heard more people questioning the US's unconditional support of Israel in the last 2 days than I have in the last 10 years, which is some kind of victory I suppose.

W. Patrick Lang

Zanzibar

They believe that the human spirit is stronger than physical weapons. so did Napoleon. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Canuck

The RHML is/was a coalition of the reluctant.

"Current for the future" is the Hariri family party. This is the only one that Siniora can really be sure about.

"The Progressive Socialist Party" is Jumblatt's Druze family party. Not really keen on the Hariris.

The "Lebanese Forces" are a Maronite militia that has become a party and still has a militia as does Jumblatt.

The "Qornet Shahwan Gathering" is a sub-coalition made up of:

The Jemayel family fascist phalange party (Maronite)

and

The Chamoun family Liberal Party.

And several small family parties (mostly Christian)

In the end Siniora can only count on the "Future" votes in all circumstances.

--------------------

The Shia forces can usually count on General Aun's coalition for 21 votes.

Pretty shaky for old Siniora, eh? pl


ckrantz

As i understand it political strength in Lebanon like in Iraq today means also having a militia like all the parties above have. Demanding that Hezbollah unilaterally disarm hardly seems unrealistic. And Hezbollahs main argument for keeping its forces was that they defendend Lebanon from Israeli agression.

Something not mentioned in the news reports so far is the effect on Shias in Iraq or the potential for new terror attacks against israeli targets abroad. In 92 Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abbas al-Musawi was killed by israel and they responded by the Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires killing around 200 if I remember correctly. Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation is probably more dangerous than al-quaida ever was and far more effective.

Dr Slop

Could it be that a not over-wise Israeli Government is being suckered into more or less indefensible over-reaction?

Looks like another example of non-military pipsqueaks trying to act like tough guys - and that is always rather alarming.

As soon as we hear yet more of the asinine "we had no other option" rhetoric, we know we are having our pockets picked.

ali

Nasrallah may be thinking:

1982 IDF invades.
1985 Hezbollah forms.
2002 IDF leaves; Hezbollah celebrates victory.
2005 Cedar revolution; Hezbollah gets biggest vote ever.
2006 IDF invades.
2024 IDF leaves; Hezbollah celebrates victory.
2026 Islamic Republic of Lebanon established.

Hezbollah is an organization that thrives on adversity.

canuck

Wouldn't you think that by Israel dropping bombs on Lebanon that they have just handed Hezbollah a victory in the next election?

Lebanese citizens would see Hezbollah's resistance as furthering the intersts of Lebanon and in the next election they will vote for Hezbollah candidates. They most likely will form a majority government in Lebanon the next time around. Rather than reducing Hezbollah's influence, by bombing their nation, Israel has increased their ability to acquire votes.


zanzibar

Good discussion. I can see why Hizballah has an interest in escalation and attacks on Lebanese citizens and Lebanon's common infrastructure.

"Lebanese citizens would see Hezbollah's resistance as furthering the intersts of Lebanon and in the next election they will vote for Hezbollah candidates." - canuck

But would not Lebanese also believe that without Hizballah there may be better chances of peace and getting on with their lives? I realize that Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon likely radicalized the Shia and created the support for Hizballah. And now they have to get the tiger by the tail.

Dr Slop

Have you seen the criticism of the IDF in Ha'aretz today:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=738419&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y

Good stuff on Israel needing to react with brain as well as gut - and "Our illustrious army, one of the most advanced in the world, with its nuclear option, its fighter planes that can fly to Tehran and back, its unmanned aerial vehicles and drones and guided missiles, has been caught twice with its pants down, in scenarios that had been foreseen. Major General Giora Eiland offered a blow-by-blow description of how we fell into a Hamas trap at the Kerem Shalom crossing. Despite the lessons of the past, despite updated alerts, despite being "prepared" for tunnels being dug by terrorists and possible kidnappings, the alarm was not sounded in time".

Also "Moshe Arens used to say that you don't need military intelligence to find out things the enemy has let you know in advance".

The failures of the IDF do not seem to be getting attention in Western media (who would dare?) but may help explain the IDF's wildly irresponsible over-reaction.

Given certain neo-con prejudices, I liked "As for the chief of staff, when he comes out of that war room, the first thing he should do is go to the synagogue and thank God that he doesn't have Winston Churchill the general-slayer for his prime minister".

W. Patrick Lang

Zanzibar

A lot of Christian Lebanese would prefer peace with Israel, but, sad to say, the Muslims detest their neighbors to the south.

pl

zanzibar

It seems that Israel is cutting off the south of Lebanon by destroying bridges and roads. It would imply they plan to trap Hizballah and prevent any resupply. Next should be an invasion of southern Lebanon to destroy Hizballah. I am sure there will be tremendous devastation. But will Hizballah be completely destroyed? They were spawned and grew during the last Israeli occupation of nearly two decades.

We'll find out soon enough if there really are military solutions to the problems between Israel and its Muslim neighbors. And if Hizballah will be left to fend for itself or if others will join the fray.

jonst

I put my money on Hezbollah to not only survive...but to really punish any thrust across the border.I don't mean they can stop it. But they can do two things: They can make it extremely costly for the IDF. And in doing so Hezbollah can boost up, even higher, its status in the ME. I think the IDF may have met their match. I smell fear coming from the state of Israel. I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. What I mean is they know this is not the usual Arab foe they are up against. These guys are different. They are motivated. Well trained. And backed by their community. And my guess is their command structure is hard to penetrate from an intel perspective. i.e. They are hard to buy. Not like the PLO or Syrian or Egyptian forces. And trying to imply that only Iranians could fire that missile that hit the naval vessel. That may or may not be true but it sounds like whistling in a graveyard to me.

canuck

Given that the Christians and Sunni sects have declined in numbers and Shiites have increased, is it fair that the President be required to be a Maronite Christian;
and the Prime Minister, a Sunni Muslim, with the Shiites being limited to being the Speaker of the Parliament.

-----

I think Hezbollah will want those three offices to be open to elected officials from any religious sect.

Which means an elected Shiite mostly likely would occupy the Presidency and perhaps more.

zanzibar

Fascinating that someone else is posting using my email id and the name that I use.

I guess my posts are interesting enough to have attracted a clone.

zanzibar

My bad. Didn't realize it was a thread from this summer.

Need to pay more attention here :)

Ben P

Another factor, to which Colonel Lang alludes, is that part of the reason Hezbollah is feared and is seen as having a certain moral impetus/claim is that the Shi'ite population is purposely underrepresented by the rather strange system in place which deliberately over-represents the Christian population. There hasn't been a census in Lebanon since 1932, when Lebanon was a majority Christian nation. It almost certainly is not now, and most of the changing balance has come from the Shi'ite community.

Really, it seems to me that at some point in the near future, a census is going to have to be taken and a real democracy - ie one person/one vote system is implemented. There have been numerous attempts at avoiding this elephant in the room - but much as the various compromises papering together the union during the antebellum years, the day of reckoning was only postponed, never resolved. At the very least, with a new census and normal democracy, at least every one (inside Lebanon and outside) would have a better idea of where everyone really stood.

Does anyone know why there is, in fact, such resistance to the above solution?

Ben P

Also, as I understand it, Lebanon was purposely created during the French mandate of Syria in the 1920s and 1930s (carved out of Syria) to create a majority Christian state-let that would be an ally after the French formally renounced control. Thats another factor. Of course, Lebanon is no longer the state it was when France created it.

Jaime Gormley

When the IDF invades Lebanon again they will be defeated by Hizb'Allah again.

How Hezbollah Defeated Israel
by Alastair Crooke and Mark Perry (Conflicts Forum http://conflictsform.com)
Asia Times Online, Middle East, October 12-14, 2006

Part 1, Winning the intelligence war
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ12Ak01.html

Part 2, Winning the ground war
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ13Ak01.html

Part 3, Winning the political war
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ14Ak01.html

Just as America and Israel will be defeated if they attack Iran.

Due to the real revolution in military affairs, which the national security elites of America and Israel will never understand, people living on "our" resources now have effective defense. Having long hated our policies, just as we hate the capricious waste of our faithful soldiers, they need tolerate them no longer. There is no military solution.
Leaders who see all problems as nails because hammers are their only tools (e.g. Cheney, Olmert & Associates) need to take a long overdue, if unearned, silent retirement. Only honest negotiators can resolve our grievances.

Otherwise our future is the smashed Merkavas of Wadi Saluki writ large.

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