Nadim Koteich

Do Not Simplify the Problem of the Hezbollah Militia

Two opinions emerge from the recent Lebanese crisis with the Gulf States.

The first, which is generally that of the concerned Gulf governments, says that the Lebanese must confront the hegemony of the Hezbollah militia, which is hijacking the government’s decision and using the country within a political, security and military policy hostile to the Gulf.

The second opinion - a broader Lebanese view supported by Arab capitals friendly to the Gulf - believes that Hezbollah is a regional problem greater than the ability of the Lebanese alone to confront or address. It also rules out the government’s capacity to bring about meaningful changes in the balance of power in Lebanon.

The two opinions, which appear to be diametrically opposed, constitute in fact one comprehensive view of Hezbollah’s complex problem. Both are right and their validity is based on the objective interests of the opinion holders and the circumstances surrounding their opinion.

The least that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States can demand is that the Lebanese state, and the active Lebanese political parties, bear the responsibility of a militia in their country that does everything possible, with great perseverance, to attack the security, people and interests of the Gulf.

Moreover, any objective proposal to the Lebanese about the necessity of confronting Hezbollah must take into consideration the severe imbalance of power between the party and its opponents.

Hezbollah is a complex product of many of Lebanon’s social, political and regional crises. It is also the result of a massive earthquake in regional politics, with the rise of the first sectarian state in the modern Middle East, which constitutionally embraced the idea of exporting this sectarian revolution to its neighborhood and the world. This is not a simple phenomenon that can be addressed with simplistic suggestions as if it were just a criminal group that can be contained by imposing the law or adopting the self-evident rules of international relations.

The dialectical relationship between these two views, and the resulting tense dynamic that governs the problem of Hezbollah, has in fact produced nothing but policies that brought all kinds of harm to those seeking a solution or settlement.

Saudi Arabia, rightfully angry, is leading a Gulf path towards boycotting Lebanon, although this policy has so far been faced with French opposition, which is still giving life to Najib Mikati’s government, without enabling it to convene or secure its long stay…

The majority of those who say that Hezbollah’s problem is regional and international pretend to be prudent in this assessment, in order to justify their subordination and their work for a terrorist militia that invades the country, and to conceal what they are doing to empower Hezbollah and consolidate its strategy, which is based on the Iranian project.

Any proposal that does not strive to bypass the trap of the illusory contradiction between these two views is doomed to failure, and has every reason to become one of the tributaries of support for Hezbollah.

There are no easy solutions to a complex problem, no matter how some politicians try to simplify it in their statements or provide justifications for it.

It is necessary to set up a strategy that leads to isolating and criminalizing Hezbollah and those who deal with it. Such a strategy must be based on the conviction that we are dealing with two “Lebanons”, not one.

I believe that it is important not to impose a comprehensive boycott on Lebanon.

In fact, a political team and a popular environment in the country has a firm stance and a clear vision about the strategic nature of the Lebanese-Arab relations, especially with the Gulf. There is no interest in losing this team, in the context of the comprehensive boycott of Lebanon.

There is another Lebanon that exists, other than “Hezbollah’s Lebanon”. It won’t be useful to include it in the boycott.

Similarly, there are two communities in the Gulf. It is illogical to keep them both safe from accountability and refrain from holding them responsible for the consequences of Hezbollah’s occupation of Lebanon. There shouldn’t be a single recipe for isolation, nor a single recipe for protection.

Protection is required for the friendly Lebanese community in the Gulf, which is of all sects, as much as punishment is needed for those who support Hezbollah or contribute to its empowerment, and they are of all sects, in light of proven objective facts and evidence. Otherwise, the matter ends with punishing the Lebanese resident in his homeland and protecting the expatriate Lebanese without any objective differentiation.

Let’s not be misled. There are many examples of the “bad Lebanese,” and among them were those who were senior businessmen in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and then became ministers, deputies, ambassadors, or actors in Lebanon under the auspices of the wide political group led by Hezbollah.

This model must be eradicated, so that the Lebanese do not maintain the idea that you can be with the Gulf in the Gulf and an opponent of the Gulf once outside it.

As for the relationship with the Lebanese state, there is no simpler solution than to criminalize any relationship with Hezbollah in order to tighten its isolation. The Lebanese must understand that any relationship with Hezbollah means that they are part of the party, without any significant distinctions.

Many Lebanese personalities and political parties have abused the illegal investment in civil peace. Those who infiltrate under the pretext of political realism, national unity and others, to form the most dangerous political levers for Hezbollah and professionally whitewash its reputation, are the ones who should be targeted by the public boycott.

Finally, the problem of Hezbollah is also a regional and international problem. It seems to me that there is an Arab responsibility to form an international lobby that works diligently and employs all its capabilities, to intensify Arab, European and international pressure on Hezbollah, such as listing the entire party on terrorist lists, and disrupting European opportunism, which still distinguishes between Hezbollah and its military wing.

We are faced with a complex problem that requires complex solutions. Simplifying complex matters will have very dangerous repercussions.