During the Saudi-Syrian summit that took place in Damascus at the beginning of last October, I was asked in Damascus about what the summit might result in and the possibility of it resulting in the formation of a Lebanese government. I answered that it was wrong to raise the level of expectations and unfair to say that King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz and the Syrian President Bashar al Assad were meeting purely for the sake of forming a Lebanese government. I told Al-Arabiya television that the most important issue at the summit was the Saudi-Syrian file and that with regards to the formation of the Lebanese government, what’s most important is observing the third party, i.e. Hezbollah and Iran, and whether or not it would disrupt [the formation of the Lebanese government].
At the time, some Arab media carried my comments, and some claimed that I was lowering the level of expectations surrounding the Damascus summit and others said that I was not supportive of [Saudi-Syrian] rapprochement.
Last Monday, the Syrian President told the Lebanese As-Safir newspaper that “the formation of the Lebanese government is a Lebanese responsibility,” adding that “neither Syria, Saudi Arabia, nor the summit in which the leaders of these two countries met, will form a united national government in Lebanon.”
It is apparent from President al Assad’s comments that the third party, Hezbollah and Iran, are still delaying the formation of the government because they want to prove on the one hand that the victory of the winner [March 14 Coalition] in the last Lebanese elections does not mean a thing and in fact that Hezbollah is the strongest and it is the one that takes decisions. On the other hand, Hezbollah’s agenda is completely tied to Iran’s agenda; this explains why some in Lebanon are saying that they must monitor what comes out of Tehran’s negotiations with the West on the Iranian nuclear file.
Here we must pay attention to the various signs around us. For example, in Lebanon there has been positive silence from Nabih Berri since the summit, especially as Berri is the one who said that the Lebanese crisis can only be solved by S+S – i.e. Saudi and Syrian – accordance. Of course one of the benefits of Saudi-Syrian rapprochement is that it exposed the third party in Lebanon, i.e. Hezbollah and Iran that is behind it, despite the attempts of claiming that Lebanon’s problem is merely internal, or that Michel Aoun is the cause, and the truth is that the General [Michel Aoun] is nothing but the spearhead of Hezbollah. Moreover, it is important to pay attention to the fact that the regional conditions will not allow for anyone now to openly declare who is the real cause of disruption in Lebanon, based on the consideration that the intelligent person is the one who chooses his battles, and the timing of these battles, carefully.
However what was published in the Syrian Tishreen newspaper on Monday was very striking, as it said that in Lebanon “there are two fundamental dilemmas that stand in the way of establishing a state of law and institutions,” for the sake of “consolidating the concept of citizenship that comes before all other loyalties.” It added “The first dilemma is the power of the consuls that has not weakened since independence and that is still rejecting transforming Lebanon from a battlefield for regional and international forces into a state that reassures the Lebanese.”
According to Tishreen “the second dilemma lies in the persistence of the aggrieved powers of the national accord in Lebanon to strengthen and deepen the discrepancies between the Lebanese, as it took on a sectarian and doctrinal sphere and in some cases a racial sphere.”
Perhaps it is permissible for us to ask here “does Tishreen have the definite news?”