Arab Today, arab today surplus of power… between syria and lebanon
Last Updated : GMT 11:01:02
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Surplus of power… between Syria and Lebanon

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today surplus of power… between syria and lebanon

Walid Choucair

The political team that suffered the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati wishes that this move had come two or three months from now, while awaiting the results of negotiations between Iran and the west. Likewise, the other party, which was hit by the ousting of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the beginning of 2011, wishes that Mikati had been named a bit later, say a month or so, or after the eruption of the uprising in Syria, which has begun to change the regional balance of power. This balance of power imposed a change in the political formula in Lebanon, in the direction of ousting Hariri and Saudi Arabia after the failure of negotiations between Saudi Arabia and Syria, over conducting a political reconciliation in Lebanon. The Hariri government was brought down as a result of the regional balance of power, while the change in this regional balance necessitated the resignation of Mikati two weeks ago. This change emerged after less than three months, with the beginning of the Syrian uprising, which indicated that Syria would not return to the way it was. However, the political formula in Lebanon imposed by the superiority of the Iranian-Syrian alliance lasted up to less than two weeks ago, thanks to the success of this alliance in securing the survival of the Syrian regime, and because of the weakness of the other side, namely the March 14 camp which suffered from the collapse of the National Unity government. In contrast, a surplus of force was enjoyed by March 8, which was able to scuttle the Saudi-Syrian initiative for reconciliation in Lebanon. The surplus of force enjoyed by one side was able to secure the survival of the Syrian regime and disappointed the rivals of Tehran and Syrian President Bashar Assad, who wagered on the rapid departure of the latter on several occasions. Syria's allies behaved a bit pragmatically in Lebanon, which worked to prevent the appearance of the change that had begun to afflict Syria, domestically in Lebanon. In parallel, they exerted pressure to prevent Mikati’s resignation, even though he, and before him President Michel Suleiman and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, had begun to turn against the policies of Hezbollah. They sought to impose these policies, relying on political cover from a government that they were in need of, in their momentous struggle to preserve this bargaining chip wielded by Syria in Lebanon. They wanted to do this until serious negotiations took place between Iran and the west. The axis of resistance did not tolerate a moment of weakness, even if it was connected to the departure of a government that allowed others to play a role in the formation of a new government and naming its prime minister, because this axis wanted to tell the west that it held all of the cards. However, this surplus of force was wielded at a level that exceeded the tolerance of Lebanese society, and the government. This took place via Hezbollah’s involvement on the ground in Syria to defend the regime, from Lebanon. The party also offered services of various kinds to the regime, in the ugliest kind of war it was waging against its people, inside the country, and against the international community. It was natural for Mikati, along with Suleiman and Jumblatt, to not tolerate the use of this government cover for this amount of involvement by Hezbollah in policies that Lebanon’s complicated sectarian make-up had never been able to countenance in dealing with the internal affairs of another country; Lebanon has long suffered from foreign interference in its domestic affairs. There was a state of artificial equality between, on the one hand, Hezbollah’s intervention on the side of Damascus, benefitting from a surplus of force, and facilitating things for the Syrian regime while enjoying the cover of the Lebanese Cabinet, and, on the other, the bias of the other camp toward the Syrian rebels, while offering modest assistance to them. Hezbollah and its allies failed to take note that this artificial equality was nothing more than a means to object to what the party, and behind it Iran and the Syrian regime, were up to. Everyone who called for Lebanon’s disassociation from the Syrian crisis was aware that there was a huge difference between the intervention of Iran and Hezbollah, and the sympathy of others with the rebels. At a moment in which Lebanon needed to defuse the tension that the country was experiencing because of divisions over the Syrian crisis, expressed through the issue of upcoming parliamentary elections, the axis of resistance sought to delay the polls, to prevent the emergence of a new parliamentary majority, for which the government could no longer provide political cover. Thus, Lebanon can no longer tolerate a delay in returning to its natural balance, based on what will be produced by Iranian-western negotiations, which will likely be prolonged before any results emerge. Will the Iranians absorb the resignation of the government by playing the game of delaying progress on the formation of a new government, and thus, the parliamentary elections, while continuing to use Lebanon as an arena for defending the Syrian regime? Or, will it resort to the use of the surplus of force, via Hezbollah, to confront those who oppose its policies? The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.

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