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March 14 launches Electoral Platform, Nasrallah Speech

March 18, 2009

The governing March 14 coalition launched its electoral platform earlier this week under the slogan “The Day the State Starts”, a reference to the fateful June 7th elections.  The program, appropriately enough, includes “14 points”, that seek to differentiate the “statist” March 14 position from the “resistance” platform of their March 8 rivals.  The first four aims all are concerned with operating within legal frameworks, be it Taif, UN resolutions, or bilateral agreements with Syria:

“1- To protect Lebanon from Israeli aggressions and recover the Shebaa Farms through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701 in its entirety.

2- To impose state authority over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the Taif Accord, which states: “There will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon except the weapons and authority of the state”.

3- To end conflict with Syria and construct normal and amicable relations in accordance with Taif, including the categorical end of Syrian interference in the Lebanese affairs, the completion of diplomatic exchange, border control and demarcation, an end to the issue of Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons, the abolition of military bases outside camps that are technically under Syrian authority and a full review of all “unfair” agreements were signed during the period of Syrian tutelage over Lebanon.

4- To provide harmony between Lebanon and the international community on the basis of the UN Charter and international resolutions.”

This is unsurprising given the importance of democratic rhetoric to the movement, its general rejection of civil violence, and reliance on Western allies and international institutions for support.

5- To restore Lebanon’s Arab role and commitment to the Palestinian struggle and unity led by the Palestine Liberation Organization with the goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

Here we find a token commitment to the Palestinian issue and an affirmation for the moderate PLO and an implicit rejection of the Iranian and Syrian backed Hamas.  Of course no mention of Lebanese resistance.

Overall, much like the above five points, the remaining nine are relatively unsurprising.

6- To prevent the settlement of “our Palestinian brothers in Lebanon”, and to adopt the proposed constitutional amendment requiring parliamentary consensus for any decision on settlement.

7- To complete the construction of the Lebanon state and its institutions, including expanding administrative decentralization, adopting a new law on elections, and reducing the voting age to 18.

8- To fulfill the requirements of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

9- To provide the necessary funds needed to return all displaced people to their homes.

10- To protect the Lebanese in Lebanon and abroad from the global financial crisis by developing an effective program for debt management and reduction, and benefiting from the contributions of the Paris III Conference.

11- To remove obstacles for the business sector while prioritizing sectors and projects that provide suitable job opportunities for the Lebanese.

12- To provide more effectively involve women in the political, economic, and social life of Lebanon.

13- To grant the Lebanese Diaspora their rights, especially the rights to vote and claim Lebanese nationality.

14- To end environmental deterioration by following a national strategy of sustainable development and offering economic incentives for environment-friendly institutions, as well as promoting the use of renewable sources of energy.

More interesting than the March 14 platform is Hasan Nasrallah’s speech (or here for the entire text) delivered March 13 on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.  Nasrallah reiterated:

« اليوم وغدأ وبعد سنة وبعد مئة وبعد ألف سنة، إلى قيام الساعة ، نحن وأولادنا وأحفادنا وأجيالنا ، طالما نحن حزب الله لا يمكن أن نعترف بإسرائيل»

“Today and tomorrow, after one year and after hundred years and after one thousand years, and to the hour of judgement, we and our children, grandchildren, and descendents, as long as we are the Party of God [Hezbollah] it is not possible that we recognize Israel.”

He continues:

«المعيار الوحيد الذي يدفع للإعتراف بإسرائيل هو الشعور بالهزيمة والحقارة لدى أي إنسان يعترف أو يعتبر نفسه عاجزا، فقط»

“The only standard that which pushes us towards recognizing Israel is the feeling of defeat and humiliation that any person has who recognizes or considers himself incapacitated.”


أمريكا عندما تقبل أن تجري حوارا مع أي طرف بشروط أو من دونها خصوصا عندما تبدأ هذه الشروط بالتراجع والتنازل، إنما تفعل ذلك ليس لدواعي أخلاقية “وإنما بسبب فشل الولايات المتحدة في مشاريعها في المنطقة

“When America accepts to hold dialogue with any side, with conditions or without them, when it initiates these conditions with retreat or concession, it does not do so out of moral reasons but because of the failure of the United States in its plans in the region.”

Nasrallah attributes this failure to the resistance axis of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.  Thus, for Nasrallah, it logically follows, why should the Lebanese reject resistance as a means for dealing with extant grievances with Israel and the West when the resistance is winning? 

Furthermore, there is a clear rejection of recognizing Israel and a renouncing violence.  Moreover, Nasrallah unambiguously states that the defeat of Hezbollah would be the only reason to make such concessions and not mere friendly overtures from the West. 

This clear reiteration of Hezbollah’s position at the same time as the proclamation of March 14’s platform should be a sign for the West.  The Party of God clearly feels that its conventional message and platform is persuasive enough for the Lebanese electorate that it need not be modified prior to June 7.  The Opposition does have a serious chance of eeking out a simple majority and is clearly not changing its tone.

Recently, Bill Rammel of the British Foreign Office signalled that the Brits are willing to entertain talks with the “poliltical wing” of Hezbollah.  Still more curious was Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s remarks that the West should engage in dialogue with Hezbollah.

If the British Foreign Office communicates directly with Hezbollah it would clearly enhance the Party of God’s legitimacy in Europe and elsewhere.  Syria holds influence over the group and as Hezbollah reaches its tentacles around the West, the greater Syria’s leverage becomes.

As Nasrallah’s speech makes clear, if the West makes concessions and legitimizes Hezbollah it admits defeat for itself and a win for Hezbollah and the axis of resistance.  To make such concessions before the elections can only weaken the position of our March 14 allies in the mind of the Lebanese electorate.

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