Since his release from prison in 2005, the leader of Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea has shown saner patriotic tendencies than most Lebanese politicians. Now, the image of the wise “hakim” is shaking as the LF leader declares his support of the sectarian “orthodox” electoral law.
During the past 7 years Geagea was, to some extent, able to erase the old image of LF as an armed group Marounite Chauvinists. At least on the level of official speech, Geagea was steadily holding to the values of sovereignty, the state of law, non-sectarian patriotism – the true values of cedar revolution. His openness towards Arab states, his visit to KSA and the visit of the LF MP A. Zahra to Gaza were interpreted as signs of a definite tolerant, non-sectarian policy of post-prison Geagae. The speech and policy of the LF leader gained him the trust of many seculars and moderates. Meanwhile, his rival Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement was thriving on pure sectarian and racist speech, presenting himself as the savor of Christians, the fighter for reinforcing the powers of the Marounite president and the xenophobic anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab with slogans that attract Christian radicals.
Now, with the Marounite Patriarch pushing towards the adoption of the electoral law draft proposed by MP Elie Ferzli and others (the Orthodox gathering), Geagea’s support of the proposal brought him back to the square one. Loyalty to the sect rather than the nation emerged as Geagea’s new priority. LF now is standing in a face-to-face opposition to its 7 years political history.
Whether the orthodox law is adopted (which is not likely to happen) or not, LF is already in a losing position. If the law draft is adopted FPM will have more chances to win the elections as it is already aligned with the spirit of the law and already has a constant sectarian approach that guarantees the support of the sect voters. LF will have to make serious changes in its speech to suite the sectarian mood of the proposed law and these inevitable changes will furthermore shake trust in Geagea as a non-sectarian, tolerant politician. These changes will also cast doubts on the seriousness of LF partnership with its Muslim allies in March 14 and the ability of this alliance to survive.
By agreeing to adopt the orthodox law (even if the law draft fails), Geagea has already put himself and his allies in a catastrophic position. The Muslim component of March 14 will be regarded by Christians as Muslim radicals and repressive forces willing to highjack Christian seats in the parliament. The image of LF in the mirror of Christian public will be most unfavorable as LF will look more like the week ally of these anti-Christian Muslims, which lacks the ability to influence their choices regarding the electoral law; in contrary to the strong FPM that convinced its Shiite allies to adopt the law draft. Moreover, with this step Geagea granted Aoun and Hezbollah another chance to hit March 14 in core and scatter its weak alliance.
It may be the first time LF openly supports a sectarian cause since 2005. Geagea has made his first political sin by agreeing to adopt the orthodox law and this sin is deadly. This will mark a start of a new history for LF, but unfortunately, a less shiny one.