The enmity between Hezbollah and former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora is not new.
Indeed, the latter’s government went through several crises during its legislative elections between what was then called March 8, considered pro-Syrian – the coalition formed by the Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah and the Amal movement – , and the so-called anti-Syrian March 14 coalition to which he belonged.
The absence of Shia ministers in the Saniora I government
It was also when the first government of Fouad Saniora, under the presidency of Emile Lahoud, resigned 6 ministers who were protesting against what they considered to be the creation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in charge of judging those responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and especially his politicization.
The Presidency, Hezbollah and Amal then considered unconstitutional the decisions taken by the Government, which no longer respected multi-confessional representation due to the absence of Shiite ministers.
The crisis will be prolonged by the impossibility of electing a successor to Emile Lahoud. The presidential prerogatives will then be transferred to the Council of Ministers of Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, whose role and legitimacy was still disputed.
This was followed by a series of demonstrations in December 2006, which was joined by the then opposition party, the Free Patriotic Movement of the current President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, who had been expelled when the government was formed. .
As a reminder, in February of the same year, the Courant Patriotique Libre and Hezbollah had signed a Memorandum of Understanding which will permanently upset the Lebanese political balance.
The events of May 7, 2008 and the takeover of Beirut by Hezbollah
But it was the Prime Minister’s decision to dismantle the communications network that sparked the fire, with the events of May 7, 2008, when the Minister of Telecommunications was Marwan Hamadé.
They had together adopted a text providing for the outlawing of its telecommunications network.
The Shiite Movement considered that the public fixed network as well as the GSM network did not offer any guarantee of confidentiality during its military operations. He had therefore set up in 1995, a private network for this purpose, which was limited, according to Hezbollah, to southern Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.
For the coalition of March 14, the mesh of this network had strongly increased since the conflict of July 2006, until the full of Bekaa.
At the same time, the Council of Ministers where the opposition was absent had decided to dismiss the head of security at Beirut International Airport, General Wafic Choucair, also close to the Shiite movement. Hezbollah sees it as an attempt by the Mossad and American intelligence services to control the airport.
Hezbollah will retaliate by launching a military operation on May 7 and 8, 2008 in order to defend this network which it considers essential for the resistance.
Hezbollah’s military wing will occupy part of West Beirut, disarming Future Movement supporters within hours.
The Qatar Mediation and the Doha Accords
It was then that Qatar began mediation between the different parties involved in the crisis. On May 23, this mediation will lead to the Doha Accords.
These agreements stipulate:
- the election of a new president of the republic, General Michel Sleiman, commander of the Lebanese Army within 24 hours,
- the formation of a government of national unity of 30 ministers distributed on the basis of the 16 ministers of the majority, 11 of the opposition, 3 to the President, and the announcement of all the parties under this agreement not to not resign
- and the adoption of the electoral law of 1960, with the creation of constituencies with the exception of maintaining single constituencies comprising Marjayoun – Hasbaya, as well as Baalbek – Hermel, and Western Bekaa – Rachaya.
After the election of the President of the Republic, General Sleiman, the Saniora I government resigned on May 25, 2008.
Fouad Saniora will be responsible for forming a new government on May 28, by the new President. He will obtain a vote of confidence of 68 votes against 59 no or abstention, the smallest majority obtained by a Lebanese government since the end of the civil war. This government will also be marked by political crises of lesser magnitude and will remain in place until the parliamentary elections of 2009.
Saad Hariri then named as his successor.