Sunday, May 18, 2008

External Encouragement of Lebanese Conflict: Evidence?

Lebanese political instability can be viewed on many levels. The knee-jerk reaction in some circles is to explain everything as an Iranian plot. The opinions typically range far ahead of the evidence, so…what evidence is there?

Here’s one piece, for what it may be worth (I have no way of judging):

well trained militias have run over the airport and allowed an Iranian jet with 400 people aboard to land. Who were these passengers is still a mystery but some unconfirmed rumors claim that these 400 were elite members of the Iranian Party of God who might have been the ones to have spearheaded the Beirut and the Chouf offensives.

And here’s a bit of evidence on the other side:

For months the Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar has been publishing reports about Sunni groups receiving military training in Tripoli and in Palestinian camps. In one story published on 10 January, Al-Akhbar reported that the U.S., Egypt and Saudi Arabia had agreed on a strategy of fostering increased cooperation between Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal and Fatah in an attempt to offset the influence of Hizbullah and Hamas. Although most of the reports are unsourced, the parties mentioned have not issued denials. The newspaper has also reported that Ahmed Al-Khatib, a former leader of the Arab Army, a Lebanese Sunni militia with Nasserist leanings, and Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal, were coordinating their activities. Al-Khatib is said to have set up recruiting and training centers in the Beqaa Valley. During Lebanon's civil war, Al-Khatib fought alongside the Palestinians.

A balanced review of the evidence of external intervention in Lebanon’s domestic political battles would be a valuable contribution…and a nice shift from the typical polemical treatment of this issue. Now, shall we return to that discussion about chickens coming home to roost?

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