Lebanon: Between a rock and a hard place.
The recent alignment of US policy with Iran’s interests shows that US policy in the Middle East is clearly shifting today towards forming a supposed “front against terrorism” that clearly intersects with US efforts and priorities, stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
The purpose of this new strategy is to isolate Riyadh while playing up the emerging US alignment with Iran across the region – a proposition that seems to enjoy support in the US media and policy circles as well.
According to the pro-Hezbollah media narrative: Sunni extremism is sponsored by Saudi Arabia and is a shared threat bringing together Iran and the US.
“Which is more important to America now, a state like Iran, which can help in combating terrorism from Afghanistan to the Middle East? Or Saudi Arabia, which stands accused since the World Trade Center bombings until today of providing a nurturing environment to al-Qaeda and of arming takfiris?”
Like if this is really going to make any difference. Pathetic to say the least… And who ever said that there is a two-alternatives-only solution. Either with the Sunnis or with the Shiites. How can any reasonable rational human being accept a dumb US policy proposition that the Saudi line (theocracy, Wahhabi radical Islam, sponsorship of Al-Qaeda and affiliate terror, etc….) is better than the Iranian line (theocracy, Shiite radical Islam, sponsorship of Hezbollah terror etc…) or vice-versa?
As a Lebanese American, I ask myself the question. What have the Saudis or the Iranians done anything positive to Lebanon and/or the US lately?
How about a position of proactive and forceful neutrality that supports the reality that both views of the Middle East – the Sunni and the Shiite – as ultimately harmful to US interests and to everyone in general, particularly to my homeland of Lebanon?
As bad as Iran and Hezbollah are, just look back at the seventies, eighties and the nineties: The war in Lebanon was financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who backed the PLO and other Sunni mercenaries (Libya etc.) against the very Lebanese state that today’s Lebanese Sunnis claim to be defending. They – Lebanon’s Sunnis – and their megalomaniac bosses in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf – dismantled Lebanon, collaborated with the PLO Palestinian terrorists, broke up the Lebanese army in 1976, and were the staunchest allies of the Assad Syrian regime all those years up to 2005 when Syria killed Hariri. So let’s get the record straight. The Sunnis and their Saudi sponsors are as guilty of harming Lebanon and US interests in the region as the Shiites and their Iranian sponsors.
As to Syria, while Assad is completely dependent on his three key alliances. Hezbollah for soldiers, Iran for finance and military support and Russia for arms and protection in the UN (veto right), his influence over Lebanon is getting bigger than ever. Remember Mohamad Chatah’s recent assassination? All executed by Hezbollah and blessed by Syria.
And while Assad’s end game is survival, he’s doing all what he can to keep his partners satisfied while protecting the Alawi people. As merciless and cruel as he is, you can rest assured that many members of the rebel groups are just as bad or worse.
My personal opinion on the situation in Syria and its spilling over in Lebanon – which by the way has already started months ago.
1. It looks as though Assad will remain in power.
2. It does not appear that Syria will break up into varying mini-states in the longer term.
3. The Americans, Turks, Jordanians, and Qataris, look very bad after the latest exchange of threats followed by inaction.
4. Assad’s position in Syria is better right now, than it’s been since the Syrian revolution began.
5. Neo-Ottomanism is a dead end, and not even Erdogan envisions such a future.
6. The biggest losers by far and away are the Syrian civilians who are now displaced numbering in the millions (over 2 million at last count), with over 150,000 dead, and perhaps as much as ten times as many wounded.
Talking dollars and cents to the capitalists who run the show…. Depending on the winning side, either the trans-Syrian gas pipeline goes from Iran via Iraq or from Qatar and correspondingly that gas will be traded either in Euro or US Dollar.
For the Syrians – the question is whether they get to live in a secular state or one run by the Muslim Brotherhood or somebody more radical.
For the Lebanese – unless they finally wake up, rally around President Michel Suleiman alongside his Military/ Intelligence Establishment and wage an outright war dismantling Hezbollah, don’t expect anything other than Lebanon being under the Syrian and mullahs boots for the next 30 years – if not taken over in its entirety by the bearded mullahs.
No wonder Hezbollah’s alarm at Riyadh’s $3 billion grant to the Lebanese Army, for fear it might eventually take away an increasingly necessary instrument for the Shiite party of God.
Perhaps, now that the Lebanese obnoxious capitalists’ money is in danger, they will agree fast and soon make it a reality. Pontificating from Paris or sending Twitter messages all over the globe will not get you anywhere Mr. Hariri. You know better than that. This is not your father’s Middle East anymore but a totally new one in the making.
God bless Lebanon.
Ziad K. Abdelnour is Founder and President of the US Committee for a Free Lebanon – America’s Pro- Lebanon lobby – and co-Author of Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role.