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The Chance of a Lifetime - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Theoretically, Hezbollah has gained the battle, according to the offer presented by the US Secretary of State in Lebanon. However, Hezbollah prefers its weapons to the detainees in Israeli jails or the Shebaa Farms.

Condoleezza Rice arrived in Beirut and announced that she would do what no one else has done before, namely, to solve the root of the problem, not just the issue of a ceasefire.

In Beirut, Rice threw the biggest surprise of all. She informed the Lebanese government that she would fulfill all of Hezbollah’s demands. She agreed to release Lebanese detainees in Israel and return the Shebaa Farms, as well as to compel Israel to return occupied land during the ongoing war. She suggested an international force to protect the border be deployed, in order to separate the Lebanese from the Israelis and protect them from one another. She also demanded the government spread its authority over all Lebanese territories, which requires confiscating the weapons of all militias, including Hezbollah.

If the Lebanese were asked their opinion, the majority would have agreed to support the solution. It represents salvation for all the people of Lebanon and a happy ending to numerous conflicts. The alternative is for the war to continue at a lesser pace; it might last for years and perhaps reach the same solution: a ceasefire, the return of occupied land and a prisoner swap, but with even more death and destruction.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah rejected the offer outright and said it humiliated Lebanon. Can anyone tell me what is humiliating in the entire offer? Is the international force humiliating when it will play the role of guardian, observer and the guarantor of this plan?

The offer represents the chance of a lifetime for the Lebanese; it will enable them to build a safe country, away from foreign intervention and internal strife. They could then dedicate their efforts to build and develop their country for future generations.

It is tragic to see a leader rejecting an offer that could have saved his country, no matter what the justifications are. This confirms what has been attributed to officials in Hezbollah, namely that the group will not give up its weapons, even if Palestine was liberated, and that it will make even more unworkable demands, such as demanding Israel return seven villages to Lebanon, other than the Shebaa Farms! They also claim that expected internal battles necessitate Hezbollah remains armed, in order to fend off Christian and Sunni opponents.

Nasrallah’s responsibility in managing the crisis towards safety is great, if everyone is to remember him as the leader who defeated Israel, not the one who led the country to war and a renewed occupation. His duty is to disarm Hezbollah after it has taken part in “the last battle” for which it was armed.

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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