The fierce controversy in Lebanon about Hizbullah's involvement in the Syria war alongside Assad's army intensified recently following the organization's involvement in the last two weeks in fighting against Hay'at Tahrir Al-Sham (formerly Jabhat Al-Nusra) in Jaroud Arsal, a mountainous area on the Lebanon-Syria border. The controversy was reflected in statements by politicians, as well as in press articles that supported the organization's activity and others that opposed it. Hizbullah's opponents, especially from the Al-Mustaqbal faction, headed by Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri, wrote that only the Lebanese army was entitled to operate in that region. Al-Hariri said during a visit to Washington: "I disagree with Hizbullah's activity, and would have preferred to see the Lebanese army operating in its place in Jaroud Arsal. We do not like to see [Hizbullah] in Syria. Relations between us are strained [due to our differences] on regional policy..." Another argument, voiced by many but especially by 'Ali Al-Husseini, a columnist for the Al-Mustaqbal daily, was that Hizbullah was serving Iran and the Syrian regime and sending its fighters to die for them.
However, some within the Al-Mustaqbal faction deviated from the faction's official position and supported Hizbullah's fighting in Jaroud Arsal. For example, Muhammad Kabani, an MP from the Al-Mustqbal party, said: "Hizbullah is fighting the terrorist organizations alongside the Lebanese army... [Prime Minister] Al-Hariri must be [more] prudent in choosing his words in the U.S.... The delegation [to Washington] that he heads conveyed the message that Hizbullah is fighting the terror organizations, so we must maintain a positive [attitude] regarding Hizbullah's involvement in this campaign.
Hizbullah's supporters claimed that the organization was fighting the terrorist organizations on Lebanon's behalf. Ibrahim Al-Amin, the board chairman of the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, went so far as to call Hizbullah's opponents "spies" and "traitors" who deserve to die. He leveled direct criticism at Al-Hariri and other senior politicians, saying that they exploit the plight of the Syrian refugees for their own benefit.
The following are excerpts from two articles, by Al-Amin and Al-Husseini.
Hizbullah troops in Jaroud Arsal area (image: aljadeed.tv, July 29, 2017)
Al-Husseini: Hizbullah Sends Its Fighters To Die In Jaroud Arsal On Orders From Iran And For Assad's Benefit
Al-Mustaqbal columnist 'Ali Al-Husseini wrote: "Jaroud Arsal [is] a new example of Hizbullah's attrition of its [own] troops": "The young people are again encircled by death there, facing only one choice… The current campaign is not worthy of this mobilization [of forces] nor even of media support, but it seems that the justifications for death are now needed more than ever, and there is no choice but to cover the repeated failures by means of public displays such as those that are being held in Jaroud Arsal, and by [exhibiting] photographic [evidence] of 'achievements' that may help to erase the pain from the memory of a society whose wounds have not healed in six years.
"[Conversely,] photographs and images of members of the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist organization are not coming out of Jaroud. Jabhat al-Nusra is a deviant [group] whose ideology and behavior place it with the 'terror' organizations. Its eradication from Jaroud Arsal… is a national duty belonging exclusively to the army, and not to the parties [i.e. Hizbullah] that promote foreign agendas and act according to [foreign] interests… But this does not cancel out [the fact] that there is terror even worse than that of Al-Nusra and its ilk, terror that chops off heads, mutilates corpses, burns people alive, and sends car bombs to every region of Lebanon. Terror whose name is ISIS. We have seen no pictures of its members in Jaroud Arsal and its name did not come up – not in the context of conflict and not in the context of fleeing of individuals or groups. And here the question arises: Where is the terror of ISIS, where Hizbullah's campaign is concerned?...
"Hizbullah once more stands at the front, spearheading the Syrian regime's campaign… Over the past two days the organization has brought back the images of funerals and death notices, which will apparently continue to accompany the families and to increase their pain in the near future, despite the reassurances of Hizbullah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who announced the withdrawal of Hizbullah [forces] from the Lebanon-Syria border and then resumed pitching the [families'] sons into the Jaroud Arsal campaign today.
"Last weekend was a good example of the horror and cruelty of Hizbullah's war in Syria, given the many losses [the organization] has suffered since it intervened in this war. This time, the organization transferred its campaign to a contact point with the Lebanese interior, and chose Jaroud Arsal to bear witness to the barbaric war it is waging. [It is a war that] has many names [but] is nothing more than a defense of the Syrian regime and entrenchment of its rule even if this comes at the expense of the blood of the Syrian and Lebanese people – women, children and the elderly. The main [goal] is to finish paving the road for the 'Persian Crescent' and using this road, as well as the duty of jihad in Syria, perhaps even to reach Jerusalem, which is also on the waiting list of places to be 'liberated'…"
Ibrahim Al-Amin: Hizbullah's Opponents Are Spies And Traitors; The Rifle Of The Resistance Will Pursue Them Wherever They Are
The criticism against Hizbullah on Jaroud Arsal and other matters provoked a harsh reaction from Ibrahim Al-Amin, who called the critics "traitors" deserving of death. He wrote: "Is there any point in a new argument with the terror supporters in Lebanon? What's the point of arguing with people who still talk about a 'revolution' and 'rebels' after everything that has happened and after all the terror operations committed by the armed groups in Syria? What's the point of arguing with people who [care] who wins the war, not who is defeated? These people do not want Israel to lose the war with the Arabs if [the victory over it] is achieved by members of the resistance axis. Will they care about defeating the filthiest terror organization in the world [i.e., ISIS]? What's the point in arguing with people who think the resistance in Lebanon [i.e., Hizbullah] is a criminal organization peopled by mercenaries loyal to Iran whose actions have no national purpose? For these people, the ouster of the [Israeli] occupation in 2000 and the prevention of its return in 2006 were a defeat – not because Israel lost but because the resistance axis won.
"What's the point of arguing with people who don't acknowledge [even] one crime committed by the U.S. or Europe in our Arab world? With people and elements that do not want to count how many [Arabs] were killed by the U.S. and the West in the Iraq war, and who still refrain from asking how many people were killed in Syria by the U.S. and the West in the name of the war on terror?
"What's the point of arguing with groups that live by exploiting the Syrian refugees? A close look at the income sources of the heads of the campaign that targets the resistance and the [Lebanese] army on the pretext of combatting racism, and [a look at] where they work, reveals, to anyone who wants to know, why these people are so devoted to the refugees. Most of them have never visited a single refugee in his tent. These people, like the members of Prime Minister [Sa'd Al-Hariri's] official political, security, party and religious staffs, do not want us to know how they got their hands on Arab and international budgets intended for the refugees alone, nor [do they want us to know] the names of the organizations, companies, restaurants, pharmacies, offices and shops that supply the refugees' needs or who buys the barrels of mazut at the beginning of every month.
"These people want to decide for the refugees that the time has not yet come for them to return to their country. Clearly, [Lebanese Forces head] Samir Geagea, [former March 14 Forces secretary] Fares Sa'id, [Prime Minister] Sa'd Al-Hariri, and [State Minister for Refugee Affairs, Al-Mustaqbal MP] Mu'een al-Merhebi know the refugees inside and out and have verified with them directly that they do not wish to return [to Syria], neither to the areas controlled by the regime nor to the areas controlled by the opposition. Yet [the fact is] they do not want to stay in Lebanon, and they are forbidden from asking Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, France or Britain why they are unwilling to host them in their wealthy countries.
"What's the point of debating with a group of people whose profession cannot be more accurately described than [by calling it] espionage? Espionage, which means conspiring against their compatriots and collaborating with Lebanon's enemies for their own ends. The irony is that those who were hostile to the resistance before the liberation [of South Lebanon from Israel in 2000], those who wanted to crush it using [UN] Resolution 1559 and called for its elimination in 2006, and continued calling for [its] disarmament after 2006 and tried to stage a coup against it in 2008, those who are willing to besiege and isolate it in the name of justice, sanctions and the war on terror – these are the very same people who now want the resistance to leave the takfiris alone in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They are the same people who rejoice when terrorists detonate a bomb in the Dahiya or when there is news of a resistance fighter martyred in Syria. They are the ones who seethe with fury because Abu Malik Al-Tali [head of Jabhat Al-Nusra in the western Qalamoun and Jaroud Arsal areas] is in crisis. They are the ones willing to commit a sin that sends its perpetrator to Hell just to prevent the resistance from winning some battle or other.
"Are not these people spies, even if they belong to parties in the government or parliament? Even if they write in newspapers and on websites day and night and are plastered all over the screens of local or Arab television channels? Even if they are heads of parties, ministers, or senior officials in the state's political, security, military or social institutions? Even if they are the owners of banks or large companies, or university lecturers, schoolteachers, doctors, engineers, attorneys or whatever? Their status, position, sectarian affiliation and place of residence do not matter. They are nothing but spies and traitors, and this should be the only basis for our treatment of them.
" The resistance will pursue any fool, scoundrel, takfiri and traitor, any U.S. or Israeli soldier, and any Arab or Muslim mercenary who collaborates with the occupation. The rifle of the resistance will kill them in any Arab state and wherever they go. Whoever thinks differently can go pave the sea after drinking its water."