By A. Bassam

After Tayouneh crime, will Hezbollah restrain itself? 

October 16, 2021 - 18:53

TEHRAN - When Hamlet, the Danish prince, discovered by chance that his father was killed by his uncle, he was confused and puzzled. Hamlet is the main character in one of Shakespeare’s plays, which was named after him. At that moment, the moment of truth, Hamlet changed and became a man with responsibilities. However, he was completely drained by the fact that his mother was involved in the conspiracy and she was married to his uncle, the killer.

The same bewilderment has taken over the people after the great crime committed in Tayouneh in Beirut on Thursday. It was not Hamlet alone in great confusion; it was the whole country. For sure, it is an incident that will take the country into its next step, once and for all. It is the moment of truth. It is what Hamlet expressed in his historical words: to be or not to be, that is the question!

More specifically, it is the moment of truth for the two Shiite parties in Lebanon, Amal, and Hezbollah and their allies. However, Hezbollah is more beleaguered in the matter. It has been an escalating and continued war on it to disarm it since 2006.

Now Hezbollah is in a real difficult situation. It is not the uncle that is disturbing Hamlet anymore so that it can easily kill him and revenge his father. It is the mother. Hamlet could not believe that his mother was involved in the killing. Accordingly, it is not “Israel” or the Americans or any other terrorist group who are the executors of the Tayounah massacre. It is a Lebanese doer who executed it, and Lebanon’s existence and security are threatened now. And the big question is about the way to respond to such a crime.

Can you kill everyone involved and drive the country into civil war between the Muslims and the Christians in Lebanon, which is the American defined aim, the moment they knew that they had lost their war in Syria in 2018. The question is: who will deter Geagea and his bodies? And who can punish them?

There is an Israeli-made war, which Hezbollah needs to deter. The two Shiite parties cannot forgive and forget, just like when it happened in Khaldeh around two months ago. In Arabic, we say: two hammers on the head are quite harmful! And this is the second blow on the head. For the first time, I witnessed in years the anger expressed not only by the Shia intellectuals but also by their friends from all sects. What happened in Khaldeh and what happened now in Tayouneh is a premeditated crime. Peaceful funerals in the first and peaceful demonstrators in the second were crossing the street. As the demonstrators were about to reach the House of Justice to express a political opinion were shot in cold blood by snipers in the upper part of their bodies, just like in Khaldeh. They were ambushed. 

Let us be true; everyone is waiting for Hezbollah’s response in particular. Hezbollah’s dilemma resembles Hamlet’s tragedy: 

The mother is a killer! It is one of the country’s main parties who committed the Tayouneh crime. It is the Lebanese Forces who did it. Hezbollah needs to put an end to targeting his partisans in broad daylight.

Sameer Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces Party [LFP], and his party is known to be responsible for war crimes and mass murders during the Civil War in Lebanon. He was incarcerated for many years because he was convicted of committing two mass murders in churches, assassinating Tony Franjieh and his family in their bed at night, and killing ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rashid Karami. Yet, Geagea was given a full pardon by the Lebanese Parliament in 2005. It was a fraction in the chain of reactions after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. 

Until Friday, there were seven dead people and more than 30 injured. And the number of casualties may rise because many of them are in critical conditions. This time the crime cannot be finished by simply saying: let us kiss and make up. In addition, nine people have so far been arrested. They were involved in the shooting, three of them are LFPs, and one of them works as a security man at the American embassy. These men were shooting at unarmed protesters. It is clear that both Hezbollah holds evidence about the LFP’s involvement; otherwise, the Head of the Executive Council of Hezbollah, Mr. Hashem Safi al-Din, would not have openly accused the LFP and Geagea in particular.

One of the prominent Lebanese journalists, Ebrahim Bayram, said that Geagea is just like a beefed-up lamb and about time to be eaten. He continues to say that now is the time for him to act and deliver for his makers. It is a common fact that Geagea is the most important American Embassy contractor in Lebanon, and the rest of his choir are small-time subcontractors. 

In going back to the moment of truth, this is not a random act. It is a deliberate deed and a message to Hezbollah; you and your allies have no say in investigating the crime of the Harbor booming in August 2020. As we have written before, the crime of the Harbor goals was matchable to the goals of the al-Hariri assassination in February 2005.  And what happened in Tayouneh is actually a chain of reaction related to the Harbor crime, just like the successive assassinations that followed the greatest one of al-Hariri. The only difference here, political leaders were targeted then, and now it is the people who are targeted. 

The second truth is, if Hezbollah did not make the killers pay for their deeds, such incidents would be repeated, and the killing of more of his partisans would be an easier task. Their movement in the country will be limited to full Lebanese citizens. This eventually will lead to restricting their participation in political demonstrations and marches outside al-Dahia, and spreading fear and worry among them. These people are brave, but they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and spouses. They need to feel safe and secure in their own country and not be treated as second-degree citizens by a group of racists.

The third and most important truth that may reinforce the two facts above or it may cripple them forever totally depends on Hezbollah. Hezbollah has taken the first right step by declaring the high responsibility of everyone in Lebanon and that they should be acting upon, by Mr. Safi al-Din on Friday during the funeral. However, unfortunately, this is not enough. Hezbollah now needs to restrain the killers and not contain itself. This is an eternal Israeli-made war, and Hezbollah needs to deter.

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