The Challenge that is Lebanon

The entire international community has come forward boldly and forcefully to stop attempts to extend the merciless Sunni-Shiite proxy war being fought out in Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq and Syria, extending to poor little Lebanon.

Lebanon barely functions. Its country lanes strewn with trash because the longstanding rubbish strike made it the dirtiest country on earth. And then there is the influx of countless refugees in their millions, first from Palestine, and now from Syria, with little help from the West to help cater for them.

The trouble for Lebanon is that the two beasts of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Iran, are head to head in a war of attrition – or proxy war of attrition if you prefer – which neither can ever win.

Perhaps there might be the political will in the West to bring them to the table over Yemen, where millions go hungry. The reality, in my view, is that Iran has little real control over the Houthis of Yemen. But the issue is that they are perceived as having control. And Saudi Arabia feels it has to respond to Iran’s pursuit of hegemony in areas it perceives as its own backyard – like Yemen – and Lebanon.

The message then for the international community is “Do nothing to provoke war before war is declared”.

There is no civil war in Lebanon. There need be no civil war in Lebanon. And if we tread carefully we can help ensure there will be no civil war in Lebanon.

And credit where credit is due, the international community seems to be doing a great job ensuring that little Lebanon remains safe.

As to the wider issue, they whisper that Iran stands ready to negotiate on a ‘You take Yemen, we take Syria’ basis. But Saudi Arabia does not. So we have an impasse. And meanwhile the common people die. Time someone knocked their heads together.

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