Trouble is brewing in the fake paradise that is the new Lebanese cabinet. Hizbullah wants the ministerial statement to bestow legitimacy upon its weapons. Yesterday, the militia reared its ugly head again to threaten actions similar to the May 7th attack on Beirut, if the cabinet does not give the “resistance” its right to bear arms outside the state’s authority. We used force to protect our weapons, Mohammad Raad warned, and we'll do it again.
Who knows what compromise they will reach. A Qatari delegation has arrived in the country to mediate, so expect a miracle or two, minus the excitement that accompanied the Doha agreement.
Meanwhile, the demons of yesteryear are having a feast in the country, having been successfully unleashed by Hizbullah's time machine.
The first consequence was the neutralization of March 14's official slayer, Jumblatt, who has seemingly mellowed just in time for the elections. As-Safir even predicted, perhaps falsely, that he would be leaving March 14 "through the gate of Palestine and Arabism". Suddenly, the anti-Syrian stance that created bonds that otherwise would not have existed, has ceased to provide him with motivation to go forward in his mission to transform the status quo.
Jumblatt's battle now is for coexistence with the demons, some internal, some external in the form of Hizbullah, whom he once aggravated so badly they began to implode. The flip-flopper or the pragmatist, however you want to see him, is now trying to go out of his way to reconcile the “resistance” with March 14’s stated agenda.
The problem with Jumblatt’s position is that it gives more to Hizbullah than to his own group, which is now suffering the Druze leader’s return to championing "Arabism" and the Palestinian cause. Jumblatt, expressing frustration with the US role in Lebanon, has been dealing in contradictions. He said the March 14 revolution will not extend to the Arab world if not coupled with the Palestinian cause. In the last three years, he said, "we forgot the Palestinian cause and at times acted outside our core Arab principles".
With the July 2006 war and the destruction that befell Lebanon terrifying examples of what those Arab principles could bring, it is disheartening to see Jumblatt creating a middle ground by distancing himself from his allies and hearkening back to expired slogans that he knows are only good for elections, or in a wider Arab context, maintaining despotism. His man Wael Abou Faour may have found a name for Jumblatt's new pursuit, Democratic Arabism, but this doesn't make his boss's stance any less… unfortunate.
March 14’s challenge has always been to disengage Lebanon from the regional conflicts, and from the mentality that led the country, as well as the region, to the current situation, creating and conferring legitimacy upon parasitic groups such as Hizbullah. One needs not be a disbeliever in the rights of Palestinians to self determination to qualify as a Lebanese nationalist. Jumblatt's late realization that Lebanese nationalism, as reborn after March 14th 2005, needs to be connected to Palestine, is a sad testimony that the man admired by many for his anti-Syrian and anti-Hizbullah stances has succumbed to his own demons. So what we have now, is this justification, as offered by Abou Faour:
In response to a question on Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Walid Jumblatt’s recent political stance, Abou Faour said the PSP was “fighting the battle of democratic Arabism.”
“We were not calling for sovereignty in order to isolate Lebanon. But if anyone imagines that MP Walid Jumblatt will abandon his history, they would be totally wrong,” he noted.
“We will not beg for any alliance or any position. We had our independent position within March 14 coalition, and we believe that we should provide new open horizons and directions. This is the conviction of the March 14 alliance, as well as that of Walid Jumblatt,” he added.
Abou Faour also said that the Lebanese people should reach an agreement on national issues.
To quote Hazem Al Amin in a recent Now Lebanon editorial, Walid Jumblatt is not qualified to lead March 14. He has too many skeletons in his closet, and his status as a sectarian zaim always comes first. But then, most of the March 14 leaders are defined by the same criteria.
It’s not easy to share your house with demons. It’s even more difficult to wage battles against them, knowing that the end of the day, there is only one house, and that those demons can walk in and out of your soul at their convenience.