Articles > > A Different Appearance

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-10-27
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

The Hezbollah leader's latest appearance differs from those that preceded it because most Lebanese received it with rejection and disdain, including those among its support base and homegrown environments, most likely because it arose from a deep sense of fear and caution.
I believe Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah understands better than anyone else that he and his party and allies are facing an unprecedented challenge that bears a greater risk than his protracted wars with Israel, from which he knew how to emerge victorious.
The Lebanese popular uprising surprised Hezbollah, just as it ambushed everyone else without warning. At first, he thought that a few government concessions would suffice to contain it and prevent it from developing further, but this turned out to be a mistaken belief, and he shifted towards a stance of contention with the popular movement, accusing it of being politicized, deviating from social demands, and infiltration by corrupt parties, embassies, and individuals with foreign ties, going as far as to perpetrate crude attacks on the masses mobilized in the streets and squares.
First, Hezbollah lost its wagers, and then as the uprising progressed, it began to lose its image, standing, and the credibility of its claims. Ten days into the uprising, Hezbollah's losses are piling up.
Hezbollah understandably does not want to give up its achievements after the 2018 parliamentary elections or surrender the 'Aoun/Hariri [presidential/prime-ministerial] deal, especially at this sensitive time as the grip of U.S. sanctions tightens on the party and Lebanon. This explains its attachment to the presidency ['Aoun] and its refusal to hold early elections. It is also understandable for Hezbollah to connect what is happening in Lebanon with the popular upheavals in Iraq primarily targeting Iran and its allies. However, it is absolutely incomprehensible for Hezbollah to turn itself into a bulwark protecting a corrupt political class and to stand against the street in defense of allies and brethren immersed in corruption and exploitation that Hezbollah is fully aware of.
It will do the party no good to talk about conspiracies, covert corporations, foreign funding, embassies, and suspect parties and figures. What is happening in Lebanon is greater than all that. The proof is that the secretary general's speech only ramped up the flow of protesters into the street and failed to curb the anger, even within its own homegrown environments and strongholds, despite its fearmongering and intimidation tactics. His rhetoric was a carbon copy of that of the Iraqi political class in its dealings with the popular protests in Baghdad and Southern Iraqi cities, which failed there and have no chance of success in Lebanon either. This rhetoric recalls the [regime's] 'fundamental mistakes' in managing the Syrian crisis from its very beginning. It was not enough for Hezbollah to accuse other parties of riding the uprising's wave; it piggybacked off the movement itself, presenting itself as an ally to it, raising its slogans, and claiming to share them.
It should not have left the squares to those it believed were conspiring against it and sought to divert the uprising from its objectives. The biggest tragedy is that Hezbollah not only could not help getting involved, it placed itself in the opposing trench, always under cover from the slogan 'one [pro-Hezbollah] street against another [anti-Hezbollah]'
Rather than going to extreme lengths to terrify the Lebanese people of the danger of vacuum and collapse and raise the specter of civil war, Hezbollah should have latched onto the slogan of civil resistance against corruption and the corrupt. I believe that it has lost a golden opportunity to revitalize its image before Lebanese public opinion after all the distortion it has suffered due to its involvement in the region's wars.
Today, Hezbollah's remaining options and alternatives are unlikely to help it achieve this goal, and may in fact make matters worse, especially in terms of its image and standing and Lebanon's security, stability, and civil peace.