Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah, was not helped recently by developments on the ground in Syria, and particularly those close to its border with Lebanon. On Saturday, Nasrallah delivered a speech to commemorate the party’s martyrs, at a rally featuring the slogan “The Martyr (Party) Leaders on the Road to Palestine.” While this was taking place, the party’s fighters were fighting in battles in the area of al-Qusair in Syria against the armed opposition there, and suffered a number of killed and wounded, who were later transported to Lebanon. A party source in the Bekaa Valley acknowledged that three Lebanese were killed in the fighting.
These developments destroy all of the excuses that were delivered by Nasrallah in his speech, and in the domestic political struggle and escalation that has arisen in recent days. They contradict the very structure of Nasrallah’s address, which contained slogans and disputes with his rivals.
Nasrallah usually constructs his speech around a linking theme, and declares his stances in an integrated context – this is even when his rivals believe that his arguments may be refuted, or that they are contradictory. As Nasrallah speaks to his base, he provides the political groups that support him with the ideas and tools to launch a defense of their political line. During his speech on Saturday, the linking idea was, as in many of his recent appearances, a defense of the party’s weapons, amid verbal attacks on this arsenal.
The head of the Future Movement, former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, on the anniversary of his father’s assassination two days earlier, criticized these weapons, considering them the “mother of Lebanon’s problems.” He said they were part of Iran’s military capabilities and this clearly outraged Nasrallah, because al-Hariri does not want to hear the party’s repeated insistence that the topic of its weapons are not up for discussion. Hezbollah re-affirmed that weapons belong to the resistance, and cited the slogan of the event, "On the Road to Palestine," because he wants to take the issue of Palestine and supporting the cause, and confronting the greatest threat, Israel, and see these outrun the domestic divisions and struggles currently being witnessed by the region, "so that there is no place left for Palestine." Nasrallah went as far as to mock the rally held to commemorate Rafiq al-Hariri, "we want to make the dream a reality," by saying that the resistance in Lebanon "stands on a firm ground of reality… and this is not merely dreams that people want to see become a reality, or clowning around." He warned Israel against any aggression against Lebanon, which he had downplayed earlier, when he accused certain Lebanese of promoting such a scenario. Then, Nasrallah spent two-thirds of the speech on responding to al-Hariri's attack on the party's weapons. Nasrallah defended his allies in the government and their approval of the role of the resistance, repeating his earlier comments that the late al-Hariri had committed himself to the weapons of the resistance, before his assassination. Nasrallah repeated that Saad al-Hariri had committed himself to defending Lebanon against any Israeli aggression.
A few hours later, the news came that these weapons were involved in the al-Qusair region of Syria. The role of these arms in Greater Syria appeared to win out over their other functions, which were enumerated by Nasrallah, such as confronting aggression against Lebanon and supporting the resistance in Palestine, even though he affirmed that "these arms would have no meaning at all if not for resisting Israel."
There were two ironies in Nasrallah's speech. First, he said that the party's policy requires concessions when it comes to political posts and election laws. He said that Hezbollah would vote for the Orthodox Gathering electoral law proposal, and then it voted that way on Tuesday. Secondly, in his speech Nasrallah explained the policy of disassociation from the Syrian crisis, when he said, "I support in the way I want, and you can take that any way you want, but everything that leads to moving the struggle to the Lebanese arena is a mistake." As for disassociation, it is directed at the Lebanese government, and not the various political groups.
The secretary general of Hezbollah anticipated the battles in al-Qusair with these comments, and Hezbollah's involvement in them in this way involves the danger of escalating domestic sensitivities over its actions. This adventurism can only be explained by quoting the Iranian cleric, Mehdi Taeb, who is responsible for the body tasked with combating the cyber war and the soft war against Iran. He said, "If we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran," and also spoke about the necessity of supporting the Syrian regime in the urban warfare it is waging.
It is no coincidence to see these two instances of adventurism, namely in al-Qusair and with the election law – as the party supports a law that will fragment Lebanese society, even if the accusations of bribery to the party's allies to support the law are true. Just as Iranian support for the Syrian regime leads to more domestic division and regional complications, an election law that sees each sect elect its own MPs will take Lebanon toward more fragmentation and sectarian division, as if what is asked for is the political situation to be suspended, under the guillotine of waiting for the Syrian crisis to resolve itself.
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