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Who caused the initiative to collapse? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The above question is the hot topic in Lebanon today and in the Arab media in general. The question “who is responsible for the collapse of the Saudi-Syrian Initiative?” will also provide fuel for the longstanding and forthcoming Lebanese battle, in which everyone levies accusations at each other. Yet this is in fact the wrong question to ask, and thus so are all attempts to answer it, for what is built on false foundations will of course be false as well!

With regards to this question, we have heard Michel Aoun blame the Future Movement, and we have heard Damascus blame the Americans, a claim which has likewise been repeated by media outlets attributed to Hezbollah. However, with all this, we have not heard anyone asking the right question, which is: What is this initiative, and where is it?

If the Syrian President said himself, during his last visit to Paris, that there was no Saudi-Syrian Initiative in place, and that the solution [to resolve the issue of the Hariri Tribunal] must come from the Lebanese themselves, then how can he say today that the Americans have destroyed the initiative, or that Saad Hariri was not responsive? Likewise we have not heard one Saudi official mention, or talk about the initiative. In an article on the 27th of December 2010 (entitled: A Saudi – Syrian Initiative or Idea?), I quoted two Saudi sources’ interpretations of events, whereby one said “believe me, there is no initiative”, whilst the other source said “there could be ideas [in this regard]; however I cannot say that this is an initiative”, going on to say that “some ideas are difficult to implement”.

Here it is important to note what an American official told our newspaper last Saturday, when he said: “we have all read with interest what has been said about the Saudi – Syrian initiative, and I find it interesting that the discussions over this initiative are usually found in media sponsored by Syria, which means there is a (Syrian – Hezbollah) trend in the stories being published [about this].” This is true, for we cannot find one piece of information about the initiative in any other media, whether it is independent, or even outside of Lebanon!

The truth is that Hezbollah is in real trouble, especially if we recall the party’s earlier statements, when it called for friendly and sisterly countries to prevent the issuance of an indictment from the International Tribunal. Therefore, talk of a Saudi-Syrian initiative was only a matter of security, for it is true that although there may be ideas [in this regard], there are also important truths, most notably: who is actually able to disrupt the indictment process of the International Tribunal?

Therefore, it doesn’t matter what Hezbollah’s media says, or what its visitors to Syria say, because a visit to Damascus does not mean you understand what is going on there, especially if you just listen, without comparing words to actions. There was never a Saudi-Syrian initiative in place, despite the fact that people are now being accused of destroying it. The crux of the matter is that Hezbollah is facing a new problem with regards to Arab public opinion, especially the Lebanese Sunnis. The party, which has escaped from its troubles in the past, must now escape from its own arrogance and ego. Yet the solution to Hezbollah’s current predicament is not in its own hands, and the party is now at the mercy of many in Lebanon, and beyond. This is the story that we must wake up to in the coming days!

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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