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Lebanon: A Personal Crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Lebanese scene is too volatile, tense and changeable to avoid the headlines and front pages. Now, a new chapter of the age-old Lebanese internal struggle has begun (although there is nothing new in this). Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, has delivered a speech of threat, warning and intimidation against those who had opposed him, and supported the intervention of the International Tribunal. Furthermore, General Michel Aoun has been lashing out at official security bodies in Lebanon’s government, for interrogating one of his senior aides, and chief party member, on charges of conspiracy and espionage on behalf of Israel. Note that the accused confessed to the crime immediately after his arrest.

Moreover, former Head of General Security Major General Jamil al-Sayyid has threatened to hold Saad Hariri and his government accountable “with his own hands”, in response to a series of irresponsible statements, speeches and comments, which aimed to ‘stir trouble in the war-torn and sedition-plagued country’.

What really amazed me about the statements of these three men was that they seemingly advocated blocking the International Tribunal and its intervention. However, in reality, these statements were merely designed to ‘bury’ the Future Movement, and paralyze the current government, by denying it the elements, efficiency and instruments of a successful administrative body.

Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah felt that indicators given by the International Tribunal strongly indicated a condemnation of some members of Hezbollah. This is quite apparent from media leakages, and the political statements being made. Nasrallah’s sense of embitterment toward the Lebanese government, and its Prime Minister, has increased on the assumption that Saad Hariri is the one responsible for this escalation [of condemnations].

Being the blood guardian of his late father, it is thought that Saad Hariri could waive the right of criminal investigation to save the country from sedition. However, this is a clearly naive understanding of the entire affair because the functioning of the International Tribunal is now in the hands of the Security Council, rather than those personally linked to the case under investigation. Some Lebanese parties have displayed unreasonable obstinacy in conceiving this fundamental point.

As for General Michel Aoun, time is running out, and the dream of becoming President and residing in Baabda Palace now seems distant. This has added agitation and anxiety to his words and decisions. Of course, the implication of one of his key aides in an espionage case, on behalf of Israel, (amidst Aoun’s alliance with Lebanon’s primary symbol of resistance, in Hezbollah) embarrasses and implicates him politically.

These recent developments come amid increasing popular and international sympathy for the role played by President Michel Suleiman, and a respect for his orientations and rational views.

As for Jamil al-Sayyid, who was quietly preparing himself to succeed Nabih Berri as the next Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon, thus, crowning his long security career and allegiance to a certain political trend with a high-profile office, it appears that his ambitions have been sidetracked amidst the security predicament and the accusations lodged at him over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. All these incidents confirm that Lebanon’s primary issue [to be concerned with] is the erosion of state institutions and the dominance of personal interests over political goals. This distorted concept is the reason for the mixed political priorities in Lebanon’s fragile and delicate composition.

Political leaders in Lebanon are ‘overdrawn’ in terms of popularity, and lost much of their status with the public. They have become more like clowns in a political circus, whose movements change according to a specified day of the week.

The volume of investment in Lebanon has gone down whereas the rate of emigration has once again risen. An obvious and dangerous political stalemate has come into existence and the feeling of rancour among fellow rivals has deepened, in a clear fashion. All this means that the intervention of foreign parties into the internal affairs of Lebanon will be a continuous and acceptable practice because the Lebanese people have allowed this, and have become accustomed to it. These interventions have now become part of their political identity and furthermore, a lifeline.

The political agenda of Lebanon’s leaders directly contradicts and collides with the national priorities and general interests of the country. This, in itself, is a reason as to why the Lebanese crises will continue. Furthermore, these crises will never be solved by those who created them in the first place.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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