Those of us with memory recall how the Assad regime manipulated the Lebanese system and pit political players from each community against one another with every major turning point. Today's events are no different, though the moukhabarat has been replaced with Hizbullah. While Hizbullah was unsuccessful in breaching the Sunnis, they managed to break the Christian Maronites in half, and spooked the Druze—or at least their leader—into becoming a neutral if not negative force.
If you are still unclear on what the real issue is, then look no further than the archives of this very blog. This telecommunication ministry demand is nothing but Hizbullah working to keep its own illegal telecom network and spying efforts running. Aoun has become the paid defender of their interests: Hizbullah pays him by elevating him into a power figure. He successfully, thanks to Jumblatt's exit from March 14, managed to change the subject and make the discussion about him, and not Hizbullah.
While this suits the self-centered Aoun, this does not bode well for the country. Several key issues are not being discussed, at least not in the open. Paramount among them is Hizbullah's weapons. Aoun's charades somehow made that issue seem insignificant or appear "divisive", until the patriarch brought it up again. Sfeir's statement was a reminder to all, that while they were busy playing by Aoun's rules, a significant issue was being overlooked. Why can't that issue also be a hot issue, given what happened when Hizbullah invaded Beirut and the Chouf, using weapons it claimed were meant for the resistance?
Has March 14, or, as they choose to call it these days, "the parliament's majority", become so emasculated that it cannot even set the topic of discussion? Who is going to protect the people who elected the majority to parliament? If Aoun gets his ministries, will people become safer? Will the rule of law apply to Hizbullah, the SSNP and the extremists that are being fluffed by a decrepit Assad regime?
One can easily blame Jumblatt for putting his weapons down, and choosing the path of "national dialogue" and the new emerging "Arabo-Iranism". But the man is getting old. And he has no real support from outside—an unfortunate requirement for Lebanese politicians. With Europe, the United States and some Arab countries thinking they could "engage" the Assad regime or at least force a divorce between Assad and Ahmadinejad, Jumblatt is left with no real political backing for himself and his community. So he has convinced himself that the old path was right, and that the March 14 days were a wrong detour. At least the old is predictable. Ships never came to stop Hizbullah from invading his commune and that of his friends, and he had no desire to wage war at this old age.
This is not to offer excuses for his behavior, but just to remind ourselves that March 14, just as "March 8", was doomed to failure without some consistent and strong external support. The Lebanese formula and the situation in the country dictate it. The Lebanese are too stuck in their uncivil ways to form an effective movement that could change this formula overnight. Think of Hizbullah's occupation of downtown Beirut: the message was clear: we can counter your popular movement with the same, even if our people are farm animals to your sexy hippies.
Sadly, at the end of the day, and from this vantage point, this isn't about Lebanon. There are far more important issues in the eyes of the big players. It's a sad realization: Lebanon's independence is dependent on the generosity of others. Freethinking is slave to a massive delusion stemming from conspiracy theories, unrealized dreams, and contagious bloodshed.
Perhaps one day a new generation will manage to find a new way out. Until that happens, I think the Lebanese owe it to themselves to not let red herrings like Aoun steal the show.