It’s no secret that the fears of Lebanese Christians increased after the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) displaced and attempted to eliminate Christian and non-Christian minorities.
These fears are not exclusive to Christians. They now include all the Lebanese people, ever since the events in Arsal. A question on the circumstances of this reality has begun to surface, although has not become public yet. Will Lebanon’s Christians once again resort to arms like they did in 1975 against Palestinians and others? In other words, will they act outside the state’s legitimate protection and attempt to defend themselves?
We only raise this question because there are some voices speaking out on extremist fundamentalism, which threatens the entire region, the image of civilized Arabism and real Islam. What pushes us towards openly speaking about this affair is that we sense some sort of agreement with the entire Lebanese people, or at least some sort of consensus, on the threat of ISIS and the criminal Takfirist (apostasist) fundamentalist phenomenon. There’s such a consensus but no united vision yet to confront this threat.
One prominent figure who expressed this consensus is Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who agreed with the opinions of other parties as he spoke on the “existential threat” Lebanon and the region is facing. But is it enough for Lebanese to unite over the description of danger and its nature while everything else is subject to disputes and disagreements and while we head towards crises which feed on one another?
The presidential vacuum
I don’t think the danger against the Christians should push them towards acting outside the state’s logic of protecting all citizens. Any tendency to restore the logic of self-protection will neither serve the Christians nor the Lebanese people as a whole. At some point, it will also be dangerous to employ the presidential vacuum crisis to call for projects like federalism and other ones which would harm Christians and Lebanon’s unity in the future.
These orientations - even if suggesting them is justified in certain circumstances - will provoke other conflicts. They also clearly undermine the formula upon which the Taif Agreement (which was signed to end the Lebanese civil war) was based on. So where’s the interest of Christians in these unprecedentedly dangerous circumstances in manipulating the national charter and opening the doors for an unknown situation where no-one knows will lead?
Amidst all this, we wonder why the Christians haven’t gotten straight to the point and closed the entrance of all evils to Lebanon by electing a president? Filling the post of the presidency upon solid political, security and moral fortification that will guarantee the protection of Lebanon and end all excuses to extend the parliament’s term.
If Nasrallah is concerned about coming together with others to confront ISIS - and although we are not convinced by his justifications on why his party is still in Syria and despite his denial regarding this involvement’s effect in dragging Takfirist terrorism into Lebanon - why doesn’t he make the initiative of taking a flexible stance that paves the way to reaching a consensus over a new Lebanese president, instead of obstructing attempts to end the presidential crisis?
This article was first published in al-Nahar on Aug. 18, 2014.
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