Lebanon Pulse

Lebanon's 'Third Force'

Article Summary
Clovis Maksoud discusses an emerging political “Third Force” in Lebanon that's attracting a new generation of Lebanese voters and citizens.

What constituted the global “Third Force” in the aftermath of WWII developed from an Indian initiative (which it was able to make work) called “non-alignment.” Later, the three major pioneers of this policy were Egypt, Yugoslavia and, naturally, India. Simultaneously, liberation movements were achieving their independence in many regions across the world and played an important role in signaling to the two major powers, the US and USSR, that they could not monopolize the policy and decision-making of international relations.

In Lebanon today, a similar sort of scene is developing in the political arena. This is the formation of an internal political “Third Force,” which promises to prevent either of the two more powerful alliances, known as the March 14th and March 8th coalitions, from concentrating the policymaking in their hands. This emerging “Third Force” would block the two political alliances from exercising exclusive determination of Lebanon’s fate. The leading pillar of this “Third Force” is the president of Lebanon, the prime minister and the leader of the Socialist Progressive Party, Walid Jumblatt. This not only significantly reduces the chance of any serious confrontation, but it also enables new forces in Lebanon — especially in civil society — to remove the sense of vulnerability that regional turmoil has on the stability of Lebanon. 

It is also hinted that the Amal Movement headed by Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri is sympathetic to this “Third Force.” With the 2013 parliamentary elections on the horizon, there is a movement among graduate students from many universities urging voters to leave the ballot blank, if the sectarian system continues in its pursuit of deepening the polarization that exists, to which the emerging “Third Force” will help sustain. The future of Lebanon emits the dynamism of the Arab Awakening, and the “Third Force” is capable of stabilizing the inherent dangers of the sectarian system, which the parliamentary system of elections has codified.

It is vital that the emerging political “Third Force” in Lebanon includes in its priorities a policy to attract a new generation of voters, as this could be the corrective movement that has eluded us for so many generations. 

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Clovis Maksoud is a former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations and its chief representative in the United States for more than 10 years.

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