"If It Wasn't For Hezbollah…" Bringing ISIS And The Al-Nusra Front Closer To Lebanon Borders
27 October 2014
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The word "if" is Hezbollah's propaganda tool to
justify its involvement in Syria, pushing Lebanon's
Shi'ites, if not the whole country, into the conflict.
The Shi'ite group justifies this by saying that if it
had not supported the Assad regime, "Shi'ite religious
shrines would have fallen," or "if Hezbollah had not
gone to Syria, takfirists [those who accuse others of
apostasy] would have made it to Dahieh," a suburb
south of Beirut, or "if Hezbollah had not protected
Lebanon's borders, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
[ISIS] would have seized it from south to north."
And now another one of these "if" statements is being
attributed to the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros
Al-Rahi. According to media reports, a source close to
Hezbollah claims that before heading to Rome, Rahi
told his inner circle that "if Christians in Lebanon
were asked their opinion on the ongoing developments,
they would all give the same reply: ‘If it wasn't for
Hezbollah, ISIS would have been in Jounieh' [a coastal
city 10 miles north of Beirut]."
If the patriarch truly said this, then it seems he has
not yet heard of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front's advance on
the Damascus neighborhood of Ghouta despite the
efforts of Hezbollah fighters in the area who had gone
to protect Shi'ite shrines and prevent the groups'
advance on Lebanon's borders. Perhaps the Patriarch
does not feel threatened and is still certain that
Hezbollah can protect him from ISIS' evils—but Jounieh
is no more than 20 minutes' drive away from areas the
jihadist group has already captured.
We can only judge these conditional statements by
observing the results on the ground. Hezbollah is no
longer protecting any Shi'ite holy sites in Syria. Its
fighters are currently dying in defense of Assad's
regime, far removed from anything sacred. They are
being forced to do this because Iran has always
decided Hezbollah's wars.
Have the Shi'ites become safe after thousands of their
sons were dragged into the Syrian conflict? Of course
not. For 30 years the Shi'ites have not felt as
threatened by explosions, assassinations and security
restrictions as they do now. This is all because of
Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian conflict.
It is worth asking whether Jounieh and the Christian
hill-country and plains are really safe thanks to
Hezbollah's "bravery" in Syria. Those who follow the
news will know how the Lebanese army is currently
being humiliated, how the innocent are being abducted,
and how fear is spreading. Jounieh, one of the most
secure areas in Lebanon, has now become a signpost on
the map of global terrorism and violence thanks to
this "if" rhetoric.
These conditional proclamations are used to sell a
myth and have nothing to do with reality. Truth be
told, if Hezbollah had not gone to fight in Syria,
Lebanon would have remained neutral; but this is not
the case. When speaking of countries' interests and
people's safety, we must deal with facts and not with
hypotheses and wishes. Hezbollah is drowning in the
quagmire of the Syrian conflict because the Iranians
sent it there two years ago thinking it would be
capable of saving their ally Bashar Al-Assad.
Tehran has now begun to realize what much of the world
has been saying for a long time now: the Syrian regime
died when Bashar's father, Hafez Al-Assad, died—this
era is a transitional one. Hafez Al-Assad was a shrewd
politician. His son inherited governance, but not his
father's wisdom and experience. He therefore embroiled
himself and his allies into this conflict and
destroyed the country through his crimes, including
the assassination of Lebanese politicians, the
expulsion of political figures loyal to his father,
and his thoughtless behavior regarding Dera'a' and the
wider Syrian revolution.
Hezbollah as a resistance group ceased to exist ever
since the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon 14 years ago.
After this, Hezbollah turned into a mere militia group
linked to Tehran and Assad.
Hezbollah has only temporarily served Assad in the
war. It has done so by dragging terrorist
organizations from Syria into Lebanon. The Syrian
president wants to export the war to his neighbors
Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon. But how can a small country
such as Lebanon fight ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front
alone when it clearly takes a coalition of many
countries from around the world to take on ISIS in
Syria and Iraq?
After all this, then, does it make sense for Patriarch
Rahi to say that Hezbollah has made Jounieh safe, when
it has actually stoked the embers of sectarianism in
Lebanon and brought ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front closer
to its borders?
Al Rashed is
the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is
also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat,
and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He
is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate
degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on
many TV current affairs programs. He is currently
based in Dubai.