Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Be Rational, Mr. Foreign Secretary - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

We usually say that the British have a better and more comprehensive understanding then that of the Americans regarding issues affecting our region. But I invite you to closely examine the comments that British Foreign Secretary David Miliband made yesterday at Beirut Airport.

In response to a question about the British government’s classification of the Lebanese Hezbollah group as a terrorist organization, Miliband said ‘Britain considers the military wing of Hezbollah a terrorist organization’ but not the political wing of the group. He added ‘It is right to draw that distinction and to emphasize that those who use violence for political ends cannot expect to have the support of the international community’.

The question then is; can we differentiate between Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah?

For Nasrallah himself has vowed to avenge the killing of Imad Mughniyeh (senior member of Hezbollah killed by a car-bomb in 2008), and the entire Hezbollah organization attended his funeral. Pictures commemorating Hajj Radwan (a nom de guerre of Mughniyeh) were placed on banners all over Lebanon, and even in Iraq, although this was certainly not the case in Syria where he was assassinated. So is it reasonable to say that the political wing of Hezbollah is one thing, and the military wing another?

If Britain had previously decided that by dividing Hezbollah into political and terrorist wings, it could open diplomatic relations with the group while at the same time satisfying Israel, then it is their right to do so. Yet the British Foreign Secretary must not forget that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah used their weapons against unarmed Lebanese during the May 7th conflict. This conflict resulted in the Doha Agreement which gave Hezbollah the power to further distort democracy in Lebanon by granting them veto power in the Lebanese parliament.

And so in this case the British Foreign Secretary does not have the right to politically absolve Hezbollah and its religious leadership, pointing the finger of accusation only at the group’s military wing with regards to the crimes perpetrated against Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

Statements such as the one made by the British Foreign Secretary are prolonging the crisis in Lebanon, and in our region as a whole. They allow Iran and Syria, and their agents such as Hezbollah and others to persist in misreading political situations, which result in them attempting to circumvent the political positions of countries interested in preserving the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon.

It would seem that although David Miliband is British, he has a French political mentality when it comes to Lebanon and Syria. It is clear that the British Foreign Secretary has not done his research with regards to Hezbollah, and their composition and history. For Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah supports the Mahdi army who are fighting British troops in Iraq.

Hezbollah protect the interests of the Wali Al Faqih (the Guardian of the Islamic Jurists, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) at the expense of the Lebanese, using their weapons in the service of Iran. The group’s literature claims that Hezbollah was established to protect ‘the resistance’, and so how can Hezbollah be separated into political and military wings?

It is up to the British, and others, to recognize that negotiation and dialogue with Hezbollah is nothing more than a waste of time, for the decisions are not made in Beirut but in Tehran. Without the influence of Iran, Hezbollah’s maneuverability would be severely compromised, and their actions easily visible and identifiable.

If Britain, or the British Foreign Secretary, wishes to compete with France until the presidential transition in Washington is complete, then that is an understandable matter. But what is not understandable or acceptable is for these kinds of comments to confuse regional issues and send conflicting messages.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

More Posts