17 Nov 2007 @ 1:46 AM 

a banner in Beirut saying Never again to civil war 

What will happen if no consensus is reached in wednesday’s planned meeting of Lebanese Parliament where a new president is supposed to be elected? I am guessing the following:

1- The parliamentary majority lead by the 14th of march coalition will either elect a new president without the needed number of deputies present, or just declare that presidential powers passed to the Siniora government by default because of the vacant presidential chair.

2- Either way the Lebanese opposition will answer a call from incumbent president Emile Lahoud to form a new government and declare this government as the only legitimate one as opposed to Siniora’s. The government will be headed by a Sunni figure of the opposition, Omar Karame is a possible name, or even Oussama Saad, and maybe some others like Fouad Makhzoumi.

3- Clashes will erupt between supporters of the two camps and attempts to secure ministries and government buildings will lead to clashes between supporters of the opposition and the police. Street battles will be fought and several casualties will fall.

4- In light of the clashes the Lebanese Army will declare state of emergency and a curfew. The Army will also declare that it is neutral between both governments and after forcing the belligerent factions to leave the streets will have only one way out of the stalemate: Pushing towards early parliamentary elections.

This is as you can imagine a perfect scenario for the opposition, hence the question: how would the 14th of marsh coalition react to this? Knowing that they will lose any fair election any day to the opposition.

A  possible scenario is that the 14th of marsh coalition will defy the army’s curfew and state of emergency and consider them to be a military coup and ask for foreign interference. Such an interference is, however, very unlikely to happen.

Another doom scenario is that the Army will be divided or it will remain in its barracks leaving the factions to fight it out. in such a situation we are on the verge of a real all out civil war of which no one can predict the outcome.

I personally do not believe that this is an option for the army, the political nature of the divide that is going beyond the sectarian cleavages, as both political camps are fairly represented in all communities, can keep the army united. And even if its Sunni one third will go for a mutiny,  its Christian and Shiite two thirds will keep following the orders and this can be enough to control most of the country. Add to that the covert support that the army will get from Hezbollah and its allies.

In all this I believe that the Hezbollah will not participate directly in any interior fighting and will leave it to its allies of Sunni Militias and the Amal movement and Nationalist and leftist forces. This way the Hezbollah will preserve its position as a resistance movement that did’nt turn its weapons inwards.

The coming days will reveal in how far these scenarios will come to pass, but the hope remains for a last minute breakthrough sparing the country the instability and the bloodshed that no one really wants except Israel and it’s allies in Washington, and few nostalgic Lebanese ex-warlords.

Posted By: Dyab
Last Edit: 18 Nov 2008 @ 03:56 PM