Lebanese Crisis: Between Words and Action

  • 23 April 2007

The Lebanese crisis has become more complicated after the Legal Adviser to the UN Secretary General, Nicola Michel, failed to forge a peace accord during his recent visit to Lebanon over the formation of an international tribunal on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Michel declared that the international tribunal would be instituted in accordance with “Chapter Seven” of the UN Charter, if it became impossible to achieve through the internal mechanism provided by the Lebanese constitution. This would imply giving an international dimension to the case, which could lead to more disputes and clashes between the contending parties in the future. Although Michel felt the Security Council may establish the tribunal based on Article 41 of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter—that states a mandatory use of force and not Article 42 that only allows the use of force—Hezbollah has warned that the establishment of a tribunal by the Security Council would threaten Lebanese stability. Hezbollah said such a move would have a disastrous impact on the country. However, Lebanese parliamentary majority insists on the establishment of the tribunal, and the United Nations has called for its passing, in case Lebanese institutions are unable to accomplish the mission.
In the recent past, various Lebanese parties from the opposition as well as the majority have issued assurances that they would never be part of a civil war, despite differences over the establishment of an international tribunal. Undoubtedly, this positive approach comes from a country that has suffered the destructive impact of civil war for several years. However, the most important thing is that this approach should be implemented and should reflect itself in the resolutions, policies, and actions of all parties, in order to maintain national unity and to narrow the differences among parties. However, matters are heading toward greater polarization and deep differences at a time when many Arab parties, in addition to the United Nations, seem unsuccessful in pushing the Lebanese parties toward an agreement. In such a situation, any talk of a rejection of the civil war or calling it a red line will be of little significance.

All past indicators show an important truth that all Lebanese parties, without any exception, bear the responsibility of safely and peacefully resolving the prevailing political crisis, and without a real Lebanese will for a settlement, no external party can effect a positive intervention. A rigid and intransigent position cannot perpetually guide the Lebanese crisis, and things would only regress if no progress is made. Perhaps, the controversy surrounding the international tribunal is proof of this reality.