Journalists and observers have been currently occupied with the issue of the Lebanese army’s confrontation against ISIS in Ras Baalbek and Qaa. Nasrallah offered to either help the army or be neutral. The Syrian regime displayed its intention to help though we do not know if it has the capabilities.
All this was finalized during the Higher Council of Defense meeting, which was chaired by the president and attended by the prime minister, ministers and security experts. The president and the prime minister clearly said that the army alone – without Hezbollah’s or the Syrian troops’ help – will eliminate ISIS from Lebanese territories.
Lebanon is not weak when it comes to fighting terrorism as it is part of the US-led international coalition to combat terrorism. The decision thus came as a response to Nasrallah who said it’s shameful to seek the Americans’ help.
All these decisive and strict stances to protect the reputation of the Lebanese army, maintain the Lebanese people’s trust in it and its capabilities and reassure the Americans disappeared during the cabinet session held the next day when ministers discussed the visit of three ministers to Syria upon an official request.
The Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party ministers objected to the visit while Future Movement ministers did not object – except for Nohad al-Machnouk. Many ministers voiced their support of normalizing relations with the Syrian regime under the excuse that there are diplomatic ties between them and that it is in Lebanon’s interest to normalize relations.
There are rumors that Bashar al-Assad’s situation is getting better and that he will stay in power until the end of the transitional phase in 2020Radwan al-Sayed
Incubators for terrorism
We’ve felt there are attempts to normalize relations for some time now when Nasrallah offered mediating with the Syrian regime regarding refugees. The idea was further promoted by Gebran Bassil on the basis that Syrian refugees provided incubators for terrorism and it’s thus a must to cooperate with their regime to send them home.
Few days ago, following a dispute over renting power-generating ships from Turkey – a dispute which Bassil and the energy minister won – the energy minister said there’s a Syrian offer to provide Lebanon with power for a cost less than the Turkish ships! Syria, which more than 75 percent of its areas do not have electricity, want to sell the “excess” of its power to the rich and prosperous Lebanese republic!
As the cabinet prepared to meet, a minister said the solution to the ministers’ visits would be in not dispatching them by the government but by letting them go on their own responsibility. Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said from Tehran that Lebanon should normalize ties with the Syrian brothers as this is ordinary and it serves both people’s interests.
Fares Soueid responded to that during an interview with LBC television channel and said that Berri’s statements which were made from Tehran about normalizing relations with the Syrian regime show that this is an Iranian demand that falls within the context of Iranian and Russian competition over who gains more control.
There are many rumors that Bashar al-Assad’s situation is getting better and that he will stay in power until the end of the transitional phase in 2020 or 2021. The Lebanese people are pragmatic and Nasrallah tempts them with the idea that if they walk behind him, they will get rid of refugees and benefit from rebuilding Syria as contractors and engineers.
They are about to accept importing electricity from the prosperous brotherly country that has excess power and technology! Of course, these are all illusions and part of the Iranians’ and their armed party’s increased control over Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policies. Since pragmatism is cheap now and it does not provide any gains, let us wait for the stance which the Arab League that has boycotted Assad and his regime since 2013 will take.
We, the Lebanese Muslims, have witnessed enough bloodshed and destruction in Lebanon and there are also plenty of refugees here while people in Syria have their own problems as well. All this suffering does not pave way for this matchless enthusiasm for quick normalization of relations with a murderous regime.
Seeking the Syrian regime’s satisfaction with a push from Tehran is tantamount to seeking an alliance with the devil!
This article is also available in Arabic.
Radwan al Sayed is a Lebanese thinker and writer who attained a bachelor degree from the Faculty of Theology at al-Azhar University and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Tübingen in Germany. He has been a scholar of Islamic studies for decades and is the former editor-in-chief of the quarterly al-Ijtihad magazine. Radwan is also the author of many books and has written for Arab dailies such as al-Ittihad, al-Hayat and ash-Sharq al-Awsat.