Background on Lebanon
NEW YORK — Juan Cole has an excellent summary of the background on Lebanon with “this column.”:http://www.juancole.com/2005/03/lebanon-realignment-and-syria-it-is.html I sometimes take issue with his take in Iraq — more from his tone than anything else, really — but Juan knows his stuff on Lebanon having lived there through some of the 1975-1990 civil war(s). He argues, convincingly, that Bush’s influence in Lebanon is marginal, at best, which jives with my sources who say Bush is not to be thanked for this. (I’m reminded of the credit his father received for ending the Cold War. History, it seems, can be made just by showing up on time.)
As to the question of who will take power, what happens next, that’s a good question and I wish I had the answer. Hezbollah might cause trouble, as then the group will be severely weakened with the departure of one of its main patrons. The pro-Syrian forces might be moved toward violence; this isn’t Ukraine, despite the similarities. It’s a brutal neighborhood and the Syrian regime might feel threatened enough to not go quietly. (It makes a great deal of money off of Beirut’s port business, for example.)
What happens in the coming days and weeks will be most interesting. Washington’s challenge is to ride the coming whirlwind effectively.