Bread or Arms, Aoun Stream Change Position towards Hezbollah

Hezbollah has only two choices: either to keep using arms for achieving its ideological goals, or finding a solution for the Lebanese crisis, Ziead al-Aswad, a leader in the Free Patriotic Movement said, in an indication to a possible coup against Hezbollah by the pro-Aoun stream.

The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) is a Lebanese political party with a nationalistic attitude, overwhelmingly supported by the Christian population in the country. In 2006, the FPM signed a memorandum of understanding with Hezbollah organizing their relation and discussing Hezbollah’s disarmament, given some conditions. The second and third conditions for disarmament were the return of Lebanese prisoners from Israeli jails and the elaboration of a defense strategy to protect Lebanon from the Israeli threat. The agreement also discussed the importance of having normal diplomatic relations with Syria and the request for information about the Lebanese political prisoners in Syria and the return of all political prisoners and diaspora in Israel.

Al-Aswad has called on Hezbollah to relinquish its arms, as this is what the western countries demand in return of helping Lebanon in its economic crisis.

Al-Aswad’s comments coincide with the escalating economic crisis and warnings of a wave of poverty and hunger that may strike Lebanon in the near future, according to the New York Times.

Hungry people and political ambitions

According to al-Aswad, the general situation in Lebanon stipulates that Hezbollah must adhere to the conditions of the international community. “You cannot keep holding the guns while your people are hungry,” al-Aswad said, putting the blame of the difficult economic situation in Lebanon to Hezbollah’s actions and positions.

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, warned on May 21, that by the end of this year, half of the Lebanese people will not be able to get food and bread, because of the Corona crisis effects in addition to the economic crisis.

This change regarding the FPM position towards Hezbollah’s policy in Lebanon is attributed to the ambition of Jibran Basli, the party’s chairman, who wants to succeed Michael Aoun, the Lebanese President, reliable source said to MENA Study and Research Center.

“This new stance is covered with the economic crisis and Lebanon’s interests, but the actual reason for this change is Basil’s political ambitions,” according to MENA’s source.

In the same context, the source, talking under condition of anonymity, indicates that Basil’s arrival to the presidential palace of Baabda would require an alignment with the western stance of Hezbollah’s arms, because Lebanon’s next president would be chosen according to international understandings. Therefore, the interests of the Free Patriotic Movement in the next stage would require a change in its alliances with the Iran-backed Hezbollah.

The 2006 agreement between FPM and Hezbollah was the major reason for Aoun’s arrival to the power.

International pressure extrapolating to the future

Basil has made the first step towards the new stance adopted by his party, as he talked about the Syria-Lebanon borders issue, criticizing the “de facto government” and blaming it for the insecurity on the borders.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had called a few days ago to disarm and reduce Hezbollah and its involvement in military operations in Syria and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Germany has classified Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and this coincided with US economic sanctions.

Basil has extrapolated the future and the international will to limit the Iranian influence in the region, which would affect the Iranian presence in Lebanon too.

Basil might take a provocative step and cut all his connections with Hezbollah.

The Government is on the stake

The biggest looser of this divergence between the government’s allies is the government itself, led by Hassan Diab, especially that it already suffers of internal splits.

On the other hand, Basil’s plan might not affect the arms of Hezbollah directly, it could rather affect Hezbollah’s political power and reduce its control over governmental decisions.

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