To Prevent a Violent Outbreak in Lebanon

  • 20 December 2010

Tensions have significantly escalated in Lebanon recently owing to differences over the International Court of Justice investigations into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri. Dangerous political vocabulary has been used on the issue reflecting the degree of sensitivity attached to it and the difficulty that Lebanon faces on this issue. Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir warned that Hezbollah might stage a coup and urged former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel not to revive the era of federations and private projects for each party in the country. There is a major dispute between Hezbollah and March 14 Forces over the International Court of Justice. Hezbollah questions the Court’s integrity and considers it a politicized court while the March 14 Forces insist upon it, rejecting any efforts to abort its verdict. So far nothing has emerged out of the shadows and not one attempt has been made to settle the dispute even as reports suggest that the Court is nearing indictment. This judgment notwithstanding, the situation can ignite trouble in Lebanon in times of come.

Controversy over the differences of opinion among political parties in the country does not mean danger in itself and could even make political discourse in the country more vital. However, it can only happen within a national framework based on respect for institutions. The ultimate principles that could not be compromised with include maintaining the security of the state, its stability and the integrity of the relationship among its sects. But what appears to be happening in Lebanon is that, owing to the prevailing differences on this issue, the state’s institutions have been paralyzed and its security, political and cultural stability have been undermined. Whatever justifications drive each party in Lebanon to adopt their respective stands towards the International Court of Justice, there is no choice before them but to reach a compromise through dialogue under the umbrella of national institutions.

Efforts have been made by Saudi Arabia and Syria, as well as other regional and international parties, to restore balance and avoid escalation. They are aware of the regional and international implications of the danger facing Lebanon and feel it is important to build positive engagement among different forces as their ultimate target is the interest of the Lebanese people. At a time when sign of civil conflict in Lebanon appears on the horizon the Middle East has already witnessed what such a conflict can do. They create divisions domestically, threaten unity and go against national interests. This should motivate Lebanese people to work sincerely towards overcoming disputes and address their root causes so that their country gets out of the vicious circle of tension and conflict.