Hizbullah is not a problem - it is part of Lebanon's solution
The Daily Star, 7-3-2005.
Civil violence is a red line that should never be crossed - "If we cross it, the country will return to square one in the history of the Lebanese crisis." These are words of experience and wisdom, and they came from Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Nasrallah is the custodian of other commonsense concepts that found public expression on Sunday. For example, he called for a national dialogue to cement the things on which all parties concur. He was making clear that Hizbullah is Lebanese and that despite some differences in approach from some groups firmly entrenched in the opposition camp, there are, in fact, many points of agreement, including national unity and the parliamentary system.
He also said the "time was ripe for a safe withdrawal" of Syria's military presence in Lebanon and that because Syria had been successful in its policies in Lebanon, the withdrawal would not cause instability, as long as the withdrawal was conducted sensibly and carefully. This means, Nasrallah said that the best mechanism for such a withdrawal is the 1989 Taif Accord, which Syrian President Bashar Assad announced Saturday would be implemented.
By the same token, Nasrallah emphasized that a Syrian withdrawal does not give a green light for other powers to step into Syria's shoes: "Sovereignty and freedom means to be masters of our own destiny. We are ready to unite with the opposition in the fight for true freedom and independence." If sovereignty means anything at all, then it means independence from the United States and "Israel" as much as it means independence from Syria. Sovereignty means sovereignty - it cannot be interpreted one way for one party and another way for another party. This is why, Nasrallah maintains, Hizbullah cannot support UN Resolution 1559.
Nasrallah has a point, and Lebanese of all persuasions would be advised to listen more closely and afford the Hizbullah leader the respect he is due. There may be too many who are prepared to reject out of hand the words of moderation - in the very difficult circumstances in which Lebanon currently finds itself - coming out of the southern suburbs of Beirut. To dismiss Hizbullah or to entertain thoughts of confronting it, is to approach the red line that must be avoided at all costs.
Hizbullah must be accorded an important place in the process of national dialogue and rebuilding not so much because it is a powerful force that was capable of making the "Israeli" occupation of South Lebanon too costly for "Israel", but because it is the major sociopolitical organization in Lebanon. Quite simply, Hizbullah is not a problem: It is part of Lebanon's solution.
So when Nasrallah also said that before we demand anything more of Syria we need to know what we want for ourselves, he knew what he was saying. To press ahead recklessly into the unknown will only be an invitation to approach the red line.