The Danger of Political Deadlock in Lebanon

  • 10 April 2007

The statement by Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah last Sunday sent a shocking political message, not only to the Lebanese people that have been hoping for a political settlement of the crises through dialogue, but also to Arabs who have sought and are still seeking through many formulas and initiatives—the means to help Lebanese parties resolve the crises that Lebanon has been witnessing for many months.

In what looks like closing the page on dialogue, or as some would say announcing the death of a political solution, Nasrallah confirmed that the dialogue between opposition forces and the majority had failed and had reached a dead end. He indicated that there was no longer any “horizon for a political solution through dialogue.” The secretary general of Hezbollah did not stop at that, he also closed the door on any future political settlement. He stressed that any new dialogue by the “forces of majority” with the same mindset would fail, and that the only solution was to take to the streets, through either public referendum or early elections.

Although Nassrallah has affirmed that the opposition will not be dragged into a new civil war and has said he considered it a red line, the deadlock in Lebanon instantly opens the arena to a host of dangerous scenarios, including civil wars. These fears stem from the current dangerous sectarian and political tensions that have obvious political implications, especially after the opposition took to the streets and is still holding a protracted sit-in demonstration. This has led to sectarian violence that has already claimed 10 lives.

Only dialogue could prevent a confrontation and drive away the dread of civil war, which would lead to a political solution of the crisis, irrespective of the complexities of the issue. For this reason, the recent statement by Nasrallah to all the concerned parties that Lebanon was heading toward a steep slide could be more dangerous than any slide in its modern history, and this requires a fast and serious action to save it from falling into this slide. If the words of Nasrallah have announced the death of a political settlement, it does not mean that the option of dialogue is not available. However, the matter requires awareness by all parties, internal and external, which are concerned about the Lebanese crises. This explosion will not contain its devastating results to its borders, but would spread to the whole region, due to the complexity of the crises and its regional intersections, and that would lead to the creation of hotspots in a way that may have never happened before.

For this reason, the door to dialogue should not be closed on Lebanon, and all capable parties should endeavor to keep it open, even if the achievements are slow and tedious, so that it moves swiftly and effectively in the upcoming period.