After all this shooting, and all this surging hatred; however, this round table is in Doha. It is ironic all of this bloodshed occurred and now a new bad case of amnesia will be imposed on the Lebanese Society and we will see a new re-writing of history, a la 1984 doze, if they pull it through.
Now why Qatar? Qatar, of all the Arab countries has the best interesting ties with all coalitions. For starters, if you focus on the Qatari media, everyday you read the Prince, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, sends to a country a letter congratulating the country for having "unique relationships" with Qatar. Qatar politically has strong ties with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it has the largest military base for the US army in the Arab World (except for Iraq). They welcomed Israel's Levni and already had an open excellent relationship with Israel for the past decade. They also are on excellent relations equally with Hamas and Fatah. Qatar and the Syrians never had frictions before, and mind you, the Prince's "congratulating relationships with global leaders" has covered Assad. Qatar also has almost 20% of its population composed from Iranian Labor, and not to forget that some powerful business clans with Iranian origins (such as Ali Bin Ali Clan).
In Lebanon, things are different. The Opposition tagged the entire Gulf as 14th of March supporters that of course included Qatar. With Qatar visiting Syria, the Opposition changed drastically their attitude.
Qatar as a whole is almost the size of Lebanon with the largest gas reserve in the world (taking the size – quantity). Its population five years ago was barely 800,000, with expected the local Qataris to be barely 30%. Everyone in Lebanon expects a super deal is coming on its way.
Some people compared the Doha round to the 1969 Cairo round. Well, there might be similarities. However, there are different issues. Despite the fact the PLO had a country within a country in Lebanon, the PLO were par excellence Palestinian. Some would consider Hezbollah Iranian, yet I doubt that it is when you have over a million supporter in Lebanon. The PLO were supported by the Lebanese National movement then, but the Cairo agreement allowed the PLO to take control over the Palestinian Refugee Camps and transform them to military training bases. Hezbollah on the hand already have their arms as legitimate after the Ta'ef Accord, at least had till last week they turned their military to the inside of Lebanon. Hezbollah's legitimacy was renewed in the 2000 victory when they successfully kicked out the Israeli army from the South and considered their victory as "a National Victory for Lebanon". In 1969 also, both camps agreed to have anyone as a Lebanese President just to get rid of the Chehabist regime, let for two presidential periods under Presidents Chehab and Helou. In 2008, both camps agree on Suleiman head of the army as a reconciliation president. The 1969 deal eventually led to a national government whereby Kamal Junblatt was Minister of Interior. Kamal Junblatt's decisive vote allowed the election of Suleiman Frangieh because the Second Bureau and non-alignment policy of the Presidency no longer suited both factions. Ironically, the candidate who was defeated by Suleiman Frangieh Sr. was Elias Sarkis, who will succeed Frangieh in 1976 and become Bashir Gemayel's closest ally. In 1969, the details of the accords were not fully displayed and the Parliament, except for Reymond Edde and his parliamentary coalition, voted for it and later one faction regretted it. The agreement on Michel Suleiman reminds us of Fouad Chehab; however, Michel Suleiman is not part of the Chebist school.
However, I prefer the comparison of Doha Negotiations to the Riyadh Ac of 1976. Again, Fouad Sarkis was elected as President to represent the third line of political force, which was supposed to be the Chehabist rule. The Opposition supported Sarkis in return the Syrians wont impose any political restraints. More to the point, the Lebanese National Movement, prior of the Syrian entrance of Lebanon under the invitation of Frangieh , Pierre Gemayel, and Camille Shamoun, has overwhelmed the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese Front with the help of the PLO. The Syrian intervention was justified in Lebanon as a "deterrent force", but this not focus of similarity.
Kamal Junblatt considered the Syrian offensive (and the justification of the Arab World for it) as a direct attack on Lebanon's democracy and progressive forces, this is something that we have seen ironically with his son Walid Junblatt again accusing the Syrians with their offensive via Hezbollah. The Accords of Riyadh also didn’t tackle in details the PLO weaponry, because the Lebanese Army was not able to disarm them, something similar to the arms of Hezbollah. Now the difference is between now and then, that the Syrians did start disarming the PLO, as el-Khaddam clearly said: "Even taking away the PLO kitchen fork", until Egypt signed the Peace Treaty with Israel. Currently, Syria is negotiating Peace with Israel, while Syria's role is more recognized than ever in Lebanon. The resistance arms of the PLO and Hezbollah were both turned to the inside of Lebanon, while the Christian forces wanted to preserve the status quo of their political gains then and now (hence 14th of March Christians now, and the Lebanese Front then). Yet, unlike 1976 whereby two foreign forces existed n Lebanon: PLO and Syria, Hezbollah single-handedly can face the entire 14th of March militarily, and not to forget its allies: the SSNP and AMAL.
Yet, let us hope the new President wont do what Sarkis did, siding with one side against the other and increase the gap between East and West Beirut. Although the Doha Round, unlike the others, has all the actors and parties in it, hence time will tell what will come out of it.
The actors who went there, (taken from Daily Star) are:
AMAL: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and MPs Samir Azar and Ali Hassan Khalil and advisers Mahmoud Berri, Ali Hamdan and Ali Hamad.
Future Movement leader Saad Hariri and MPs Bassem Sabaa, Nabil De Freij, Samir Jisr, former MP Ghattas Khoury and political adviser Hani Hammoud.
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and ministers Tarek Mitri, Khaled Qabbani, Michel Pharaon, Ahmad Fatfat and political advisers Mohammad Chatah, Radwan al-Sayyed, Roula Noureddine, and Aref al-Abed.
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and ministers Ghazi al -Aridi, Marwan Hamadeh and MPs Nehme Tohme and Wael Bou Faour.
Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and MPs Abbass Hashem, Nabil Nkoula, Farid Khazen, FPM political relations official Gibran Bassil and political advisers Mario Aoun and Jean Aziz.
Hizbullah MPs Mohammad Raad and Hussein al-Hajj Hassan and resigned Energy and Water Minister Mohammad Fneish.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and MPs George Adwan, Antoine Zahra and foreign affairs adviser Joseph Nehme.
Former President and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel and party members Chaker Aoun, Walid Fares, Elie Dagher, Sassine Sassine and political adviser Joseph Khalil.
Zahle's Popular Bloc head MP Elie Skaff and MP Salim Aoun.
Tripoli Bloc leader and Transport and Public Works Minister Mohammad Safadi.
MPs Michel Murr, Ghassan Tueini, Boutros Harb, Jawad Boulos and Hagop Pakradounian.
On a side note, a demonstration was carried by the Lebanese Physically handicapped Union whose long was: "Don't Come Back if you don’t have a Solution" aiming at all the leaders of both coalitions and representing the demands of the majority of the Lebanese. The demonstration was staged on the Airport Highway.