Christian Maronite General Michel Aoun elected President of the Republic of Lebanon

Lebanon has chosen a cedar to preside over its destiny, with established roots, various ramifications and the necessary height of view. General Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian, as required by the 1943 Pact, was appointed Head of State by a majority of deputies.

IHe should appoint the Sunni Saad al-Hariri as head of government. This Iran-backed election also reduces the risk of sparks from the Syrian war igniting Lebanon. The prerogatives of the President of the Republic are very limited, he is above all the guarantor of national unity.

Since May 25, 2014 and the end of the mandate of General Michel Sleiman, the presidency of Lebanon was vacant, the parties could not agree on a name. The election of Aoun, 83, is that of a man who became consensual after leading one of the camps involved in the civil war in a country controlled by various militias, and in which the Syrian and Israeli armies were engaged respectively in 1976 and 1978 then 1982.

At the time, the troops of Hafez al-Assad intervened at the neighbor where, after a clash between the Phalanges or Kataeb, a Christian political movement, and Palestinian refugees in the suburbs of Beirut, the situation escalates between Christians and defenders of Arabism and Palestine. Six years later, following the attempted assassination of an Israeli ambassador by a Palestinian in London and gunfire from refugee camps in Lebanon, the Hebrew state invaded southern Lebanon.

Each of the two countries is supported by Lebanese: Syria, which wants to quickly restore peace, also fears an alliance between Christians and Israelis, is supported by some Christians who hope to be supported against the Palestinians; When the Israeli army entered the country in 1978, Christians were already no longer in favor of the Syrian presence and were deeply divided, and Colonel Saad Haddad positioned himself in favor of the IDF. Following the second Israeli intervention four years later, Iran supports emergence of Shiite Hezbollah movement, which breaks down into a political party and a militia.

Became commander of the armed forces in 1984, Michel Aoun is more and more essential in a country at war, and President Amine Gemayel appointed him head of government in 1988, in opposition to the unwritten National Pact of 1943 which distributes the functions between the denominations : the presidency of the Republic to a Christian Maronite, that of the Council to a Sunni, the posts of vice-prime minister and vice-president of the Parliament to the Greek Orthodox. Almost half of the army, the militia of the Lebanese Forces led by the Maronite Samir Geagea, the secular Liberal National Party largely made up of Christians, as well as the Druze support General Aoun.

The opponents then form a new ministerial cabinet, and the country finds itself divided between two governments, the partisans of Syria on the one hand, those of independence on the other. Quickly, the situation is tense between Aoun, military commander, but revolted, and Geagea militia leader, neither has legal authority, but Aoun considers himself the leader of the liberation. Geagea will follow him in his war of independence without much enthusiasm. From there, an opposition will develop between the two men until the support of Samir Geagea for the candidacy of Michel Aoun for the presidential election.

As the United States seeks moral support from as many Arab-Muslim countries as possible to hunt Iraq from Kuwait in 1990 and 19991, it is making sure that Syria does not hinder them by turning a blind eye to its takeover of Lebanon. . Exfiltrated by the French secret services, Aoun will not find Lebanon again until after a fourteen-year stay in Marseille, cheered by tens of thousands of supporters. A year later, Syria leaves Lebanon. A second life is announced to him.

From the fight for independence to that for unity in dependence on Iran

The former soldier is also a politician, victory is not enough, something must be done with it, put at the service of the country, otherwise he would plunge back into chaos. It is based on its movement founded in France, the Free Patriotic Current which it transforms into a political party in September 2015, mostly Christian and yet secular. He who denounced, almost alone in front of the world, the fate of Lebanon put under the control of Damascus, joins forces with Hezbollah close to the Syrians and now strengthened as a Lebanese party because of its role in the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon in 2000. Aoun's party opposes that of Geagea, which refuses the alliance with the political organization of the Shiite terrorist movement.

It is then a period of institutional uncertainty for the country of the Cedar, at the head of which there is no longer a President, once Emile Lahoud has left, between November 24, 2007 and May 25, 2008. After the presidency of Michel Sleiman, the country experienced a new vacancy for two and a half years. The election of Michel Aoun was made possible by a compromise with the Sunnis, but also his rival Samir Geagea who now sees this presidency as a favorable event for the country. If the sharing of responsibilities rests on a fragile balance, the compromise has not been easy, neither between Christians nor between Christians and Muslims. Nor between Muslims, the leader of the Current of the Future, the Sunni party, following his protests after the execution of Shiite Sheikh Nimr el-Nimr. Saad Hariri, also a Saudi Arabian, is the son of former head of government Rafiq Hariri Saad Hariri, at the beginning of the year again criticized Hezbollah for imitating Iran. It's all a work of diplomacy to raise his country which awaits General Aoun if he wants his country to become again the "Switzerland of the Middle East" and its capital, Beirut, the "Paris of the Middle East".

This work passes through Tehran of which it is now the de facto ally, the withdrawal of Riyadh from the Lebanese scene having weakened the one who should be appointed head of government, Saad Hariri. During his swearing-in, Michel Aoun did not mention Hezbollah and expressed his desire to avoid mixing the country of the Cedars with the wars and tensions in the region. While qualifying by his wish by the assurance given that, concerning Israel, the country “will not spare [its] efforts or [its] resistance in order to liberate all [the] territory of the enemy who still envies [Lebanon] for [its] resources ”.

If unity is almost done, Lebanon risks being ruled by a liege of Iran at the risk of unity dying if Saudi Arabia wants to regain control. A man of recognized stature, the cedar Aoun will have to take care as much as possible not to give too much legitimacy to interests foreign to those of Lebanon which, satisfied, can for the moment promote national unity, but may well appear. of tutors.

Hans-Søren Dag

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