A genuine uprising to remedy the Future Movement’s woes

Supporters of the Future Movement wave the party’s blue flags at a rally in downtown Beirut. (Photo: Marwan Bou Haidar)
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014
It is now our duty to reveal the discussions happening behind closed doors. To put matters simply, a few weeks ago, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri realized that he was obliged to engage in a course of action planned by the Saudis under US pressure, a plan Europe was compelled to implement gradually. Hariri’s new course of action is related to the position of takfiri Islamist organizations active in Syria, Lebanon, and the Arab region. Hariri informed most of his aides that there is no more room to maneuver and that they have to abide by the directions of the Saudis and the West.

Part of Hariri’s program is to go along with the Saudi decision to classify the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front as terrorist organizations. He was compelled to raise his voice, where he could not take up arms. Yet Hariri finds himself in quite the predicament as Saudi Arabia did not include Hezbollah on their list, which infuriated his supporters. They are now faced with protesters in Tripoli, the Beqa’a Valley, and Sidon. Hariri, for his part, was unable to bargain. Not only was it demanded that he accept this decision, but he had to reach an understanding with Hezbollah regarding the new Lebanese cabinet.

There is another issue that Hariri loathes to discuss with any of his affiliates, yet it is well-known by most of the Future Movement’s cadre, especially those active in the region. Hariri had mentioned explicitly that instead of using extremist groups to push Hezbollah to cooperate, he now needs help to counter their influence among his supporters. The experience of Ahmed al-Assir in Sidon was the first warning. It was followed by the events of the north and the Bekaa, which confirmed that the threat was bigger than he thought. Even the Information Branch, which is under the political influence of the Hariri camp, announced it was difficult to control the situation without confronting those groups.
Hariri’s countermeasure seems to be the development of a program with two linked actions.
The first is to speak out against takfiri ideology, while promoting the idea that Hezbollah is the other side of the coin of such movements. 
The second entails raising the level of political and sectarian discourse to show the Sunni population that it is not removed from its leadership in the Future Movement. However, the latter’s officials have interpreted this plan as they see fit. While Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouk pitted Brital against Ersal, the leadership in Tripoli linked the fate of the fighters and the Islamist groups with that of Jabal Mohsen as a whole.
There is another sticking point, which the Future Movement avoids discussing in public: re-establishing links with the Mufti of the Republic, Mohammed Rashid Qabbani. This is the Future Movement’s effort to restore the influence of the official Sunni establishment against extremist movements and bring it under their control. Practically, this would mean utilizing Dar al-Fatwa to serve the interests of the Hariri camp; however, it is difficult to expect this to happen anytime soon.
What about the “tools?”

The problem with the Future Movement’s plan is two-fold. Its supporters have been instilled with constant sectarian and confessional discourse. Moreover, the Future Movement has an older generation of opportunistic leaders, who sustain themselves on tensions and incitement. There is also the younger generation, which is involved in militia activities in various regions. The Future Movement is now a prisoner of the Lebanese political game and under the command of leaders who only care about having their names in the forefront, even as dead bodies.

The other half of the problem is that Hariri hopes to implement his plan without giving the impression that he is revising his calculations or criticizing certain legacies, methods, or patterns of thinking. This means he will need a lot of distractions to cover up his turnaround. In the minds of the Future Movement’s leadership, there is no better distraction than the current chaos in various places like Tripoli and Ersal.
The Future Bloc’s statement on Tuesday confirms the aforementioned, concerning this group, its intransigence, and madness. What change could be expected when Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi puts the blame on Hezbollah for the situation in Ersal, or when he considers the insanity of his thugs in Tripoli as a conspiracy organized by the Syrian intelligence?
If the Future Movement remains in a state of denial concerning the takfiri criminals in its midst, it will always produce terrorists and God alone knows where they will vent their anger and madness. When the Future Movement keeps its eyes closed, they will not notice the fire devouring its own house. And as they keep thinking that screaming and verbal intimidation will cure their constant and accelerating failure in their policies, they will be digging their own grave deeper into the earth.
This reasoning means one thing. The Future Movement needs a real uprising, an uprising that goes beyond loud words followed by a settlement in the shadows. It needs an uprising to change faces and names, which have only caused defeat and death in this country.
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