Lebanon’s Arab Mistake…..Is the Second Coming?

By Sami Karam




Recent developments in the past week indicate that Lebanon today is facing the same crisis that saw the entry of the Syrians into Lebanon under the pretext of the Arab Deterrent Force; only this time, it is being orchestrated to confront the Iranian axe, rather than “our Palestinian brethren.”


The Arab league, by considering sending a joint Arab-International force to guarantee the security of the presidential elections, is acting in the same manner it did in 1976. The temptation for the Lebanese leaders of March 14 to accept this force is just as enticing as it was for the leaders of the Lebanese Front in 1976. Both had their backs to the wall and both had missiles pointed at their heads. While hindsight helps us judge how their decision affected Lebanon in the 70’s (and to this day), foresight and courage must now be drawn to prevent another 1976 debacle.


The latest of these developments that shed light on a dark situation include:

·        The communiqué from Arab League chief Amr Moussa to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, stating the need for an “Arab-International umbrella”,

·        The rejection by Nabih Berri to any international protection of the Presidential election,

·        The recent attack by Israeli jets on Syrian nuclear material provided by North Korea,

·        Hezbollah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan recent attempt to calm the situation by claiming that it may stay neutral if Iran and/or Syria were attacked and that only “demonstrations” would be carried out. He also stated that “things would be considered on time” and that they would respond to any US scheme “like we responded in the July (2006) war in case a war was staged on us, and we will confront politically if that (war) did not happen.” We then ask MP Hajj Hassan; would entry of foreign troops into Lebanon to protect the March 14 majority be a heated US scheme? In recent times there has been little to show that Hezbollah is free of foreign direction.


The letter written by MP Walid Jumblat (requesting international protection for the majority) to the international leaders concerned by the developments in Lebanon was addressed to the whole international community, which include some concerned Arab states and the Arab League. The international community made the mistake in 1976 to sanction a force primarily of Syrian-Arab nature and in practical Syrian command. If protection is requested, the international community must not repeat the same mistake and rather send a force that is of true international character, under international command.


The ability of the March 14 leadership to show courage and request international help would demonstrate that they are not simply replacing Shiite-Syrian dominance with Sunni-Arab dominance. They would go a long way in preventing another Sunni-Shiite front in Lebanon, securing Presidential elections, and reclaiming true freedom, sovereignty and independence. March 14 would also strengthen its own alliance by acting for Lebanon and not for any other state, no matter how friendly they may seem. Electing a President will not be the end of Lebanon’s journey to freedom, but only the beginning. Some issues that the Arab League may not agree with need to be dealt with by a President during his term, and the Lebanese need a “made in Lebanon” President, to courageously rid Lebanon of the weapons from Tehran, and not replace them with weapons from Riyadh.


March 14 are now faced with the job of acting like a parliamentary majority and flexing their democratic right on October 23rd for the sake of the Lebanese people. The Lebanese hope the leaders find the courage needed to reach this point, and move forward, rejecting consensus and half measures.


We saw how the election of Elias Sarkis as a consensus candidate only prolonged and managed a disastrous war. He came to power on the heels of the Arab Deterrent Force and found that he and Lebanon fell into the mouth of the lion. Why should consensus now be any different?


Yet the March 14 alliance today has an option that the Lebanese Front did not have. Today we see the Europeans and the Americans rallying around the Lebanese cause, whereas in 1976 we saw their negligence through the Kissinger Plan, and the Arab Deterrent force was presented as the only option. We urge the current decision makers within March 14; do not make the Arab mistake twice!


As it is clear to see that the March 14 alliance is a Sunni-Christian-Druze partnership, France presents itself as the most ideal nation to head an international security force to protect the parliamentary majority as they elect a new head of state, and to ensure that the election is respected, with one government ruling Lebanon.


Of the Arab League we ask, why the insistence on the Arab-International? As if somehow the Arab world is excluded from the International community. Please excuse the Lebanese if there is still a bitter taste in their mouths from the last Arab expedition to “help” Lebanon.


As for the weapons of the “resistance”. When the Israeli Army and their Lebanese allies liberated the Shiites in the south from the Palestinian choke, silent relief was in the air. In 2000, after the IDF withdrew, Israeli checkpoints were replaced with Hezbollah flags without one bullet being fired. So enough with the smoke and mirrors deception! A President with the March 14 spirit is coming that will need to deal with the weapons, not of the resistance, but that of the last remaining militia. The choice for Hezbollah is clear. Does this President come with true Lebanese political strength to find a political solution? Or does he come with an international force to implement UNSC 1559?


And God help us all if he comes on the heels of the Arab chameleon!