by Zafar Bangash (Opinion, Crescent International Vol. 39, No. 12, Safar, 1432)
After two weeks of political uncertainty, the situation in Lebanon began to stabilize on January 25 when the Hizbullah-led alliance secured the support of 68 parliamentarians compared to 60 for the ousted Prime Minister Saad Hariri. President Michel Suleiman asked Najib Mikati, another former prime minister, to form the new government.
After two weeks of political uncertainty, the situation in Lebanon began to stabilize on January 25 when the Hizbullah-led alliance secured the support of 68 parliamentarians compared to 60 for the ousted Prime Minister Saad Hariri. President Michel Suleiman asked Najib Mikati, another former prime minister, to form the new government. The US immediately said it would have “great concerns about a government within which Hizbullah plays a leading role.” This is imperial hubris at its worst; why should people elect a “representative” government that has to be approved by the US?
Hariri’s supporters went on a rampage in the northern city of Tripoli, burning cars and smashing buildings after Mikati’s appointment. They also set an al-Jazeera satellite truck on fire because the Qatar-based TV station reported their vandalism. The rioters had the backing of the Saudis who have for decades meddled in Lebanese affairs by financing militias to undermine Hizbullah. The Zionists have confirmed that the Saudis, and indeed most other Arabian regimes, back their plan to undermine the influence of Hizbullah, Hamas, Syria and Islamic Iran in the region.
Before the crisis erupted, Saudi-Syrian efforts to broker a deal were sabotaged by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she declared Washington would not allow any interference in the workings of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). The tribunal was set up in the wake of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination in February 2005. The US and Israel have manipulated the tribunal from the beginning to try and implicate Hizbullah members. All indicators, however, point to Israel’s involvement: it has been the greatest beneficiary of the mayhem in Lebanon. Jeffrey Feltman, former US ambassador to Lebanon, has also publicly boasted that the tribunal would implicate Hizbullah.
Lebanon’s political crisis escalated when Hariri refused to convene an emergency cabinet meeting requested by Hizbullah to discuss the threats arising from the US-Zionist manipulated tribunal. Instead, he flew to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama and secure his support as well as seek instructions on future steps. On January 12, while Hariri was meeting Obama, in Beirut 11 out of 30 cabinet members announced their resignation precipitating a collapse of the “unity” government of which Hizbullah was a member.
Instead of returning home to deal with the crisis, Hariri flew to Paris to seek French help. He appeared to have had little luck with Lebanon’s former colonial master. Hariri then went to Turkey hoping it would help save his job. He failed in his quest despite Turkey’s sincere efforts.
Hariri thought he would secure the requisite parliamentary votes to retain the premiership but Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and six members of his Progressive Socialist Party decided to switch allegiance, thereby dooming Hariri’s chances of clinging to power. It was, however, Hizbullah support that propelled Mikati into the prime ministerial spot.
The Tripoli riots, dubbed a “day of rage”, were an attempt by Hariri supporters to flex their muscles. Hizbullah fighters can smash them in a matter of hours if they so wish but the Islamic resistance group has shown great patience. It does not want to escalate internal tensions, focusing instead on confronting the US-backed Zionist enemy that still occupies a swathe of territory in Southern Lebanon that the Lebanese army is incapable of liberating.
Under Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the post of prime minister is reserved for a Sunni Muslim, while the president must be a Maronite Christian and the speaker of parliament a Shi‘i Muslim. The confessional nature of Lebanese politics ensures effective power remains in the hands of Christians even though they constitute a mere 30% of the population or less (a census has not been taken in Lebanon since before WWII, for obvious reasons).
Muslims are divided along sectarian lines dissipating their electoral strength. If free and fair elections were held without the debilitating constraints of confessionalism, Hizbullah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah would win hands down. He is the most popular leader in the Middle East. He has defeated the Zionist army not once but twice while all the Arabian armies together have not been able to achieve a single victory in 60 years.
While Hariri has said he will not join a Hizbullah-led coalition government, the Islamic group announced that its coalition led by Mikati would exclude no one. Those trying to undermine Hizbullah have been soundly defeated. This cannot be bad for Lebanon and indeed the larger Muslim world. Zionist-imperialist agents are in retreat in the Middle East.