The Lebanese government has been disabled for a while due to a concocted crisis, the intentions behind which go much further exploiting the deaths of two young men in the village of Qabr Shmoun, in Mount Lebanon’s Aley District.
The true intentions are to undermine, and bring down, a redundant ‘compromise cabinet’ through making the position of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri untenable; leading to either impose presidential rule through pro-Hezbollah President Michel Aoun, or to a political ‘vacuum’ that only Hezbollah can fill.
Either way, then, Hezbollah is the party most interested in undermining the current fragile compromise, bringing down the cabinet, and fomenting internal strife within Lebanon’s sectarian communities. Contrary to Hezbollah media denial a few days ago, this party is indeed the ‘orchestrator’, coordinator, and commander-in-chief behind the crisis. As for its henchmen, whether Christians, Druze or others, they are nothing but pawns in a dangerous game that is pushing Lebanon to a political and sectarian ‘inferno’ created by Iran as part of its raising the tempo of concluding the deal of its regional influence.
The incident in which the two men were killed, occurred around a month ago as the Lebanese Foreign minister Gibran Bassil – who is also the president of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), President Aoun’s son-in-law, as well his ‘heir apparent’, was conducting his political tours in the country.
Throughout his tour, Bassil’s speeches have included unrelenting strong attacks on his ‘adversaries’, who also happen to be the FPM’s partners in the cabinet. Politically, those attacks were intended not only to outbid all others about defending the Christians’ right but also insisting on the Christians regaining the upper hand. This message is conveyed through insinuating that his adversaries within the Christian community have either sold cheap those ‘rights’ or are ‘weak’ enough to lose out to Muslim competitors; thus, making them unworthy of claiming the honor of defending the Christians!
Bassil has not only been repeating this negative and destructive message in the Christian heartland, but also carried it to mixed districts, such as Aley and Al-Shouf, in a direct and audacious provocation to the Druze, and their principal political umbrella, the Progressive Socialist Party. In one of his provocative speeches, Bassil recalled the battles that Aoun – a former army chief – fought against the PSP during the Lebanese ‘Mountain War’, just hours before his scheduled visit to Kfar Matta, which was witnessed a massacre committed against its Druze community in the late 1980s.
Given the expected popular reaction against the said speech, Bassil decided to cancel his scheduled visit. However, his ‘host’, a Kfar Matta-Druze minister, who was recently brought into the cabinet by Hezbollah, Aoun and the Syrian regime, insisted on what he viewed as his right to invite the FPM leader. But as the latter’s convoy reached the village of Qabr Shmoun it was surprised by the blocked road ahead, so some hot-headed young men from the convoy began shooting at the crowd to disperse then and open the road. This led to the exchange of fire and the death of two young men who were with the minister’s convoy, as well as among the locals.
The political exploitation of the incident began immediately. Pro Hezbollah – Aoun Druze called on referring it to the ‘Judiciary Council’, which is a special and final resort tribunal set for major national security crimes. The Hezbollah – Aoun camp’s attempt has been to divide the Druze and legally blackmail the PSP and its leader Walid Jumblatt, as they have kept calling for the ‘Judiciary Council’ before any proper initial investigation, or even handing over their people accused of taking part in the shooting.
The situation is looking very much like turning what should be a purely legal process into a war of political exclusion and sectarian intrigue. In this war Hezbollah and its ally, the Syrian regime, want to settle old scores with Walid Jumblatt, one of the leaders of the March 14th uprising in 2005.
Lebanon today, in fact, since the assassination of Rafic Al-Hariri and others, is living an uneasy political and security period, whereby it is impossible to ensure any fair trial. Just as a reminder, because it was impossible to ensure a proper investigation, and later a trial, the Lebanese government had to resort to international justice through a special tribunal that would handle Al-Hariri’s assassination as well as other crimes deemed connected to it. Hezbollah, however, refused to cooperate with the tribunal, and later refused to hand over party member accused of links with the assassination.
It is fair to say that Lebanon has inherited two problems from the 1975 – 1990 Lebanese War: weapons, and a sectarian exclusionist ‘war culture’; and although it was possible to formally ‘rebuild’ the disagreements on the country’s national identity, fate, coexistence and legitimacy persisted. In addition to these disagreements, the country’s legitimacy means little when one sectarian faction enjoys the exclusive right to keep a private army that is more powerful than the state’s army, and uses it inside Lebanon and abroad without its government’s permission. Moreover, this faction confesses that its political and religious allegiance lies with another independent UN-member state that provides it with all kinds of funding and support.
The ‘Taif Accords’ of 1989, which ended the Lebanese War, instituted constitutional reforms based on a no victor-no vanquished equation. It was endorsed by almost all major political and sectarian leaderships; however, the hard-line Christian faction, led by the then army chief General Michel Aoun, openly refused to endorse it, claiming that it deprived the Christians of their ‘rights’ and marginalized them.
On the other hand, Aoun’s ‘open’ opposition later found a tacit ally that was as opposed to the ‘Taif Accords’, and willing to undermine, although for reasons not connected with the Christians’ ‘rights’. That ally was the Damascus – Tehran axis represented by the Assad regime in Syria and the regime of Vali e Faqih and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) in Iran.
The security apparatus of the Assad regime, that controlled Lebanon between 1976 and 2005, was the de facto ‘nanny’ for the sectarian Shi’ite IRGC-linked militia that became … Hezbollah. As that security apparatus invented artificial Christian leaderships which were nothing but ‘fronts’ that covered the on-going work to effect a profound change in Lebanon’s political chemistry, it weakened the traditional Christian leaderships through imprisonment, exile, marginalization, assassination, as well penetrating their parties. It, later on, struck a deal with Aoun, before his return from exile in Paris, to sabotage the March 14th camp and join hands with Hezbollah.
The speech of Hezbollah’s Secretary-General last week, in which he touched on the government crisis and the Qabr Shmoun incident was exceptionally interesting. He fully endorsed the positions of Jumblatt’s enemy, while claiming that he was not interfering in Druze affairs. He then continued covering Aoun and Bassil’s stances within the cabinet, including Bassil’s stopping the hiring of 900 state employees despite fulfilling the requirements of the Civil Service Council, simply because the foreign minister noticed that there were more Muslims than Christians among the 900 candidates!