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Lebanon: March 14 Christians on Shaky Ground With Hariri

By Maysam Rizk | Al-Akhbar | January 20, 2014

Lebanon’s March 14 Christians are banding together in an attempt to pressure former Prime Minister Saad Hariri about the government. However, their game will be over very soon. According to March 14 sources, “March 14 Christians are used by Hariri to fuel his battles then sacrificed when a settlement is reached.”

The smile on Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s face was not enough to convince French presidential envoy Emmanuel Bon that the situation is well. Geagea stressed that Hariri would never join Hezbollah in one government. Yet no matter how hard Geagea attempts to show confidence in his relationship with Hariri, he will never manage to cover up their discords.

Geagea remarked, “We are still in the stage of deliberations and negotiations regarding the government,” perhaps not noticing that Hariri announced from The Hague his willingness to join Hezbollah in the government.

MP Sami Gemayel spoke to Geagea via telephone for 15 minutes, assuring him that Kataeb will boycott the government, even if Hariri participates. He expressed his support for Geagea’s position favoring a neutral cabinet. Sami later announced, “We are not concerned with the nature of the government. What matters is its agenda.” Perhaps Sami had heard about Hariri’s positive attitude before the rest of Lebanese, hence his taking a middle ground.

Former minister Boutros Harb seemed ready to overcome the tensions that emerged between the Lebanese Forces and March 14 independent figures following the debate over the infamous Orthodox Electoral Law. Due to Hariri’s “concessions,” Harb now sees his alliance with the Lebanese Forces as the only available option to confront Hariri’s waiving of March 14 demands, mainly Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria.

At the peak of the confrontation, Hariri left his allies blundering. According to leaked information, Hariri’s statements on the sidelines of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon show “he is holding negotiations with the opposite side while his allies are in a whole different place.” Some March 14 sources even stressed that Hariri is going to participate in the upcoming cabinet “even if his allies refuse to join him.”

Hariri is willing to drop his Christian-Muslim partnership, and “March 14 will no longer be united.” Sources confirmed that Hariri cannot be part of any compromise regarding the government unless he receives a Saudi order.

March 14 Christian sources said, “There has been no Saudi password. Riyadh left the decision to its people in Lebanon so they do what they deem suitable. Hence, Hariri is seeking his own interests, not those of his alliance! Despite all that, some in Geagea’s and Gemayel’s circles still believe that Hariri negotiators are trying to reach a compromise that would include the Baabda Declaration in the government statement and would omit the word ‘resistance’ in order to gain leverage against Hezbollah.”

The Christian wing of March 14 is counting on “Sunni politicians to continue what Maronite politicians started in their policies against Syrian and Iranian hegemonies,” said a source. They hope Hariri “will change his mind about joining a government with Hezbollah if the party doesn’t return to the state and comply with all conditions.”

Geagea didn’t make any “loud statement” concerning Hariri’s latest remarks, neither did Gemayel, Harb, or anyone who sees himself as future president. These politicians are seeking to “buy time and announce positions that they can concede to Hariri when the time comes.”

Some March 14 Christians are convinced that “Hariri is not very pleased with his alliance with Geagea and Gemayel. Even though they all shared a common political position in 2005, Hariri still believes that he naturally belongs alongside Nabih Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt, whom his father used to reach compromises with.”

January 20, 2014 - Posted by | Aletho News | , , ,

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