For months now, many of my friends in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have been calling me to ask whether they should go to Lebanon to spend part of their summer holidays there, and I have been encouraging them to do so, arguing that those who can cause problems are already in government, and therefore, there is no reason to worry.
I will not go into details that the readers know, and just want to say that the Arabs who put their love for Lebanon ahead of their concerns were rewarded by being evacuated, or evicted, in a humiliating manner. While the airport was packed with them on their way out, there were some who cut off the road to the airport. In other words, some were not only not welcoming visitors, but also insulting them as they left.
A Saudi lady who is a family friend called me to ask whether she should go to Lebanon with her kids and her mother. I told her to go, adding that she was “under my protection”, but I did not appreciate how big this pledge would be. She then called me when Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE and Bahrain ordered their nationals to leave Lebanon immediately for fear of kidnaps. She seemed frightened, with the airport road blocked, and she did not know how to get to it, while her embassy’s phone lines were continuously engaged.
I called Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who is an old friend, and found him to be at the airport in Jeddah on his way back to Lebanon, after participating in the Islamic summit in Mecca. I told him about what had happened, and Mikati called the Saudi lady to reassure her, and sent her on the following day assistants who took her and her family to the airport. She then contacted my wife in the evening to let us know that she is back in Riyadh.
On behalf of myself and the Saudi lady, I thank His Excellency the Prime Minister publically, after having done so in a phone text. I also add here that there is a patriotic and moderate president in Lebanon, and a prime minister like him. And while there indeed are many ministers of a high caliber in both competence and good morals, there is no state in Lebanon.
To the Lebanese, I say: Enjoy the Syrian regime and the friendship of Iran. It seems that, for you, the support of the ayatollahs is more important than solidarity with the Syrian people, and that Iranian political fickleness, belligerence and Persian greed are more important than a Saudi lady and her daughter, a Kuwaiti family or Qatari friends (my Qatari friends ended up spending their holidays in the Maldives, London and Paris.)
There used to be many political parties, dynasties and known sects in Lebanon, but we are now in a situation where one party, i.e. Hezbollah, is in control of the government of the country. While this party is undeniably popular among the Shiite community, and has broader credibility as a resistance faction fighting Israel, it chose to challenge the other Lebanese on the infamous day of May 7, using its weapons in Beirut, instead of against Israel in the south.
Despite this, I continued to consider Hezbollah an essential constituent part of Lebanon that has the right to be in power or in the opposition. Then there was the recent wave of kidnappings and violence, with the Arab tourists evacuating Lebanon. In the end, the country fell into the hands of militants from known clans who are gambling with the country’s future to defend their own interests, which are largely illegal.
Some people told me that it is impossible for large clans such as the Miqdad, Zuaiter or Hamiyeh clans to defy Hezbollah and that therefore, the latter is responsible for the armed chaos that reflects its support for the Syrian regime, and its alliance with Iran.
However, I heard from others that Hezbollah has lost control of these armed elements, which support the resistance, because this has given them an honorable guise through which it can continue to trade in contraband, including narcotics and so forth. So what recently happened was that the financial interests of these armed clans have been threatened. This prompted them to rise up to defend them through their kidnapped member or more, sometimes with infinite gall.
Indeed, kidnapping the Syrian workers who are so poor that they have to work in Dahiyeh, and then accusing them of being members of the Free Syrian Army is unfair and shameless, as the accusation is simply impossible.
Will Lebanon once again become a state, or will it be controlled by armed gangs, to provide a pretext for another Israeli invasion? I cannot predict the future, but I know that crime in Lebanon has reached a new low. To be sure, it never happened before that Arab visitors or the guests inside our homes, were threatened,. In the end, I cannot understand the policy of parties that assault their Lebanese compatriots and Arabs, with no one to stop them.
(This article was first published in Al-Hayat on August 19, 2012)