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Who Conspires against Whom in Lebanon? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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If it is a mistake seeing history as conspiracy, then it’s a greater mistake seeing it as mere coincidence. Plotting the assassination of Rafiq Al-Hariri in the particular way and in this critical time shocked everyone even the most pessimistic observers of the Lebanese political arena. It confused the perspectives of the observers and analysts as this assassination was carried out in a way that avoided any possibility of failure. The previously conceived speculations and anticipations through the course of developments in the last two months pointed to the emergence of some threats or some foreseen assassination attempts that would convey the message, but still retain some communication or retreat lines open. Yet, what happened was a terrorist operation that did not only violate the rules of the game, but also removed or permanently altered the whole conventional political game as regards the way we used to view the Lebanese political arena? Everyone started to see the true fact, so exposed and naked, after a long history of covering for it. Thus, the Arab readings and analyses started to expose the Lebanese situation, express and deal with it in a more direct and transparent language (against a huge heritage of ambiguity and obscurity in doing so, and a maneuvering Arab logic that prevailed earlier and was governed by the impact of its daily political crises).

Was Al-Hariri a victim to his moderation, rationality and reasonable way in supporting and opposing in the way that was shown in his practices throughout the different political folds of Al-Tai’f Accord?

It could be said that he was one of the top Lebanese actors who pushed for a liberal civil revolution in that country. He was on his way to become an Arab school of politics, dealing with a country that is most complicated and full of crises as it stands neighbor to Israel.

What actually happened was an attempt to abort this school of political moderation, which was starting to give its positive fruits on the political arena after one and half decades of hard work by Al-Hariri. Due to the efforts of Al-Hariri’s school, the whole world now is becoming more appreciating and trusting the Lebanese civil society awareness because the “opposition” in Lebanon, which is receiving now an enormous public support, is so remote from sectarianism and bloodshed and never showed any manifestation that would spread the seeds of a new civil war. Thus, the Lebanese society seems to be in its best shape, living the best practices of democracy. And then, came this crisis.

With a crisis like this one, we must revise the prevailing trend and the dominant stereotype of Arab mentality when we vision our political crises against the global variables. We still have advocates of the kind of mentality that wishes to see more and more stagnation in the Arab thoughts and concepts, and resists and refuses to respond to the global heat that is melting the rigid political visions and washing away the vocabulary and terms that were sacred for some time and became to witness a state of decay and decomposition recently. After being repeatedly used to mask the reality, talking in a glorifying way about the “resistance” and “facing the threats of the enemies”, these slogans and clichés lost their glamour, not just today but since a long time ago. Yet, some people have been just using new words to express old ideas, like replacing the word “imperialism” with the word “the new conservatives” (neo convs) in the US. Those old-minded do so, then, they use the new-yet-old terms to explain everything in a very unilateral manner of thinking, as if this mentality is introducing nothing except those cosmetic verbal changes that would propagate and extend the illusion of some political evolution, which actually never happened.

In this context, the question; “Who did it?” “Who is the perpetrator or the one who conspired?” would lose its value against the passage of time and the development of events. Though it is very important to uncover the perpetrator to limit the expansion of the crisis, we should be aware that tending only to that line of thinking would ignore other major obstacles that are even greater than the incident itself.

Waiting for a convincing result that is comforting to everybody internally and internationally would be a real illusion. What I really fear is that this question of searching for the perpetrator would convert into nothing but a game of words raised by the ones not wishing to face the burdens of the real situation that emerged some years ago, especially after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon (and not after the Security Council resolution 1559 as some people would think or some commentators would claim).

After the 1559 resolution, the international community expected some real change in the formula of the Syrian Lebanese relations. In fact, the historically slow international diplomacy was accelerated by the decision of extending the presidency of Lahoud, which is considered as the turning point and the true beginning of the revolt of the Lebanese and the international public opinions against the hegemonic forces whose actions led to the presidency extension.

No matter how the prevailing impressions are moving towards a kind of implicit consensus for holding the Lebanese and Syrian authorities responsible for what happened (though without posing making direct accusations), the outside observer to the Lebanese issue cannot exclude the possibility of any entity’s involvement in this crime. Actually, the proposition of a conspiracy by other forces – including Israel and the US as the prime and easy hypothesis – is the main trend of the Arab conservative traditional mentality at this stage. We could understated that and also point that it might be a mistake to exclude any possibility – including common public traditional accusations that are impossible to prove or deny as they come from internal subjective impressions and reactions accompanying every disaster we face.

Still, we got to point that conspiracies usually need (or are the makings of) a welcoming climate on the ground so as the conspiracy/operation would be of value and fruitful for the enemy who plots it. Again, no one can accuse the US or Israel of being involved in the presidential extension in Lebanon, which played a role in creating more congestion and animosity inside the Lebanese street and spreading the spirit of opposition everywhere.

International conspiracies usually need other internal ones that we might be the ones plotting against ourselves through our ill judgment of matters.

So, the story strted here and the asassination of Al-Hariri is only an episode in this series. The Arab atmospheres are still ready for more conspiracies fuled by the Arabs foolish reaction to trhe glabal changes and variables.

To have a better analysis of the situation, we should not disregard the historical memory of a positive Syrian role in the past or that of the Lebanese government, and thus, we would find neither the Syrian nor the Lebanese governments had any interests in the terrorist act. Thus, the operation became more ambiguous in the way that made some analysts propose that there has been a rebellionist group or an opposition faction inside the intelligence.

Still, to be more ethical and rational, we should not jump into such conclusions and make such early and immature accusations against the Syrian or the Lebanese sides before details about that operation become apparent and some tangible evidence is at hand.

What the Syrian and Lebanese sides can do now is to stop the flowing trend of believing in a Syrian or a Lebanese conspiracy. They have to block the road for that growing deterioration. This tragic incident has unified the European and American visions against the Syrian and the Lebanese authorities. Hence, going further with some of these words said and the irrational screaming by the Syrian or Lebanese officials away from understanding the international balance of power (and identifying the forces that determine the course of developments in various areas according to the American interests) would be a kind of a grave mistake. It is important to read the real facts the way there are away from the old culture that calls for political confrontation. Loosening the tension and ending the congestion had been easier some months before compared to the way things are today. Things will continue to escalate unless this deterioration is stopped by means of new and serious initiatives that would signal a pivotal radical change. The less-expected international interventions in the past are gaining more and more legitimacy nowadays, even some characters and entities that have been against international intervention are now changing their course and declaring their readiness and acceptance of an international protection or foreign mandate on Lebanon. Thus, the crisis is gaining more complexity and it is moving into a new phase whose ramifications are hard to speculate.

The escalation is still continuing and the accusations of a conspiracy became mutual between the two sides. Therefore, the accused parties should know that putting the stake on the Arab public opinion or waiting for proven innocence and acquittal from that crime (which might come too late) will have no value in changing the course of history. Denying the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the possession of the Iraqi regime before the American invasion and all the strong speeches and the articles as well as the international protests and demonstrations (that took place in various parts of the world) did not succeed in stopping the decision to topple that regime. Though it has been proven to the world lately that these accusations were not true, this did not change a thing regarding what happened to Saddam’s regime, because maybe the weapons of mass destruction were basically found in the mind of the Iraqi regime, which administered the political crisis with the wrong bets.

HAZEM SALEM

Abdul-Aziz Al-Khedr

Abdul-Aziz Al-Khedr is the former editor-in-chief of Al-Majallah magazine.

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