Failure to elect: Lebanese Hezbollah’s pursuit to force a president

The Lebanese parliament has failed 12 times to elect a new president of the republic, a post which has been vacant since former President Michael Aoun’s term in office expired back in October of 2022. While the Lebanese constitution clearly stipulates that the Lebanese parliament is elected by secret ballot, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in the first round, while a simple majority will suffice in the subsequent sessions.


Yet this simple task has been obstructed by the vehement refusal of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy militia and their allies, who have time and again walked out of the parliament – something which they did last Wednesday – maintaining that this is a simple democratic practice which the Lebanese constitutions safeguards, or so they claim.


The parliament session was attended by the 128 members of parliament who voted for two main candidates, the former minister of the interior and pro-Syrian/Iranian Suliman Frangieh, and Jihad Azour, the former minister of finance and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) director of the Middle East and Central Asia. The first round of voting gave Azour 59 votes, with 51 going to Frangieh before Hezbollah and their allies weaseled their way out of the hall to break the quorum.

As a candidate for the so-called axis of resistance, Frangieh has no impressive credentials other than leading his tribe’s militia during the civil war. His high school level education and his somewhat rough political demeanor make him an unlikely champion to lead Lebanon out of its current predicament. Azour, on the other hand, stands as a possible figure to mediate with the international community and the IMF and the World Bank in another quest to drive through a number of structural reforms which would place Lebanon on the road to recovery.

In essence, the election of the president is far removed from any illusions of reform, as it stands as one more chance to stop Hezbollah from fully dominating Lebanon through electing another puppet president as they did in 2016 with Michael Aoun when they were able to obstruct the process until the Lebanese political elite reached a deal to divide the resources of the state and thus ushering in the ongoing economic and political collapse.

Yet what is key in the recent Hezbollah walkout of the parliament session is the collapse of the super narrative they have maintained since 2006, after their memorandum of understanding with the Free Patriotic Movement-FPM, known as the Mar Mikhael Agreement, which anchored the alliance of minorities between the two sides, against a supposed extremist Sunni majority and allegedly confirmed Hezbollah commitment to the respect of the Christians rights including the empowering of the office of the president.


Thus, Hezbollah’s refusal to accept the fact that the majority of the Christian political parties, mainly the Lebanese Forces and the FPM has undermined their narrative and their so-called commitment to protecting the rights of the Christian minority.

Coincidently, Hezbollah is well aware that it lacks the votes to force through its own president and thus will continue to obstruct the democratic process, by using its weapons if needed, until a regional settlement forces the Arab Gulf and particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to offer Lebanon and Hezbollah a financial and a political bailout, something which Saudi Arabia has confirmed has no interest in doing. The recent Saudi-French summit in Paris last week reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s refusal to empower Hezbollah and the political establishment by sanctioning the election of Frangieh, or to a large extent Azour, which only stands to prolong the suffering of the Lebanese at large and to allow Hezbollah to acquire new resources.

The Saudi-Iranian détente has clearly excluded Lebanon, something which Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, has confirmed in one of his speeches. Yet, rather than trying to find a middle ground to appease Saudi Arabia and the international community, Hezbollah doubled down by openly naming Frangieh as their contender. Such a reaction from Iran’s Lebanese proxies is somewhat expected as their playbook is mostly limited to military and intelligence maneuvers, and thus, the Saudi disinterest in Lebanon has prevented Hezbollah from cashing out on their continued abduction of the country.


Equally interesting is the fact that Nabih Berri, the head of the Shia Amal Movement and the longest serving speaker of parliament in the world, is now a political refugee that has no choice but to follow Hezbollah and, more importantly, has lost his ability to twist the facts or to convince his spectators that his political magic act is an act of patriotism.

So far, the 12 charades which the so-called Lebanese elite tried to pass as parliament sessions are merely another affirmation that the corrupt Lebanese establishment has become politically senile and is oblivious to the radical changes in the world around them, contrary to what they continue to peddle, Hezbollah is not a regional problem but rather a domestic one, and that refusing to acknowledge this will only make Lebanon’s regional isolation a permeant matter.



Makram Rabah

Related Articles

Back to top button