The Situation in Lebanon and the Region

Tuesday 1 September 2009 by CEPRID

A report issued by the foreign relations committee of the Lebanese Communist Party

The past period, after President’s Obama’s visit to the region, was characterized by a multitude of critical developments and milestones, which had consequences on the internal Lebanese situation with effects in the near and medium term.

Firstly, regarding the Arab Israeli Conflict

The American political and diplomatic maneuvers and even the military ones indicate the continued commitment of the new American administration to the security of Israel, after it awarded it the name of The State of the Jews in the World.  By giving it this name, the US ignored the rights of the Palestinian people and at its forefront the right of return for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. This will have numerous consequences especially if we take into account the continued building by Israel of new settlements and the increased talk of the Netanyahu-Liberman government of opting for a policy of racial/ethnic purification through ethnically cleansing a new wave of Palestinian people from the West Bank and the 1948 lands and also through forcefully erasing the Palestinian characteristics of East Jerusalem - a thousand families of which are living in imminent danger of being forcefully expelled from their homes.  All this indicates that the political discourse of the new American administration regarding the creation of a Palestinian state is at best a continuation of the status quo.

Israel is advancing its new efforts of ethnic cleansing and eradication of Palestinian characteristics of East Jerusalem, while taking advantage of the ongoing and exasperated Palestinian divisions and of the concessions offered by the latest Palestinian government: especially those related to keeping quite regarding the right of return and instead focusing efforts on scoring points vis-à-vis internal divisions.

At the time when the American Administration signals the death of the Arab initiative for ending the conflict with Israel, and at the time when it pressurizes the Arab regimes on normalizing relationships with Israel without any preconditions, we find the Arab League remaining suspiciously quite and refusing to take any position regarding the announcements from various Arab countries which declare the opening of Arab air space for Israeli Planes and the opening of the Suez Canal for Israel’s tankers, carriers and submarines and also keeping quite regarding other announcements which refer to diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.  All of these developments show that the so called Moderate Arabs continue to abide by American directives including facilitating the task of Israel in attacking the Iranian nuclear facilities, should the need arise.

Secondly, regarding the Lebanese Israeli Conflict

The Netanyahu-Liberman government benefits from these political stances, and from the new American stance inside the United Nations Security Council of trying to make the Lebanese Territory south of the Litani River under the jurisdiction of a multinational force to replace the UNIFIL force, and to clear the region of any and all weapons; and indeed Israel uses this climate to threaten a comprehensive attack on Lebanon that (as it says) will destroy its infrastructure on the pretext of the political and military threat arising from the participation of Hezbollah in the new post-election government which is yet to be formed.

These threats come at a time when Israel is getting ready to participate in the largest military air maneuvers to be held by NATO scheduled to take place towards the end of August, which is a reminder of the Israeli aggression of 2006 which was under preparation for a long time and which was executed under the pretext of Hezbollah kidnapping two soldiers.  This is particularly true if we link Israeli reports and statement on the ‘dangers coming from the border with Lebanon’ with Israeli leaks of a military plan for an Israeli invasion to reach the city of Saida (that is to a depth of 45 km which reminds us of the Sharon invasion plan in 1982). Such a plan would use a pretext not from London this time (as happened in 1982) but from one of the countries of Latin America since Israeli intelligence agencies have started talking about liaison efforts between Hezbollah and Iran on one side and Venezuela on the other side to target and hit Israeli interests in Latin America.  And here one question begs itself: is there a relationship between the military coup in Honduras and the Colombian – American agreement to hold seven new military bases and the new American-Israeli plans in the region? And is the American Administration preparing to carry out a new plot against the Venezuelan president.

The obvious answer is that the rebound American attack on the Middle East and Latin America has started as a revenge for the failure of its New Middle East Plan and for the setbacks which its policies witnessed in several countries in Latin America and which was manifested by the advances of the position of the left and the Cuban role in Latin America.  However, we are convinced that this new American attack will meet the same fate as its predecessors.

Thirdly, regarding the internal Lebanese political situation

These complex troubled conditions have prevented until now the formation of a new Lebanese government despite the fact that more than 50 days have passed since initial attempts to form it.   This is also despite the talk regarding a Saudi-Syrian agreement on the new government, based on the new/old equation to divide influence between them in the country and based on American/European/Iranian support to this agreement.

In addition to the above, the settlement reached by the Syrian-Saudi agreement, which calls for giving the president the possibility of being the arbitrator between the factions of 14th March (71 members of parliament) and the opposition (8th March -57 members of parliament)[1], has been sabotaged before its implementation due to the changes in the constitution of both alliances.  The most important change of which was the statements of the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (Druze Party), Walid Junblatt, regarding the necessity to end the current divisions between the 14th and the 8th of March forces in view of creating new alliances including a ‘centre’ alliance or an Islamic alliance under the pretext of avoiding and preventing a renewed Sunni-Shiite conflict.

This stagnation is reflected on the general political situation, where on the one hand harsh / aggressive media campaigns have resurfaced and new divisions have emerged amongst previous allies regarding the distribution of the various line ministries and even regarding the nominations for each of the ministries.  Also tensions against the Palestinians have resurfaced taking advantage of Israel’s refusal of awarding the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (who number approximately 400,000) the right of return.  Talk have also resurfaced regarding the Palestinian weapons outside the camps, the discovery of Salafist Jihadi cells which uses the camps as a base for plotting terrorist attacks against UN forces and even against the Lebanese.

Fourthly, regarding the socio economic conditions

The negative consequences are not limited to the political and security situation in the country, but it goes beyond it to include the socio-economic conditions – already suffering from the pressures of the accentuated global economic crisis.  While the bourgeoisie forces, both within the government and outside it, and who are in alliance with the remains of political feudalism forces, quarrel among themselves about dividing the spoils of the state; they agree almost unanimously when it comes to the interest of the ordinary people and their living conditions.  As such the bourgeoisie does not offer any solution to the problem of the ever spiraling public debt (which recently reached 50 billion dollars). It does not offer any solution to the emigration of young people in search of jobs (a large percentage of which has recently returned from the Arab Gulf countries as a result of the effects of the economic crisis in that region).  All this while prices continue to escalate at an unprecedented scale, the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound deteriorates, and tariffs on hydrocarbons continue to increase, investment expenditure decreases by more than 8%, the public deficit increases, the deteriorating state of the electricity sector continues to be ignored – especially the increase in electricity shortages in the capital and in rural areas.

Based on the above analysis, and on the evaluation it carried out in the wake of the results of the parliamentary elections; the Lebanese communist party considers that the coming months, starting in the last quarter of 2009 will witness negative developments on all fronts. And as such efforts must be directed at confronting and resisting some of these negative developments, while finding solutions to other developments and manifestations.

The party reasserts its stance to continue and develop the national resistance against renewed possibilities of Israeli aggression and against the American plans aiming at ending the Palestinian cause and the Arab Israeli conflict to the detriment of the interest of the Arab people.  While the party reasserts its position above, it sees the main task today is the regrouping of the forces of the left and the democratic forces according to a national comprehensive class oriented program which will contribute in the mobilization of the masses and their trade union forces in the battle against the new American plan and will contribute in addressing and resolving the main issues facing the Arab people (mainly the cause of the Palestinian people and their right of return and their right of forming an independent state on their land).  In addition, the party sees that efforts must also be focused on building a democratic secular state in Lebanon, putting an end to corruption and waste, developing a basis to eliminate the ‘charitable economy’ and developing the productive sectors -especially the industrial and agricultural sectors.

[1] These names refer to the dates of two demonstrations (8th of March 2005 and 14th of March 2005) organised in the wake of the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minster Rafiq Hariri on the 14th of February 2005, one in honor of and to thank the Syrian presence in Lebanon (8th March) and the other against it and to condemn it (14th March).

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