Thursday, December 22, 2005

Less Than Two Hours: The Shiite Question

Less than two hours before LBC and Future TV have their daily news shows. Less than two hours and we will all know whether the Cabinet has convened with or without the Shiite Ministers.

Who ever thought that a Shiite crisis would be what divides Lebanon and weakens it in 2005. I learned in Dr. Farid El-Khazen's class (an MP now) back in AUB that the Palestinian presence was one of the major reasons Lebanon entered into a civil war; the Palestinian question then in the '70s was more than Lebanon's political system can take and thus led to its demise. The Palestinian question then divided the country, took ideological and sectarian overtones, and fueled the drive to militarization.

Fast-forward 35 years: the Palestinian refugee presence in Lebanon and the Palestinian question cannot be compared to the Shiite stand which is threatening to divide the country. At least, the Palestinian issue was something emanating from outside of Lebanon; the Shiites (popularly represented by Hizbullah and Amal, as HA politicians like to say) are Lebanese, they are from this country, an important pillar in its existence as a viable state.

Less than two hours and we will know whether our country will make it or not.

Less than two hours and we will perhaps learn (or maybe never learn) what that "dialogue" is(and what a famous word it has become in Lebanese political discourse) that has been going back and forth amongst politicians and religious leaders in the past couple of days. What was Amal doing in Bkirki? What was an Iranian attache doing at the Grand Serail yesterday? What did the public relations official from Hizbullah mean when he announced today/yesterday that the dialogue with PM Seniora did not lead to a solution?

What are they talking about? What are the issues that are being put on the table for compromise? Can we know, as Lebanese, what they are?

Yesterday, Hizbullah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem, in a speech of his on Hizbullah's stand not to return to the Cabinet because they are not being treated as a majority, I found myself looking at a scene that almost might resemble Iraq.

Qassem was talking as an entity that threatens to break away; that does not care much about national unity as much as it cares to maintain itself as an entity, defined as a party with allegiances that spans the Shiite sphere, transcending national boundaries.

I can't deny that each sect in Lebanon has reached out for alliances outside of Lebanon; but most have settled for Lebanon, an end of itself. Again, as I learned back in the "Politics in Lebanon" class at AUB, the Shiites' cultural and political peak in Lebanon has come way after all the major sects in Lebanon had their limelight. That peak, we all thought, was represented with Imam Moussa Sadr's persona, that reached out to all and spoke of Lebanon, the country. Was that the peak? Or are we witnessing that peak right now?....Because I see that they are indeed at the peak of their power and their make-or-break stands threaten to divide this country.

UPDATE: Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah met with Berri in Ain Tineh and decided to maintain their Cabinet boycott. PM Seniora went ahead and still held the weekly Cabinet meeting. He claimed that it's not a retaliatory move; on the contrary, if the cabinet meetings are not held, this means that there is no Cabinet. It's interesting to note that Lahoud's allies in the Cabinet showed up to the meeting this afternoon. Where is this all going? What is the Shiite bloc asking for compromise that the March 14 bloc is not accepting to give up?

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


francois said...

they should fire them from the government .

i would add that during the war, the biggest mistake was the constitution of gouvernments of national consensus, that are by definition weak, and again lebanon made that mistake by putting the hezbollah inside that government

the other mistake was to reappoint berry as chief or thief of the parlement (only on letter changes as u may notice)

the biggest and largest mistake was in the lebanese constitution with a oligarchy as a political system, concentrating all the powers inside the parlement and not having equilibrium btw executifs , legislatif and judiciary power, leading to the paralysie that leaded to the gain of power by the palestinian from the cairo deal till 75 and the civil war and today to the situation we know.

we should reform that constitution by having a real executive being able to cope with theses problems by any means and ways.

francois said...

just to add something also

it s a wrong timing to ask for lahoud removal now when we consider the current problem that is the hezbollah

if lahoud is getting fired, the government is extended and therefore the hezbollah ministers have all the ability to gain even more power by also being a preminent elector of the next one and besides that being able to paralyse the governement
anyway lahoud is just a puppet like the way he was during the syrian occupation and puppet dont bite when they are no more having teeths.

the real syrian problem right now to solve is hezbollah and berry who are the real 5th syrian column in lebanon.
therefore they are those that have to be removed before lahoud turn for the reason i mentionned before
then the election of a new president must be done.

this is why we need more thenever unity btw all the movement that took place the 14 of march, we cannot accept to be again betrayed by the bargains that happened during the election with the hezbollah and during the constitution of the governement with the hezbollah again and amal

Anonymous said...

oh please, cut the melodrama--as if any sect in lebanon is going to risk all of their power for anything trivial. no, they don't oppose the unity and strength of lebanon. if it were the other way around, and sunnis or shiites were in power as opposed to the maronites, then surely the maronites would boycott to oppose the limiting of their power (as they should!). now, as long as this stays political, and doesn't become violent, then that is fine. but if any parties resorts to violence and the country should fall back into civil war, then that would be a disaster. if you ask me, hezbollah's military wing should be integrated with the Lebanese Army and spread out throughout its divisions. the army is many times the best of integrators and the best tool to promote tolerance between different peoples of the same country--mandatory integration i say!

francois: lebanon would be a province of israel were it not for hezbollah

francois said...

dear anonymous user

the civil war was due to the lack of unity and this lake of unity was due to a weakness in the constitution , this is the root of the problem
the parlement is the key power in the system:
they elect the president
they elect the chief of the parlement
there is the confidence vote to the governement
and besides all that they are making their own electoral law

therefore from the beginning lebanon wasnt a democracy but an oligopoly

did u read the list of events that leaded to the war of 1975?
first the fire: the cairo deal
then the real fire: the paralysis of the government.
go on, just read the year 1975
the war began long before the 13 april, they just needed a date and putted it

u re adding to this that most of the lebanese have a community patriotism and not a nation patriotism, u re getting a very weak executif

there s a need to reequilibrate the power to the executive

i m sorry but lately i m beginning to think that lebanon is not a country, but multiple countries based on sectarism.
i m getting very pessimistic about how things are turning, considering the whole regional game played by iran, syria, US and israel
i m hoping that this game wont be again paid by the lebanese as it used to be in the 70's and 80

now about the hezbollah place?
they dont ve place as far they wont accept to be disarmed.
do u know that even they have iranian doctor practicing in the bekaa?
hezbollah politicaly is belonging to the axis hezb, syria and iran

we re having another axis israel irak gulf , turkey and US of course

now what can put the fire to this game ?
i m seeing fireworks not yet a fire but this is making me pessimistic

i dont think we should join the syran iranian axis as lebanese and no the other one
the best way to be neutral is to neutralise hezbollah not only military but also politically but having a strong state that would be able to cope where hezbollah is strong and which is explaining its popularity and mostly on social services

a strong state that would remove the popularity of the hezbollah by these means have all the chances to succeed

francois said...

and to answer u lebanon wouldnt be a province of anyone if its executive was strong,

besides all israel had territorial views on the south of lebanon till litani river in the early stages of its existence but in 78 some israelien "pionners" tried to install a colony in south lebanon , colonny that was dismantled by tsahal as far the israelien autorities were saying they dont have territorials demands over lebanon therefore denying having views on the lebanese territory.

other thing in the early stages of the civil war most of the ALS soliders allied to israel were shiits as far they were fed up of the palestinian power in south lebanon (u dont remember that south lebanon was called fatahland ?)
hezbollah was born after the palestinian defeat and born by attacking the multinational force in beirut and not directly the israelian forces, being from that time therefore a tool of the iranian and syrian regimes against the stability of lebanon.

this unstability leaded to the occupation of south lebanon by israel till 2000

besides all theses historical facts, if u re watching the french and german arte, there was a nice documentary showing all that game that passed 3 weeks ago.

we should be aware that we should consider all the point of view and opinion to have a realistic image of what is really happening
in lebanon, we might be a little bit brainwashed , dont u think ?

programmer craig said...

I just de-bookmarked this blog, and I won't be back. SO don't bother leaving anymore offensive comments and/or posts to or about me, Hani. I'll see you in hell. You can tell me your bullshit opinions then.