Lebanon: A Dispute Over Sizes

Walid Choucair  ,  Al-Hayat , May 20 2005

It is natural for the Lebanese to disagree over the size and magnitude of the different factions’ alliances, which are subject to negotiations in light of the upcoming parliamentary elections (scheduled on May 29th) . The previous stage, not to say the previous decades, distorted weights and sizes, positively and negatively, which was reflected in marginalizing some forces, while empowering others.

If external interference has always been the reason for such distortions, it has caused reactions and political confrontations that played a role in extending the Lebanese war, over and above the external factors that rained arms and weapons down on the Lebanese.

Some Christian leaders are arguing most about the size of their role and weight in these electoral alliances, and consequently the bloc they would form in the next parliament. They believe that they were the group that was treated most unjustly during the Syrian era, which distorted the political weight of their sect. However, the distortion has affected all Lebanese sects in different eras and under different circumstances, most significantly as follows:

–         The Israeli role that began in 1978, up to the invasion in 1982 and the withdrawal in 2000. This role was linked to Christian forces allying with Israel.

–         Demographic change, which created a Muslim majority.

–         Syria’s mistakes in its managing Lebanese affairs, which created artificial Christian political forces that did not enjoy true popular representation. Syria’s management mixed the requirements of downgrading some Christian forces that wagered on Israel with control over Lebanon for reasons that had nothing to do with Lebanon’s regional alternatives or resisting Israel. Rather, this management involved the policy of interests and the logic of domination, which drowned Syrian policy in the swamp of Lebanese domestic politics. Syria has been unable to exit this quagmire, despite its exit from Lebanon. This element also harmed some fundamental Islamic powers and was the primary reason for the unification of both Christians and Islamic forces, which oppose the Syrian role. It was also one of the basic reasons behind the disagreement over sizes and in each sect and between powers from different sects. It is at the center of the controversy between the different opposition factions; each one seeking to take credit for the withdrawal of the Syrian forces.   

For the Lebanese not to mix their desires with the political reality of their size and weight, the Taef Agreement came to establish a new partnership and size formula. The formula encompasses all factors assuming a role in defining it, including the external ones.

Failing to implement the Taef Agreement in the previous stage (Syria’s responsibility after the end of the war) contribute in distorting sizes. Re-launching the  implementation process of the Agreement will take as much time as the time wasted when its major provisions were set aside. This will, in turn, allow the sizes to go back to normal.