Former 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.
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.
US 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.
Screenshot of an undated video showing Maher and Bashar al-Assad. (France24)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – (Part 6, final)
So where do we go from here? Our estimations are based on the assumption that regional and international powers have come to the conclusion not to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in order to ward off a bigger catastrophe in the region.
Is he going to restore his power? Difficult to say.
The balance of power seems to have tipped, yes. But neither is the war won nor will he have the free hand, he had before. Assad is heavily indebted to Hezbollah, Iran and Russia now.
Militants in Iraq show their readiness to fight on May 18, 2013. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 5
Iraq heating up Iraq is the most uncertain variable in any current estimation.
Conflicts are heating up in the country again, and gains of Sunnite fighters in Syria have given Sunnites in Iraq motivation to act against the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, by which they feel being discriminated against.
Iraq has the longest border with Syria of all neighbouring countries, running from Turkey to Jordan. With the US not anymore in position to play into internal Iraqi politics, the international community is fearful of future developments in Iraq.
A Syrian army tank firing rounds in the battle for Qusayr. (Al-Jazeera)
Estimation and outlook on the situation in Syria and the region – Part 1
The battlefield situation in Qusayr, Syria, remains unclear. Some circumstantial conclusion can be drawn from news reports. The recent overall coverage of developments by pro-opposition media outside the country is very telling, just as reactions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) command.
Realities reloaded for the media
Since some weeks, pro-opposition media in Europe and the US are tuning down their war drums. Western commentators, who tried to push through an agenda of regime change and intervention for two years now, did fall relatively silent when it comes to analysis.
— “Nasrallah has finally assured his opponents that he is ready for anything now or anytime”
It seems very unlikely he is really ready to go to war and open the box of Pandora. Hassan Nasrallah is too clever a man to subject the whole Levant to a regional conflict.
The next war between Hezbollah and Israel will be the last shoot-out for long, and one of them will fall or at least be severely damaged for a long time. Both sides know that. Israel will turn southern Lebanon into an underground parking lot.
It is worth noting that PM Medvedev mentions Assad but not the government as a whole or state institutions.
Medvedev’s comments go in line with Russia’s policy on Syria: Strengthen the army, try to facilitate a deal between the Non-Islamist opposition and the government, put down the uprising by force, preserve the country as en entity and convince Assad to step down, once calm has settled.
Beirut (11:38) Huge deployment of security forces around the French embassy for fears of demonstrations after a likely postponement of the deportation from France of jailed Lebanese national Georges Abdallah. (Lebanese media)
UPDATE (17:04) France has delayed the release of Georges Abdallah until the end of the month. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told the French envoy in Beirut such a step was not justified.
Demonstrators are currently blocking the road leading to the French embassy in Mathaf, protesting the postponement of Abdallah’s release. (Daily Star/Lebanese media)