The tears shed by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora in his address to Arab League diplomats in Beirut, on Monday, summarized the Lebanese situation and that of the wider Arab world.
It is a situation where blood and destruction are intermixed with displaced families and the agenda of the powerful being imposed on a weak Lebanon.
Siniora chocked back tears more than once: when he said Lebanon will not become the site of foreign conflicts once again and that the country’s Arab identity was not in doubt (in reference to a likely Syrian reaction) and when he pledged not to destroy Lebanon once more, speaking in the name of all the victims, the dead and injured.
Tears can have more than one meaning. They can express befuddlement and the inability to act; they can also reveal the human being inside the politician.
Sheikh Jaber al Ahmad al Sabah cried, in front of the world, as he spoke of his country occupied by Saddam Hussein. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz cried after being affected by the young daughter of one of the security men who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism.
Tears become tragic when they signal the end of a story and an irrevocable departure, such as when Abdullah al Saghir cried as he stood on a hill watching Granada from afar, after the Spanish kicked him out of his Kingdom. On that cold January day in 1492, he stood in disbelief and wiped tears off his eyes, in an attempt to runaway from a bitter reality.
There is a great difference between the tears of powerlessness and those of awakening, between those of the strong and the weak, as the famous nationalist politician and writer, Akram Hourani wrote in his memories, as he discussed events in 1956, when he traveled to drum up support for the independence of Algeria from France. “Our reality deserves tears … but only the tears of the strong not the weak… the tears of someone trying to overcome his weakness and inability.”
Siniora cried because he is unable to fight all the contradictory pressures at the same time. From one side, Syria wants him to return under its fold and renounce the independence of Lebanese decision-making. Siniora also sees this vicious war being waged on all of Lebanon, no matter if the target, as Israel says, is Hezbollah and its rockets. In the end, Siniora is Lebanon’s Prime Minister and not an international observe who monitors and analyzes! The country being torn apart is his and the party that is refusing to listen to the needs of Lebanon before anyone else’s is a Lebanese party. It represents most of the Shiaa who, in turn, represent a large segment of Lebanese society. While its policies aren’t Lebanese, it is a Lebanese party and is active on Lebanese soil and its members are Lebanese! What can the Siniora do in this regard? He can behave as the country’s protector. This is a difficult and delicate task that makes anyone pity the Lebanese Premier.
Therefore, it is not stranger to see Siniora cry, out of anger not weakness. In the current crisis, the Lebanese Prime Minister has revealed his tough side and has admirably steer Lebanese decision-making, despite all the difficulties, while war is ranging and as the people of Lebanon are divided on the role of Hezbollah. All this is taking place at a time when the country is the scene of a wider fierce regional conflict between Iran and Syria on the one hand and the rest of the Arab world on the other.
Siniora is able to surmount problems and, when the situation calls for it, to show anger, such as when he clearly criticized the Iranian Foreign Minister, a few days ago, after the latter expressed (from Beirut !) his reservations on the Lebanese government’s comprehensive plan to solve the conflict.
Siniora is fighting on all fronts, most recently during the Arab league meeting in Beirut, which he distinguished by his emotional speech and his tears. The meeting was also more practical than its predecessors; the world is ready to take us seriously if we are politically active and take a serious stance and know the sources of our power.
The world is not always against us, as much as we are against ourselves. The popular artists lamenting the state of the Arab world should transform their calls for revolution and unity into a working plan and responsible actions. We await the UN Security Council to make a decision and in turn, it awaits the Arab viewpoints, which is why the Foreign Minister of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and the Arab League’s Secretary General left Beirut directly to New York and are expected to meet with the US and French representatives, in order to take Lebanon’s “corrections” into consideration. Their central aim is to withdraw Lebanon from the proxy war between Iran and Syria, on the one hand, and the United States and Israel on the other. Hezbollah itself, a few years ago, announced that all occupied Lebanese lands have been liberated. It is futile to keep the Lebanese front active, unless it is a prologue to something else, internal or foreign!