Monday, February 7, 2011

Back to Lebanon

Remember Lebanon and their crisis? It seems like years ago, as events elsewhere in the Middle East have progressed at light speed while dominating the news. Lebanon is still very much in focus:

Coming ME flashpoint: UN Hariri tribunal nears indictments

With no end of the Egyptian standoff in sight, a showdown in Lebanon looms large:

Within days, the UN Special Lebanon Tribunal'sPretrial Judge Daniel Fransen is scheduled to publish indictments based on the findings of Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare's probe of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minster Rafiq Hariri in 2005, DEBKAfile's intelligence sources report.

You may recall, this was the stimulus for the Hezbollah takeover of the government of Lebanon - to prevent these indictments from being issued, but it may have been too little too late by Hezbollah:

The court's accelerated schedule has caught suspects, chiefly security big shots of the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, unprepared. There is not much it can do but openly flout the court's expected summons for their extradition by force of arms.

The international judges have jumped the gun not only for Hizballah but also for its bosses in Damascus and Tehran and even up to a point in Washington, which has supported the court's work but had hoped indictments would not be ready for some months. The last thing the Obama administration needs at this moment is a second Middle East bonfire.

"Bonfire" may be an appropriate description:

But whether they like it or not, Monday, Feb. 7, the Special Tribunal held is first hearing in Leidschendam near The Hague.

...future sessions will be held in public, so the full list of accused may be only be a week or ten days away from release.

The Iran-Syrian-Hizballah alliance has consequently lost its race to beat the international Hariri tribunal to the draw. The court has begun its hearings, presenting them with a fait accompli.

So what will Hezbollah do at this point?

Hizballah may still cast about for a fast worker to take over from Migati and rush a new government through or, alternatively, exercise force to seize control of Beirut and the government institutions and establish an alternative "Free Lebanon" administration that announce the severance ties with the STL.

These options are fraught with the threat of civil violence.

So again, we see yet another situation in the Middle East approaching a climax. This is worth watching closely over the coming weeks.

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