George E. Irani discusses how a new source of tension, caused by outside forces, has been created within Lebanon. As the UN Security Council prepares to investigate the assassination of Lebanese Former Prime Minister Rafiq al Hariri, Syria has expressed fears that it will be blamed. While Lebanon is quiet now, it is unclear how long the calm will last.
George Emile Irani is the Lebanese-born director of the Africa and Middle East Program of the Toledo International Center for Peace in Madrid. He is the author of “The Papacy and the Middle East: The Role of the Holy See in the Arab-Israeli Conflict”.
LEBANON IS IN THE PROCESS of beginning a crucial trial of its turbulent past. The UN Security Council is meeting to vote on a document laying out the basis for the creation of an international court to try the suspects involved in the 2005 killing of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafiq al Hariri.
The creation of this tribunal and the last UN investigation report due in mid December is the source of tension in Lebanon.
SYRIA IS SCARED
Pro Syrian political groups in Lebanon such as Hizballah and its Christian ally General Michel Awn are calling for the resignation of the current pro-US government Prime Minister Fuad Siniora.
Syria and its allies are scared that the international tribunal for Lebanon and the results of the UN investigation report will come out and directly indict the Syrian regime for assassinations in Lebanon.
Moreover, next year the Lebanese parliament is supposed to convene and elect a new president for the country. Pro-Syrian forces in Lebanon want to make sure that the next president will be someone in their favour such as Michel Awn. To achieve their aim they want to oust the current majority and call for new elections.
As usual Lebanon is again in the throes of tension created by outsiders manipulating internal forces.
IN THE AFTERMATCH OF A WAR
Then we have the aftermath of this summer war in Lebanon. The country is quiet for now, UN troops have been beefed up (with an important peacekeeping contribution by Spain) and South Lebanon is quiet.
For how long no one knows.
The past cannot be easily policed in Lebanon as long as the region is wracked by the clash of passions and interests.