Inter-Lebanese Dialogue is The Only Way to Overcome Crises

  • 6 March 2006

Lebanon's National Assembly Speaker Nabih Berri, seems to be the only way for the country to overcome the crisis triggered by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri last year. The move provides an alternative to the state of stagnation and the fear of civil strife that has been created by recent events, especially after various forces are taking to the streets to demonstrate their political might. Perhaps, it is important to note here that despite the deepening external threats for Lebanon and the involvement of several international parties by the United Nations for alleviating the country's problems, the process of an inter-Lebanese dialogue, without external intervention or patronage, is the first of its kind since the civil unrest of 1975-1990. This fact holds considerable political significance as it demonstrates a strong awareness in Lebanon that an exclusively indigenous process of negotiations and dialogue among the country's various parties could achieve a settlement for the country's problems. Such a settlement will have a better chance of being durable, provided it is founded on purely nationalistic considerations.

Certainly, the acute state of political polarization that Lebanon has witnessed in recent years, has raised anxieties in a country that has been trying to emerge from the ruins of a of civil war that lasted for over 15 years. However, by resorting dialogue for settling all outstanding issues, such as the concerns over Hezbollah's weapons, the controversy surrounding the presidency, the investigation of Hariri's assassination, the strategy over Sheba Farms and all issues raised by UN Resolution 1559, the country has raised hopes that it will eventually overcome its problems and emerge as a haven for civilization in the Arab world once again.

The meeting of all Lebanese parties around one table is in itself a great achievement, considering the serious disagreements and the sensitive nature of the issues on the agenda. It will be unfair to expect that the deliberations will solve all the thorny issues at once. What matters is that a process of dialogue has started and that all parties regard it as a practical option for thrashing out differences and solving crises. The option of dialogue underscores the conviction that it is the only way to dock the Lebanese vessel to safety.