Past hesitation by Lebanon’s political parties to get involved in the war in Syria as well as its disassociation policy have so far insulated the country, but political sources say this may be changing. While the Army contained the latest rounds of violence in Tripoli, the source fears the last few days’ rockets from Syria mean Lebanon has become a new front.
There is a real possibility that the Bekaa Valley, and particularly the villages on the outskirts of Hermel, will become a war zone. This means that the repercussions of Lebanese involvement in the fighting – be it by Hezbollah or Salafists – are being felt.
The sources add that old fears about northern violence spreading are now becoming a reality in the Bekaa Valley and may later come true in the rest of the country.
Both Hezbollah and Salafist groups are deeply involved in the war in Syria, although the sources say much focus has been on Hezbollah because of its organizational capacity and ties to Iran.
While there are certainly foreign calculations at work, it is in Lebanon’s best interest to keep the war outside its borders, especially in light of fears that fighting could continue here after it is over in Syria.
But careful thought by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement may help keep Lebanon out of the war.
The rapprochement seems evident in the wide backing of Tammam Salam as prime minister-designate, and the sources say a deal for calm will also be clear in a speech Nasrallah is expected to deliver May 9.
If there is indeed a Saudi-Iranian deal to keep Lebanon away from the war, then the sources believe the formation of a Cabinet cannot be far off.
A regional strategy to form a Cabinet would mean March 14 would have to drop its objections to Hezbollah’s participation, with all parties knowing that putting together a government is simply a small piece of a larger and more dangerous regional equation.
The sources say that there will be a Cabinet soon, and Hezbollah will be a part of it. They add that Salam did not fully understand the Saudi-Iranian understanding when he proposed a nonpolitical Cabinet, and he is now starting over with this in mind.
They believe that a technocratic government will not win a parliamentary vote of confidence, and as such a political Cabinet is the key to facing Lebanon’s problems.
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