Mireille Adas took part in a march through downtown Beirut this week, demanding that Hezbollah end its yearlong occupation of the city’s commercial center. Her jewelry shop, steps away from the organization’s tent camp, has suffered major losses as a result of the power struggle between Hezbollah and the government, which has paralyzed the capital and brought Lebanese politics to a standstill for nearly a year.
Like most Lebanese, Ms. Adas has felt new heights of anxiety as the clock counted down to next Friday’s deadline for the country to choose a new president. Hezbollah and the pro-Western governing coalition have faced off in a game of brinkmanship over the selection of a president, the head of state, making no visible progress during two months of crisis negotiations that began when Parliament met to elect a president on Sept. 25 and promptly disbanded for lack of a quorum of two-thirds of its members.
Echoing many politicians and analysts here, Ms. Adas worries that the Friday deadline is likely to bring one of two outcomes, either of them bad: a deal that prolongs the current standoff, extending a long period of stagnation and malaise, or a catastrophic head-on clash between the governing coalition and the opposition led by Hezbollah, the Islamist Shiite faction. [complete article]