I listened to dear friend Mustafa Nasser speak about the congenial atmosphere of the meeting between Saad al Hariri and Hassan Nasrallah, and how jokes were exchanged between the two figures, as if there were no major disagreements between them even though there are, according to Nasser.
This is good, however it does not mean that questions will not be raised about the possibility of achieving real success in communication rather than merely appeasing the situation. As for the reasons behind the Hariri-Nasrallah talks, a well-informed source in Beirut told me that the meeting was beneficial to the public interest of both Sunnis and Shia because with all the tense media reports, there are problems on the ground.
The source explained that the meeting was constructive regarding communication between the two leaders, and this might be reflected in wider issues that affect the makeup of Lebanon, especially considering the existence of important investigations and issues such as the International Tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik al Hariri and Syrian threats towards northern Lebanon.
According to the source, there is an opportunity to understand Hezbollah’s thinking and the nature of its ties with Syria. Moreover, the source emphasized that he did not understand the reasons that Hezbollah was keen to communicate with the March 14 Alliance now, especially since the situation in the region is still heated.
This is the crucial point; did the Hariri-Nasrallah meeting only take place to appease the situation even though there is still a deep-rooted dispute, the causes of which still exist, for example the debate on Hezbollah arming certain Sunni groups in Tripoli? Who is benefiting from this meeting: Lebanon, Nasrallah or Hariri?
The regional situation is still complicated. For example, what is Hezbollah’s relation to Syria today especially that there is information that indicates that relations are stressed. What is the nature of Syrian-Iranian ties today at a time when nobody can be certain of anything?
More importantly, we must remember Syria’s enthusiasm to reach a peace agreement with Israel and to break its international isolation, and Iran, which is under pressure from the financial crisis, and the region, as it awaits the outcome of the US presidential elections.
It is evident that Hezbollah will benefit the most from appeasement today since it has achieved what it wanted both militarily and politically through the Beirut coup. All that it needs now is to free itself of blame and distance itself from suspicions of sectarianism and loyalty to Iran.
The issue of Hezbollah’s subordination to Iran was settled when Nasrallah himself admitted that he is a proud member of Wilayat-e-Faqih and we all know what belonging to the Wilayat-e-Faqih involves.
Of course we all want Lebanese unity but the crucial question is: how will Lebanon benefit from this meeting? What we have seen so far is an attempt to improve Hassan Nasrallah’s image but this is difficult for one simple reason; our disputes with Hezbollah are strategic, they are not related to creed or emotion.
Will Hezbollah stop undermining and overruling the Lebanese state? Will it prioritize Lebanon’s interests over Iranian interests? Will it take a positive stand regarding the International Tribunal and will Nasrallah pledge not to take up arms again against the unarmed civilians of Beirut, particularly the Sunnis? Will Nasrallah apologize publicly for those actions? I highly doubt it!