Coups by the Opposition and the Majority
Abdullah Iskandar Al-Hayat - 03/12/06//
Lebanon's Prime Minster Fouad Siniora commented during his reception of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Beirut, that he was enduring a vicious campaign by Hezbollah and its allies.

However, Hezbollah did not show any reaction to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's reception of Blair's envoy that followed shortly after, while Damascus considered the British envoy's visit a breach of the sanctions imposed on it by the West.

Irrespective of the content or the outcome of Blair's talks in Beirut, or those of his envoy in Damascus, Hezbollah's stance could mean that a particular foreign relation embarked on by the Siniora government is essentially against the national interest of Lebanon; while at the same time, it is in Damascus's national interest to maintain an identical relation.

This does not mean that direct Syrian orders are behind all the Party's reactions and moves, but rather that any official Lebanese stance is suspicious, unless it is identical to what Syria considers is national interest.

This is the essential reason behind the Party's opposition: the legitimate government adheres to political stances that do not take Syrian requirements into consideration. It also adheres to international resolutions on interference in Lebanese affairs, and the ban of illegitimate weapons, and an international tribunal on the assassinations carried out in Lebanon.

Despite the Party's denial of being motivated by Syria's political demands, issues being challenged by Syria are at the center of all the Party's objections.
In this context, Hezbollah and its allies are talking about a coup carried out by the current Lebanese government, as past governments undergone by Hezbollah since its establishment were created in a form which Damascus deemed fit.

Due to Syria's confrontational situation with Israel, these governments had intentionally avoided interfering in Hezbollah's affairs, if not also to facilitate their strategies in Lebanon, until the Party became a separate entity from the State, with its own, independent finances, arsenal, security, media and economic apparatus.

Shortly after the Syrian withdrawal in the wake of the assassination of Hariri and the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, parliamentary elections in Lebanon brought a new and different parliamentary majority to power for the first time since the end of the civil war.
This new majority caused an interruption in the political line of previous governments, and rebelled against the situation Lebanon had come to under these governments.

Hezbollah realized that such a coup would seek to revoke anything that was not in line with the State's resolve and legitimacy, which was the force behind its creation and the justification for Syrian meddling, and which include the proliferation of arms and the peace and war issue.

When this majority now accuses Hezbollah and its allies of planning a political coup, it essentially opposes the return of the situation to its status before the Syrian withdrawal and the reconnection of the Lebanese and Syrian stances toward the issues of confrontation with Israel and foreign affairs.

That is why Tony Blair did not make an official visit, but sent a secret envoy to Damascus to conduct serious talks, making a passing protocol visit to Beirut. The International Tribunal, therefore, is no longer an issue of concern, so long as decision-making regarding the Tribunal is not in the hands of those who would benefit from its reaching a verdict.

Hezbollah does not perceive Lebanon's relations with the outside world from the perspective of sovereignty, but as a means in its battle against the International Tribunal, which, despite all the justifications and criticism against Siniora's government, remains the main reason behind the resounding division with the government, with the hope of changing the balance of power in an attempt to reduce the damage expected from this tribunal to a minimum.
Hezbollah and its allies have taken to the street, and started a stay-in strike, demanding a change in the government's balance of power.

Regardless of the intentional confusion between the right to oppose and the means of producing a change of government in Lebanon, and the manifestations of trends trying to establish a tradition that defies constitutions and laws, as dangerous as all this is, the Hezbollah Party cannot pull out from the streets before achieving some gain to justify its decision.

At the same time, Siniora, along with the majority, does not seem to be willing to accept a change in the government's balance of power without first guaranteeing Lebanon's acceptance of the International Tribunal, and maybe even compromises on a number of issues, including the presidency of the Republic.
In its first two days, activity on the street has remained within the acceptable levels of peacefulness, and may continue as such.

A more serious threat, however, lies in the fact that these protests have begun to consolidate a sectarian division which everyone is trying to deny it exists. This denial will lead to the re-establishment of Syria's relations with this division, at the backdrop of the intensity of the showdown over the International Tribunal.
In light of the existing regional situation, this division is preventing all sides from achieving any of their objectives, since sectarian strife strips politics from its meaning and essence.

With the possibility of aborting the International Tribunal adhered to by the government, Hezbollah risks exhausting any credit it may once have had by slipping into any form of sectarian conflict