Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 19, 2007

(Non-)Interference in Lebanon

On Wednesday the Lebanese parliament will elect a new president. If the (s)election fails, another civil war is a very possible outcome. All parties are heavily armed and 20,000 troops are staged within the capital.

According to the Lebanese constitution, the president has to be a Christian and elected by a two-thirds parliamentary majority. The Maronite patriarch Sfeir made a list of possible candidates and the ruling March 14 coalition is supposed to agree with the opposition on one of the listed persons.

The March 14 group consists of the Sunni followers of the Saudi business mogul Hariri and some Christian groups and is supported by the U.S., France and Saudi Arabia. It is now negotiating with the opposition which represents the Shia Hizbullah and the Christian leader Aoun and his followers. These are supported by Syria and Iran.

The elections are of course an internal Lebanese affair:

[Former Prime Minister Salim] Hoss warned against foreign interference in Lebanon's domestic issues, "because such interference has ostensibly jeopardized all chances to reach a consensus among the Lebanese."

Two weeks ago non-interference was also demanded by Rice and Kouchner:

"It was also the expectation of everyone that there would be no intimidation and interference [in Lebanon]," [Rice] added, ..
[...]
Earlier, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he had emphasised to Moualem in bilateral talks in Istanbul the importance of non-interference in Lebanon by outsiders.

"I warned Syria of the imperative need to allow the presidential election process to go ahead according to the constitution ... without any external interference," Kouchner told reporters.

But there is interference and interference and a big difference between those two. One can obviously be against the first and do the second:

Kouchner, .., is on his sixth visit to Lebanon in six months.
[...]
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is also due to arrive here on Monday evening to push for a consensus president. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, also an opposition leader, saying that the United States supports a new president who enjoys the support of all the Lebanese people.

She also called Maronite Patriarch Sfeir, Prime Minister Fouad Seniora and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri to exchange views on means to solve the deadlock.

With so much (non-)interference from the outside, the result will likely be tragic for the Lebanese people.

Posted by b on November 19, 2007 at 15:32 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Hey Bernhard,

I know you must think that these phone calls are the most terrible type of interference in the world, but they're not.

Essentially, in every case you mentioned above the words spoken by the French and American foreign ministers [secretary of state] were in support of the country's state institutions (such as Parliament) and the constitutional election process for a new President.

If you really are interested in foreign interference then give a moment's thought to assassinations of anti-Syrian MPs [by Syria]; or the arming of illicit groups in Lebanon [by Syria]; or the use of Hizballah by Iran to project its regional political/military aspirations. In each one of those cases Lebanese people paid with their blood because of that interference.

Calling local goons [e.g. Berri] and politicians in Lebanon to remind them that the world is watching and cares and that the rule of law [as opposed to violence] should be respected - can hardly compare.

Posted by: Blacksmith Jade | Nov 19 2007 22:06 utc | 1

blacksmith

& it is so so evident that the institutions of state whether they are in beirut or washington or parisare themselves nothing but a collection of interests. in this case - amongst the most corrupt interests existant

& as for goons - the fascist phalange & all their variations pollute the political life of lebanon & always have. gngsters dressing themselves up as god

& fuck the allussions to syria & iran - what are you reading from - some notebook left on the terrace of a bar in tripoli by some co-ed cnn rap/porteur

if the u s empire would get the fuck out of the middle east, if the israeli's were obliged to create a decent form of international relations, if the corrupt clans who converge with the interests of condaleeza from tel aviv to rawalpindi were obliged to use their own force & imagination - perhaps this world might be a little better

but drop the propaganda - we have a tough time swimming through that shit everyday

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 19 2007 22:59 utc | 2

@Blacksmith sure - no interference by the U.S. - just the U.S. ambassador playing constitutional court ...

link

The March 14 coalition, led by Saad Hariri, the son of Rafik Hariri, has threatened to choose a president itself and form a government with its slim majority rather than continue seeking consensus. That position has been publicly endorsed as constitutional by U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman.

Article 49.2
The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and by a twothirds majority of the Chamber of Deputies. After a first ballot, an absolute majority shall be sufficient.
But what if the chamber of deputies does not convene? (which is currently the case) Than it's Feltman's decision?

BTW: How do you know who killed what parliamentarian?

Posted by: b | Nov 20 2007 12:06 utc | 3

Presidential Elections Likely to Be Postponed till Friday

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Tuesday was expected to postpone till Friday a presidential election session to choose a new president for Lebanon.
Several officials said Berri would likely postpone Wednesday's session to Friday, just hours before the mandate of current head of state Emile Lahoud expires.

"Everything indicates that Berri and (parliamentary) majority leader Saad Hariri will agree to postpone the session to Friday to allow for negotiations to continue on a consensus candidate," an official with the ruling March 14 coalition told AFP.
...

Posted by: b | Nov 20 2007 12:12 utc | 4

Lebanese President promises not to hand over power to prime minister

(snip)
Regarding the eventuality that no new Lebanese President would be voted on Friday with a two-thirds majority, President Emile Lahoud, whose term expires Friday night, said he would not hand over executive powers to the prime minister since he considers the current administration as unconstitutional, but that he would consider handing over power to the Commander in Chief of the armed forces or even declaring a state of emergency.

Posted by: Alamet | Nov 21 2007 0:26 utc | 5

how the whore hariri & his harem of hoods hope escape the coming justice of the lebanese people is beyond me

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 21 2007 18:50 utc | 6

Controlled Chaos

Insightful piece about how to make sense of the US agenda in Lebanon and the current political impasse there.

Posted by: Bea | Nov 25 2007 4:48 utc | 7

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