JUST POSTED ONLINE: POWER PLOY. To continue with the theme of the day, Marc Lynch of Abu Aardvark fame explains why pro-American Arab regimes are criticizing Hezbollah and Iran in such an explict and public fashion during this crisis. (Hint: shockingly, it's not because they're expressing the sentiments of their citizens.)

The much-hyped communal dimension (Sunni-Shia) is probably a red herring, though. Arab arguments about Lebanon today fall along regime-popular conflicts rather than Sunni-Shia. Despite the sharp Sunni-Shia clashes in Iraq, and the anti-Iranian rhetoric coming out of Arab capitals, the appeal to the wider Arab public of the Shia Hezbollah movement seems to have only increased. Egypt�s very Sunni Muslim Brotherhood has strongly backed Hezbollah, while al-Jazeera (often described by disaffected Iraqi Shia as a �Sunni network�) has given largely sympathetic coverage.

...[T]these three regimes evidently see this crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate their value to the United States and conclusively put an end to American calls for democratization. The domestic power of Islamists has long been the trump card of these regimes, which have used the prospects of their electoral victory to frighten off American democracy enthusiasts. This gambit gained extra currency in Washington after the strong showing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt�s Parliamentary elections and the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. In this context, protests in support of Hezbollah probably serve the interests of the pro-American despots right now. The last week will put the final nails in the coffin of democracy promotion, if these regimes have their way: Why would America push for democracy when these regimes are so publicly helpful, and the publics likely to win elections so hostile?

Lynch has much more to say -- check out the piece here.

--The Editors

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