Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Fear for Hariri | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In one day, somebody opened the “treasure chest” of what could be described as Saudi-Syrian “dialogue” to Lebanese newspapers of different “leanings”. It was not a media campaign in as much fear, as indicators suggest that many parties are frightened of Syrian-Saudi rapprochement.

The importance here does not lie in what is being published in the media that is affiliated to different parties in Lebanon but in the secret visits to Damascus to ask questions and give advice and to tell the Syrians to wait and not pay attention to the new conditions on the regional level.

To understand these new conditions in the region, an Arab source told me: “If I were to ask Damascus whether the reformists or the conservatives would be better for it in Iran, the answer, as demonstrated by history, would be that Syria prefers extremists!”

The source added that Syria’s presence amongst extremists “makes it a moderate mediator between extremists and the West, and the same thing applies to rapprochement with Hamas and Hezbollah.” For that reason the Arab source believes that “Iran is going through a real internal crisis and Tehran is Damascus’ absolute power.”

As for Hamas and Hezbollah, the source stated, “They are no longer just obstructing forces but sources of chaos,” as Hezbollah is still suffering from the effects of the 2006 war with Israel and Lebanese sources state that Hezbollah believes that Israel might target Iran. This idea was further consolidated by the comments of US Vice President Joe Biden.

Moreover, Hezbollah expects that Israel will drag it into a battle in order to avoid what’s needed for peace. But what’s more important, with regards to Syria, is that the party lost the electoral battle. In Beirut it was said jokingly that Damascus lost in the “four districts.”

In the case of Hamas, the source stated that the lack of success in representing the Palestinians and its inability to meet the needs of the one and a half million Gazans who are without shelter has caused Hamas embarrassment and changed it from an “obstructing force” into a “source of chaos.” As a result Hamas represents a futile card for Damascus.

Going back to the subject of Saudi-Syrian “dialogue,” it’s obvious that what preoccupied people the most was Saad Hariri’s visit, or non-visit, to Damascus, because to Syria’s allies in Lebanon this means that Damascus has shifted from its position and Saad will become the real political force in Beirut. They are concerned, as a result, because reconciliation between Hariri and Damascus would not be an end in itself but the beginning of a new stage between the Saudis and the Syrians, and Lebanon and Syria. It would therefore have an effect on the peace file and the map of alliances in the entire region.

Unfortunately, all those indicators remind us of the atmosphere before February 14 2005, the day the late Rafik Hariri was assassinated. So simply, and looking into the ways of solving the situations in our region, the most important and vulnerable link of all regional changes is Saad Hariri.

The leader of the majority is the pillar of a large segment of society. He is the undisputed leader of the Sunnis and he represents the international roadmap for Lebanon, and the regional turning point between Syria and the Arabs, or vice versa. Moreover, and this is the most important point, Hariri is the pillar of the International Tribunal into his father’s death and all its secrets, which will begin soon, especially as the official part of Syria is no longer worried about this.

Therefore, all indicators suggest that the fear today is for Saad Hariri.