Lebanon is still under siege: Israel by sea and air, and Syria by land and through proxy political warfare.
Beginning with the Israeli blockade, Walid Jumblatt has described it as a “stupid approach”, arguing that “plenty of arms were already in the country and the diverted trade benefited only Syria.” Mind you Jumblatt in the same interview said the “Lebanese army, which has sent 8,600 troops to the Syrian frontier and is deploying 15,000 in the south, did not have enough forces or equipment to control the border fully. “
The other blockade is led by Aoun, Hizbullah and Assad’s “remote controlled” allies, as Siniora called them once. Hizbullah and Aoun are still demanding a “national unity government”, threatening to use methods similar to what toppled the Karami government after the Hariri assassination. Lahoud is taking care of the Hariri tribunal by seeking to replace his one-time friend and ally justice minister Charles Rizk in order to make sure the international tribunal does not become a “foreign tool”, he recently claimed. His new buddy Aoun is helping pave the way for this change by calling the cabinet a “foreign embassy”, and accusing it of treason. (He is now demanding an investigation into what happened in Marjayoun, when the interior minister intervened, through negotiations, to release Lebanese security forces besieged by the Israeli army. In a swipe at Aoun, al-Mustaqbal's Tuesday edition featured a photo of Aoun (right) smiling at a handshake between an Israeli commander and one of Aoun's army generals, Issam Abu Jamra, 4 months after the 1982 invasion.)
But perhaps the most effective domestic blockade is the one imposed by Nabih Berri, whose “sit-in” has transformed the parliament into a sort of foreign ministry, sending emissaries to foreign embassies, and turning Lebanese MPs into anti-Israeli talking dolls.
A petition to hold an extraordinary session of parliament to legislate on matters related to the Hariri tribunal and funding post war construction efforts has been signed by 70 deputies so far, meaning the session will and should be held whether Lahoud likes it or not (only Lahoud and Siniora together could summon parliament in the absence of such a petition). But Berri is using the sit-in to delay the session, giving the pro-Assad forces in the country time to rally against the government. Bashar’s bosom buddy, Suleiman Franjieh is even calling for the abrogation of the Taef agreement (ie amending the constitution). The aim is not political reform as much as to return to the pre-Taef presidential system. All this fits rather well with Aoun’s project to rule the country unopposed, and Assad’s plan to topple Siniora, bury the Hariri investigation, and send UNIFIL back to where they came from.
Berri’s role in this has gone unnoticed by most. The man has been trying to neutralize the parliament’s majority since his brainchild the “National Dialogue” stole the functions of parliament. And now he wants the legislature to perform the function of the foreign ministry which he controls, and which has acted as a press office for Assad over the years.
When will this parliament majority wake up and realize that their “speaker” Mr X has not changed? When will they challenge the other blockade? Do we have to get to this bleak scenario, painted by… a member of that majority?!
Jumblatt said Lebanon's role as a diverse, multiconfessional land acting as a link between east and west was under threat. "It seems the Syrians, the Iranians, want to drag us out of this position to be part of the east, this dark east," he said… "But the young people, the people who had hope in Lebanon, the liberal-minded people, I think they won't stay here.