Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Making the Most of the Crisis (Part 2 of 2) | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As soon as the fighting stopped, every party claimed victory was theirs, as was the case with the Syrian president Bashar Assad, who had been silent during the attacks on Lebanon, only issuing verbal warnings to Israel not to come near Syria.

Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary- General of Hezbollah, after wishing that his Lebanese opponents unite with him during the crisis, against the Israeli aggression, which they did, opened fire on them 10 hours after the ceasefire took hold. In his speech, Nasrallah sought to placate one million civilians, mostly Shiaa, who were displaced when Israel targeted their villages and neighborhoods. He promised to pay for one year’s rent and furniture, estimating the number of damaged homes at 15,000, certainly less than the actual number, in light of the widespread destruction across Lebanon.

Local Lebanese groups, feuding before the conflict erupted, possess conclusive evidence of the dangers of Hezbollah’s weapons. Had it not been for this arsenal and how it was used, the country would not have been destroyed, one thousand people would not have lost their lives and one million civilians would not have been displaced. The March 14 forces will surely use this catastrophe to explain its position. It appears Hezbollah has anticipated it and claimed that, had it not been for its fighters, nobody would have defended Lebanon. The truth of the matter is that Hezbollah was the cause of the war and the party responsible for the catastrophe that befell Lebanon, because of its kidnapping of the two soldiers. Despite its claim that its operation was limited in scope, Hezbollah knew that the tense regional situation would drive Israel to retaliate and attack vast areas of Lebanon.

Claims by those defending Hezbollah that it did not imagine Israel would mount such a large-scale attack are completely false. The Party of God carried out its daring military operation after Hamas kidnapped an Israeli soldier in Gaza. Israel then retaliated and destroyed several ministerial buildings and the offices of several organizations affiliated to Hamas. It also arrested serving cabinet ministers and members of the Palestinian parliament. As this took place before Hezbollah abducted the two soldiers, it is simply not true to claim it did not expect a violent Israeli reaction.

We are now confronted with a new reality created by the Israeli attack on Lebanon. Like the aftershock of a major earthquake, it can be more violent and more painful. It is regrettable that some leaders want to launch new battles, as was evident in Assad’s speech, which included an incitement to civil war.