An important piece translated today by our Mideastwire.com
I wrote about this in 2014 for the European Council on Foreign Relations:
European Council on Foreign Relations – On Lebanon’s New Security Symbiosis/September 2014
Today’s piece in El-Nashra:
“…Likewise, the Army Intelligence apparatus was able to arrest Bilal Ch. in Tripoli, a suicide bomber who also intended to detonate himself… At this level, the source revealed that cooperation between the Lebanese security bodies was an important factor in securing these accomplishments. But he pointed to another type of cooperation which deserved to be addressed, i.e. the CIA’s cooperation with Lebanese security. Indeed, he indicated that the current stage was witnessing an exceptional cooperation that had led to the paralysis of the terrorist activities, though he did not wish to tackle the nature and causes of this cooperation, especially since war on terrorism was ongoing. He assured nonetheless: “The CIA, Hezbollah security apparatus and the Army Intelligence constitute the main source of information in the face of terrorism…”
“Clinton’s supporters in Michigan knew they had a problem when Bernie Sanders pulled off the electoral primary and beat her by 17,000 votes in March 2016. More important still, Bernie won the Arab-American majority districts by two-to-one…”
Here you can see in just the City of Dearborn, Trump got almost the exact same votes Romney did in 2012, but our Democratic ticket got about 2000 less votes… a problem replicated across Arab American communities:
The Exchange is an effort by Mideastwire.com and its partners to promote understanding and academic enrichment through a variety of city-focused conferences in the Middle East and North Africa.
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9am – Nicholas Noe, Mideastwire.com
1:30 – Ayman Mhanna, Samir Kassir Foundation
4pm – Omar Nashabe, Consultant for the Defense Counsel at the STL
7pm – Jihad Yazigi, The Syria Report
Tuesday, January 6
9:30am – Karim Makdisi, American University of Beirut
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6pm – Anne Barnard, New York Times
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9am – Alice Arrue, UNIFIL
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For those of us who have watched this issue for more than a decade, it is clear what is going on with the Israeli 1) issuance of maps of Hezbollah positions in the South last week alongside 2) media/diplomatic attacks on the Lebanese Army this week as having allowed weapons to slip to Hezbollah.
I wrote about the issues here in 2007 and 2008:
Very simply, 2017 and the Trump admin will likely bring a sea change in (among other areas) relations between Lebanon and the US. The Israelis will push for what they have long wanted: a pull back of (already extremely limited in terms of quality) support for the Lebanese Army viewed as a mere auxiliary of Hezbollah (an inaccurate assessment that misses the point and actually misses a great opportunity for diminishing Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon, ironically enough). The Trump admin will likely back this (in the context of a likely collapse in US-Iranian cooperation towards confrontation).
This is a small part of the coming overall disintegration at home and abroad, but nevertheless is instructive as to how harsh the lines will be, how even more central Israel claims will be for US policy, how oblique approaches of dealing with enemies and competitors will be summarily discarded… and how a Trump alignment with Russia and authoritarian regional regimes will be systematically separated from, and set against, the Iranian-Hezbollah (and perhaps Saudi-Gulf) axes.
This seems to be the direction we are headed, but options still exist ahead of January 20, 2017.
The many stories like these, translated today by our Mideastwire.com, are why I strongly disagreed with Thanassis’s assessment, blogged below in January, about the FPM-LF rapprochement:
From January 2016:
Thanassis Cambanis & others mis-reading Aoun-Gaegae shift, just as Aoun-Nasrallah alliance was mis-read 10 years ago
(Just a note as Thanassis pointed out to me I mis read his point on the likelihood of a weak president now: he also believes this scenario is less likely than before. But this begs the point further-isn’t this development then a pretty important structural shift!?)
Thanassis Cambanis has a blog post below that argues (as several commentators very quick out the post are today): “it is not a game changer” in reference to the new christian alliance.
“In any event, even if the wider alliances fracture and regroup, there’s no reason to believe we’re witnessing anything more than a rearrangement of the supporting cast.”
I think he is wrong – my piece will be out in a few days as we need to have more time to soak in what is really going on.
My initial reading is that this is indeed a major event and does represent a new and powerful dynamic in Lebanon and possibly somewhat beyond.
I will just remind analysts that few realized 10 years ago (almost to the day!) that the Aooun-Nasrallah alliance (FPM and Hezbollah) was real and anchored on some structural shifts. Many mis-understood this as a flash in the pan, mere interests etc… ten years later we can see how wrong they were in the analysis.
Thanassis also argues:
“In other words, no polarizing zaim like Aoun, Geagea or Suleiman Franjieh. Pushed to bet on a name, I’d pick the current head of the military, Jean Kahwaji, a safe choice to preserve security without tipping the political balance or posing a threat to the hereditary majors.”
— I also think he is wrong here. That may be a safe bet, but it now looks increasingly unlikely as the ceiling of christian demands just got higher – there must be a strong christian president, something acknowledged by many of the politicians who were just visited during our research conference in Beirut!
Remember Future and M14 always said it was hezbollah and aoun blocking a president – now “the christians” agree… and the other side with Amal movement from M8 will be hard pressed to get a nice christian president that can be easily pushed around like many argued was the case with former president Sulieman. And they will be hard pressed to now be clearly the obstructionists.
He ends by saying, “Meanwhile, Lebanon’s demography marches onward, its Shia plurality bustling and its Sunni and Christian communities in decline (so long as Syrian refugees don’t enter the calculation).”
— Here he is wrong as well. The sunni part of the equation is decidedly NOT declining (not sure where this assertion came from).
What is missing in his analysis here is how the Christians and the Shia largely agree about a new electoral law that will likely be to the detriment of Future movement – not because of any declining sunni demographics (the opposite is actually happening) but because of Future’s structure and electoral map and their declining support.
Hashed out in my next piece monday/tuesday!
Emile Hokayem and Steven Heydemann I remember in late 2011 and here in February 2012 when Emile brushed off my warnings in this New York Times Op-Ed. Turned out to not be particularly “cynical” after all or wrong about Assad not falling… not to mention right about the terrible moral and strategic consequences that would flow from an effort to collapse him and his allies.
Note to Beltway: When you have a Middle East democracy awards benefit don’t invite architect of the Iraq war
When you choose to honor Arabs and others working to promote democracy in the Middle East – and we can have a separate discussion about your mission and it’s pitfalls – for sure don’t invite Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of so much unnecessary destruction in the Middle East and here at home. And when he swears at Senator Murphy from Connecticut who calls out the war economy and its pernicious influence on our country’s policies, well, the right thing to do is to ask him to leave. There is enough to be concerned about without dredging up these demons from our recent past to serve as unwelcome table company.
This is the senator to watch: thank goddess our party still has some