Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Hanna Saleh

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Assassinating The ‘Independence Uprising’ Paved The Way For Hezbollah's Hegemony

When it began "distracting" the enemy "in support of Gaza" on October 8th, Hezbollah was confident that the home front would acquiesce. Indeed, Hezbollah has imposed its decisions on the country. It was assured that the majority opposed its decision to drag Lebanon into a destructive war that would have no impact, and it does not take seriously the statements denouncing its foreign agenda issued by the "opposition" of the sectarian regime.
It has been more than five months since Hezbollah instigated its "mini-war," doubling down on a policy that has cost Lebanon dearly, with 325 lives already lost. Hezbollah is not concerned by the scale of the horror and destruction in tens of border towns that have been reduced to scorched earth, and from which between 130,000 and 150,000 people have been displaced after Israel replicated its attacks on Gaza to impose a security belt! This raises the question of how "the party" became powerful enough to lead the country in whichever direction it wants and "subdue" its supposed opponents!
To do so, it seems that we must refer back to the events of 2005, exactly 19 years after March 14. On March 13, the committee that had emerged from the "Bristol Gathering" (a political bloc opposed to the presence of Syrian troops on Lebanese territory) held a meeting. The attendees discussed logistics and how to ensure that the mass protest scheduled for the new day would be a success. They were comforted by their confidence that 500,000 Lebanese would head to the streets in response to Hezbollah and its axis's protest to "Thank Syria"!
The scene of the next day surpassed even the most optimistic expectations. More than one million and a half Lebanese citizens showed up, making it the largest protests Lebanon had ever seen. They raised the Lebanese flag, called for the withdrawal of the Syrian army, and demanded truth, justice, and the prosecution of the major figures of the police. It was the climax of the "Independence Uprising." Nonetheless, seeing power-hungry politicians jostling to get on the podium, and hearing the things some of them said in their speeches, Samir Kassir felt compelled to warn us that "it's over"!"
This popular protest was supposed to oust the isolated president, Emile Lahoud, a symbol of the police state. Instead, the sectarian leaders of the March 14 Forces feared their people and rushed to conclude the "Quadripartite Agreement" with Hezbollah, the head of the resistance axis. They chose to reinforce the sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing regime, a "federation of sects" as the writer Rafiq Khoury called it, deviating from the course that had been set by the Taif Agreement. They abandoned Lebanese citizens' dreams of reinstating the constitution and building a normal state in which laws are respected, freedoms are safeguarded, and people compete based on their merit.
As a result, the "Independence Uprising" was assassinated, and it became impossible to correct the national power imbalance that had been imposed by the Syrian army, whose control over the country had been facilitated by the tragedies of the civil war, which culminated in the destruction of the "War of Elimination" that Michel Aoun had declared against his opponents, the Lebanese Forces.
The "Quadripartite Agreement" and the subsequent "July War" both empowered Hezbollah to gradually chip away at state institutions, and they led to the "Black Shirts’'" invasion of Beirut on May 8, 2008, paving the way for the sin that was "Doha Agreement." This "agreement" left the country beholden to arbitrary concoctions instead of the constitution, most notably the "blocking third," which granted Hezbollah the right to veto state decisions. This "agreement" also imposed the inclusion of the famous "Army, People, and Resistance" mantra in the ministerial statements of all the governments formed since then. In turn, Hezbollah turned its back on the army and the people, fortifying its parallel statelet.
"National unity" governments provided cover for its hijacking of the state and overlooked its violations of UN Resolution 1701. These governments also covered for its demonization of the Resolution with claims that it protects the enemy's borders - in fact, the Resolution had forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon and offered us a security guarantee. It soon became clear that Hezbollah could not reconcile the role entrusted to the party with the Resolution, and that to implement it would be to shoot itself in the foot!
The climate created by the "federation of sects" and its patronage networks gave rise to an extremely dangerous "presidential settlement" in 2016. It reaffirmed the success of the coup against the "Independence Uprising" and was the culmination of the coup against the "Taif Agreement" and the republic. The first time, it happened when the country was under the control of Syrian occupiers, and the second time, it was under the control of Hezbollah and its Iranian agenda. Afterward, things were bundled together and the intelligence of the people was insulted with claims that the March 14 forces, which won a parliamentary majority in 2005 and 2009, had been prevented from governing by the presence of arms.
In reality, they did not try to govern or develop a governance program. Let us remember that, the night of his major electoral victory in 2009, Saad Hariri raised the slogan "We all live under the skies of Lebanon" and his government granted Hezbollah and its camp the "blocking third," allowing them to bring down his government the moment Hariri entered the White House in 2011. Since then, Hezbollah has formed Lebanon's government and shaped its public policies, which were approved by others!
Early on, the opposition of the sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing regime removed itself from the decision making process. It prioritized narrow factional interests and each party devoted itself to maximizing its share of the spoils within the regime, strengthening sectarian leaders whose quables have led to the implosion of remnants of the state. These regime parties have lost their national legitimacy, as they left institutions to crumble and allowed the state to be ripped apart. Moreover, by covering up for the encroachment of the mini-state by joining Hezbollah's governments as well as parliamentary committees, they allowed the Mullah regime to tighten its grip.
This merely rhetorical opposition does not bother Hezbollah. It does nothing to undermine its role or hinder its accumulation of greater political power, especially as the facade of state authority now lies in the hands of Nabih Berri and Najib Mikati, both of whom have passed their loyalty test, consolidating the marginalization of the presidency.
Although this state of affairs has disrupted all efforts to find solutions, the mafioso alliance, the child of the sectarian-quota-based spoil-sharing regime, was not deterred by the horrors of an open-ended war on the Lebanese or the expansion of the scope of Zionist attacks to Baalbek. It has gone ahead with its plan to deliberately impoverish the country and its people. The political, ministerial, parliamentary, and militia cartel of plunder now has its sights on Lebanon's state assets and gold reserves, which it wants to liquidate to line the pockets of the mafia of arms and corruption.