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FPM-Hezbollah Understanding: The Origin of the Current Crisis

FPM-Hezbollah Understanding: The Origin of the Current Crisis

Sunday, 7 July, 2019 - 09:30

It is difficult to blame the tension that has recently hit Lebanon on one factor or one party. It is difficult to blame it on a faction’s feeling that it is being besieged or the other’s desire to dominate, apart from the fact that the two cases are interlaced.

The reason is the “understanding of Mar Mikhael” between the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Hezbollah, which is to blame as the most important incubator of all the tension that occurs and the catalyst of any civil unrest.

It is true that our sectarian system - especially in its most polarized moments - produces reservoirs of generous tension, in which everyone participates without exception. But the “understanding” of February 2006 remains undeniably the toughest. It is Lebanon’s first founding stone of the post-tutelage era.

What is the deep spirit of this "understanding"? It is a lack of understanding with all those who are not part of it, and an attempt to drag them into conflict, the outcome of which is already known, as a result of the balance of power that the “understanding” has designed. The incidents of 2008 in Beirut remain fresh in our memory.

A deadly sin, called the “quadripartite alliance” that governed the 2005 elections, led to the “understanding”. At that time, the March 14 forces seemed to be working on two contradictory programs, and they were, therefore, an easy opponent and a body whose members were internally fighting.

But there also seemed to be a strong desire to keep Christians weak in the Mountain region, and therefore in Lebanon, and that the end of the Syrian military presence would not mark the end of their weakness. This sin has reinforced the most aggressive and vengeful components of the Aounism. It pushed it into the bosom of Hezbollah, which was also looking for an ally that would end its isolation among Shiites.

The “understanding” was born out of the aptitude of the two extremes to move from defense to attack, that is, the tightening of the siege on a distracted “Haririness” and a distracting “Jumblattiness”. But like all evil geniuses, it strengthened the existing elements of the civil war through its establishment of a deadly settlement for politics and the country as a whole. A two-pronged settlement:

The FPM cuts the border to Hezbollah, while the latter cuts it from within. This is how two hostile tendencies converge: one we have already seen in Syria, and another that takes the form of political nibbling, starting from the presidency and the expansion of its powers.

There are opponents to the “understanding”. Certainly, the relationship between Aoun and Hezbollah is not homogeneous, and there are 1,000 reasons for a misunderstanding to take place within the "understanding." By virtue of the settlement, the FPM is required to abandon a crucial sovereign element, the decision of war and peace. As for Hezbollah, it is required to put up with a party that does not tolerate the presence of Shiites in the same region as the Christians.

What happened in the Hadath region summarizes this relationship and tension. Ultimately, we are faced with two sectarian forces, one religious, and the other having some prominent members who raised doubts about their hostility to Israel, which the party is fighting.

The settlement of false love has something more serious in it: it is about the impossibility of building a homogeneous ruling bloc, even if its character is complex, and therefore the impossibility of stabilizing Lebanese society and placing it on a relative national ladder of sustainability.

The theory of “the inside for the Christians and the borders for the Shiites” reminds us of the theory of “the economy for the Sunnis and the resistance for the Shiites” at a previous stage.

One does not exaggerate when saying that this Maronite-Shiite formula will not be stronger than its Syrian-sponsored Sunni-Shiite understanding, which exploded in 2005. It will also not be less expensive.

This is more than enough proof of the patchwork and negative nature of the two settlements. The national life cycle, in this case, is in a state of degeneration and exhaustion that can only be stopped by two major changes:

At the Lebanese level, the Sunni leadership can witness a turning point that will make it more capable of acting and influencing, especially if such a shift is based on balances of different regional powers that are not in the interests of the Iranian-Syrian alliance.

At the Mountain level, a real shift in Christian-Druze relations can clean the accumulated bad blood that engulfs those relations. The “reconciliation of the Mountain”, as important as it is, is not sufficient to dispel the conviction of both parties that weakening the other is the compulsory path to power. While the growing weight of Aounism among the Christians complicates such a task, it increases the need for a historic agreement sponsored by the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and non-Aounist Christian forces, especially the Lebanese Forces.

But the two changes seem very unlikely today.

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