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Lebanon: what will the West do?

Nasrallah and HaririBy unwittingly pursuing the Hariri tribunal, Western powers have caused themselves a serious problem which they should have predicted.

Hariri Jr.’s relatively pro-Western government has been dissolved, and he won’t be able to form a new one without Hezbollah. Syria and Saudi Arabia stopped whatever small cooperation they had been providing on Lebanon. Lebanese Druze were forced to choose between Syria and the West, and they chose a reliable partner—Syria.

But the biggest problem will come when Hezbollah bosses are indicted for Hariri Sr.’s assassination. The verdict will effectively label Hezbollah a terrorist organization when to all purposes it has transformed itself into a political party. Instead of continuing to drag Hezbollah into the mainstream—the only way to disengage Lebanese Shiites from Iran—the West will be forced to ostracize the terrorist group. The problem will become completely unsolvable if Hezbollah refuses to deliver its people for prosecution, and the Lebanese government will be slapped with international sanctions.

The US already threatened to withhold its aid to Lebanon if Hezbollah forms a new government. An empty threat that is. The US aid to Lebanon is small compared to Iranian donations to Hezbollah. The US provides aid even to Hamas government in Gaza, albeit with some weasel wording.

The best solution would be to suspend the trial without canceling it.

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Past coverage: Lebanon
06.01 Lebanon tests Israeli resolve
18.12 The taste of losing the Golan Heights
07.12 Is unrest brewing in Lebanon?
29.11 Hariri bows to Iran