The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

TRANSLATED: Lebanese Forces Grudging Compliments Towards Hezbollah Border Operations

Eleven years ago, most analysts argued against me and some others here in Lebanon, saying that the FPM-Hezbollah “Understanding” was merely a skin deep document and would soon fall. They were quite wrong.

Two and a half years ago the journalist Thanassis Cambanis, and many others, argued against me and others here, saying that the FPM-Lebanese Forces rapprochement was also not a major shift and had few structural anchors… suggesting the process would also fall. They were quite wrong.

Now, translated today by our, we have one piece of the ongoing and significant LF-Hezbollah rapprochement process, one which is once again poorly understood in DC as well as among some people here:

On July 26, the Al-Akhbar daily carried the following report by Maysam Rizk: “For the first time ever, the Head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, did not organize a press conference to attack Hezbollah. Me’rab even remained silent and failed to release an official statement against the battle of the Ersal barren areas’ liberation. This gave the impression that there is an implicit approval of the operation. Despite all the “hostility,” Geagea admitted that “Hezbollah’s progress achieved a positive outcome for Lebanon although we do consider that this development is part of the Syrian war.”

“It is not easy for Samir Geagea or any other member of the Lebanese Forces to ever utter the words “Thank you Hezbollah.” However, these words have started to emerge, in a camouflaged manner, at the Me’rab lounges. And in order for the “Guardians” to seem in agreement with themselves, they had to couple their statement with the word “however!” During a chat with a group of journalists yesterday, the head of the Lebanese Forces, said something new concerning the Resistance as part of a discussion on the liberation of the Ersal barren areas from the terrorist groups. Although Geagea’s comment on the party’s role was double-edged, but compared to the Lebanese Forces’ position and history first and the statements of the Future movement second, the comment did constitute a noteworthy step.

“Yesterday, Geagea said that “the progress achieved by Hezbollah in the barren areas and it seizing control of a number of posts that were once occupied by An-Nusra front have achieved a positive outcome because this will protect and relieve the villages. This will also prevent the infiltration of the refugees’ camps and the border area.” For the first time, Geagea did not deny the gains achieved by Hezbollah. However, the difference consists of the man questioning the Resistance’s intentions. When it comes to the strategic part, this battle “is part of the Syrian war where the Party is engaged to protect the Syrian regime and it will have repercussions on the project of the state as a whole, meaning that the battle of the barren areas falls in the context of the Syrian war but Lebanon did benefit from its outcomes.”

“Clearly, the head of the Lebanese Forces was trying to reduce the value of the battle when he placed it in the regional context. However, his strategic differences with the Party did not prevent him from reiterating his position on refusing to “Satanize Hezbollah” in addition to him valuing “the sacrifices of the honest Party’s members” and saying: “May God protect everybody!” The Lebanese Forces could have attacked Hezbollah and accused it of violating the Lebanese sovereignty. Their MPs and ministers could have spoken out against “the Party’s confiscation of the decisions of war and peace.” Geagea himself could have organized a press conference like he usually does to attack the Resistance and to stress that the credits for protecting Lebanon go back to the Lebanese army alone.

“However, they did not do that. The Lebanese Forces rode the wave of the popular sympathy and they controlled themselves… Despite the fact that no official dialogue is taking place between the Lebanese Forces and the Party, the silence [of the Forces] can be interpreted in the political context as an attempt at launching a channel of communication with the Party and as a way to complete the rapprochement in the points of view that emerged at the council of ministers and the parliament such as the instance of the suggested power production plan and the mechanism used to call for proposals and bids. This also explains why Geagea has stopped, for a while now, attacking the Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, after each position he voiced out in an attempt at calming the disputes on the Lebanese arena.

“Perhaps, no one might believe that Geagea has indeed changed as he is known for his hostility towards the Resistance and for standing in the camp of its opponents. Actually, if his statement was to be placed in the right context, it will not indicate that the man has shied away from his “constants” but that he is rather dealing pragmatically with Hezbollah as the latter has become a well-acknowledged regional force. Thus, his opposition will be useless. In addition, Me’rab believes that the internal Lebanese reconciliation might yield fruits in its favor [i.e. in Me’rab’s favor] in the future.”


Written by nickbiddlenoe

July 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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