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On Tuesday evening, in an address marking the one-year anniversary since Lebanon has been without a president, Prime Minister Tammam Salam made a perceptive comment.With Bashar Assad's regime looking more vulnerable by the day, Hezbollah's need to protect its political stakes in Lebanon are rising. For this to happen the party needs to change Taif in such a way as to allow Shiites, and with them Hezbollah, to control a larger share of power in Lebanon's parliament and government. Such behavior is driven by a logic of power and sectarian one-upmanship very different from the notions of confessional coexistence and compromise at the heart of Lebanon's National Pact. Any effort to overhaul the political system to reshape the confessional equilibrium in the interests of one particular sect challenges the principles upon which Lebanon was built. Which brings us back to Hezbollah and the potential threat it poses to the Taif system. The party is not seeking to create a Shiite ministate in Lebanon, so, publicly, it has not given up on coexistence. If it seeks to enhance Shiite power (and defend the interests of its regional sponsor, Iran) Hezbollah risks sawing off the branch of coexistence on which all Lebanese religious communities sit.
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