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Lebanon: Who is Telling the Truth? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The only individual who risked his neck to publicly and explicitly announce his rejection of Hezbollah arming itself was the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea. As for the rest of the Sunni, Shiite, and Christian leaders, whether they are politicians or government officials, they all expressed their support in one way or another to the issue of Hezbollah arming itself.

Given the present circumstances, their support of Hezbollah’s weapons is extremely dangerous. However regardless of this risk, they supported this arming; either out of fear of hypocrisy, and even though these weapons are a clear violation of the Taif Agreement and the principle of State sovereignty. They supported this even though these weapons are the direct cause for all the devastation wrought upon Lebanon by Israel, and despite the fact that this arming is taking place in the name of the resistance, at a time when no Lebanese territory is under Israeli occupation with the exception of the Shebaa Farms, which is still subject to dispute between Lebanon and Syria. They are supporting Hezbollah’s arms even though everybody knows for sure that these are Iranian weapons, and that the order to use them will come from Tehran.

What is new is that supporting Hezbollah’s right to arm itself has far more dangerous consequences today than the usual political prattle, for this gives Israel the justification to intensify its military strikes tomorrow. Lebanese politicians will also be unable to object to Hezbollah’s right to undertake any action that could bring war upon Lebanon, for they cannot give their blessings to Hezbollah and legitimize its arms, and then protest its actions.

Lebanese state officials, the presidency, the government, and the politician, are giving Israel the pretext that it needs to launch a possible offensive against the Lebanese army which has crossed the Litani River, and taken up positions opposite the Israelis. Israel has deliberately avoided attacking the Lebanese army because Lebanon says it is not involved in the war [between Hezbollah and Israel] and because Israel knows that the army does not support Hezbollah. However today, thanks to the collective blessing given to Hezbollah’s arms, and due to the Lebanese army’s presence on the frontline, around15,000 poorly equipped Lebanese soldiers are in danger. This is in comparison to the Hezbollah militia which is far larger (around 40,000 fighters) and which possess a communication network, and is heavily armed with a variety of missiles.

If the war was confined between Hezbollah and Israel, perhaps the consequences risked by Lebanese politicians to their country, their cities, their villages, and their citizens, would be less dangerous with regards to supporting Hezbollah’s right to bear arms. Their recent statements have given Hezbollah the right to declare wars, and this is something that gives Israel the pretext to destroy everything that is Lebanese!

The frightening thing is that there is that nobody amongst them, with the exception of the Hezbollah leadership, truly and sincerely supports Hezbollah’s right to bear arms. Rather they are either afraid to say no to Hezbollah, or are agreeing to this for political reasons. Hezbollah’s arms are illegitimate, as they are outside of the institution of the state, and Hezbollah’s militia and arms outmatches those of the State. Hezbollah’s arms previously implicated Lebanon in devastating external wars, and it also used these arms previously in internal clashes within Lebanon as well. Hezbollah shelled the Sunni districts of Beirut the day that it attacked western Beirut, and it also destroyed Druze villages in the mountains.

Israel doesn’t care who will pay the price in Lebanon so long as they cut Hezbollah’s military capabilities down to size, and this is something which is based upon the principle of hitting Hezbollah’s arsenal whenever this exceeds a certain acceptable level. The Israelis believe that if Hezbollah is not concerned about the consequences of arming itself with missiles and rockets, then they similarly are unconcerned with who pay the price or this. In this scenario, the most likely victim will be the Lebanese people and economy. Hezbollah considers its arms and the right to bear arms a necessity for its continued existence as an ideological party, a political project, and the price for its special relationship with the Supreme Leader of Iran’s regime, especially since in Iran today there is growing opposition to the idea of providing Hezbollah with arms. We understand Hezbollah’s justification for arming itself, however what are the justifications of the Lebanese politicians who accept this?

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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