Will Lebanon be Held Accountable for its Pro-Assad Bias?
Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour confused everyone at the Arab League because while the league itself was trying to offer Syria’s empty seat to the Syrian National Coalition, Mansour requested the reinstatement of the Assad regime’s representatives. What happened to the dissociation policy, whereby Lebanon pledged to be neutral with regards to the Syrian conflict? And why did Mansour also choose to ignite a battle with Saudi Arabia, souring relations between the two countries?
Lebanon is now in the firing line because of the war in neighboring Syria. The domestic atmosphere is also tense because of the forthcoming parliamentary elections, which may not even be held. These two reasons alone are suffice to explain why certain individuals are intent upon stirring up problems between Lebanon and the Gulf. The reports of Lebanese employees being deported from the Gulf states, and the rumors of their financial deposits being withdrawn, are all part of psychological warfare. Lebanon now seems like a country awaiting its turn on death row.
The only ones who stand to benefit from pushing Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states towards a dispute with Lebanon are the regime in Syria and its allies in Lebanon. For example, Hezbollah believes that the fall of Assad in Damascus is almost inevitable, and one alternative is to expand the party’s role in Lebanon and further impose its dominance on Lebanese soil, as well as on nearby Syrian towns and areas that are mainly Shi ‘ ite or Christian.
As the final hours are ticking away for Assad’s regime in Syria, ridding Lebanon of Saudi influence will make it easier for parties like Hezbollah and Aoun’s Christian movement to expand and fill the developing vacuum.
The controversy over Syria that exists among Lebanese parties has now taken root within local affairs, especially with regards to any involvement with Assad’s regime. Hezbollah has begun to speak openly and has admitted that its militias are crossing the border and fighting in Syria, responding to the call to protect nearby Syrian Shi ‘ ite towns. The situation has been made even more dangerous with the withdrawal of Syrian troops from border areas with Lebanon, in an attempt to allow Hezbollah militias to occupy these areas and impose a new reality.
Samir Geagea, one of Hezbollah’s prominent rivals and head of the Lebanese Forces, has publicly sought to confront Hezbollah, which claims to be fighting the Jabhat Al-Nusra in Homs so as not to fight it in Beirut. Geagea said that the Lebanese state is responsible for fighting against the Jabhat Al-Nusra, or any other extremist group, in Beirut, Hermel, Nabatieh, Zahle, Akkar or any other area of Lebanon. In doing so, the state would be supported by the Lebanese people, with the exception of Hezbollah, as was the case with the confrontation against Fatah Al-Islam in Nahr Al-Bared.
Geagea also warned that “Hezbollah’s actions in Syria will drag the Jabhat Al-Nusra into Lebanon.”
Leaving Lebanon to the desires of one party means only one thing: a remapping of western Syria in the interests of Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.