Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jumblatt Used Their Weakness And Slandered Them

By Abdullah Iskandar
This comment was published in al-Hayat on 10/11/2010

Ever since his last political turn, Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has been moving on dual bases. He is firstly trying to confirm that his turn toward yesterday’s rivals is sincere, and secondly trying to avoid military confrontation in the country between his new allies and his current rivals.

In a situation such as the one seen in Lebanon where the rounding of the corners requires a lot of know-how and expertise due to the acuteness of the confrontation and the conflicting programs, Jumblatt is aware of his difficult position. On one hand, he knows that the protection of civil peace for which he is calling, is not only limited to defusing the consecutive crises, among which for the time being is the crisis of the false witnesses file and the tribunal. It also requires the state institutions to regain some of their prerogatives, whether at the level of decision-making power or at the level of security. This realization is obstructed by the positions of his new allies who consider that the reinstatement of the state’s intervention would imply obligations that all the sides would have to respect and some of which would topple their demands, especially at the level of the witnesses file and its branches inside the Cabinet and the re-discussion of the role of the arms outside the context of the state institutions, including Hezbollah’s arms on the long run.

On the other hand, Jumblatt knows he is subjected to daily tests to confirm his sincerity toward his new allies. Media outlets close to Hezbollah thus carried, more than once, reports saying that the main purpose behind the party’s insistence on settling the false witnesses file inside the Cabinet is to test the credibility and seriousness of the Druze leader at the level of his new turn. For his part, he is trying to elude this test, considering it might sever the last ties still linking him to the prime minister and what he represents on the Lebanese and Arab levels. He is trying to uphold these ties that allow him maintain Arab contact. Although his current option is a Syrian one, Jumblatt needs this contact, especially with Saudi Arabia. He is thus reiterating - along with the other officials in his party and his parliamentary bloc - the importance of this dimension in the context of the equation of the Saudi-Syrian understanding.

It is in that sense that Jumblatt’s theory regarding the “revival of the Lebanese right wing” in light of the results of the American midterm elections and the advance of the “American right-wing” (the Republicans) in them can be interpreted. On one hand, he criticized this Lebanese right-wing which in the Jumblatti rhetoric means the March 14 Christians - at the head of whom is Samir Geagea - while on the other, he went in line with the American conspiracy theory of his new allies.

The reintroduction of the talk about the “Lebanese isolationist right wing” has a purpose in the current Jumblatti rhetoric because it allows him to succeed in the sincerity test, without this costing him any political repercussions. It also brought back to mind the nature of the division witnessed in Lebanon during the civil war, and his position toward this division. This showed he truly returned to the alliances he enjoyed during that stage, regardless of the major difference between the political nature of that stage and the current one, especially at the level of sectarian alignment. While it is difficult to directly criticize the Sunni alignment in Lebanon and its “isolationist” tendencies (Lebanon First and the support of the Lebanese state), the weakest sides in the equation are the Christians of the March 14 forces and their spiritual reference represented by the Maronite patriarchate.

Moreover, the targeting of these “isolationists” might meet the demands of the new allies who do not hesitate to classify them as being the ones who should be politically-eliminated at the very least. The new allies’ need for Jumblatt’s campaign on the “isolationist” right-wing is increasing, at a time when Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri is refusing to disengage from this right and continuing to defend this alliance, thus transforming Jumblatt into the spearhead of this campaign.

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