Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wagging the Lions!

Assuming that things go as planned, UNSC Resolution 1701 will deliver to Israel in political terms what its troops could not achieve in military ones, namely: the neutralization of the Hezbollah Effect. For the costs of rebuilding what has been destroyed and of resettling and compensating the displaced population is bound to be very high and will occupy Hezbollah, among other Lebanese actors, for many years to come.

For those who bet on a Hezbollah victory, especially Iran and Syria, this clearly spells defeat. For the focus on international attention will turn once again to the outstanding issues at hand, the Hariri investigation, which is simply too much of a public affair to kill, as many had been predicting and hoping, and the Iranian nuclear program. In order to avoid this, the Assads and the Mullahs have to find a new game to keep world attention focused elsewhere, and to the Mullahs, this means wagging the Assads again.

This wagging will more likely assume the guise of a renewed attempt at instigating a civil conflict in Lebanon, so that the Assads can make themselves relevant there again. Failing this, however, one cannot completely discount the possibility of a move in the Golan, no matter how disastrous this would seem. Admittedly, the Assads will have to be pretty desperate to opt for this option, but, then, people could stumble unto disaster as well, disasters do not always come as a reflection of a conscious decision-making process.

Be that as it may, the main point I would like to stress here is the fact that even a “successful” implementation of 1701 will not spell the endgame for this round of conflict, as the root causes has not been addressed yet. And no, I am not referring here to the Arab-Isrseli conflict. We simply cannot continue to reduce the root causes of our current plight to the sole issue of Israeli-occupied Arab lands. We have been doing this for decades now and, as a result, all our proposed solutions have fallen woefully short of achieving peace.

Indeed, we should always bear in mind the little truths that the Arab Human Development Reports have amply demonstrated, namely that the nature of the ruling regimes involved, especially their corruption and authoritarianism, as well as the lack of serious developmental activities in the region, especially with regard to education, play the more prominent role here. Indeed, we cannot in the name of real politick turn our back on the primary causes of terrorism and instability in the region.

Yes, instability. Many real politick advocates seem to be under the illusion that autocratic regimes are good guarantors against instability because they help control the illiterate and increasingly radical masses, but, as I have argued before, such analysis, in addition to standing the problem on its head, is pretty whimsical and rather selfish, as it is only meant to export the real problems in the region to future generations. For the autocratic regimes can only hold the country together for so long before their corrupt practices end up producing nice little implosions a là Darfur and Somalia.

So, even should 1701 lead to some reprieve in the ongoing conflict, we’d do better to remember that this reprieve will be quite temporary, and that conflict will remain a fact of our lives for a few more generations to come, sorry to say. The promise of peace that flourished in the 90s is now clearly dead and buried.