FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Hezbollah Walked

“In case no one has noticed, the Obama administration  just gifted Lebanon to Iran.  Washington earlier presented Iraq,  Afghanistan, the Gulf,  and Pakistan. Could it be more clear that Iran’s strategic trump card is America’s  subservience  to Israel?  For Iran, Israel’s strangle hold on the US government is the gift that keeps on giving. ”  With his comment, my neighbor, Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil, declared American hegemony in the region was on a slippery and descending slope and that yesterday’s political maneuvering in Lebanon likely accelerated American withdrawal.

My other neighbors in South Beirut appeared to go to bed early last night following the day’s events which saw the collapsed of Lebanon’s US-Saudi and Israeli backed government. Some, like my American and Lebanese roommates were planning for quick evacuations  should our Hezbollah neighborhood-watch guys give us that special knock on the door. Two rapid raps and a shouted “Yalla!” (Let’s go) and it’s time to head north fast without looking back. The reason is because, like many here, some neighbors fear Israel might use this latest government crisis to invade Lebanon again.

Yesterday, our  “government” electricity (and internet) was cut from 10 a.m. until  2 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to midnight.   At least ten hour daily power cuts is the  norm south and north of the  pro-US/Saudi Hamra “chic” district, where three hours or less daily power cuts are experienced.  Spending lots of hours in candle light probably made  the unsubstantiated rumors even more unsettling.  “The armed forces of Lebanon, Hezbollah and its allies, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel and Iran are on military alert. The Americans may send battalions from Iraq!”, the young man who works in the phone shop near my flat whispered. I could not help noticing that some of the young men normally hanging out in our hood seemed to have vanished. Even my phone card guy was impatient with me wanting to recharge my phone, “please hurry”, he said, ”I have an appointment and need to close my shop.”

The assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

The current government crisis has its origins in the February 14,  2005  Valentine’s Day murder of Lebanon’s prime minister Rafic Hariri and 20 others.  The Bush administration declared Syria  responsible and saw an opportunity to force the Assad regime to drop its friendship with Washington’s regional nemesis Iran, and to end its support for the National Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah.

One of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s State Department lawyers came up with the idea to use the  UN Security Council to set up a Special Tribunal  for Lebanon (STL) to try Hariri’s killers and to hammer Syria into warming to Israel and to US projects for the region.

What was not considered at the time, but later became a godsend from the points of view of Israel and the Bush administration was  leaked Tribunal  information claiming that Hezbollah members might also be involved in the assassination. Hardly believing, one imagines, their good luck, Israel and the US abruptly changed directions and decided to use the newly formed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to rid themselves of Hezbollah once and for all as well as to correct Syria’s behavior, believing that the Syrian government would also be indicted.

The pressure on Hezbollah caused the party to condemn what it claims is  false witnesses and it strongly urged the Lebanese government to open a case against them and not allow the STL, which it and others believe has became fatally politicized  by  rushing to judgment,  to receive Lebanese government cooperation. Hezbollah’s  adversaries hailed the tribunal  even if Lebanon’s stability was endangered.  After nearly fourteen months of trying to get the Saad Hariri government to seriously reconsider its positions on the STL, the Hezbollah-led opposition gave the majority an ultimatum either to call a cabinet meeting by January 12, 2011 to discuss the STL or the opposition Cabinet members would resign.  What Hezbollah and its allies wanted was for PM Hariri to convene a Cabinet session to consider whether to stop payment of Lebanon’s  49 per cent share of the financing of the STL,  whether to withdraw the Lebanese judges from the tribunal, consider ending  all cooperation with the STL, and prosecuting  the “false witnesses” it claimed was linked to the UN probe into Rafik Hariri’s killing.

Under enormous pressure from Washington, Paris and Riyadh , Saad  balked.  The opposition quickly resigned. Under article 69 the Lebanese Constitution, the resignation of one-third plus one of Cabinet members automatically leads to the collapse of the 30-member government.  It was the first time in Lebanon’s politically turbulent history that a government collapsed under pressure of the resignations of one-third plus one of its members.

In order to secure the eleventh cabinet resignation, to add to Hezbollah’s ten, in order to bring down the pro-US government, Hezbollah Secretary General  Hassan Nasrallah’s  key political aide Hussein Khalil, called President Suleiman’s Cabinet designee, Sayyed Hussein. Khalil reportedly conveyed Nasrallah’s greetings and his hope that Hussein would decide what to do based on his conscience.  Huyssein’s resignation quickly followed and Hariri’s Premiership ended as he sat with President Obama at the White House.

What the toppling of the Hariri government means for the near term

Regional players reacted more or less predictably with the US accusing Iran, Syria and Hezbollah of ‘blackmail’, the French warning Syria that is would be held to account if there is  violence in Lebanon and the British warning of long term dangers. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement: “This is an extremely serious development which could have grave implications for Lebanon and for regional stability.”  One British diplomat added last this evening, “Good Grief, however can we resolve this problem anytime soon?”

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials said they were “carefully following events” in Lebanon following the resignations and that “The Lebanese understand that an attempt by extremist to disturb the peace may turn out as a perilous gamble,”  according to Israeli  TV Channel 10.  Israel is being accused today in Lebanon of trying to provoke strife and to gain advantage from the governmental crisis.  Yesterday after  kidnapping Sharbel Khoury, a shepherd from near Rmeish (he was released 24 hours later) the Israel navy also entered Lebanese waters along the coast.  This afternoon (1/13/10)  Israeli warplanes overflew Baalbek, Nabatiyeh and Marjayoun. These incursions constituted Israel’s 7,269 and 7,270th violation of Lebanese sovereignty since the August 2006 adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ordering it to stay out of Lebanon.  Several UNIFIL and UN protests have had no effect on Israel while Washington remains mute on the subject of Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty.

Free Patriotic Movement member and Hezbollah supporter  Jebran Bassil,  who was Minister of Energy until yesterday, blamed Washington for the fact that  Saudi-Syrian efforts to prevent the resignations, reached a dead end. “The other side bowed to external, especially American pressure, ignoring the advice and wishes of the Saudi and Syrian sides,” Bassil said.

For his part, Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) leader Walid Jumblatt  seemed to agree with the FPM  and he attributed the failure of mediation efforts of Saudi Arabia and Syria to the “forces of darkness,” alluding to leading Western powers, “It appears the forces of darkness got involved and stymied the Syrian-Saudi initiative, through which we would have seen a blocking of the negative repercussion of the STL indictment.”

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea blamed the rival March 8 camp for seeking what he called “Stalin-like” powers, accusing it of “seeking to steal away the prerogatives of the president and the prime minister.”

What next for Hezbollah?

The Hezbollah led opposition, as a result of the last election, has a majority in the 128-member Parliament, which enables it to name a candidate of its own for prime minister during the president’s soon to be announced binding parliamentary consultations.  At noon on 1/13/10, Hezbollah voting bloc leader MP Mohammed Raad, announced that the opposition will name “a personality with a history of national resistance to head the new government.” Some are speculating that Hezbollah might propose the longtime Sunni leader Omar Karami, a moderate self effacing fellow with strong Syrian, progressive, and popular support.

Whatever it decides to do, Hezbollah may well take its time as its ponders major responsibilities that would envelop the resistance movement should it decide to govern Lebanon. Some of its supporters are urging Hezbollah to accept the daunting challenge and implement its 2009 Manifesto and its recent election platforms and end the mafia-like corruption among some Lebanon’s political leaders. Several Lebanese civil society NGO’s are urging Hezbollah to do more for Lebanon’s increasingly fragile environment, fix once and for all Lebanon’s serious water, electricity and infrastructure problems, and let the Lebanese public decide if Hezbollah  is true to their cause and warrants its future electoral support.

Others continue to  also lobby the party to immediately end Lebanon’s and the Arabs’ shame and grant Palestinian refugees the internationally mandated basic civil rights to work and to own a home. If Hezbollah heads the government, Palestinian prospects for achieving these elementary rights will look a lot brighter.

FRANKLIN LAMB is doing research in Lebanon and is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail