The last few days witnessed quite a few worrisome developments which makes the tense situation in Lebanon even tenser. Although each event in and by itself can be shrugged off as irrelevant, together they form an awful mosaic of a deteriorating situation. It's also reflecting in daily interaction with the Lebanese: people are tense, tired and simply fed up with it all.
Just to give the reader an idea of what is happening, here are the major events of the last few days:
- Amr Moussa's recent mission ended in disappointment as March 8 and March 14 seem to be further away from a solution than ever, even though the Arab League proposal was "crystal clear";
- Almost daily riots over the price of bread and/or the lack of electricity in suburbs that are considered Hezbollah strongholds;
- The party of Aoun supposedly has announced it will do a trial demonstration tonight in Batroun;
- Rumors are getting stronger that Hezbollah and Aoun will organize full-size street actions starting Jan 27;
- Syria has closed the border with Lebanon for food transports. Already, they had put in place severe "security checks" which has lead to long waiting lines since a week;
- The Maronite patriarch has been under fierce and never witnessed before attacks from pro-Syria politician Suleiman Franjieh;
- The patriarch stated that there is an obvious plan to divide Lebanon;
- France is openly accusing Syria of being responsible for the blocking of any solution in Lebanon. This in turn could lead to a backlash from Syria supporters;
- The otherwise calm and thoughtful Amin Gemayel has stated that Hezbollah's objective is a coup d'etat, likewise increasing the flames of anxiety;
- Opinion articles frankly discuss how to avoid a civil war in Lebanon.
- A rumor is making the rounds that after politicians, writers and UNIFIL employees, random foreigners will be targeted next.
To sum it up:
Political negotiations between March 8 and March 14 have reached an impasse with many in and out of Lebanon blame March 8 for the failure. In turn, March 8 is organizing almost daily violent clashes with the Lebanese army, now possibly joined by youth from Michel Aoun's party, giving the impression that the Opposition is building up towards massive street protests, if not worse.
- A large strike of the public transportation sector scheduled for January 24, will be used by the Opposition to demonstrate against the government. Major roads will be blocked in order to force people to stay home. Interesting enough, a few days ago, the government has increased the prices of public transport to meet the demands of the various unions, but that does not stop them from striking.
- The Opposition has announced further escalation of the demonstrations starting January 27 in case the Arab League meeting in Damascus will not provide the desired results.
- Alain Aoun, spokesperson of the Aoun movement, has called the tire burning incidents in the Hezbollah controlled areas "illegal". The reader should remember that it is exactly one year ago that Aounists were burning tires themselves in Christian areas, something which Michel Aoun called a constitutional right back then.