x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Hizbollah exists to serve Iran, not Lebanon

By sending fighters to Syria, Hizbollah has made matters worse for the Lebanese, an Arab columnist says. Today's other topics: The end of Morsi and a Palestinian hunger striker.

Hizbollah's overt combat role in Syria exposes its real agenda, which is serving Iran's interests

Tuesday's criminal explosion in a southern suburb of Beirut calls for an urgent national awakening by all political parties in Lebanon, if they are to save the country from the repercussions of the disastrous situation in Syria, columnist Randa Takieddine warned in her article yesterday in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat. She was writing before the collapse of the March 8 coalition.

"Hizbollah's persistence in taking part in the continuing fight in Syria is a grave mistake. It brings nothing but calamity to Lebanon and further exacerbates the growing Sunni-Shia tension," she said.

Foreign diplomats in Lebanon say that no one wants civil strife there but actions on the ground show a different reality.

Hostilities have reached a point where the slightest spark could ignite a disaster. And there has been a serious institutional vacuum since the resignation of the government of Najib Miqati, who was prime minister until last March, and the failure of the prime minister-designate, Tammam Salam, to form a new government.

Meanwhile, parliamentary elections have been postponed and, in an unprecedented political manoeuvre, the present parliament voted to extend its term for another 17 months.

The narrowness of the ambitions of Lebanon's outdated political community is the main obstacle to the formation of a new cabinet, she wrote.

"This approach to managing the country's affairs while the region from Syria to Egypt and Iraq is inflamed, is rejected and must end," she observed.

Hizbollah sought to create this political black hole by driving Mr Miqati's government to the brink of collapse.

The state of political impairment allows the Iran-backed party to make whatever decisions it sees fit without having to worry about accountability or dissent. Slowly but surely Hizbollah and its allies are strengthening their control over almost every aspect of Lebanese politics and economy, she wrote.

"Lebanon is in danger because of the Syrian war and Hizbollah's participation in the fight there, alongside the Syrian regime.

The growing sectarian tensions and the deteriorating economic situation due to instability must prompt the powers that be to find a solution to the governmental vacuum" in Lebanon, the writer suggested.

The Lebanese people have grown weary of deadbeat politicians who failed in building a pluralistic and effective country with a real democracy.

Hizbollah's role in Syria has finally exposed its real agenda. It can no longer be seen as a resistance force fighting against Israel. Its allegiance is mainly to Iran and it fights to uphold Tehran's interests, in Syria and in the region, she concluded.



Only a miracle could bring Morsi back

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt know that Mohammed Morsi will not return to the presidency. But they continue to protest and demand his reinstatement, Saudi columnist Abdulrahman Al Rashed observed in the London-based Asharq Al Awsat.

This is their way to reaffirm their right to the presidency and to present themselves as victims of political profiteering, he wrote. In this way the Brotherhood will make their opponents pay a hefty price for their victory.

The Brotherhood has just three options: give in and participate in the next elections, escalate the tensions and disable the political process through protests or, more dangerously, go into hiding and resort to violence.

"Brotherhood leaders know that the third option is the worst, as it would unite their opponents and would justify an army clampdown. That would jeopardise the extensive social network they built during the long truce they enjoyed during Hosni Mubarak's era," he added.

And the public would shun the Brotherhood if it resorted to violence. And the new rulers possess a gigantic media apparatus to mobilise public opinion.

The powerful Islamist group missed its chance to preserve its political gains. The situation got too complicated; there is a new president and a transitional government supported and defended by the army and the public. Only a miracle would bring Morsi back to power now.

Hunger striker starves in Israeli shackles

Abdullah Al Barghouthi, one of 14 Jordanian and Palestinian prisoners on a hunger strike, is near death in an Israeli hospital in Afula, yet remains shackled to his bed frame, columnist Amjad Arar reported yesterday in the Sharjah-based newspaper Al Khaleej. He cited the prisoner's wife.

As Arab observers and journalists are busy assessing the tumultuous events unfolding in Egypt, Mr Al Barghouthi and his fellow strikers are fighting Israeli oppression with their only weapon, their empty stomachs, the writer said.

"The case of the prisoner Abdullah Al Barghouthi sums up the torment that all prisoners are going through [in Israel], especially those on long-term hunger strike. His condition became critical after the blood flow to his brain started decreasing due to vascular atrophy, leaving him comatose for more than 17 hours a day. Also part of his liver has failed and his pulse is down to 40 beats a minute."

Perhaps Mr Al Barghouthi's Israeli jailers, who still think it judicious to handcuff him to his bed, did not take a look at the letter he had sent through his lawyer, which said:

"As God is my witness, even if I start losing all my organs, one after the other, I will never renounce what I have started."


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk