Syria has become a state of resistance after the Israeli attacks on Damascus. Before the event, Syria was not as such. This is what the Syrian president’s announcement, which followed the attacks, implies. It was the country with “no war and no peace” - which was very appropriate for Israel. The best example is the slip of the tongue made by Rami Makhlouf, the president’s economic aide. At the beginning of the revolution, Makhlouf told late journalist Anthony Chedid: Israel will be targeted if protests continue.
Damascus, under the governance of Bashar al-Assad, was no longer “the fort of Arabism.” This is because Arabism lies in the southern and northern depths of Syria.
“The Syrian leadership is very coherent amidst what it is going through.” This is what Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said two days ago. In what appeared to be a reassurance of supporters, Nasrallah said the Syrians “are not worried about the fort of resistance.” As for those wondering about Hezbollah’s response to the Israeli attacks, Nasrallah conclusively said that “following the attacks, the resistance is ready to receive balance-breaking weapons.” The resistance will thus not respond, and people of South Lebanon must be reassured.
The case is that the unprecedented chaos caused by the Israeli attacks against the resistance’s rhetoric pushes one to think that an immense defect has befallen the resistance and that the Israeli attacks came as a result of this defect. The rhetoric has become one close to a weak and dilapidated rhetoric that contains aims which, in essence, can no longer be reached. To say that Israel shelled Damascus “the fort of Arabism” - as the resistance has called it for long decades - is something that is no longer possible to market in an environment that still embraces the “resistance"” or in an environment that broke free of it as a result of the Syrian revolution.
Fort of Arabism
Damascus, under the governance of Bashar al-Assad, was no longer “the fort of Arabism.” This is because Arabism lies in the southern and northern depths of Syria. They represent Damascus’ piety and its Arab depth and they were amongst the first to revolt against its authority. As it ceased to be “the fort of Arabism,” it quickly turned into a habitat for those who do not have strong ties with “Arabism.” As the resistance’s rhetoric maintained its beloved expressions, it did not notice the truth that those who remain “resistant” do not fit the definition of the word since the source of “resistance,” according to them, is something other than Arabism.
Israel will not take it upon itself to topple Bashar al-Assad, but it will not allow arms to reach Hezbollah. Assad must live in this “narrow political corridor.”Hazem al-Amin
So Syria, in fact, is no longer “the heart of resistance.” It is today in “a state of resistance.” And it is a form of resistance that does not go along with the rhetoric of “Arabism, al-Aqsa Mosque and colonial settlement at the West Bank.” This resistance must first look for a subject for its rhetoric. Even if protecting the regime in Syria is not a subject enough to establish a rhetoric, liberating Golan will not fill this huge gap which has been revealed in both Nasrallah’s and Assad’s speeches in the past two days. There will be no resistance in Golan despite Assad’s announcement of the opposite and despite Nasrallah’s statement voicing readiness to help. These speeches aim to target their audiences and not Israel. Damascus is aware that such a move will end the regime within hours. Israeli warplanes arrived in Damascus, implemented their mission and returned to Israel without confronting any form of resistance. This is nothing new to those who “maintain their right to respond.”
It appears clear that following the attacks on Damascus, negotiations moved to Moscow and the rhetoric’s ceiling was lowered. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov announced their agreement at an international conference based on the Geneva conference. The agreement did not include toppling Assad as a priority to achieve a solution. Kerry, however, later reiterated that a solution in Syria cannot be achieved unless Assad is toppled. This hints that formulas have been altered. A week before the Israeli attacks, Tehran organized a campaign in which it embraced the Syrian regime in an unprecedented manner. Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said he will not allow that Assad be toppled, and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei received Hezbollah’s Secretary General who returned from Tehran with a different rhetoric, and the latter’s party launched a military campaign in the area of Qusayr and Homs. The Israeli attacks came under these circumstances. Israel said in a statement that its warplanes targeted weapons which were to be transferred to Hezbollah. And before leaving for China, Netanyahu sent Assad reassuring letters implying that Israel will not topple his regime if he understands the message carried by the attacks.
These are the narrow margins that wars leave for diplomacy. Israel will not take it upon itself to topple Bashar al-Assad, but it will not allow arms to reach Hezbollah. Assad must live in this “narrow political corridor.” And Hezbollah will not respond to the Israeli attacks. All it will do is “receive balance-breaking weapons.” This is yet another “corridor” that the Lebanese people have to live in. As we wait to see what changes the upcoming months will bring about regarding Syrian developments, what is constant following the Israeli attacks is represented through a massive confusion that hit the “Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut” axis. The second we hear Nasrallah speak about al-Aqsa mosque, we recall the image when Ismael Haniyeh received Sheikh al-Qaradawi – Hezbollah’s archrival - and welcomed him saying “a full moon has dawned upon us.”
Amongst this party is something that is no longer coherent when it comes to the rhetoric of resistance. The people of al-Aqsa mosque are on one side whilst the rhetoric is on another side. Those who are supposedly people of the aspired to “Arabism” are being killed in Syria by the regime.
Hezbollah sent its fighters from the borders with Israel to Homs’ suburbs and Damascus “to protect Sayyidah Zainab’s shrine.” How can this rhetoric include Iran’s supreme leader’s announcement of launching registration to volunteer to protect Sayyidah Zainab’s shrine in Damascus? And will this rhetoric be corrected in a manner that annexes these changes?
Israel awaits reassurances from the belligerent parties. He who precedes the other wins the prize. Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi volunteers did not head to Damascus in order to transform into a part of the “state of resistance” but in order to protect Sayyidah Zainab’s shrine. And the “takfiri jihadis” have no history of fighting Israel. Amidst these margins, the revolution in Syria must step forward to take a stand in politics and offer its proposal as well.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on May 12, 2013.
Hazem al-Amin is a Lebanese writer and journalist at al-Hayat. He was a field reporter for the newspaper, and covered wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza. He specialized in reporting on Islamists in Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Kurdistan and Pakistan, and on Muslim affairs in Europe. He has been described by regional media outlets as one of Lebanon's most intelligent observers of Arab and Lebanese politics.