Al-Ahram hosted a roundtable discussion in which Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel discussed the current political situation in Lebanon.
After starting off the discussion with a general statement about the Arab world and the Arab people's struggle to embrace globalization, Gemayel noted that regional, national or sectarian problems must be reassessed “bravely and objectively”.
“Lebanon is imprisoned by its geographic setting,” Gemayel said, with Syria to its east, the sea to its west and Israel to its south.
Syrian troops had pulled out of Lebanon in 2005 after over three decades of occupation but Gemayel maintained that “even though Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon, elements of Syrian hegemony remain."
Syria’s recognition of Lebanon is only partial according to the former president, and it exerts its influence through entities such as Hizbullah and several institutions; remnants of the Syrian presence in the country.
“We want good relations with Syria,” Gemayel asserted, adding that “all that we ask” is that Syria respects Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence. He explained that it was in Lebanon’s advantage to have good and special ties with its “sister country”.
The problem in Lebanon today, as summed up by Gemayel, is that one faction commits to democratic practice and the other claims to do so but relies on arms and political aggression.
This faction is calling for the removal of the Special Tribunal of Lebanon, which is investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri as well as other victims in a series of assassinations. However, they are not presenting any alternative, Gemayel maintained, reasserting 14 March support for the UN-backed probe.
The tribunal is no longer just an investigation, it symbolizes peace, Gemayel explained: “it is a national cause.”
A contradiction arises between democratic logic and between taking to the streets and taking up arms, he added, recalling Hizbullah’s actions in 2008.
In the Taif and Doha accords it was agreed that arms would not be used again and that resignations would not be used to collapse governments, Gemayel said.
As for Hizbullah, Gemayel insisted that the militant group’s clinging to its arms is unjustified and became so when Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000. He added that the Shebaa Farms, which Hizbullah maintains it must liberate, is in reality Syrian territory. Its liberation is Syria's responsibility, according to Gemayel.
If legal documents were presented proving the territories were Lebanese, documents previously denied to Lebanon by Syria according to Gemeyal, then the former would take its “legitimate resistance” to the UN.
Protecting Lebanon and its people’s security and safety is the country’s responsibility not Hizbullah's, Gemayel explained.
When asked about Druze leader Walid Jumblatt changing sides, he said that that primarily happened after Hizbullah marched on Al-Mokhtara Palace in Mount Lebanon, a Jumblatt residence: “constitutional institutions could not protect him.”
Lebanon is witnessing a "creeping coup," according to Gemayel. On the possibility of Hezbollah forming the next government, he said: "We are not entombed, and we want peace, and we will defend it at any cost."
“We are looking for a way out,” Gemayel said regarding the looming political crisis in Lebanon. "We are not entombed, and we want peace, and we will defend it at any cost."
Gemayel seemed optimistic, saying that the current coalition is strong enough to face the difficult times Lebanon is facing.