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Lebanon: More Dangerous Than a Presidential Vacuum - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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“Reap knowledge from the younger generations,” so goes the popular Arab saying which means that one can learn the secrets of the elders from the younger ones. This is what came to mind when I heard Wiam Wahab’s statement about the presidential crisis in Lebanon.

The Syrian- and Hezbollah-inclined Lebanese ex-minister said, “If Michel Aoun is not appointed as president of the republic, the only possible outcome will be an enduring vacuum that will last for a very long time. If that vacuum were prolonged, then the matter will no longer pertain to the presidency alone; it will also affect the Taif Agreement. If the agreement were to fall through, and following the vacuum that will ensue, then we must examine every single aspect, including the Taif Agreement.

This statement indicates that General Michel Aoun is the demolition axe that will be employed by the Syrian allies and Hezbollah to destroy the temple, which is the Taif Agreement. Why? The Syrians view that strengthening the presidential post secures assurances for them since the [position of] prime minister of Lebanon has become an obstacle to their ambitions. This can be achieved through a loyal president, which is the very same thing that Hezbollah seeks.

If that does not happen then the alternative would be to annul the Taif Agreement, and in this scenario, there must be a place for Hezbollah in the alternative equation that will replace the agreement. This is especially so since Hezbollah regards itself as the legitimate opposition, and it also possesses the arms that could enable it to enter into a new battle with Israel, thus increasing its legitimacy in the name of resistance.

In this case, the discussion will shift from the authority of the Lebanese state and its sovereignty, and the notion that the weapons are the state’s arms while the army is entitled to counter any aggression, into a debate about the necessity of granting Hezbollah an authority that is ‘worthy’ of its magnitude on the ground.

This could either be an alternative to one of the existing authorities today, or we will hear of a fourth authority in Lebanon  and of course it will not be the press. During such a time the discussion will not be about democracy, but rather about a multiple-headed Lebanon.

This is what is much more dangerous than a presidential vacuum in Lebanon. It is clear that there is a calculated procedure; either to bring to power a president who will execute Hezbollah’s agenda (and as such, the Syrian-Iranian agenda) or to annul the Taif Agreement.

What is required here is not so much the preservation of the Lebanese constitution and national unity inasmuch as it is an attempt to prevent the completion of the international tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the protection of Hezbollah’s arms and subjecting Lebanon to the Iranian-Syrian guardianship. The goal is not, as is maintained today, to protect Lebanon from US dominance.

As such, it is important to warn General Aoun that all that glitters is not gold with regards to the Syrian and Iranian positions  and Hezbollah, of course.

The end of the Taif Agreement means destruction and a civil war in Lebanon of which the consequences will be catastrophic.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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