George Hawi is proposing a broad-based national conference with Gen. Aoun and Samir Geagea present to end ethnic and sectarian divisions still plaguing the country 13 years after the end of the civil war. He also sketched a scenario to end the war of the Murr brothers in Metn. President Lahoud would host the proposed parley to which secular and religious leaders from across the political, social and economic spectra would be invited. And Syrian President Bashar Assad would also co-chair the meeting to offer the process added credibility. Naturally, this would require a return of General Michel Aoun from exile and the release of the imprisoned commander of the defunct Lebanese Forces militia, Hawi said in an interview published Monday in An Nahar.
On a smaller scale, there is one solution to the controversy in his native Btighrin between the two brothers, the powerful Michel Murr and his brother, Gabriel – that they both resign from politics. “It is time we tell them to spare us their wars,” said the former Communist Party leader. Hawi saw no contradiction between his ideological beliefs and the association with Qornet Shahwan, which mainly comprises right-wing Christian politicians. But at present, his attention is focused on his so-called initiative.
After almost giving up on obtaining an appointment with Lahoud, Hawi called on Brig. Rustom Ghazale, head of the Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, who warmed up to the national initiative. Ghazale intervened to secure him an appointment with Lahoud. He attributed Lahoud’s initial reluctance to “Orthodox barriers,” an allusion to his political differences with Michel Murr, a close ally of the president.
In suggesting that Murr bow out of politics, he said there could be a prior agreement by consensus that allows his son, Elias Murr, to replace him uncontested for an Orthodox seat in Metn. Gabriel Murr would be appeased by reopening his shuttered MTV network As for the older Murr, Hawi said, he could simply devote his time to writing his memoirs and running philanthropic activities “since God has blessed him with so much wealth.”
As for the national reconciliation process, he said, this would aim to turn Lebanon into a national homeland for all Lebanese, rather than “a confederation of different sects.” He said as a gesture of goodwill, he proposed to the president that Geagea’s conditions of incarceration at the Defense Ministry be eased – an unlikely proposal from a man that once considered the Christian warlord his mortal civil war foe.