International and Arab News
Hezbollah and the Specter of Elections Being Canceled
Hezbollah and the Specter of Elections Being Canceled
The people of the South are aware of “the responsibility Hezbollah bears for leaving the state suspended and the interests of the Lebanese women and men marginalized to the benefit of its interests and commitments.” This phrase is not taken from a closed internal meeting but came at the beginning of a political statement of the “October” forces for change, which launched the “Al-Janub Maan” (The South Together) campaign with the intention of running candidates in all the districts of southern Lebanon in the face of the dominant sectarian-duo of Hezbollah and Amal Movement and their followers!
During Al-Janub Maan’s launching ceremony, the rhetoric the campaign would adopt became clear, and its slogans and objectives crystalized- the inevitability of peaceful, serious political action to change the authoritarian regime. Their proposals seemed very similar to those of the other “October” forces like “Sahlouna w Jaboulana” (Our Plain and Mountain) in the Western Bekaa, “Beirut Tuqawem,” (Beirut Resists), which is pushing the militias and those who empower them, and Liqa Al-Taaghyier (Change Gathering) in Akkar and “Shamaluna (Our North),” which will contest the elections in the North’s four districts. Their clear and unequivocal position on Lebanon’s Nakba, which they affirmed had been brought about deliberately by the “gang” running the sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing regime, which “controls us and the state, and the time has come to hold it accountable … All of them means all of them.” They framed their battle as one “between a people whose state was looted and destroyed and whose homeland was violated, and a regime that is clearly responsible.”
Things had not been so clear. The authoritarians hedged their bets on despair overwhelming constituents at the financial, economic, and social collapse, its expansion with the pandemic that spread across the country a few months after “October 17 revolution” began, and its exacerbation after the port blast crime, which were accompanied by successive assaults on the interests of citizens and the country. It seemed that citizens would focus purely on their pursuit of bread and medicines and that they would fail to maintain their battle to retrieve the rights that had been taken from them, the attacks of their dignity, and the broad feeling of humiliation that spread across the country as the state was hijacked by weapons, corruption, and sectarianism.
The people found themselves trapped to live in destitution and starve, amid widespread unemployment and a scarcity of resources, because of the forces of the “counter-revolution’s” systematic campaign. This campaign drew its strength from the overwhelming military force of the statelet, which protected the men responsible for crimes of the sectarian-based-quota spoil-sharing system. They were all fully aware that the state would fall because of the looting of the country’s wealth and its people’s deposits. Money was legally smuggled outside of the country to finance the “Quds Force” and the Syrian regime’s militias; the country was turned into a hub for spreading Captagon’s toxins through the targeting of Gulf societies, entrenching the country’s isolation!
The aim of this was to turn the page on “October 17” because it was a genuine revolution that no one had not expected. Its objectives are deep; it is rich in its diversity, peaceful in its tactics, and democratic in its framework. And so the counter-revolution, led by Hassan Nasrallah personally, was launched, targeting the revolution with threats, accusations of treason, and subordination to the embassies, and subjecting them to physical assaults and unrestrained repression, as well as “on-demand” prosecution by security and judicial pursuits! All of this prevented the emergence of genuine revolutionary leaders, leaving a broad sense of frustration among the people. But in 2022, the year of parliamentary, presidential, and municipal elections, which despite being disregarded by the authorities, have begun to crystallize what had been delayed.
The picture has changed with the launch of forces of change’s campaigns seeking to unify the battlefields, and there is no shortage of outsiders seeking to accommodate them. What is remarkable is the crystallization of the campaign slogans and programs that people have been spreading across the country. The most notable of them is the retrieval of the hijacked state, i.e., retrieving its decision-making to make reform viable, enforce the constitution, and take the steps needed to save the country and safeguard its people’s rights and the judiciary’s independence, which would ensure accountability and the retrieval of rights. One noteworthy aspect of these campaigns is their approach to choosing candidates, as they allow citizens to vote on who represents them. This approach implies that the will of the voters delivers the best candidates for Parliament, and the best candidates are those who emerge as a result of an intersection of opinions and visions. Through their adoption of this approach, the forces of change are breaking with the traditions of the authoritarian system in which the choice is in the leaders’ hands, the leaders of authoritarian, sectarian, or tyrannical militias who disregard the will of the people. The outcome of these traditions has been a lack of legislators in Parliament, which is composed of subordinates to those occupying ministerial seats, creating successive emigration seasons!
It is likely that what was initiated by the forces of change will present different faces and show many capabilities. Lebanon is rich in its human resources, which will provide a serious impetus to the project forming a front for change called upon to formulate a political alternative. In parallel, the sectarian system has accelerated its efforts to consolidate alliances between autocratic leaders accused of crimes, including those sanctioned by the US as corrupt individuals who corrupted political life and privileged the interests of their mini-states over the public interest. With them are those politicians whom Judge Sawan suspected of being responsible for the Beirut Port blast, and thus they dismissed him. This corrupt elite was accused by Sawan of “probable intent” of murder received all the protections and immunities availed to them, even from the blood they shed and their incineration of the heart of the capital!
On the whole, recent gauges of trends in public opinion no longer yield the same tattered lexicon of incitement through accusations of subordination and foreign affiliation. It is no longer sufficient to claim that anyone who is not with Hezbollah is carrying out a conspiracy targeting the “resistance,” and what is left of this resistance anyway? What does it fight for? This tendency to bypass rigid stereotypes, and a “blood test” that is no longer limited to any region or sect, has given Hezbollah a headache that it did not anticipate. It placed Hezbollah in its rightful place – in the face of the people, as the party leading this authoritarian system responsible for moving Lebanon from affluence to famine, and the Lebanese from ease to hardship, and transforming the Lebanese welfare society into a society of beggars!
As of today, March 3, only 12 days remain until the closing of nominations for the parliamentary elections set to take place on May 15, that is, only 73 days from now. All indications point to a deficiency in nominations and the failure to launch the work of the electoral machines by ruling political forces, while all are awaiting the password! Certainly, the decision to go to elections, or otherwise, remains in the hands of Hezbollah and is inevitably linked to its assessment of the fate of its current parliamentary majority, and the size of Christian parliamentary representation within this majority, which can cover for its transgressions. If Hezbollah becomes certain that it cannot guarantee the persistence of this majority, no elections will be held, and Hezbollah will not hesitate to disrupt them. As such, Hezbollah would instruct its legislative arm, Nabih Berri, to find “legal” interpretations that would enable such a step. Moreover, Hezbollah will not shy away from fabricating security threats to impose its obstruction, which will be first met with expressions of condemnation, and later with attempts to handle this fait accompli!
Hezbollah’s monopoly over the parliamentary majority is not an insignificant issue. On the popular level, developments worry the party, especially as a popular majority is taking shape, which rejects Hezbollah’s domination. Therefore, Nasrallah threatened that changing Hezbollah’s parliamentary majority would not affect its statelet’s control, domination, and surplus power. However, he is deeply aware that losing this majority will transform him from the final arbiter of presidential elections next fall to a mere disrupter. Taking into account the ambiguity of developments in Vienna, and the extortion practiced by Tehran as if it were victorious, and on the eve of reaching its nuclear threshold and delaying the implementation of the agreement that pours water into its mill, all the way to the desires of the Lebanese presidency that fears the collapse of its Movement, there is an ongoing trend of hijacking the people’s voices, i.e., undermining the elections and putting all its eggs into one basket, parliamentary and presidential. This will take political confrontation to an entirely different level!