Is it true that Saad Hariri is the winner in this election? Or it is General Michel Aoun? Or the Lebanese Forces or Hezballah? The final results gave the impression that everything was orchestrated. As if such a
The comeback
For Hariri, his victory was revenge in Beirut and a challenge in the North. But for the Christians it was a return to the scene for the two groups enjoying the greatest popularity: the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Free Patriotic Current led by Aoun. The general leads a bloc of 15 MPs and the LF has 6. These two parties were banned only a few short months ago and their members were not authorized to practice political activities openly and freely. Now they have entered the legislature, where they will have a strong role to play.
Some Christians are not satisfied with what happened and consider that their share is not comparable to the efforts they made and to the role they played in the liberation of Lebanon. Holders of this pro-Aoun view blame the Kornet Shahwan Grouping and the LF, claiming that all the “so-called victories” were the result of Muslim support for Christian candidates and that the only authentic Christian choice took place in Kesrwan, where because of its Christian majority the winners were chosen by a purely Christian electorate. They also claim that the LF and the other forces that joined Hariri and Jumblatt will be dependent on them and that they will be treated not as partners but only as followers.
The opposite opinion says that the elections were a transitional move to be corrected in the next election. But the main concern was the focus on holding the elections on time to abort any attempt to postpone them. This made it possible for the democratic process to take off freely, even if the results haven’t pleased all sides. This was the American and European opinion as well. According to this view, all Christians should understand the regional agenda and not deal with the situation as if they are isolated from the changes taking place in the region. The US and the regional powers have an agenda that goes beyond the narrow interests of this sect or that. At this level Aoun meets his opponents. In an interview with CNN he told his interviewer that Hezballah should hand over its weapons and step into the political sphere, abandoning its military activities. The party will try to avoid this, even though it has sent some positive messages saying that the party will be ready to negotiate this issue in the future. Jumblatt, Hariri and even some Christians are trying to ease Hezballah’s position, conceding that the matter should be discussed on a national level and far from the international pressures based on UN Resolution 1559.
Another item on the agenda is that of Palestinian weapons. In this respect Aoun has no divergences with the other parties of the opposition. And when examining the programs and the political discourse of both fronts, there are no major divergences between them.
Lebanon has been promised more international assistance from major donors in order to relaunch its economy and to reform its political system and administration. The first move in terms of political reform was the parliamentary elections; other steps are certain to come. It will be a difficult process because, despite the enthusiasm professed for reform, there are many vested interests that will be trying to impede it.
Another critical issue to be resolved in the first sessions of the new Parliament is the vote to amend the amnesty law in order to release the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, from the jail in which he has been held since 1994. Hariri mentioned this issue as a priority in the first statement he made after the voting in the North. Doing this, he gave credibility to the alliance that joined him to the LF in the election, and he strengthened the position of those who criticized the making of alliances with Hariri and Jumblatt. Many Christian personalities said the LF should have reached a compromise with Aoun to strengthen the position of the Christians after the long years of persecution instead of joining those who had fought them in the past, like Jumblatt and Hezballah. This logic is based on emotion, not on political judgment. If this had happened, the Muslims would have built a different front, and in that case the contest would have been one of a Christian vs. a Muslim bloc, which would have been dangerous.
In addition, it is the generally held view, on the regional and international levels, that there should continue to be a balance among the Lebanese communities, with no deep division between the two major groups. In the building of a new Middle East, the desire for revenge is being forgotten.