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Hezbollah’s reaction to French initiative gives cause to pause

Source: Annahar
Bassem Ajami
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters ahead of the Shiite Ashura commemorations, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon on  Nov. 3, 2014. (AP Photo)
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters ahead of the Shiite Ashura commemorations, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon on Nov. 3, 2014. (AP Photo)
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The reaction of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to President Emmanuel Macron's proposal suggesting that the Lebanese need a new political contract is interesting. 
 
He welcomed the French initiative; but also sarcastically wondered what would have been the reaction had the initiative come from Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khomeini.
 
He suggested that an initiative heralded by Iran would have been utterly rejected and labeled as foreign intervention, wondering why Macron’s initiative wasn’t met with the same opposition.  
 
The reasons for that are many:
 
President Macron does not maintain a full-fledged army in Lebanon that owes allegiance to France. 
 
President Macron does not impose himself on the Lebanese as their protector.
 
President Macron does not force Lebanon to follow France's foreign policy.
 
President Macron does not prevent the election of Lebanon's president for more than two years to install his own candidate.
 
President Macron does not name members of the Lebanese government.
 
Moreover, France does not maintain an assassination squad in Lebanon to kill those who oppose its plans in the country.
 
It is for these reasons, and many more, that the Lebanese welcome the French initiative to safeguard their country, while they remain suspicious of Iran's intentions.
 
But before the Lebanese attend a conference to fashion a new social contract, they need to form a government.
 
It is clear that Hezbollah insists on allocating the ministry of finance to a Shiite to be named by leaders of the Shiites, plus have a controlling share in the awaited government.
 
In short, the Iran-backed party wants to govern Lebanon behind the shadow of a government. 
 
Still, the party has made concealed threats to initiate another takeover of the capital, that is, a replay of the coup of May 7, 2008. Such a state of affairs creates a most serious political impasse. But there is a way out.
 
Of course, Hezbollah is aware that its demands are contrary to the constitution. Yet Hezbollah insists on its demands to distract attention from the suspicious blast at the Beirut port, which many suspect the party's involvement in it in one way or another.
 
Whatever the reason for Hezbollah's unconstitutional demands, it will be a good idea to call the party's bluff and invite it to govern Lebanon. It is obvious that Hezbollah has long-term plans for Lebanon. Such plans aim at integrating Lebanon into the regional scheme of Iran.  
 
Hezbollah wants Lebanon to "turn east". In other words toward Hezbollah Iran. Fine. Let us see what can Iran offer other than war and poverty.
 
The way out of the current stalemate is to let Hezbollah and company govern the country openly instead of hiding its total, but camouflaged, influence.
 
Such a proposal is more functional than that of Saad Hariri who decided to "swallow poison," yet again, to end the current deadlock.
 
Hezbollah will fail. But at a great expense to the country. Maybe then Iran will understand that it is causing ruin to Lebanon and end its occupation.
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