Punishing Lebanon or Hezbollah?
Following Saudi measures against Hezbollah, some people think the Lebanese people are satisfied with the party’s actions...
Following Saudi measures against Hezbollah, some people now think the Lebanese people are satisfied with the party’s actions. Let us recall that those who assassinated former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, as international investigators have proven, are Hezbollah members. He and other Lebanese symbols who dared confront the Iran-Hezbollah-Syrian regime axis were killed.
They included ministers Mohammad Chatah and Bassel Fleihan, army official Francois al-Hajj, Wissam al-Hassan, one of the most prominent security officials who was monitoring Hezbollah, Major Wissam Eid for the same reason, and intellectual George Hawi. One of the most prominent young Christian leaders, minister and MP Pierre Gemayel - son of Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel - was killed at the age of 34.
Prominent author Samir Kassir and renowned journalist Gebran Tueni, former editor-in-chief of An-Nahar newspaper, were also killed. TV journalist May Chidiac was targeted by a car bomb. She survived but lost a leg and arm. Despite this, her stances are the same.
When Hezbollah invaded Sunni areas in west Beirut six years ago, causing much death and destruction, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt stood in solidarity with the Sunnis. Hezbollah then attacked Druze areas in the mountains, killing 46 and injuring 123. The bravest of men to defy Hezbollah is Christian leader Samir Geagea, who has continued to confront the party and the Syrian regime since his release from jail.
Many Lebanese Shiites have dared to protest in front of the Iranian embassy in Beirut against Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria. However, party members attacked them, and shot and killed protest leader Hisham Salman in a hideous public execution.
This is why it is unacceptable to say the Lebanese people have not tried to defy Iranian hegemony. Hezbollah possesses a power that it established under the pretext of resisting Israel - a lie that in the past naive Arabs believed and supported. Most Lebanese wish to get rid of the party ideologically and militarily, for domestic reasons that have nothing to do with Syria or Saudi Arabia.
Hezbollah has restrained their lives and created fear that has led to the emigration of hundreds of thousands and the loss of investors. Its activities have harmed downtown Beirut, as the party has invaded it whenever it wants to protest and terrorize its visitors. One cannot demand that the Lebanese people confront Iran and Hezbollah when there is no foreign power willing to support them. The same goes for the Syrian people who are being slaughtered.
I think Riyadh will increase support to all those confronting Tehran and its allies, including those in Lebanon and even opposition parties in IranAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The Saudi suspension of aid to the Lebanese army is justified. The aim of the aid was to empower state institutions in the face of extremist organizations such as Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, Hezbollah is using the army in its war against the Syrian people to protect its fronts and passages, and army officials are powerless. Riyadh’s decision is wise because it targets Hezbollah.
The kingdom has also halted Saudi flights to Beirut, urged Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon, and blacklisted some companies and people for having links to Hezbollah. All these decisions are justified to confront Iran and its proxy, especially after the latter’s plan to hijack a Saudi passenger plane in the Philippines was exposed.
I do not think Saudi Arabia will stop supporting parties that confront Hezbollah, and will not stop dealing with Lebanese who have nothing to do with the party. I think Riyadh will increase support to all those confronting Tehran and its allies, including those in Lebanon and even opposition parties in Iran.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 29, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.