Lebanon and on


If you're trying to make any sense of the fighting in Lebanon, the Washington Post has a roundup of blowhardry, which accompanied Michael Young's chat. View all claims with maximum skepticism and you'll find plenty of interesting bits. A sample:

"[Hizbollah general secretary Hasan] Nasrallah's gamble," as Yoav Appel of the Jerusalem Post called it, is that Israel will exercise have no choice but to but enter into negotiations over a prisoner swap. The Shiite political party and militia says the two Israeli soldiers captured on Wednesday will only be released in exchange for prisoners held in Israeli jails. (Palestinians are seeking the same deal for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured by Hamas militants last month.) Whether or not Nasrallah secures an exchange, the attacks on Israel already "boost Hizbullah's popularity throughout the Middle East, especially at a time when the group is under regional and international pressure to disarm."

Nasrallah's standing among Arabs is high because he is seen as a leader who can negotiate with the Jewish state on an equal basis. In 2004, notes Islam Online, he arranged a massive prisoner exchange in which Israel released two high profile Lebanese leaders and 28 other Lebanese detained by the Jewish state, as well as 400 Palestinian prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters. In return, Hezbollah handed over an Israeli businessman lured to Beirut and kidnapped, and caskets containing the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon.

"Nasrallah will try to be the one responsible for negotiations and will try to combine the two kidnappings into one event," Israeli professor Shaul Mishal told Ynet News. He will "leverage the whole process to improve his standing in the Lebanese political system. Now he seems like the mover and shaker of Tehran and Damascus against Israel, and as a main player regionally, not just against Israel but facing Hamas as well."

Meanwhile, in the Daily Star, Zeina Abu Rizk says something I can get behind: Rafiq Hariri where art thou? The assassinated former prime minister's son Saad Hariri hasn't been much of a force in the current crisis, and while Rizk cites his lack of his father's access to world capitals and regional players, I'd go her a step further and say the father enjoyed that access because he was a great businessman. I've never understood what Saad's political goal is and have believed the best thing he could do for his country is to start an airline to compete with the state-mismanaged Middle East Airlines. I still think that, though Zod only knows when the country will have a functioning airport again.