How Hezbollah keeps undermining the state

Source: Annahar
Bassem Ajami
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How Hezbollah keeps undermining the state
How Hezbollah keeps undermining the state
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A trend has gained ground in Lebanese politics that has serious consequences on the political life in the country. It is addressing key issues outside the constitutional institutions.

The trend began with the Syrian occupation and it accelerated in the era of Hezbollah. Elections, appointments to even mid-level public posts, fiscal policy as well as foreign policy issues are "precooked" outside the institutions. \r\n

A recent example to this state of affairs is the "presidential deal" of 2016. The deal sealed an alliance between General Michel Aoun and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The most serious fallout of that deal involve the nomination of prime minister. \r\n

President Aoun, supported by Hezbollah, delays the nomination of a prime minister until key issues that are to be addressed by the coming cabinet are resolved in advance. A prime minister is thus nominated, not according to a parliamentary majority, as the constitution demands, but pending the candidate's commitment to the Aoun-Hezbollah agenda. This was done in the nominations of the previous two prime ministers, Saad Hariri and Hassan Diab.\r\n

Now, in a democracy, such practice maybe tolerated but only in order to end a political impasse. But in Lebanon it became the norm. It diminished political life, and made the affairs of state the sphere of influence of a handful of politicians dominated by the Iran-backed party. \r\n

Since 2005, there have been several attempts to proceed with the political life according to the constitution while overlooking Hezbollah's domineering influence. All have failed. In May 2008, Hezbollah forced its own protocols when its militiamen took over Beirut and a part of the mountain. Violations of the constitution stepped up since then. And what makes matters worse is that Hezbollah's extensive agenda is tailored to fit not the ambitions of local politicians, which maybe legitimate, but the regional interests of Iran.\r\n

Nonetheless, the anticipated government faces huge tasks. It must implement urgently needed reforms, fight corruption, deal with Coronavirus, attend to the numerous consequences of the massive explosion at Beirut harbor, address the already crumbling economy and devise a fiscal policy to halt the freefall of the local currency, among many other issues.\r\n

Hezbollah has already placed a veto on one possible candidate, the jurist Nawaf Salam. If President Aoun and Hezbollah want to apply the same practice in nominating the incoming prime minister, Lebanon is set for another long wait and for yet another violation of the constitution. Lebanon today is in such a critical situation that it cannot afford a breach of the constitution.\r\n

Still, while the issue of where and how the arms of Hezbollah are stored gains urgency following the explosion at the port, this may not be the appropriate time to address this matter publicly. It should be left for the coming cabinet to address. However, the least that Hezbollah can do now is ease its undue influence on Lebanese politics, and return to the time when it focused its attention on confronting Israel.\r\n