Emile Lahoud didn't make it to the cabinet yesterday. He remained holed up in his precious Baabda palace, making phone calls to the dictator next door, feeling irrelevancy envelop his existence. For a few weeks, Lebanon's least respected politician and Assad's puppet felt important again. And for a few weeks only, so did Bashar and his Iranian friends.
But Fouad Siniora, long paralyzed by an inane National Dialogue and Bashar's Lebanese orcs, found his legs yesterday, with a little behind the scenes help from France and Saad Hariri. His speech at the Arab Foreign ministers meeting brought tears to the eyes of many, including the supporters of the Arab world's vicarious resistance against Israel. Siniora's Arab tears made Hizbullah's Iranian weapons look marginal. While it's too early to declare Siniora as the face of a new Arabism, the man's dedication to his country, and his steadfastness and political wizardry may well be what this region long needed: a fresh start. Bashar and his Iranian friends have been dealt a severe blow by Siniora's decision to send the Lebanese army south. Not even Hizbullah could object.
Siniora knows who is destroying his country. One force is Israel. But the second force is Iran and its new proxy state, Assad's Syria. Hizbullah and Israel put him in a difficult position. They made his fight for his country's independence look like treason. But he persevered, and soon he found the means: Cabinet consensus and the Arab League. Absorb Hizbullah by acknowledging their resistance, but don't let them absorb you.
Saniora on Tuesday praised Hezbollah's resistance, but said it was time for Lebanon to "impose its full control, authority and presence" over the war-weary country. "There will be no authority, no one in command, no weapons other than those of the Lebanese state," he said on Al-Arabiya television.
Siniora yesterday looked like the leader no Arab country has ever had, offering a better alternative to the misguided "resistance" plague swallowing the region's youth.
We do not want the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people to remain the punch bag of Israel or anyone else (Read Iran and Syria). We are determined not to be the arena for conflicts and confrontations from now on, whatever the justification… We are basing our arguments on the sorrows of the widowed women, the dead children, the wounded and the homeless people… (Naharnet)
"Our Arabness is not conditional. It is not by force, but a choice," he added. The significance of these statements should not be missed. Bashar can no longer get away with waving his brand of Arab nationalism in our faces, using it to justify his murders, and to keep us in a state of war and fear. Arabism should not be a political tool of oppression or ignoring the suffering of your own people. It should be the key to our political independence.
Siniora has successfully recruited and united the Arab League's once defunct political army against Lebanon's enemies. That this is unprecedented is an understatement. They (minus Syria) went arguing Lebanon's case, partly out of fear of the Persian enemy, partly out of realization that their salvation begins in Lebanon. They now know that the future of their countries starts in Lebanon, once their battleground, now the jumping board to their safekeeping.
Your (addressing Arab leaders) position with us, your standing with us, is a right and a duty. Arab security is interlinked, Arab future is interlinked... (Naharnet)
One only needs to look at how Jamal Mubarak, Hosni's heir, flew the Egyptian cabinet and a slew of artists to Beirut today. Beirut is the place to be right now, and Siniora's perseverance made it so, not Hizbullah's. Beirut is the capital that Israel, Syria and Iran could not and cannot cow. It's the capital of a new Lebanon, in a new Arab world that respects its boundaries and honors its sacrifices. It's where freedom and culture collide to give birth to hope. I am jumping ahead of myself, but why not? As Siniora proved, change sometimes begins with hope exaggerated.
The dark lord in Damascus must feel isolated now, and he has to rethink his alliance with Iran, if he were to survive. If the Arab states allowed Lebanon to be destroyed to get rid of Iran's influence, how would they react if Bashar were attacked?
Someone send the man in Damascus some valium. His Lebanese black market is no longer.
"Syria should get used to the fact that Lebanon is an independent state," he said, without mentioning Hezbollah's other patron, Iran. (Source: AP)
The ball now, more than ever, is in Israel's court. How will they respond to this? Olmert described the decision to send the army south as "interesting." Will Israel and the US give Siniora the chance and time he needs? Olmert may not feel like he has to, and Israel is not known for doing anyone favors, but now is the time to stop this war, and let the Lebanese state take back the country.
Stay safe Fouad.