Whichever bloc wins in upcoming parliamentary elections, the trend of growing Hizballah power is likely to continue.
Lebanon faces critical parliamentary elections on June 7 between the pro-western March 14 coalition and the March 8 coalition led by Hezbollah. Whatever majority might be gained by either side will be very slim.
The decision made by the Special Tribunal for the Lebanon Court to release four generals held by the Lebanese authorities since August 2005 without trial has increasingly exacerbated political polarisation in the country one month away from parliamentary elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood's reaction to the Hizbullah controversy reveals that until now the movement is split in its strategic outlook between two opposing political directions.
Britain's policy change towards Hizbullah is a step in the right direction. Preconditions from Beirut should not be laid down.
Major upcoming elections in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq and, perhaps, Palestine, could alter the balances of power in these countries. Because each is at the heart of various arenas of conflict in the Middle East, 2009 could witness a series of political jolts in region.
For the EU to be an effective player in the Middle East, it should seek an efficient division of labor with the United States and pursue greater political engagement in the Palestinian territories, Syria, and Lebanon.
The possibility of peace between Syria and Israel in 2009 is a serious one. Both countries have a strategic interest in peace, and have been pursuing indirect negotiations under Turkish auspices for a year.
Arab regimes that have long been friendly to the United States are increasingly reluctant to follow Washington’s lead on any issue. They are not enemies of the United States, but they are not faithful allies, either. Rather, they follow the policies they believe best protect their interests, regardless of what the United States wants.
The situation in the Middle East is set to deteriorate. The European policy community assessed past European action in the region, lessons learnt, and a future strategy.