The Shiite 'Train' Rolls in Lebanon
Daoud Shirian Al-Hayat - 15/11/06//
The collective resignation of the Shiite ministers from PM Siniora's government is believed to have been aimed at obstructing the resolution on the international tribunal investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minster Rafik al-Hariri, even if the Shiite opposition's claim that the rejection of a national unity government was the reason behind its sudden resignation.

The end result, however, was that this opposition did not achieve its declared or real target. And despite its momentary failure, its train is still moving forward and, as announced by MP Hassan Fadlallah, 'will not stop at anything before reaching its desired destination'.

The destination implied here goes far beyond the international tribunal, and is more important than the mere protection of an individual, a group of individuals, or even a regime or a State, since what took place last Sunday must be viewed from the perspective of 'rectifying the Shiite partnership' in the rule of Lebanon.
While the Shiite ministers' resignation should not be viewed as separate from the Hariri assassination file, its objective, however, goes beyond the Hariri case, for we are before a case of sectarian and ideological alignment, despite the difference between Hezbollah and the Amal movement.

In fact, we are before a serious undertaking to shape the Islamic role in the ruling of Lebanon, as Hezbollah seeks to capitalize on the Shiite domination in Iraq, with remarks on the large number of Shiites in Lebanon and, consequently, to create a similar political reality there.

So far, no one has spoken of the details of the 'outcome' of the Shiite ministers' move. No one from Hezbollah or its supporters has ever said, for example, that the Shiites have their eyes set on the premiership in Lebanon; especially since Hezbollah, and through the statements of all its leaders (Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah included), have refused any discussion of the possibility of exchanging the Party's arms for domestic gains or destabilizing the internal front.

Hezbollah's recent move, however, suggests otherwise. For, since the passing of international resolutions aimed at its curtailment and disarmament, it has been working in a pre-emptive way to create a political situation that would protect it from any potential losses after its disarmament.

If this political situation does not mount to a civil war - a possibility that has not completely been ruled out - then the Party will only be left with attempting to change the position of the Shiites within the ruling hierarchy. This desire to bring about changes in the ruling hierarchy stems from Hezbollah's feeling of its growing influence at the domestic level: an outcome that has been warned against by the majority of the Lebanese. This warning, however, was met with accusations of treason and collaboration.

But will Lebanon be forced to pay the price for Hezbollah's ambitions? Certainly not! For, despite the Party's strength and its monopoly of arms, no one in Lebanon would accept the logic of using force to bring about change, as this logic was previously resorted to in the 1970s, and the outcome was war. At the same time, if Hezbollah is considering changes within the Islamic sects in Lebanon, it is on a collision course with the Lebanese Sunnis, who will not yield to change as a result of the logic of using force, especially in light of Hezbollah's dubious stance toward the Hariri assassination file. Furthermore, other sects, such as the Lebanese Christians, are not expected to yield to the logic of using force, out of fear of being the next target for marginalization.
Hezbollah, however, appears disinterested in others' opinions of the destination of its 'train' that has departed and, until this moment, Hezbollah has been saying indirectly that there must be a price to pay for giving up its arms.

True, Hezbollah has not named a price or the nature of it, but it is acting accordingly. And unless it succeeds to secure a political price it deems satisfactory, the alternative for giving up its arms would be a civil war. It is, after all, Hezbollah, which dragged Lebanon into a devastating war for the sake of protecting its arms, and is ready to go into a civil war for the same reason.

There is little doubt that the grim situation in Lebanon is becoming bleaker. The reason for this is that the ongoing conflict does not abide by the rules of democracy, even if it appeared to be doing so in some of its previous stages. It is also a conflict, not only over the interest of Lebanon, but over the gains to be achieved by one side at the expense of others.

In conclusion, the only way out of this crisis is for Hezbollah to abandon the logic of force and arms.
The way out of this crisis lies in resorting to political means and granting people the opportunity to express their opinion on the ongoing developments, as continuing with this intransigence would mean that Lebanon is simply moving fast in the direction of the Iraq 'station'. Should Lebanon reach the same condition of Iraq, Syria will be the greatest looser.

Accordingly, Syria is required to produce a change in its polices toward Lebanon, abandon the vendetta doctrine, and try to play a role different than the role it played in the past. For, without a political approach from Hezbollah, and without Syria's support of this approach, Lebanon is edging closer toward a new civil war. And if Lebanon falls, Syria will reach the same end, only much quicker