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What Resistance Fighters in Lebanon: Anger That Has Become Wailing

What Resistance Fighters in Lebanon: Anger That Has Become Wailing

Sunday, 11 October, 2020 - 11:00

The Lebanese religious sects withdrew successively, each in its own way, from conflict with Israel. So what about those on the sects’ margins?

There have always been those who advocate war for various reasons: some are ideological, rooted in a nationalist – Islamic view of the Levant’s modern history, accompanied by a condemnation of Israeli atrocities committed against the Palestinians. Another segment of these calls is linked to those individuals' marginalization in the sectarian regime and their desire to penetrate it from outside. A third reason is linked to seeking youthfulness, its love for experimentation, and desire to break with the familiar and seeking danger.

Being outside of sects does not mean those on the margins are far from sectarianism, directly or indirectly. Most are Muslims for whom the nationalist cause, especially its Palestinian clause, modernizes familiar loyalties and provides a slogan under which to pursue their struggle against “Maronite hegemony”. As for their Christian minority, it seeks to break its minority status and integrate into what it perceives to be the “masses” where demarcation disappears.

In general, most of them found their way to public life through ideological or semi-ideological parties. Nonetheless, both, they and their parties, rallied behind sectarian leaders during major turning points: in 1958, behind Saeb Salam, who led the opposition against Camille Chamoun, except the Syrian Nationalist Party, who joined Chamoun’s camp in a similar fashion; during the Two Years War of 1975-76, they rallied behind Kamal Jumblatt who expanded the small Druze sect and multiplied its influence by incorporating the ideological and partisan milieu, and then in the nineties behind Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian patrons.

In playing the role of backing armed conflicts, the ‘’Arab Nationalist Movement’’ was the most pivotal of these parties. Due to its Palestinian origins and doctrinal emphasis on “avenging” the crimes committed by Israel, it seemed to most embrace and express this urge. The ‘’Arab Socialist Baath Party’’ and ‘’Syrian Social Nationalist Party’’ left room for the call to fighting Israel. The “new Left”, especially its Maoist wings, mostly ended up joining Fatah’s ranks, as the passion for conflict and resistance ravaged it. The small Nassrite factions in Sunni cities, especially Beirut, also declared fighting Israel to be at the top of their objectives list. During the civil war, Fatah supported most of these movements with funds and arms.

The Lebanese Communist Party, on the other hand, was not obsessed with this issue. Only in the late 1960s, with the flow of armed Palestinian organizations, and with the “openness to the national question,” did the Communists of the Arab Levant establish the ‘’Ansar Forces’’ for Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, and Iraqi communist parties. Its birth was announced in 1970, and since then, nothing about the new-born was been announced. The Palestine Liberation Organization was much more interested in securing Soviet arms and support than the fighting of the Arab communists in its ranks.

After the 1982 Israeli invasion, the communists, as member of the party and the “Action Organization”, fought the invasion. They established the ‘’Lebanese National Resistance Front,’’ which was liquidated by Hezbollah after conducting modest operations. The latter has since sealed the resistance with thick red wax.

After all these tides, what next?

These parties have either vanished or are on the path to extinction. The ‘’Arab Nationalist Movement’’ is history; its legacy was inherited by parties and fronts that have either evaporated or are evaporating. To fight Israel, the Syrians of the Baath Party established the ‘’As-Saiqa’’ and its Iraqis the ‘’Arab Liberation Front.’’ But, until the two fronts disappeared, their “calculated” intermittent fighting was tied to the two Baathist rulers’ interests,. With the power of the Syrian regime and its apparatus, the surviving “Syrian Nationalists’’ split into several organizations that are consumed by organizational concerns and their leaders’ aspirations. The “New Left” has become a remnant, and Fatah’s Maoists have either converted to Khomeinist Islam or gone home. The Amal Movement obliterated some of the urban Nasserists, Rafic Hariri co-opted some, and the other third were dried up by the termination of armament and financial provisions.

All of them have aged. Fighting, any fighting is not on the cards for the children of those among them who became fathers. Many of their children were in the October 17 Revolution’s squares chanting against armament, and if it weren’t for their fear of Hezbollah, their chants would have been louder and clearer.

The “resistance fighters” who have ended up fathers without an inheritance are a mere few hundred angry individuals who want others to realize their desire for war. On top of that, it is a war without the Soviet Union or Gamal Abdel Nasser, without Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Libya, a Palestinian revolution, without a supportive local sect, and Gulf, Iraqi or Libyan financial support...Also, with recent developments, these “resistance fighters” may have no longer the privilege of being subordinates of Hezbollah and Iran, who are preoccupied with other concerns.

The angry Lebanese are wailing. Wailing, alongside cursing the times, can now be heard on social media and in some newspapers’ articles. But what anger could not achieve will not be attained by wailing.

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