Across the Bay

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Opposition in the Streets?

NOW Lebanon's editorial comments on the so-called "opposition's" latest new-old plan.

It's very clear that this is the Syrian order of operations, as it was the Syrian regime's orphaned pitbulls -- Naser Qandil, Wi'am Wahhab, Suleiman Frangieh and the mukhabarat rag al-Diyar -- who were enthusiastically announcing the marching orders.

It was interesting to hear that clown Qandil (who will likely end up in jail for his role in the Hariri assassination) try to base this on Nasrallah's latest imbecilic and pitiful interview. This point was accurately noted in the NOW editorial:

Is it us, or did you also sense that Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in his interview on Wednesday night, was walking a fine line between Syrian priorities and Iran’s apparent desire to avoid a breakdown in Lebanon? If we are right, Nasrallah’s threat to take to the streets is a sop to Syria...

In other words, the order is Syrian par excellence. But Qandil laying this at Nasrallah's feet, aside from showing just how much they need his cover to have any weight at all in the country, shows just how much Syria is pressuring Nasrallah to blow up the place. His lame balancing act in his interview was a reflection of this.

What they will do is use socio-economic issues and unions as cover for some sort of street movement and possible street closures.

As the the editorial intimates, this is actually scraping the bottom of the barrel. Between Wahab, Qandil, Najah Wakim, Abdelrahim Mrad and "The Brother" Kamal Shatila, this is really a third division match. But, after all, this is all that Syria has left in Lebanon -- moronic thugs like these -- which is why it is striving to restore its brutal military grip on the country.

But if their moves last year are any indication, this will likely prove yet another flop for the ragtag known as "the opposition." NOW's editorial adds:

But before we sound too bitter, let’s for a moment deconstruct what such action might actually mean. First, if Hezbollah decides to go ahead with street action, what is the result likely to be? One of two things will happen: The army will either confront the protestors, forcing soldiers to fight civilians, or it will stand aloof and do nothing. In either case, the army would be discredited. Is that the opposition’s true aim in its continuing efforts to derail the election of Michel Sleiman as president?

You also have to wonder about Michel Aoun. If the opposition has a lame leg, it’s him. The General seems to believe that a majority of Christians prefer him to Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir. We have our doubts. We also remember that almost exactly one year ago, when the opposition tried to torpedo the Paris III meeting, Aoun was unable to mobilize very many of his own people to block roads in Christian areas of the country. By nightfall, the Aounists had been chased back into their homes, and Aoun was in convulsions about the lack of mettle of his partisans.

The reality is that while Aoun might still have some support, many of his followers are just not willing to give up a day of work on his behalf and cripple the economy as a consequence. Aoun always sold himself as the representative of legality, but all he is today is a persistent, petulant renegade; someone who has done as much as Hezbollah to undermine the state, the rule of law, the Taif Accord and the presidential election.
More importantly, if such pressure forces Aoun to step back from his reckless behavior, this would deny Hezbollah its vital Christian partner. Does the party of God really want to be alone in the midst of a Christian area, blocking the Awkar road, with a hostile population all around and an irritated Lebanese army deployed ahead? Does Hezbollah really want to be blamed alone for blocking Lebanon’s lifeline to the world: the airport? The party has hidden behind Aoun for much of the time, but place it in the forefront of action, and suddenly all tension coalesces between the Sunni and Shia. And we believe Hezbollah when it says that it wants to avoid this.

Fistfights between Hariri and Hezbollah and Amal supporters in recent days have already shown how high Sunni-Shiite tensions are in Beirut. This is precisely why Salim Hoss was warning against any street action by his comrades.

Then again, they seem to be begging for more rope.