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What changed after the Lebanese elections?

Supporters of the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah gather during a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah on 13 August 2017 [Ali Dia/Anadolu Agency]
Supporters of Hezbollah gather during a speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah on 13 August 2017 [Ali Dia/Anadolu Agency]

Not many Lebanese people needed to wait for the results of the parliamentary elections to realise that Hezbollah triumph. They also did not need to wait for the results to know that their political and living conditions would not change and that the political faces and forces also wouldn’t change.

Therefore, over half of the Lebanese people boycotted the farcical sectarian elections that reconfirmed the darkness of the Lebanese scene. The delusions of overcoming the current impasse and making a change towards citizenship and a citizen state have faded in light of the division and the fact that Hezbollah alone possesses weapons making it stronger than the state itself and more dominant.

It has reached the extent that Hezbollah along makes the decisions regarding war and peace in the country, making these decisions whenever and wherever it desires, or when asked to do so by the Wilayit al-Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) in Tehran.

Despite the fact that Hezbollah has obtained more representatives than it had nine years ago and its presence in the sectarian Lebanese parliament is strong, its sectarian representation has become even more prevalent among representatives of other sects, such as Christian and Sunni. We can even say that Hezbollah’s Sunnis and Christians have a more concrete parliamentarian representation, with about 10 representatives.

This has implications and influence on the considerations and calculations of the Lebanese sectarian system and its composition. This has been expressed by means of armed thugs in more than one place in Lebanon. The most expressive, unfortunate, and sectarian manifestation of this is raising the party’s flag on the statue of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, after the preliminary results of the elections were out.

This scene was reminiscent of what the Hezbollah fighters did when they raised their sectarian flag on the Omar bin Khattab Mosque minaret in the Syrian village Al-Qaseer, declaring the city as occupied. They settled there after killing and forcibly expelling its residents and original inhabitants who had sheltered the children and wives of Hezbollah fighters, as well as others, who fled Israel’s attacks during the July 2006 war.

READ: Israel shells Hezbollah positions in southern Syria

What has changed? The results of the 6 May, 2018 elections will not have much impact on Lebanon’s political life, as they will not contribute to changing the decision-making process in Lebanon. Despite the importance of the results at the formal level, the political level hasn’t changed, even if some faces and figures did. Everyone knows how influential Hezbollah is on the Lebanese government and its impact on the Lebanese decision. Moreover, the political parties and sectarian and tribal leaderships did not change, and therefore it is no wonder that over half of the population boycotted the elections and have become indifferent, or probably spectators watching the clashes between the political sectarian poles and the settling of scores between them.

The reality of the Lebanese situation revealed that the experience of the parliamentary elections in 2005 provided many lessons and examples to the majority of the Lebanese people, when the elections resulted in the majority votes for the March 14 Alliance, but Hezbollah disregarded this and overstepped the Lebanese government entirely, deciding to engage in a war with Israel in July 2006.

This was a disregard of the will of the Lebanese state and the will of most of the Lebanese people. It later became a border guard for Israel in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701. This party, which played regional roles based on what was dictated by the agenda of the Mullah government in Iran, in addition to controlling the Lebanese state, repeated the same action and overstepped the results of the 2009 parliamentary elections.

It worked to disrupt various aspects of life in Lebanon until it obtained the one-third veto power, setting a precedent. When the Future Movement and its Christian and Druze allies won the majority seats in the parliament, they could not form a government alone. The Prime Minister Saad Hariri was forced to give in to Hezbollah and its allies’ one-third veto power. The party then forced its Christian ally, Michel Aoun, to act as president. This was followed by the biggest concession, i.e. agreeing to the demand of President Aoun to make his son-in-law Gebran Bassil, a minister, despite the fact that he had lost the elections.

READ: Lebanon’s Hariri replaces chief of staff after election setback

Hezbollah managed to do all of this because it relied on the force of the weapons its possesses. It had falsely claimed that these weapons were for resistance for many years, but then, many Lebanese people realised that these weapons were directed at them when Hezbollah aimed its weapons at them during its invasion of Beirut in 2008. In addition to this all, Hezbollah resorted to displays of force and power in all of the political occasions. The black shirts were even deployed to face their Lebanese opponents. When the Iranian Mullah ordered their weapons to be pointed at the Syrian opposition, Hezbollah engaged in a battle against the majority of the Syrians, defending Al-Assad’s criminal regime, and continues to shed the blood of Syrians.

It is interesting that the political class, which is reassured by the system of sectarian quotas has resorted to dirty laundry. They did not stop there; they even involved the Syrian displacement crisis in its electoral bazaar, which it linked to the scarecrow of resettling Palestinian refugees. They exploited the emotions and fears that this produced in order to reinforce blind sectarian fanaticism. It did not bother to search for the reasons behind the crisis and how to find solutions.

This class was also indifferent to the decline and crises afflicting Lebanon and its political, social, and economic infrastructure, and the situation reached the extent of this infrastructure becoming a major obstacle to the prospects of progress and salvation from the current situation. This class instead choose to turn the country into an arena for regional and international conflicts.

Therefore, the election results have no effect on the country and its people’s situation, especially since the elections were held under a bastardised electoral law that combined relativity and preferential votes and brought together a scattered collection of teleological ideas that serve the interests of the sectarian coalitions that do not care about the Lebanese citizen. It was important for those who came up with the law for certain figures to reach the parliament, regardless of their agendas, expertise, abilities, and willingness to serve the people and the country.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on 22 May 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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