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Monday, October 18, 2010

What's bothering Hezbullah?

Hezbullah is running around in a panic over the prospect that some of their members may be blamed for the murder of then-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, the father of the current Prime Minister. They are so concerned that they have demanded that the tribunal looking into the murder be disbanded, and they have all but threatened civil war in the event that their members are indicted. The question is why. Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, General manager of Al -Arabiya television and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, gives four possible answers.
I asked a member of Hezbollah why the party was acting as if the international tribunal was the end of the world, and I received an extremely unconvincing answer. The Hezbollah member said that his party was afraid that the tribunal would cause a sectarian rift in Lebanon. I said, doesn’t Hezbollah actions today represent the pinnacle of sectarianism, for they want to put an end to a tribunal investigating the assassination of a Sunni leader, and are pursuing Sunni leaders in order to achieve this; therefore does this not represent sectarian practices that are far worse than the international tribunal’s pending decision?

A second person justified Hezbollah’s state of panic and insistence on ending the tribunal as being in order to prevent any of its members being accused of assassinating Hariri, saying that regardless of whether these members are innocent or guilty, Hezbollah does not want to appear as a group that sells its members down the river. This is perhaps the only logical explanation that I have heard so far. Hezbollah now faces two options; it can follow Libya’s example, handing over the suspects, defending them in court, and then refusing to recognize the court’s decisions, like all civil defendants in the world. Alternatively, Hezbollah can act in the same manner that it has in the past, rejecting all extradition demands issued against its members, the most prominent example of this occurred with regards to Imad Mughniyah, who despite repeated demands for his arrest by Interpol was never handed over.

A third person I talked to said that he believed that Hezbollah was not a lion defending its cubs, but rather a sly fox claiming to be the victim in order to capitalize on the crisis. He argued that Hezbollah is not truly in crisis or a state ofpanic, and that it is simply attempting to push back its opponents and maximize its political gains. This is also an acceptable psychological analysis, especially considering that Hezbollah is a heavily armed paramilitary organization that has never recognized any international resolutions or domestic laws.

Finally, a fourth opinion is that the party is behaving according to its usual practice and is creating a crisis to serve the interests of another. However this is not a strong conclusion because creating a crisis involving the Lebanese Prime Minister would hardly be in the interests of any foreign party, especially as Saad Hariri has taken up the position of prime minister with the weakest prime ministerial powers in the history of Lebanon after he was forced to make a substantial concessions upon taking office. Therefore what more could he concede? Nothing!
Meanwhile, March 14 MP Okab Sakr is warning of a possible Israeli invasion in the event that Hezbullah overthrows the current government to prevent its operatives from being named by the tribunal looking into the Hariri assassination.
If Hezbollah carries out a military coup, its image will suffer internationally, Sakr said, adding that such an action gives Israel an excuse to regard Lebanon as another Gaza and consider it to be an Iranian satellite . “This would be a reason to strike Lebanon again,” he stressed.

“A Lebanese agreement must be reached to avoid the negative repercussions of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) indictment before it is issued,” the MP also said.
Israel already regards Lebanon as an Iranian satellite, and as noted by Sakr, Prime Minister Netanyahu said as much on Sunday. That does not mean that Israel will invade Lebanon. It means that the next time there is a provocation from Lebanon, Israel will treat it as Hezbullahland and not as the government of Lebanon having difficulty controlling a terror group. That probably would have happened in any event.

As to what Hezbullah is after, my view is that they are genuinely afraid of being further ostracized by the 'international community' in the event that their involvement in the Hariri assassination comes out, and they are looking for a pretext to take control of Lebanon.

Of course, with the World's major power interested only in pursuing a 'Palestinian state,' everyone else in these parts feels free to do whatever he sees fit.


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