On Sunday, Lebanese citizens will vote in national elections for the first time since 2009. These are the first elections since the passage in June 2017 of a new electoral law and the first since the 2016 Beirut municipal elections, when a grass-roots campaign won almost 40 percent of votes, challenging Lebanon’s long-standing patronage-based sectarian parties.
Levant & Mesopotamia
On April 4, 2018 three national presidents met in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan greeted his Russian and Iranian counterparts − Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani − to discuss a way forward in Syria. In the statement that followed, the three leaders claimed to be working closely to bring about a lasting peace in Syria.
Suddenly, it seems, the appalling circumstances in which the vast majority of Gazans are living have struck the public conscience. The Strip suffers from a chronic lack of water, of electricity, of medical resources – and the situation seems to be deteriorating from week to week. Gaza’s problems stem from a variety of causes, but the people of Gaza have little inclination to analyse the reasons for the humanitarian crisis that has overwhelmed them. The struggle to exist in anything approaching decent living and working conditions occupies most of their attention.
Lebanon goes to the polls on May 6. Nine long years have passed since the last parliamentary elections which, according to the constitution, are supposed to be held every four years. Ever since 2014 ministers and politicians have voted again and again to postpone elections and extend the current parliament, citing security concerns, political crisis and a dispute over the election law.
As the world powers are busy carving up Syria’s new boundaries in Geneva and Sochi, a countless number of new lives and their future is not taken on priority.
There is little doubt that the super-power in the Syrian situation is Russia, and that – despite recent US efforts to bolster the UN’s Geneva peace-seeking initiative – the final settlement, whenever it comes about, will provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the major political advantages in the region that he is seeking.
A little noticed subtext to furious protests across the Middle East and North Africa against US President Donald J. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is simmering anger at Arab governments.
President Trump’s announcement on December 6th that, “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” and that he is “directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” will hurt both Israeli and U.S. strategic interests. Two critical problems: It damages Israel and U.S. interests by seriously irritating the Arab world, and it gives Iran, the Hezbollah, and Russia the opportunity to exploit this anger and the divisions.