Dreaming of a Lebanon at Peace with Its Neighbors

(The Tower) Michael J. Totten - I've been working in Lebanon for eight years, and I've noticed that things have changed since the Syrian revolution broke out in 2011. Except for the usual warmongering rhetoric from Hizbullah, I sense more moderation and sanity than I used to. Mosbah Ahdab, a Sunni politician and former member of parliament, told me that with the Assad family out of power in Syria, "Hizbullah will be cut down to a more realistic size....There will be the real possibility of development....We could have train service all the way down to Cairo." Look at a map: The only way a train can travel from Beirut to Cairo is by passing through Israel. Samy Gemayel, a member of the Lebanese parliament, told me, "There is no excuse why Egypt is allowed to have a peace treaty with Israel while we cannot negotiate for an armistice. Why can Jordan have a peace treaty while we also cannot negotiate for an armistice? Even Syria, without a peace treaty, has had peaceful relations with Israel since 1974. Why can't we? More, why can Hizbullah, a paramilitary group, negotiate with Israel twice through German mediators in 2004 and 2009 to release its prisoners, and the official Lebanese state is not allowed to?" Lokman Slim is the Shia community's most prominent anti-Hizbullah activist. "Go to the south," Slim said, "and ask people if they want a new war, another divine victory." I have, and they say no. Lebanon's Shia are simply not interested in war any more. The Second Lebanon War in 2006 was the high water mark in support for Hizbullah aggression.

2013-07-05 00:00:00

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