Dear Lebanon: Do Not Give Up

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Guest Commentary

The international community has turned a blind eye to Iran’s domination of Lebanon. Pleas for help to rid this Arab country of an armed militia under Tehran’s orders have gone unheard because world powers do not consider this small Mediterranean country has sufficient strategic significance to warrant military involvement. Adding insult to injury, both Hezbollah and Iran, the world’s biggest terrorist sponsor, have been removed from the U.S. intelligence community’s terrorist threat list.

And now that Iran is being courted by the US and Europe to the detriment of the Sunni Arab world and the regional balance of power, it is understandable that some political leaders within the March 14th bloc have opted for reconciliation with Hezbollah to end stagnation. Negotiations to nominate a new president that have been underway for 19 months resulted in stalemate because Hezbollah would not accept any candidate that was not sympathetic to its camp.

Last month, I was disappointed to learn that Hezbollah’s long-time foe Samir Geagea, the Executive Chairman of the Lebanese Forces, has capitulated by backing Michel Aoun, who is an ally of Hezbollah and the Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad, for the presidency, while former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is now lending his support to another pro-Assad figure – Suleiman Franjieh.

This is a mistake! The day the Lebanese choose slavery and lose their will to take their country back would be a knife in the hearts of all those who love Lebanon, including my own. I do not wish to judge them unfairly. Both Geagea and Hariri are Lebanese patriots who would like nothing more than to see their country proud and free, but without tangible heavyweight assistance, they have been fighting windmills.

In recent days, Mr Hariri has made a rare visit to Lebanon where he held a rally to mark the anniversary of his father’s assassination. “We will not allow anyone to pull Lebanon to the camp of hostility towards Saudi Arabia and its Arab brothers,” he told the crowd. “Lebanon will not be, under any circumstances, an Iranian province. We are Arabs, and Arabs we shall remain.” A year ago, those fighting words would have been little more than inspirational rhetoric without any real substance. Not so, today.

Lebanon has been taken over by force and only force can smash the Iranian yoke. Aside from Hezbollah, the only other force is the Lebanese Army but, unfortunately, it has been infiltrated and is not up to the task. However, the situation is no longer hopeless in light of an Arab reawakening in the face of threats to our very existence.

My message to the good Lebanese people who resent being treated as Iran’s vassals is this. Do not give up. Be optimistic and stay strong. You, the great Lebanese people who hold fast to your Arab roots and your culture, once a beacon of light for all of us, get ready to take your country back! You, the noble people of northern Lebanon who have proved your worth and shown courage, should be an inspiration to all others. And you, the people of Beirut, you must stand tall against the followers of paid Iranian lackeys and those cowardly self-appointed leaders who have exchanged their principles for their comfortable chairs and the luxurious trappings that go with them.

A new reality is on the horizon. Predominantly Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have woken-up to the danger Iran presents to the region and are taking matters into their own hands as we have witnessed in Bahrain, stabilised thanks to Saudi/UAE intervention, and in Yemen where ‘Decisive Storm’ was waged to cleanse this Arab heartland from pro-Iranian traitors and terrorists. Liberty is within reach and when it knocks on your door be ready to grasp it.

The Kingdom is seizing its rightful leadership role – backed by Gulf States, Turkey, Egypt and many others – not only as defender of the faith but also as the defender of brotherly countries. I am grateful to King Salman bin Abdelaziz for his courage and guidance and would salute this exceptional monarch who has given us a reason to once again hold our heads up high – and I could not be prouder that my own country the United Arab Emirates stands with him hand-to-hand, heart-to-heart.

A newly-assertive Riyadh is now calling the shots. The Obama administration may have dropped its demand for Assad to go under pressure from Moscow, but the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir is adamant that if peace talks fail, Assad will have to be removed “by force”.

Again, that statement might have been viewed as wishful thinking some months ago, but with reports that Saudi has stationed warplanes at Turkey’s Incirlik air base and will station troops there in preparation for a ground invasion potentially involving 150,000 soldiers, Saudi’s resolve is crystal clear. Syria will be cured from its multiple cancers of the regime’s war crimes, terrorist atrocities and armed Iranian interlopers so that the millions of displaced persons and refugees can return home to live in peace.

I strongly believe the Lebanese people should ready themselves for a better future, free of Iranian influence. The chains dragging Lebanon down will be broken. Release from the yoke of Hezbollah or any other occupying or terrorising force – whether internal or external – will happen sooner rather than later. Mark my words, soon we will see Lebanon’s so-called leaders fleeing the country to escape the people’s anger at being sold-out to a foreign would-be power.

It is my fervent hope to see Lebanon unfettered from Hezbollah’s strangulation and blossom as it did in the 1960s and early 1970s when it was truly independent. I long for the day the true Lebanese identity that has been robbed by outside forces can reveal itself in an atmosphere of free expression. I want to stroll along Hamra Street soaking up the gaiety there once was in a country where whispers are no longer needed before driving north to Damascus to visit the resting place Salah Eddin al-Ayoubi and onward to Homs to pray at the tomb of Khalid Ibn al-Waleed – two of the most fearless warriors in Arab history.

This is no idle daydream but a soon to be reality, provided the Lebanese people choose well between serfdom under a gang of Iranian puppets or an opportunity to reclaim their heritage with the help of their friends.

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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