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A television advertisement promoting “federalism” in Lebanon…and calls to confront it by implementing the “Taif Agreement”


A television advertisement promoting “federalism” in Lebanon…and calls to confront it by implementing the “Taif Agreement”

There has returned talk in Lebanon about federalism by promoting it through a television advertisement aimed at “simplifying the idea for the Lebanese and bringing it to the largest possible segment,” according to what those in charge of it say, specifically the “Unionists” group, which has been active in recent years in calling for federalism in which it sees a solution. to the crises experienced by Lebanon.

This announcement, shown by most TV channels, comes in light of the successive crises that Lebanon is going through, foremost of which is the political crisis that is associated with “conflicts over powers” ​​in the main sites distributed sectarianly, which lead from time to time to raising voices objecting to them and to calls for division through terms and expressions. different.

In the last stage, calls for regime change, decentralization, and so on were issued by officials of Christian parties, especially the opposition to “Hezbollah,” while asserting that they were not meant for division, and considering at the same time that Lebanon is living in a disguised federalism that begins with the status law. The personality does not end with Hezbollah’s military and political control of Lebanon.

Calls for federalism in Lebanon are not new (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The head of the “Lebanese Forces” party, Samir Geagea, had talked about the failure of the current composition, calling for the need to “reconsider it if (Hezbollah) was able to bring in a president as he wanted,” to which the Deputy Secretary-General of “Hezbollah” Naim Qassem responded by saying : «The National does not call for division». In the same context, the party’s former ally, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Representative Gebran Bassil, had preceded him by threatening to “apply administrative decentralization on the ground,” which some saw as a clear call for division.

In light of this reality, the federation’s television advertisement came under the title “Federal Lebanon Brings Us Together”, to re-talk about it and those in charge of it defended their idea, basing their call on other examples in dozens of countries. This is expressed by Joe Issa Al-Khoury, Secretary General of the “Ittihadists” Association (which completed the declaration), while the Director of the Middle East Institute for Strategic Affairs, Dr. Sami Nader, calls for the implementation of the “Taif Agreement” as it is, and on top of it is administrative decentralization. Because this would reassure those calling for federalism and contribute to alleviating the burden of their demand, especially in light of “the confederation that has become a de facto in Lebanon and behind which (Hezbollah) stands.”

The television advertisement shows a dialogue between two generations, discussing “federalism”, so that young expatriates defend it, citing the countries in which they live or aspire to live, such as Dubai and Canada. One of them explains to his father, saying: “Federalism regulates difference, protects diversity, preserves our dignity and our privacy… and puts an end to the old who controls the young,” stressing at the same time that “the army will remain one, and the flag and anthem as well….”

While Al-Khoury affirmed that federalism is not division, he defends his point of view, citing the systems adopted by dozens of countries, including the United Arab Emirates. Although the division of federations on which “Ittihadists” relied in its earlier proposal depends mainly on the sectarian distribution in Lebanon, he says that it stems from cultural pluralism, and therefore “geo-cultural rather than religious federalism.”

And after the “Unionists” had previously drawn up what it said was “a draft constitution for a federal political system in Lebanon,” Al-Khoury told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The root of all the problems that Lebanon is experiencing is the central political system, which must be a federal system, so that the authority The local authority is superior to the central authority,” he said, also speaking of a disguised federalism that Lebanon is experiencing.

He believes that the only solution to the country’s crises is “federalism with an area of ​​federal Lebanon of 10,452 square kilometers,” noting that disguised federalism is embodied through several issues, the most important of which is the absence of a unified law on personal status, inheritance, and others, as well as the issuance of local authorities in several regions of decisions that replace the constitution or the laws of power. Centralism, in addition to the fact that some sects establish special relations with regional and international powers, with different positions on regional and international conflicts, which permanently negatively affects Lebanon.

Islamic-Christian coexistence is the basis of the Lebanese political system (Asharq Al-Awsat)

On the other hand, Qassem Kassir, a political analyst close to Hezbollah, attributes the calls for federalism to sectarian reasons. From here, he also considers that “the solution is to return to (the Taif Agreement), implement administrative decentralization, rebuild the state on the basis of citizenship, reach a common vision on the defense strategy, and return to the national dialogue.”

With his emphasis on calling for the implementation of the “Taif Agreement” and reassuring all Lebanese parties, Sami Nader believes that Lebanon is experiencing forms of disguised and unconvincing federalism. He explains to Asharq Al-Awsat: “We have been living in a state of federalism since before the establishment of Lebanon, specifically in the Personal Status Law, which is the basic system for managing society, as it is not based on a law emanating from the Lebanese Republic, but is subject to spiritual authorities.” And he adds: “ There is also a second factor that pushes some to call for federalism. That is, changing the existing political system that collapsed and made Lebanon a failed country and a central state based on quotas.

Nader talks about another factor, “It is the Confederation that has become a fait accompli and stands behind it (Hezbollah), which now has armed forces under its command, a private financial system, areas of influence for it, and an educational system outside any supervisory or regulating authority of the state.” What he calls “cultural differences that have expanded more in the recent period.”

From here, he believes that in the face of all these factors, it is necessary to work on implementing the “Taif Agreement” and not to be afraid of it and its provisions related to comprehensive effective decentralization, the establishment of the Senate and the adoption of a unified foreign policy, which would reassure those who call for federalism, and brake the demand for federalism. .

What both Nader and Kassir are talking about is also emphasized by the “Progressive Socialist” party’s sources, stressing that the implementation of the “Taif Agreement” with all its components is the solution to all the problems and crises that Lebanon suffers from, pointing at the same time to the possibility of work and dialogue to develop the political system for the better. On the other hand, it warns against “federal calls that stem from the demographic balance and that would deepen Lebanon’s problems instead of solving them.”

The implementation of the Taif Accord as it is, and on top of it the administrative decentralization, reassures those calling for federalism and contributes to alleviating the severity of their demand.

Sami Nader