Friday, July 28, 2017

They did everything they could to keep Daech and Nosra in Lebanon

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They did everything they could to keep Daech and Nosra in Lebanon. They ran smear campaigns against the Lebanese army to stop it from fighting terrorists, then screamed in horror when the Arsal battle started. Who are they and what do they want?

When the army dismantled Nosra sleeping cells in refugee camps near Arsal, they accused it of torture and murder, and demanded an international investigation, hoping to stop the army’s antiterrorist effort.

When the overwhelming majority of the Lebanese stood by their army, they accused them of being racists and launched a media campaign portraying them as neo-nazis out to kill Syrian refugees. There even was a petition signed by pseudo-intellectuals to stop Lebanon from becoming a fascist state...

All this had one objective: protect Daech and Nosra. Obviously, the two terrorist organizations were never mentioned during the smear campaigns. They were only referred to as "defenseless refuges".

When the Arsal battle started, they changed their tune. Because the army was protecting the Syrian refugee camps and stopping terrorists from using civilians as human shields, they no longer spoke of refugees, as if the latter magically disappeared.

No more soldiers torturing refugees, no more human rights talk, their entire focus shifted to Hezbollah fighting Nosra.

Suddenly, they became zealous supporters of the army and claimed that Hezbollah’s involvement in the battle was an insult to the military institution. They swore they only had the army’s best interest at heart.

You have to admire their astonishing ability to switch from one lie to another as if it was the most natural thing to do!

But Nosra was defeated and will soon be removed from Lebanon, while the army is getting ready to crush Daech if they don’t follow Nosra’s lead and leave the country.

If Deach decides to stay and fight, forcing the army to remove it by force, don’t be surprised if the anti-army campaign starts again, and the demand for an international investigation into torture claims takes center stage.

Now back to the big questions: who are these people, and why do they want to keep Daech and Nosra in Lebanon?

The fist question has an easy answer: if you have some free time on your hands, go on social media and you’ll see everyone that took part in this campaign. These people are far from being shy and have an awkward tendency to swagger online.

Clearly, not every person that took part in the smear campaigns is ill-intentioned. Many people are easily fooled and swallow every lie thrown their way. Especially if these lies tickle their rebellious hormones or fit their ideology. These are "useful idiots”, as Lenin used to call them.

Others joined them out of genuine care for Syrian refugees and out of spite for Hezbollah. Their intentions are good but their naivety and their insistence on believing they’re doing the right thing are, at best, counterproductive.

Not to mention the opportunists always scouting the web in search of a trend they can surf on and increase their popularity.

As for politicians, their anti-Hezbollah rhetoric is only for public consumption. They agree on the removal of Daech and Nosra and knew beforehand how the battle will be handled. But they had to keep their eye on the elections to come. A large number of their supporters despise Hezbollah so they appeased them with a couple of outraged statements.

The answer to the second question needs a little background explanation. Jabhat al-Nosra (al Qaeda in Syria) is an ally of Israel. Its fighters roam free in the occupied Golan heights and its wounded are treated in Israeli hospitals.

Nosra and, to a lesser extent, Daech’s presence in Lebanon is an important card in the hands of Israel. They could be used as a powerful destabilizing force if the Jewish state decides to launch a war against Lebanon, as its government and generals have been threatening to do for quite some time.

Luckily, the smear campaigns failed to reach their objective. Soon, Lebanon will be free from Daech and Nosra and the Lebanese army will take control of the areas liberated by its soldiers and by Hezbollah fighters.

But, sadly, they succeeded in further dividing the Lebanese – as if we were not divided enough – and in creating a climate of suspicion between Lebanese and Syrians.

Despite a few reprehensible incidents, the overwhelming majority of Lebanese have welcomed their Syrian neighbors in need with open arms. If the number of refugees has become unsustainable for Lebanon (close to 2 million refugees for 4.3 million Lebanese), their return home is now on the agenda.

Until then, Lebanese and Syrians need to keep living together as harmoniously as possible.

As for the deep division between the Lebanese, it will be a tough one to fix. It seems we were born to disagree with one another and live to bicker about anything and everything.

True tolerance, not the fake slogan some activists use to allow themselves to insult anyone that disagrees with them, can only be achieved through a long and patient educational process.

And this, as the French say, ce n’est pas demain la veille.

© Claude El Khal, 2017