Christian-Shiite confrontation: The danger of "separation" threatens army and civil peace

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2023-02-21 | 04:28
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Christian-Shiite confrontation: The danger of "separation" threatens army and civil peace
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6min
Christian-Shiite confrontation: The danger of "separation" threatens army and civil peace

The relationship between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hezbollah broke down.

Politics will be affected by the split in the long run as the FPM may adopt positions that raise the ceiling of Christian demands in its ongoing conflict with the Lebanese Forces in this area.

On the other hand, Hezbollah keeps demonstrating to FPM leader MP Gebran Bassil that his success depended on the party's backing and that he would not have been able to impose what he wanted politically without it.
 
This article is originally published in, translated from Lebanese newspaper al-Modon

Therefore, the party has decided not to concede to Bassil at this time in any file, including the presidency, the extension of first-class employee mandates, or the mandates of general managers.

Policy of Strictness
Bassil is not about to concede, and neither does Hezbollah. At the same time, the search continues for a way to extend General Security Chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim's mandate through the government or the caretaker prime minister and the interior minister. This was the subject of discussion between Caretaker PM Najib Mikati and Ibrahim on Sunday.

Even if this is not possible, Ibrahim's political role is preserved for Hezbollah. Still, the consequences of the party's relationship with the Free Patriotic Movement will be very tense.

Hezbollah will have extreme positions in response to this conflict, which will take a Christian-Shiite dimension, particularly on the political front and the upcoming presidential elections.

The escalated Christian positions will encourage the party to stick with Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh’s candidacy for the presidency and resist giving in.

The Shiite duo's advancement on the political scene with the Christian forces will have far-reaching effects in this situation. On the other hand, a deadly Sunni absence from the political scene results from dispersion, as one group of Sunni deputies has no particular position, and another group is loyal to Hezbollah.

This represents a loss for a Sunnite crucial role that might serve as a means of reducing sectarian tension. Amid such an atmosphere, the political reality of the country is on the verge of danger. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, predicted this threat in a recent speech that party insiders believe was supported by data and information.

"Disappointment" from the Americans
Even though Nasrallah threatened to start a war in the entire region or to fight Israel as retaliation for any unrest that would be caused in Lebanon, his escalation was not spontaneous.

He resorted to addressing the West because he considered that the positions of some internal forces might derive their inspiration from abroad.

Nasrallah's mentioning of the border demarcation file, the Karish field, and the holdup in gas exploration in Lebanon have a primary goal that stems from Hezbollah's hopes of finishing the demarcation file.

The party anticipated that there would be a political and financial price after this file was finished. 
Politically, the party expected that the demarcation's completion would, on the one hand, increase the chances of its ally Sleiman Frangieh winning the presidency and, on the other, that the international community, particularly the United States, might be more lenient with Lebanon.

But it didn't go like that. Economically, the party thought that by facilitating the completion of the demarcation file, The US must facilitate the delivery of Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity to Lebanon, in addition to the possibility of the US turning a blind eye to Iranian fuel. None of that took place.

Proposals for separation
As a result of these persistent pressures, the Secretary General of Hezbollah's position escalated to the point where he hinted at the possibility of resorting to escalating the situation in the entire region.

Regarding the underlying meaning of the expression "chaos in Lebanon will mean war in the region," Hezbollah believes that any attempts to sow discord or spark Shiite-specific movements, or even positions that involve calls for division, federalism, or decentralization, conceal the willingness of other forces to enshrine the geographical separation from the party after the political one. This means preparing for a civil war, so Nasrallah raised the bar.

Campaign against the army
The escalation of the campaign against the Lebanese army, which targets its commander Joseph Aoun, is one sign of danger in this regard. Without getting into the specifics, the attack on the military institution comes after Bassil was the one to start the campaign against the army commander by accusing him of corruption. This marks the beginning of a battle of underhanded tactics to destroy the army commander's reputation as a presidential candidate.

However, the threat posed by this campaign comes from the potential for its continuation, which could result in issues with the military establishment.

The threat stems from the potential for all institutions and sectors that are regarded as the foundation of the state to fail. Some fear the continuation of the campaigns against the military institution to influence its institutional structure.

This fear comes after that the judiciary, education, hospitalization, banking sectors, investment, and financial institutions collapsed. This alone paints a depressing picture.

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