Sunday, November 11, 2012

 Lebanon’s Golden Triangle

A few days ago Mr. Walid Junblat and Mr. Nawwaf Moussawi made separate statements regarding the issue of Hizbollah’s idependent armed militia, a.k.a the Islamic Resistance. Both statements are quite remarkable and deserve a  comment.

Mr. Junblat, sounding a bit exacerbated with March 14’s insistence that Hizbollah’s weapons come under state authority, was basically giving March 14 a piece of advice. Namely that Hizbollah will give up its military autonomy only if constitutional changes are made in return (presumably to give the Party of God’s constituency a bigger share of the Lebanese sectarian pie). So March 14 should stop raising the issue of weapons because the available tradeoff will not be to their liking. At least that’s how Mr. Junblat’s statement was understood.

There are two problems with this idea. First, if  Hizbollah is indeed willing to exchange its weapons in return  for sectarian gains then the implied message to other Lebanese communities is a truly terrible one. “Go ahead and form a militia and use it to negotiate a better power sharing deal with other Lebanese.” That would be a terribly dangerous message at a time when sectarian tensions are reaching unprecedented levels and weapons are available everywhere.

The other problem is that Mr. Junblat’s tradeoff, bad as it may be, is not even offered by Hizbollah.

Mr. Nawwaf Moussawi’s statement was actually a warning of a different kind . What he said was that Hizbollah’ military independence was part of the Taef constitution that ended the 1975-1990 civil war and, as such, is not up for discussion; to question that is to question the deal that ended of the civil war. Now that’s quite a threat.

There are also two problems with Mr. Moussawi’s statement. First, it is actually wrong, factually and logically. The Taef agreement and constitution never granted Hizbollah the right to maintain a separate army outside the authority of the state. No constitution could do that anyway. You cannot be a unified sovereign state with multiple armed authorities or militias.  Mr. Moussawi’s claim is both imcorrect and illogical.

Secondly, if Mr. Moussawi is expressing his party’s view then he is vindicating those in March 14 who think it is futile t continue with the charade of the national dialogue committee trying to address the very issue of Hizbollah’s arms. President Suleiman should take note of that.

But the matter is a lot more serious than scoring points. For years now we have warned that Hizbollah’s insistence on maintaining military autonomy within Lebanon and astrategic alliances outside Lebanon carry grave dangers; for the country’s security, for state authority , and even for Lebanon’s unity.

Hizbollah and its supporters use the catchy slogan of the so-called “golden triangle” (i.e. the army, the people and the resistance) as a basis for keeping an independent militia. The truth is that this independent militia amy eventually threaten the unity of the very country they claim they are trying to defend. And through the  absurd triangle of army, people and resistance, the Lebanese people may one day witness the unravelling of their country's truly golden triangle of (Shiite) South, (Sunni) North and (Christian)Middle.

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