Sunday, December 6, 2009

Prolonging the deadlock.


by Elie Fawaz

Since the May liberation of 2000, the Lebanese have pondered the fate of Hezbollah’s weapons, as many people thought that, with the goal of the weapons having been achieved, the party lost the justification for its military presence inside Lebanon.

However, to the surprise of those who believed as such, it became apparent in the party’s literature that Hezbollah did not want to hand over its weapons to the state. The party gradually transformed the mission behind its weapons from that of liberation, to that of resistance, to deterrence, with arms to defend arms, making their weapons sacrosanct whereby debate on the issue was unacceptable. The Resistance, according to its theorists, became “not an armed group which wants to liberate a strip of land nor an instrument of circumstance, the role of which ends when [its] pretext ends.”

The role of the party and its weapons was manifested first with the occupation of downtown Beirut, taken over after destructive aggression by Israel in 2006—against the whole of Lebanon—and then with the party’s continual obstruction of the works of the Council of Ministers and the government; its prevention of a new president from being elected; and subsequently its invasion of west Beirut, bringing us to Qatar where obstruction [of power] came to be imposed by an obscure clause within the Doha Agreement.

This dispute between the state and Hezbollah erupted into the open after the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri and the subsequent withdrawal of Syria—a country which until then had been balancing the fragile coexistence between the two—from Lebanon.

Clearly today, Hezbollah, via its alliances on the one hand and the force of its weapons to impose its viewpoints on the other, is trying to bring back the coexistence between the state of and the Resistance as it had existed until then.

However, in the absence of Syrian control and the security and intelligence apparatuses that accompanied it, is it possible to combine the two contradictory concepts of the state and the Resistance without the danger of slipping into civil war?

How is it possible to reconcile a state which assumes that “the people are the source of power and the bearers of [its] sovereignty” with a party which finds its origins in the Iranian theory of the Wilayat al-Faqih – a theory which claims that this post “is based on the direct law of God; not the people” and that orders which come from the Wali al-Faqih, the highest authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, are to be considered binding law; or rather they are given precedence over any other law or constitution were those ever to contradict the supreme leader.

How do we reconcile a state which deems among its prerogatives to be decisions of war and peace with a party which purports that the Wali al-Faqih is “the one who has the authority to make decisions of war and peace?”

How do we reconcile a state whose constitution places all of the armed forces under the authority of the Council of Ministers and seeks, through the national dialogue table, to incorporate the Resistance into the army, with those who say: “What we want from national dialogue is not negotiation over keeping the weapons or not; nor is it negotiation over the Resistance being integrated into the army or the Resistance not being integrated into the army. What we want is for this strategy that we have designed to be completed and for official Lebanese decisions to be joined with us, side by side, in order fortify Lebanon and in order to maintain Lebanon’s strength through the army, the Resistance and the people.”

How do we reconcile a state - whose constitution, in following the provisions of the Taif Agreement, calls for: “executing [UN Security Council] Resolution 425 and the rest of the Security Council’s resolutions pertaining to the total elimination of the Israeli occupation,” and also calls for “commitment to the armistice agreement signed on March 23, 1949, taking all necessary measures to liberate all Lebanese territory from Israeli occupation, spreading the state’s sovereignty over all of its territory, deploying the Lebanese army in the Lebanese border region as it is recognized internationally, and working to support [UNIFIL] forces in South Lebanon to ensure Israel’s withdrawal, affording the opportunity for security and stability to be returned to the border region” - with a party which stresses that, if Israel withdrew from Shebaa, “we [would] not stop fighting them. Our goal is the liberation of Palestine. The Jews who survive this war of liberation can return to Germany or wherever they came from.”?

How do we reconcile a state that seeks to establish better relations with sister Arab states with a party that infringes upon the sovereignty of these states and makes the Lebanese residents and investors located in them vulnerable to expulsion as a result of the party’s ventures, toying with their livelihoods and undermining their futures and the futures of their children?

Finally, how do we reconcile a state that adopted the Arab peace initiative launched by Saudi King Abdullah from Beirut as a settlement to Arab-Israeli fighting with those who proclaim: “It has been, still is, and will continue to be our position to maintain a position of rejection pertaining to the peace settlement based on the principle that the choice of settlement [stands] with the Zionist entity.”

Today the Lebanese continue to ponder [the fate of these weapons] while they listen to the party’s allies concoct new pretexts for the weapons not to be handed over to the state: from “preventing the naturalization [of Palestinian citizens],” to “confronting global conspiracies” which seek “the assets of the Umma”… So what comes next, especially since the Resistance has not been able to make Lebanese society join in its plot and that the state has not been able to incorporate the Resistance?

No matter how some try to look for middle-ground solutions, their efforts will merely prolong the deadlock. And there is not one state in the world with two centers [of power] that make decisions pertaining to sovereignty.  


Elie Fawaz

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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