Good news: Hezbollah conquering Beirut

Just the western, i.e. Muslim, half thus far, but according to Lebanese Political Journal the national media’s totally at their mercy. The question now seems to be whether they’re going to press on or content themselves with having showed the Lebanese government who’s boss and pull back. For reasons I don’t fully understand, they seem to be opting for the latter by turning over the areas they’ve seized to the Lebanese army (which has stayed out of the fighting because it’s as riven by sectarian interests as its Iraqi counterpart and would split apart if it took sides). The idea, I guess, is for Hezbollah to prove that they’re good Lebanese patriots by bowing to the one institution all sides respect — but, er, why should they care? They’re the most powerful fighting force in the country, running roughshod over the Sunnis as we speak and capable of defeating the army itself by all accounts I’ve read. Why not just seize power in earnest? The answer, per LPJ: They’d rather keep a “legitimate” face on the national government by maintaining its multi-sectarian identity, so long as they’re allowed to act with impunity and bend the government to its will when the need arises. Bloodying their nose now increases that leverage, especially vis-a-vis choosing the next president.

Sunni leader Saad Hariri proposed a compromise by which that “communications network” that Hezbollah’s so exercised about would be overseen by the army, but Haaretz says the offer’s been rejected. Hezbollah’s surrounded Hariri’s home and the home of anti-Syrian Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, placing them under de facto house arrest; pro-government Christian leader Samir Geagea, an ally of Hariri and Jumblatt, calls it a “coup.” Exit question one: Which neighboring country will be the first drawn into the fighting? Newsweek thinks Hezbollah’s worried about Israel, but that seems unlikely to me if they’re already at pains to show that their operations are legitimate. An attack from the evil Zionists would only let them put a nationalist “resistance” face on the whole thing. What about the Saudis, though? They’ve said before they’re not going to let Iran’s proxies steamroll the Sunnis in Iraq, in which case they’re surely not going to let them do it in Lebanon either. Do they intervene soon, or do they let the more, shall we say, excitable Wahhabis take care of business for them? AQ’s already calling for jihadis to rush to the Sunnis’ aid. And exit question two, via Goldfarb: If Hezbollah does press on and seize power, will our next president suddenly decide it’s cool to meet with them? His dopey “head of state” litmus test would seem to suggest: yes.