An unlikely tête-à-tête in Lebanon
If there were an inspiring Middle East counterpoint to the gruesome scenes of Iranian students and protesters being beaten or shot to death, it would be the election in Lebanon earlier this month, in which Hezbollah was defeated. Now comes word that Saad al-Hariri, the son of slain politician Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination in 2005 sparked the Cedar Revolution, is likely to be named prime minister. His nomination will have to be confirmed by a tenuous unity government that consists of Hezbollah and various sympathizer parties, but more interesting is the fact that Hariri recently met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who, despite a post-election demand for a unity government that granted his Islamist party the right to veto legislation, seems almost bowed in defeat. Consider the joint statement that Hariri and Nasrallah issued after their confab, in which they “agreed on continuing discussions in the current positive calm atmosphere and stressed the logic of dialogue, cooperation and openness.” (You would never know that one of the signatories to this statement precipitated a bloody and costly war against Israel three summers ago.)
Nonetheless, Hariri must suspect, as do many other regional observers, that Syrian-affiliated Hezbollah played a role in the murder of his beloved father. Hariri fils has refrained from shouting about the perfidy of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad since the establishment in March of an international tribunal to try the suspected killers, though judging by this latest meeting of the minds, his reticence may now owe also to political calculation.