Compiled by Ravi Agrawal for CNN
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(CNN) -- India's Hindu says Lebanon is on the brink of fundamental political change, with Hezbollah's campaign to oust the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora gaining ground. The paper reports that Siniora and several cabinet ministers have confined themselves to government headquarters in Beirut for several days despite tens of thousands of opposition supporters laying siege to it. "Mr. Siniora has indicated that he is prepared to yield some ground but will not allow Hezbollah to stage a virtual coup. This confrontation is not likely to wind down soon since the two antagonistic groups are locked in a struggle that could determine the future of Lebanon's 'confessional politics'... The chances of the two antagonistic camps working out a solution without external intervention do not look bright. The United States, France, and Israel are supporting the Siniora government while Syria and Iran back Hezbollah."
The UAE's Khaleej Times reports that downtown Beirut's promenades and piazzas, that once symbolized post-war Lebanon with million dollar condominiums, is now a sea of tents pitched by Hezbollah supporters determined to topple the Siniora government. "An ubiquitous Hezbollah slogan in the Beirut protests is 'no to the pourers of tea' (Lebanese policemen served tea to IDF troops in Marjayoun during the summer war) and 'no to the government of Feltman' (the name of the current U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon). Anti-Israeli and anti-American rhetoric defines Hezbollah's political D.N.A. Its alliance with Syria and Iran and the Beirut's government's ties to France, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia mean that yet another regional proxy war is being played out on the streets of Beirut."
Beirut's The Daily Star has a column Wednesday by David Ignatius, who interviews Siniora, and says that while the Lebanese Prime Minister has been holed up in his office for almost two weeks, he remains serene. "During our discussion, he was the picture of calm and confidence. That's been his tactic as the protests have mounted: The louder Hezbollah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has called for his head, the quieter has been Siniora's response... Siniora hasn't yet found a way out of the impasse, and the crisis is giving the country a serious case of the jitters. But he did seem to strike a chord with many Lebanese when he said last Friday, after an especially feverish speech by Nasrallah: 'You are not our lord ... Who made you a judge over us to decide who is a traitor or a nationalist?' He said Nasrallah's supporters were attempting a coup d'etat."
Pakistan's Dawn says Lebanon is teetering on the brink of a second civil war. "The old question of who is pro-Syria and who is not has surfaced again, and Mr. Siniora is fighting to stay in power, as Hezbollah supporters and some Christian groups have taken to the streets to bring down what they consider to be a pro-western regime and establish a government of national unity. Fortunately, the Arab League is very much in the picture, and the initial proposals carried by A.L. envoy Ismail Mustafa have received a positive response from Hassan Nasrallah. Mr. Siniora, too, says he is keen to find a negotiated settlement. Let us hope the A.L.'s mediation works, for the aim of all Lebanese irrespective of political affiliations should be to avoid taking any precipitate action that could unleash a new round of violence."
In continuing analysis of the U.S. commissioned bipartisan Iraq Study Group report, the International Herald Tribune says while the report's recommendations pave the way for a bold new course, it is not bold enough. "Many of the same considerations that led the Iraq Study Group to call for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq suggest that the United States should withdraw its troops from neighboring states as well -- leaving only naval forces offshore in international waters. As in Iraq, a large U.S. military footprint on the ground undermines American interests more than it protects them. The American military presence throughout the region has been a key element in al Qaeda's recruitment campaign and propaganda. If America withdrew from Iraq but left behind substantial forces in neighboring states, al Qaeda would refocus its attacks on American troops in those countries -- remember the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia?"
The Washington Post makes its own recommendations Wednesday, saying the U.S. should commit publicly to provide $10 billion a year in economic support to the Iraqis, gradually reduce the presence of its Brigade Combat Teams, and design and empower a regional diplomatic peace dialogue in which the Iraqis can take the lead. "We have very few options left. In my judgment, taking down the Saddam Hussein regime was a huge gift to the Iraqi people. Done right, it might have left the region and the United States safer for years to come. But the American people have withdrawn their support for the war, although they remain intensely committed to and protective of our armed forces. We have run out of time. Our troops and their families will remain bitter for a generation if we abandon the Iraqis, just as another generation did after we abandoned the South Vietnamese for whom Americans had fought and died. We owe them and our own national interest this one last effort. If we cannot generate the political will to take this action, it is time to pull out and search for those we will hold responsible in Congress and the administration."
In a speech discussing his decade in office, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged the U.N.'s Human Rights Council to condemn Sudan. In the UK, The Times says this will hardly make Khartoum tremble. The paper's editorial outlines how Khartoum has operated a scorched earth campaign of exceptional cruelty, killing between 300,000 and 400,000 and driving two million from their homes. Janjawid militias, not Sudan's army, have done most of the killing and maiming, raping, and torching -- but the air support and coordination came from Khartoum, the paper says. "This disaster can be salvaged only by new thinking. Bosnia gave the concept of 'safe havens' a bad name, but havens are desperately needed. Create them not in Sudan, but in Chad. Chad's Government wants the U.N. there, not least to warn Khartoum off destabilizing Chad by supporting rebel groups there. Chad already shelters thousands of Darfur refugees and will need to find room for more, as the murderers close in on the Darfur camps. The responsibility to do what should now be done rests with the Security Council -- it must take a clear and coherent position against mass murder -- and so the onus (and the ultimate blame) is on Russia and China."
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