Clash of Counter-Revolutions in Lebanon

By Walid Daou

Having consolidated its power following the revolutionary wave in the past years, the counter-revolution continues to extend its influence in the region. After a direct clash, and through its agents, in Yemen and Syria, it seems that Lebanon is next. Or, at least, something is being prepared.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri did not have time to enjoy his powers or the partnership with President Michel Aoun, with Hezbollah behind them of course. He received a call from Saudi Arabia, his regional patron, and quickly obliged, announcing his resignation from the Saudi capital, in a move that surprised everyone, including himself.

Hariri's resignation speech contained harsh words against Hezbollah and its ally Iran, something he had avoided throughout the period leading up to his resignation. "We agree that we disagree about Syria and opening communication channels," he kept saying and took a similar position vis-a-vis Hezbollah's weapons.

Syria's allies in Lebanon, on the other hand, have shown a degree of commitment to Hariri, not seen in the past few years. Hariri had suffered heavy losses in his wealth and popularity. When he reached a settlement with Aoun and Hezbollah, he seemed as if he had found a lifeline to reverse his decline. The latter found in his a malleable Sunni cover.

However, Hariri could not gain anything from this agreement, politically at least. He avoided holding partial parliamentary elections, after the polls indicated the possibility of losing against his former ally Ashraf Rifi, whose populist and sectarian rhetoric surpassed Hariri's.

Before the resignation, Hariri and the whole of the ruling class, seemed comfortable with their new partner, Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement. Together, they took hold of key services and privatized them, such as electricity and other vital sectors, in alliance with [Hezbollah's main ally] Amal movement. But a new factor appeared that led the ruling class to salivate even more, which is the discovery of natural gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean. The ruling class had prepared a plan to divide the spoils through companies with ties to this and that side.

In the midst of all of that, Saudi Arabia was counting the blows in Syria, Yemen, and other places in the region. On the other hand, the alliance extending from Russia to Iran to Syria to Hezbollah was beginning to plan for Syria's reconstruction, after having advanced militarily against the other side of the counter-revolution and after the defeat of the revolution, in its original form.

Mohammed Bin Salman decided on a reckless maneuver, betting on an Israeli strike--which did not happen--against Hezbollah. Hariri was a victim of this endeavor, as it seems that the Saudi rule is becoming more despotic and might go on unprecedented adventures in the near future to try to save face, especially in Yemen.

Up till now, it seems that France succeeded in preventing escalation, albeit temporarily, and wants to play a role in the region through its diplomatic efforts, before the intervention of the two "bears", the US and Russia. However, Saudi heedlessness and Iranian/Hezbollah domination will continue to clash in the region, leaving behind thousands of victims, hungry, maimed, and displaced.

All this would have been different if the revolutions in the region had advanced and become more rooted. This failure is what had led to increased imperial intervention.

November 22, 2017