Lebanon at a Crossroads

  • 23 September 2007

 The recent assassination of Lebanese Member of Parliament Antoine Ghanem led to turmoil on the Lebanese political scene, just days before the scheduled date for the election of a new president by the parliament to replace the existing President, Emile Lahoud. The assassination dealt a strong blow to the welcome developments toward a “national reconciliation,” which were ushered in by the initiative of Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri, proposed at the end of last August. It seemed to have succeeded in bringing together forces of the opposition and the ruling majority, until the assassination reverted the situation to square one and put Lebanon at a critical crossroads.

The assassination of Antoine Ghanem at this time indicates that some elements are hell-bent on holding Lebanon in the vice-like grip of tensions and disturbances, and that they seek to disrupt the constitutional process so that the country remains in a political vacuum, which would lead to paralyzing its institutions and turning it into a dysfunctional entity. For this reason, it is important that all Lebanese forces, without exception, should be wary of the implications of this assassination, because this act has targeted the whole of Lebanon—its security, stability and the future of its people. For this reason, the answer lies in making a historic effort toward a reconciliation that could guarantee that the parliament convenes next Tuesday, and that Lebanon overcomes this difficult situation and clears impediments from the way of coexistence and the future of its people.

Undoubtedly, time constraints are increasing pressure on events in Lebanon. The parliamentary session, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, may witness difficulties amid heightening differences among various political forces. However, the danger of sedition and chaos must dawn upon various forces and they should make concerted and immediate efforts toward rescuing Lebanon from a disaster, whose consequences may be difficult to contain.

Although the major responsibility for averting the crisis lies with the Lebanese people themselves, Lebanon also needs the support of Arabs for overcoming the danger. There is news that some Arab forces are working on various initiatives on the Lebanese issue. Therefore, it is requested that all Lebanese parties respond positively to such initiatives and make efforts at rescuing Lebanon from sliding into an abyss. Everybody in Lebanon believes that the red line of a “civil war” should not be breached. However, it would be important to let actions speak louder than words, especially as the ghost of a war has started to loom over the Lebanese horizon.