Yesterday was a busy day in Lebanon that started with a Lebanese civil war and ended with an Israeli invasion. However it’s neither 1975 nor 1982, but rather it’s the year 2019 where the Lebanese warlords still have their weapons stashed and waiting for any danger to express their hate and deep evil.
Yesterday afternoon, an armed group from the Progressive Socialist Party led by Walid Joumblat attacked the convoy of the minister Hasan Al Ghareb in the town of Kafr-Mata. Hasan Al Ghareb, the minister tasked with the Syrian refugee crisis in Lebanon, was returning from a meeting with the controversial and the son in law of the sitting president Michel Aoun and minister of foreign affairs, Gebran Bassil. Gebran the current leader of the Free Patriotic Movement was on a visit to the Chouf district in an effort to boost his party’s presence and aiming to prepare the adequate condition to expand his party’s influence in all of the Lebanese areas as he had been doing for several years. His visits started to become more public and more covered by the media after the 2016 elections where his party with 276.610 votes secured 29 seats under the new election law.
However, to actually understand what happened yesterday and know why, we should go back to 2005, 2006, and then to 2016 to understand Gebran and Joumblat, as well as why Lebanon is the animal farm George Orwell talked about.
Back in 2005, General Michel Aoun returned from France after almost 25 years in exile after he lost the war against the Syrians in Lebanon. Aoun who formed a controversial government back then and seized control of the presidential palace as the head of the Lebanese army, who was famous with his anti-Syrian rhetoric and anti-Hezbollah statements, returned to Lebanon a different man with a goal said to the building block toward a functioning and prosperous state. However goals are never easy to achieve, and he faced the expected challenge by the Future Party, the Progressive Party, and the Lebanese Forces. But this did not stop his party from securing 21 out of 58 seats given to Maronite Christians out of 128 in the parliament and becoming the second biggest block in the parliament after Hariri’s in his major victory then. This partial win that Aoun achieved was secured in 2006 when he allied with Hezbollah and created the Mar Mikhayel Church agreement on the 6th of February 2006 a few months before the unjust criminal Israeli war on Lebanon. The agreement formed a strong Christian Shia alliance and ended officially the grudge between Aoun and Syria. Add to that, the 2006 war unexpectedly actually fortified this agreement because of Aoun’s brave stand with Hezbollah politically in the war and his assistance in the refugee crisis to a certain extent, unlike others who the Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah said about: “Spoke something on TV and stabbed us in the back; Wikileaks stripped all”.
At that time, the presidency term of General Émile Jamil Lahoud was ending so General Michel Aoun was preparing to run, but it was too early. The parties that “won the civil war”, that actually had only looser, controlled all the power and took control of all the sectarian distributed positions in the government and army to an extent that it took almost a year of the government shutdown to secure for the FPM a seat in the government. The bottom line is that the FPM wanted to share the power and regain what it lost after Aoun was exiled thus the political drama started to shape between pro-Syria and anti-foreign intervention 8 march alliance versus anti-Syria and pro-KSA 14 March alliance.
Forwarding to 2016 and skipping 2007-2008, when Joumblat and Hariri formed and armed a 3000 men large militia to accomplish what Israel failed to do in 2006 and punish no other than Nasrallah and Hezbollah leaders who left the government and were peacefully protesting in Beirut, the Lebanese elections shaped the end of an era and the beginning of another. It might sound dramatic but actually, it’s simply the end of the power of the winners of the civil war and the takeover of the ones who lost the war. Gebran Bassil the current head of the FPM and General Michel Aoun is on a crusade to end the trinity of Saad Hariri, Walid Joumblat, and Nabih Berri. Regardless of where the corruption lies and anyone’s effort to fight corruption it’s a war for power and governmental representation knowing that the one who actually had the highest number of votes )343.220( in the last elections and the one with actual power, Hezbollah, is in a state of asceticism.
Then things get more complicated after knowing that Hezbollah is allied to Amal Movement that is led by the head of Parliament Nabih Berri, the FPM led by Gebran Bassil and previously by the President of Lebanon General Aoun, and the Marada party led by a presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh. Amal Movement is allied to the Socialist Progressive Party led by Joumblat. Joumblat is allied to the Future Movement led by Hariri and the Lebanese Forced led by the war criminal and imprisoned Samir Geagea. Moreover, FPM is allied to Hezbollah, the Future Movement from time to time, the Lebanese forces from time to time, and is anti-Amal Movement, Marada Party, Progressive party, and occasionally the Future Movement and Lebanese forces. Ironically any sane man will be lost so welcome to Lebanese politics.
Exactly a year ago the tensions between FPM and Amal led to a limited confrontation in the Hadath area and Merna Al-Shalohi where FPM’s headquarter is located. This fight almost led to a Christian- Shia war if Hezbollah did not mediate and force both parties to sit on the same table, shake hands, and stop the aggressive talk that started with Gebran’s harsh talk against Nabih Berri in a leaked video by a pro-Kataeb Party activist. Yesterday was no different, however, this time the thug tier actions of Joumblat’s party were unacceptable.
Two of out of three critically injured bodyguards of minister Hasan Al Ghareb died after they were ambushed by Joumblat’s party under the banner of protecting the house of the Druze and the special case of the mountain. However, what keeps one is awe that it is Joumblat no other who once said he agrees to the murder of all pro-Syrian government Druze back in 2012. Joumblat did not even bother calming things down but rather sent a representative to talk to the media and claim that whoever closed the roads and did not allow Gebran’s visit to the Christian areas in the mountain were young kids who were acting spontaneity and that Hasan’s guards probably shot themselves somehow. It did not end here but rather was made more clear when his son, who failed to give a single good speech since he was presented as the new leader of the Socialist progressive party two years ago, said that Gebran and others should never trespass and should take into consideration the existing power distribution and not cross that red line. This proves what was said earlier in the article that it is a battle for power and the unnecessary and unjustified tensions are not because of Gebran’s attitude or sectarian talk and actions.
Gebran is trying to pass FPM as a secular party that has approximately 4500 Muslim members, however this did not stop his party from issuing a ban on Muslims who want to buy in the area of Hadath-Beirut and is Hampering the presidential signature that gives thousands their right in a job in the government after they passed exams in the Civil Service Council claiming that there is no fair Muslim-Christian distribution in the results. However, Gebran is just one of many. Joumblat exiled Christians from the mountain and doesn’t allow any purchase of land there by Muslims, Hariri always uses sectarianism to get votes and is also hampering the results of another Civil Service Council exam because there is not enough Sunnis, and Berri’s party unexpectedly objected the name of a Turkish ship called Aisha that was tasked with docking in south Lebanon. Lebanon was accurately presented once by a British explorer who I quote:” Sunni hate Shia- both hate the Maronites. The Maronites, who don’t love any, share the hate of the Druze with the Muslim. All hate the Jews. Lebanon is a divided country that will never unite under one political rhetoric and party, and will always be prone to foreign intervention and invasions”.
On the other hand, after this Lebanese woke up, at 12.04 am, in a shock after the Israel Defense (Aggressive) Forces launched up to 12 Delilah missiles from over south Lebanon toward Damascus. The attack resulted in the martyrdom of a family and the injury of at least 20 Syrian soldiers. Lebanon lived in a single day a mini civil war and a mini-invasion. However many will ask why does Israel treat the Lebanese airspace as a free real estate, and the simple answer is the USA.