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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saad Hariri's Visit to Syria Marks US Failure in Lebanon.

Any time a Lebanese leader visits Damascus the first time there after the assassination of their father means a change has taken place. Lebanese PM Saad Hariri has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad for assassinating his father. It signifies a change of policy from adversarial to accommodation in regards to Syria. The Cedar Revolution that he helped spearhead has been waning. The reality is that Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies are the dominant force and that some of his March 14th allies have realized this and have been drifting to the anti-Western Hezbollah led opposition. The US in particular has been supporting Hariri's March 14th coalition since its inception on 2005. The US believed that the coalition could be used as a counterweight to Hezbollah by strengthening the Lebanese government and by limiting Syrian influence. The West also had a policy of Isolation against Syria .

A turning point was the brief out break of violence leading to Hezbollah taking control of most of Beirut in May 2008. The US failed to help them. Walid Jumblatt the leader of the Druze faction of the March 14th, whose father's assassination was blamed on Syria, drifted away from the Western camp. He spoke to Druze elders in June and told them that they must co-exist with the Shiites whose demographic has been increasing significantly. Hezbollah proved during its takeover of Beirut its power and he believed that Sunnis are potentially more dangerous. He held the view that if the Druze made accommodations with Hezbollah, they will be protected. This would also mean he would be more friendly to Syria -MEMRI

On another note, its been known that Israel and Syria have been talking to each other through Turkish channels. It is believed that Israel wants Syria back in Lebanon so it can hold Hezbollah by a leash; it is their belief that Hezbollah has become more unpredictable without Syria's presence. Western Reapproachment with Syria, started initially by France, once the colonial ruler of Syria and Lebanon, weakened US policy. The Obama administration has also quietly repudiated Bush's policy. Perhaps one of the biggest changes is that the Saudi Arabia, the biggest backer of Saad Hariri and the March 14th coalition, which recently has taken more of a conciliatory tone with Syria. - NYT

Regardless, the Pro-Western parliamentary majority is losing its clout, which means Hezbollah is on its way to monopolize its power. Iran and Syria are going to continue to reassert its influence in Lebanon and the US may be adopting Israel's view of Lebanon and that Syria's influence in the short term could be a good thing.


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