Sunday, September 02, 2007

Lebanon: The Perils of Partition

Abu Kais, I suspected from your previous report that if "everybody" is talking about partition, the rumor probably originated with Hezbollah itself. Hezbollah has effective control of a large portion of the Shia community and in police states rumors are circulated by a special service for the purpose of obscuring the truth [re: "Viktor Suvorov", Inside the Aquarium] and establishing the meme rulers feel is desirable to be at the top of the minds of the people.

Partition might have worked six years or even twelve months ago, but not now; Hezbollah is preparing. While I feel sure Syro/Hezb/Iran wants Lebanon intact as a pliable cover for anti-Western military and terrorist activity, they are preparing a fallback position in case their effort to install a compliant Lebanese president fails.

I figure that Syria and Iran, through Hezbollah, has been offerring Lebanese a choice: peace (that is, no assassinations, mob violence, or civil war) and prosperity (enjoy the things Saudi capital helped you build) in areas outside Hezbollah territory in exchange for a free hand at extending Iranian imperialism, or throw in with the West and see your leaders die, and possibly a resumption of the civil war.

Berri practically promises that siding with the West will bring immediate violence. Of course, siding with Iran reduces Lebanon to what diplomats call a "captive state". I believe this will lead to the eventual extinction of a large portion of the Lebanese population once Hezbollah's super-protected missiles are believed to be armed with weapons of mass destruction. Lebanon's current leaders may realize the paradoxical danger of opposing the West that more weapons means less security, but a few honeyed words from Persian lips, something along the lines of, "We'll get you and your family and money out before They attack", may be enough to sway some people.

I have been reading the Lebanese Constitution. The president is far from being a potted plant, especially when the threat of domestic strife is present. His powers are comparable to yet greater than those of the British monarch. In a "normally" functioning parliamentary democracy his functions would indeed be mostly ceremonial, but the Lebanese president has the capacity to single-handedly throw much of the chess-playing carpet-weaving mullahs' careful plans for a loop, and seriously complicate their plans for regional domination.

How is that? I'll just give you one example: Article 53-7 states that the President "accredits ambassadors and accept the credentials of ambassadors." In ordinary countries, that just means the President shakes the hand of the new ambassador when he arrives. But in Lebanon, the president - and ONLY the president - has the power to kick Iranian and Syrian "diplomats" out of Lebanon entirely, and putting a padlock on their embassies so none can enter.

You can now see why the presidency is such a concern to the Iranians and Syrians: without an embassy to serve as an intelligence and command center not subject to Lebanese law, their underhanded operations in Lebanon are seriously curtailed.

Syria/Hezb/Iran are not completely sure their intimidation plan will succeed. Thus their fallback plan of partition: they establish a contiguous territory subject to their control.

Why discuss partition now, rather than years earlier, and how is this linked to the presidency? Because of the Lebanese president's oath:

I swear by Almighty God to observe the Constitution and the laws of the Lebanese Nation and to maintain the independence of Lebanon and its territorial integrity."

The current Syria/Hezbollah/Iran axis has a "fig-leaf" arrangement where "territorial integrity" is just a convenient fiction, but partition is the reality. Already it is said that the Syrian Army occupies dozens of kilometers of Lebanese territory without a peep of objection from the Lebanese president responsible for his country's "territorial integrity".

A puppet president like Lahoud accepts this arrangement without blinking. But another sort of president might object, feeling that accepting it means breaking his oath. He might decide, for example, to honor his oath by calling foreign forces to assist in defend the borders.

Hence the importance of the relation of the president to the partition issue. Hezbollah's could declare partition by fiat under a compliant president who would simply comply with his masters' wishes. But Hezbollah could also bring up the question of partition under a non-puppet president via the political process, and try to use it to destroy Lebanese democracy: either accept partition or it's civil war, or accept partition and lose your democratic legitimacy.

I suppose Lebanese both at home and abroad must feel like fish in a slowly constricting net, paralyzed by fear and lack of fresh oxygen from escaping their fate. It need not be so, but in my opinion Lebanese require both a leap in logic and a leap of faith to escape their deadly fate. They did it once before when King Hariri was assassinated. Can they do it now?

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