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FEARS WERE WIDELY expressed about the likelihood of a US attack on Iran before President George Bush finally leaves the White House in January 2009. Others anticipated an Israeli strike against Syria was on the cards. In the event it looks as though Lebanon is the most likely flashpoint for new conflict in the region.

Middle East watchers have been anticipating trouble for months: Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza--each one a doomsday scenario in the making. But when Hizbullah troops took over West Beirut in May it seemed the dye was cast.

Reports from Beirut say it was the actions of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's government in closing down Hizbullah's communications network The transmission channels interconnecting all client and server stations as well as all supporting hardware and software.  (telephone and Internet) that sparked the row. The move was later reversed, but by then the damage had been done.

That action, together with the PM's decision to sack the head of security at the capital's international airport, on suspicion of having connections with Hizbullah, provoked pro·voke  
tr.v. pro·voked, pro·vok·ing, pro·vokes
1. To incite to anger or resentment.

2. To stir to action or feeling.

3. To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter.
 the latter to describe Siniora's actions as a declaration of war.

In a series of savage gun battles that left almost a hundred people dead, Iranian-backed Hizbullah took control of the city, from the US-backed Siniora government, later strengthening its gains by seizing control of strategic areas of the Chouf mountains, south-east of the capital. Analysts say these positions would be invaluable in any confrontation with Israel.

President Bush, arriving in Israel to take part in the country's 60th anniversary of independence celebrations, as part of a wider Middle East tour, announced he would send troops to help "beef up" the Lebanese army. The destroyer destroyer, class of warship very fast relative to its length, generally equipped with torpedos, antisubmarine equipment, and medium-caliber and antiaircraft guns. The newest destroyers are equipped with guided missiles as their chief offensive weapon.  USS USS
abbr.
1. United States Senate

2. United States ship

USS abbr (= United States Ship) → Namensteil von Schiffen der Kriegsmarine
 Cole has returned to patrol the Lebanese coast, where its presence will underline underline

an animal's ventral profile; the shape of the belly when viewed from the side, e.g. pendulous, pot-belly, tucked up, gaunt.
 American support.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Saud Al Faisal, announcing that the kingdom was gravely concerned by events, called upon "all the regional sides to respect the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon"; his remarks a clear reference to Iran and Syria.

The truth is that no one wants--or can afford--a war in Lebanon at this point. The Arab League Arab League, popular name for the League of Arab States, formed in 1945 in an attempt to give political expression to the Arab nations.  are "talking" but it will take more than mere talk to resolve this situation, especially since ongoing talks of some considerable duration have, to date, failed to come up with any convincing answers. Could it be that the right people are not involved in the continuing conversation?

Any useful dialogue must now bring to the table Shi'a-dominated Iran along with Syria and the heavyweight heavyweight - High-overhead; baroque; code-intensive; featureful, but costly. Especially used of communication protocols, language designs, and any sort of implementation in which maximum generality and/or ease of implementation has been pushed at the expense of mundane  protagonists of the opposing side, Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop.  and Egypt. Such negotiations will not be easy to organise or implement but what are the choices?

Lebanon has been locked into a political stalemate stale·mate  
n.
1. A situation in which further action is blocked; a deadlock.

2. A drawing position in chess in which the king, although not in check, can move only into check and no other piece can move.

tr.v.
 since November 2007 and the country's failure to agree on a president to replace Emile Lahoud, who had the approval of the governments in Beirut and Damascus. The only things created since have been a vacuum and widespread political unrest Unrest is a sociological phenomenon, for instance:
  • Industrial unrest
  • Labor unrest
  • Rebellion
Notable historical unrests
  • 19th century Luddites
  • 1978–79 Winter of Discontent (UK)
  • 1989 Purple Rain Revolt, (South Africa)
.

If the governments of the region--under whatever guise--do not put their heads together soon and prove decisively they are capable of putting their own house in order, the real "outside influences", the US, the EU, Russia and the rest, will be making their own bids to draw a line (or lines) in the sand. And we all know where that is likely to end.

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Title Annotation:CURRENT AFFAIRS
Author:Lancaster, Pat
Publication:The Middle East
Article Type:Viewpoint essay
Geographic Code:70MID
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:580
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