Monday, September 04, 2006

Bad neighborhood

Walid Jumblat is best known for his quick reception of geopolitical changes. This time he was slow. In a recent interview, he declared that the situation in Lebanon is strongly related to that of the region. Jumblat argued that whatever the settlement for Iran’s nuclear question, Lebanon would be affected.

But Lebanon’s organic relationship to the region’s troubles is not new. Lebanon has been in a 'bad neighbourhood’ since its inception in 1920. In 1920s, it was the conflict of Arabism vs. Lebanism; in 1950s, it was the Nassersit Arab Nationalism vs the US-backed Baghdad Pact; in 1960s it was the pro-Palestinian struggle vs. 'isolationism'; in 1982-85 it was Israeli supremacy vs Syrian dominance; in the 1989, it was Iraqi vs Syrian role in the region; in 1990s, it was pro or against Pax Syriana. Now it is about the role of Iran as a regional power.

What a bad neighbourhood!

It would be simplistic to only endorse the ‘Guerre des autres’ thesis of the conflict in Lebanon and to discredit the many internal causes to Lebanon’s conflict(s). But the ‘neighbourhood effect’ is central to Lebanon’s current predicament. From Qandahar to Rafah, the whole region is in mess. To a large extent, this is because of failed American policies in the region. Failure in Afghanistan, mess in Iraq, death of Middle East roadmap, lip service to democratic movements and support to Arab dictatorship, to name a few.

While a regional settlement is afar, Lebanon has to consolidate its peace. It is most likely that Lebanon will be back to the never-ending and non-productive national dialogue sessions in Parliament.

Until Qandahar gets its bazaar back and Rafah gets its schools running, Lebanon has to wait.


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