Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Conversation with Jumblatt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Our region is like a rock in the desert; no matter how far away you go, you’ll always come back to find it in the same place, unless it has been subjected to corrosive elements.

After having enjoyed an excellent holiday, I will pick up where I left off i.e. on the subject of Lebanon. However, I will resume not on a progressive point but on one that takes us backwards.

Walid Jumblatt recently announced the end of his alliance with the March 14 Coalition. The question here isn’t why did Jumblatt turn against his allies but rather why did he delay [in doing so]? There were indications that Jumblatt had been warning his allies of his departure for a while, in particular since the Doha Summit. Because the man is trusted, and does not reveal everything he knows, it is enough to say that Jumblatt was the soft spot in those negotiations and his allies were moaning about his positions. But they were certainly not expecting him to turn against them.

After I wrote an article entitled ‘Can Jumblatt Save Nasrallah’ that was published on May 31 – commenting on Mr. Jumblatt’s position on the accusations of the German publication Der Spiegel that claimed that Hezbollah is behind the assassination of Rafik al Hariri – Jumblatt contacted me and said, “I do not want to save Nasrallah; I want to save Lebanon as a whole from the great sedition of sectarianism.”

On Monday, I contacted Mr. Jumblatt and asked him “Why was the alliance with the March 14 Coalition a necessity?” His was a surprising answer: “The assassination of Rafik Hariri, and others to a lesser degree, hastened the departure of the Syrians from Lebanon.” He continued, “Later came the Cedar Revolution and US intervention in the issue, by George Bush in particular, and then came Saudi, French and Arab intervention, giving us diplomatic ties with Syria.” Consequently, according to Jumblatt, two things have been achieved; freedom and sovereignty. However, he added, “there is still the issue of the Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Shouba Hills, and this is a different matter.” The final concern is “Hezbollah’s weapons, and this is an issue that will only be solved through dialogue.”

Is this convincing? Of course not, especially as Jumblatt jumped [and changed his position] before the forming of the Lebanese government, an Arab official told me.

Jumblatt said to me, “My brother, there is now a different discourse amongst the Druze that states that Palestine has no value; I am from the Socialist party, I was brought up on Kamal Jumblatt, Jamal Abdul Nasser and Arabism, and there is no option for the Druze except the great pan-Arab nation.” He added, “The leftist parties have almost all collapsed and I turned towards the left to the minimum extent to preserve the Arabism of the Druze and the Palestinian Cause.”

I said, “Pardon my ignorance; are you saying you changed your alliance just for the sake of the Palestinian Cause?”

This is odd. Jumblatt is like someone performing the Hajj pilgrimage when the season is over. What about his own country, Lebanon? He answered, “You could say that my comments are outdated.” The question here is: are Jumblatt’s comments convincing?

Of course not! If we look at events we can see that what pushed Jumblatt to change his position is talk of Saad Hariri possibly visiting Syria after the formation of the Lebanese government. Jumblatt does not want to go to Damascus in the company of the Prime Minister as consequently, the value of the political card in his hand will decrease whether amongst his own Druze sect or in the Damascus political stock exchange.

Therefore, it seems that Jumblatt decided that he would not be in the company of the Prime Minister of Lebanon but rather receive him when he lands at Damascus airport. That’s the full story.