Peace Murmurs: Lebanese RoundupThere are rumors of peace terms emanating from corridors of power in various locations.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora secured a political victory by convincing Hezbollah government members to back his plan for a ceasefire with Israel but it remained unclear Friday whether the move went beyond symbolic value.
The announcement late Thursday that the government had backed Siniora's seven-point plan for a ceasefire came as ferocious battles continued in the south between Israeli forces and Hezbollah on the 17th day of Israel's offensive.
"The decision of the council of ministers is a surprise and one of the most important decisions taken for years," said the daily An-Nahar. "The government succeeded to address the international community with a single voice." In a speech to an international meeting on the Lebanon crisis in Rome earlier this week, Siniora laid out a plan for a ceasefire that demanded an exchange of prisoners between Lebanon and Israel and a pacification of their common border.
But even more crucially, the plan foresaw the Lebanese government exercising full sovereignty over its southern regions and the UN Security Council making an engagement to put the contested Shebaa farms area under United Nations jurisdiction.
Abu Kais at From Beirut to the Beltway analyzes the story behind the story. Have Nabih Berri and Fouad Siniora - and the Israeli incursion - maneuvered Hezbollah into agreeing to be disarmed?
Has Hizbullah agreed to disarm? That's what Elaph (Arabic) is now claiming. Hizbullah was reportedly concerned about a UN resolution under chapter 7 that would disarm it by force if necessary. Nabih Berri, Elaph claims, knew about Siniora's plan and agreed to it before the Rome trip, leaving Hizbullah without a political cover in the country. Elaph said Hizbullah chose the lesser of two evils and went with the Siniora plan, which would lead to its peaceful disarmament.
I wonder if Nasrallah's reported visit to Damascus had anything to do with this. If all this is true, then Hizbullah is finished as a military power. But the Assad regime and Iran are still there.
Meanwhile, YNET reports on the Hizbullah recruitment policy, how their training works and why even an official order to disarm might not be so easy to enforce:
[Shiite cleric Sayed] Ali and his men said they see the current fighting with Israel as a war of survival, not only for Hizbullah but for the Shiite faith.
He says the struggle is not just against Israel but also against the Lebanese Sunni. "If Israel comes out victorious from this conflict, this will be a victory for the Sunnis and they will take the Shia community back in history dozens of years to the time when we were only allowed to work as garbage collectors in this country. The Shia will all die before letting this happen again."
He warned that even if the international community asks Hizbullah to lay down its arms in the frame of a ceasefire he and his men will keep their arms.
"This war is episode two in disarming Hizbullah. First they tried to do it through the Lebanese government and the UN. When they failed, the Americans asked the Israelis to do the job."
He refuted Israeli claims the Hizbullah has been weakened: "Things are going very well now, whatever happens we are winning. If they keep bombing us we will stay in the shelters, and with each bomb more people support the resistance. If they invade they will repeat the miserable fate they had in 1982, and if they hold one square foot they will give the Islamic resistance all the legitimacy. If they want to kill Hizbullah they have to kill every Shia in the south of Lebanon."
"The real battle is after the end of this war. We will have to settle score with the Lebanese politicians. We also have the best security and intelligence apparatus in this country, and we can reach any of those people who are speaking against us now. Let's finish with the Israelis and then we will settle scores later."
Big Pharaoh reports on the fact that Nasrallah is suddenly the hero of the Arab world.
You can't imagine the euphoria we're feeling as a result of Hezbollah's ability to directly hit major Israeli towns such as Haifa and Afula today. Nasrallah did what no other Arab army has done in this conflict's history. Even the PLO when it was stationed in Lebanon didn't send missiles that deep into Israeli territories.
What about Lebanon being destroyed? No big deal! Who cares about Lebanon when you have a few guerrillas who managed to hit Israeli cities and force Israeli citizens into hiding. Even Gamal Abdul Naser and Yasser Arafat couldn't do it.
Michael Young, opinion editor of the Beirut Daily Star, interviews Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Lebanese Druse, in his mountain palace.
And there are reports of how Hezbollah operates in southern Druse and Christian towns, which is decidedly not for the benefit of either the Druse or the Christians. Not to defend them, but to use them to launch missiles, so that the Israelis will retaliate by hitting these villages and destroy them. Which will help Hizbollah in its propaganda war.
Lebanon.Profile provides anecdotal evidence to explain the complexity of Lebanese reality with all of its various and competing loyalties.
He also points to an article on the front page of the WSJ about Lebanese and Israeli bloggers talking across the front line.
The Internet has made it possible "to have a Beirut-Tel Aviv online IM chat in real time," Ms. Goldman wrote, on her On the Face blog. "That's what happened to me and this blogger a few nights ago. We chatted while he was sitting on the roof of his apartment building in Beirut watching missiles from Israeli planes fall on his city and describing it to me. He was carrying on an online conversation with another Israeli at the same time."
The Lebanese blogger, who runs the Lebanese Political Journal blog, won't disclose his identity because he believes his online chats with Israelis could be considered an act of disloyalty. He says in an email: "Chatting with Israelis from Lebanon during war is very awkward." But, he says, "One remembers that we are still humans regardless of where the borders lie."
Michael Totten points out the saying that Lebanon has more opinions than people. Sounds familiar.