Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Window of Opportunity: Returning to The Table

They promised that they will all return to the negotiating table, to form the First Independence Government and to save our country from missing out on a “Window of Opportunity” that will shut very soon in our faces if we don’t make a stand.

PSP’s MP Marwan Hamadeh on LBC today promised MP Naamatallah Abi Nasr from Aoun’s bloc that talks will resume and will only be positive.

Faris Khashan then was not very off target when he wrote a couple of days back that no government will be formed without the participation of Aoun’s bloc and a Jumblatt-Aoun “sulha.” Perhaps we won’t see Jumblatt and Aoun shaking hands per se, but it seems that representatives from both blocs will be lowering their ceilings in order to work together under one government.

General Aoun also talked about Seniora’s initiative to get Aoun’s bloc back onto the negotiating table to join the government. Aoun’s talk was in fact very persuasive and logical and when asked on his bloc’s demands with regards to seats in the government, he answered that this issue is up to Seniora. Moreover, he highlighted an important point which is namely that the government needs to agree on central policies amongst them the issue of UNSCR 1559. The government can be formed with Ministers taking their favorite seats as if in a show, but we might just see the whole show blow up upon sitting together to draft the Government Policy Statement.

Hence, my question is: How will Hizbullah-Amal agree to 1559? That is indeed the million dollar question. It seems right now that there is a commitment on the part of everyone (except for HA-Amal) to move forward with forging a new government as soon as possible. Jumblatt apparently is willing to lower the tone of his rhetoric and endorse an “Open Hand” policy, Aoun is willing to return to the negotiating table, and Seniora is willing to knock on politicians’ doors once, twice, thrice to achieve a conciliatory, positive result.

Now we know what the other 5% that no one seems to agree on: it’s the 1559, the “Shiite Obstacle.” Now we know. Corruption, Judicial Reform, Economic Development, you name the slogan…no one disagrees on that, but for 1559 (and probably we can lump onto this obstacle the Palestinian refugee question as well.)

HA-Amal have polarized and isolated themselves, they want to run their own show without extending a hand towards others, and have polarized their position further by showing outright distrust in candidates from other sects to hold the Foreign Affairs portfolio (as if other sects are willing to sell their country). It is apparent that Hariri is not willing to do the shuttle diplomacy for Hizbullah any longer. FM benefits from forming a government swiftly. It was clear today with Dibble that in return for a coherent reform plan devised by the government which of course includes the full implementation of 1559, Lebanon will be getting a handsome aid package. Hizbullah obviously does not benefit from this plan and will not see any good from forming the government as swiftly as others see it. But it seems that Seniora is not giving in; he went back to Aoun to negotiate with him his return. Meanwhile, FM is still silent (except through their newspaper) on the HA-Amal issue.

Going back to Jumblatt, he has actually taken a stab at trying to answer the million dollar question on Hizbullah and 1559. He claimed to Future TV that the Government Policy Statement can include the Lebanese respect for international law and legitimacy but also their agreement to protect the Resistance and to ensure that the Shebaa Farms are freed. Truly, this person is not off course here; I understand now more what he means when he says that 1559 will not work. HA is showing all of us what it can do when it decides to play the Lebanese political game. It has power and Jumblatt sees that we can’t force HA to agree to 1559, especially that they form an integral part of the government due to their power representative base. Nothing we can do about that. So he declares that he has nothing against Aoun’s involvement in the government; he just stresses that the Shiite component should not be isolated. And it’s true, we can’t ignore HA-Amal, we can’t. And nothing can be done by force.

So…HA still has Jumblatt as the last link to the others. My question to Raja two days ago on how Jumblatt will balance his alliances out is going to be put to the test in the coming few days.

Again, I will paste here what I wrote in my first post on February 21st in this blog because it’s important to remind ourselves of where we were and what we thought then: “I would like to see in the very near future a document drafted by the Opposition that will answer the many lingering questions: How are we going to resolve the question of the Sheba’a Farms? How will Hizbullah be disarmed and who will do so? What about the Palestinian refugee question?....Big, divisive issues indeed to which we must find honest and real answers. I believe the true challenge is not Syria’s withdrawal, but what will ensue after their withdrawal when we have to all sit together on one table to resolve those major, contentious issues on our own.”

"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."


Mustapha said...

you said "How will Hizbullah-Amal agree to 1559? That is indeed the million dollar question."

In fact, that is the 35 billion dollar question.

Hassan said...

I still think that if this country was ever meant to handle such debt "seriously" from a purely financial perspective, it would never have reached this amount.
One of the possible solutions is what's being promoted as a handsome aid package in return for disarming Hezbollah and "sorting out" the Palestinian issue.
Aid in return for Reform & Democracy? not an issue for the Americans, at least not anymore than it is now in Iraq.

ThinkingMan said...

Doha- Re:
"Now we know what the other 5% that no one seems to agree on: it’s the 1559, the “Shiite Obstacle.”

That statement is very wrong. You can check the FPM program here:
There isn't one reference to 1559 in it.

Doha said...


I was being more symbolic than literal when I talked of the 5%. I meant that symbolic 5% (the obstacle) that no one (not just FM and FPM) seems to agree on, namely the issue of 1559.

help me help you said...

We don't need aid. We need reforms and Investment...Do you want to sell your country and have the Americans protect us from the Israelis?

Are you the one waving at the Israeli F-16's when they pass above Beirut?

The West is using 1559 as an excuse for us to do something internally against Hizballah.

The U.S in case you haven't noticed hates them, on behalf of Israel of course. They won't care if this erupts into a civil war...all they care about is that Israel will have a free hand on the northern borders.

Thats what guys like Perle and DeLay want. Understand American politics and you understand 1559. Understand the Evangelist Doctrine and you understand 1559.
Obviously you don't