Lebanon needs a credible new government, not alignment with Iran

Luckily for Lebanon, there are citizens who are determined to fight Iran’s expansionist project, which Tehran implements through armed sectarian militias.
Sunday 09/09/2018
Gathering storm. A man walks in front of the headquarters of the Lebanese Blom Bank in Beirut. (Reuters)
Gathering storm. A man walks in front of the headquarters of the Lebanese Blom Bank in Beirut. (Reuters)

It’s not true that Lebanon’s economy can survive unfavourable developments if the country remains without a government for much longer. Lebanon urgently — and more so than at any time before — needs a balanced and consensual government.

All Lebanese must become aware that, despite that some people have a beef against Saad Hariri and the Future Movement and regardless of the argument that the Future Movement has only 17 out of the 27 Sunni members of parliament, it is time for a new power balance based on the latest election results.

The elections were based on a strange law cooked up by Hezbollah — meaning Iran. The aim of that law was to weaken independent political movements and stack the chances in favour of Hezbollah, including most of the seats in parliament. It is no wonder that, right after the May elections, Iran, through al-Quds Force commander Major-General Qassem Soleimani, would boast that it controls a majority of seats in the Lebanese parliament, which quite simply must bend to its wishes.

Luckily for Lebanon, there are citizens who are determined to fight Iran’s expansionist project, which Tehran implements through armed sectarian militias. We can easily see the ugly face of this imperialistic project in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and even in Lebanon.

Of course, not all of Lebanon’s Shias are pro-Iranian but Iran has made significant inroads in the country’s Shia community. We cannot deny that a good portion of the members of that community have placed themselves in the service of Iran and its useless project. Nothing is going to come out of that project but more disastrous results for Lebanon and all its communities.

Hezbollah’s parliament bloc argues that, given the Assad regime’s victories and successes in its war on the Syrian people, Lebanon must move quickly to “position itself strategically,” meaning to become Iran’s vassal state.

Nothing can be more wrong.

It is still too early to speak of a final victory by the Syrian regime. Syria is much divided and Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fate is — unfortunately — in the hands of Israel. Let’s not kid ourselves. Without a green light from Israel and without Russia’s complicity, the Syrian regime would not have been able to progress in southern Syria and drive Islamic State forces into Druze territory in Sweida and the surrounding villages.

The real winner in southern Syria is Israel. Hezbollah’s representatives in the Lebanese parliament want Lebanon to align itself with Hezbollah’s interests and those of Iran and the “Axis of Refusal” based on that. Here is another Israeli victory that shall remain obscure, just like the mystery behind the withdrawal of the Syrian Army from the Golan in 1967.

This is not the time for a fruitless debate about who won in Syria and how it will affect Lebanon. That conflict has moved into a phase in which all the cards are being shuffled once again. We still don’t know what the United States is going to do after its decision to maintain its forces east of the Euphrates. We don’t know what Turkey will do in case the Syrian regime decides to take Idlib with Russian support, of course, and at the cost of more humanitarian disasters.

It is best for the Lebanese to focus on how to protect their own country from the inside rather than focus on how to retaliate against Hariri and the Christian community who refuse to surrender to Hezbollah’s weapons or against members of the Druze community who know what is at stake in the region and behind the calls for a minorities coalition.

It is best for the Lebanese to heed the reports about their country in international media that say the economic situation in the country calls for people with an acute sense of the regional and international contexts.

Since the Paris conference on Lebanon in April, there are about $12 billion in easy-term loans and grants waiting for a credible Lebanese government to see the light. The country can’t afford to wait much longer to claim them. There is a pressing need for a team of responsible people committed to saving the country rather than dragging it into new adventures based on illusionary victories in Syria.

Lebanon, too, is waiting for a new government credible to the international community. The country needs to move beyond the complex created by Rafik Hariri and his project for a modern Lebanon.

Two types of politicians suffer from that complex. There are those who talk a lot just to hide their incompetence and ignorance and there are those who consider Lebanon the “rightful” vassal of outside interests.

We are speaking of Iran, of course, which thinks that the time has come to reap the fruits of years of investing money, weapons and sectarian strife in Lebanon.