Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Round up

The situation today is calmer than yesterday. I went around today, and saw that the army has taken position where I had previously seen armed men from the SSNP in Hamra and Rawcheh, although there were unarmed youth, sometimes in military fatigues, hanging about.

In the mountain, the situation is also calm, and the Lebanese Army has taken position in many locations previously occupied by Jumblat’s PSP. However, I believe that the situation remains very fragile, and that this is at best a wait-and-see period. There are 2 reasons for that:

  1. The Lebanese Army appears to be disempowered. Whether this is a temporary tactic in order to preserve the unity of the last major state institution, or because it is really powerless is not important at this stage. What is relevant is that the army will probably vacate any position it occupies if it is asked to do so by the militias, because it is avoiding confrontation.
  2. Waleed Jumblat represents the vast majority of the Druze. Figures of 90% are often quoted. The Druze are believed to constitute just 5% of the Lebanese population, but their strategic location in the mountain gives them the advantage of the terrain, and they are also thought to be well armed. They will not easily give in.

In the North, the situation has also quieted down, and peace agreements are being signed between the belligerents. But the issue of the SSNP militants executed in Halba might still have repercussions, although this will probably happen at a later stage.

The Council of Ministers was expected to meet today to cancel the two ill fated decrees, as it was requested to do so by the army. PM Sanioura seems to have backed down on this as he declared that he will wait for the Arab Foreign minister’s delegation sent to mediate before calling for a meeting of the council of ministers. This is understandable: why give the cancellation for free, let it be a negotiating chip in a general settlement.

Most roads in and out of Lebanon are closed or dangerous. The Damascus highway is closed in Majdel Anjar by masked men belonging or close to the Future movement, although there are rumors and press reports that they are closers to Salafis than to the Future. In any case, all the hotels of Damascus are fully booked, and travelers will have to spend the night in the airport if they find seats of a flight. The airport road is still closed. A new luxury yacht transport system has been initiated from the Dbayyeh and Jounieh ports by seafaring entrepreneurs. The yachts are fully equipped with satellite TVs and cell phones and will take you to Cyprus in 6-7 hours for $1,500 per adult. One way. They take 14 passengers. Do the math: that’s a quarter of a million US$ in a week’s work.

I’ll stick around.


Ms Levantine said...

Thanks for the outstanding coverage Rami.

I am totally shocked by the yacht owners. I thought they would charge in Euros instead of the collapsing dollar. What are they thinking.


Leila Abu-Saba said...

Take care and be well, Rami. God bless you and all your family.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the update.

Anonymous said...

Are you able to get food and water?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for blogging, Rami. I am stuck outside Lebanon, so I appreciate your updates.

BTW, those yacht owners, how much do they charge from Cyprus to Lebanon?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful site. Good luck. Some friends of Lebanese progressives here. http://acropolisreview.com/2007/05/world-affairs.html

Helena Cobban said...

Ah, the old "luxury yacht transportation system" swings into action... Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose, eh?