Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

A Trojan Horse to Tear Up the Taif Accord

A Trojan Horse to Tear Up the Taif Accord

Monday, 26 July, 2021 - 12:00

The political situation in Lebanon has been exceptional and inflamed for the past 50 years, with declared or dormant civil wars or cold truces amid sectarian jostling for power, and ensuing migration and displacement as a result of invasions and occupations.


The Lebanese have come to see this surreal political scene as familiar, even normal, living with it and accepting it. They have come to take the blows without reacting, and the disease of demagogic despotism has struck all political forces, as they have come to accept domination and subordination, first in politics, and subsequently in the economy, security and the judiciary... Force exerted from outside the state has become acceptable; we object to it, we are upset with it, we grumble about it, but we swallow it as a matter of fact, even as our fate. The Lebanese state has become nominal, a state with no constitutional institution that has the capacity to govern, while the spirit of citizenship has been killed off and overwhelmed by sectarian identification.


This is how, over these years, Lebanon’s spirit, identity, constitution, political system, economy and social composition were systematically altered. The gravity of that change is of a far greater magnitude than that being discussed today. It began with the rise of Hezbollah in the 1980s as part of the project to export the Iranian Khomienist project and its entry into political life through a pathway paved by Syria, with deputies representing the party in parliament 1992.


Another crucial development took place in 1988 when the Syrian army stormed what was then known as the eastern areas of Lebanon and occupying the Presidential Palace and the ministry of defense under the pretext of toppling Michel Aoun. Aoun had been barricaded in the palace after President Amin Gemayel had appointed him prime minister of a transitional military government in repudiation of the Taif Accord and Rene Moawad’s election as president, which facilitated his assassination and the extension of Syrian hegemony until 2005.


Another surprising development came in 2006, with Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement signing a memorandum of understanding at Mar Mikhael Church.


The contours of change were embodied in Lebanon’s transformation into a place that reflects the thinking and doctrine of those who worked and continue to work on creating this change. It became more like the countries that resemble it in the region, in terms of institutions being sidelined in favor of force, despotism and smuggling, freedom, human rights, and living conditions being put in the backseat, the hardline ideologization of social, economic and cultural affairs, undercutting financial and banking capacities, and the deterioration of health and educational sectors.


The country transformed from a bridge for cultural dialogue between East and West and attracting investments into one of “resistance” and captagon manufacturing and smuggling. Stuck in the “Levantine” minority alliance bottleneck, it became a mailbox for conflicting regional axes and a country hostile to its Arab neighbors and the international community.


Is what has happened and is happening a result of the corruption, mismanagement, the system of governance’s failure, or is it a result of a project for a transformational coup that is being implemented - no weaved - with patience and precision? The balance of facts swings toward the second assessment. The long-term goal is for Lebanon to become fully assimilated into the Iranian axis. The near-term goal is to destroy the Taif Accord, which has become a constitution and weakened the Sunnis in favor of new political formations that restructure the country and its institutions in line with the ruling local-regional sectarian axis’ visions. The tool being used to do so, rather, the Trojan horse being used, are the Aounists.


Arranging for the return of General Aoun from Paris in 2005 and insisting on his accession to the presidency after his understanding with Hezbollah were well-thought-out steps on the path toward the coup. He is the figure most fiercely opposed to the Taif Accord. He has rejected the agreement since it was concluded, and at the time, he did not hesitate, as prime minister of the transitional government, to dissolve parliament, which had ratified the agreement. He welcomed every coup against the Taif, beginning with the most forceful and fiercest blow against it, President Moawad’s assassination.


He encouraged the Christians’ boycott of the 1992 elections, weakening both Christian and Islamic moderation in favor of the militias, according to the Taif’s godfather, former parliament Speaker Hussein al-Husseini. His reticent stance after the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who paid the price of resolution 1559 in a murder that dealt a blow to both the Taif and Lebanon, was followed by an extremely vicious campaign against his coalition and the Sunnis in general.


Finally, he demanded, as president of the republic, for a share in the government under the pretext of so-called “Christians’ rights,” distinguishing between the Taif Accord and the constitution though the former “has become part of the latter (the preamble to the constitution)”. In this context, it is worth mentioning that Gebran Bassil, the son-in-law of the president, who is entrusted with implementing the constitution, has described it as a document that is “wretched, rotten and came to us on a tank, finished us off with corruption, and now, wants to end us through stagnation that kills us slowly.” The FPM’s ongoing coup against the constitution, with cover from the president, furthers the Iranian regional axis’ interests in Lebanon. It is for this reason that Hezbollah has and continues to cling to the FMP, to realize a clear political project through which it achieves its near-term goal and takes steps towards achieving its long-term one.


Hezbollah, the only political faction in Lebanon with a vision, is aware that its alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement is not merely a domestic policy tactic. It is an alliance with a broad segment of the country’s Maronites in particular and its Christians in general that has enabled it to obstruct the roles of the Vatican, France and the international community.


The party has played on the lust for power of the FPM’s populists with dexterity. It also managed to speak to the Christians’ minoritarian mentality by stoking fears of a pressing internal Sunni threat manifested in the position of prime minister and an external threat represented by extremist groups, which are presented as eying the Christians and the president’s prerogatives. Their attempts, unfortunately, have resonated strongly in the conscious and unconscious minds of many Christian leaders, who are, as they had done in 2005, sacrificing the homeland to preserve the “position of president.”


Those who disparage the regional dimension of the Aounists’ agreement with Hezbollah are mistaken. The course is clear, and identifying it does not require much effort. General Aoun burst onto the scene declaring “no to the Taif” and will indeed end his term by toppling it after having sidestepped it in practice. Aoun’s term won’t end before a new Taif, Doha or Saint-Cloud agreement is held in some Arab or foreign capital. The new pact will take us on a highway toward reordering and reorganizing the political system after it had been destroyed. The new pact will be shaped by the internal balance of power and in the image of the most capable regional states. We don’t need astrologers to figure out who they are.


The question remains, what will the Christians’ role be and what will remain of them once the so-called “Sunni threat” recedes.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia