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Nasrallah and Syria's Acquittal! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is certainly the most aware that the number of meetings that have taken place recently between the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri exceeds the number of meetings between Hariri and himself, or even Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, who Nasrallah has politically forgiven – according to Nasrallah himself – after he [Jumblatt] reviewed his recent [political] positions. In the event of Hezbollah being accused, Jumblatt is expected to say – even if under his breath – that it would not be regrettable to him for Hezbollah to disappear, especially if Jumblatt believes that he has Syrian blessing to say this.

Therefore, Nasrallah’s most recent speech is not so much a threat – which would not be unusual for him – as much as it is an expression of shock and fear towards a forthcoming decision that is expected to be issued by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is investigating Rafik Hariri’s assassination. This decision is expected to accuse members of Hezbollah of being responsible for the crime, which would represent an accusation against Hezbollah itself, while also acquitting Syria [of this crime], according to Nasrallah. Therefore Nasrallah’s exaggerated praise for Syria’s acquittal is more evidence of Hezbollah’s apprehension than it is of the party’s happiness, and this can be demonstrated by Nasrallah acting suspiciosuly. The Hezbollah leader would be wise to be aware of what we mentioned previously, namely that Hariri’s recurring visits and meetings with President al-Assad are ongoing in a significant manner. Therefore Nasrallah talking about welcoming al-Assad’s visit to Lebanon, and the need to accelerate this, and the need to apologize to Syria, is clear over-exaggeration in order to conceal Hezbollah’s apprehension towards the acquittal of Damascus and the [forthcoming] incrimination of Nasrallah’s associates.

From here, we can say that Nasrallah is concerned that Syria may have abandoned Hezbollah to face the storm surrounded the Hariri tribunal alone. This is not unlikely, for Hezbollah and Damascus are united not just by a belief and path of resistance – as we are told everyday – or a strategic position, but also by an understanding that this alliance is a temporary tactic whose continuance has not been due to the intelligence of Hezbollah or Iran, but the stupidity of Israel, and the shortsightedness of the US in understanding the importance of achieving Israeli – Syrian peace and [Israeli] withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The Syrian – Iranian relationship which Hezbollah benefits from is more due to Tehran’s strength than because this is a [permanent] strategic Syrian position, therefore as a result of the domestic and foreign crises that are being faced by Iran, we can understand why Damascus is using the Turks in all regional files. Therefore Damascus, whose president explicitly said that he is interested in establishing and consolidating secularism in Syrian society (and this was not a statement for foreign consumption, and so here is Damascus banning the niqab at universities and scientific instates) cannot be an ally of a religious party in Lebanon like Hezbollah, or a religious extremist regime like Iran, whose government specifies even what clothes the Iranian public can wear, or what kinds of haircut are acceptable.

Therefore, those scrutinizing Syria’s actions and statements will be able to understand Hassan Nasrallah and Hezbollah’s concern towards the Hariri tribunal and other issues, whether this is Iraq, Turkey’s position, or the recurring meetings that have been taking place recently between Hariri and President Bashar al-Assad.

From here, we can say that what concerns Nasrallah is not just some members of Hezbollah being accused [of Rafik Hariri’s assassination] but also Damascus being acquitted of this at the same time, as this represents a threat to Hezbollah, the significance of which Nasrallah is well aware of.

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.

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