Saturday, May 10, 2008

Déjà vu all over again

“Déjà vu all over again”…again panic shopping for food, again wondering how to pack your life in the trunk of your car, again back in our mountain house in Qartaba during a war like situation. Last time, it was the Israeli aggression; this time around we are here because of Hezbollah’s broken promise of not using their weapons against their fellow Lebanese.

For most people affected by the violence, the difference between the Jews and Hezbollah won’t matter much. War is war and who does what is only relevant once in safety.

Hezbollah has pretty much crushed all resistance and has torched down the buildings of Future TV and the Hariri Organization. God only knows what these buildings have to do with fighting Israel, but perhaps the Party of God has inside information on this. To the rest of the Lebanese, it must have become crystal clear that Hezbollah has been fighting their Lebanese over…over what exactly? A few phone lines and to keep a friend in position as head of Airport Security. That guy surely must have some wasta with Nasrallah!

From the snippets of news from friends and the TV, it seems that Hamra is teeming with Hezbollah fighters as well as people from the Syrian Nationalist Party. The latter party has been busy putting up posters of Syrian president Bashar Assad and of their own party in an attempt to turn back the clock to before April 2005.

A journalist friend told me he has never seen so many Hezbollah fighters in the streets. And believe you me, this journalist has seen his share of militias. It confirms that Hezbollah has been planning this for some time and it certainly explains the smirks of Nasrallah during his press conference two days ago. Only two days ago, it seems more like two weeks.

Hezbollah has proven to be the most powerful militia by far. Future Movement’s fighters didn’t stand a chance. And who would have thought they would be able to stand up against Hezbollah that withstood Israel’s aggression for a month with relative ease?

What was typical for Lebanon is that Hezbollah could easily have pushed all the way through. They could easily have pulled Jumblatt out of his Clemenceau palace and Hariri out of his Qoreitem’s. And hey, while they were at it, they could have stopped by the Serail palace to get rid of Siniora as well.

But they didn’t. So many times in Lebanese history, the most powerful party backed down from full victory and Hezbollah showed to be no exception. Somehow that is reassuring inasmuch Hezbollah will hopefully realize that military might does not necessarily translate into political power.

It will be difficult, though, for Hezbollah to return to the negotiation table. They are the ones holding the guns and we all know the guy with the gun is always right. Surely, there is no need for the Opposition to restart negotiations. They have shown to be in full military control and it must be quite tempting to start dictating orders. And yet, negotiation is the only road to a solution.

Lebanon is a notoriously divided country and hardly ever a country filled with different religions was held together by force. Actually, come to think of it, hardly ever a country successfully existed that consisted of different religions in equal proportions. We can only hope Lebanon is an exception to this unwritten rule. Fifteen years of civil war as well as the events of the last few days do not exactly inspire hope, though.