Aftermath or intermission?

The exuberant joy and optimism of the last few days since the Doha accord is already giving way to weary suspicion, due to several shooting incidents between supporters of the opposition and the government (in one of which an LAF soldier got killed) as well as the M-14 insistence on reinstating Siniora as prime minister, even as the man himself was understandably less than enthusiastic to return to the job. The opposition was not amused, although Hizbullah itself (contrary to Aoun and the SSNP) has not issued any statements opposing his election (by a scant 68 parliamentarians out of 127), so presumably it is not going to be blown up into a real stumbling block. The negotiations on the division of the loot – sorry, on the allocation of cabinet posts – have started today. Meanwhile, the media truce (such as it was) is already evaporating and utterly biased reporting has returned on both sides of the political spectrum (the link is to an interesting and well-informed article on describing the media war that accompanied the fighting on the ground). Read also this article about ‘Lebanon’s only objective news service’. Rami Khoury meanwhile analyzes the importance of the recent events from a global-powers-in-the-Middle-East perspective on the Agence Globale website.

On the economic level, Solidere and other shares on the Lebanese stock exchange are jumping up, Merrill-Lynch has upgraded Lebanon’s credit rating, expats and Gulf tourists are already flooding back into the country, long-stalled construction projects have resumed and downtown businesses are reopening by the dozens. Whether this will prove to be a short lull in the tensions or a lasting ceasefire, money is being spun off it in serious amounts already. Which hasn’t stopped Lebanon’s ‘odious’ public debt rising to a preposterous $43.2 billion

In other news, Hizullah is reporting progress on a prisoner swapping deal with Israel, in which five Lebanese prisoners and ten bodies of dead Hizbullah fighters will be exchanged in return for the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah in July 2006. In case you still thought a full-scale war killing over a thousand people was more effective than negotiations… Independently of that deal, Israel will also release on Sunday a Lebanese-born man (whose jewish-Israeli mother married a Lebanese shiite and converted to shia islam) who had been imprisoned for six years on a conviction of spying for Hizbullah.


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