Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Opposition election victory a major blow to Bush

As FPM supporters were cheering in the streets of Lebanon, concern was mounting in Washington. The US' chosen candidate to win the Metn by-election has failed to knock-out a key Hizballah ally.

Michel Aoun's FPM has proven to be the unexpected thorn to US plans for Lebanon in their quest for regional domination. Everything the Americans have thrown at Hizballah seems to have bounced back. The US had hoped the people-power reaction to Rafik Hariri's assassination in 2005 would've been enough to end Hizballah's power in Lebanon. Indeed, the FPM were on the streets in full voice with America's current Lebanese allies demanding Syria's departure and Hizballah's disarmament two-years ago.

However, American failed attempts to include Michel Aoun in their assortment of Lebanese puppets led the FPM to do the unthinkable. In late 2005, the FPM - which commanded the greatest support among Lebanon's Christian community - forged an alliance with the pro-Iranian/Syrian Hizballah.

This alliance has become a complete nightmare for the US in Lebanon. The FPM's memorandum of understanding with the Shi'ite movement has given Hizballah enough popular power to contend US influence in the country. Following its success against Israel last summer, the new Christian-Shi'ite alliance turned to internal affairs and went on the offensive to remove Lebanon's pro-American leadership from power. A wave of mass demonstrations (the largest demonstrations ever witnessed by the country) and strikes brought the country to the brink of civil war, and the Americans on the back-pedal.

Lebanon has remained paralysed since, with both camps refusing to budge an inch. The Syrians and Iranians are propping up the Opposition on the one hand, and at the other end of the spectrum the Americans and Saudis are pulling every string possible to avoid a Hizballah takeover of Lebanon.

Sunday's by-election was one of those strings. The Americans swung their full support behind March 14 candidate and former president Amine Gemayel in the hope that the victory will break Aoun's standing among the Christians. Again, the US has failed.

Michel Aoun can now state he has the majority of the Christians behind him. The US are running out of options. It finds itself in an alliance with the Sunnis in Lebanon (despite the fact that the Americans are battling Sunni insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan), and at complete odds with Lebanon's Christians, who have favoured a partnership with Hizballah, a proxy arm of America's arch-nemesis, Iran.

The next crucial battle will be the presidential elections in a few months. The president is elected by the parliament, which has been en panne for more than 8 months. Hizballah have threatened to create a 2nd government if the ruling coalition chooses a president without their consent. What will occur remains unforeseen. The stakes are very high, and the by-elections are only a warm up to the much anticipated presidential elections.

The Americans have lost another round in its struggle with Iran and Syria over domination in Lebanon, but no doubt they are back at the drawing boards preparing for the next battle.

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