Gloves come off

Saad al-Hariri talks with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in downtown Beirut, Lebanon November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

For years, Hezbollah has encouraged a working government because it suited its purposes and interests, and through its allies ensured an acceptable coexistence with other parties opposing its actions, whether inside or outside the country.

Its recent stance, however, is being challenged by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, who comes armed with the Lebanese Constitution in his quest to form a government.

But Hezbollah, after failing to break Hariri through several concocted excuses, has taken off the gloves.

The party has made it clear that although it always had a strong clout in the government with its allies, it now aims to take full control and leave no room for opposition.

Hezbollah has already shown us that it was capable of keeping the country without a president for over two and a half years until it got its man installed in the top post.

It’s not a stretch to assume that it will do the same with Cabinet, especially as it is no longer putting on the charade of diplomacy, if allowed to get away with it.

With Iran increasingly squeezed by U.S. sanctions, Hezbollah has shed its mask of “partner” and aims to ensure its policies, finances and decisions are controlled only by the party, with no margin for interference by any other side, and making Lebanon a satellite of the Islamic Republic, and consequently with the government fully under its control.

Simply put, Hezbollah had already hijacked decisions of war and peace, and now it is trying to seize control of national policy and the future direction of Lebanon.

In a country where the cauldron of sectarianism has always simmered beneath the surface, the consequences bode ill for Lebanon because this action only turns up the heat and provokes fierce opposition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 27, 2018, on page 1.




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