Turn to Taif or Doha

Mazen Hayek

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Political and media circles in Lebanon were divided by the recent declaration of the March 14 alliance’s “moderate house.” Some described the declaration as historic and a prelude to a new stage of “no laxing” and of legitimate self-defense against the atrocious assassination of the internal security chief General Wessam al-Hassan and the possibility of the political assassinations and their aftermaths returning to the scene.

Some of them saw the statement as a “declaration of war,” a boycott, a dangerous escalation in the standoff against the government and Hezbollah. In both cases things could become more complex or could prompt more division and political, economic, social and security deterioration while the great powers are occupied with their foreign priorities and domestic affairs. This is also happening the distance between regional players and distrust between them grows and amid fragile regional stability in connection primarily by with the Syrian crisis. The March 14 statement also came as some people hold on to the government that distances itself from what is happening in an attempt to avoid falling in pits. Others, meanwhile, play down the situation saying there was no need to send warnings of political “emptiness” or to call for the formation of a rescue government in accordance with the constitutional mechanism adopted.

It is true that a return to “civil war” in Lebanon seems unlikely now, opposite to the case in 1975, not only to the lack of intention or excuses, incentives and capabilities, but because most parties tried war and its horrors and costs, and tragedies, and discovered that no party can alone conquer the other, according to the saying “no winners or losers!”.

However, the sliding from a state of "no peace, no war" to a state of sectarian fighting remains probable, especially in the light of the growing sense of sectarianism around us, and the wave of intolerance, growing fundamentalism among the parties concerned with the Lebanese situation throughout the region.

Since losing control of the situation remains possible, and since also that voluntary agreement is unlikely, it becomes essential moving to crystalize a basket of compromises, which includes political solutions and economic measures, social, financial and structural reforms under the auspices of the U.N. and under an Arab umbrella. This basket of compromises and measures should put forth institutional solutions for national priorities. It should also diagnose the breaches in the executive, judicial, regulatory and supervisory bodies of the state. It should also include agreement on a new government, and the election law, and the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies, and the upcoming presidential election, and defense policy, and economic advancement, including addressing the dilemma of public debt, unemployment and immigration and other pressing issues that can be delayed any longer.

So, turn to Taif or Doha!

(Originally published in Arabic on Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper)
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