One of Hezbollah’s closest allies, lawmaker and retired army general Michel Aoun, says there is a “serious possibility” he will run for the presidency of Lebanon in the spring election. This would add to the anti-Western alliance’s ever-increasing influence over Lebanese politics and the country’s military.
Aoun is currently showing a more moderate face, calling on all fighters to withdraw from Syria and meeting head of the pro-Western bloc Saad Hariri to discuss his candidacy. He defended his apparent moderation when challenged in an interview on Wednesday with Al-Arabiya TV.
Many are surprised when they meet me and my reactions are not as people perceive…I refuse everything that could lead to an internal clash even if such an opposition would cost me the presidency. Not becoming president is not the end of the world.
The presidency retains major powers in Lebanon. The president is commander in chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces, appoints the government and can dismiss the prime minister, propose and veto laws.
Some Lebanese pundits suggest Aoun in the presidency will “be less likely to cover for Hezbollah’s transgressions.”
However, from Hezbollah’s perspective, having an ally in Baabda Palace will mean the Iranian-backed terror organization will be further entrenched at all levels of Lebanese public life, despite the power-sharing law that splits power between Christians, Shiites and Sunnis.
In addition to its independent military, one of the strongest in the Middle East, Hezbollah and its allies have eight ministers in the newly-formed cabinet. Parliament speaker Nabih Berri is a Shiite and his Amal party works hand in glove with Hezbollah.
Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah is built on shared enmity of Israel.
I never regretted my choice to support the resistance. If the July 2006 aggression is repeated, I will have the same attitude and the same enthusiasm, because the resistance is part of our entity.
Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement is the second-largest party in Lebanon’s parliament and the biggest Christian party. The FPM and Hezbollah bonded in the wake of the 2006 war against Israel. While Hezbollah is Shiite and the FPM Christian, the two agreed that the resistance against Israel was paramount.
[Photo: Heretiq / Wiki Commons]