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Augustus Richard Norton, a professor at Boston University and expert on the Middle East, sends this note about the latest developments from Lebanon:
Lebanese politicians reached agreement last night in Doha to break the stalemate that has kept Lebanon in crisis since December 2006. The agreement provides for the election of a president of the republic (the chair has been empty since last November) as well as a new government in which Hezbollah, which led last week’s show of force, gained its objective of a “blocking third” of cabinet votes (in effect, restoring the normal consensus rule to the Lebanese government). Lebanon will thus return to the logic of “no victor, no vanquished,” epitomized by a government that rules by consensus.
The new formula gives the pro-U.S. parliamentary majority 16 seats, with 11 to the opposition and three to the new president. In addition, agreement has been reached for an election law for parliamentary elections next spring. As one Beirut paper notes, Lebanon has turned a new page.
As the negotiations continued in Doha, Lebanese demonstrated on the airport road with signs saying “if you don’t reach agreement, don’t bother coming back.” These signs captured the public mood.
If the agreement holds, this is a significant reverse for the United States and for Saudi Arabia, which have both urged the pro-U.S. government to hang tough.
The U.S.-supported Internal Security Force–widely seen in Lebanon as Sunni-dominated gendarmerie–disappeared as soon as the Hezbollah-led opposition forces moved into West Beirut on 7 May. Only in recent days did it reappear well after the clashes ended. As for Saad al-Hariri’s private militia, it simply crumbled. As happened last summer in Gaza, U.S.-encouraged forces intended to stand up to a well-organized Islamist group were completely ineffectual.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”