11/02/2016, 11.16
LEBANON
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President Michel Aoun: A new edition of the "Lebanese miracle"

by Fady Noun

The election welcomed by Europe and the United State. Welcomed by the Maronite Patriarchate and the Churches of Syria. The result of a "historic compromise" that was able to unite the different souls of the country. Aoun will have to demonstrate "wisdom" and not eliminate other political forces.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - For many this is a new edition of the "Lebanese miracle": the former commander in chief of the army, General Michel Aoun (81 years old) was elected last October 31, 13th president of the Lebanese Republic, after two and a half years of a presidential vacuum that was exhausting for institutions, public morality and the economy. He was elected with 83 votes out of 127; Parliament consists of 128 seats, but one of the deputies had resigned earlier.

The election of Michel Aoun was welcomed by the European Community, as well as the United States, who confirmed the continuation of the aid program to the army, one of the priorities of Aoun’s priorities and he stated in his address immediately after taking the constitutional oath.

Among the first to congratulate him was Iranian president Hassan Rouhani and the Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad; a normal fact for those who believe that the appointment of Michel Aoun is a Syrian-Iranian Axis victory.

The Maronite Patriarch, the Catholic Churches of Syria, including the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregory III Laham have also reacted positively to the election.

Adored by his supporters, criticized by a large part of public opinion, Michel Aoun owes his election to a historic compromise between the Lebanese Forces, the main Christian party, the main Sunni political force, led by Saad Hariri Future Movement and the main Druze political faction, the Progressive Socialist Party of Walid Jumblatt. At first he only had the support of the main Shiite force in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Despite the festive reception following the election,  the Free Patriotic Movement (MPL), which Michel Aoun founded - brilliant officer and politician of rare tenacity - must now resist the temptation to appropriate the exclusive credit for this miracle .

The turning point in the presidential crisis is not a "great victory" for either the MPL, or for the Lebanese Forces, nor Hezbollah, the main Shiite ally of General Aoun, nor for the Future Movement, nor for Walid Jumblatt's party. All these forces have had to make concessions to allow the election of Michel Aoun. The big winner appears to be the spirit of the internal and regional compromise that made it possible.

According to a high-ranking Western diplomat, the rise of Michel Aoun to the presidency of the Lebanese Republic inaugurates a new phase full of promise in the political life of the Land of the Cedars. The President of the Republic, which was previously confined to a role of arbiter or a subordinate position, has become the strong man of his community. This is also one of the arguments that Michel Aoun used to justify the systematic and intentional blocking of the parliamentary quorum to prevent the election of a "weak" president in his place appointed by Muslim political leaders.

"The Maronites have always been rebels - adds the diplomatic source cited above - Michel Aoun has undoubtedly used means contrary to the Constitution to achieve his own ends, but the battles fought around Lebanon have never been democratic ".

In order to understand what would appear impossible to some, onlookers must think in the long term, to embrace a wider field in which the political actors are no longer defined by their qualities and their defects, but by the same dynamics that brought them to power.

In fact the solution to the Lebanese presidential crisis is part of the regional geopolitical context. The Lebanese compromise could very well be an example and a model to follow.

The Arab world is the theater of a global conflict that is ripping the fabric of the Islamic community, dividing it between Shiites and Sunnis. Amid divisions exacerbated by the war in Yemen and the impasse in the Syrian conflict, as well as the inclusion of Hezbollah on the list of terrorist organizations by Saudi Arabia, pro- Iran Hezbollah and the pro-Saudi Future Movement suddenly decide to support the same candidate for the Christian presidency of Lebanon. Neither should the decision to sit down and discuss the formation of a government that includes both sides be overestimated.

In addition, it should be acknowledged that Lebanon has been able to establish itself as the perfect place to experience this compromise thanks to its political unity that has stood up to extremes; thanks to the solidity and security of the state and the impermeability of its borders in spite of the Islamic terrorist threat; and finally thanks to the internal dialogue promoted by the Future Movement and Hezbollah.

According to the Western sources already mentioned above, in this regional context Lebanon’s move is a mere “entrée” and not the "final" dessert. The rest was in this direction that drove the countries friends of Lebanon throughout the course of the presidential crisis, especially by providing Lebanon itself the means and the necessary lessons in the fight against terrorism, both within the country and on its eastern border.

"Now we must hope - adds the source - that Michel Aoun knows how to avoid the mistake made by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and not try to eliminate other political forces, or become mired in many battles, instead choosing wisdom and flexibility, promoting intelligent partnerships and not muscle. " As happens in all latitudes, we must grant the new Lebanese president the classic "hundred days" before passing judgment, starting with the formation of a new government of national unity. 

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