By General Monzer Al Ayoubi

Translation: Dr. Pierre A. Sarkis

What the failed Lebanese scene did not need, was the local decision to retaliate, after his convoy was targeted on the way to Baghdad International Airport by a US missile air strike, exactly a year ago to the day, on January 3, 2020. The retaliation came in the form of erecting pictures of assassinated General Kassem Suleymani, the leader of the Al Qods Brigade in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and his friend Abou Mahdi Al Mohandes, Vice President of the Iraqi Popular Assembly, in the squares of the Southern suburbs of Beirut, and especially on the main road leading to Beirut International Airport. This was in addition to an official ceremony organized by the Municipality of the city of Al Ghobeiri, a suburb of Beirut, during which a statue of General Suleymani was unveiled, as well as, the naming of a major street in that area after him. This area is considered to be the human stock, and the main stronghold of Lebanese Party, Hizbollah (The Party of God) where the majority of its field operational capabilities and its health and social institutions are located.

In digression, and without delving into General Suleymani’s known and well advertised role in his field support of the Islamic Resistance and Hizbollah, for their efforts to liberate Southern Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000, and their resilience and steadfastness during the Israeli war launched on Lebanon in 2006. Their victory came through a variable that they imposed with blood and tears, in regard to the reinforcement of the mutual submission strategy of terror and deterrence equilibrium with the enemy, Israel. What happened in the first year commemoration of his death surpassed its goals of honoring him for his loyalty, and became an unlaudable slippage into a media propaganda which aroused a lot of dust, even sand storm reactions targeting Hizbollah for its behavior, manners and performance. Even all social media outlets shared and exchanged accusations and heinous expressions in an uninterrupted, continuous manner, along with very high ceiling propaganda campaigns in support of this rival party, or that ally from the close knit circles. In addition, all local and regional media, and especially the international audio-visual and printed media, buzzed about what transpired, in an obvious expected exploitation of the situation, rightfully or not, depending on which side they supported. This response was a pure interpretation of the horizontal political and ideological division which has hampered the core structure of Lebanese society, with its blades sinking deeper and deeper into the body of the totally exhausted nation.

From another perspective, it was the opinion of many local and international analysts, loyalists or rivals, that the situation was almost an indirect and unsuccessful show, in style and time, on the Lebanese watch clock, especially with the excessive force that Hizbollah owns in facing the threats of stalkers and enemies, the comforting support of allies, and the unnecessary mobilization of its own religiously and ideologically satisfied masses. What happened incited many politicians and speculators belonging to this, or that religious group, to ask or wonder whether the moment for a regional settlement was imminent on the horizons of the deep state- where government agencies or the military is believed to be involved in the manipulation or control of government policy- and the US administration, in a timely reading for a reverse strategy by the democrats, and subsequently, in the choices listed on the agenda of the Democratic Party’s reborn Joe Biden..

In a connected context, the presumptions on the international scene concluded that the incentives for what happened with the reactions to General Suleymani’s assassination, despite its symbolism, were a coded message that the regional settlement which is going to surely create a new regional order, does not subject Iran to what it rejects, but rather arrange its advanced and influential alignment among the regional quartet of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, as a result of what it reaped in benefits, gains or losses, as a result of the withdrawal by the Trump Administration from the Nuclear Agreement between Iran and the 5+1 countries. Added to that was Iran’s painful resilience against cruel US sanctions levied against it, and against its extended military armatures, which control some extremely vital regional aspects, one of which being the deterring military capabilities of Hizbollah, which is very convenient for Iran, considering the Party’s geographical positioning in the Southern Lebanese borders region, across a direct line of confrontation with the Israeli enemy.

On the Lebanese domestic front, and after a long period of complete obstruction and total breakdown which we have witnessed, it seems that the interpretation of events, whether through the Arabic language, or the Lebanese dialect, will present itself in the presumed parallel course of action, between the demarcation of the maritime boundaries- taking into consideration the third article of the Armistice Treaty of 1949, between Lebanon and Israel- and the arrangement of the advanced position of the Shiites in the Lebanese political structure. This is related to the return of Hizbollah, with its weapons and masses, to the nation, as well as, the assimilation of its qualitative missile systems and its operating crews as an added value, with the Lebanese Armed Forces. This could be attained through the endorsement of a defense strategy which could succeed based on earlier experience, when all militias and paramilitary groups of the different political parties were incorporated in the army, after the signing of the Taif Accord in 1989, which effectively ended the 1975-1990 Lebanese war.

But what is different from the Regional Front and is non-sustainable to continue, regarding the attempts to establish the Third Lebanese Republic based on the French model, is the impossibility of yielding an advanced position for any religious group ahead of another in the social structure, regardless of its capabilities, resources and ideology. It is vital for all parties to sit at a round table, rather than a rectangular one, and reach a charter settlement based on equality. If the time has come for Hizbollah to return to its natural habitat domestically, rather than its involvement in regional conflicts, it is important to avoid the failed assumption of a coming Shiite Age of Influence, as had been the case in Lebanon with other religious groups and confessions, whose influence had rotated and alternated since independence in 1943.

Despite the overwhelming scent of gunpowder, enriched uranium and detonated ammonium nitrate, to go along with mutual military threats, a new salvage procedure or formula is needed to solidify the stable foundation of the road to the Lebanese bicentennial, based on the civilizing mission of the small nation with its religious, intellectual and social variety. This formula, rich in its policies and positive neutral relations, should express balanced and harmonious interactions with Arab brothers, Persians and Turks, as well as, a symmetrical relationship between East and West.

Finally, hope is a seed of life, and despair, not being a habit, lasts for one hour. American astronomer Robert Leighton stated that “the flower which pursues the sun will do the same even on a very cloudy day”.