The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Lebanon:
After the assassination of Gemayel, will there be an armed confrontation?

Nov 27, 2006

After the assassination of Pierre Gemayel on November 21 in Beirut, Western leaders and the media accused Syria of causing all the problems in Lebanon. They hold the Syrian regime of Bashir al-Assad responsible for various assassinations of journalists and political leaders over the last two years.

The Syrian regime is hardly a model of probity. However, the Western leaders, including the U.S. and Lebanon’s former colonial power, France, lie every day of the week to serve their own interests.

The Lebanese government of Fouad Siniora is dominated by the “March 14” grouping, formed by representatives of Maronite Christian and Sunni Muslim businessmen. They have long served as the direct agents of the U.S. and European bourgeoisies, at the expense of the interests of the majority of the Lebanese population.

Pierre Gemayel was the scion of a family which has dominated Lebanese politics. His grandfather, Pierre Gemayel Sr., was the founder of a fascist party set up after he returned from the 1936 Olympics in Germany. Grandson Pierre Gemayel had been a government minister of this same Phalangist party. The Phalangists have never repudiated their history, which involved carrying out several massacres. Gemayel was known for his frankly racist statements against the Shiite population of Lebanon, which he called “cattle.”

The U.S. and France have relied on the Siniora government in Lebanon to impose their interests in the region at the expense of powers like Syria and Iran. This policy is a continuation of what France did in the area when it established Lebanon as its own state, cutting it out of Syria. France set up a state founded on religious differences in order to better dominate the area. But now this policy is running into resistance.

In Iraq, the U.S. is sinking into a quagmire. This past summer Israel led a murderous war in Lebanon, trying to crush Hezbollah, which is rooted in the south of the country among the Shiite Muslim majority and is allied with Iran. Israel did not succeed. Hezbollah came out of this war reinforced, at least on the political level. In fact, while Hezbollah’s combatants were fighting the invading Israeli army, the other parties of the Lebanese government absented themselves from the scene. They proved themselves incapable of taking elementary measures to defend and aid the civilian population.

Today, Hezbollah and its allies, the other Shiite party Amal and the “free patriotic current” of Christian general Michel Aoun, demand a greater place in the government. The Shiite government ministers of Amal and Hezbollah have resigned, demanding a governmental reorganization in their favor or early elections. But the government of Siniora continues as if nothing has changed.

The assassination occurred in this tense situation. Different parties seem to be preparing for an armed conflict like the previous civil war, lasting from 1975 to 1990. Each of them seeks to stir up hatred between the different religious communities making up Lebanon – Maronite Christians, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and Druze.

The different parts of the Lebanese population will be called on to serve as cannon fodder in such a conflict. The main responsibility for this disastrous situation lies with the imperialist powers. They maneuver to use one or another religious or ethnic minority as the principal servant of their interests today. But they are ready to drop this minority as soon as the relationship of forces changes. Imperialist powers can find agreement, for example, with Syria and Iran, although they pretend to revile these regimes today.