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    Civil war averted in Lebanon

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Maria Appakova) - After six-day consultations in Qatar under the aegis of the Arab League, Lebanese leaders finally agreed on settling the domestic political crisis. Does this mean that civil war in Lebanon has been averted? What is the importance of the Doha agreements for the Middle East?

    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti commentator Maria Appakova) - After six-day consultations in Qatar under the aegis of the Arab League, Lebanese leaders finally agreed on settling the domestic political crisis. Does this mean that civil war in Lebanon has been averted? What is the importance of the Doha agreements for the Middle East?

    First a few words about the agreements. They provide for an emergency session of parliament, and the election of Michel Suleiman as president. He is a compromise figure acceptable to both camps, especially since Lebanon has had no president since November 24, 2007. The sides also agreed to form a government of national unity, in which the opposition will have veto power. Out of 30 ministers, 16 will represent the ruling coalition, 11 the opposition and three will be appointed by the president. They also reached a compromise on changing the electoral law, and agreed to respect Lebanon's sovereignty and not to use weapons for political purposes.

    These agreements almost entirely meet the requirements of the opposition, where Hezbollah plays the main role. Therefore, Hezbollah has decided to eliminate its tent city in downtown Beirut, which has paralyzed the capital's life for almost a year and a half.

    Although the opposition's victory is obvious, the majority of Lebanese hail the news from Doha. They think that the threat of a civil war is gone. But there is a huge gap between reaching the agreements and implementing them. Political leaders have reached a compromise, but they are not unanimous on Lebanon's future. In this respect, everything has remained the same - the West, Iran, and Arab countries are still fighting for the right to influence developments in this tiny Middle East country. Their interests are very different, and this is bound to affect the Lebanese domestic political situation, especially during the upcoming parliamentary elections.

    The current Lebanese agreements bring other agreements in the region to mind, such as those successfully concluded by two Palestinian movements -- Fatah and Hamas - with Saudi mediation. It would seem that agreements concluded in Mecca, the holiest place for Muslims, and endorsed by Riyadh, a key regional player, should be inviolable. But now not a trace of them is left. The same may happen with the Lebanese agreements.

    However, this does not mean that it wasn't worth it. The stakes are too high. As the Arab newspaper al-Hayat wrote on the eve of the Doha meeting, "Saving Lebanon means saving the Arab nation." It is clear that the Arab countries are concerned over Iran's growing influence and its interference in their domestic affairs.

    Now Iran is playing first fiddle in those places that were traditionally under Arab, primarily Egyptian and Saudi, influence. They include Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and practically all regions from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. The Arabs, above all, Sunnis and Christians could not resist Iran's growing influence. Paradoxically, even such radical Sunni movements as Hamas and Muslim Brethren are increasingly dependent on Tehran.

    Without waging open wars, Iran is skillful in its political expansion. The Doha agreements are more confirmation of this. Hezbollah's success means Tehran's success. By trying to help the Lebanese parties reach a compromise, the Arab League was fighting for Arab interests, but rendered a service to Iran. It had not other choice though because civil war was the alternative. Now there is at least time for political maneuvering.

    There are many opportunities for forming geopolitical coalitions. The struggle against Iran's influence unites Israel with Arab countries, even those that it does not have peace agreements with, primarily, the Persian Gulf states.

    It is no coincidence that Israel and Syria officially announced the start of indirect peace talks in Turkey on the day when the Lebanese leaders reached a compromise in Doha. Breaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance is a long-time dream of the United States, Israel and many Arab countries, but it is still elusive for the time being.

    Peace with Israel, that is return of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, could encourage Damascus to revise its relations with Tehran. This is what the Americans and Israelis are hoping for. But there may be a reverse situation - having given up the Golan Heights, Israel may discover that it borders not on Syria, but on Iran (that is, on its friend Hezbollah). This is exactly why there is strong opposition to returning the Golan Heights in Israeli society. Thus, the future of the agreements will largely depend on the developments in Lebanon and Hezbollah's conduct.

    We should also remember the talks on the Iranian nuclear file. By expanding its influence in Lebanon and the rest of the region, Tehran is simultaneously upping the ante in its bargaining with the world community.

    Considering all this, one can only sympathize with the Lebanese. Their territory has been and remains a testing ground for settling relations between regional players, including not only Israel and Arab countries, but also Iran and the United States. No agreements will help in this regard. All they can do is dispel the apprehensions that a civil war will start tomorrow.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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