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Nasrallah’s Dilemma | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Tuesday was a day that was full of news from Lebanon, starting with the battle over the “tree” in southern Lebanon between the Lebanese and Israeli armies which caused casualties on both sides, and ending with the speech by the Hezbollah leader that implied a lot about Israel, both internally and externally. Therefore, what is the most important implication of what happened on that day?

In the beginning, and for whatever reason, the initial reaction to this day – whether with regards to Hassan Nasrallah’s speech, or the incident between the Lebanese and Israeli armies with regards to the tree – is that the Lebanese army has taken the lead from Hezbollah, or that Hezbollah has slowed down and finds itself in second place, or describe this in whatever way that you will. This was something that was clearly evident in Hassan Nasrallah’s speech which justified – at length – Hezbollah’s decision not to enter the fray and help the Lebanese army, while he also promised that the resistance will cut off the Israeli hand that reaches out to attack Lebanon, but “next time.”

The other issue with regards to Nasrallah’s speech was what he said about the special international tribunal that is investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri; for although Nasrallah welcomed the tripartite Saudi – Syrian – Lebanese summit, his message was clear, which is that Hezbollah intends to wait and see if this inter-Arab rapprochement will lead to the disruption of the international tribunal, otherwise something else will happen. Nasrallah said “we must all cooperate to pacify the situation until the results of this effort are revealed, and we can build something on this.” In other words, Hezbollah will pacify the situation for a fixed time, and this is a clear threat, not desire for cooperation and calm!

What confirms this is that Nasrallah’s talk about calm was accompanied by his accusing Israel of being responsible for the Rafiq Hariri assassination. From this announcement, it is clear that although Nasrallah is talking about calm, what he really wants to do is back his Lebanese political rivals into a corner, and prepare the ground – in a demagogic fashion – for the coming stage i.e. what will happen should the efforts to disrupt the international tribunal fail. For Nasrallah’s accusation of Israel intends to back the Lebanese – and therefore the Arabs – into a corner; for in the event of the international tribunal issuing the expected decision accusing Hezbollah [of being responsible for Rafiq Hariri’s assassination] everybody who calls for justice and cooperation with the tribunal will be portrayed as if they are defending Israel. This was confirmed by Nasrallah saying “I presume that what I said and will say about the Israeli issue will not bother anybody, unless they want to go out and defend Israel.” This is a clear plan to cause confusion and fear.

It is also worth noting that Nasrallah said that he will present evidence proving Israeli’s involvement in the Hariri assassination next week. However the question that must be asked here is: why did Nasrallah wait – keeping hold of such evidence – without publicly revealing it, especially when the fingers of accusation were being pointed at Syria? Would it not have been better to expose the Israelis [prior to now]?

Therefore, the battle of the “tree” and Nasrallah’s speech demonstrate that the situation in Lebanon is heating up, and although the situation has not reached critical point, the smoke that is being seen there reveals that there is a high degree of tension within Hezbollah, and that Nasrallah is worried about everybody in Lebanon. This can be seen in his over-use of the expression “one of them [the leaders] told me” even when referring to his own friends and allies!