Examining the period between the Ta’if accord and the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, one can notice the following:
1- Confessionalism remained the dominant factor in Lebanese politics and society;
2- The corrupted political elite who responsible for the civil war were able to regenerate itself once again in the political life.
3- The civil society which did not effectively exist before1975, was unable to exert any influence on the political life.
4- Syria abstained from implementing the Ta’if accord. It controlled Lebanon’s political, administrative, military and foreign affairs, supported its allies and their encroachments, and violated the constitution, and initiated the rise of Troika. In opposition with the Ta’if accord, Syria didn’t disarm Hezbollah nor the Palestinian guerrillas having thus created Prob- lems for the future.
5- Christians, frustrated by Syrian presence in Lebanon, launched an opposition under the umbrella of Bkirki, Kurnat Shihwan and General Aoun.
6- Syria controlled Lebanon, making the latter a weak partner in a series of treaties and conventions.
7- Israel’s withdrawal from in the south of Lebanon in 2000 forced Syria to keep Lebanon within the sphere of conflict with Israel (The Shebaa farms).
8- Syria and Iran maintained their common interests in the region, namely in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. Both countries felt confronted with the American policy ever since the events of September 2001 and the invasion of Iraq two years later. The regime in Damascus found itself isolated targeted by the American new policy in the Middle East, and thus signed a defensive treaty with Iran in June 2006.
9- Lebanese debt increased to a dangerous level. As a result, the middle class shrunk, the low class expanded and immigration rose.
In 2000, Walid Junblat criticized the Syrian security regime in Lebanon. After Patriarch Sfeir paid a visit to Mont Liban, a year later, a non-confessional block began to form gathering Jumblat, Kurnat Shihwan, and Hariri in the back- ground. Its final structure took shape through three incidents: The American invasion of Iraq; the extension of Lahoud’s presidential term by Syria and finally the assassination of Hariri. For the first time, real common interests existed between Moslems Sunni and Druze on one side, and Christians on the other side, both aiming to restore Lebanese political decision. At the same time, though the Moslems didn’t demand for the disarmament of Hezbollah. Consequently, a Four-party alliance was thus formed in the parliamentary elections of 2005. The alliance reflected itself in Prime - minister Siniora’ governmental declaration, one which regarded Hezbollah armed militia as a legal national resistance. This government was temporary however, and soon collapsed as a result of the collaboration between Hezbollah, Syria and Iran; a series of assassination, and the dispute over the international tribunal; and the July war of 2006 which put an end to the dialogue table initiated in March of the same year. These developments, timed with the confrontation between USA and Iran over Iran’s nuclear capacities and domination in the ME, made Lebanon a battle field for their struggle. Since then, the Lebanese have been divided between two axis: the Majority, which collaborated with the Americans, raising slogans for Lebanese democracy and sovereignty as a bridge head for a “constructive chaos” in the region, and the minority which collaborated with Iran and Syria and challenging USA goals.
Subsequently, many substantial developments have occurred since 2005. They are summarized below:
1- Increasing internal cleavage among the Lebanese over issues such as the future of the state, its reformation, the international tribunal, the conflict between Syria and Israel, and last not least over the regional disputes. It is true that the division was unique and non- confessional, but it is also true that this division has reached the religious communities; The Shi’a were the only sect which remained coherent under Hezbollah and Amal militias.
2- Since late 2006, the cleavage and the frozen dialogues have caused the paralysis of constitutional institutions which in turn has been exacerbated by the obstruction of the parliament and the withdrawal of Shia’s ministers from the government. For the first time in the Lebanese history, vacuum existed in the state presidency.The national economy has worsened due to the sit- in in down town Beirut, the freezing of the Paris 3 (The inter- national conference on economic aid for Lebanon). Although the UN resolution 1701 enabled the Lebanese government to spread its authority over the south, Hezbollah’s militia has rebuilt its military arsenal.
3- Despite the fact that the Lebanese agreed upon the Ta’if accord,, demands for the amendment of the agreement were launched by the opposition by using the pretext of restoring the authorities of the Christian president of the state, and by gaining enough cabinet seats to have a veto over government action. Meanwhile the Shia of Hezbollah and Iranian politicians insinuated repeatedly the aim of institutional tripartite distribution. Since Hezbollah military invasion of Beirut by using weapon to submit its foes, this party has strategically aimed to impose its influence over both the state and society by establishing a society of Resistance, as deputy secretary - General of Hezbollah Naim Qasem stated, where Wilayat al Fakikh dominates.
4- Lebanon was subjected to increased terror activities and international intervention, so the Lebanese were looking for foreign assistance. The dominant powers used Lebanon as a field for their own conflicts. An example is the international tribunal and Hezbollah disarmament.
5- Syria gradually regained its potential through its allies in Lebanon. The more the opposition gained power, the more Syria’s influence in Lebanon became stronger, even in the absence of its army.
6- The Lebanese national economic dropped since the 2006 war; Financial Losses as a result of the 2006 war were estimated at $ 6 billion. Then came the sit-in in down town Beirut to escalate the problems of the Lebanese economy.
7- Christian leaders have shown increased interest in Federalism as a solution for Lebanon’s predicament. Had we a united Christian front, could this goal be achieved in case of international backing?
Although I’m pessimistic in regard to the future of a united Lebanon, I think that the following suggestions can preserve the co-existence among the religious groups:
1- Establishing a civil society, where sectarianism has no place in political life; where equality in rights and duties prevails among citizens.
2- Issuing a new fair electorial law which allow the Lebanese to elect their own representatives to the Parliament. This could decrease the confessional cleavage.
3- True separation between the three powers. In addition, strengthing of the juridical power should be the goal of everybody.
4- Strengthen the potential of the Lebanese army and security forces, so that they become the sole military force in Lebanon, and subsequently implement law and preserve the sovereignty of the state and not the consensus security which currently is the case.
5- Carrying out decentralization.
6- Carrying out social plans and projects for developing rural regions and imposing plans to recover Lebanese economy and to settle the debt.
7- Restoring Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa farms and liberating the Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails by negotiations and declaring Lebanese neutrality, as well as repairing Lebanese – Syrian relations. First step towards the last goal is to solve the issue of missing Lebanese in Syrian jails.
8- Disarming Palestinian guerrillas and Hezbollah militias through negotiations and lebanization. I’m pessimistic regarding this issue, due to the ambitions of imposing the Wilayat al-Fakikh through Hezbollah.
9- Restoring national unity and common sense through education and cultural development. The Lebanese need this unity, in particular our politicians. The national unity will enable the Lebanese to counter foreign plans and objectives.
If the Lebanese succeed in implementing these suggestions, they will be capable to eliminate confessionalism and false consensus democracy, thus transforming their state into a civil one, where the minority is not oppressed by the majority.