Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Aftershocks from Lebanon (in Egypt)

From The Arabist Network...

From just general reading and watching TV, it seems that the focus in the Lebanese affair is quickly moving towards Hizbullah and whether it should (or can be made to) disarm. However, I don’t see many incentives provided to them for disarmament, especially when Lebanon’s security remains threatened by Israel and they derive so much power from being the best-armed militia. I hope a Syrian withdrawal will be matched with security guarantees against Israel’s frequent incursions into Lebanese territory and airspace — if for instance the US could secure that from Israel for the Lebanese, it might go a long way to pressuring Hizbullah’s disarmament. But there will also have to be some carrots dangled in front of Hizbullah to make it give up its weapons. The question remains, of course, whether it has enough independence from Iran and Syria to make that decision.

Meanwhile, Egypt has been quite active in trying to mediate the Lebanon-Syria crisis. The main state-owned papers like Ahram are all calling for Lebanese calm and Syrian withdrawal, which I think indicates Mubarak’s position. Masri Al Youm revealed today that there was a secret visit yesterday by Baha and Saad Rafiq Al Hariri to Cairo, which is certainly interesting (although I’m not sure how to interpret it.) I think Egypt’s endgame is that this does not turn into a conflict or destabilize Syria. I sense concern that the Syrians just pull out as quickly as possible, for the sake of regional stability. Some people see Saturday’s announcement of constitutional reform by Mubarak as partly motivated by the events in Lebanon. I think that’s a worthwhile theory, although it’s difficult to measure how much of an impact that event specifically had (the Iraqi elections are something else that may have influenced it, in my opinion.) The important thing to remember is that for Mubarak, it’s all about stability.

Naturally. Incumbents cherish stability.

This link is via Dove's Eye View, by an Arab-American woman living in California (?). Blogroll and other links are interesting for both blogs.

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