Does Hezbollah care that much about the fate of Palestinians in Lebanon?

The issue of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon is another card in the bazaar of the Iranian agenda for the Arab region.
Sunday 02/06/2019
Members of Hezbollah march with party's flags during a rally marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day) in Beirut, Lebanon May 31, 2019. (Reuters)
Members of Hezbollah march with party's flags during a rally marking al-Quds Day, (Jerusalem Day) in Beirut, Lebanon May 31, 2019. (Reuters)

Modern Arab history is replete with events and developments that compel us to reread and reassess the causes of the decline and division affecting Arab societies.

There are many lessons to be learnt from pan-Arab nationalist experiences and the projects for Arab unity. Those projects were established and prevailed in Arab countries for more than half a century, following the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948.

Their most dangerous aspect was that, while they were championing liberation of the Palestinian territories as a strategic goal, they were more absorbed in acquiring power and by forcefully suppressing political and social pluralism. They sought to make repression the defining characteristic of the state at the expense of freedom and power sharing.

The Palestinian tragedy was the effective means to justify repression and political and social violence. Crimes committed in the name of the Palestinian cause in Arab countries are greater than imaginable. The examples do not merit much scrutiny. They are manifest in every leader who oppressed his people and every party that took power in the name of Palestine.

From Iraq to Syria to Sudan or Algeria, Egypt, Libya and all other regimes that rose by exploiting the Palestinian wound ended up transforming their countries into dilapidated bodies governed by helplessness and underdevelopment, easy prey for voracious tyrannical powers and colonial projects.

Their people are trapped in clannish and sectarian divisions that have shown how far the pan-Arab nationalist project was from achieving Arab unity. Not only that, this project was a disaster for the national state to the point that it will remain the standard for any real renaissance in the Arab world.

The rise of political Islam was not any better. It illustrates the saying: “History does not repeat itself but if it returns, it returns in the form of a farce.”

Political Islam did not digest the nationalist experience and did not read well the profound reasons behind its failure in the Arab world. It naively believed that the phrase “Islam is the solution” was enough to move the Arab peoples from backwardness and defeat to modernisation and progress.

Since the victory of the Islamic model in 1979 in Iran and in some Arab countries, the Arab world has experienced its worst times of civilisational, political, intellectual and cultural collapse.

The Islamic project in its political manifestations showed how far it is out of sync with the age and how culturally unattractive it is. It was a hollow project with no content except an insatiable thirst for power and control in the name of religion.

It has perhaps surpassed the Arab nationalist project by its ingenuity in investing in ignorance. It has even lost the specificity and advantage of the original Islamic project on Muslim unity and became multiple mini-projects of Islamic groups pleading sectarian tendencies and confrontations, just to lay their hands on power and nothing else.

Only a few decades after their rise, the Islamic currents turned out to be parties and forces without civilisational projects and devoid of any attractiveness.

In Iran, too, and after four decades under the rule of the Islamic Republic model, the Iranians, before anybody else, are finding out that in the name of Islam, they have become poorer and that their country has joined the ranks of pariah states characterised by the hostility of their regimes and the aversion of other nations in its regional environment.

It is paradoxical that, despite the Arab and Islamic aversion towards US policies, the harsh sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran produced no manifestation of solidarity or popular protest in the Arab world or Islamic world or even globally.

We have not witnessed this attitude in other cases. For example, there were widespread protests in Arab and Islamic countries and in Europe and other countries following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Once again, Hezbollah is trying to reinvest in the Palestinian cause but it does not realise that it came at a time when it has exploited it to the point that it has become hard to be dragged behind it in the name of Palestine or in the name of the danger of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon.

Not long ago, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called on all Lebanese and Palestinians to stand in the face of the danger of settling Palestinians in Lebanon because of the repercussions of the so-called “Deal of the Century.”

Hezbollah and Iran behind it have invested in the Palestinian disunity since the 1990s and the outcomes of that policy were nothing more than a gift for the Israeli entity at the expense of the unity of the Palestinian people.

This investment in dividing the Palestinians was not aimed at liberating Jerusalem or the Palestine territories. Rather, the Palestinian card was again and again to gain influence throughout the Arab region, after contributing to the overthrow of the state apparatus in these countries.

Israel was an objective partner in the Iranian gains, so that the “divine victories,” to borrow the term used by Hezbollah to characterise its victories over the opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, resulted in further Israeli expansion and influence in the Arab region and in Syria, which is assured of the survival of the Assad regime.

The issue of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon is another card in the bazaar of the Iranian agenda for the Arab region. This agenda could not care less about the Lebanese state or about the Palestinian rights, rights that have long been used and abused by the forces of resistance in Lebanon since the time of the Syrian tutelage to blackmail the Lebanese state or as a platform for exporting violence and preventing the state from taking charge of the country.

Indeed, since the cessation of Palestinian military action against the Israeli occupation across the Lebanese border, the weapon of the Palestinian cause has become the main instrument for settling internal grudges and agendas, for sending security warnings and for manipulating the Palestinians and recruiting them willingly or unwillingly into the service of Iranian and Syrian agendas.

So today, when Hezbollah raises the slogan of preventing the settlement of Palestinians in Lebanon, it is using a just cause for evil intentions.