Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Hanna Saleh

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : When Authorities are Reassured By the Maintenance of 'Rules of Engagement'

It is though Israel's criminal war on Gaza and Hezbollah turning south into a "base of support," has given the officials running the country an open-ended vacation and exempted them of the responsibilities theoretically on their shoulders... It has given them excuses to ignore the critical obligations, from filling the vacant presidential seat to containing the country's financial, economic collapse. And when the authorities took a political stance, it leaped over the general widespread and the suffering of the Southerners who had been displaced after the south was turned into scorched earth, making these authorities seem subordinate to Hezbollah!
The scandal is not only that the decision to endanger this region was taken by a militia whose decisions are made in Tehran, simultaneously taking part in running the country and hijacking the decision-making of the caretaker government, deciding the course that must be taken in accordance to the dictates of its foreign backers. The scandal is that state bodies have provided political cover for all of this.
Sheikh Naim Qassem's fleeting remark that "the south will continue to be a front of support for Gaza" betrays contempt for the peoples' right to and aspirations for lasting security. He did not bother explaining, to those who have been forcibly displaced, who had appointed him to rule over the south and its people. Hezbollah's unprecedented trivialization of war and its horrors, as well as citizens' desire for the restoration of stability, are evident in its sermons about war.

According to Sayyed Hashem Safieddine, "Khomeini affirmed that this enemy must be erased"... War was never the stroll in the park they make it out to be, certainly not for a bankrupt and broken country like Lebanon. It is an unmitigated disaster. The official's complicity culminated with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressing that he had been reassured by the fact that 'the rules of engagement on the southern borders between Lebanon and Israel have not changed(!), and he adds that 'there are no international guarantees that can reassure us!"
Lebanon's catastrophe has many dimensions, from the political class normalizing with the national power imbalance - which has left the state covering for those who have hijacked it by force of arms, in exchange for factional gains - to the political parties losing their legitimacy because they owe their seats in power to foreign occupation and dependency. Consequently, violations of UN Resolution 1701, which ended the military operations after the 2006 war on Lebanon and guaranteed sovereignty through the UNIFIL, have become part of the natural course of things. Despite the fact that Resolution 1701 afforded the South a period of prosperity and stability it had not seen in decades, the "rules of engagement" are prioritized!
If we slip into a war, everyone knows how it would end! Thus, we must prioritize the implementation of Resolution 1701 because it paves the way for peace in the South and Lebanon. This is what Joanna Wronecka, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, tried to make clear. She demanded the implementation of the international resolution on the ground to protect Lebanon from war in the region and confirmed, after participating in discussions about Resolution 1701 at the UN, that the Security Council is united regarding Lebanon.

Since the 7th of October, the interconnectedness in the region has become more apparent. The war on Gaza strongly affects Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, and to varying degrees, the region's other countries. But does this interconnectedness and impact mean that the Lebanese must be left exposed as they await regional solutions? Where will we end up if we do not see an end to the ruling clique's subordination to Hezbollah and if Lebanon remains a decapitated state, with its government a facade for decisions made elsewhere and unconcerned by the state's abduction and even its negation? They are making a mockery out of Lebanon's legitimacy and international legitimacy.
The Lebanese political class, which shares power within the framework of the county's sectarian-quota-based spoils-sharing political system, chose to wait and see where the genocidal war Gaza leads us, thereby turning a blind eye to the interests and aspirations of the Lebanese.
Everything we can see on the surface indicates that the neglect of the financial, economic, and social crises is becoming entrenched. The ruling elites are deliberately impoverishing and plundering Lebanon, ignoring all the major issues and failing to do the minimum to reinforce stability. They behave as though time is not of the essence in ending the presidential vacancy, which has gone for 13 months, though they acknowledge that naming a president is key to the normal functioning of the executive authority and institutions. Moreover, they have turned the fate of the army's command into a bazaar despite 40 days separating us from the end of the current commander Joseph Aoun's term!
The persistence in ignoring the desires and concerns of the people, as expressed in the ballot boxes when voters denied Hezbollah its parliamentary majority, is astonishing. Thus, no political party in the "opposition" has shown itself to be ready to engage in a battle of questioning and accountability dictated. Some "opposition forces" who reject the spoil-sharing system were content with occasionally raising the banner of liberating the republic and the presidency from perpetual vacancy. They added these calls to messages sent to foreign actors intended to make a statement or plead innocence.

Time and again, these forces raise catchy slogans about sovereignty. These slogans are mere smokescreens covering up their history of prioritizing their narrow, factional interests over building the state. The chronic lack of strategic vision is evident when they prioritize their minor internal disputes and the protection of their positions in the regime. Meanwhile, Hezbollah continues to move further with its project to establish "a different Lebanon" over the rubble of legitimacy and its institutions. It is promoted that "things will not be the same after the war in Gaza" and that stances on all domestic matters will harden!
It would not be surprising if Hezbollah claims credit for defending the Lebanese (...) thus, the time has come to settle accounts and allow key positions to fall into its grip. Hezbollah will claim the right to 'choose' the president and army commander for the Lebanese, after having defined the essence and role of these positions! This suggests that Lebanon's ordeal is going to be long, and it is challenging to discern how to begin overcoming the deadly crises and rescue the country from the militia-mafia alliance.