Dangerous Escalation in Lebanon

  • 14 December 2010

Even as the Special Tribunal for Lebanon decision is expected on the probe into the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Al Hariri the country witnesses a dangerous escalation between Hezbollah and forces of the March 14 alliance. Such an escalation can lead the country into a catastrophic slide if the matter is not prevented from deteriorating further in times to come. Hezbollah has rejected the Court’s decision beforehand on the ground that it may implicate its elements in the assassination case. On the other hand, the March 14 alliance insists that all parties abide by the International Court of Justice verdict. There is a danger that the debate over the judgment might exceed normal political discourse and lead to accusations and warnings which might put Lebanon in a difficult position in times to come.

Those in the Arab world are making efforts to bring the situation under control and various moves are being made to deal with the new political crisis that the country finds itself in. This reflects the extent of Arab and international concern over the possibility of Lebanon sliding into chaos if matters continue to escalate and political tensions aggravate. If that is the case then the various Lebanese factions should seriously cooperate and make efforts to diffuse tension and prevent a conflagration in the country. This is important because without cooperation and without a will from within to reach a settlement, no effort, be it regional or international, would achieve the desired objectives.

Lebanon’s slide into internal conflict is not in the interest of any party or force in the country because in such a situation interests of everyone will be harmed. There will be no winners, but the state of Lebanon, its people and the model, will be the biggest loser. There might be differences of opinion over the trial, its mechanism and other related issues, yet regardless of the decision that is arrived at, no reason justifies disturbing Lebanon’s stability, creating a civil war like situation, using weapons inappropriately and harming the resources of the country. Dispute over the verdict demonstrates a tense political situation in Lebanon for which only temporary solutions have so far been found. Whether the matter relates to Court or not, unless the matter is dealt with seriously, Lebanon will remain in a vicious cycle of tension and confrontation.