On the cusp:

Bursts of gunfire in Beirut this week have sparked fears that Lebanon is on the cusp of another civil war. As with its long conflict from 1975 to 1990, outside powers near and far are sure to be drawn into the maelstrom of another fratricidal war among Lebanon’s disparate communities. Such a war would be a disaster, and the entire region has an interest in preventing it. There are differing explanations for the origin of the latest clashes between the government of PM Fouad Siniora and the Shi’ite militia, Hezbollah. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, accused the government of provoking Hezbollah’s takeover of Sunni neighborhoods and media outlets controlled by Saad Hariri, son of the slain former PM Rafik Hariri and leader of an anti-Syrian coalition.

The Arab League ought to encourage political compromise among Lebanese factions. Arab government officials make no secret of their fear that Hezbollah is acting as an agent of Iran, threatening to spread Iranian influence not only to Arab Iraq but to Lebanon

as well. It is precisely because outside forces are prone to wage their power struggles on Lebanese soil that all concerned parties, including the US, should be encouraging their friends and clients inside Lebanon to strike the power-sharing political deals that alone may prevent a civil war. — The Boston Globe