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Cedar Revolution rally
On March 14, 2005, a month after Hariri’s assassination , over a million Lebanese headed to downtown Beirut to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon after a nearly 29-year of military presence. The mass rally was later dubbed the Cedar Revolution or Independence Uprising.

Friday’s speech by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah caused an outrage in Lebanon. He confirmed what the majority of the Lebanese had long suspected and that is neither Iran, nor its Hezbollah proxy want Lebanon to have a president.

Nasrallah reiterated last night his support for the presidential candidacy of former Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.

The 35th parliament session has been scheduled for February 8 to elect a successor to former President Michel Suleiman whose term ended in May 2014, but according to Nasrallah neither Hezbollah MPs nor Aoun’s MPs will participate in the parliament session since it cannot guarantee to get Aoun to the Baabda presidential palace .

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea responded on Saturday to Hezbollah chief’s speech by urging the March 8 camp to head to parliament on February 8 to take part in the presidential elections.

Geagea , who was the first to announce his presidential candidacy but decided earlier this month to back   Aoun’s presidential bid with the aim of resolving the presidential crisis ,said via Twitter: “If Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah believes that the camp achieved a victory in the presidential nominations, why doesn’t his camp head to the polls in February?”

Nasrallah had declared on Friday that his party would head to parliament “tomorrow” if it guarantees that Aoun would be elected president.

Nasrallah claimed last night that Iran has nothing to do with the Lebanese presidential crisis ,but PSP chief MP Walid Jumblatt strongly disagrees.

“The password to ending the presidential impasse is in the hands of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,” he said earlier this week and warned Nasrallah on Saturday not to transform the Lebanese democracy (despite its shortcomings) to an Iranian one.

Several analysts that I spoke with are of the opinion that Geagea’s endorsement of Aoun’s candidacy and former PM Saad Hariri’s endorsement of Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh’s candidacy exposed Hezbollah’s real strategy. Both candidates are from the March 8 camp . In Fact Nasrallah claimed victory last night over the fact that the 2 main candidates are from March 8.

Franjieh appeared like an odd choice for Hariri. Franjieh is a core member of the March 8 alliance , a former interior minister with family ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez dating back to the 1950s.

Hariri , who has been highly critical of Assad’s conduct during Syria’s civil war views the Syrian government as responsible for the assassination of his father, Rafik, in central Beirut in 2005. The killing sent shockwaves through Lebanon and led to the birth of the Cedar Revolution , the March 14 anti-Syrian alliance and to the end of three decades of Syrian occupation.

But Hariri’s initiative which called for nominating Franjieh as the presidential candidate exposed Hezbollah’s intentions with regards to the presidency.

Even though Hezbollah keeps reiterating that Aoun continues to be its candidate the party has done nothing to get him elected . Not one time has the party attended any of the parliament election sessions ( after Geagea secured 48 votes in the first session) to nominate Aoun.

According to the analysts that I spoke to on Saturday Hezbollah does not want at this stage any president in Lebanon and is using Aoun now like it did in 2007 ( when it obstructed the election of Suleiman) strictly to obstruct the election of a president.

Hezbollah according to the analysts wants to continue to use Aoun to get a Christian cover for its Syria role and wait till the Syrian war is over before making a decision on the presidency. But the war in Syria may be in the initial stages and will not be over in the foreseeable future.

The analysts concluded that for the time being Hezbollah wants to continue to use Aoun for obstruction and has no intention to ever see him as the Lebanese president.

Unfortunately Aoun is desperate to become the president. His desperation was clearly demonstrated at Maareb prior to his endorsement by Geagea where he signed off on all the March 14 demands despite the fact that he is allied with Hezbollah in the rival March 8 camp.

This situation has become unbearable for the majority of the Lebanese. Analysts think that the country is sitting on a time bomb that could explode at any moment. There are talks of another uprising in Lebanon , like the Cedar Revolution of 2005 with the aim this time of getting rid of Hezbollah which is being viewed as Lebanon’s number one liability . Hezbollah may be armed to the teeth, but is not as strong as Syria was during its occupation of Lebanon.

The Lebanese are known for their courage and love for freedom and therefore are bound to say enough is enough and rise to reclaim their country.

May be this coming March 14 we may witness another Cedar Revolution type uprising if a president is not elected in February.

By : Ali Hussein , Ya Libnan Volunteer

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