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Questions after the Storm - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As soon as the bombing on the Lebanese-Israeli front stopped, important questions about the internal Lebanese situation and the entire regional equation, after the storm, were asked, as many are aware that the current period is critical. A number of issues require further analysis.

The first is related to the ambiguity of the Arab strategy choice to end the current crisis other than to celebrate of the losses incurred by Israel in its latest attack on Lebanon, which did not achieve any of its goals.

However, gambling on Hezbollah’s steadfastness in order to settle the conflict is a losing bet and does not undermine the need to search for a new strategic Arab vision, in order to solve the problems created by the collapse of the peace process and the United States’ changing geo-strategic considerations in the Middle East.

While some threaten to return to the logic of armed struggle, based on the successes of the Lebanese resistance, this view does not distinguish between the limited methods of a successful popular resistance and the traditional military option, and does not take into consideration the regional security balance, which is swayed in Israel’s favor.

In both Lebanon and Palestine, the traditional military strategy has failed to confront a dynamic popular resistance. However, in order for this resistance to succeed, two main conditions have to be present: a political and diplomatic framework and an internal consensus.

Without these two conditions, the resistance could become a violent movement lacking any political horizon or a negative party in an internal struggle that would take away its legitimacy.

This is why the biggest challenge currently facing Lebanon is how to contain politically Hezbollah within a legitimate Lebanese framework, as part of a program to strengthen central government, abolish sectarianism and rebuild the infrastructure.

Beyond the Lebanese issue, the Arab world is facing several challenges, as the region has been unable to adjust to two main changes in the post-Oslo era:

1- The United States’ focus on the war on terror, which has re-defined its regional priorities and renewed its organic alliance with Israel, as well as adding democratic transformation to its regional security agenda.

2- The impact of the conflict in Iraq on two main levels: the repercussions of the US intervention on the existing balances and the emergence of sectarianism as a factor beyond the borders of Iraq, where Sunni and Shiaa fundamentalists fight in mosques and mausoleums.

It is also important to examine the challenge posed by the relationship between the Arab world and its two main neighbors, Iran and Turkey. A number of developments have recently taken place and they deserve to be analyzed. These include the re-emergence of Turkey as a main player in the Islamic world and the rise to power of the moderate Islamist current in Ankara, making the Arab-Islamic world one of Turkey’s main strategic priorities instead of the European Union. This was reflected in the recent visit of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to Turkey.

As for Iran, it has dominated the Middle East agenda in the last year on at least three levels: its nuclear program, its presence in Iraq and continuing influence in Lebanon.

Behind the calming diplomatic statements by Iran and its Arab neighbors, one can see a growing crisis, especially concerning the rising sectarian tensions in the region.

A successful Arabic strategic position requires merging the two big Muslim powers (Iran and Turkey) in the order of regional security. This depends on a number of conditions related to the make-up and future of the two countries. It is worth mentioning that Turkey, in the last few years, has succeeded in gaining the confidence of the Arab world, whereas Iranian-Arab relations remain strained because of unanswered questions and unsolved problems.