Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is this the end of Lebanon, “the Message?” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal announced that Saudi Arabia has given up its efforts to resolve the crisis in Lebanon, which is something that came to be known in the press as the “S – S initiative” [Saudi – Syrian initiative]. This was following a decree from King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, after talks with different Lebanese blocs reached a deadlock, hitting a wall of intransigence and mutual suspicion, with all the details distorted beyond recognition.

After the Saudi Arabian decision, Turkish Foreign Minister [Ahmet Davutoglu] who had visited Damascus and Beirut with his Qatari counterpart in an attempt to help the [Lebanese] parties reach an understanding and achieve a settlement on the basis of the Saudi-Syrian recommendations, has now returned to Ankara after announcing that “the Lebanese parties are not close to reaching an agreement.” The Qatari Foreign Minister soon followed suit.

This means that the regional powers have failed to convince the Lebanese parties involved in this dispute, particularly Hezbollah and the Future Movement, to find a political settlement to ensure the stability of the country and extricate it from the present stage of tension and sedition, avoiding political and sectarian confrontation.

Could this be accorded to the special clout afforded to political parties in this small country, and their affiliation to powers in other countries?

I believe that the reason that this crisis is so complex is that its major powers are not responsible for their own decisions, and that for the most part, these decisions are dependent upon regional powers that have their own agendas. Therefore Lebanon is not where the real action is taking place, at least in the eyes of the regional powers.

In short, any settlement must therefore be reached by the regional powers, rather than by the local agents.

This is the political side to the Lebanese crisis. The cultural side of the Lebanese crisis is that Lebanon or “the message” as some Lebanese like to dub the country, used to be a perfect model for peaceful coexistence between different creeds and sects and which for a long period of time served as proof of the possibility of creating an all-embracing national identity despite religious, sectarian, and ethnic differences. However Lebanon, which was previously the pride of all Arab intellectuals, is now on the verge of collapse and disintegration, and is today bursting to the seams with sectarian clashes.

The most important part of Prince Saud al-Faisal’s statement was when he candidly said that “if the situation reaches separation or partition of Lebanon, this means the end of Lebanon as a state that is the model of peace coexistence between different religions, ethnicities, and communities.”

In other words, and without going into all the boring details with regards the conflict between Hezbollah and its supporters on one hand, and the Future Movement and its backers on the other, the idea of Lebanon “the message” will have ended. This message is that people in our region can peacefully coexist side by side, and that their religious, sectarian, and ethnic differences can be transformed into a beautiful and harmonious mosaic.

This message was strangled in Iraq, has recently been tested in Egypt, and it seems that its obituary is being written in Lebanon. This is the greatest tragedy, and that is to live without hope in dull uniformity, without joy or diversity.