"After five days of fraught negotiations among Lebanon’s rival political groups in Doha, the Qatari authorities said the agreement called for moves within 24 hours for Parliament in Beirut to begin the process of electing Gen. Michel Suleiman, the commander of Lebanon’s army, as president.
The deal was also expected to lead to the formation of a cabinet in which Hezbollah, supported by Iran and Syria, along with its allies will enjoy the veto power it had sought in the negotiations .
Under the terms of the agreement, the government will also debate anew electoral law designed to provide better representation in the country’s sectarian system of power-sharing.
Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, the Qatari Prime Minister, told a formal ceremony in Doha that Lebanon’s feuding parties “agreed that the speaker of Parliament will call within 24 hours for the election of Gen. Michel Suleiman as president of the republic.”"" NY Times
Another day of joy (irony alert) for the likes of Friedman, Brooks and Rice. What was it Brooks wrote last week? "What possible coalition could Hizbullah participate in in Lebanon?" (paraphrase)
The funny thing is that we Americans and Saudis pushed the Lebanese so hard and so obviously that they finally had no choice but to make a deal (always a thing the Lebanese can do).
I am going on a road trip or the next two days but I wanted to throw this ball up in the air for you all to play with in my absence. pl
ps. Syria and Israel are going to make another "day of joy" for the Flatlanders. Do you all remember them among the minor and oft forgotten peoples whom Gulliver visited? pl
Did they make a deal because they realized there was no cavalry? Where the reports/rumours of expected help from the Israelis just that?
More importantly could they side have signed on the dotted line without a nod from the Saudis?
So what the hell is going on? Someone on here must know. Everyone’s talking, everyone wants to be friends, has there been some sort of nerve agent released over the Mid East?
Can this be all going on without US support considering Bush just told the Keneset that talking to your enemies is appeasement (I thought letting them invade Checkoslovakia was appeasement and talking was negotiations but what do I know).
Lame duck or epiphany? If this is what happens when the lunatics take over when the warden has no more influence, then lunatics worldwide rise up.
Col, your “concert” is coming alive by osmosis.
The moment of solvent from a less-concentrated hypo tonic (neo-con-based) solution to a more concentrated hypo tonic solution (the real reality).
Just sad we (American) is not leading to the solutions just creating more problems.
Iran wants to talk too.
Operation Isolate Iran is what is going on.
Syria and Israel potentially both have a reason to think twice before being Iran’s surrogate in any military confrontation
Mo: “So what the hell is going on??…Lame duck or epiphany? If this is what happens when the lunatics take over when the warden has no more influence, then lunatics worldwide rise up.”
On the “epiphany” aspect: could be springtime-in-the-air could be at-last-beneficent astrocosmological conjunction or… could just-maybe be some kind of positive eschatological signal – a friendly wave from On High????
Anyway/whatever, anyone notice the truly weird coincidence of 3 totally-different guys – one Shi’ite one Christian one Sunni – all called SULEIMAN all simultaneously playing crucial wise-mediation roles on the various fronts? Namely: Suleimani of Iran (Quds force) who midwifed the Maliki-Sadr deal, Suleiman of Lebanon whose impartiality has made a national-unity solution possible in Beirut and Suleiman of Egypt who’s busy mediating between Israel and Hamas.
Apologies for sudden outburst of irrationalism but seeing so many hopeful signs-of-wisdom popping up all at once is making me quite lightheaded – Fingers crossed…!
My speculation is that the saner elements in Israel realized that it would be better to take up the truce with Hamas and Hizballah when they have a reasonable chance at a decent deal than once again show the world that they could not hold ground in Southern Lebanon. And now that Cheney can’t get his crazy ideas implemented it made even more sense to negotiate now and give McCain something to run on. The other element of the puzzle is that the Saudis likely pulled the plug as they realized how weak their team was.
It seems the big prize some kind of rapprochement with Iran is also in the works. If that happens it could really give the Republicans something to run on this Fall.
Senator Jim Webb, in an excellent interview by terri gross discusses several topics including why he advised policy makers, even before 911 not to attempt to take and hold ground in the ME as endless and multi layered vendettas between locals would make military resolution very difficult.
When the bride and groom wed, it’s best to celebrate, no matter what you know of the families’ machinations.
I wish peace, harmony and justice upon all souls living in the region. And may the Syrians and the Israelis come to an agreement that is fair to all concerned.
Surely this latest good news is when to watch out for a strategically calculated bomb or five to go off in Beirut and Israel, no?
Is this the long awaited New Middle East, so highly touted by Condi? Or have the deck chairs just been rearranged? Or is this the antithesis of everything the Bushies have been trying to foist on the Middle East?
Now that the Wicked Witch is about to leave the scene, the children have taken to misbehaving. What, Israel neogiating with Syria under the auspices of Turkey? Not attacking Lebanon and letting Hezbollah get veto power? Negotiating with Hamas under the auspices of Egypt? What’s next–an Iranian-Saudi mutual security pact?
It’s enough to cause Old Man Cheney to start rolling in his grave, effectively buried, though not yet dead.
Since the good colonel is on the road, I have had time to answer my own question, which I have done in detail on my blog, but in essence, I believe, especially now that the Iran Arms Report has been shelved, that the US and Iran have done a deal, swapping Lebanon and Syrian-Israelis talks for Iraq. And I believe this has been done specifically to make Iraq look good for Senator McCain.
Democracy, you got to love it.
Something that William Pfaff said:
Bush’s behavior in Washington in recent weeks has also seemed strange, with erratic bursts of inappropriate good humor, and rictus grins. Is his doctor giving him something? I suggest this not in denigration but because it seems worrying. Certainly most people would be sunk in depression were they in his position, and he has seven months before his term is over.
Does he know things we do not know? There was a story in the Arab News (Jeddah) on Monday that the confused events and violence in Lebanon in recent days, further undermining the precarious ceasefire there, were the result of an American-Israeli coup against Hezbollah that never came off, cancelled by Washington at the last minute.
What was the meaning of the threat issued just after the Bush visit to Israel, that the Bush-Olmert warning to Iran will have tangible consequences?
I have never forgotten Bob Woodward’s quoting Bush as having said, soon after 9/11, that he would willingly “spread chaos and death to every corner of the earth, if that were necessary to keep America safe.”
I don’t like the mood Bush seems to be in, and in the United States these days there is no one and nothing (short of joint general staff mutiny) to stop a president from doing whatever he wants. But perhaps I am imagining things.
Just got my copy of Time magazine. They have a two page article called “Welcome to Hizballahstan”
The whole point of tha article is that a terrorist organization has taken over the state of Lebanon.
Wouldn’t a better description of what has developed be that the Lebaneese state has evolved to a new structure to best deal with it’s neighbour Israel. Hizballah is now acting more or less as Lebanon’s army. We see how an army that can not be identified by the enemy is much more effective than the old standard type for defence. The old army is now closer to an internal police force.
Please excuse me if I’m either stating the obvious or am completely off base.
Col Lang, I wanted to flag your attention, and the attention of your readers, to some new dramatic developments in a story you reported last year. The U.S. Department of Justice is agressively pursuing their case against BAE Systems, the British arms company, which is accused of paying billions of dollars in bribes to Saudi officials, including the former Ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar. Bandar alone is said to have received over $2 billion in BAE kickbacks, for his role in the “Al Yamamah” deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia (I hear that the actual figure paid to Bandar and some of his henchmen was closer to $10 billion).
On May 12, two top executives of BAE, Chairman Mike Turner and an outside director who is also vice chairman of Barclay’s Bank, were detained by U.S. officials as they arrived at Houston and Newark airports, respectively. They were handed grand jury subpoenas, and had their laptops, cell phones and papers temporarily confiscated. The latest from the DOJ is that the career prosecutors are so furious at the British government’s stonewalling, that they are threatening RICO prosecutions against BAE.
Remember, that the real story behind the BAE “Al Yamamah” scandal is that, under the arms-for-oil barter deal, the British accumulated well-over $100 billion, in off-the-books, offshore funds, that have been used to finance covert operations, for the past 23 years (the deal was first signed in 1985, and has been regularly updated ever since).
The other nagging matter around the BAE case is that Prince Bandar “inadvertently” helped finance the 9/11 attacks, through funds provided by him and his wife to two Saudi intelligence operative in California, who, in turn, bankrolled two of the hijackers. This sordid tale is spelled out in Philip Shenon’s admirable expose of the 9/11 Commission investigation, in the 2008 book, The Commission–The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation.
My own sources have independently corroborated much of what Shenon reports.
For their part, the Saudis and the British are not at all happy about what is going on at the DOJ. The Sunday Telegraph and other British papers have been ranting about the “heavy handed” treatment of the BAE execs, and they worry about a deeper rift, going into the upcoming G-8 summit in Japan in early July. A treaty is pending before the U.S. Senate, that would give British arms manufacturers equal access to Pentagon contracts, and a hearing was held this past week on the treaty at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden, Lugar and Feingold all expressed apprehension over the treaty, and there is fear that the BAE flap will further complicate its passage.
Again, the biggest aspect of the BAE/”Al Yamamah” story is the offshore fund. To summarize: BAE delivered about $40 billion in arms and services to Saudi Arabia. BAE padded the bills substantially, up to nearly $80 billion. The pad was used, in part, to bribe Saudi officials who helped swing the deal, including Bandar and Prince Turki bin-Khaled, a top official of the Saudi Ministry of Defense. That part is fully detailed in the Guardian and other British coverage of the BAE scandal, going back three or four years.
What is not covered in the British press is the fact that Saudi Arabia paid for the arms with oil. The oil was sold on the spot market, and this generated an estimated (in current dollars) $160 billion in cash. I am told by former U.S. Treasury Department officials that the funds generated from the oil sales, after BAE got their cut, went into offshore bank accounts. Those funds were invested by the usual hedge funds, etc. in places like the Cayman Islands, BVI, etc., and the profits over the past 23 years from those investments, multiplied the size of the fund tremendously.
I look forward to any comments on this very big story, that has never gotten adequate media or Congressional attention, in my humble opinion.
Beltway hubris takes a fall! It is heartening to see the ‘locals’ take pragmatic action, and work out an acceptable solution, while ignoring the flatulent and increasingly impotent Bush administration. Also, it’s a good lesson in ‘considering the source,’ as it has become increasingly clear that the US punditocracy is a hothouse flower, for domestic spin only. (who really knows what’s going on i Lebanon and the ME, Brooks and Friedman, or Michael Young and Rami Khoury?)
While the obligatory disclaimers apply, I am impressed with the complete operation that Nasrallah and Hizballah have run; The ‘capture’ of Beirut was a tactical masterstroke–not because of it’s shock and awe factor, but because of the discipline and coordination with which it was run, and for the fact that it was a component to the larger strategy, which was fulfilled at Doha. This itself was also remarkable in that, while Hizballah won significant gains, it was smart enough not to pursue a ‘winner take all’ strategy. No wonder the Jacobins are so flummoxed!
After reading the sensible comments provided by David W., at 11:38AM, Andy – are you willing to re-evaluate your earlier opinions on the consequences of what transpired in Lebanon last week?
I do not see any sign of such a deal – for example, as of yestreday, Iranian officials had publicly expressed their unhappiness with the US Status of Forces in Iraq.
No substantive talks are probable between US and Iran during the remaining days of Bush Presidency – there is no time to create the framework let alone the conduct of these negogiations.
In fact, would not the anti-Iran laws passed over the last 30-years make it very difficult for the executive branch to engage the government of Iran in any substantive give & take? And keep in mind that the Libyans have told anybody who would listen that they did not get what was promised to them by US & UK.
Even under a possible Obama presidency Iran-US negogiations remain a long-shot although EU_Iran one’s are still possible.
It is more likely, however, that EU will follow US in sanctioning herself out of leverage with Iran and we will not see the end of this tale until 2020 or so when gasoline is @ $12.00 per gallon.