Saturday, May 17, 2008

Perspective

I just read a report released by the International Crisis Group on May 15, Lebanon: Hizbollah's Weapons Turn Inward. I found the report balanced and helpful in putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

Some highlights:

Even though less disciplined Amal loyalists are believed to have committed many of these offences and even if Hizbollah might have sought in some places to prevent them, this thuggish behaviour deeply damaged its reputation. Never before had it appeared so clearly as a Shiite militia rather than a resistance movement capable at times of transcending Lebanon’s divides (Page 5).

The answer, in other words, is a settlement that postpones the ultimate disposition of Hizbollah’s weapons while strictly defining and regulating the ways in which they can be employed. As Crisis Group earlier suggested, this should entail, inter alia, the following
simultaneous steps:

􀂉 a consensual presidential choice (ie, by a two-thirds parliamentary vote), most likely Michel Suleiman;
􀂉 a national unity government;
􀂉 adoption of a ministerial declaration that accepts the principle of resistance as a transitional phase leading to implementation of a proper national defence strategy, while restricting Hizbollah’s military capabilities to defensive purposes against an eventual foreign attack and clearly barring their domestic use
(I bolded this);
􀂉 an agreement among all Lebanese parties to freeze any military build-up and de-escalate the war of words, especially in the media; and
􀂉 a consensual electoral law for the 2009 parliamentary elections based on the smaller district (caza)
(Pages 8-9).

And,

Until a broader regional settlement is found – one that deals not only with the Arab-Israeli conflict but also relations between the U.S., Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia in particular – one cannot hope for much more (I bolded this) (page 9).

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