Hezbollah Rules Lebanon.
By Ghassan Karam
Developments in all areas take place when either one or both of the parties benefit. No one will willingly agree to an exchange or an outcome that will be harmful to their interests, given that the actors are rational. So it always makes sense to suggest that if an agreement between the parties cannot be arrived at then the stalemate is also an outcome that benefits one of the parties to that particular transaction.
Premier designate Sa’ad Hariri has been attempting to form a cabinet in Lebanon for over four months but all his efforts have been to no avail thus far. It is rather obvious that this elongated period of a political deadlock is not helpful to his image, reputation nor is it helpful for his majority coalition, March 14, which is becoming increasingly portrayed as “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight”. Mr. Hariri and his allies were ecstatic when their alliance managed to check the ambitions of the FPM candidates who managed nonetheless to win a large number of parliamentary seats. The other two major allies in the opposition camp, Amal and Hezbollah, captured all the seats that they were expected to win. Yet the opposition as a group fell short of capturing the majority of seats in the chamber of deputies. Normally that would have been the end of the story. The winners would have been called upon to form a cabinet and to govern provided that their proposed cabinet has enough support.
But that would have been too easy for the Lebanese sectarian system. Michel Aoun , the squeaky wheel of Lebanese politics, keeps coming up with fresh demands as to assure that the efforts to form a cabinet of “national unity” are frustrated. General Aoun and his FPM party are the most direct and clear obstacle that has prevented the formation of a “national Unity” cabinet. But don’t let that fool you into believing that Mr. Aoun is a king maker. His demands might be genuinely those of his party but that would not be enough to prevent cabinet formation in the face of considerable domestic and international pressure to do so unless he had the support of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah have been the real “power behind the thrown” in Lebanese politics for almost the past four years. Hezbollah have the largest militia, albeit illegal, and the most sophisticated cache of weapons that is also illegal. But the issue of illegality is not an issue at all in a dysfunctional state where the legitimate armed forces of the state are outgunned by the foreign trained and foreign funded illegal militia. Michel Aoun and all his shenanigans would not amount to a “hill of beans” without the blessings of the real rulers of Lebanon; Hezbollah. A strong and stable central government is not a development that Hezbollah favours. Their activities and their state within a state prefer the current situation of paralysis of the central government. The FPM is nothing but a foil for the real beneficiaries of an ineffective and powerless state. Hezbollah has created a unique environment that allows it to rule without being held responsible and that has “legitimized” its outlaw status.