The defense minister has declared yesterday that the mission against Fatah al-Islam is pretty much over and that the army has won. Hrm, sounds suspiciously similar to George Bush’s statement on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln when he declared the Iraqi mission to be completed.
Back then, both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin-Laden were still on the loose. This time, Fatah al-Islam chief Shaker Abssi is still nowhere to be found.
Reports from the front also indicate the fighting is not yet over and you have to wonder what will happen now. Will the army catch the leaders of Fatah al-Islam, will the Lebanese state bring them to justice, or will it be another case of ‘no winners, no losers’?
Remember that the army commander Michel Suleiman, who was appointed under Syrian tutelage, could be thinking of becoming the next president and thus would need the support of the Opposition. What better way to get that support by not pressing too hard and by allowing the leaders to escape? That would assume a rather nasty attitude of Suleiman who would be willing to accept the deaths of his men go unpunished simply for his own rise to political power.
Of course, these are all speculations. For all we know, the army is truly pissed at the loss of the lives of so many soldiers and wants revenge no matter what. But somehow, keeping all options open, especially the more cynical ones, never fails to pay in this country.