Hanna Saleh

'Historical Bloc' to Face the Existential Threats Facing the Entity

All of a sudden, everyone was inspired to bring down the wall that had been obstructing the formation of a government, accepting the proposal that Mikati had submitted around three months ago. All that remains is minor adjustments that will not affect shares or the figures that the various factions have instituted on. Aoun walked back on his defiant stance, and no one else objected to it. Nasrallah gave the signal: “We are very hopeful… to avoid any kind of chaos,” as though catastrophic collapse and the society’s implosion were mere details.

Once the government formation is announced next week, Aoun will have no pretext to remain in the Baabda Palace after his term ends. Its formation also means that we can assume no president will be elected before the constitutional deadline. According to the deputy elected to represent the revolution, Mark Dao, the meetings that the ‘Change Bloc’ held with their colleagues in parliament as part of their “presidential initiative” affirmed that “no faction sees the election of a president within the deadline as a priority.” By allowing the government to take shape, Hezbollah announced the of Aoun’s term and that the priority is to form one before there is a presidential vacuum- a malleable government subordinated by Hezbollah.

What we know for sure is that Aoun will leave office 39 days after a presidential term that will go down in history as the term of collapses. The Lira has collapsed, some Lebanese communities became among those choosing to board “death boats,” and 90 percent of the Lebanese people slipped beneath the poverty line. Lebanon also lost what makes it special, from education and healthcare to its cultural-civilizational capacity to engage with the values of the modern age and embrace freedom! More dangerous still, the president covered for a foreign plot to change the face of Lebanon, its place and role in the world, and its relationships!

Over the past six years, which ends on October 31, Aoun did nothing but echo decisions taken outside of constitutional institutions. He merely stood at the forefront to pin medals on his associates and followers, issue naturalization decrees that had been bought and paid for, or refuse to put his signature on laws and decrees that “create sectarian imbalance,” from appointing forest guards to top judges. Aoun obstructed laws under sectarian, factional pretexts whenever his personal interests were not ensured! The cover he provided for the assault on the state, however, was constant, and Hezbollah thereby went about hijacking the state and taking its decisions alone!

Lebanese politics has become little more than conjuring up creative solutions for covering up subordination to foreign powers. Here, the matter goes beyond Aoun’s term. They found solutions that allowed them to seize the state’s assets and steal private wealth. The banking industry fell once banks were no longer a safe place to deposit money; attempts at legalizing financial crimes followed, and as the legislature was in the hands of obnoxious thieves, it turned a blind eye. The judiciary ignored its responsibility to ensure justice, with the law used against those who made individual attempts to take what they are owed!

During Aoun’s term, deep crises in managing public affairs emerged- problems were left unresolved until they exploded, and there was a relentless push to hollow institutions out. In this context, the keenness of the president’s team to avoid sharing power became apparent, as it did not miss a chance to demonstrate its hunger to dominate the country’s finances and politics. Hezbollah knew how to exploit the Aounists’ keenness on maintaining control over the state administration, deludedly thinking that this would grant them a sustainable political future. This tendency was strengthened after the Mar Mikhael Agreement sought to undermine the Taif Agreement; it is no secret that both are strongly opposed to it. Hezbollah is certainly aware that it cannot impose a subordinate as president; it is betting on the others’ failure to elect one. Because Hezbollah knows that it cannot ensure the quorum (86 deputies), it walked back on the attempt, but it won’t give up on its plot to uproot the country!

Nasrallah called for “agreeing on a figure without vetoes” concerning the next president. He knows just how strong the opposition to an “agreement” with the party is among those who see it as a cover for the project being pushed by Hezbollah that poses an existential threat to Lebanon as a political entity. This opposition knows that, given the current balance of power, no “settlement” reached in this manner can set the country on the right course, as the Mullahs in Tehran will have a strong say through their party! Looking at the current configuration of the parliament, it is clear that neither a president that “challenges” Hezbollah or defends sovereignty can be elected, nor can anyone associated with the Axis of Resistance.

Over the past two decades, especially with the post-2005 sectarian settlements and the normalization of rule by fatwa, Hezbollah infiltrated the state and succeeded in imposing policies that marginalized state institutions and undermined the state’s authority, exposing the crisis of governance facing the country. Those behind the crisis saw it as an opportunity; Lebanon is now for the taking! It seems that the shock of the election results has not put a dent in this plan. Proposals that had been put forward in the past resurfaced, with Nasrallah declaring that “building a just and capable state requires national dialogue and an agreement on fundamentals that translates into laws passed by parliament, and perhaps, if there is unanimity around them, some constitutional amendments!”

This means that Hezbollah is suggesting a “constituent assembly” aimed at fundamentally changing the country’s political system and flipping the balance without any regard for the will of the people or the results of the May 15 elections. This raises the question: Who will take part in this “constituent assembly”? Are there, as the Author Rafic Khoury put it, any parties to this sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing regime that are not “responsible for the crisis and unable to elect a president or form a government? Can they establish a new regime?”

Because it shifted the debate from what kind of president Hezbollah would like to what kind of president the country needs, the presidential initiative of the deputies elected to represent the revolution transformed the rhetoric on this matter. Nonetheless, I am not getting carried away, these deputies cannot change how parliament operates, and a “settlement” reached under the current balance of power would not be in the interests of the people seeking change. There is no use waiting for a “change of conscience” that compels these power-hungry tyrants to take responsibility for the collapse, as well as for covering up the hijacking of the state and protecting those who have had arrest warrants issued against them over the port blast. The initiative should thus end with transparent communication with citizens- an effort by the revolution deputies, complemented by contributions from the weighty October forces, that seeks to give the people back their role in shaping politics, thereby opening the door to the arrival of an independent president who relies on a “historical bloc!”

The existential threats to Lebanon are not new. Indeed, they have proliferated and exacerbated, but this is not simply the way things are fated to be. The threats are increasing because they have not been confronted.

And after the October revolution paved the way to peacefully confronting the elites, reaffirming this approach in the last elections, there is no excuse for not building a “historical bloc” that cuts across regions and sects that combines the ideas of youth and female elites with communities’ particularities. Let us remember that every revolution that stops halfway falls. Rest assured, the October forces will surprise the tyrants and whoever takes cover behind illegitimate arms!