Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Hezbollah’s giving up on Lebanon?

During a speech and here on Sunday, the leader of Hezbollah, sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, seemed to be giving up on Lebanon. He has even lost interest in one of the key demands, namely a veto power in government, and now simply confines himself to stating that he prefers a stalemate. Anyone seeing kids play will easily recognize this sort of behavior: a toddler usually prefers destroying a toy to giving it to another child.

Nasrallah sees no reason to continue talking with the pro-government parties, will no longer discuss the issues of the blocking vote and is ready to accept many more months of stalemate. He wouldn’t mind early elections or a referendum, but he doesn’t really expect this to happen anytime soon.

It seems his speech was a reaction to the escalation of the March 14 movement last week by sending a petition to the UN to bypass parliament. As predicted in my previous blog, the Opposition is running out of options and for now, appears to be content with letting the stand still continue. The alternative would be civil war no less and Nasrallah, ever the gentleman, prefers the current stalemate. Good to know we don’t have to pack our bags just yet!

What a bizarre way of looking at things: why would the alternative to stalemate be civil war? Whatever happened to further dialogue or eventually accepting the fact you can’t always get what you want?

Once again it goes to show that Lebanon is not yet ready for democracy, or at least no all politicians are. Normally, a democracy has a ruling coalition and an opposition, but the Lebanese opposition wants to rule as well. This is not a new thing suddenly invented by Hezbollah for Lebanese previous governments have always included pretty much all factions.

As such, elections here hardly used to have meaning. A typical shift would be from one zaim (feudal lord) to the next, but the fundaments of power were rock solid. However, the 2005 elections changed all this with the landslide victory of anti-Syrian parties. Suddenly, the election outcome did matter and as a result the politicians are still trying to cope with this, especially those who lost.

As can be expected, the pro-government politicians (or blogs for that matter) cried foul at Nasrallah’s speech. He has broken the illusion that a solution is possible and the others don’t really appreciate his candor. It forces everybody to face reality, something most politicians don’t mind postponing.

In that sense, the speech can act as a catalyst to help forward the process, but right now that’s wishful thinking. Still, if you want to give Hezbollah the benefit of the doubt, his speech can be seen as a final call for action, to put the cat among the pigeons.