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Opinion, September 28, 2006

Lebanonwire

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The Battle of Destroying the State
Daoud Shirian, Al-Hayat

Some on the political scene in Lebanon were really looking forward to the speech made by the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, during the 'Divine Victory' celebration, thinking he would deliver the speech of a victor. Instead he lectured the audience with the bitterness of the defeated, transferring competition from a difference of opinion into sharp divisions of positions. In the process, he provided his political rivals with a tremendous opportunity to express their true feelings and positions that they were forced to conceal because of the defeat and destruction wrote on by the first days following the ceasefire. By doing this, Sayyed Hassan Nassrallah has ushered in the post-war stage, declaring from southern Beirut the mission of destroying the State: the objective that the war failed to achieve.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah began by telling the amassed crowds that his appearance in public was a danger both to him and them, lest Israel target him while he was delivering his speech. But he consulted his brethren and took a firm decision, as his feelings and sense of self would not allow the Sayyed to talk to his beloved audience via a screen. Nasrallah's fears were shared by the people, or spread among the people, and he successfully exploited this issue at the opening of the speech to spark the morale of the listeners that made pilgrimage to the Sayyed from the southernmost region.

However, what he did not declare was that his consultations with the party officials were on 'how' to talk. Should he rephrase his apologies and declare once again that he had miscalculated, and that his refusal to hand over the two Israeli soldiers destroyed the country, and that he caused the prisoners to remain in Israel's prisons and did not liberate the country? He neglected to mention how he drew all the armies of the world to protect Israel and constricted any military action against Israel. I ask you, could this speech be acceptable to those who vacated their homes and left their children to directly watch and listen to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah? Moreover, what effect will the direction this speech has taken have on the status of the party and the popularity of its leader?

The problem is not the audience. They flocked to southern Beirut from the early morning in the vain hope of hearing something reassuring, that all the devastation that befell their country will not be repeated and that the villages will be rebuilt and schools re-established. They wanted to hear a speech that would promise them calm and peace. The people wanted guarantees from the Sayyed that their lives would not be held hostage for an ounce of politics and interests and alliances. Unfortunately, they heard nothing of the kind when Nassrallah took the situation back to square one. Instead of talking about the magnitude of the reconstruction fees and the money needed to return the migrants, he talked about how many missiles he had at his disposal and his insistence on armed struggle. He, in effect, told the people: be prepared, since we may have to destroy your homes once again.

Only the optimists were the ones that expected the Sayyed to go beyond the character of the military leader and the language of threats, and lean toward diplomacy and dash the hopes of his rivals inside and outside Lebanon. Hezbollah could have, if it had wanted to, achieved all this without this destructive war. The opportunity was laid before it on the table of dialogue, and those discoursing with Hezbollah at the time were willing to give it more than it expected if it had agreed to embroil itself in the project of the State. But the party thought otherwise, because the weapon of the Resistance, in its understanding, is a strategic choice, and that giving it up is a matter it has already settled.

Therefore, everything the Sayyed said in his last delivery over disarming is just time-wasting talk. Hezbollah's arms will remain until Hezbollah itself becomes the State, and before this price is paid, Hezbollah will not give up its arms. On this basis, we can surmise the form of the coming battle. It will be a battle of destroying the Lebanese State as Hezbollah sees that this State does not deserve to protect Lebanon. Other concerned parties see that Hezbollah, in this form, is an obstacle on the way to building the State.

In what manner will the coming fierce battle be expressed? Will the country enter a new civil war, or is this not a viable option because of Israel's security and the presence of foreign troops? Will the war consist only of assassinations and sabotage? It is hard to guess what will take place next, but what cannot be disputed is that division exists in Lebanon now, and this portends great dangers ahead. The country needs many years to become stable once again, as the situation in Lebanon has reached the point of breaking bones.

Before any bones are broken, the country will be decimated economically and politically and go back to a stage worse than that experienced during the days of the civil war. Nonetheless, there is the hope that a constructive reconciliation project will rise on the foundation of reorganizing the sectarian prorata that offers the Shiites some political value in exchange for their weapons that will be disarmed one way or another.

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