by Tony Badran
Walid Jumblatt returned from his long-awaited visit to
Well before Jumblatt went to
Jumblatt started adjusting his approach to Hezbollah after the clashes of May 2008, and increasingly so after parliamentary elections last June. He dropped his support for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. Yet Jumblatt tried to balance this by backing Resolution 1701, which recalls Resolution 1559, and continuing to voice a desire to revive the Israel-Lebanon Armistice Agreement of 1949 (also mentioned in Resolution 1701), though not a peace treaty. He also repeated a general appeal for the eventual integration of Hezbollah into the Lebanese army.
This was not good enough for the Syrians. Sure enough, Jumblatt's "political diagram" dropped all reference to Resolution 1701, the Armistice Agreement and Lebanese state authority. Since last year, the Druze leader has also expressed unease with the Special Tribunal for
In fact, Jumblatt repeated two key formulations from Hezbollah's lexicon, namely "the Resistance defending
What does Jumblatt's new course of action mean in operational terms? We can only make an educated guess. However, an interesting item appeared in the Kuwaiti daily As-Seyassah ahead of Jumblatt's meeting with Assad. Citing "informed sources," the newspaper claimed that one of the conditions Jumblatt would have to face was allowing Hezbollah fighters to position themselves on the summits of the
Such claims, whatever their veracity, are not new. Following the July War in 2006, Hezbollah's military assets south of the
What was abundantly clear in the May 2008 fighting was that Hezbollah sought to secure strategic points and communication routes linking its strongholds in southern
Jumblatt always understood the implications of this, and in summer 2009 he relayed to Progressive Socialist Party cadres his concerns over a future war between Hezbollah and
It's unclear whether Hezbollah would restrict its presence to the Barouk mountaintop, or whether it would deem it necessary to make logistic use of Druze villages that it assaulted two years ago. This, of course, would expose these villages to massive devastation by the Israel Air Force, which could provoke entirely new dynamics inside
Jumblatt's perennial concern is the protection of his community. It is for that reason that he called for a ceasefire in May 2008 and moved, much to the displeasure of many of his followers, to "reconcile" with Hezbollah and
Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
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