The road to Jerusalem does not pass through Damascus

Hezbollah's direct involvement in military operations in Syria's Qusayr has caused a political controversy among the party’s supporters as well as among the party’s opponents. This involvement drags Lebanon into the heart of the crisis and no longer makes Lebanon "neutral." It also trespasses state institutions that are already weak in the first place. This participation also raises questions on threats of sectarian clashes that Hezbollah has always sought to avoid. So what makes it enter the hornets' nest now?

"Resistance" supporters see that Hezbollah went to Syrian territories to defend Lebanese border towns after they were repeatedly attacked by armed men and to confront the fundamentalist parties that increased in Sham countries and most importantly, to prevent the collapse of the Syrian regime out of fear that a regime that does not morally and militarily support the Resistance comes to power. Therefore, this interference comes in the context of "jihadi" work - one of the party's major tasks. They believe that there is a conspiracy against Syria and that there is a Middle Eastern axes' struggle that must be finalized in favor of the resistance "alliance."

Silence must not reign

Previous justifications may be convincing for an audience which is used to willingly walking behind its leadership without thinking whilst believing that its leadership's vision is right. However, another category within Hezbollah is not convinced with Hezbollah's justifications, and it believes that the party's secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah could have taken another path and could have adopted a centrist rhetoric that is more flexible and rational and that sides with the people without undermining the state's basics. But the problem of those who believe so is "silence." They fear expressing their opinions because they aim to avoid clashes with their society or perhaps because deep inside they are struck with disappointment due to the increasing fundamentalist sectarian reality that does not bode that a civil and pluralistic Arab society will be born.

This silence must not reign. Those who are critical must be braver in expressing their opinions because silence leads to deception and attaches a "sectarian" tag to the Syrian conflict. Truth is, support of the Syrian regime is political par excellence. “Sectarianising” this support is nothing more than media and political exploitation.

Thoughts that this support is sectarian are not only based on the facts that the Syrian president is an Alawite and Hezbollah is Shiite, but they are also based on the involvement of Salafi jihadi violent groups that raise extremist sectarian slogans.

Hezbollah could been the mediator

Criticizing Hezbollah's military involvement in Syria comes as a result of being bias to Syrian individuals. It is also based on the rejection to "militarize" the revolution and on the firm belief that arms will not lead to a solution. To these critics, the only solution to end violence and destruction is a political one in which there are direct negotiations between the regime and the opposition. The solution to them is also based on agreeing on a transitional phase in which acts of murder stop and refugees return to their homes. This phase must also prepare for a comprehensive political process in which a popular government is elected to work on national reconciliation and reconstruction.

Hezbollah could have avoided getting involved in the Syrian crisis. It would have maintained the support it had amongst a wide Arab audience if it had contributed to putting out the fire there and if it had played the role of an impartial mediator. However, by siding with the Syrian regime which continues to commit crimes, it became a party involved in the crisis and it thus lost the Islamic umbrella that embraced it.

One of Hezbollah's crisis is that it considers what it is doing as an act to show gratitude to a regime that supported it and protected it during the July 2006 War. Hezbollah is therefore paying a debt it owes to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. It forgot, however, that it actually owes this debt to the Syrian people who stood by the "Resistance," opened their houses to host and aid Lebanese refugees and raised Nasrallah's photos in houses and coffee shops.

To quit committing a mistake is a virtue. It will be brave and wise for Hezbollah to reconsider its positions, stand by the people and regain Islamic support instead of narrowing itself to its sect. It will be brave and wise if Hezbollah contributes to Syria's stability, rebuilds a real security umbrella in cooperation with Arab countries and works with rational politicians and leaders to protect the region from falling into the crisis of absurd sectarian wars because simply speaking: The road to Jerusalem does not pass through Damascus.

Hassan Al Mustafa is Saudi journalist with interest in Middle Eastern and Gulf politics. His writing focuses on social media, Arab youth affairs and Middle Eastern societal matters. He can be found on Twitter: @halmustafa

Last Update: Friday, 24 May 2013 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
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