At this point, perhaps it’s more beneficial for Lebanon to look into the alternatives to a presidential void – is there a more dangerous scenario out there? It might be useful to focus on what Lebanon is subjected to as an independent state, which at least theoretically, seeks to find a place of its own on the Middle East map and to provide the minimum of welfare, freedom and dignity to its citizens.
This does not at all mean that presidential elections are not important. On the contrary, these elections are exceptionally important because there are attempts to eliminate our small country through them.
Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria harmed whatever was left of Lebanese sovereigntyKhairallah Khairallah
There’s no need to talk much about the threats Lebanon is confronting. It’s enough to take a quick look at the recent speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to realize that everything in the country is targeted - beginning with the country’s top post of the presidency and all the way to the lowest governmental rank.
In total control of Lebanon
The speech revealed a new reality in which Hezbollah, which is a mere brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, considers itself in total control of Lebanon. Hezbollah has trespassed Lebanon. For the first time in the history of this country, there’s someone saying that he protects the state, its institutions, the presidency and the entity. There’s someone saying that he protects the state as an arena for its party where it can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants and however it wants.
Nasrallah’s latest speech seems to be the most dangerous of his speeches by all standards. This recent speech has trespassed all borders and not just Lebanon’s borders. He confirmed that there will be no president for Lebanon unless this president has certain characteristics - characteristics laid down by Hezbollah, i.e. Iran which specifies Hezbollah’s policies and what the latter must do inside and outside Lebanon.
The president must thus be like any other Christian member of parliament from Jezzine or Nabatiyeh or Marjayoun or Metn or Jbeil or even Kesrouan where no candidate can win without the votes of Hezbollah and other parties affiliated with it. There’s of course an exception called the district of northern Metn where deputies like Sami Gemayel succeeded at preventing Hezbollah from monopolizing parliamentary representation. There are also free members of parliament who represent both the Christian and the Lebanese conscience. These belong to districts where Hezbollah has no influence on the ground.
This current attack against the presidency falls within the context of a policy that merely aims to cancel Lebanon. This is not an exaggeration of the situation. It actually reflects a reality that’s begun to crystallize the minute Hezbollah decided to engage to in the war which the Syrian regime has launched against its people.
Against the Syrian people
Hezbollah got involved in the war against the Syrian people after Iran requested it to do so. This is it. The Shiite party was ordered to get involved in the war regardless of the price it’s currently paying and it will have to pay sooner or later.
Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria harmed whatever was left of Lebanese sovereignty and recognized borders between two countries that are members of the Arab League and the U.N. The intervention alongside Assad’s forces was according to sectarian basis. Hezbollah put sectarian affiliation above all other affiliations because Iran requested it to. This is a new development on the level of the entire Middle East.
It was former president Michel Suleiman’s fault that he objected to Hezbollah’s behavior and committed to the constitution - which he swore to respect. The result was a relentless war against him. This war expanded to disciplining the entire Christians by confirming to them that any president must be like any Maronite member of parliament from Jezzine or southern Metn or Jbeil or Baalbeck or Hermel. In other words, the president must be a mere employee, with the rank of an MP, working for Hezbollah and continuously striving to gain its approval.
Hezbollah has decided to be the state. It temporarily neutralized the Sunnis by approving to form the current cabinet of Tammam Salam, the patriotic figure who’s widely respected by most parties. Hezbollah practically wants to be free for the battle of the presidency and wants to make use of this for a much bigger battle represented in participating in redrawing the region’s map.
How can this happen? By connecting the Lebanese Bekaa and Hezbollah’s security zones there and in other Lebanese areas with Syrian territories, particularly the Syrian coast. This plan would be carried out in a manner that provides protection for the Alawite state in case Bashar al-Assad has no other choice but to establish it.
At Lebanon’s expense
What’s simply requested is to have a Lebanese president who engages in this dangerous game being played at Lebanon’s expense.
Michel Suleiman was not the man fit for this role. On the contrary, Suleiman voiced his commitment to the Baabda Declaration when his term ended and as he walked out of the Baabda presidential palace with his head held up high. He’s publicly spoken of the Baabda Declaration for the sake of protecting Lebanon at a time when some parties want no one to protect the small country with its recognized borders and established regime.
A while ago and during the long crisis that accompanied forming the current Lebanese government, former Speaker of Parliament Hussein al-Husseini said something very important as he described what Lebanon is going through as an “entity crisis.” It is truly an entity crisis and not just a crisis linked to marginalizing the Lebanese Christians to the maximum. It’s a crisis linked to the future of Lebanon where there are currently shameless parties saying they “protect” everything in the country, i.e. that they are its guardians. Is it possible that there will be new tutelage over Lebanon? Is this possible? Or has everything become possible with Syria’s collapse as an entity following the semi-collapse which happened in Iraq?
Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer who has previously worked at Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper, he then moved to London and began writing political columns in Arabic language newspapers, including Al-Mustaqbal and Rosa El-Youssef.