Michael Young of the Daily star is less than optimistic about the recent Damascus shuffle:
That does not bode well for Lebanon, which is still reeling from the assassination attempt against Hamade. But as Kenaan's obligatory appointment and Jumblatt's comment on Ghazaleh show, the taboos buttressing Syrian power both in Lebanon and Syria are fast disintegrating, and the Syrian regime is fighting back. While no Lebanese is willing to openly suggest who tried to murder Hamade, the political class in its majority (not to mention the crowd gathered at the AUH last Friday) pointedly avoided stressing it was the otherwise inevitable Israelis.
We are in for hard times. Even as the Syrian regime braces itself, so too does President Emile Lahoud, as he surveys the rising probability that he may soon face a large opposition front that includes Jumblatt, Qornet Shehwan, the Movement for a Democratic Left as well as other left-wing independents, the National Bloc, former President Amin Gemayel and other Christian opposition forces, including, in some capacity, the Aounists. The irony is that the president has been raising the ante on Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, hoping that the intolerable conditions he has laid down for a new government will force Hariri to abandon his efforts to form one.
The first test of whether to expect something new in the Syrian-Lebanese relationship may come as of today, once the UN Security Council decides what to do with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's report on the implementation of Resolution 1559. The type of government formed afterward will be instructive: common sense dictates that the Syrians impose a team that won't rock the boat. If Lahoud gets his way, however, the country will be ensnared in a potentially devastating political brawl.
What are the implications of this? Very simply that if Lahoud is brought down by a rising wave of domestic recrimination, the Syrian order in Lebanon may fall with him. That's something the president's men might want to think about in the coming weeks, and that Kenaan surely already has.