Does treating Lebanon's deepening political crisis require Lebanon's attendance at the Geneva 2 Conference, which Russia and the United States are preparing for?
This small country has become completely attached to the Syrian crisis; everything in Lebanon, from big to small, is linked to what the crisis next door will generate. This is especially after Hezbollah announced its forces had joined the confrontation against attempts to topple the regime. This involvement has certain political, military and security requirements in Lebanon, and not just in Syria.
With Hezbollah's involvement in this way, the elements of the domestic crisis, which has been on the rise for months, and included the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, are not separate from the Syrian crisis and its regional dimensions. The struggle over the parliamentary election law and political power, over holding the polls soon, or postponing them, for a short or long period of time, and forming the government of Tammam Salam and the latter's refusal, along with his allies and President Michel Suleiman, of allowing Hezbollah "blocking third" veto power in this government – all of these are subject to calculations having to do with the stance on the Syria crisis. This veto power will allow Hezbollah to bring down the government when it decides to do so, if the majority opposes its policies. Veto power is a card that Hezbollah insists on retaining, after its secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, went as far as to declare his readiness to cooperate and coordinate with the popular resistance in the Golan, to liberate it from Israeli occupation. This was in order to justify its fighting alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, on the pretext of preventing Syria's falling into the hands of America, Israel and the takfiris, as it represents the battle for Palestine, Jerusalem and defending the resistance in Lebanon, etc.
If Nasrallah justified the resistance's enjoying a "margin in which the world believes the central state to be weak," as he literally said in his most recent speech, then expanding the battle being waged by the part toward Syrian areas where it is fighting, and the Golan, requires that the Lebanese central state be weakened more and more. Thus, why should there be an agreement on an election law, and why should there be elections? Why should Hezbollah agree to a Cabinet in which the majority will not submit to the requirements of this wide-scale confrontation being waged by the party?
Lebanon has been influenced by this confrontation, at the heart of the slogan put forth by allies of Damascus during the decades of Syrian tutelage: "the Lebanese and Syrian tracks are joined, and there is a unity of path and future." Lebanon is once again a prisoner of this policy.
The practical translation of this slogan, after the Lebanese tried to leave it behind in recent years, is the symmetry between what the Geneva agreement says for Syria, and what it says for Lebanon in terms of its state institutions. Geneva 1 failed because the Syrian president refused to implement the key provision, upon which the international solution was based, namely the formation of a "transitional executive authority with full powers." This would mean accepting the delegation of "full powers," i.e. only the exercise of power by force and domination, via intelligence agencies and all other barbaric means, that the uprising was launched to end 26 months ago. Logic says that forming this "transitional executive authority" is a prelude to establishing a political authority based on free elections and a new Constitution.
Will Hezbollah and its allies accept the formation of a "transitional executive authority with full powers," i.e. a Lebanese Cabinet in which all sides are represented evenly, under the unity of path and future between Lebanon and Syria? There is also the Iranian decision to put everything at the disposal of Hezbollah to confront the attempts to bring down Assad. The party earlier gained veto power inside the Cabinet after it used force on 7 May 2008, and with the force of arms and the surplus of force that it has, due to the exceptional level of support it receives from Tehran and the rulers of Syria. Hezbollah refuses to give this up, because it refuses to acknowledge the change that has taken place because of the uprising in Syria, which has shaken the regime without being able to bring it down yet. Hezbollah and Iran are trying to help the Syrian regime survive and prevent its fall, as much as possible. Nasrallah talked about the changing winds, meaning the defensive attack it is carrying out, to bolster the regime.
Veto power, which will prevent moving toward a central authority in Lebanon in holding parliamentary elections (whose postponement is desired), is the only means available, and it matches Assad's refusal to give up his powers to a government, based on the Geneva agreement. Hezbollah is waging a battle in Syria, and will not tolerate the establishment of a government that will certainly be unable to share its policies. Mikati resigned after learning how difficult it was to coexist with the requirements of the confrontation in Syria, not to speak of Lebanon.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily represent or reflect the editorial policy of Arabstoday.