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Defining Victory - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In 1967, the Arab leaders threatened to launch a war, but Israel preceded them at the beginning of June, and within six days, it occupied territories in three Arab states that exceeded the size of Israel 20 times over. It also destroyed the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, creating a scandal in the world.

Did you know that for two years the Arab people did not know that they suffered a defeat? Their media and leaders were busy repeating the stories of steadfastness, courage, and Western bias– familiar terms in the dictionary of Arab political rhetoric–to escape responsibility for the defeat. No one mentioned the word defeat. Then, they kept the Arabs busy with the “the war of attrition” and its heroisms on the borders.

In 1973, the battle was bold and wisely planned had it not been for Israel’s superiority, American weapons’ supply to it, and the Soviets’ repeated disappointing of the Arabs. The victory turned into the beginning of a defeat had it not been for the cease-fire. In 1982, the Israelis overran the positions of the PLO in southern Lebanon and besieged the capital Beirut until they forced the late Yasser Arafat into exile. He boarded a ship that traveled 2,300 km to Tunisia. His forces were dispersed, in a sad story, to areas very far from Palestine–to Tunisia, Sudan, and Yemen. Nevertheless, the Arabs repeated the words victory and steadfastness and posted Arafat’s picture raising his two fingers as a sign of victory as he left Beirut by sea.

There is no word called defeat which makes people hold their leaders accountable, as defeated nations of the world do and as the Argentineans did in the Falkland war. Therefore, it was not surprising that the displacement of one million Lebanese and the killing and wounding of thousands others is being described as victory by the Lebanese and Arab leaders, because the measures of loss in our dictionary are different.

Even the concept of winning is different. When the late President Anwar al-Sadat regained occupied Sinai through negotiations, envious Arabs in particular denounced this and described it as a shame. When Arafat was able to return to Gaza and Jericho for the first time since the defeat, he was also defamed and the return of 3,000 Palestinians from Tunisia was described as treason.

Therefore, it was not surprising for Nabih Birri (speaker of the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies) to say yesterday that the proposed offer of a cease-fire in Lebanon is deficient because it did not take into account that Lebanon scored a victory in the war. The speaker of the Lebanese parliament clearly must not only convince the Arabs that Lebanon scored a victory, but also convince the members of the Security Council who cannot watch the Arab media.

Of course, Larijani can say no from the embassy of Iran and Syrian Minister Walid al-Muallim can say the same. Both can reject the disarmament of Hezbollah and the deployment of an international force because this is not in the interest of the two countries.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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