Once again, Lebanon is at the heart of regional geopolitical changes

Until the new order in the Middle East is clearly defined, Lebanon will have to face arbitrary violence and terrorist attacks, writes Khalil Hassan (Al Khaleej). Other topics: Algerian election (Taoufik Rabbahi – Al Quds Al Arabi), Saudi stand on Syria (Mashari El Thiyadi – Asharq El Awsat)

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There are those in Lebanon who thought that the new cabinet – ­finally formed two weeks ago ­after 11 months of waiting – would put an end, or at least limit, the acts of terrorism that have swept the country in recent months. But instead it shows Lebanon’s crisis runs too deep and is closely linked to the Syrian crisis.

Hence, it would be inconceivable to look at the factors that will be involved in the solution for Lebanon separately from the ongoing events in Syria, suggested the columnist Khalil Hassan in the Sharjah-based daily Al Khaleej.

It has long been expected that the war in Syria would spill over the border into Lebanon and it did, in the form of car bombs that started during the first days of Al Qusair battle.

Soon after, the situation escalated with the opening of the Qalamoun front and as the Geneva negotiations ended in a gridlock.

In the meantime, other world events have directly and indirectly affected events in Syria and consequently in Lebanon. Hostility between Russia and the US is running high in Ukraine, Egypt and elsewhere.

The Iran and P5+1 talks also seem to have taken a new turn as the issue of Iran’s ballistic missiles came into play, making it seem like a restructuring and a reshuffling of the cards is being carried out in the region.

“The Syrian crisis and its related sub-issues, including the Lebanese crisis, is undergoing a restructuring process too these days,” the writer said.

A third Geneva conference is needed and it looks as if the South Syrian and Lebanese fronts will have an essential role in the next phase of negotiations.

“This entails additional political and security burdens on Lebanon, which translates at present into additional pressure via car bombs in various regions,” he added.

“Lebanon was purposely and directly thrown into the cauldron of terrorism in anticipation of changes that may affect its current political system. Acts of terrorism on the Lebanese scene have a function as they help in forging the new regional order that has yet to materialise,” he suggested.

In the 1980s, at the time of major regional and international shifts, Lebanon was subjected to internal warring that was orchestrated outside its borders to serve foreign interests. Today, once again, Lebanon finds itself in the same situation.

“Once could say that Lebanon’s destiny, even before its real birth date in 1920, is closely tied to power balances and settlements in the region and in the world. It is prone to change swiftly at any junction,” the writer added.

Until the shape of the new order in the region is clearly defined, Lebanon will have to gear up for a wave of arbitrary violence and terrorist attacks.

No change, but still plenty of firsts for Algerian elections

Three years after the Arab people rose up against their tyrants, while Ukrainians and Venezuelans are revolting against their governments and at a time when Italy’s new prime minister is in his 30s, Algeria’s 77-year-old president – partially paralysed and practically absent from public life for two years – has announced he will run for a fourth term, remarked Taoufik Rabbahi in the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

Despite reports about change in Algeria, the announcement came as no surprise to people with knowledge of the country’s upper echelons. They knew that the announcement would be made either by the president himself or by the powers that be on his behalf.

Despite this, the elections due to be held in April will involve several firsts: a president who will run for another term while he is absent due to a force majeure and his candidacy is made by proxy; a president running without the approval of the intelligence service, and with divisions about his presidency echoing through the corridors of power.

While another El Sisi emerging in Algeria will not be hopeful news, the future relies on Algeria’s independent elite, at home and abroad – the intelligentsia, the artists and the labour unions, whose hands have not been stained with dirty politics, must ignore their ideological differences and fight for change in Algeria, the writer said.

Parsing Saudi’s stand on the Syrian conflict

The Syrian crisis could lead any observer to lose their sanity, wrote columnist Mashari Al ­Thiyadi in Asharq El Awsat.

Barrel bombs are the latest invention devised by Bashar Al Assad’s regime, the Revolutionary Guard and Hizbollah – criminals who decided to kill children and entire families with sarin gas and to create images of hell on Earth. All this has turned the situation into a global tragedy.

Saudi Arabia continues to advocate a peaceful solution, and it only cut ties with the Assad regime until several months into the uprising, at a time when Mr Al Assad showed he was ready to create a bloodbath and to make the conflict a sectarian one.

Saudi Arabia knew its security would be affected if Syria turned into a magnet for extremists and Islamists, and was among the first to stand with the Syrian people, against the regime, Iran’s intentions for Syria and against Al Qaeda and its factions.

Saudi officials believe the Isil and Al Qaeda members now fighting in Syria are part of a greater plan to target Saudi Arabia, stressed Al Thiyadi.

Saudi Arabia faces the same enemies both within its borders and in Syria. The kingdom’s ­humanitarian and political motives lead it to fight against both, taking a stand with the Syrian people, the writer concluded.

* Digest compiled by Translation Desk