Is the Aoun-Nasrallah Alliance Stagnating?

Image courtesy of Reuters

Behind the scenes, attempts are under way to stop the atrophy and ambivalence setting in to the relationship between the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), led by Gen. Michel Aoun, whose bloc includes the majority of Christian MPs, and Hezbollah, the most powerful Shiite organization in Lebanon.
The two parties have been close allies since 2006, when Aoun and Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah signed a memorandum of understanding at the Mar Mikhael Church in Beirut. The agreement is the first alliance of its kind — between a powerful Shiite party and a Maronite party — since the founding of modern Lebanon. It had been common in the Lebanese political tradition for the Maronite president of the republic to ally with the Sunni prime minister for the administration of presidential mandates during the First Republic. This was simply because authority was administered through a harmonious, working relationship between the Sunni prime minister and the Maronite president while other religious groups, including Shiites, would join the Sunni-Maronite alliance or oppose it, depending on the political circumstances of the time.
In principle, the Aoun-Nasrallah alliance during the Taif Republic (Second Lebanese Republic) was an exception to the customary Lebanese alliances for governing. The arrangement has been beneficial to both parties in that they built a strong alliance against growing Sunni power in the governance equation. The Sunnis gained in strength following the Taif Agreement, as essential powers were transferred from the president of the republic to the council of ministers, which is led by a Sunni prime minister.


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