Basil to the mantle of Bkerke to float himself!

Joanna Farhat wrote in “Al-Markazia”:

More than once, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Al-Rai raised his voice on the grounds of “excluding Christians from state positions.” But there are reasons that prevented this, according to what sources opposing the “centralization” say, which are: first, the differences between the political forces over the Lebanese crisis, and second, what concerns the Lebanese forces, which do not want to participate in any meeting without ensuring the conditions for its success, otherwise it will be just a meeting. Folklore talk to no avail. Thirdly, if the meeting is to support a political group like MP Gebran Bassil, who does not remember the rights of Christians except when he is in crisis and cornered. Fourthly, if any Christian group, especially Bassil, wants to confront the exclusion of Christians and disrupt the presidency of the republic, it must break its alliance with Hezbollah. He declares his commitment to a set of irreversible principles, but if he wants to maneuver and show off, there is no need for any meeting.”

The points of difference, not disagreement, have become clear and are divided between the projects of two teams: The first wants the establishment of an actual state to which the decision of war and peace will be attributed, a return to the constitution, and the exclusivity of weapons in the hands of the Lebanese army, with the priority at the present stage being the election of a president of the republic. A second team falls under the “Hezbollah statelet” and its project is exit. He rejects the constitution and the principles of a sovereign, free, neutral, and independent state, obstructs constitutional entitlements, does not recognize legitimate decisions, returns to him the decision of war and peace, and works according to Iran’s agenda, not his state, Lebanon.

The differences are radical, and among them are the concerns that Bkerke is aware of, along with the Vatican circles that sounded the alarm. From here, Patriarch Al-Rahi began thinking about an initiative to unify political visions among the main Christian forces, so the party representatives met in Bkerke. Al-Rahi was keen to keep these meetings away from the media in order to avoid raising any sensitivities and not burden them with more than they were supposed to be.

In the first meeting, from which the representative of the Marada Movement was absent, the discussions focused on many topics, most notably the necessity of electing a president of the republic, respecting international legitimacy resolutions, adopting neutrality to distance Lebanon from regional conflicts, respecting the constitution, and supporting the investigation into the port explosion. The issue of expanded administrative decentralization was also raised in preparation for issuing a document that all parties in the country would accept.

As for the date of the second meeting, according to the Lebanese Phalange Party advisor who participated in the meeting in Bkerke Sassine Sassine, it is scheduled to be held next week. “There will be no new points to discuss between the representatives of the parties, but rather a continuation of the discussions on the issues raised in the first meeting and the preparation of the text.” He points out that the focus of the meeting is not limited to issuing a document, but rather exchanging sovereign concerns to be presented to the Christian components.

Sassine reveals that there is agreement between the two communities on basic points, including Resolution 1559 and the exclusivity of weapons, noting that “even the Free Patriotic Movement did not have any reservations about this point, but we must be careful in raising this issue at this stage.” It reveals that the issue of arms exclusivity is not raised for the purpose of confrontation with Hezbollah, but rather to establish a state whose sovereignty must be confined to the state and its military and security institutions.”

Regarding Marada’s distancing himself from the Bkerke meeting, Sassine attributes it “to his involvement in the issue of the presidency of the republic.”

In parallel, Sassine rules out that the Bkerke meetings will turn into a copy of Qornet Shehwan, “which is likely to be closer to the Bristol meeting, as it includes all the wings.”

Before the meeting in Bkerke, the Lebanese Forces Party presented a Christian national document to Patriarch Al-Rahi, which included a set of ideas regarding the National Charter and the formula and their development, in addition to the demographically threatened Christian presence at various levels, a detailed explanation of the problem and its causes, proposals for treatment and solutions, and a road map. Waiting for Al-Rahi to express his opinion on it after the party put it at its disposal, the Bkerke meetings come, which former Minister Fares Bouiz expects to serve as “a starting point for bringing viewpoints closer together.” He adds to “centralization” that any meeting, meeting, or dialogue is a legitimate attempt and is supposed to pave the way for finding… Solutions to the problem of the presidential vacuum first, and the crisis of forming the country and filling the vacancies.”

It is surprising that some parties reject the principle of dialogue, but he continues, “The disagreement may be over the formality of the dialogue and not the principle, but in the end all these attempts must be made because they are necessary and legitimate, even if you are not very optimistic about the results of these meetings. Rather, the attempt is necessary because the alternative to… This is the separation of the parties from each other, and this is the most dangerous thing. In light of the meetings, we see the extent of the possibility of its success or failure.”

There are many expectations of those directly involved in the Bkerke meetings and the issuance of a document agreed upon by all parties. But what is confirmed for the opposition is that the main motive for the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Representative Gebran Bassil, to accept participation in the meetings and return to the mantle of Bkerke is to float himself, restore his Christian popularity after it had eroded, and regain his Christian weight, which disintegrated with his involvement in Hezbollah. Is credibility based on words or by taking the sovereign national position? And publicly admit that he is against the party’s weapons?

Based on this reality, opposition circles express their dissatisfaction with the movement’s participation in the Bkerke meetings and their futility and results. It is considered that the movement is trying to benefit from its participation to obtain Christian legitimacy and cover in Bkerke and to wash away the political situation imposed on it by American sanctions.


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