Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon: Before it Disappears - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Lebanon and its issues, which are sometimes exciting and many times boring, are once again making the headlines, whether in newspapers or newscasts, thus revealing the “wonders” of politics, sects, and the heated conflicts between them.

Last year, 27 of August to be more precise, I wrote a column entitled “The World Speaks in Persian” in which I mentioned that there are subdued discussions about Hezbollah setting up a comprehensive communications network outside the boundaries of state sovereignty and far removed from its surveillance apparatus and legislative authority. I then received an anonymous phone call from someone who defended Hezbollah and the resistance and attacked the allegations questioning the credibility and competence of the party. I listened to the charged ideologue speak in manner that was closer to a fanatical Christian sermon or a hardliner Muslim Friday sermon than a phone conversation and I replied calmly and said, “Tomorrow the days will tell.”

There have been various recurrent reports about Hezbollah’s alleged third and undeclared mobile network and many Lebanese politicians have expressed their concern and fear that the party was monitoring its opponents through sophisticated methods and equipment.

However, the truth that cannot be denied is that Hezbollah is a state within a state that has begun to outgrow the size of its declared “resistance project”, which it promotes through stirring up fiery sentiments. (Undoubtedly, the party’s ‘honorable military victory’ during confrontations with the Israeli army has helped, as have the convoy of martyrs that dedicated their lives to that project).

But today, the situation has become altogether different and what was once a resistance has become a state and army, the latter of which has its weapons, media platforms and its own logical idiosyncrasies. Hezbollah has presently created the appropriate infrastructure for communication – with all that it entails.

All of this cannot serve as a basis on which to build confidence and reinforce national unity nor serve as grounds to root sincere national Lebanese discourse. Contrastingly, such conditions are favorable for Hezbollah to become active amidst Lebanon’s “fully anesthesitized” parliamentary action, which has been moved into the intensive care unit after its head Nabih Berri closed the doors of parliament.

Mr. Nabih Berri was the one who chose to walk away from the line of neutrality and objectivity only to adopt an escalatory approach towards the presidential elections, which were previously always held regardless of the thorny disputes or the recurrent bloodshed. Ultimately and without exception, all the Lebanese factions and parties, irrespective of their problems, were still capable of electing a president for the republic.

I hope that Nabih Berri will be able to sleep peacefully at night and wake up with a clear conscience as he watches one postponement after the other. The issue of electing a president has become an absurd farce. But all of this will be put on record and will personally be attributed to his history in the near future. Mr. Nabih Berri overlooked his post when he rehired the Lebanese TV presenter [Sawsan Safa Darwish] after she wished a Lebanese minister [Ahmed Fatfat] would be assassinated inadvertently on an open mic. But then again; this is bizarre Lebanon, which is afflicted by its leaders.

The Hezbollah “representative” from whom I had received the telephone call, told me: “All we need is a Gulf citizen to remind us of democracy.” I sighed before responding and said: “No sir. But I would like to remind you that there is no need to sell your country in order for you to resist and then claim that you are democratic.”

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

More Posts