Lebanon’s once and future Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been in talks with President Michel Aoun and other political leaders about re-starting his Premiership after his abrupt “resignation” that was apparently made under duress during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia which likely resulted in Hariri being held by the Saudi regime against his will, until his subsequent release to France.
Now back in Beirut, Hariri has re-assumed his role as Prime Minister, but his recent statement indicates that at best, his leadership will not result in anything beyond a personal stalemate while the status quo of the ruling coalition continues its business.
Hariri has once again come forward with awkward statements about Hezbollah, a party with two ministers in his own cabinet. He stated,
“Hezbollah does not have the ability to run the country and its strength stems from the Iranian-financed weapons.
The solution for Hezbollah’s arms is a regional solution and not a domestic one and we cannot do anything in this regard”.
Hariri’s statements in favour of so-called “disassociation” in respect of Hezbollah are not only misguided, but Hariri is hardly in a position to effect this in one way or the other.
Hezbollah’s function in Lebanon is that of a kind of national-guard which is on the front lines against the threat of Takfiri terrorism as well as the related threat of renewed Israeli invasion and occupation.
Lebanon’s Foreign Minister recently stated the undeniable reality, that Hezbollah has protected Lebanon in ways that the traditional armed forces could no longer do alone.
Furthermore, Hezbollah’s involvement in the anti-terrorist campaigns in Syria and Iraq is fully legal as Hezbollah has acted with the full permission and cooperation of the governments in Damascus and Baghdad and has done so in such a way that mutually benefits the civilian populations in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon who are all under threat from Takfiri terrorists and Israeli aggression.
Furthermore, by implying that foreign rather than domestic actors must work to subdue Hezbollah, Hariri seems to be calling for foreign powers to intervene in the sovereign workings of one of Lebanon’s legal political parties and a highly popular one at that. The remarks betrays Hariri’s shameful disregard for Lebanon’s sovereign political bodies and consequently, his disregard for Lebanon’s own independence and dignity.
Lebanon’s political settlement is based on the acknowledgement that all of the country’s factions must work as cooperatively as possible, in order for the country to be greater than the sum of its parts. This constructive attitude was presented in unison by parties across Lebanon’s political spectrum during Hariri’s almost certain captivity in Saudi Arabia.
Now that Hariri is back, he is attempting to proffer a narrative that some of the parts which make up Lebanon must be exorcised and that this somehow makes Lebanon a healthier country. The opposite is in fact true, which is why Hezbollah and other members of the March 8 Alliance agreed to enter a coalition with parties from the March 14 Alliance, including Hariri’s own pro-Saudi Future Movement.
Hariri’s attempt to scapegoat the weakness in his own leadership, which has been further damaged since his Saudi captivity, is a cheap shot which only threatens to expose Lebanon’s fragile settlement to foreign actors such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have always sought to exploit historic tensions to the detriment of all Lebanese.
Even Lebanese who do not vote for Hezbollah, are increasingly recognising its vital importance to the sustained security and stability of the Lebanese nation.
The fact that Hariri has seemingly called for foreign actors to restrain Hezbollah is an insult to the collective spirit implicit in Lebanon’s coalition government, which thanks to the collective efforts of multiple parties, including Hezbollah, has shown that it can survive with or without the duel-Saudi/Lebanese citizen Hariri at its helm.