Now that the Israeli blockade of Lebanon has ended, the country starts to breathe again. Nothing was more eloquent of this new breath than a photograph published in the local press of a fisherman along the tyre Sidon coast with his net full of jumping fish, a rare sight during the war on Lebanon. In addition fifteen thousand elements of the Lebanese Army have completed their deployment of south Lebanon, up to the Israeli frontier in conformity with the terms of U.N.Resolution 1701. Once again we hear the sound of civilian aircraft flying over Beirut to land at the airport; on the face of it, a semblance of normality, we might say.
And yet no. The Lebanese government faces the same issues which led to the war: the Sheba'a farms, the exchange of prisoners and above all Hezbollah. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has made it very clear that Hezbollah has no intention of surrendering their arms, and hence a state within a state. This morning's papers carried a threat by Sheikh Hassan that if pushed further he will reveal scandalous reports regarding the Parliamentary majority led by Saad Hariri, the son of the assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
The problem lies further in the fact that Iran and Syria, strong supporters of Hezbollah have no intention of abandoning that strong political card in their confrontation against the United Stated. So back to square one.
Last but nor least is the visit expected today of Toni Blair, Britain’s discomfited Prime Minister. As a tourist, he would be welcome, but as Prime Minister, his visit is not welcome, and he should have refrained from adding insult to injury.