Political Observation - US Mediation in Demarcating Lebanon-"Israel" Borders

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Political Observation - US Mediation in Demarcating Lebanon-"Israel" Borders

In a special briefing via telephone posted on the US Department of State’s website on 8 September 2020, Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affair, David Schenker said: “I certainly haven’t said that we have reached an agreement on the maritime and land border framework yet. I think we’re getting closer... but I’m not going to get into the details on what’s holding it up, but I hope to be able to come over to Lebanon and then sign this agreement in the coming weeks.”

In fact, David Schenker’s briefing represents the cornerstone of America’s endeavour to restructure the Lebanese regime and downsize the weightiness of Hezbollah in the government amidst the tremendous popular and foreign pressures exerted on Hezbollah and its partners following the Beirut port explosion. The border dispute with the usurping entity has been Hezbollah’s pretext for keeping its weapons, and ending this struggle would strip it of the justifications that have been giving it the ability to control sensitive components of the Lebanese state and society which has been preventing Lebanon from joining the camp of normalisation and alliance with "Israel".

If America were to succeed in settling the “struggle”, which is likely even though it may take some time, she would not only pave the way for opening channels of communication between Lebanon and the criminal entity and removing the obstacles in the face of normalisation, but also put the issue of the northern front that has been exasperating "Israel" to bed, sparing it from being perpetually targeted, especially as Hezbollah’s project does not exceed recovering the occupied Lebanese lands and is set to end once the “struggle” is settled. 

In light of the international pressures that Macron has assumed exerting on Lebanon on behalf of the US, and which have placed the political forces supporting Hezbollah on high alert as they feared the worst for their future, the president of the People’s Movement, Najah Wakim, told al-Mayadeen channel that “Macron was sent to Lebanon by the Americans and he deliberately humiliated the ruling class…the insults Macron directed at those who claim to be sovereign are shameful.” Former Lebanese minister and leader of the Arab Unification Party, Wiam Wahhab, told al-Jadid TV on Friday 4 September 2020 that “Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, has slammed the official Lebanese leaders for their corruption and lack of reforms, and he rebuked the civil society forces for their failure in mobilising the masses in the streets properly.”

These accusations are in fact conformant to the policy of change via the masses that America has been pursuing in the Arab Spring revolutions, including the change in Lebanon; David Schenker made no secret of this when he reiterated that change should begin from inside.

Wahhab confirmed that the leaders of the dynamism had been dealing with foreign embassies and seeking financial and political backing. He also accused the political forces in Lebanon of cowardice and acquiescence to French president Macron who had established an agreement with the US on the Lebanese agenda; this was corroborated by Assistant Secretary David Schenker who was quoted by Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat on 2 September as saying: “We are in constant contact with the French on Lebanon. The US and France are very much interested in Lebanon… This is the second visit for French President Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon, and US Deputy Secretary of State David Hale was there. I myself spent a long time with Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo before heading to Beirut. He is very interested in Lebanon focusing on several developments because Lebanon is a very old partner and friend of the US.” It was also deduced from Schenker’s briefing that the French and the Americans were considering imposing sanctions on individuals dealing with Hezbollah.

The scathing attack of Najah Wakim and Wiam Wahhab on the Lebanese president, Gen. Aoun, and on parliament speaker Nabih Berri, in addition to Wahhab declaring that he sided with the masses and their calls for fighting corruption and rejecting the sectarian system, reveal the omens of a split in the ranks of 8 March Movement; they also reveal the frailty of the so-called resistance in the face of the brokers of the American project and Lebanon’s neutrality. In an interview with Lebanese newspaper al-Nahar, David Schenker expressed the US standpoint towards Hezbollah and Iran and corroborated Washington’s determination to target them and downsize them by saying that Hezbollah was not inclined towards reform and that it also benefited from the corruption. He said Hezbollah was more interested in defending Iran and it relied on corruption by refusing to pay the levies and customs duties due to the harbour and by destroying the banking system. He stressed that the government should implement the reforms since the government of Diab failed to carry out any reforms, perhaps due to the objections of influential political figures and that all this had to change.

All the aforementioned confirms what we had concluded regarding the Lebanese political situation before and after the explosion. It also confirms the link between what is occurring in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran and the Middle East Initiative in terms of the security arrangements, political alliances, doctrinal and societal formulae, and the functional roles of the regimes and their surrogates in line with the regional solution for the issue of Palestine, and the long-term interests of the US, in addition to the investments of president Trump and Netanyahu in the outcomes of the initiative. This narrative is deduced from the statement of David Schenker who reiterated America’s commitment to working with the international support group and all other parties to help Lebanon and called on all future governments in Lebanon to embrace neutrality. What is meant by neutrality is isolating Iran and preventing her from influencing events in the region through her surrogates and moving Lebanon to the camp of normalisation and alliance; this is why David Schenker linked the pressure on Iran to the neutrality of Lebanon by admitting that America could not persuade Russia and China to join the extended military blockade on Iran, but she was working on the issue of Lebanon’s neutrality. America also slammed Europe’s standpoint vis-à-vis the sanctions on Iran with harsher words through the statement of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which he said Europe was “defending the Mullahs of Iran”.

Hence, the aim of the US is to neutralise Lebanon by restructuring the regime as a first step towards harmonising her political standpoint with the outputs of the regional solution; the Maronite church responded to this call and clashed with Hezbollah and its partners after the explosion. Maronite Patriarch Moran Mor Bechara Boutros al-Rahi called for Lebanon’s neutrality and urged the authorities to “consider the disaster of Beirut’s harbour as wake-up call, and set about uncovering all the caches and arsenals of weapons and explosives spread illegitimately in residential areas of various cities, towns and villages…. The presence of such caches represents a serious and dangerous threat to the lives of the citizens which are not the property of any individual, faction, party or organisation.” Hezbollah’s media outlet responded by accusing the Maronite Patriarch of “propagating peace with the enemy and siding with the "Israeli" propaganda against the resistance.” And in the midst of this political dynamism, we observe a harmony between the French and American standpoints on the one hand, and a harmony between the standpoint of the two states and the demands of the Lebanese and Iraqi masses, and the forces loyal to the US in Lebanon and Iraq on the other hand. This confirms that the incitement of the masses was directed and exploited rather than spontaneous and innocent.

As for the stance of Hezbollah, Gen. Aoun and the Amal Movement, it has weakened further and the policy of playing for time that they have been practising through the government of Diab is no longer effective against the firm stance of the US regarding change. This is why the forming of the new government headed by Mustafa Adib took only two weeks, unlike what is customary in Lebanon when it comes to forming a government.

Hezbollah is not expected to hamper the reforms amid the tremendous pressure and the persistence of the US expressed by Schenker who reiterated that “We – as a matter of policy, we are more focused on principles than on personalities” and threatened sanctions on Lebanese officials should they fail to implement the reforms.

Hezbollah’s impotent stance was reflected in its reluctance to accuse "Israel" of plotting the explosion lest the accusation should backfire and its opponents should deem its threats as the cause of "Israeli" aggression against Lebanon, and thus its weapons should be confiscated.

Therefore, the Kafir America and West continue to be the power brokers and in control of the Ummah’s fate, not just in Lebanon but in most of the Muslims’ countries. This would not have happened had the influential forces used their weightiness and devoted their power to liberate their Ummah from the shackles of her enemies, instead of contributing to helping America and the West in being ghoulish towards the Ummah and in preventing her from taking control of her own affairs.

23 Muharram 1442h
11 September 2020