Druze Leader Jumblatt Backs Hezbollah - by Stephen Lendman
Two recent articles discussed Lebanon's present turmoil in detail, accessed through the following links:
Conditions there remain fluid. Key was a Washington/French pressured UN-backed Special Tribunal's sealed January 17 indictment of those allegedly responsible for former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's February 14, 2005 killing, preceded by Hezbollah's January 12 pulling out of Lebanon's coalition government causing it to collapse. The above linked articles explain both events in detail, including who, in fact, likely killed Hariri, and implications going forward.
Two blocks comprised Lebanon's misnamed "national unity" government:
-- the opposition March 8 alliance, including (Shia) Hezbollah, (Shia) Amals, and (secular, mainly Maronite Christian) Free Patriotic Movement and with 57 seats; and
-- the majority March 14 Sunni/Phalangist Christian coalition (including independents, lead by now caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri) with 60.
Walid Jumblatt's secular, officially non-sectarian Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) 11 seat bloc holds decisive balance of power in Lebanon's 128 seat parliament. On January 21, he chose sides, Al Jazeera headling, "Lebanon's Jumblatt backs Hezbollah," saying:
His decision "could give (Hezbollah) and its allies a veto over who becomes the country's next prime minister," Jumblatt saying he wished only to preserve Lebanon's stability, adding:
"I am announcing the right political stand....by assuring the steadfastness of the (PSP) alongside Syria and the resistance (Hezbollah)."
The previous day, Hariri said he'd seek to form a new government despite strong pressure for him to step down. Michel Aoun, a Christian leader allied with Hezbollah explained, "We said Hariri should not come back, and yes he should not come back."
Hariri agreed to accept the result of January 24 discussions with President Michel Suleiman who called for consultations to choose a new prime minister based on who's most strongly backed. Hezbollah is expected to nominate former prime minister Omar Karameh. Under Lebanon's confessional system, prime ministers must be Sunni Muslim, presidents Maronite Christian, and parliamentary speakers Shia Muslim.
On January 22, Lebanon's Daily Star headlined, "Jumblatt redraws PM battle lines,' saying:
Besides backing Hezbollah (and Syria), he "slammed the UN-backed Special Tribunal (STL) as a tool for 'political blackmail" that threatens the country's national unity and security." Its Hariri killing investigation caused tension between the two blocs, now heightened after announcing release of its sealed indictment expected to name Hezbollah. However, it will be late February or early March before it's known for sure.
Saying Lebanon stood at "a dangerous crossroads," Jumblatt's decision gives March 8 bloc parties an edge, though how many of his 11 members will vote with him isn't sure. According to an unnamed alliance member, he promised at least seven, saying: