By Abir Bassam

Beirut explosion: Hezbollah should not fall into the trap twice

August 11, 2020 - 15:9

Hezbollah should be cautious not to fall into the as it is is facing the difficult challenges after Beirut blast: The call for the government to resign, the call for disarming, and accusing it.

It is certainly naïve to think that the Beirut blast on the 4th of August was purely accidental. The unpleasant incident coincides with major regional changes. 

Clearly, the Americans needed to pave their way back to Lebanon in a different way. The French also needed to reconfirm their footprint in Lebanon. It seems that the repetition of incidents of 2005 in 2020 has surfaced; hence, we need to watch our back.

There are lessons to be learned from the tragic assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic al-Hariri on the 14th of February 2005. 

Al-Hariri was killed in an explosion that hit his parade. However, the Beirut blast was not followed by the abstractedness followed by the assassination of al-Hariri by his partisans and non-partisans, which was a great shock to the whole country and the region. 

It seems that preparations were already made.

In 2005, Hezbollah broke the silence with his rightful declaration that the tragedy was a national catastrophe, as it did now. Personally, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke of the greatness of al-Hariri and sent a reassuring message to the Lebanese population, especially the Sunnis in Lebanon. Unfortunately, the message was twisted by many parties and was misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. 

Nevertheless, the international conditions were not different from those of today. In 2004 UN Security Council approved resolution 1559, which calls for establishing sovereignty all over the Lebanese land and "calls upon the remaining forces to withdraw from Lebanon," mainly the Syrian Army, and "disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," which was referring to the army wing of Hezbollah, in particular. 

France and the United States sponsored the resolution. It brought France and the U.S. brought together which their relations had nosedived since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is clear that Cesar Law has created the same international conditions. 

Today, there are voices calling for the resignation of both the government and parliament, which would create a dangerous political void in the country. In 2005, the late Prime Mister Omar Karami was provoked to resign from his position. This happened while the official investigation by the government, back then, was able to identify a suicidal terrorist, Abu Adass, who had carried out the attack.  Actually, the Lebanese investigators were doing a great job. Years after the terrorist attack on the al-Hariri parade, the investigation led by the international committee has reached the results the Lebanese investigation has reached. It is clear that the decision taken by Lebanese President Michel Aoun was based on the trust in the Lebanese investigators, and an attempt to prevent internationalization of the investigation, which was demanded in 2005 by the March 14 bloc, mainly the Future and Progressive Social Party led by Walid Jumblatt.

Eventually, the Hariri assassination led to the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami that was driven by an emotional moment forced by Bahia al-Hariri's speech. The international political insinuation led to nominating Fouad Siniora as the prime minister, who led Lebanon into a disaster. Siniora's role was in agreement with the new American policy, which was at its peak in West Asia. This policy led to the Israeli war on Lebanon and on Hezbollah in particular. Later on, the country was put in a stressful conflict in 2007, when this American-Lebanese government took the decision to monitor Hezbollah communication apparatus. 

Nowadays, Lebanon is going through almost the same scenario. Since November 17, 2019, strikes and protests have started in the country. Protestors are seeking fair demands. They want jobs, reliable social and medical systems, and seeking a reform of the corrupt political and economic system. However, the demands were suddenly altered to depriving Hezbollah of its weapons.  

It seems that the explosion in Beirut port, on the 4th of August, was intended to harvest the 2005 results. However, with a minor change, the international forces decided to guide the international policy directly by the presidents, not the ambassadors. It is clear that Hezbollah will face the same difficult challenges: The call for the government to resign, the call for Hezbollah to disarm, and accusing it of committing the harbor blast, as it was accused of killing al-Hariri.  

Hezbollah has so far been trying to handle the matter with wisdom. In addition, Sayyed Nasrallah is the only official entitled to issue a declaration on the matter. Also, the enclosed meeting with Mr. Mohammad Raed, a parliamentarian from Hezbollah, gave the party a strong boost. He cornered his rivals from the Phalanges Party, Progressive Social Party, the Lebanese Forces, and their allies and partisans. 

Nonetheless, they are still hoping that the protests would stop international aid to Lebanon from Europe, the United States, France, and the rest of the Western world. 

This raises a serious question: whether the explosion was intended to pave the way for the Western powers' return or not? It is clear that the United States is revising its policy in West Asia as it is on the verge of leaving the region. And it needs winning cards in doing so. 

Accordingly, two factors might be pointing to the Israeli role in the Beirut blast: first, the established knowledge that the Israelis were definitely aware of the existence of ammonium nitrate in the port. Second, that there is a tendency to deploy NATO in Beirut port as it faces the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria. 

The coming days are going to reveal more challenges for Lebanon. The resignation of three ministers would be a dangerous sign if it is followed by more or the resignation of Prime Minister Diab himself. In such a situation it is essential to support the current government because Lebanon cannot afford an al-Kadhimi government like Iraq for the next two years, which is now proposed in the name of Fouad al-Machzoumi as the next prime minister. The parties targeted by the demonstrators need to enter a serious dialogue to confront the incoming challenges. Everyone needs to exercise tremendous bravery.

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