Estimation: 2014 – Year of turnarounds in the Middle East (Part 2)

hariri-netherlands-aFormer Prime Minister Saad Hariri stunned his fellow countrymen with his readiness to build a cabinet together with his foe Hezbollah. (DW-TV)

An explosive and dangerous mixture of war and several security incidents has accumulated in the Levant. Lebanon is seen by many in the “eye of the storm”. We don’t think such is on the horizon for the time being.

With its engagement in Syria, Iran has carved out chances to broaden its influence in the region. It cannot dominate, but it has manoeuvred itself in position to force others into making significant concessions. A new balance of power is being established that could safe the region from catastrophe.

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Estimation: 2014 – Year of turnarounds in the Middle East (Part 1)


Will Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani at the World Economic Forum in Davos? (World Economic Forum)

Indications of new settlements for the Middle East are peeking around the corner. From our point of view those potential developments are logic, because everything else would bring about chaos over the whole region. Chaos that could easily spread like wildfire and get out of hand. No major player can afford that.

Hawks can make decisions
On January 17, 2014, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as reported by the Jerusalem Post, citing Canadian CTV News, he would consider meeting Iran´s President Hassan Rouhani if the latter recognized Israel´s right of existence.

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Analysis: Western support for Syria´s government on the horizon

kerry-lavrovUS Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the situation in Syria at a meeting in Paris, on January 13, 2014. (DW-TV)

The international community and regional powers have obviously come to the conclusion not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to ward off a bigger catastrophe in the region. We think the next step is not far: from passive support for the rebels to active support for Assad and his security apparatus against a growing Jihadist movement.

Payback statement by Syria
On January 15, as reported by Reuters and the Lebanese Broadcasting cooperation (LBC), Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said intelligence services of some Western countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have visited Damascus to discuss security cooperation.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

chemattackPeople on the floor after an alleged gas attack by the Syrian government. (Al Jazeera)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 3 (final)

Today, Sunnites in Lebanon still have no forceful leader with a military background, who could inspire them in a region, where political parties often run militias to promote their cause.

Among the few cards, Lebanese Sunnites could play against Hezbollah, would be an external Sunnite militant leader to take up arms successfully against the Shiite party. But such a man is not in sight.

The last ambitious figure, Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir, was chased away in June in a  combined operation of the Lebanese army and – most likely – Hezbollah.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

tripoliMen are trying to extinguish fires after the explosion in Tripoli. (Euronews)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 2

Hezbollah, rebels or a third party?
The double car bombing in Tripoli might well be the work of Syrian rebels or their Lebanese sympathizers. Though, in Lebanon many national and international players have plenty of reasons on a daily base to go after on another.

We think, Hezbollah does not need to show its strength, and surely it is not served well with an angry Sunnite community at home, consequently playing into the hands of an alleged Sunnite militant strategy mentioned in the first part of this estimation.

Retaliation into no man´s land
The morning before the deadly car bombing in Tripoli, Israel did attack a target in Naameh, south of Beirut, with an retaliatory air strike. In the evening before, four rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards Israel without causing damage.

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Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon

assir            Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir in a press conference before his escape. (MTV)

Estimation of the current situation in Lebanon – Part 1

Fears of escalating violence are rising in the Levant, after three car bombs struck Lebanon, the tiny neighbour of Israel and Syria, in just one week. Will that change the current situation in Lebanon basically? We don´t think so –  but several other factors could.

Car bombings in Beirut and Tripoli
Thursday, August 15, a car bomb went off in the Beirut neighbourhood of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite organisation Hezbollah. At least 24 people were killed and more than 120 wounded. The perpetrators remain at large, though the basic and most rational assumption is, Syria-related Sunni extremists are responsible.

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