Hanna Saleh

‘The Battlefield Speaks’... But What About Lebanon and The Lebanese

More than ever, Lebanese citizens, especially those in the south, want to see United Nations Resolution 1701 implemented. They want to see it respected and complied with, rather than the government trying to be shrewd and taking face-saving measures.
They are alarmed by the escalation in the missile and artillery exchanges across the Blue Line, the onset of drone warfare, and the air raids in Iqlim al-Tuffah and Jezzine, both of which are north of the Litani River. After Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants encroached into the border region, joining the ally Hezbollah, the significance of UN Resolution 1701 has become clear to the Lebanese citizens. Thanks to the resolution, along with the presence of UNIFIL and the limited deployment of the army, the south had been stable since the 2006 war, giving its people a sense of security that allowed for development and prosperity, and crucially, allowed them to remain on their land.
The Lebanese, who have been plundered and impoverished, are suffering from the unfair financial and economic measures taken by an obsolete political class. They had not expected those who have hijacked the state and its decision-making to so lightly add a new burden that their shoulders cannot bear and risk turning Lebanon into “a second Gaza.” The republic's decapitated state looks the other way, with the executive and parliament unable to make decisions, public institutions have been eroding and state bodies are doing nothing to help residents who need medicine and food.
Watching the horrors of the destruction in Gaza, and the systematic effort to uproot the people of Gazans through this genocide, terrifying scenes from the July War are brought to mind: the southern suburbs and entire towns turned to rubble, hundreds of thousands were displaced, the destruction of bridges cut regions off from one another, along Lebanon was cut off from the world.
To their surprise, they then see Hassan Nasrallah announce that “the battlefield will do the talking.” But what of Lebanon, its interests, and the rights of the Lebanese? How can the frailty of the situation and the social collapse of the country be ignored? Everyone, including those who live in Hezbollah’s “strongholds,” has been left to fend for themselves as the country collapses and famine looms.
Does Hezbollah, which unilaterally decides matters of war and peace after marginalizing the country’s already weak and perpetually dependent authorities, want to say that an absolute mandate has been granted to those bearing arms, that they can act as they see fit? That is an insult to the intelligence of the country’s citizens, and it trivializes the country’s interests, as well as disregarding the risk of miscalculations that could precipitate a devastating war.
It is terrifying to see Hezbollah ignore warnings from Lebanon's allies, as well as the threats and actions of the enemy, especially given the Zionist military’s intention to launch a devastating attack on Lebanon in an effort to regain prestige and deterrence, after the surprise attack from Gaza undermined it. It is concerning to see the government looking the other way and disregarding its duties and responsibilities. The same could be said of Parliament and its Speaker, as Tehran declares that “the war has expanded, and Lebanon has entered the conflict”
There is also the question of whether Hezbollah can overlook the deployment of significant US military assets in the Eastern Mediterranean and the region. Can it merely dismiss the pressure Washington is exerting to prevent escalation in this war? As part of this effort, the US has deterred Israel from launching a preemptive strike against Lebanon. The most recent example of this was the exchange between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant, with the former publicly warning against escalation. Is it not time to take responsibility, especially since at least 50 percent of residents have abandoned their villages south of the Litani?
That begs the question of how consequential “distracting” the enemy from its northern front really is. It has deployed soldiers there, but how significant is this deployment when it would not be feasible to deploy the entire Israeli army to fight in the limited space of the Gaza Strip?
How will the “battlefield” add to the 'party's' achievements as so many young Lebanese men perish, to say nothing about the civilians who are often overlooked, especially as the skirmishes remain limited and Lebanon has not yet been pushed into the furnace of total war? The enemy threatens us with the Gaza model, that is, with the implementation of the “Dahiyah Doctrine,” a strategy of collective punishment that seeks to cause extensive damage and destruction. Ultimately, Hezbollah, as well as the authorities covering its hijacking of the country's decision-making, will be held accountable for how lightly war was instigated, and their disregard for people’s lives, security, stability, and their right to a safe future.
Moreover, as the world watches live coverage of the genocide that has turned Gaza's hospitals into mass graves, as well as the heroic actions of Gazans, a fundamental shift in the international agenda has been imposed as Zionist brutality exacerbates. People around the world realize that the conflict is not being fought to ensure security, and many have spoken to call for ending the occupation and recognized that this is the only way to allow the region and the world a way out of this impasse.
As the lies about the events of October 7 are debunked, the London protests forced the resignation of the Home Secretary. In the US, hundreds of journalists held newsrooms responsible for inhumane rhetoric that “justifies the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.” An internal memorandum signed by 100 officials in the US State Department accused President Biden of spreading “misinformation” about the war in Gaza, making him complicit in genocide. A diplomatic rebellion has been launched against President Macron's biased position in favor of Israel.
As the world boils, the joint Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh, which brought together 57 countries representing over one and a half billion people, is a significant milestone. It is difficult to ignore the summit's declaration that occupation led to 'October 7' and its assertion that Israel's actions amount to genocide, meaning that the perpetrators must be held accountable. The summit also affirmed that the alternative to occupation is a comprehensive political solution: a two-state solution that gives rise to a viable Palestinian state.
Given these developments, nothing should be prioritized above the need to safeguard the lives of Lebanese citizens and to defend them by keeping Lebanon out of the “stomping ground.” Simultaneously, we must unite around the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people for a fully sovereign and independent state.