The campaign led by Hezbollah in Lebanon to normalize relations with Bashar al-Assad’s regime goes beyond the traditional political acrimony in the country.
It’s a new moment of the bitter moments of confrontation against “the curse of geography.” So how is it when Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has declared two triumphs: the victory of Lebanon in 2006, which he celebrated again, and victory in Syria, which he linked to the first, in a single speech?
There is a fait accompli in Syria in which the headline is that Assad has won. It is true that the victory came at the price of the destruction of nearly half of the country’s buildings and the immigration or internal displacement of more than 13 million people within and outside the country, with too many lives lost or maimed, but it’s still victory according to the standards of Assad and his allies.
Nasrallah has already emerged victorious over Israel, at the expense of Lebanon's economy and its fragile civil peace, but the cost of all this was not taken into consideration in the balance of wins and losses.
Those who are pushing for normalizing relations between Lebanon and Syria are not driven by the “curse of geography” and what it requires in terms of building proper rules for the relationship between the two countries and reviewing Lebanese-Syrian ties before the Syrian war and after it but they are actually motivated by a fervent desire to invest in Assad’s victory, as they perceive it to be a victory achieved within Lebanon before being a Syrian oneNadim Koteich
These are the consequences of the “times of victory,” and rushing to turn the clock back is linked to Lebanon’s location and its role, not just regarding Syria, but regarding other issues and roles in the region.
In his recent speeches, Nasrallah clearly stated that Lebanon was at the brink of a new political phase. Nasrallah revived the public attack against Saudi Arabia, then his party received a Houthi delegation in Beirut to declare that it’s all one battle fought against one enemy on several fronts.
While it is natural for Nasrallah to behave in this manner, the most frightening thing in this new phase is the ambiguous position of President Michel Aoun in terms of the political priorities pushed to the forefront by Hezbollah.
There is growing skepticism that the political demands on the formation of the government, the distribution of quotas and the desire to diminish other parties’ power in it as expressed by the president's son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, are not legitimate demands, but rather a cover to produce a government within a political perception that takes into consideration what Nasrallah expressed in his last speech about the victory of the axis to which he belongs.
Consequently, the position of President Aoun implies a political position that goes beyond his view of his powers or status to the political status and role of the era within the raging game of axes. Little by little, it seems that the president is exiting the area of compromise, which made him president, into a new territory which suggests that his election was indeed an early indication of the victories which Nasrallah is talking about today.