In one of his most aggressive speeches since the civil war, Walid Jumblatt said March 14 will go to war against Hizbullah if that’s what the militia wants. “Our existence, dignity and Lebanon are more important than anything else. You want disorder, so be it.”, he said, addressing Hizbullah and the forces he said are trying to bring back Syrian hegemony. ”You want war, so be it. We have no problem with weapons, no problem with missiles. We will take your ready-to-use missiles. We have no problem with martyrdom and suicide.”
واذا كنتم تظنون اننا سنقف مكتوفي الايدي فهذا امر من الخيال قد نضطر لحرق الاخضر واليابس، وجودنا وكرامتنا وبقاؤنا ولبنان اهم من كل شيء. تريدون الفوضى اهلا وسهلا بالفوضى. تريدون الحرب فاهلا وسهلا بالحرب. لا مشكل بالسلاح، ولا مشكل بالصواريخ، ناخذ الصواريخ منكم جاهزة. ولا مشكل بالاستشهاد والانتحار، كفانا اغتيال وكفانا تخوين وكفانا تحقير، لا يا سيد ليس هذا من مقامك ان تطل علينا في كل لحظة بهذا الكلام البذيء، اترك الغير، الحائط وغير الحائط (...) من امثال الموسوي وغير الموسوي. كفانا حرب مفتوحة مع اسرائيل تحت شعارات زائفة خدمة لطموحات النظام السوري والامبراطورية الايرانية. كفانا مربعات امنية، كفانا رفضكم للعدالة. مفضوح رفضكم للعدالة".
Jumblatt also rejected Hizbullah’s “open war” against Israel under “fake slogans that serve the Syrian regime and the Iranian empire”.
Jumblatt’s speech is a departure from the Politics of Job that have plagued the March 14 movement since its birth in 2005. At the risk of reading too much into Jumblatt’s statement, there appears to be a growing belief that the crisis will not be resolved peacefully. Last week, Hariri declared that the movement is ready for “confrontation” with Iran, Syria and their allies if “dragged” into one.
Hariri and Jumblatt have been rallying their supporters to take part in a anti-Syrian demonstration in downtown Beirut on February 14th to commemorate the third anniversary of the Hariri assassination. Hariri has just announced that he will be donate some $52 million dollars to develop Tripoli, in an apparent bid to keep his large Sunni base in that city happy, and boost the number of participants.
On Saturday Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa left Lebanon after failing to broker a settlement allowing the election of Michel Suleiman as president. Michel Aoun, who renewed his vows with Hassan Nasrallah last Wednesday on national television, refused to budge on the demand for veto power in the next government. Nasrallah’s Christian cover reportedly bragged about the “opposition”'s ability for obstruction from outside the government, suggesting that the parliament majority should not be afraid to give them veto power inside the government, given their power to bring the country to a halt without being in the government. An-Nahar reported inconsistencies between Berri and Aoun. The former had proposed a 10-10-10 power sharing formula for the post-election cabinet, something that Aoun said he wasn’t aware of. When asked about the inconsistency, Aoun reportedly left his meeting with Moussa, Hariri and Gemayel to make a phone call. He returned with “yes, but only if there is prior agreement on the identity of the next prime minister and top security officials”.
With Aoun reducing himself into a Hizbullah tool, and the patriarch calling on the international community to intervene, March 14 finds itself before an opportunity to be more aggressive. They probably have all the international support they could ask for to embark on an aggressive approach. The Saudis have finally agreed to fund the Hariri tribunal, and have grown exasperated with the Assad regime after the sabotage of the Arab initiative. Even Sarkozy, who had tried what Barack Obama is now preaching, is calling for a unified European voice against the Assad regime’s obstruction of the Lebanese presidential election. And now, Jumblatt and Hariri are, for the first time perhaps, putting a military conflict on the table.
There are those who could argue that another civil war is inevitable. Nothing else will stop the Hizbullah machine and the Assad regime agents. In their response to Jumblatt, Hizbullah described his statement as an “ant threatening a lion”. I highly doubt that Hizbullah’s opponents can be easily crushed, as the Hizbullah official seems to think. Hizbullah might have a temporary advantage should a war break out tomorrow, but it stands to lose a lot in the long run.
Regardless of what will happen, it’s about time someone on the March 14 side showed some muscle.