Understanding the Complexities of Lebanese Presidential Elections: Opposing Forces, Regional Interests, and a Blurring Picture

2023-05-28 21:04:51

The high temperature of the political movement on the line of the presidential elections increases the blurring of the picture instead of clarifying its paths. In such cases, readings abound and contradict. It is true that progress has been made among the forces opposing the election of Suleiman Franjieh on the candidacy of Jihad Azour for the presidency. But that does not mean that understanding is paved with good intentions. As each party has its contradictory accounts with the other party. This leads to the inability to form a clear picture of what the path will lead to. Everyone knows that both candidates need a regional consensus that will be reflected internally. Azour’s candidacy by the opposition will not be subject to exchange, unless there is external communication that leads to a major settlement, including guarantees wanted by the party supporting Franjieh. Thus, repeating the path followed by Franjieh and behind him, Hezbollah and the French, in providing guarantees to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Contact Azour
Many contacts and meetings took place with Azour in the past two days, in which opposition parties informed him that they had agreed to nominate him for the presidency. The man welcomed the move, but on the condition that it is not a nomination with the aim of negotiating or burning, nor is it with the aim of confrontation or challenge by each party to improve its negotiating position. The man worked to inform everyone, including his supporters and others, that he is keen on understanding and consensus, and without this formula he is not ready to enter the Lebanese labyrinths and the game of obstruction and counter-obstruction. Azour met Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who remained attached to Suleiman Franjieh’s candidacy, while the former informed him that he did not want to be in confrontation, saying: “I come for work, not for contradictory political calculations.” The same thing was reported to Hezbollah and the forces supporting his candidacy as well.

Hezbollah equation
Among the existing readings of these developments, some consider that adopting Azour’s candidacy will lead to blocking Suleiman Franjieh’s path. However, this equation is not right for Hezbollah, which does not see any logic in this. Also in the calculations, the nomination of Azour by some forces aims to strengthen the negotiating position with the party. This may be used to search for a third candidate, according to what some of those close to the Free Patriotic Movement consider. As for the party, the candidacy of Suleiman Franjieh is firm and there is no room for negotiation over it. Rather, the call for dialogue is clear about it and for understanding with it, and not with the aim of abandoning it.

Al-Assad – bin Salman!
On the other hand, the stakes of many of the March 8 forces, and in the vicinity of Suleiman Franjieh, are still linked to reading the picture of regional and international developments. They consider that the transition of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from approving the army commander, to not adopting anyone’s candidacy, leading to lifting the veto on any candidate, including Franjieh, can continue to develop in order to reach understandings about him. Consequently, they are waiting for what regional developments may bear in this regard. Among the existing bets is what they have heard of clear Syrian support for Franjieh. They consider that the Lebanese presidential file was discussed in the meeting of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar al-Assad, and therefore they confirm positive developments in the next stage in this regard. While others deny this information, and assert that the Lebanese file did not attend the meeting with Al-Assad bin Salman, and that Damascus is busy arranging its bilateral relations, files and affairs, and that everyone who reviews Al-Assad in the Lebanese file informs him not to interfere and that the file is entrusted to Hezbollah.

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