Mosimane praises Weiler for Ahly's league success, hopes for Champions League glory    Obama: Trump failed to take pandemic, presidency seriously    'Bond - James Bond': Scottish movie legend Sean Connery dies aged 90    PSG's Neymar out until at least mid-November: Coach Tuchel    Australia's Melbourne enjoys first weekend out of lockdown as COVID-19 cases dwindle    Ivory Coast votes for president in test of post-war stability    Mourinho says Tottenham fans cannot expect same Bale from seven years ago    Egypt reports 176 new coronavirus cases, 11 deaths on Friday    Death toll reaches 26 in quake that hit Turkey, Greek island    All winners of 4th El Gouna Film Festival    Emerging Markets-EMEA FX falls; Turkish lira set for worst month since 2018 crisis    Restrictions needed to battle COVID-19 in Europe, EU says    Thwart US veto or await new president? WTO has leadership dilemma    Egypt extends deadline for reconciliation requests in building violations to 30 November    El Gouna Film Festival sheds light on digital media in the wake of COVID-19    Parliament's ‘driving force'    The Senate and the return of party politics    GERD: In quest of meaningful negotiations    Egyptian insurance companies' premiums 9.6% up in five months    Egypt's President Sisi names new head of anti-corruption watchdog    Egypt's offers 18 bln pounds T-bills on Sunday    EgyptAir offering discounts for some international flights    Egypt records 212 new coronavirus cases, 14 deaths on Saturday    Egypt to require PCR coronavirus tests for airport travelers    Egypt sends 125 tonnes of glass by sea to Beirut    Legend Messi officially wants to leave Barcelona, hands transfer request    Global smartphone sales drop 20% in Q2, yet Apple's iPhone sales steady    Sisi: Egypt keen on establishing development projects with Iraq, Jordan    Egyptian megastar Amr Diab releases new hit music video    Making of Harry Potter will be available for fans at new park in Tokyo    Egypt's Senate elections official results to be announced Wednesday    Netflix Egypt is bringing megastar Amr Diab back with a new original    Egypt reopens Rafah border crossing for first time since April    Egypt's senate elections 2020 trending on social media in few days    African Champions League final will be played on Oct. 16-17, CAF says    No room to delay Egyptian Premier League games – EFA's board member    The Facebook Preacher's Search for Fame, and Egypt's Economy    Egypt calls on UNSC to address oil spill risks off Yemen coast    Egypt economically strong in face of COVID-19, reforms ongoing: International Cooperation Minister    Arafa Holding reports $144,000 COVID-19-related losses in April    Egypt's efforts in Libya to activate free will of Libyan people: Al-Sisi    Hyksos campaigns were internal takeover, not foreign invaders: study    COVID-19 affects Egypt sporting clubs    COVID-19 will soon turn to seasonal like swine flu: Presidential Health Advisor    ‘Egypt's Support' coalition convenes to discuss its Senate election list    Robbery attempt leads to discovery of Ptolemaic monuments in Qena    Flouting international guidance, Ethiopia unilaterally starts filling its Nile dam    Zaha speaks out after online racial abuse    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Hezbollah power swings Lebanon away from West
Published in Daily News Egypt on 26 - 01 - 2011

BEIRUT: The balance of power in Lebanon shifted toward Syria and Iran on Tuesday when a Hezbollah-backed politician was named prime minister, ousting a Western-allied bloc that has headed governments for nearly six years.
Sunni Muslims loyal to outgoing premier Saad Al-Hariri staged a "day of rage", burning tyres and blocking roads in protest at the appointment of Sunni billionaire Najib Mikati, a centrist lawmaker with ties to both Saudi Arabia and Syria.
"My hand is extended to all factions to take part and end division...through dialogue," Mikati said after his nomination.
Hezbollah and its allies quit Hariri's unity government on Jan. 12, bringing it down after the failure of a Syrian-Saudi effort to bridge a rift over a UN-backed tribunal set up to try the killers of Hariri's father, statesman Rafik Al-Hariri.
Fury in Lebanon over Hariri's assassination in 2005, along with US, French and Saudi pressure, had forced Syria to pull out its troops and relax its domination of its neighbour.
Almost six years later, it is Syria's Lebanese allies, with the pro-Iranian armed Shia group Hezbollah at the forefront, who have regained the initiative from their pro-Western rivals.
And they have done it legally and constitutionally, winning support for Mikati from 68 of parliament's 128 members after Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, once a Hariri ally, switched sides.
But in Lebanon's tortuous politics, parliamentary arithmetic may be less important than securing sectarian consensus.
"If most of the Sunni community doesn't accept Mikati's designation, we have a problem," said Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut (AUB).
"If they are unhappy, that would violate the spirit of the constitution," he said, arguing that Mikati risked "political suicide" if he tried to form a government in defiance of Hariri supporters who consider him the tool of a Hezbollah "coup".
Hariri, who has said his bloc will not join a Mikati-led government, asked his supporters to avoid violence, urging them not to let their anger trump their "commitment to democracy".
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his party would back a "national partnership" cabinet formed by Mikati.
Rupture with tribunal
His priority is for Lebanon to repudiate the tribunal, which issued still-secret indictments last week that are widely expected to implicate Hezbollah members in Hariri's assassination, a charge the Shia group denies.
Under the aborted Syrian-Saudi deal, even Saad Al-Hariri is believed to have conditionally agreed to cut ties with the court, which gets 49 percent of its funds from Lebanon.
For now Hezbollah and its allies are in the driving seat.
Hezbollah, often outmaneuvering its opponents, has striven to strengthen its political position in Lebanon ever since its guerrillas fought Israel to a standstill in a 2006 war.
It has used street protests or ministerial resignations to paralyze Western-backed governments and flexed its military muscle with a brief violent takeover of Beirut in May 2008.
After that confrontation, the opposition gained veto power in cabinet under a Qatari-mediated deal, although Hariri's bloc kept its now-vanished parliamentary majority in a 2009 election.
Some Lebanese and Israeli politicians have equated Mikati's nomination to the advent of "Iranian" rule in Lebanon, but the Harvard-educated capitalist seems an unlikely stooge of Tehran.
Significantly, Saudi Arabia, Hariri's main external backer and a regional rival of Iran, has not spoken out against Mikati, suggesting he may enjoy at least an amber light from Riyadh.
Mikati, a telecoms tycoon, may be too moderate and cautious to risk Saudi displeasure. "He wants power, but he's not going to sacrifice his business interests for that," said Karim Makdisi, who teaches international relations at AUB.
Mohammed Safadi, another rich Sunni businessman with a seat in parliament and close ties to Riyadh, is backing Mikati.
Lebanese analysts say other interested powers such as France, Qatar and Turkey also favour a Mikati-led government.
The United States has said any big government role for Hezbollah, which it brands a terrorist organisation, would complicate its ties with Lebanon and affect US aid.
However, it is not clear how Washington, which strongly backs the tribunal, can decisively influence events in Lebanon.
"It's not so much that Hezbollah or the opposition or the Syrians have done anything ingenious on the strategic level to get this upper hand," said Makdisi.
"It's more that the (Hariri-led) March 14 team and their supporters in the West, especially the United States, and Saudi Arabia to a degree, have really scored an own-goal. They always seemed to play the wrong cards at the wrong time."

Clic here to read the story from its source.