Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Behind the Applause | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hezbollah cheered loudly for the release of the four generals in Lebanon [held over the assassination of Rafik Hariri], stating that the International Tribunal’s ruling for their release was justified and could be considered a victory. On the other hand however, it was a frustrating blow to those who were hoping that somebody would be punished for the assassinations that took place in Lebanon. How should we interpret this?

The basic factors demonstrate that the International Tribunal’s decision to release the four generals came about to reshuffle the cards in Lebanon all over again and to pressure the opposition, Hezbollah in particular, once again, indicating major changes that might aggravate the situation in Lebanon and the region.

The hullabaloo that followed the decision to release the four generals suggests that Hezbollah and the opposition have realized that they have fallen into a trap because their huge celebration indicates that they have implicitly acknowledged the Tribunal and admitted that it is not politicized. This means that it will be difficult for Hezbollah to challenge the Tribunal again if it re-summons one of the four generals, or goes even further by heading for the suburbs. This is a real dilemma for anybody who doubted the Tribunal in the past.

In reference to the “pressure” mentioned above, we have Hezbollah engaging in a battle of defiance with Egypt, especially as Cairo will not give in and adopt the Lebanese method of seeking to balance things out by not having a winner and a loser in the end. Cairo instead will teach Hezbollah a lesson by following a certain method so that it will “not be so daring next time.” This is the most effective technique.

The other issue is that the Tribunal’s decision to release the four generals will not benefit Hezbollah and the opposition in the upcoming electoral battle in Lebanon because whoever is with Hezbollah and the opposition will remain with Hezbollah and the opposition. However those who are frustrated with the other party and those who are indecisive will say what they have to say and someone will ask how?

Anybody who saw Hezbollah’s celebration and heard Jamil al Sayyed’s comments will think seriously about the false slogans raised by the resistance and will stop for a while and ponder the words of Walid Jumblatt who said, “Yesterday we saw an ugly scene of the symbols of the Syrian tutelage, how it suddenly broke its silence and reminded us of the days of slavery.” This will serve as a catalyst for the frustrated and indecisive people to make a decision in the upcoming elections and vote for the majority. Hezbollah and the opposition sense the danger of this as Hezbollah is not waging on the elections inasmuch as it wants to guarantee that its grip on power will not be weakened.

Therefore, what occurred did not harm the majority. Rather, after the release of the four generals, we saw Saad al Hariri and Walid Jumblatt – in spite of everything that has been said in the past – take a position that showed that there are no gaps in the ranks of the majority. And that’s not all.

There is also another matter that must be addressed here; the absence of the leader of the Amal Movement, Mr. Nabih Berri, from the celebrations hosted by Hezbollah. It became clear that he chose to remain silent on the noisy celebrations. There is no doubt that Nabih Berri is a political fox; it is obvious that he interprets Syria’s activities well and the reactions to them strangely and he understands the importance of preserving his electoral interests. This is only expected and there is no harm in that.

Lebanon represents a unique political situation. Whilst most multi-ethnic countries seek peaceful coexistence, in Lebanon everybody seeks merely to survive.