Lebanon’s March 14 coalition, ten years on

This week we mark the creation of the March 14 coalition in Lebanon, and it will occur amidst the absence of some figures, either because they chose to be absent or because they were forced to be - it doesn’t make a difference. It thus occurs amidst the absence of figures who struggled to keep the torch lit and amidst the presence of figures who may be frustrated as a result of lost hopes and unrealized dreams of change.

All affairs require the correction of visions, aims, aspirations, strategies, calculations and loyalties to those who are now gone after paying hefty prices for what they fought for. We also have to present those left with renewed momentum. This reconsideration of affairs is not a self-inflicted punishment but we have had a tough time and key players trespassed the borders of Lebanon. Threats still lurk around every corner as some parties still obstruct the notion of the “Lebanese state.”

Let’s frankly state that everyone in Lebanon has made sacrifices. Some were martyred as they confronted Syrian tutelage, and those are equal to those who were martyred as they defended Lebanon against Israeli occupation. It’s upon this basis that we can establish a patriotic vision that goes beyond the small calculations of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions. This unifying aspect does not cancel differences but it does cancel disagreements over many major issues.

Unifying national dialogue

Disputes require a unifying national dialogue which not many parties can commit to. This is what happened in previous national dialogue sessions as few parties committed to these sessions’ decisions due to their foreign affiliations. National dialogue is vital and it’s what affects Lebanese affairs and we are fully aware that there’s no alternative.

What I am saying is not based on the desire to cancel options between the March 8 and March 14 coalitions but it’s based on the desire to clarify differences and not use them as material to accuse others of treason. Accusations of collaboration and treason don’t push us towards any future dialogue which the Lebanese must eventually resort to after realizing – if they do realize – that cancelling out others is impossible and that there’s no alternative to living with one another.

The collective amnesties granted to turn the page of the civil war was not a healthy phenomenon as it was not accompanied by a real national reconciliation and by a purification of the collective memory. People were not rehabilitated either and grudges thus remained and so did readiness for future wars.

We, the audience of March 14, 2005, hold on to the truth and to the international tribunal (i.e. the Special Tribunal for Lebanon) and to the Lebanese judiciary. We are adamant that criminals be punished and we insist that no institution turn into a tool for political vendetta. We don’t want our martyrs’ blood to go to waste. This is how we protect our children and how we protect the children of our rivals in politics. We don’t want Syria to interfere in our affairs and we don’t want to engage in its wars. We refuse that Israel violates our airspace, borders and waters and we refuse to be a delusional path to liberating Jerusalem.

We aspire to build a strategic vision for a modern country which we hope to have and which we’ve paid a high price to keep. Perhaps this aspiration we have is what we have in common with everyone else. The state is our aim and we will continue to work towards this end, whether 10, 20 or a 100 years pass. Our children will inherit this concern from us just like we inherited it from our parents and grandparents.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on March 12, 2015.

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Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni
 

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