Posted by: sean | May 9, 2008

Some thoughts on the aftermath of this war

The rumor I’ve been hearing now, to the glee of some Aounist Christians in my neighborhood, is that Prime Minister Saniora has resigned. I can’t confirm this, but it really begs the question of what he would resign from. Premiership of what? There is no government. The military is sitting around doing absolutely nothing, which may be best for the lives of the soldiers but is disastrous for the life of the state. I walked down to the eastern side of the bridge that connects east and west Beirut, and it was being guarded by a couple of tanks and APCs and some soldiers. The latter were sitting around shooting the shit and listening to the radio. One was sleeping in the shadow of his APC. I’ve also seen it reported that Jumblatt was forced to flee his home in Clemenceau under the protection of the Army.

Despite the fact that the army is much weaker than Hezbollah and would have lost any real shooting match, I keep wondering to myself if one of the reasons the Army is staying out is because of the head of the Army, Michel Suleiman. He had been put forward as a compromise candidate for president. Now that Hezbollah is calling the shots, it will be interesting to see who they put forward as the president, or if they appoint anyone at all.

It obviously won’t be Aoun, which means that he’s pretty much outlived his usefulness to the opposition cum ruling party, due to the fact that he was only helpful to them so long as they were working within the system. Now that they have taken matters into their own hands, they really don’t need him anymore. I don’t think that Hezbollah would even try to put someone Franjieh into the presidential palace, so that pretty much only leaves Suleiman. Maybe he cut a deal with Hezbollah to stay out of the fighting in exchange for the presidency.

But even the question of who will be the president may be putting the cart before the horse. It isn’t clear at all now what Hezbollah will do. Will there be a fight between the pro-Government Christian militias (Lebanese Forces and Phalangists) and Hezbollah? Will Hezbollah install a new government of its choosing based on the old system? Will they install a government composed purely of Hezbollah members? Will they call for new elections? Your guess is as good as mine.

What’s sure though, is this: those who may have have been somewhat sympathetic to the underlying principles of “the Resistance” and Hezbollah’s part in that movement despite (being uncomfortable with the idea of an explicitly religious party) are likely to be turned off by the last few days’ events. The chorus has always been the Hezbollah would never turn its weapons inward, but it has done that now. At the end of the day, Hezbollah went outside of the rules of the game. That game may have been frustrating and often paralyzing, but at least it was nominally democratic. Now, even if they call for new elections, Hezbollah has broken the rules of the game by resorting to violence to achieve a political goal. A lot of people won’t forgive or forget this, and there will be even more people who will never be able to trust the party of God to follow the rules of the (at least nominally) democratic system, because they have, for all intents and purposes, overthrown the government by force.

UPDATE: I just saw Aoun on television assuring viewers that no one would be persecuted. Maybe he didn’t get the memo, but Hezbollah seized power without him or his help. He looks more like a remora sucking with all his might to be pulled along with Hezbollah, feasting on what’s left of the already feeble Lebanese state.

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Responses

  1. thanks for the update and the details.

  2. This was the opposition fighting, not Hezbollah. All the flags put up in my street (in Hamra) are Syrian Nationalist party and Amal (until the army came and ‘took over’). Each side was fighting with the same weapons: stored kalashnikovs and RPGs etc.
    If Hezbollah truly would have ‘turned their weapons inside’, they wouldn’t have needed the whole night.

  3. Right, and who do you think controls “the opposition”? The SSNP and Amal are there, of course, and fighting too, but neither party is calling the shots, and neither could do much of anything without Hezbollah. Hezbollah is the opposition. And anyone who thinks that Amal and SSNP would have (or could have) taken Hamra and Verdun without marching orders and support from Nasrallah is being naive. Clashes in Tariq Jdideh and Corniche el-Mazra’a are one thing; occupying Ras Beirut is quite another.

    Remind me again who it was that came on television yesterday at 4 in the afternoon and sparked the fighting immediately. Was it Berri or someone from the SSNP? Of course not, it was Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, Ashraf an-Nass.

    Technically speaking, of course, “the resistance” isn’t just Hezbollah either, but you and I both know that the chain of command goes from Hezbollah down and not the other way around.

  4. You know, I have always understood the point of view of Hezbollah. The existence of Israel as a persistent threat on the southern borders and the bullying that this state has done to the states of this region is incredible. Hezbollah came to empower people and to give a little bit of balance. Giving down their weapons without a regional settlement is just giving out all your negotiation cards. Nevertheless, what has happened in the past days is amazing…we had a coup or something like that. I don’t believe that they can sustain this thing without a political solution. Hezbollah has to understand that they are part of the democratic process (which they proved that they are above now). If they don’t want to play by the rules of the game, then don’t bitch if the others started building militias!! This is why people have something called a state and a constitution, it’s why we have rules. Abiding by the law shouldnot be a fucking opinion..who gives a fuck about your opinion….it should be an obligation. And what happened today of Hezbollah trying to force his political opinion and demands on the government by force is just illegal, un-constitutional and just flushed the last bits of our state down the drain.
    fuck you Mr. Nasrallah and fuck you Mr. Harriri and fuck you all.
    and by the way fuck all these westerners who justify shit that can never go in Europe (and would be crushed by the state) just because they have some twisted nostalgia to the poor and the opressed and I don’t know what!!


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