Partitioning Lebanon as a Solution to the Hizbullah Dilemma
Fighters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hizbullah take part in a parade to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon in Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa Valley, on May 25, 2022. (AFP via Getty Images)

Partitioning Lebanon as a Solution to the Hizbullah Dilemma

An-Nahar, Lebanon, February 2

Whoever believes that the partition proposed by some as a solution to the crisis in Lebanon is the product of a detailed and carefully crafted political vision is sorely mistaken. This conviction has gained traction among various popular groups, particularly the Christian community, not out of a desire to separate from the other Lebanese groups, but rather due to a feeling of helplessness in finding effective solutions to the country’s disasters. The division proposal is, in fact, motivated by a desire to distance themselves from the negative effects of Hizbullah’s influence. More and more groups in the Lebanese public are urging their political leaders to confront this challenge and push for the necessary modifications to the national stance on Hizbullah and the Iranian occupation of Lebanon. In interviews with groups in various Christian communities, the contrast between the unified discourse of “unionist” platforms and the divisive discourse of the public has become apparent. An important paradox must be noted: The vision of partition today differs from the vision that prevailed during Lebanon’s civil war, which took place between 1975 and 1990. During the war, division was aimed at establishing a state for each sect. Now, however, there is a desire to create a separate state for Hizbullah, which would not be defined by sect, but by a “clean” environment free of the movement’s influence. Such a state would be legally protected, with legitimate military and security forces. Its strategic depth would be provided by countries historically friendly to Lebanon. Those who advocate for this solution draw on specific regions in Lebanon as an example. They cite the Achrafieh Quarter (in Beirut) and its immediate surrounding, where Christians are the majority. This region has worked hard to overcome the political collapse that began in 2019, with its streets being lit up and social security bolstered through coordination with legitimate security and military forces. In addition, public and individual freedoms have been protected in the area, resulting in exceptional growth compared to other Lebanese regions. It is noteworthy that some politicians, who oppose all forms of separation or federalism in Lebanon, have begun to recognize the demands of the people. The repercussions of the economic collapse have varied greatly between regions, leading these politicians to worry that the evidence presented by this phenomenon could become a major factor in driving the country toward partition. Consequently, the Lebanese people have come to the realization that their nation needs to be reconstructed. It is essential that the upcoming presidential election results in the establishment of a governing body that is committed to implementing two key initiatives: the operational components of the Taif Agreement, which include expanded administrative decentralization; and balanced development that reflects the unique characteristics of each region in Lebanon. With such measures, the city of Tripoli, which has considerable potential, could be lifted out of the deep poverty that plagues a significant portion of its population. Leaders who oppose partition are not driven by ideology as much as they are by pragmatism. Partition may seem like an obvious solution, but the only alternative is war. Hizbullah must recognize that its approach in the country could backfire against it and tear apart Lebanon’s society. – Fares Khashan (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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