Aug 20, 2006

Lebanon Roundup

Life in Lebanon has been returning to relative normality and to the reconstruction of the countries roads, bridges and basic facilities. Civilians have been returning to their to homes and assessing the amount of damage to their homes.

Israel almost spoiled it when it carried out attacks in Lebanon but Hezbollah didn’t retaliate, so the ceasefire still holds. I came across an interesting news, Druze Herev Battalion of the Israel army didn’t suffer any casualties in 32 days and killed 20 Hezbollah fighters – interesting.

Lebanese politics is also to the usual quarrels and accusations, this time with an edge. Walid Jumblatt, the leader of the Druze criticized Nasrallah for not consulting with other Lebanese political factions. Jumblatt said he refused Lebanon to be the battle ground for Iran and Syria’s ambitions. Hariri also attacked Syria and Bashar Asad’s victory speech, in return Syria accused him of being a foreign spy and questioned why was he overseas when Israel was bombing Lebanon – they got point there.

The UN efforts to get countries to contribute to UIFIL peace force is also continuing with France offering mere 200 army engineers for the first deployment, much less than what was expected. Israel objected to the inclusion of Malaysia and Indonesia since both countries don’t recognize Israel. Kofi Annan also said he expected Lebanon and Israel to make difficult choices to secure the release Israel soldiers and Lebanese prisoners.

On the reconstruction front, the Head of the Council of Development and Reconstruction in Lebanon estimated the damage sustained by Lebanon at $3.6 billion. A number of courtiers - led by Saudi Arabia - pledged to support Lebanon in the reconstruction and development. The US is also worried about Hezbollah getting more support than it already has, is trying to out-do Hezbollah’s effort in rebuilding Lebanon. The US is also urging Arab countries like Saudi Arabia to quickly send aid to Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has already announced that it will contribute 1.5 billion to the reconstruction of Lebanon.

Lebanon Links:

Reflections from the Middle East
BBC reporters from across the Middle East share their thoughts on the conflict.

BBC: Israeli and Lebanese Debate
Two men, Israeli and Lebanese, exchange emails throughout and after the war. A great insight to the different mind-sets in Lebanon and Israel.

In Depth – Middle East Crisis
A wonderful resource aggregating Middle East crisis issues from across BBC news.

In Pictures: Israeli Views of the War
A nice photo-journal exploring the views of six Israelis on the outcome of the war.

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