Rising Tensions in Lebanon

  • 24 January 2011

The most serious sign in Lebanon’s current political crisis is its rapid escalation and it’s becoming more complicated by each passing day. Such developments are building up, creating a complex mesh of mini-crises that threaten to drag the country into a state of political chaos and paralysis.

The immediate cause of the crisis is the difference in positions towards the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL) investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri between the March 14 alliance (which supports the STL) and the March 8 alliance (that rejects the STL and is skeptical about it). However, the differences do not end at this point; it is reflected on the entire Lebanese political scene. This is evident from the collapse of the coalition government and the huge controversy over the naming of a new prime minister, as well as wars of words between differing forces. This raises regional and international concerns regarding the stability and security of Lebanon and the future of coexistence among its citizens.

What is alarming is that incidents are unfolding rapidly, leading to an explosion of differences without any signs of change in the positions of conflicting parties. Moreover, efforts made by various external parties to control the situation and prevent it from sliding into a civil strife are facing great difficulty, and there is no sign that it is going to achieve a significant breakthrough in the course of the crisis that could prevent it from aggravating or reaching the point of no return.

The STL has scheduled a public hearing on February 7 over the discussion of a draft indictment, to be submitted by the Tribunal's prosecutor Daniel Bellemare. This means that the tribunal is well on its way to conclude the process and is showing no signs of a possible compromise that could be reached about the tribunal in the Lebanese arena. Undoubtedly, the perpetuity of the status quo until the tribunal issues its final ruling would place the country into a highly critical situation as Hezbollah and the March8 alliance have already rejected the tribunal’s legitimacy and its ruling, by accusing it of being politicized and biased.

Recently, many countries have called for the protection of Lebanon and for maintaining the security and integrity of its territories, keeping in view the gravity of the situation and the unfolding events on the Lebanese stage, as well as the possible consequences of such a tack if the deadlock continues to manage positions. It's important for the different Lebanese forces to become more aware than others of the grave situation that the country could reach under their rising tensions and disputes. Hence, they bear the historic responsibility of protecting Lebanon, freeing themselves of narrow factional interests for the sake of supreme national interest.