Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's as simple as 10 + 10 + 10

That's the formula the Arab League, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar came up with to end Lebanon's deadlock. Who said the Arab League was a pointless organisation?

It seems rather simple, rather logical. If you can't have the power, share it.

Both sides must acknowledge that neither side is prepared to give ground, and that there is sufficient international backing behind each camp to ensure their stances remain firm.

In light of the obvious, sharing power until the subsequent parliamentary elections is a much more preferable solution to complete stagnation, or worse, war.

Bloggers have circulated that Hizballah may not be too warm to the 10+10+10 formula, which falls short of their key demand for a veto, but empowers the Maronite presidency.

Boosting the power of the Maronites with the presidency to 10 seats in the cabinet will obviously have to be compromised from other sects. The Sunnis, which were previously the major decision makers in cabinet, will have their power significantly reduced, but more importantly, the Shi'ites will continue to fall short of their veto power under the new plan.

Hizballah has cautiously welcomed the plan, but have yet to give their final answer. No doubt they are in full consultation with their key Christian ally, Michel Aoun, who also looks set to lose in the short term if the Opposition's influence in the cabinet is marginalised by an increase in the President's share.

March 14 on the other hand have welcomed the Arab initiative, striking it as "noble", which isn't much of a surprise considering their patron leader, Saudi Arabia, gave its full backing behind the plan.

The Opposition must see the long term benefits from this plan. The country is at a dangerous stalemate, and the blocking of this latest initiative - which has received the endorsement of key rival players Saudi Arabia and Syria - will have severe repercussions.

The President-on-hold, Michel Sleiman, is already viewed as sharing close links to Syria, thus the Opposition should find some comfort in that respect. Michel Sleiman doesn't seem to be the likely president to disband Hizballah's military wing. The Opposition cannot afford to keep Lebanon stagnant until the US presidential elections, the situation simply cannot withstand further pressure.

Best to share now, reduce the power of March 14 to a sharing equilibrium, and fight it out over parliamentary elections.

Michel Aoun is keen to stress that Sleiman's presidency exceed no further than two years. If he is confident the Opposition can win a clear majority in the next parliamentary elections, than the boosting of Maronite power in the government should be welcomed by the FPM camp - although it does mean the FPM's current influence would be significantly minimised in government decision-making. However, overall, all sides will have their influence reduced. It's time the Lebanese overlords bight their lip, and accept the reality that power in Lebanon is simply never absolute.

Sharing power, can we manage that?

Blogger gossip has also revealed that pro-American regional heavyweights, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, coerced Syria into the 10+10+10 plan by threatening to boycott the upcoming Arab summit to be held in Damascus. The Syrians want to showcase the event, and will not endanger its success. Perhaps we should hold summits in Damascus more often, it seems like an effective way to get the Arabs to agree.

The 10+10+10 plan seems a quite obvious, simple initiative that should have been devised long ago. Politicians fail to realise that 4 million people inhabit this country, and must make a living like everyone else on the planet. The fact that these politicians continue to jeapordise the livelihood of these 4 million inhabitants only demonstrates their clear irresponsibility and greed. Alas, this is Lebanon. Our people have grown accustom to being pawns of the players, but perhaps it's time the 4 million stepped out of the shadows, stopped being sheep to misleading shepherd,s and take the country into their own hands. But alas, we're not France.

Hizballah and the FPM must show good faith, and be mindful that their decision will affect those millions of Lebanese who have struggled to make a living over this wrangling of power.

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