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Assad, Hezbollah plot to derail the Middle East

Eyad Abu Shakra

Published: Updated:

The Lebanese people have become used to the frank speeches of Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, deputy chairman of the executive council of Hezbollah and one of its most prominent leaders in southern Lebanon. The concept of “resistance,” however, is repeated throughout the Sheikh’s speeches like a refrain is repeated in a song.

In the sheikh’s diction, the word “resistance” summarizes all things. It is a concept fixed in time and place, transcending definition, explanation and analysis. Moreover, “resistance” is a life philosophy; it is the nerve of life. For Sheikh Qaouq, the mere questioning of this concept is a crime.

Bashar Al-Assad’s words are clear: He conclusively disapproves of any international peace initiative taking place while he, it seems, is busy liberating Syria from its people, perhaps after failing to liberate Palestine

Eyad Abu Shakra

Yesterday, Sheikh Qaouq delivered a speech to his audience in southern Lebanon. “Resistance,” of course, was among the points discussed in the sheikh’s speech. What is interesting about yesterday’s speech is the fact that it came against the backdrop of the field reports coming from the bordering Syrian city of Al-Qusayr. In this city, Hezbollah fighters are practicing a new kind of “resistance.” They are, in fact, resisting the establishment of a free Syrian state governed by its own people, instead of the sectarian gang that has occupied the country for the last four decades.

Syrian ‘liberation’

The Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad received a huge March 8 Alliance delegation, whose members believe in his pan-Arab thesis and agree with his insistence on liberating Palestine. Assad addressed the delegation with a speech that can be summarized as follows: It is not acceptable for Lebanon to distance itself from the status quo in Syria, and it should accordingly participate in battles against the “armed groups.” Assad added that the liberation of Al-Qusayr is a step towards the liberation of Homs.

Bashar Al-Assad’s words are clear: He conclusively disapproves of any international peace initiative taking place while he, it seems, is busy liberating Syria from its people, perhaps after failing to liberate Palestine.

Back to Sheikh Qaouq, who said this week that “resistance today is a national and strategic need in order to repel any Israeli attempts to invest in the Syrian crisis. It is our national duty to fortify the homeland and the achievements of resistance against any Israeli attempts … it is our national duty to prevent Israel and America from achieving any gains at the expense of the power of Lebanon; the power of Lebanon comes from its army, people and resistance.”

Qaouq went on: “As we defeated Israel militarily, we are defeating the US politically. By forming a government and by running parliamentary elections, the US will be nothing but disappointed despite the fact that the US poisoned the atmosphere and spread seeds of dissent between the Lebanese.”

Hezbollah and foreign fighters

I remember—and the Lebanese well remember too—that Hezbollah approved the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 prohibiting “the resistant” armed forces of Hezbollah from existing south of the Litani River. Hezbollah’s approval enabled it to point its weapons, first towards the Lebanese interior from 2008, and, over the last two years, towards the Syrian interior. This means that the only quiet front now is the southern front, covering south Lebanon and Palestine: the same territories whose liberation was the purpose that gave rise to the “resistance” in the first place.

How come the “resistance” changed its direction from south to north? And how do Israel and its ally, the U.S., view this transformation? What is the secret behind Israel’s lack of concern over what has been going on in Syria for the last two years? What is the secret behind the U.S. insistence to allow Syria to slowly collapse, thus making it an ideal destination for jihadists coming from all across the world? Incidentally, Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N. peace envoy to Syria, has just confirmed that there are currently more than 40,000 foreign fighters in Syria.

I believe the answer to the first question is quite simple: there is no “resistance” any more; what is left is a commitment to a regional project whose details, as the days ahead will show us, are subject to international bargaining. “Resistance” is a polite term for the role assigned to Hezbollah, carrying out a new Iranian Sykes-Picot Agreement that is blessed by Israel and is being implemented under the auspices of Russia and the U.S.

Israel, in turn, is satisfied with the sectarian vengeance triggered by the Syrian regime’s violent sectarian crackdown, which is supported by a sectarian organization in both Syria and neighboring Lebanon. It is highly unlikely that Hezbollah and Iran are surprised by the reaction of the Sunni extremists in Lebanon and Syria or by jihadist groups flooding into Syria from across the globe.

A few years ago, we began to hear about the “new Middle East project”. We were told that several Western and Zionist movements, led by the “Neo-cons” in the U.S., were behind the project. When maps to divide the region were released, recommended by some research centers, many vehemently demanded that this project is confronted and defeated. However, nobody—particularly the most vocal objectors—could explain how this plot would be carried out. It seems that those who fervently objected to the project were under the delusion that the plotters would issue a public political statement before they began executing their plans. With the passage of time, it has been proven that, in reality, this project was carried out by its most aggressive objectors.

Today, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime—who, we were told, represent the essence of “resistance”—are actually implementing the “new Middle East Project” via the destruction of the social fabric of both Syria and Lebanon.

The kidnapping of two bishops in Aleppo by foreign jihadists two days ago and the increase in forced migration and sectarian segregation in fulfillment of the “duty of martyrdom” all over Syria, together with the international community’s collusion in the conspiracy against the region, are definite signs that the “new Middle East Project” is being carefully implemented—with the “resistance” at its core.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 24, 2013.

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Eyad Abu Shakra (also written as Ayad Abou-Chakra) began his media career in 1973 with An-Nahar newspaper in Lebanon. He joined Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper in the UK in 1979, occupying several positions including: Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Head of Research Unit, as well as being a regular columnist. He has several published works, including books, chapters in edited books, and specialized articles, in addition to frequent regular TV and radio appearances.

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