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Saturday, December 17, 2005

"Hizbullahizing" the state

Efforts are underway to convince Hizbullah to send its ministers back to the politically gridlocked cabinet. After Monday's cabinet decision to ask the UN for a Hariri "tribunal with an international character", five Hizbullah and Amal minister decided to boycott the cabinet, pending a decision from their "political leadership", which is euphemism for--let's stop kidding ourselves-- the Iran-run Hizbullah Shura council.

With the Iranian leadership busy denying the Holocaust and wishing Europe would move Israel to Germany or Austria (or somewhere near Alaska... maybe Canada), the Saudis are reportedly spearheading mediation efforts between the boycotters and Fouad Siniora. Thanks to these efforts, a meeting was arranged between Siniora and Nabih Berri.

Yes, you heard it right. The Saudi ambassador intervened in Lebanon to arrange for a meeting between the parliament speaker and the prime minister.

The problem here is decision making in the cabinet. Can decisions be made through a vote? Here's what the Lebanese constitution says on this:

The legal quorum for a Council meeting is a majority of two thirds of its members. It makes its decisions by consensus. If that is not possible, it makes its decisions by vote of the majority of attending members. Basic national issues require the approval of two thirds of the members of the Council named in the Decree forming the Cabinet. Basic national issues are considered the following:

The amendment of the constitution, the declaration of a state of emergency and its termination, war and peace, general mobilization, international agreements and treaties, the annual government budget, comprehensive and longterm development projects, the appointment of Grade One government employees and their equivalents, the review of the administrative map, the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, electoral laws, nationality laws, personal status laws, and the dismissal of Ministers.
Hizbullah MP Mohammad Raad articulated his party's position as follows:

Hizbullah's Nabatieh MP Mohammad Raad said during a ceremony held by the party in the southern city of Sidon that the only way the party will end its boycott is if the government returns to applying the national consensus formula, which bans taking decisions on critical national matters on the basis of majority and minority. "The decision that was taken in the name of the majority was a huge mistake, and this mistake should be corrected," Raad said. He added: "If our presence or absence from the Cabinet is the same, then what is the need for our attendance?"

He then went on to describe the political majority in Lebanon as a "dictatorship."

"This is not a ruling majority, this is a dictatorship that is imposing its hegemony over the country," he said.
Of course, this last statement is ridiculous. Lebanon is a dictatorship because a majority of elected representatives voted on a decision, but Hizbullah is a democratic party that manipulates religion to reach political power, protects despots, and defends the interests of other nations!

The cabinet's vote is of course constitutional. An absence of "consensus" never prevented past cabinets from resorting to this allegedly vile method of…voting!

As for Hizbullah's rejection of a majoritarian system, it's laughable, considering Hizbullah's constant waving of the Shia majority card, which at best could be described as illegal:
Nasrallah's resort to taklif as-Sharii also was controversial among Shiites. Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, whom many Lebanese Shiites consider their "model for emulation" (marjaa at-taqlid), publicly denounced such use of religious authority for electoral purposes. A Fadlallah political adviser told Crisis Group that religiously-inspired instructions are acceptable only when pertaining to the "strategic," not "organizational or tactical" level:

God granted the individual. ... reason. A man of religious learning can advise Muslims, for example, "not to vote for corrupt candidates." But it is still up to the individual himself to decide who is corrupt and who isn't. Hizbullah violated this principle. ... Shiites were made to feel endangered, so they felt compelled to vote. And that's dangerous, as now the Shiites think the resistance's weapons are theirs.

Some Shiite observers also wondered how many more times Hizbullah would successfully mobilize community voters on a plebiscite to prevent disarmament. Interestingly, a not insignificant number of Shiites voted for non-endorsed lists, an outcome that reportedly infuriated Nasrallah and led him to castigate supporters for lack of discipline. (Source: International Crisis Group report on Lebanon)

For that, I doubt Hizbullah will quit the cabinet. This latest stunt is part obstructionism, part self defense. After all, that was the whole point of joining the cabinet: "counting on political gridlock" to preclude any dramatic vote that would hurt Hizbullah interests.

With Syria out and pressure for disarmament growing, Hizbullah seeks alternative forms of protection. Retreating to its natural constituency is one; having a role in government is another. As a first line of defense, it counts on political gridlock and natural rivalry among politicians to preclude a dramatic move...

Participation in government adds several layers of protection. First, it bolsters Hizbullah's image as a legitimate national player, complicating efforts to put it on the EU terrorism list, for example. With Syria no longer as able to shape domestic politics and act as guarantor, Hizbullah also is intent on having a direct say, putting itself in a stronger position to shape internal debates on 1559 and pre-empt potentially harmful developments.

Quoting Amal Saad Ghorayeb, The ICG report on Lebanon sums up Hizbullah's attitude as follows:

Their attitude [on joining the government] is a dramatic change from the past. But they are going to instrumentalize the state to protect the resistance. They know how difficult it will be for the U.S. and Israel to mess with them. The party is not becoming "Lebanonized; rather it is "Hizbullah-izing" the state.

« …Yes, you heard it right. The Saudi ambassador intervened in Lebanon to arrange for a meeting between the parliament speaker and the prime minister… »

And after all, why not my dears Qayss?

Back in the early 1940’s, Otto Abetz, the German ambassador to Vichy France, was busy trying to “reconcile” President Marshall Philippe Petain and Prime-Minister Pierre Laval!
As the French put it, it’s “plus ça change” déjà vu all over again…

tw. Wahhâbi: a member of a fanatical Islamist sect founded in Arabia in the 18th century and revived by ibn-Saud in the 20th century

Collaborationism: the advocacy or practice of collaboration with the enemy
Consnsus only applies when people are reasonable enough to compromise and take into account their country's best interests. When it comes to a fascist party like HA, consensus becomes a joke, a liability for the country.

Matter concerning national security shouldn't be negotiated when a party is trying to undermines Lebanon's security. By adopting extreme views, HA excluded itself from national politics.As long as they chose to be foreign agents they should be kept out of the loop.
"as they chose to be foreign agents they should be kept out of the loop"

Oh yeah??
And what about Sheikh Saad Al-Hariri and the Great Mufti?

Why the racist anti-Shiite double-standard?

They say oil money has no odour, but still...
The double standard of HA: If they are the majority, the majority rules! If they are the minority, there must be concensus! To me, as long as our disagreements are settled by talks not arms it is ok! That why guns must be removed from the hands of people.
Reminds me of the days when the Saudi ambassador used to conduct diplomacy and politics in Lebanon with his chequebook. I suppose someone has to so it now that R. Hariri is gone and Saad is in safe exile.

Good post, Kais. The 2005 election results ensured poltical gridlock. For example, Lahoud's occupation of Baabdha cannot be only blamed on the Shia.

HA is in a precarious situation. It will try to swim with the currents to maintain its survival and advance its religous cause.

The Lebanese state is its best insurance. Iran is too far away and engaged. The Syrian Regime cannot be trusted to protect HA.

I agree with you that they will be back in cabinet meetings soon.

"And what about Sheikh Saad Al-Hariri and the Great Mufti?"

They are working for their country, not for the Saudis.

"Why the racist anti-Shiite double-standard?"
I am anti-HA only. Your are racist for equating the Shias with this terrorist group.
Right from the horse's mouth.Vox, precisely you are only anti-HA.

What about the other equally aborrant and militant parties in Lebanon. Let's exclude them all to be fair. The fascist Kataeb, the Sunni religious partys, the Druze religous parties, The Maronite Order of Monks, all the generals, the militia leaders, and all the foreign agents. What a dream.

Get real, Vox.

BTW,You have not earned the right to call anyone a racist.

The pot calling the kettle black.

Issam, I don't need your authorization to exercise my right to free speech. And I don't need authorization from you, an Islamic fundamentalist to speak.

The Kataeb are not fascist, despite your old Mussolinian cliché. Unlike the HA, it advocates the full application of the human rights charter. So get lost (or die trying).
Yeah sure, the « Kataeb » aren’t « fascists » at all: that’s just “Islamic terrist” or Baathist or Aounist propaganda or something, whatever

The fact that “Kataeb” literally means phalanx in Arabic, an overt homage to Franco’s Hispano-Nazi youth movement is a mere coincidence

And the many complacent interviews sheikh Pierre Gemayyel gave to freedom-loving Italian and German newspapers throughout the 1930s, and until 1943 one might ask?
Well that wasn’t the sheikh Pierre I know, the peacenik family man who raised young sheikh Basheer and other Israeli-trained boy scouts

Sabra? Chatila? Never heard of it!
Unless you mean Kamal Chatila, that dirty Mohammedan Marxist enemy of liberty!

In essence, the sheikh Pierre I knew was just a decent man who cared about his nation’s future: a bit like our beloved “shaheed” sheik Rafiq may Allah and his bearded vicar bless his memory…Ah if only all Lebanese citizen of good will could unite behind the bright banner of Saad Al-Hariri and Dr Samir Geagea, and Doctorette Strida, what a beautiful country this would be…blah blah… Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
I know very well that the Kataeb, like the Baath and the PSNS were inspired by fascisim Dr. Vic. My point is that they have evolved since then. I am not really fond of the Kataeb because it's the property of the Gemayel family, but they are democratic and conservative party nowadays. Kind of a Lebanese GOP.
Good post Kais.

Issam and Dr. Vic, the Kataeb of today are a ghost of a party and the LF have no weapons.

Hariri's sunnis and Jumblat's druzes are unarmed.

Does it give Hezbollah a hint?
We will see how unarmed they are when one of the militia leaders gets assassinated, God forbid.

Vox, you don't understand Islam so how can you say I am an Islamic fundementalist.

The extremists in all the sects are dangerous to Lebanon. For every action there is a reaction.

The Shia needs the state's protection , economic development and social services. That is the best way to counter HA and to reduce their influence. The world Bank just loaned Lebanon hundreds of millions of dollars. I will bet you that it will all go into debt service and not leave the US or Paris.

If Washington or the Europeans would tie a huge aid package(a billion or two a year for 5 or 10 years) for the South and the Bekaa and real international protection to HA's disarmament, then we would see a radical shift in politics among the Shia.

You are so boring. Stop that terrorist word, it really makes you childish.
Vox, Josey, & Co.

‘Issam is right: stick to French and Saint-Joseph student union elections, and refrain from tackling issues you know shit about.

Your grasp of complex issues such as the roots of Baathist ideology or Islamic thought are based on the vulgarized versions of the highly biased works of Neocon luminaries such as Bernard Lewis and Fuad ‘Ajami, hence your moronic belief in cheap racist clichés such as “the cultural and economic backwardness of unproductive Ayyyrab societies, except for a handful of oil-rich pedophiliac potentates” or the “Pan-Germanic Nazi roots of Pan-Arabism” and other Pharisaic infomercials passing for “news” in the columns of Al-Nahar and Al-Mustaqbal!
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