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December 3, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5897

Lebanese Daily 'Al-Akhbar': The Power Of Hizbullah – Which Is Militarily Involved In Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen And Elsewhere – Means That Its Rivals In Lebanon Must Bow To Its Will

December 3, 2014
Lebanon, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 5897

On December 1, 2014, Ibrahim Al-Amin, head of the board of directors for the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, wrote in an article that the group's military involvement in Syria and Iraq, the role its members fulfill "in Palestine, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere in the world," and the nuclear talks between Iran and the West have tipped the balance of power in Lebanon and the region towards it. He went on to urge Hizbullah's political rival in Lebanon, the Al-Mustaqbal stream, to acknowledge this reality and agree to appoint Michel 'Aoun, Hizbullah's candidate and head of the Free Patriotic Movement, to fill the position of president, which has been vacant for several months.

It should be noted that, despite the tension between Al-Mustaqbal, which leads the March 14 Forces, and Hizbullah, which leads the March 8 Forces, the sides have recently agreed to launch talks in efforts to reach an agreement on a new Lebanese president.

The following are excerpts from Al-Amin's article:[1]


Ibrahim Al-Amin (image: memri-tv.org)

"No Element In Lebanon, The Region, Or The World Can Make Hizbullah Withdraw Its Fighters From Syria"

"Sa'd Al-Hariri, [in his November 27, 2014 LBC TV interview], did not need to give the whole preface before saying he was going to talk to Hizbullah... Anyone who opposes dialogue is nothing but a lunatic, and is no less foolish, insane, and radical than ISIS and its ilk. Anyone who opposes dialogue is no different than the armed men who kidnap soldiers in Jroud Arsal[2]... The realist who desires peace - for himself, his family, his neighbors, and everyone else - sees things as they are...

"The March 14 Forces are a laughing stock in Lebanon and the region; in fact, they can do nothing. [Al-Mustaqbal Party leader] Fouad Al-Siniora is the embodiment of this helpless, sick, frustrated, and incompetent group...

"Dialogue is not [just] an idea, and it is no waste of time. It is the only solution for the March 14 Forces, especially for the Al-Mustaqbal stream. Arrogance or false claims [on its part] will make no difference. In order for matters to be clearer, so that people are convinced, [I say:] This group has no option other than dialogue. The attempt to reach understandings will enable it to minimize its losses. Any notion that conflict is the alternative is equivalent to the notion that the path of ISIS is preferable, [and] any attempt to compare Hizbullah to ISIS is an attempt to ignore [reality]. Any arrangement we wish to formalize via dialogue will reflect reality as it is.

"These days, no element in Lebanon, the region, or the world can make Hizbullah withdraw its fighters from Syria. The March 14 Forces in Lebanon, Hizbullah's rivals, and anyone [else] who sees Hizbullah as an opponent, an enemy, or a negative element, must recognize this reality. Hizbullah's fighters are currently operating in Syria and in Iraq,[3] and play an important role in Palestine and Yemen,[4] and perhaps elsewhere in the world as well. What made it possible for Hizbullah to play this role was not a decision by Iran. America and Europe, particularly France, which is the mother of terrorism, are devoting all their efforts to creating an ally that has even 5% of what Hizbullah has, [and are failing]. We are talking not about money and weapons, but about ideas, resolve, will, faith, and leadership."

The Lebanese President Will Be Chosen In Accordance With The Current Balance Of Power, Which Favors Hizbullah

"In short, today Sa'd Al-Hariri represents all those who pray that the sea will swallow up Hizbullah, its men, its public, and all its friends. He [also] represents this world's inability to harm, defeat, or hobble Hizbullah, or to force it to act against its will. Since Hariri represents all this, he has an opportunity for serious and fruitful dialogue. However, if some crazy people here or there insist on trying to dissuade him [from dialogue] or sabotage him, then their only option is to openly side with Israel or ISIS.

"Today, no one in the whole world is uninterested in dialogue, besides Israel and ISIS. Israel believes that [any] element's rivalry with Hizbullah benefits it, and ISIS sees an absence of dialogue as a chance for further sectarian recruitment [of Sunnis] against Hizbullah. Al-Hariri is now well aware that avoiding dialogue] with Hizbullah] means pushing those who still support him into the arms, ideas, and inclinations of ISIS...

"There is currently a serious chance for dialogue that will produce rational outcomes. Since this requires honesty instead of more reciprocal lies, we [say] that the current balance of power - against the backdrop of [the nuclear talks] between the West and Iran, the outcomes of the events in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula [Saudi Arabia and Yemen], and in Lebanon and Syria - make possible a dialogue that will lead to reasonable results, [and will help] the Christians select a wise man [as president]...

"The realism of the March 14 Forces should bring them to say that the farce of proposing as a presidential candidate [Samir Geagea], who assassinated a prime minister [Rashid Karami],[5] is over, and that Michel 'Aoun is totally different from him in every way... Those who do not agree that 'Aoun should be president must suggest someone better, instead of sitting idly by... and shouting: Where is a president on whom [both sides] agree? ...

"This is not a matter of agreement between the sides [about a new president]. There is a balance of power; there are interests, and there are facts [on the ground]. The president will reflect these facts..."

 

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 1, 2014.

[2] In August 2014, ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra forces invaded the border town of Arsal and held it for several days. During their retreat, they kidnapped close to 30 Lebanese soldiers and security forces members and are currently negotiating their release in return for prisoners and detainees in Lebanese and Syrian prisons. "Jroud Arsal" is the mountainous region around this town.

[3] On November 27, 2014, the website for Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV reported that Lebanese military experts had accompanied Iran's Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani on a visit to Iraq in June 2014, after Mosul was captured by ISIS. This was effectively the first admission by Hizbullah that it was active in Iraqi territory.

[4] On November 27, 2014, the Saudi daily 'Okaz, citing tribal sources in Yemen, reported that Hizbullah military experts had arrived in the capital of Sana'a in order to assist the Houthis.

[5] Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea was initially sentenced to death on the charge of murdering Rashid Karami in June 1987, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was pardoned in 2005.

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