Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

The Final Chapter of Lebanon’s Incorporation with Tehran’s Axis

The Final Chapter of Lebanon’s Incorporation with Tehran’s Axis

Wednesday, 23 October, 2019 - 17:30
Fourth Caliph Ali Ibn Abi-Taleb once famously said: “Had poverty been a man, I would have killed it!”

I reckon that few would argue about the suffering of the Lebanese these days. The pressing collapse of their living standards, has naturally, driven them to organize mass demonstrations. It is natural that they would blame their politicians who are part of a government that is in place under a flimsy and distorted façade of democracy.

No one should ever blame the Lebanese – especially, their frustrated youth – for their anger and despair from those who pose as “rulers”, regardless whether they are, or not. They should not be blamed either for their “rejection” caused by disappointments and dead ends.

All the above is natural, justified and true.

However, somewhere, at a certain stage, one must look further and deeper than the phenomena that some are exploiting to ride the wave of protests and later divert the demands away from the real issues, and exploit the anger for their own goals!

Without straying into a labyrinth of details, it is quite enough to look at what Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, said on Saturday when he uncovered a truth that may have escaped the protesters.

Nasrallah used the “Forty Days Memorial” of Imam Al-Hussein (the Prophet’s nephew) to hit two birds with one stone:

Bird number One was deepening the sectarian fratricidal injury, and adding to it the salt of resurrecting old animosities and grudges, through the narrative of how Al-Hussein was martyred. The intention to justify the regional sectarian political project he is openly serving under the auspices, sponsorship and support of the mullahs in Tehran.

Bird number Two was telling the Lebanese, indeed the whole world, that he controls Lebanon. He is the sole master. He alone decides who lives and who dies; who is imprisoned following conviction of corruption and who is regarded as a “hero of resistance against Israel”, even if he happened to be until recently an avowed enemy of the “resistance”!

Nasrallah’s speech, for those who read it with an open mind and the bare minimum of political memory and analytical ability, is nothing but a manifesto of a ruling party. His message is loud and clear, and reads as follows:

1- I, alone, am the decision maker, and I, exclusively, have the acceptable blueprint for Lebanon’s identity, political orientations and regional role.

2- So far, I have not used the excessive force I possess “in every area in the country” and my advice to you is to never test me, because “if I decide to take to the street, I shall not leave it…!”

3- This presidency – i.e., the rule of President Michel Aoun – is mine. I have chosen it and it belongs to me. This government is also mine, with Hezbollah and its allies enjoying the majority of cabinet portfolios. Therefore, never dare think of changing the status quo; i.e. never ever touch what I have imposed on you, including your president, electoral law and government, thanks to the arsenal which I alone possess, and enjoy the exclusive right to use wherever and whenever I choose.

4- If anyone among you would ever contemplate challenging my will, which is the only “legitimacy” in the land, he or she would be responsible for his or her actions. Here, it is worth noting that Hezbollah has so far refused cooperating with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his companions. It has also refused to hand over its party members who have been accused of this crime. Still, the pro-Iran militia has other options beside assassinations, including concocting accusations of corruption against anybody. This is not something new, neither to the party nor the Syrian-Lebanese security apparatus which oversaw the publishing of “documents” on the subject through its political tools, media and camouflaged online sites.

All the above means that more pressure is being put on the current Prime Minister Saad Hariri – the son of Rafik – to provide an official Sunni cover to the final chapter of Iran’s permanent takeover of Lebanon. In fact, this is what Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who is Aoun’s son-in-law and Hezbollah’s virtual presidential candidate, set in motion, when he intentionally delivered a speech just before Saad Hariri’s. Interestingly, Bassil – who behaves as a president anyway – delivered his speech from the presidential palace, and virtually offered Hariri Jr. to the Hezbollah-led coalition, and abandon whoever are left of his former allies in the March 14 alliance created after his father’s assassination.

In other words, Hezbollah, through Bassil, intends to liquidate the last remaining opposition its project of absolute – and official – hegemony over Lebanon. It is doing this through blackmailing opponents with accusations of corruption in a country where the judiciary is unable to confront armed hegemony. Just a reminder, intimidating the judiciary and the likelihood that it could be targeted was a major reason for setting up the STL.

Furthermore, among the demonstrators, there were voices calling for cancelling the Taif Accords and others demanding punishment for corrupt politicians and senior officials during the last 30 years.

Cancelling the Taif is a well-known political aim for both Hezbollah and Aoun. As for the 30 years issue, it is truly significant because it alludes to the existence of one corrupt camp, which is the one that was in government during the said period. One way or another, it is Rafik Hariri and those included in his cabinets. However, those who keep mentioning the last 30 years – led by Nasrallah and Aoun – ignore the fact that the real power in Lebanon during those years was the Syrian regime, which is Aoun’s new ally and Hezbollah’s old one, through its intelligence officers Ghazi Kanaan, Rustom Ghazaleh, and the Syrian–Lebanese security apparatus.

They are also intentionally ignoring the fact that “corruption” should mean: Illegal arms, protection money, smuggling, expelling and repelling local talents and foreign investment, evading taxes, drug trade, importing and selling fake medicines, money laundering, and illegal expropriation of land by clients, supporters and frontmen.

Lebanon is, therefore between two choices: either submit to Hezbollah’s dictates and voluntarily join the Tehran camp, or push the situation to tension that forces people to call the army to take over. The latter option is complicated because Hezbollah and the Aounists have already penetrated the military and security institutions!

Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia