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HEGGY Hamas and Hizbu’Allah: Sub-Contractors!
by Tarek Heggy [author] 9/30/06

In condemning the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and the targeting of civilians we should not lose sight of the fact that Hizbu’Allah set the present disastrous chain of events into motion and that it did so at the behest and for the account of third parties. We must not allow our outrage at the rising death toll among Lebanon's civilian population and the destruction of its infrastructure to blind us to the reality of the situation which can be summed up as follows:

Tarek Heggy- Columnist

Tarek Heggy is both a leading liberal political thinker in the Arab world and International Petroleum Strategist. His work advances the causes of modernity, democracy, tolerance, and women’s rights in the Middle East – advocating them as universal values essential to the region’s progress. In addition to being amongst the members of the first echelon of the contemporary Arab liberal thinkers, Tarek Heggy is a well-known international speaker/lecturer. During the past ten years, Tarek Heggy was invited to lecture at a wide number of world class universities including the King’s College of London University, Oxford, Princeton, Columbia, Maryland, California Berkeley and University of Colorado – Boulder. Heggy's website is located at http://www.heggy.org [go to Heggy index]

1-         The existence in any country of an armed political party that is not subject to the supervision and control of the central state authority is a prescription for chaos. It is also an anachronism that belongs to a bygone age before the emergence of the modern nation-state as the pillar of world order.
2-         In stating that his government would never have condoned what Hizbu’Allah did on Wednesday, July 12, 2006, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was expressing the views of the vast majority of his war-weary countrymen. 
3-         With the exception of southern Lebanon's Shiites, the overwhelming majority of Christians, all of the Druzes and a vast majority of Sunni Muslims oppose the operation carried out by Hizbu’Allah on July 12.
4-         The above three points beg the question of what prompted Hizbu’Allah to throw down the gauntlet: did it act on its own initiative or for the account of an external party?
5-         Even if Hizbu’Allah acted on its own initiative, out of genuine conviction, the fact that it did so unilaterally and without the support of the vast majority of the Lebanese people means either that it does not believe in democracy or that it has not yet assimilated the concept of the modern nation-state but remains locked in an antiquated mindset.
6-         If, on the other hand, it acted for the account of an external party, then its action falls into an area this article will not even attempt to explore.
7-         The term "prisoners of war" is not accurate, because the people Hizbu’Allah is talking about were duly tried in a court of law and sentenced to prison terms. Therefore they are ordinary prisoners, not prisoners of war.
8-         If politics is the art of the possible, it follows that its practitioners must act within the parameters of sound reasoning. No reasonable person can accept the proposition that the release of three prisoners is worth the devastation wreaked on Lebanon by Hizbu’Allah's action.
9-         As to those who disagree with this argument and invoke pride to justify what Hizbu’Allah did on July 12, I would ask them to refer to the historical account of the peace treaty of Al-Hadibeya where reason prevailed over all other considerations. Moreover, making the release of three prisoners an issue of pride is ludicrous. Mr. Nassru’Allah, who pledged to secure the release of the longest-serving Lebanese prisoner, Samir Quntar, was probably more concerned with his own pride than with that of Lebanon.
10-     Hizbu’Allah fighters embrace martyrdom and equate courage with a readiness, not to say a desire, to die in battle. This attitude stems from a mentality that has been bypassed by civilization and the march of human progress. We need to teach our young to venerate life, not death, to instill in them a sense of the value of life and of their own self-worth in the here and now rather than in the great beyond.

Many reasonable people in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait raised their voices not only to condemn the mass killing of innocent civilians in Lebanon and the crippling destruction of its infrastructure but also to criticize the rash adventurism that opened the gates of Hell for no other reason than to relieve the international pressure on certain regional parties.

When I heard some of the Palestinians and Lebanese who appeared on television asking "Where are the Arabs? Where is their support?" I could only shake my head in wonder. Why should a party that unilaterally embarked on a rash adventure, in defiance of all reason and logic, expect others, whom it did not bother to consult, to help it? It seems that in the eyes of some Palestinians and Lebanese, Arab societies are like fire fighters who must comply when summoned to put out the flames. This attitude is a throwback to the tribal mentality that prevailed some two thousand years ago when a tribe would fight for one of its members even if he was the one who recklessly provoked the battle in the first place. 

Since Hizbu’Allah sparked the current crisis on Wednesday July 12, I have been in daily contact with my many Lebanese friends who represent all the country's sects, with the exception of the Shiite.  Over a hundred told me it was shameful for the world, the United Nations and the Arab League to accept a situation in Lebanon that the Lebanese themselves did not accept, namely, the existence of a state within the state. Some said it was Lebanon's curse to experience the existence of a state within the state more than once in its recent history.  The first time was in the nineteen seventies, when the Palestinians, together with their leaders and armed fighters, lived [and ran amok] in Lebanon, above the state and the law. This ultimately sparked off a civil war that dragged on for years and brought the country to its knees. The war ended thanks to the efforts of one man, Rafik Hariri, who also engineered Lebanon's economic and social revival. The second time was when the military and intelligence officers of another country operated as a separate state within the Lebanese state, above its central government and its laws, for nearly a quarter of a century. Now it is Hizbu’Allah that has established itself as an autonomous state within the state, above the central government, Parliament and the law.

Arab brotherhood cannot possibly mean that countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait should allow themselves to be dragged into a conflict that erupted as a reaction, albeit an excessively violent one, to an action that was reckless in the extreme and, moreover, one that was undertaken without their knowledge or approval. What it means, rather, is that we should not condone the uncivilized, unconstitutional and unlawful situation in Lebanon that allows an entity other than the state to declare war without the knowledge of the Lebanese Parliament, cabinet or army who are then required, together with the civilian population, to suffer the consequences of a reckless adventure launched by a party with no constitutional capacity.

Only a person blinkered by a limited cultural formation sees events in a single dimension. In looking at the events that have been unfolding in Lebanon since July 12, 2006, he cannot see beyond the horror of targeting civilians and the criminal destruction of Lebanon's roads, bridges and power plants. But a person with a broad scientific and cultural formation sees more than one dimension in these events: the reckless mentality that acted in violation of all the rules of civilized behaviour in the world of constitutions, laws, usage and logic on the one hand, and the disproportionate response that was directed against targets, whether civilians or infrastructure, that were not to blame, on the other. We should not allow emotions to cloud our judgment.

This article aims to instill rationality and the logic of the age into Arab minds, whose failure to see the presence of an autonomous state within the Lebanese state as an aberration is symptomatic of an obsolete mind-set that has not matured enough [and will possibly never mature enough] to understand the mechanics of the modern world order based on the sovereign nation-state.

Lebanon's greatest loss is not represented in the damage done to its civilian infrastructure or the carnage inflicted on its civilian population, though that is undeniably huge, but in the fact that it remains hostage to an anachronistic phenomenon harking back to pre-modern times. Over the last four decades, Lebanon has experienced, on three consecutive occasions, the existence of a state within the state: first there was the state of Yasser Arafat, then the state of the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus and finally the state of Hizbu’Allah. This phenomenon runs counter to the logic of the age in general and the logic of the "Lebanese formula" in particular.

Any objective analyst must commend the Arab country that dared go against the tribal custom of supporting the members of the tribe even when they commit the most heinous of crimes. I am talking of Saudi Arabia which, not content with being the first Arab country to condemn the reckless adventurism of Hizbu’Allah [leading other rational voices to follow suit], went on to state in no uncertain terms that in its view Hizbu’Allah and Hamas are responsible for what befell Gaza and Lebanon. In their quest for personal glory, they acted rashly and without regard to the consequences.

Finally, I say to those who thought when this crisis began that Hizbu’Allah could achieve its goals, that they need only remember the lessons of history to realize how far off the mark they were. Certain images come to mind here. For example, the late president Gamal Abdel Nasser's words to reporters at a press conference just days before Israel destroyed the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan: "Egypt may be forced to sink the American Sixth Fleet if the US enters the war that will be fought between Egypt and Israel"(!!)  Or Sadam Hussein's warning that American forces would commit suicide at the gates of Baghdad if the United States attacked Iraq"(!!) The most recent images are of Hassan Nassru’Allah, who a few weeks ago derisively invited the American forces to enter Lebanon where they would be annihilated, and on July 12 vowed to "destroy Haifa … and what is beyond Haifa … and what is beyond what is beyond Haifa."(!!)

The writer of these lines, who has published twenty books in Arabic and English [half about the contemporary Arab mentality] is filled with grief at the heavy price Arab societies have paid and continue to pay [from Gamal Abdel Nasser to Yasser Arafat to Saddam Hussein to Hassan Nassru’Allah] for patterns of thinking that can only be described as delusional, making for a distorted world view divorced from logic, objectivity and the realities of the age. All I can do is continue to call on the Arab mind to wake up and join the march of history and to stop being seduced by empty slogans like "pride". They have only to look at our recent history to realize that it is filled with thousands of examples proving that those who spoke in the name of "Arab price and dignity" reaped only the bitter fruit of defeat and squandered God's bounty, resources He bestowed on us to improve the living conditions of our societies not to finance reckless adventures. CRO

copyright 2006 Tarek Heggy





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