Nasrallah’s irresponsible moves harm Lebanon

Except for Saad Hariri, the head of the caretaker government, senior Lebanese officials have not shown any sense of responsibility.
Sunday 12/01/2020
Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks to supporters through a giant screen in the capital Beirut’s southern suburb. (AFP)
Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaks to supporters through a giant screen in the capital Beirut’s southern suburb. (AFP)

What is more dangerous than Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s call to kick out US forces from the entire Middle East in retaliation for killing Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani?

The biggest danger in the situation is the indifference that those in charge of the Hezbollah era in Lebanon show towards the rapid deterioration of Lebanese economy.

There doesn’t appear to be a party in Lebanon with the courage of shouldering the burden of its responsibilities and absorb the meaning of the deep economic crisis and its repercussions, including Lebanese banks seizing the deposits, large and small, of Lebanese citizens and foreign nationals.

It is an unprecedented attack on Lebanon, first and foremost, and an outrageous trampling of people’s rights. This is because banks and the banking system in Lebanon and people’s trust in them have been one of the pillars that ensure the country’s survival.

Evidence of the level of the political class’s indifference towards dangers inherent to the situation in Lebanon is appointing Hassan Diab, who does not have any qualifications to form a new government.

Perhaps the first thing the new government needs is independent individuals competent in the field they will be overseeing. Likewise, such a government needs a president who would provide the political cover for Lebanon, especially now that it has isolated itself from its Arab environment. This means that any head of the new government in Lebanon must have a network of Arab and international relations, in addition to easy access to Washington.

It’s true that Diab was vice-president of the American University in Beirut but does that qualify him for a position in which he would be officially and formally welcomed in any Arab or European capital or Washington in a capacity other than as a participant in an academic conference? If you think it wouldn’t happen, think of Gebran Bassil’s experience, the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and minister of foreign affairs in the outgoing cabinet.

The content and tone of Nasrallah’s speech were expected, given the man’s special bond with Iran and Soleimani and Hezbollah’s position in Lebanon and the region. Nasrallah did not hide his strong relationship with the commander of al-Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Likewise, he has never hidden that he was a “soldier” in the army of the Iranian velayat-e faqih. That is to say, in Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s army.

This is not new because everybody has known for quite some time that the Lebanese Hezbollah is nothing but a brigade in the IRGC. When Soleimani travelled to Beirut or any other part of Lebanon, he was inspecting friendly forces operating within the same ideological and political framework as al-Quds Force.

It was not surprising that Nasrallah spoke of his concept of “fair retribution” in response to the assassination of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq. Of course, Nasrallah’s concept, which calls for “removing American forces from the whole of our region,” is not about Lebanon’s interest. The Lebanese economy and the livelihoods of the Lebanese people are absolutely of no consequence to Hezbollah. All that matters is that Hezbollah and its secretary-general carry out the Iranian agenda.

This agenda must be implemented regardless of the nature of the relationship between his party’s militia, or shall we say his militia-party, and al-Quds Force, whether this relationship is limited to mere coordination between two parties affiliated with Iran and which fight on the same side in the several wars in the region or represents much more than that.

Except for Saad Hariri, the head of the caretaker government, senior Lebanese officials have not shown any sense of responsibility, at least with respect to protecting Lebanon and enabling it to overcome the difficult and crucial stage it is going through. There was no sense of understanding that it is not in the interest of the country to appear to be one of Iran’s satellites, especially within the context of the confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Besides, any Lebanese knows that Iran has done nothing for Lebanon other than bring in weapons and sectarian strife. For the American side, suffice it to say that it built the American University in Beirut.

We must ask ourselves who, besides the United States and the international financial institutions under its influence, can have a significant effect in helping the Lebanese economy and Lebanese banks so the latter won’t lose their crucial role if the status quo persists.

Actions of the top-level Lebanese authorities are incompatible with Lebanon’s interests, given the major collapse the country is facing. Some rightly say that the collapse has already taken place — starting with the day Lebanese banks stopped providing Lebanese and foreign currencies to their clients.

This is taking place without anyone asking about all the time wasted to then come up with a lightweight prime minister with no experience or relations.

Can a government formed by the ruling elite, used to deciding things based on the same old quota system, take any step that would lead to a change in the US position on Lebanon or to restoring the bridges with the usual donor Arab countries?

What are the alternatives to the United States, Europe and the Arab countries that are able to help Lebanon, provided it returns to its former status as a true member of the Arab League and not Iran’s voice in the meetings of the Arab League Council?

In the absence of any convincing answer to this question, except for Hezbollah’s fantasies about China or the Iraqi market, Lebanon appears on its way to a real catastrophe.

Lebanon punished itself when senior officials decided to join the axis of resistance, which meant they exposed Lebanon and jeopardised the future of each and every Lebanese.