Photo: Al Arabiya

By HICHAM HAMDAN, former Lebanese ambassador to Mexico

Many outside observers believe that Lebanon is a failed state and that is why it has declared its inability to pay off its international debts and has become a quagmire of problems and crisis for the rest of the world.

But Lebanon is not like that.

Because of its geopolitical setting, Lebanon is — and has for many decades been — subject to occupation by military forces linked to foreign nations that have placed it in an existing military axis against the will of its people, going to war with its neighbors and most of the countries of the world.

Lebanon is suffering the consequences of this imposed conflict, just like any other country in a state of war.

All that is needed for this small and once-peaceful nation to regain calm is for the international community to intervene to save it from the military junta that currently rules over all its public articulations.

Lebanon today is subject to the hegemony of Hezbollah, allied with Iran and the Syrian regime, led by Bashar al-Assad. Al-Assad has the direct support of numerous allies in the country, the most important of whom is President Michel Aoun, his son-in-law Gabran Bassil, the former Lebanese minister of foreign affairs, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement and the president of parliament, as well as various local parties.

This imposed military government raises the slogan of resistance against Israel, while at the same time waging wars in Arab countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Bahrain, along with local forces financed and supported by Iran. It raises slogans of religious ideology, using religion as a means to mobilize Shi’ite citizens.

Hezbollah publicly declares that it follows Wilayat al-Faqih in Iran (the nation’s highest spiritual leader and the real effective leader in that country), and that it is calling for an Islamic state, not only in Lebanon, but also in the world. Despite this, the president of the republic, who is entrusted with the constitution, sovereignty and coexistence in the country, aligns himself with it.

Hezbollah is fighting the Arabs, and its allies are calling on the Arab League and the Gulf states to help the regime.

Hezbollah raises the slogan to fight the United States because it is the “Great Satan,” and its allies claim that this is a mere resistance. And then, in the very same breath, Hezbollah demands that the United States withdraw economic sanctions and help Lebanon.

People across Lebanon have lost their savings and the government subsidizes main items such as fuel, flour, medicine and basic food  items foodstuffs from the national remaining reserves. Meanwhile,  Hezbollah and its allies allow the illegal transportation of these materials to Syria or to be sold to private merchants, both local and foreigners.

Hezbollah synically speaks out against corruption, while its money comes from foreign governments. It is financed by donors or partners who commit illegal transactions, import goods through illegal channels, evade tax payments, destroy national industries and participate in looting public budgets. Its allies have been in power leading Lebanon for more than 45 years.

Hezbollah has been accused of terrorism, which places Lebanon on the list of countries described as sponsors of terrorism, thus exposing it to international isolation. But the president of Lebanon goes to the United Nations to tell the world that he seeks to establish an academy for dialogue in Lebanon.

Hezbollah spatters Lebanon randomly with arsenal of weapons and war materials. Experts believe the presence of such materials at the port of Beirut caused the horrific bombing on Aug. 4, 2020. The Lebanese people demand justice, but the national judiciary is subject to a political authority allied with Hezbollah. More than 100 days have passed and the judiciary still cannot clarify why the explosive materials entered the port in contravention of the law. Why were these materials left there for six years?

The damages resulting from the port crime were inevitable and were to be expected, but the criminals didn’t care. The damages not only rendered great human suffering and economic losses, but also resulted in the destruction of a part of Lebanon’s precious treasures dating back thousands of year, destroying a vital part of our national memory.

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world. Valuable cultural institutions such as museums and historic buildings were also severely damaged. This constituted a crime against humanity, not only against the people in Lebanon, but against all people throughout the world.

Despite this, the actual authority insists on saying that the explosion was the mere consequence of corruption. Consequently, Lebanon will is left alone to pay for all these damages. The Lebanese president and the government have rejected calls to submit a request to the United Nations Security Council to process this crime before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and allow it to carry out the investigation.

Lebanon is not a failed state.

What Lebanon needs is for justice to prevail. The international community should enforce the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Lebanon, thus halting all use of Lebanon’s territory for regional conflicts.

Lebanon needs to be declared a neutral country.

Sovereign Lebanese citizens call upon friendly countries to demand that the Security Council meet and enforce the armistice agreement and accept our plea for neutrality.

Restoring Lebanon’s sovereignty will return it to being a prosperous state, a model of coexistence and a democratic country like it used to be.

It will also save Lebanon from additional scourges of wars and crimes against humanity. Lebanon will once again play its historic role in the service of peace and civilized progress for all people.

HICHAM HAMDAN served as Lebanese ambassador to Mexico from March 2013 to July 2016. Previously, he served his government’s ambassadorto Argentina and as a legal counsel to the Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was his government’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations in New York and Geneva from 1987 to 1999. o Mexico from  March 2013 till July 2016.
He is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Texas in Austin and founder of a forum in Beirut to seek justice for Lebanon and its people.

Dec. 16, 2020

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