Lebanon: The Memorandum of Understanding…or Controversy?

Hezbullah and Salafist groups in Lebanon have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that prohibits Muslims from killing each other. Now, it is announced that the MoU has been suspended by the Salafists, until further notice. The signing of this agreement met with the media's rush into getting the local politicians responses and scepticism. While bloggers supporting the MoU didn't post their responses at the hour, anti-MoU and anti-Hezbollah bloggers in general seem to be busy getting their voices heard.

Hanin Ghaddar at Now Lebanon analyses this step by Hezbullah as a sign of the party’s agenda to weaken the Future Movement‘s popularity as the representative of the Sunni Muslims majority and as a clear sign of Hezbullah's disregard to the state’s authority:

The agreement is also an attempt to contain any Shia-Sunni strife, resulting from the Tripoli clashes, and convince the Lebanese that Hezbollah wants to restore security in Tripoli, and other parts of Lebanon. In this way it also undermines the state, which has been unable to make any real headway in curbing violence and maintaining security. However, Hezbollah seems to have forgotten that these Salafists groups were empowered after Hezbollah’s assault on Beirut and the Sunni street in May, because they were able to present themselves as a more aggressive alternative to the Future Movement. And yet only three months later, Hezbollah wants to convince us that they are concerned about security.

Joseph El-Khoury express his uncertainty over this memorandum specially after the announcement that the agreements is being put on hold for the time being:

But even if it did work, I will still be far from happy. It is hard to feel part of such a historic moment where One Muslim decides not to spill the blood of another Muslim…when one is not a Muslim. In fact I should probably be more concerned. For when spilling someone’s blood seems to be the only way forward in the struggle against Zionism and Imperialism a simple statistical calculation will make it obvious that this blood is more likely to be mine now than it was last week.

Zentor, a Belgian researcher and journalist based in Beirut, reports on how the Salafists themselves seem to be divided and reportedly funded by different countries:

…Good news, you would think, at a time when sunnis and (alawi) shias are battling it out full-scale in Tripoli. Not so according to Hariri and the founder of salafism in Lebanon, sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal (who happens to be a cousin of the other sheikh). They mumble something about bilateral agreements getting in the way of national reconciliation, but the real reason is spelt out today by Fida al-Itani in al-Akhbar: the MOU is signed by small group which is funded by Kuwait, while the opponents of the MOU are funded by Saudi-Arabia (through Hariri of course). At least, as Angry Arab points out, it is now clear that Hariri is the greatest sponsor of the salafi groups in Lebanon…

The Ouwet Front criticized the MoU by calling it a trap set by Hezbullah and compares it to Michel Aoun MoU’s:

It looks like Salafists refused to fall for Hezbollah’s trap .. If only Aoun realized that before signing his shameful MOu ..
I am not sure what made them change their minds, i have a feeling they are gonna fall for that same trap again…

Mustapha at Beirut Spring posted an earlier article that reflects his opinion towards the benefits of this MoU:

One can argue that Hezbollah’s Salafist partners are marginal, but one can’t deny that the M.O.U has achieved many objectives for them:
It has calmed the nerves of Hezbollah Shiite supporters who were concerned about Iraqi-style terrorist attacks on their mosques and markets
It has received wide acclaim in Lebanon and among Arabs for seeking to prevent intra-Islamic bloodletting
It has added a dent to Hezbollah’s reputation (some would say manufactured) as a sectarian Shiite Movement
It undermines the rationale of many pro-March 14 Sunni extremists who support the Future Movement because they believed Hezbollah’s project is an existential threat to Sunnis in Lebanon

Manuela who is keeping tabs on this new political situation wondered in an earlier post whether this MoU would work and if it will last at all. Her latest post reads:

The Salafi freezed the agreement with Hizballah…
…This must be the shortest ever PR stunt of Hizballah. Maybe tomorrow they will sign another agreement with the Salafi or with others. In Lebanon not everything is logic, although everything has some sort of justification.

R.I.P Lebanon
‘s blogger Marillionlb wonders about the consequences of this MoU and posts some pictures that support this curiosity.

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