Asharq Al-awsat English https://aawsat.com/english Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper http://feedly.com/icon.svg

Is The Axis of Resistance Fighting Backwards?

Is The Axis of Resistance Fighting Backwards?

Monday, 5 October, 2020 - 09:30

When the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized relations with the state of Israel, all eyes immediately turned to Damascus: How will the fortress of steadfastness and resistance react? Would it approve of normalization? Our memories were brimming with the insults that were launched at Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, King Hussein and Amin Gemayel.


Damascus did not respond to the Gulf-Israeli move. It approved what had happened. Even the famous phrase that's commonly used to comment on the Israeli military strikes was avoided; we didn’t hear Syrian officials claim they would choose the appropriate time and place to respond. The President’s Office, Foreign Affairs Ministry, the television channels and the radio stations all kept quiet. The issue was left to employees: Buthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president’s media and political advisor, told the new broadcaster Al-Mayadeen: “I don’t know, what is in Abu Dhabi’s interest?” Agnosticism has suddenly replaced absolute certainty. The Arab Socialist Baath Party took on the role of responding: it denounced, in two sharply-worded statements, “the blatant aggression against the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people.” However, the words of the Baathists are Baathist words; they’re not taken seriously.


Writers and commentators, in their analysis of this silence, alongside other circumstances in Syria, went further. They asked: When will Bashar al-Assad go to Tel Aviv? When will the American sponsored Syrian-Israeli negotiations begin?


This hasn’t happened yet. But something along these lines happened in the country neighboring Syria, one that is a part of the axis of resistance as much as its larger neighbor: Lebanon. Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri announced that an “agreement on a framework” for indirect talks between Lebanon and Israel had been reached. As for the fact that the declaration was made by Berri, an ally of Hezbollah, and not by President Michel Aoun, it implies that the parallel state, not the state, is the one taking the initiative and shares responsibility for it.


Making what happened even more grave, the United Nations will sponsor and supervise the process. However, the gravity peaks with the United States, aka the “Great Satan”, mediating and facilitating this process.


The important development was accompanied by new rhetoric that speaks of “mutual interests”, “resource development” and the “peoples of the region.” The whole thing has a whiff of normalization with a “Zionist entity” whose existence is in doubt!


This coincided with another unusual development: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deploying forces in Beirut and the port area. The Annahar newspaper referred to the deployment as a prelude to the emergency forces’ spreading out towards the eastern and sea borders.


“They have been assigned new monitoring missions to prevent smuggling, in fulfillment of the US desire which Washington had expressed during last August’s Security Council’s discussion on renewing of these forces’ presence.” Just a reminder: Hezbollah has not concealed its extreme hostility to an expansion of the activity of the emergency forces, which it constantly accuses of working day and night to serve Israel’s interests, while the “people of the area” (?!) have clashed with them several times.


So, besides the sonorous rhetoric about Israel and Palestine and the constant lying to Palestinians, something else is going on in the region: On May 7, the day Mustafa al-Kadhimi formed a new Iraqi government, it seemed as though a page was turning: The Iranians and their militias in Iraq agreed to the prime ministerial appointment of a man at whom they had been hurling insults and accusation of treachery at, only days before. One of their factions (Kataeb Hezbollah) did not hesitate from accusing him of complicity in Qassem Soleimani’s murder.


At this point, skepticism began to emerge about the Khomeinist project’s viability in the Levant. Bringing Hamas back to the resistance’s ranks was very little and very late: Tehran is economically drained and regionally and internationally isolated. Its ally Assad reigns and does not rule, while the most powerful voice in Syria is the Russian. The Iranian regime knows this better than anyone else. Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shiite militias’ standing in their countries is far from enviable. The two countries’ revolutions revealed this and, in Lebanon, the port explosion exacerbated popular disgruntlement further.


This does not mean that the “axis of resistance ” has surrendered, or that it is in the process of surrendering. It is probably fighting as it retreats to fill that lost time in anticipation of the US presidential elections. This regressive fighting is of two parts: Making concessions on one hand and mischief on the other. Regarding concessions, we can point to the developments mentioned above. As for the mischief, we can see it in sabotaging the French initiative in Lebanon and the “mysterious” missiles launched in Iraq.


Despite its brevity, this may be a turbulent and critical phase in which the axis of resistance makes concessions to the US and Israel while exerting pressure on those they consider to be the US and Israel’s local allies. This is the approach of an illustrious school in our part of the world, one whose most notable teacher was Hafez al-Assad.


Other opinion articles

Editor Picks

Multimedia