Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Suicide bombings, abu Mazen, Israel, and Lebanon

These suicide bombings are coming so fast, I am having trouble keeping up with them. Morrocco, Chechnya, and five in Israel. The ones in Israel are not really aimed at Israelis this time. They are aimed at abu Mazen. This is the official challenge to abu Mazens power. abu Mazen is seen as the potential negotiator with Israel. Israel will only negotiate with him if he stops Hamas and all the other terror groups in the west bank and Gaza. So this is all of the groups announcing that they are contenders.

It is really sad that there is only one way for abu Mazen to make peace with Israel, and that is by becoming a strong-man dictator to the palestinians. The palestinians who are not under his tight fist will continue to challenge him, and it is his responsibility to rise to the challenge. The challenges will always be in the form of suicide bombings, as they are a direct threat to his international credibility and his credibility to the Israelis.

What abu Mazen has on his side is the fact that everyone expects him to either not respond, and thus become a rather impotent leader who has to kiss Hamas' ass to get things done, or respond with a lot of force befitting a violent and bloody clash. abu Mazen is assured that there will be no International Solidarity Movement types stopping him from fighting terrorism in the only way he can. There will be no "Ramala Ramala" movies made about the Palestinian supression of Hamas, etc. He has a free hand to do whatever it takes. If he does, it will be bloody, but in the end there will be a chance for peace. His men can be the real martyrs for peace - if they defeat the terrorists.

I am pessimistic.

I also still think that the situation in Lebanon is pivotal. Khatami, the president of Iran just visited Lebanon, and while the rhetoric was somewhat toned down, on the day he left the Lebanese police caught people planning to hit a few western targets. Khatami came there to attempt to reassert his influence in Lebanon with Hizbullah. As I have said before, this is the time for Lebanon to act. As I see it Lebanon is on the brink of either renewed clashes or a bright future. Naturally they will choose the war over peace, because the politicians there are too self-serving to realize what is happening.

I am reminded of the movie "Springtime for Hitler" when I think about what is going on in Lebanon. In the movie, these unscrupulous people decided that they will make money by selling many shares of the revenue of a play that they will produce. Now the key to making money on this is to have a really bad play. A really bad play will not get money and the investors will allthink they lost. A good play will have the investors all clamoring for their 50 percent. 50 Percent for 10 people is a whole lot of angry investors.

Syria is dividing up the power like that as well. As long as Lebanon is under Syrian occupation with Hizbullah militias controlling stuff and power struggles killing dozens in the refugee camps (like yesterdays incident in Ein Hilweh) then everyone who was given power by the Syrians cannot collect, so to speak. They are all just puppets with the appearance and feeling of pwer. But if they were to rid themselves of the Syrians, then power would go to he who got the votes. That would make a lot of important people suddenly unimportant - even though it would make Lebanon great.

Lebanon can revert to its old status that it had in say 1960, when every tourist made sure to stop there. To do that it would have to stop hating Israel long enough to clean house of all the accumulating crap that hangs out in the south and in the camps. Everyone wants a piece of the Lebanon action. Khatami realizes it, Syria realizes it, and now the palestinians who are about to loose their citizenship (those few who go it in 1994) know it. The only ones who don't are those who have an interest in creating a free, independent and peaceful Lebanon.

Lebanon's challenging Hizbullah will undoubtedly also demoralize Hamas and the other Islamic groups in places where it will be pivotal that abu Mazen has control.

As Abba Eban would have put it, Lebanon will certanly be taking this opportunity to miss an opportunity.