Will Lebanon become ‘Qatar No. 2’?

Nadim Koteich

Published: Updated:

The Hezbollah militia has accomplished two fragile victories in Arsal battle. The first is a victory on armed groups in the Lebanese and Syrian barren areas that compensate an almost impossible victory in Syria.

Hezbollah intervened in Syria to “protect the resistance” and its natural geographic existence.

From this perspective, Bashar al-Assad is only a symbol of a state falling under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) axis. But today, Assad has become a symbol of a “resisting state” that no more exists while Syria is practically controlled by Israeli-US-Russian interests then Turkish-Iranian-Arab ones.

Hezbollah won’t return victorious from Syria and Nasrallah won’t deliver a victory speech – the speech he made in Arsal last week was an alternative.

He has managed to remain in his circle of success – even if only on TV – and he has put himself on a track where his party doesn’t survive unless it moves from one victory to another.

Lebanese patriotism

Hezbollah, second, succeeded in embracing Lebanese patriotism with raising double flags in the Arsal battle – for the first time – the Lebanese and Hezbollah flags.

Hezbollah compared itself to the Lebanese Army through raising posters of martyrs in the sites where they were slaughtered by terrorists – it also sponsored folkloric activities where people appeared as supporters for the resistance through preparing them food and alleviating the war’s burden on them, maybe to expiate their own sins.

Lebanon has become an armor to Hezbollah, that is making use of this to avoid sanctions, decisions or procedures under the pretext of protecting the country.

Nadim Koteich

The media accompanied Hezbollah in this naive patriotism, along with some Christians, who think that their pro-Hezbollah stance in this battle won’t cost them a lot.

To them, the battle is taking place in a distant place and those killing and being killed are Sunni and Shiite who don’t have in mind any direct clash with Christians. Majorly, the Lebanese public is consumed with daily life: newly anticipated taxes, costly living and the poverty line.

This has exasperated any motive to stand against Hezbollah.

Looking in depth, the conflict between a state and militia no longer stimulates people amidst the collapse of the country’s reputation, institutions and the fake and real corruption news.

Two successes, two fragilities

The first fragile point is that the great TV “victory” won’t last long in front of the political and field aspects that disclose its falseness. The US has four airports in the “resisting Syria” and dozens of military bases while Nasrallah focuses on fighting Abu Malek al-Talli and counting hills liberated by his soldiers as if he is Hannibal who walked with an army of elephants through Pyrenees and Alps.

Fragility also appeared through the fact that the resistance axis – Popular Mobilization – is carrying out the battle with the back-up of US warplanes.

The second fragile point is the abrupt patriotic wave that was invested by Hezbollah to infiltrate adverse environments. Hezbollah has always bragged that it doesn’t need national consensus, but it exaggerated in shedding light on this “national patriotism” because it is aware that this wont last long.

The real and scary victory of Hezbollah is on Lebanon. We used to say that there are two Lebanon(s): one controlled by Hezbollah and the second resisting it. This was protecting us from any consequences that might affect a country sheltering a militia as Hezbollah. We used to convince the world that reinforcing the state forces reduces Hezbollah’s weight. Is this equation still active?

It is hard to say yes. It’s true that we have a government – Hezbollah is part of it – that is supposed to adopt the same equation but practically speaking there is a huge gap in the balance of power and political decision in favor of Hezbollah.

The real victory of Hezbollah over Lebanon is launching Arsal battle with disrespecting the government, presidency and Lebanese Army – this weakened the equation even more. Lebanon has, instead, become an armor to Hezbollah, that is making use of this to avoid sanctions, decisions or procedures under the pretext of protecting the country.

I don’t know who accepts this logic in Lebanon. I see Lebanon as a second Qatar, except for the potentials of Qatar, an isolated state. No one intends to support the side of the state not in the upcoming elections nor other matters. Instead, there is a wish to see the country controlled by Hezbollah – as it is now.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on July. 28, 2016.
Nadim Koteich is a leading Arab satirist. His show DNA airs Monday to Friday on Future and Al Hadath channels. He is a columnist with Asharq Alawsat.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.