MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon’s elections and the threat of war

As Lebanon neared the end of its elections and the announcement of its results, it was hit with two storms. The first was the storm of armed Hezbollah and Amal Movement supporters who took to the streets of Beirut under the pretext of celebrating the victory achieved by the “Shiite duo”, and the second was the US president backing out of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Hezbollah and its weapons were the biggest victors in the battle as 26 Shiites out of 27 on Hezbollah and Amal electoral lists won, in addition to 15 of their allies who also won which include seven Sunnis. Therefore what I expected since 2017 has happened, which is that the settlement which brought about Lebanon’s president and prime minister would make the country a follower of Hezbollah, not just on the security and military levels, but also on the political level.

What I expected since 2017 has happened, which is that the settlement which brought about Lebanon’s president and prime minister would make the country a follower of Hezbollah

Radwan al-Sayed

The president and the prime minister insist that stability would not have been achieved without this settlement, and that constitutional and administrative institutions would not have gone back to work without it.

Those who oppose the settlement, however, think that what has been achieved is very little when considering things from a national perspective. No one was capable of rejecting stability but none of the Muslims had approved of the electoral law. Rejecting the newly adopted law would not have threatened stability.

Not to mention that Prime Minister Saad Hariri knew well that he was the biggest loser behind approving this law and he did in fact lose one third of his bloc. Those who won were not some of the best candidates!

The US and Iran's nuclear deal

Meanwhile, American President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran. Trump said he was withdrawing from it because it’s a very bad deal in the balance of American interests and because Iran threatens the world with ballistic missiles and spreads terrorism. There will be difficult negotiations, or let’s say disagreements, because the Chinese and the Russians are against Trump’s move and so are the Europeans.

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There are lurking parties here, primarily Israel, which has been attacking Syria for years under the pretext of combating Iranian interferences. The bet was that America will prevent Israel and that Russia will prevent Iran from escalating the situation towards transforming into a comprehensive war.

However, there are now two new factors. The first one is that Trump mentioned the spread of terrorism as a reason behind the dispute with Iran and that Israel thinks it has the chance to destroy Iranian presence in Syria now that Iran is exposed there. No one really knows whether Putin allows this or what the American military really thinks of this!

Hezbollah's control of Lebanon

In 2006 when the war erupted between Hezbollah and the Zionists, Lebanon’s situation was much better. Its government enjoyed wide popularity and it was supported by the strong political front of the March 14 coalition. The Americans and Arabs did what they could to save the country’s structure and the army.

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Today, however, Lebanon is under the control of Hezbollah, which is a terrorist group in the eyes of the US, the international community and Arabs. Lebanon will thus not find any supporters if Hezbollah is pushed to get involved in a possible Iranian-Israeli war.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701 stipulates that the Lebanese army and international troops are the only two authorized parties to be present in the South. However the president said that the army was weak and it needs Hezbollah’s support to deter Israel and that Hezbollah has another task which is to combat terrorism! The immunity which the international resolution and the government had provided was thus fractured.

The Taif agreement

As for the electoral law, it shook the Taif Agreement and the constitution because it underestimated co-existence when it intentionally separated Christians from Muslims in most constituencies. The president and the prime minister underestimated UNSCR 1701 and the immunity it provides Lebanon with when they considered that Hezbollah is an alternative to the army and the international troops.

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After the elections ended, the president called for dialogue to implement the Taif Agreement and to formulate a defense strategy. The implementation of the Taif Agreement calls for going back to the principle of co-existence and for repealing the discriminatory electoral law.

The defense strategy is useless without respecting UNSCR 1701 and 1559, which was reached before the latter, and which stipulate disarming all militias, mainly Hezbollah, so only the army and security forces are armed. Can the president or the prime minister do that or even speak out on that? I do not think this is possible or else what’s the point of the “settlement” which brought them to power upon the conditions of the Iranian-backed armed Hezbollah?

Those who oppose the settlement must resume their efforts to protect Lebanon as a nation and a state by insisting to respect the Taif Agreement, the constitution, UNSCR 1701 and other related resolutions. Meanwhile, Lebanon will remain under the threat of war, which will happen tomorrow, that is if it doesn’t happen today.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and ash-Sharq al-Awsat.

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Last Update: Monday, 14 May 2018 KSA 18:11 - GMT 15:11
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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