In his most recent speech commenting on the events taking place in the Nahr al Bared refugee camp, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah asked the questions, “…is it necessary to turn Lebanon into a battlefield for the Americans and Al Qaeda? Do you want to fight someone else’s war on Lebanese soil? Are we concerned with initiating a conflict with Al Qaeda in Lebanon that will consequently attract Al Qaeda elements and guerilla armies to Lebanon from around the world?”
Some may see Sayyid Nasrallah’s words as a political wrangle intended to score points against Siniora’s government. However, my view is somewhat contrary.
Sayyid Hassan obviously saw the risk of playing the Al Qaeda card or, let us say, the idea of an Al Qaeda presence in Lebanon. Al Qaeda is definitely present in Lebanon and came to be in existence there with ease. Youths only need to search the internet to support Al Qaeda or carry arms, commit a foolish act and then issue a statement claiming responsibility.
But why is Sayyid concerned? The presence of Bin Laden’s followers in Lebanon, undoubtedly, will place the resistance, Hezbollah, and its arms in a critical position and in a crisis. Sayyid knows very well that even if it benefited from Iran and Syria, Al Qaeda is an archenemy of the Shiaa, which is manifested in Iraq. Al Qaeda even explicitly declares the Shiaa as infidels and its enmity towards them surpasses their enmity towards Israel, which is stated in Al Qaeda literature.
Sayyid knows that Al Qaeda will not carry out suicide attacks in central Beirut in protest against Haifa Wahbi but rather against Israeli troops. Then, out of the common logic in the Arab world, the question will be; do we side with Al Qaeda or Israel? And this is a train of thought that Sayyid knows too well. It is the same logic that caused intellectuals of various trends, governments and Arab fundamentalists to take the Sayyid’s side when he embarked on the venture of kidnapping the two Israeli soldiers last summer.
Who knows? There may be an attempt to rationalize the devil, Al Qaeda. Hezbollah was one day labeled a terrorist organization and some of its members, even in its Shura council, are wanted by a number of Arab states for involvement in assassination attempts and for inciting disorder in the 1980s and early 1990s.
More important is the dispute with Hezbollah over its legitimacy and that of its arms, which is resistance to the Israeli enemy. Al Qaeda would then be competing with Sayyid in his own turf and in his own trade, implying that the Sunni giant emerged from the magical lamp in Lebanon, which a number of rational individuals cautioned against ever since the opposition took to the streets in Beirut and surrounded Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora.
Sayyid Nasrallah’s words and concern have to be taken seriously, not out of concurrence with him but out of awareness of the gravity of an active Al Qaeda role in Lebanon. Seeking complete victory over his rival countrymen, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah should be the first to realize that. Such victory would be a predicament for him as the defeat of wise men brings joy to the insane.