In a bid to contain Hezbollah, world powers push for Lebanon's defense strategy

The debate around the adoption of national defense strategy has resurfaced in recent weeks, as Lebanon geared up for three international donor conferences to shore up its economy and defensive capabilities.
by Georgi Azar

16 March 2018 | 17:14

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 16 March 2018 | 17:14

Prime Minister Saad Hariri (right) meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (left) while attending the Rome II conference on March 15, 2018 (NNA Photo)

BEIRUT: The international community has been courting Lebanese officials in an attempt to pave the way for the potential integration of Hezbollah’s arsenal within the framework of a national defense strategy.

The debate around the adoption of national defense strategy has resurfaced in recent weeks, as Lebanon geared up for three international donor conferences to shore up its economy and defensive capabilities.

Two days before the Rome conference, which set the stage for Lebanese officials to boost support for the Army and security state, United Nations (UN) Acting Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel urged Aoun to initiate dialogue over a national defense strategy.

With the international community continuing to express reservations over Hezbollah’s military wing and foreign incursions in Syria among other countries, Aoun assured Kardel that the national defense strategy would be discussed at the conclusion of the upcoming parliamentary elections and after the formation of new Cabinet, a source told Annahar.

The debate over a national defense strategy dates back to 2008 when Lebanon came to the brink of civil war as clashes erupted between Hezbollah militants and Future Movement supporters in Beirut on May 7, culminating in the Doha Accord.

The deal reached in Doha led to the election of Michel Suleiman as President and the formation of a national unity Cabinet, as well as the adoption of the previous electoral law which originally dates back to 1960. The "1960 electoral law" was pushed for by Aoun, who then served as leader of the Free Patriotic Movement.

What ensued was a national dialogue process and numerous meetings aimed at examining proposals in an “effort to find common ground among rival political parties and eventually reach a unified national defense strategy.”

A compromise wasn’t reached, however, and the debate over crafting a policy of national defense simply never came to fruition.

Workable solutions for Hezbollah’s continued armed status have been put forth over the years, such as nationalizing its military wing under the command of the Lebanese Army, yet Hezbollah continues to cling to its argument that the resistance is the best means of deterring future Israeli aggression against Lebanon.

According to the source, Aoun will invite rival political parties to the negotiating table with the aim of carrying out a national dialogue which will safeguard the country’s stability and advance its national interest.


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