August 25, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 557

Lebanese Daily Decries Hizbullah Activity Against Israel

August 25, 2003
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 557

In an August 14, 2003 editorial in the Lebanese Christian daily Al-Nahar, [1] Editor Jubran Tweini attacked Hizbullah's renewed activity against Israel in Southern Lebanon and the inability of the Lebanese government to impose its military authority there. The following are excerpts from the editorial:

With a Powerless Government, Lebanon is a Jungle

"Who determines military actions in the south [of Lebanon]? We, as Lebanese, have a right to know how these types of decisions are made, [decisions] that directly affect all of Lebanon and all Lebanese.

"It is our right to know if Hizbullah alone makes these decisions and on what basis they do so. Is it Syria who makes the decisions and passes orders onto the Hizbullah? Is it Iran? Lebanon? And what is the strategy? It is our right to know and even participate in such critical decisions; otherwise, Lebanon is a jungle with no central decision-making authority.

"The Lebanese country, and particularly the government of Lebanon, as the executive authority responsible for policy-making, must be directly responsible for Hizbullah operations in the south, since it purports to be a country of laws and institutions that has full sovereignty on the entire land of Lebanon. However, essentially, we know that it is not the country that determines the perpetuation of military operations in the south, and that Lebanon has no strategy in this area…

"It can be said that the government's powerlessness, and the fact that it does not shoulder its national responsibility, have, in the eyes of the world, made it chiefly responsible for the breaches of peace in southern Lebanon – though some of its members attempt, through communiqués and statements, to conceal Hizbullah and its operations."

Hizbullah: A State Within a State

"We are not saying we must relinquish our right to oppose the enemy [meaning Israel] in order to liberate the Sheb'a Farms. But the main problem is who determines the timing and location of operations. Our controversy with Hizbullah centers on the fact that it has no right to exist as an armed movement within the state, especially following the Taif agreement. The Hizbullah has no right to operate as a state within a state, as a fait accompli, and to carry out its own policies as if there were no government institutions or people in its midst. It cannot be that the initiative to use force against Israel lies in Hizbullah's hands. [This initiative] must lie in the hands of all Lebanese in order to formulate an overall national decision and clear strategy.

"Who told Hizbullah and its allies in the government and in the country that all Lebanese agree with its policies, which cause Lebanon serious losses of life and material? Or, that its strategy is the correct strategy for this situation? Who gave it the right to make a decision that comes at the expense of other Lebanese? Is it not clear that war-and-peace decisions are made at the national level, by a government that represents all the people?

"We want to know, honestly, who supports the exclusive right of Hizbullah to conduct operations from Lebanese territory, according to its will and the will of its regional partners. We want to hear a clear position, and not 'diplomatic' declarations supporting the problem but not clarifying if they actually support the operation, the decision-making [that led to it] and its implementation – unless the ghost of fear – of whom? – has taken control of those responsible and put a damper on them and their independent decision-making."

The Greatest Gift to Israel: Justification for an Attack

"Does the government [of Lebanon] not know we have enough social and economic problems, and there is no need to add another blow that is likely to lead to an Israeli response during tourist season, a response that might harm, for example, the infrastructure and electricity? Or, perhaps the authorities 'hope' that Israel will strike electrical facilities in order to justify the shameful rationing of electricity and place the blame on Israel?

"What justification is there in conducting military operations and taking on the burden of the response they draw, and later complaining to the Security Council, while the group conducting the operation – Hizbullah – does not recognize the authority of the UN and personally attacks its Secretary-General, Kofi Annan? What is the use of turning to the Security Council at a time when [Lebanon] refuses to fulfill the Security Council's and Secretary-General's recommendations regarding the deployment of the army along the border, and at a time when Hizbullah does not recognize international authority and rejects the 'purple line?'

"Is Hizbullah's rejection of the 'purple line' not mutiny and revolution against the position of the Lebanese government, which recognizes this border, and is it not a sign that [Hizbullah] is a state within a state? What would be the position of the country if the Security Council were to meet in response to complaints – by Lebanon and Israel – and decide, not just propose, to deploy the army in the south and cease the illegal armed presence?

"Would Lebanon carry out the decision or oppose it – rebel against a legitimate international resolution and give Israel the greatest gift and the best justification for attacking Lebanon and Syria, with international support? Or would Hizbullah oppose military deployment in the south, as did the Palestinian resistance in 1977? Everyone knows what happened afterward and how much it cost Lebanon."

Lebanon - Fated to Be a Negotiating Chip?

"Is it in Lebanon's interest today to forfeit international society, the entire world, and its credibility because of this policy, which serves not Lebanon but Hizbullah and those standing directly behind it, not to mention Israel's interest? Does Lebanon think that we do not need international support in order to withstand the earthquake striking the region and threatening to topple one regime after another? Are we always fated to implement the policy of the 'other' on our land and to give Israel justification for derailing the road map, as happened as a result of Palestinian resistance operations on the occupied land?

"Is it merely a coincidence that suicide operations returned to Israel at the same time the southern front was heating up? How long will we be a negotiating chip between Syria and America, Iran and America, and America and Israel?

"We once again stress that resistance to the enemy is a legal right. But the issue of the Sheb'a Farms must first be settled with Syria in order to gain international support for its liberation and return. The right of [resistance] does not belong exclusively to Hizbullah. We object to political parties and factions holding the weapons of liberation, since liberation of the land through diplomatic or military means is a national issue that extends to the country's military and political institutions. We reject Hizbullah's claim that it alone shall determine the timing of the operations, since it is not the only landowner."

[1] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), August 14, 2003.

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