The Free Patriotic Movement-Hizbullah alignment: a shaky future
Despite the fact that the political alliance between the Free Patriotic Movement led by MP Michel Aoun and Hizbullah was further solidified during the July-August war between the latter and Israel, there remain significant disputes over several key issues between these two Lebanese movements.
The resistance on Aoun’s part to fully "integrate" into Hizbullah's policies, along with his preference to distance himself in recent times from pro-Syrian figures, shows that there may be lurk additional interests beyond joint and declared interests.
Another important point in this regard, is the Christian politician's opposition to accept the Taif Accord. Aoun indicated clear resistance to the accord in a recent interview published September 16. Some observers maintain that this objection may not necessarily be in accord with Hizbullah's view on the 1989 agreement.
Generally speaking, the Taif Accord transferred power away from the Lebanese presidency, traditionally given to Christian Maronites, and directed it instead to a cabinet divided equally between Muslims and Christians.
In recent days, senior members in the Free Patriotic Movement have begun to direct criticism towards their leader regarding his conduct with Hizbullah. An example of such criticism is clearly demonstrated in recent comments by Aoun, while meeting his movement's senior staff: "It is illogical to accuse the movement of trying to stage a coup…" Or, alternately, regarding the arms issue: "The demand for disarmament failed to create an atmosphere of complete trust." Such remarks by Aoun expose substantial internal pressure upon him, further explaining his closing words at the recent movement meeting calling on others to "Ignore the dirty rumors on the street."
Aoun's attempts to restore his shaky status in the Christian community are indicative of his declining popularity among the supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement. Many in the Christian camp explain this trend by citing the feeling that Aoun deserted them, and instead gave his support to Hizbullah and Syria.
A review of talkbacks in internet forums related to the Free Patriotic Movement over the past few weeks reveals that the internal criticism of many readers centers on the strong ties between Hizbullah and Iran, a fact that has undoubtedly led many of the Movement’s supporters to look negatively on Aoun's contacts with Hizbullah.
Thus, this issue and others connected to Hizbullah's stances, along with the numerous "grey" areas of lack of understanding between the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah, lead many to assume that despite the apparent fortitude of such a political tie-up in Lebanon presently, the partnership is unlikely to survive on the political horizon for much longer.