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The policy of undermining the Lebanon state continues…

All of Lebanon has seemingly come to a halt because of the absence of a new government. It appears that this will remain the case as long as some political parties continue to let foreign interests prevail over national ones, one former official told L’Orient-Le Jour (OLJ). The political camp defending Lebanon’s sovereignty has failed to steer the country away from regional power struggles. Instead, parties on either side of the divide have chosen to align with Iran or the United States at the expense of Lebanon’s own interests.

The events that took place in Beirut and Jahiliyeh last Sunday illustrate this point, in addition to multiple other acts of defiance. Taken together, these actions hint a disregard for the Lebanese state similar to what was displayed on May 7, 2008, when Hezbollah gunmen took to the streets of Beirut, or on Feb. 6, 1984, when the Amal Movement and its allies completely bypassed the government’s authority.

When supporters of Amal removed the Libyan flags planted in the streets of Beirut ahead of the Jan. 20 Arab League summit and replaced them with the Amal flags, it was similar to what they did in 2007 when they burned the Lebanese flag, asserting the logic of militancy over that of government institutions.

The speeches given in Jahiliyeh last Sunday during a commemoration ceremony marking the 40th day since the death of former minister Wi’am Wahhab’s bodyguard Mohammad Abu Diab are also signs of an upcoming white revolution against the Taif Agreement. Some parties wish to change the agreement to address what they see as an imbalance of power leading to the political marginalization of the Shiite community. In other words, the Shiite community wants to change the status quo by adjusting the current equilibrium to increase its power and its influence in the decision making process.

How else could former minister Wi’am Wahhab and Talal Arslane’s words be interpreted? Both hinted that in the absence of a March 8th government, and without providing adequate support to the Syrian-Iranian axis, Lebanon will have to face chaos and an institutional vacuum.

The staggering positions articulated during the Jahiliyeh ceremony were clearly intended to impair the government in every way possible. This systematic policy of undermining the very foundations of the state is being led by people who oppose a government that doesn’t meet the requirements of the March 8th bloc. It is increasingly clear that the political differences preventing the formation of a government are not about the daily struggles of the Lebanese people, such as inadequate electricity and excessive pollution. Instead, the dividing line is between people who support a sovereign state and those who accept the influence of outside powers.

Bipartisan agreements, such as the 2006 Mar Mikhael accord between Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), have replaced institutions by placing the concerned parties above the constitution and the law. The Mar Mikhael agreement also made it possible to keep decisions relating to war and peace in the hands of the resistance.

Hezbollah eventually took advantage of the agreement by extracting its desired benefits while failing respect its own part of the deal. As a result, a few months ago FPM leader Gebran Bassil asserted that his party disagreed with Hezbollah on a major point in the fourth clause of the agreement: the promise of state-building.

Now, Hezbollah and Amal are continuing to undermine the government. Their interference in the organization of the Arab League summit is a prime example. They have tried to impose their will by insisting Syria be invited to the event and by calling for Libya to be banned from participating. These are both signs that the two parties are willing to try to make their own interests prevail over the interests of the state and its institutions.

Hezbollah and Amal’s actions regarding the Arab League summit have also eroded their relationship with the FPM, which was already on rocky ground as the parties stand accused of sabotaging Michel Aoun’s mandate.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale's recent visit to Lebanon demonstrated how proxy wars are destroying the Middle East. The US official's visit also coincided with increased tension at the southern border where the Israeli government discovered tunnels, dug by Hezbollah, leading from south Lebanon into the Jewish state.

During his visit to the Center House on Jan. 14, Hale delivered a powerful message about the “Iranian danger’ that the US administration is trying to counter and the financing of Hezbollah. The existence of a militia that is not subject to government authority is “unacceptable”, Hale said. He also stated that the establishment of a new Lebanese government is an important issue for the United States, but the composition of the government should be solely up to the Lebanese.

(This article was originnaly published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour on the 15th of January)

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