The common idea that every regional contest is succinctly played out in Lebanon is false. The Middle East is not a struggle between two invincible powers. It is rather a scene in which a troubled superpower and a hobbled regional power try to find their bearings in passageways cluttered with various Arab and non-Arab agendas.
Clouds of war hover over Lebanon. The country is adrift without a president and with a contested government as well as a Parliament whose doors have been closed since late 2006. Tensions between rival groups spill over regularly into street clashes amid news that they are arming and training.
Confrontational U.S. policy that tried to create a “New Middle East,” but ignored the realities of the region has instead exacerbated existing conflicts and created new problems.
Confrontational U.S. policy that tried to create a “New Middle East,” but ignored the realities of the region has instead exacerbated existing conflicts and created new problems. To restore its credibility and promote positive transformation, the United States needs to abandon the illusion that it can reshape the region to suit its interests.
The growing influence of Sunni Islamists in Lebanon is fueled by rising anti-American and sectarian sentiments resulting from the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq, Lebanon’s ongoing political stalemate, the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri, and the summer 2006 war in which Israel devastated large parts of Lebanon.
America’s relationship with the world is in disrepair. Anger, resentment, and fear have replaced the respect the United States once enjoyed. The next U.S. president should improve relations with Syria, and the mullahs in Tehran may be willing to shelve their nuclear plans permanently in exchange for a little face time with the United States.
Since global change accelerated a decade or so ago, mentioning globalisation has tended to upset many people in the Arab world. Was 2007 the year that the region moved closer -- and more comfortably -- to the rest of the globe?
Lebanon is threatening to come undone in the coming days. The international community, and particularly the United States, need to focus urgently on Lebanon. The crisis in Lebanon deserves the most urgent and intense attention at the highest international political levels
A series of unusual scenes on the streets of the Middle East nurtured an inspiring story line of an emerging “Arab spring” that mimicked the earlier triumph of democracy from the Philippines to Prague: mass demonstrations in Lebanon; joint rallies of Egyptian Islamists and liberals against the Mubarak regime; and elections in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Egypt and even Saudi Arabia.
As political instability continues to plague the Iraqi government, a more inclusive process that includes both groups outside the government inside Iraq and Syria and Iran is needed.