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Lebanon: Is It Goodbye to the Taif Accord?

Lebanon: Is It Goodbye to the Taif Accord?

Thursday, 28 February, 2019 - 16:30

What happened during the Lebanese Council of Ministers’ meeting a few days ago neither needs a constitutional opinion from Montesquieu or Francis Bacon nor an expert’s review from Daniel Webster.

Despite the fact that what took place was a decisive step, it was nevertheless, quite natural given the current circumstances in Lebanon. In short, the Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun, effectively, decided to abrogate the ‘Taif Accords’, in the presence of a full session of the Council of Ministers, which – as per the Lebanese Constitution – embodies the Executive Power in the country!

The President has, indeed, abrogated ‘The Taif Accords’ armed by an electoral law imposed by the political, military and demographic imbalance, and bolstered by the results of elections conducted under that law in the shadow of Hezbollah’s arsenal and its security-run ‘state within the state’; all this, ensured that the President gets an influential ‘chunk’ in a must-be disabled Council of Ministers!

It is worth mentioning that President Aoun, was always openly opposed to the ‘Accord’, while his current ‘ally’ Hezbollah was implicit in its opposition, although, through a diligent and systematic strategy managed to weaken it, and now all but officially has finished it off.

The priority of Aoun’s ‘Free Patriotic Movement’ (FPM), even before Hezbollah nominated him as Presidential candidate, and later on securing his election, was to exploit Hezbollah military might, its sectarian base, and its regional connections to getting rid of the ‘Taif Agreement’. For the FPM, the Taif deprived the Lebanese Christians of their influence at the top of the executive power to Sunni Muslims’ benefit. However, since the Christians were unable on their own to reclaim their ‘lost’ privileges from the Sunnis, they had to strike a deal with Hezbollah and its Shiite base for that end.

As for Hezbollah, it has always been part and parcel of Iran’s strategy for regional hegemony. In a multi-confessional country, like Lebanon, such a strategy was bound to encounter a Sunni bloc; thus, it was vitally important to reassure the Christians, and then win them over in what looks like a comprehensive regional picture necessary for a ‘Coalition of Minorities’ against the ‘Sea of Sunni Islam’. Subsequently, both Hezbollah and its backers in Tehran, decided to support the most extremist Christians in Lebanon to become their advocates in Western political circles.

Any Lebanese blessed with a good memory can recall some Christian political views after the Syrian Uprising in March 2011’ including pronouncements like “there is no doubt that the Damascus Regime is bad, but the alternative is worse!”. Such views were propagated and ‘marketed’ at the highest levels in both Europe and the US.

In parallel, as Tehran was working overtime on supporting extremist and terrorist Sunni organizations everywhere, in order to portray itself before the World as a ‘partner in the fight against Takfiri terror’, its propaganda machine was presenting these organization as the true embodiment of political Sunnism. This has been the case with Tehran’s tacit continuous support of extremist groups on its Afghanistan and Pakistan borders, Islamic Jihad and the ‘hawkish wing’ with Hamas in Gaza, and the failure to actively confront the buildup of extremist currents during the Syrian Uprising and the ISIS invasion of Mosul in northern Iraq. For years, Tehran has been nurturing Sunni extremism as a pretext to ‘demonize’ Sunni Islam and build international alliances to fight it.

Unfortunately, naïve Sunnis and Shiites fell victim to this conspiracy, the results of which are for all of us to see, from Iraq to Yemen and Libya, via Syria and Lebanon. This is also true of the international community; for, while Russia and China were from the very beginning siding with the Iranian leadership, the ISIS atrocities in Syria and Iraq provided the excuse for major European capitals to reach an understanding with Tehran, and show willingness to accept both its nuclear ambition and its territorial expansionism. As for Washington, and despite the end of the pro-Iran Obama era, priorities for the present Republican administration continue to regard its primary role – at least in Syria – is fighting ISIS.

This has been the case, although Washington is fully aware of what Tehran and its ‘Popular Mobilization Forces’ are doing in Iraq. It is also aware of how strong and deep the relationship between Bashar Al-Assad’s security-based regime and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) is. This ‘bond’ is what led Lebanon’s Hezbollah and other Iranian appendages - be they Iraqi, Afghan, Pakistani, or Irani - in the ‘war’ to save the Damascus regime.

Furthermore, Washington, as well as Paris and London know too well the details of the political situation in Lebanon, and Hezbollah ‘crawling’ hegemony over the Lebanese political decision-making mechanisms. The three capitals have enough information about the ongoing ‘scenario’ since 2000 when the Israeli army withdrew from south Lebanon, and later on, since the two significant landmarks of 2006 and 2008. In 2006, as the Lebanese recall, Hezbollah launched a cross-border attack to which Israel responded with a devastating military campaign culminating with a ‘deal’ that ended the militia’s presence south of the Litani River in south Lebanon; however, the ‘deal’ did not disarm it. Then, in 2008 Hezbollah turned its firepower against its political opponents inside Lebanon, and in 2011 against the Syrian people.

Washington, Paris, and London are aware, too, of how Hezbollah disrupted Lebanon’s political life in order to impose its candidate General Aoun as President. They also know what it means to accord a militia with foreign loyalty, and in de facto control of the country, a legitimate and constitutional cover through the President and his party.

Indeed, to make matters worse still, the three capitals have not only welcomed the electoral law tailor-made to benefit the de facto ‘party of government’ – now enjoying the ‘legitimate’ cover of an elected President – but also a secure permanent majority thanks to legitimate’ cover as well as armed hegemony.

Thus, what Lebanon is witnessing at the moment is the effective end of the ‘Taif Accord’; and given the current situation, a redundant International Tribunal that has been dealing with the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and his colleagues and allies.

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