It would have been better had Hassan Nasrallah not voiced his opinion about the new election law, for his MPs are doing a good job in parliamentary committees. As for Nasrallah himself, he represents nothing except illegitimate armament that is poisoning Lebanon on the political and social levels. What he said raised more question marks about the Orthodox Gathering project and proportional representation. Enough has been said about the first, especially regarding the way it undermines peaceful coexistence in addition to its unconstitutionality. The second remains a future national goal that is hard to achieve in a parliament that is divided along sectarian lines or in a state that has no control over militia arms.
Nasrallah was not even convincing in his attempt to refute claims that Hezbollah imposed one project or another on Christians, especially when he sarcastically said that if he has the ability to dictate to Christians what to do then his party should rule the country. He was not joking, for he is actually ruling the country but needs to consolidate his power. This is at least the second time Nasrallah talks about “construction” based on the fact that the current “regime” is no longer seen as fit by Hezbollah and Iran and the same goes for the “state” that represents this regime. But Nasrallah chose to hide behind what happened to Christians in Iraq and the conditions of Christians in Syria and Nigeria, forgetting all about Egypt, to arrive at the conclusion that Lebanon’s Christians have apprehensions and that Hezbollah is just employing this reality in order to initiate the current debate “as if it is a reconstruction of Lebanon through an election law,” as he literally put it.
Modifying the Taif agreement
This “reconstruction” only has one meaning: reconsidering national consensus or, in other words, modifying the Taif Agreement or ignoring it altogether in addition to amending the constitution. In order to be able to do so, the Hezbollah-Aoun alliance needs to win one third of parliamentary seats. This time those in charge of “reconstruction” will not care about any consensus or agreements. It is known, however, that Christians also demand amendments that would enable the president to retrieve his powers. In fact, one of the “constructors,” namely Suleiman Frengieh, sees that the president can no longer be moderate like the incumbent Michel Suleiman, but should better be biased and should “hold on to his project and allies.” But it is not clear what Hezbollah is after with the “reconstruction” project for neither Nasrallah nor any of the party’s members clarified this point. What is clear so far is that when two sects are allied, they are most probably about to marginalize the third sect regardless of the means used to reach this end.
Nasrallah thinks we should “forget” about the situation in Syria and not allow it to affect the electoral debate in Lebanon. But he does not forget about it. In fact, he takes advantage of it and others do the same. The difference is that Nasrallah is overconfident that the situation in Syria would not have an impact on Hezbollah and this is what he wants to make sure of through elections. These are misleading calculations since that anticipated change in Syria might not be satisfactory for Hezbollah or even for its adversaries.
This article was published in Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper on Jan. 30, 2013.
(Abdul Wahab Badrakhan is a Lebanese journalist, who writes weekly in London's Al-Hayat newspaper among other Arab publications. Badrakhan was a journalist in 'Annahar' (Beirut) until 1979, in 'Annahar Arabic & international' magazine (Paris) up to 1989, in 'Al-Hayat' (London) as managing editor then deputy editor in chief until 2006. At present, Badrakhan is working on two books. The first book is on the roots of the experiences that have motivated young Arab men to go to Afghanistan. The second is devoted to Arab policies to counterterrorism, starting with the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and covering the ensuing wars.)