A sure sign: the price of Kalshnikovs has risen tenfold: ‘AFP quoted an anonymous Lebanese arms dealer as saying, “One year ago, Kalashnikov rifles were sold on the black market at a price ranging between $100 and $150. They are now sold at about $1000. Prices for hunting rifles have also surged from $800 to $2700.” The dealer added that demand was highest for Russian-made Kalashnikov rifles and shotguns or American M-16’s. The anonymous source noted that one of the most important routes for smuggling weapons was through Syria, and that the arms were purchased in Iraq before being transported by road.’
Another sure sign: talk about the weather is not the preferred subject anymore (even though it’s unusually cold and snowstorms keep hitting): ‘Why are we talking of war? There are the constant rumblings from Israel, the rumblings of an arrogant, expansionist military power that was defeated and refuses its defeat. Hard to deny the comings of another war when we have our history with Israel showing us a series of wars every few years, and when the Israeli government continues to issue promises and preparations for another war against Lebanon. Talk of war has thus become quite regular, more common than talk of the weather. There are also the domestic rumblings, the cries from sect leaders Walid Jumblatt, Saad Hariri and Samir Geagea in which they rather openly state “bring it on” in their references to a possible civil war. Nevertheless, while we talk about the probabilities of a civil war, we only talk about the timing of an Israeli war. We are certain of that war.’
Yet some people are hopeful, at least on the ‘purely domestic’ front (if such a thing exists in this ‘internationalized’ conflict): ‘Commenting on Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa’s return to Beirut, Berri said he heard no objections to the 10-10-10 power-sharing formula that Moussa proposed as part of the Arab initiative.“This formula is the result of the Arab initiative and is still applicable. The Arab League stressed on rejecting giving any party the ability to obstruct or monopolize decisions,” Berri said. He also noted that all Lebanese factions welcomed this suggestion, and the opposition discussed it with Moussa during their last meeting. “I informed Moussa that I am willing to support this suggestion and go to the parliament to elect a new president,” Berri said.’
No such optimism at the Friday Lunch Club, where an entirely new prospect is raised: ‘Non-civilian sources in Beirut, confirmed that the a major & “nasty conflagration” (whatever that means and however it looks) between Hezbollah & Israel is at that stage, a “given” …. But I am also told that internally Hezbollah is looking to the FUTURE movement of Saad Hariri and its newly “equipped & trained” cadres AND THEIR “newly found friends in the SALAFI movement… to play a role once the bullets start flying. While people looked to the 2 “Js” (Jumblatt & Jea’jea’) as the most likely candidates to provide the internal Praetorians, it is seemingly the men of the FUTURE (and their “assembled and assorted militias” including Fath El Islam & the likes ) who will provide the “cover” for an all out assault …‘
Mind you, if you scroll down from the article to the comments, some likelier scenarios are suggested, such as the ‘salafists’ (joined no doubt by the Lebanese Forces, PSP, Phalangist and Mustaqbal people) attacking Hezbollah from the north as soon as Israel attacks from the south. On the other hand, the Palestinian salafist groups (Jund ash-Sham, possibly even Usbat al-Ansar) seem more likely to join Hezbollah fighting Israel, as they did in 2006, and the question remains open as to what the orange boys (the Aounists) will do.
Meanwhile, consider this ‘imagined’ conversation (also in the comments) taking place between Siniora and Saudi foreign minister al-Faisal, freshly returned from Washington:
- ‘Siniora: You got the check?
Faisal: Yup. You got the troops ready?
Siniora: Yup. When does Israel attack?
Faisal: As soon as Nasrallah retaliates for Damascus.
Siniora: That could take too long! We might get Nahr El Bared all over again.
Faisal: Don’t worry. If they don’t do something soon, we have a guy who will attempt to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in xxxxx. Then they will attack.
Sinora: Ok great. Tell the King that Saad says hi to Amo Abdullah.’
In the background, the intriguing case of the cut internet cables also continues: ‘“We do not want to preempt the results of ongoing investigations, but we do not rule out that a deliberate act of sabotage caused the damage to the undersea cables over two weeks ago,” the UN agency’s head of development, Sami al-Murshed, told AFP.’