Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Punishing Lebanon or Hezbollah? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As a result of Saudi actions against the Lebanese Hezbollah, some are confused and think that the Lebanese people are satisfied or are in cahoots with the group. Is this really the case?

Let us remember that those who assassinated Rafik Hariri were members of Hezbollah as proved by international investigators. They killed him like they killed a number of Lebanese symbols that dared to stand up to the Iranian camp i.e. Hezbollah and the Assad regime. They killed ministers including Mohamad Shatah and Basil Fuleihan and military leaders like François Al-Hajj. They also killed Wissam Al-Hassan; one of the most important security officials who monitored Hezbollah members. Major Wissam Eid was assassinated for the same reason and so were intellectuals such as George Hawi.

Members of Hezbollah also killed prominent Christian leaders including Minister Pierre, the son of Amine Gemayel who is the leader of the Kataeb Party. Pierre was killed at the age of 34 because he dared to challenge them. They also killed the writer Samir Kassir and distinguished journalists such as the editor in chief of the Al-Nahar newspaper Gebran Tueni. Anchorwoman May Chidiac was also targeted- a bomb was placed under her car. She survived but lost an arm and a leg. However, she continues to criticise them to this day.

When Hassan Nasrallah’s militias invaded Sunni areas in west Beirut six years ago, killing many people and destroying their property, the leader of the Druze Walid Jumblatt stood in solidarity with the inhabitants of these areas against Hezbollah. As a result, Hezbollah’s militias attacked Druze areas in the mountains killing 46 people and injuring 123. The bravest of those who challenged Hezbollah is Samir Geagea who even after his release continues to confront the Assad regime and Hezbollah.

Even among Shiites, there are young people who dared to demonstrate in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut to protest against Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria. Members of the party attacked them and shot their leader Hashem Salman in the head in an ugly public execution.

For this reason, it is not possible to say that the Lebanese people did not try to challenge Iranian hegemony. However, Hezbollah possesses power built on its false resistance of Israel- a lie that was believable at the time and that was supported by gullible Arabs.

The reason for my historical and political review is the emergence of a trend that associates all Lebanese people with Hezbollah. The majority of Lebanese people wish to be rid of the group ideologically and militarily for internal reasons not related to Saudi Arabia or Syria. It has restricted their lives, created a state of fear which has caused the emigration of hundreds of thousands of people and the aversion of investors.

It is too complicated to demand that the Lebanese people confront the Iranians and Hezbollah at the present moment. However, at the same time, there isn’t an external power that is ready to support them; just like the condition of the Syrian people who have been left to be slaughtered.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to withdraw its support to the Lebanese army is justified because its aim was to strengthen state institutions in the face of extremist organisations such as Hezbollah and ISIS. Hezbollah has started to use the army in the war against the Syrians and to protect its fronts and boundaries, and it is clear that the leaders of the army are powerless. Riyadh’s decision, therefore, is wise because it targets Hezbollah. In addition to this, the cessation of Saudi flights to Beirut, urging Saudi citizens to leave and putting people and companies affiliated with Hezbollah on the blacklist are all justified decisions in the face of rising tensions with Iran and its agent Hezbollah, especially after it was revealed that the group was planning to hijack a Saudi plane in the Philippines.

However, I do not imagine that Saudi Arabia will abandon its support of the forces that confront Hezbollah, and will not stop dealing with Lebanese people who have nothing to do with it. I imagine that Saudi Arabia will increase its support of all those who confront Iran and its allies, including Lebanon and even opposition forces in Iran.