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Opinion: Lebanon must pay the bill | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks via video during a conference, held in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday May, 9, 2013. (AP Photo)

The Gulf Cooperation Council needs to confront Hezbollah’s terrorist militias with a clear policy more than ever before. What is needed is something that that goes beyond merely “considering” or “thinking about” whether or not it should be classified as a terrorist faction. Today, the danger posed by Hezbollah cannot be overlooked. The mask has been removed, exposing the face of a sectarian, terrorist, criminal and traitorous organization that has conspired against an unarmed nation to the advantage of a bloodthirsty regime that has proven to be tyrannical and criminal par excellence.

Hezbollah and its militias are not only a terrorist faction: they also have political power in Lebanon. This has enabled Hezbollah to enter the Lebanese government and join the ruling coalition, and so now it represents Lebanon itself to some extent. The Lebanese state must bear the consequences of the disaster that Hezbollah has brought down on the country, particularly as the government’s official spokesmen had repeatedly declared that Lebanon would stay out of what is happening in Syria. As days wore on, however, it was proven that the Lebanese state is in part involved in Hezbollah’s project in Syria, perhaps unwillingly.

Through its army and security troops, Hezbollah allowed its heavily armed brigades to cross the Lebanese border into Syria to engage in the fighting there. Similarly, Hezbollah continues to be assisted by its foreign minister, who has long defended it in diplomatic and official gatherings, and who is backed by its local banks that finance its operations in Lebanon and Syria. Hezbollah had a hand in the assassination and injury of its opponents during the recent sit-in they staged in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut thanks to the inadequacy of the forces charged with the embassy’s security, who were also responsible for protecting the participants of the sit-in there.

The Lebanese state is part of the problem, and it can by no means be considered detached from all of this. Today, it is the Lebanese state’s duty to promptly accept and deal with the consequences. If the GCC is still hesitant about whether or not Hezbollah should be classified as a terrorist organization, it members must take a number of immediate decisions to cease all kinds of investments and economic agreements they have signed with Lebanon, cancel existing contracts concluded with Lebanese companies, and stop bringing in or recruiting Lebanese employees. There are those who call for dispensing with the Lebanese presence in the Gulf region, because the Lebanese people must sense the gravity of the deeds Hezbollah has committed against its own people. Furthermore, the Gulf States must not reward Hezbollah or its adherents in Lebanon for its crimes.

The time is now for the GCC member states to seize the opportunity to do all of this, because many Lebanese and Arabs understand and realize the gravity of Hezbollah’s deeds and their subsequent impacts. The economic cost is very high, but must be borne, as Hezbollah has been a major beneficiary of Gulf investments, tourist inflows, Lebanese recruitment and Lebanese economic partnerships in the Gulf. Now, it is the duty of the Lebanese state to recognize that Hezbollah has become a real threat to Arab security, as well as to the social security in the region thanks to its policies and decisions.

The decision is not confined to the Gulf region anymore, as Muslim scholars are preparing for an extremely large gathering to declare a unified stance towards Hezbollah and to classify it as an enemy that must be confronted by all means possible to ward off its evil.

The Lebanese state must shoulder the burden of sheltering a terrorist organization that keeps destabilizing the region. Lebanon must pay the bill for its failure to control a rogue militia that keeps threatening its stature and future. In fact, remaining silent about Hezbollah is not possible anymore. If it is true that while Hezbollah is deceiving the Lebanese people with its false claims of “resistance” against Israel and declines to hand in its arms, this remains an internal Lebanese affair. But now it has transformed into a militia for hire that defends criminals and tyrants and poses a real threat to the entire region. Therefore, it is necessary that the Lebanese state bear the price, rather than pursuing the interests of a single party and procrastinating over whether or not it must be classified as a terrorist organization.

The GCC states must address Lebanon as a sovereign state in order to force it to pay the price of its weakness in confronting Hezbollah’s terrorist militias.