Articles > > TWO DEVELOPMENTS

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-03-08
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

The international political arena has witnessed two recent important developments regarding Lebanon.
 
- The first was the British government's decision to add Hezbollah's political wing to the list of terrorist organizations, along with the party's military wing that has been on this list for years.
 
- The second emerges from the positions expressed by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield, who is currently touring the region in preparation for a visit by [U.S. Secretary of State] Mike Pompeo. Satterfield's positions also have to do with Hezbollah. And he incited against the party with everyone he met in Beirut and urged the Lebanese factions to isolate it and steer clear of its policies if this small country is not to face dire consequences.
It is the right of the British and U.S. governments to adopt whatever positions and views, and pursue whatever policies and strategies they find appropriate. But it is also their duty to consider the consequences of their attempt to impose 'impossible' policies on a small country such as Lebanon – one that miraculously escaped the effects of the Syrian earthquake and its ongoing aftershocks for the past eight years.
 
 
It is the right of this country to enjoy a regional and international safety net that enables it to avoid sliding towards anarchy, instability, and civil war. It is also this small country's right to avoid falling into a deep abyss merely because London and Washington want to punish Iran, or appease Israel, or court some [Arab Gulf] states.
 
The UK hosts the Muslim Brotherhood. The latter is a fundamentalist organization similar to Hezbollah, but with confessional differences. Some of its branches in the Arab world are implicated in the blood that has been shed on the altar of proxy wars and the conflict between axes, from Yemen to Syria, including Egypt, Libya, and other regional countries.
 
Similarly, the UK is talking to the Houthis, although the British media, and the Western media in general, classify the Yemeni Ansarullah as the Lebanese Hezbollah's 'twin brother,' describing them both as tools of Iran's regional influence and as arms of the Qods Force and Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
 
But why are dialogue and negotiations permissible in Ansarullah's case – with British envoy Martin Griffiths spending most of his time in Su'da, Sana'a, and Hodeida, and British Minister Jeremy Hunt meeting with the Houthis' representative in Muscat and Stockholm – while British ambassador Chris Rumpling boycotts an activity by the Lebanese Health Ministry because the man in charge is close to Hezbollah, but not a member, according to the party itself?
 
For its part, the U.S., which is waging the most intensive campaign of incitement and mobilization against Hezbollah, is also driving the Lebanese into choosing between two options, the sweeter of which is still very bitter: Either to side with the world's sole superpower, or to choose the 'Dahyieh mini-state' [Hezbollah's Beirut Southern suburbs HQ]. But Washington is conducting intensive and in-depth negotiations with the Taliban Movement, and its envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is about to reach a final agreement with one of the founders of that fundamentalist movement and its second-in-command, Mullah 'Abdulghani Baradar. This is the same movement that is classified as terrorist, that hosted al-Qa'ida, and that refused to abandon Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks. 
 
All of which raises the question: By what 'measure' does Washington gauge its steps and decisions? This is a legitimate question that casts even darker shadows of doubt over the U.S.'s double standards and its policy of two-faced hypocrisy.
But whatever the two NATO allies' attitude towards Hezbollah and Iran, the more pressing question to be put to these two major powers is this: Are these steps and policies meant to 'detonate Lebanon'? After all, like everyone else, and perhaps more than any other capitals, they realize that excluding Hezbollah, targeting it with such intensity, asking the Lebanese to remove it from the country's 'political and social equation,' and imposing sanctions on Lebanon for this  'sin' or on the 'pretext' of cohabiting with Hezbollah, are the shortest path to undermining this country's fragile stability, and will bring 'the war in and on Syria' to it.
 
This is regardless of whether this is the result of 'good intentions' – and there is no room for good intentions in politics – or of 'prior deliberation and aforethought.