Lebanese state TV has collapsed, but Lebanon is yet to
There’s an Iranian need to mitigate tension
Lebanon’s state-owned television channel Tele Liban’s act of broadcasting Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s recent interview, which had the aim of launching a campaign against Saudi Arabia, was insulting for Lebanon, the Lebanese people and every Arab who has any sense of loyalty and dignity.
Lebanon involved itself in an affair that it has nothing to do with. It broadcast an interview which Nasrallah was holding with the Syrian al-Ikhbariya television channel affiliated with the Syrian regime. Tele Liban made two mistakes. Its first was accepting to be used to settle Iranian scores with Saudi Arabia and the second mistake is accepting to be an exact copy of Syrian regime channels.
This shows that the Lebanese information minister who is supposed to supervise the television channel has nothing to do with media. It also shows that those who directly supervise the channel are mostly media amateurs. What forced those supervisors, beginning with the head of the board of directors right down to the rest of them, to make this connection with a channel which markets for a regime that slaughters its own people every day?
A need to mitigate tension
It’s well-known that Nasrallah has to appear on such Syrian television channels. There’s an Iranian need to mitigate tension, amid regime supporters in particular, especially after Syrian officers began to suspect Iranian domination in their country. This domination is militarized and political. It includes all decisions linked to Syria’s future as all major decisions are made in Tehran and not in Damascus.
Perhaps what best expresses this reality is what happened to Syrian political security chief Rustom Ghazaleh. Ghazaleh refused to turn over his villa in Qarfa, close to Daraa, to the Iranian revolutionary guards, and instead released a video of his house being blown up.
There’s more to the act of Tele Liban’s broadcast of Nasrallah’s interview with a Syrian channel as it shows the amount of Hezbollah’s control over state-institutions and it also says a lot about the party’s behavior.
Only very few supervisors at Lebanese institutions dare say “no” to Hezbollah who is at the end of the day a brigade in the Iranian revolutionary guards. He who doubts that can ask himself what is Lebanon’s interest in making the state-owned television serve Iran? Would this have been possible if Hezbollah hadn’t turned into a state while the Lebanese republic is a statelet within the state? Iran once again confirmed that it considers Lebanon as an integral part of the axis which extends from Tehran to Maroun al-Ras in south Lebanon. This axis passes through Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut.
Hezbollah’s concern in the past few years was to isolate Lebanon from its Arab surrounding. There are declining Arab tourists, visitors and investors in Lebanon. What’s required is to spread misery in Lebanon in order to facilitate controlling it and its institutions.
Assassinating former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was not an “incident” like Nasrallah usually says – Nasrallah also used this term again during his recent interview. The crime of assassinating Hariri was a turning point in a process aiming to control Lebanon. It was a step on the path towards emptying Lebanon of Arab influence and harming the economy in order to increase the number of unemployed Lebanese arriving in the country after having to leave the Gulf.
Nothing happens by coincidence in Lebanon and this includes the exit of the Syrian army troops from Lebanon as they were replaced by Hezbollah who quickly filled the security and military vacuum.
Is it coincidence that Hezbollah was not interested in directly being a part of the Lebanese government during the era of Syrian tutelage? It only insisted on being directly involved in the government after Hariri was assassinated. It wanted to brazenly show that the same tutelage had been transferred from the Syrians to the Iranians.
What we witnessed on Tele Liban was a new chapter from among the many coup chapters which began with assassinating Hariri who had connected the Gulf Arabs to Lebanon and vice versa. Hezbollah - with Iran behind it of course – is still working on ending this historical link and categorizing Lebanon differently.
Hezbollah’s cabinet which was headed by a Sunni figure from Tripoli – Najib Miqati – was a prominent and major chapter in this coup. During the era of this government’s rule, imposed by the power of illegitimate arms, there was official silence over all threats directed to any Gulf residents who visited Lebanon. Hezbollah’s government did not take any decisive stances towards “the military wing” of any family. It was also during the era of Miqati’s government that visas became no longer required for Iranians who desire to visit Lebanon.
The Iranian trap
Iran’s policy in Lebanon, implemented through an armed sectarian militia, was thus taken to a whole new level. Then came the phase of inciting acts which threaten the livelihood of Lebanese residents in the Gulf, beginning in Saudi Arabia. There’s great hope that Gulf countries will avoid responding to Nasrallah’s statement as excluding any Lebanese who works in the Gulf would be tantamount to falling prey to the Iranian trap. Iran has nothing to offer to the Lebanese people other than arms and perhaps some money that can compensate for destroying the economy’s chances of becoming productive.
What Tele Liban did was a major nosedive. Hezbollah may have used Tele Liban to respond to the official Lebanese stance as expressed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam during the recent Arab League summit in Sharm al-Sheikh. Salam’s stance of course expressed that Lebanon is a country that respects itself and is a founding member of the Arab League.
Ten years ago, Hariri was martyred for the sake of Lebanon and for the sake of keeping Lebanon as an Arab civilized state on the Middle East’s map instead of turning it into an Iranian tail.
It’s clear that Lebanon still resists. The insistence to resist increased Iranian ferocity and this revealed that Hezbollah is not at all interested in the interests of Lebanon and its people. How can a Lebanese citizen refuse to admit that Saudi Arabia has never stopped helping Lebanon by all possible means? Has the Saudi kingdom ever tried to impose anything on Lebanon and its people?
Some loyalty is necessary – at least for the sake of protecting Lebanon and the Lebanese people and for the sake of self-respect and respecting the reality which facts, before anything else, confirm.
This article was first published in Al-Mustaqal on April 10, 2015.
Khairallah Khairallah is a Lebanese writer who has previously worked at Lebanon’s Annahar newspaper, he then moved to London and began writing political columns in Arabic language newspapers, including Al-Mustaqbal and Rosa El-Youssef.