Caught by the Stockholm Syndrome

Posted in Broader Middle East | 06-Sep-06 | Author: Manuela Paraipan

Manuela Paraipan is WSN Correspondent "Broader Middle East".

The Lebanese post-conflict scene has revealed a disturbing fact: It is not only the southern Lebanese that suffer from Stockholm syndrome, but also the political leadership does. If this weren’t so it would otherwise would be problematic (to say the least) to explain why Hezbollah is still very much in power.

Hassan Nasrallah has been widely reported as the new hero of the Arab and Muslim world. Hezbollah declared its victory and, as expected, said that it will not disarm. What did Hezbollah win? Did it get anything new that it did not have before? Does Israel now have less?

However, Hezbollah did manage to provoke a senseless war resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 Lebanese as well as the widespread destruction of villages. It also successfully managed to undermine Lebanese sovereignty and prove once again that its objectives do not coincide with those of the country they reside in. This alone can constitute a suitable reason for the Lebanese political leadership to rethink its general frame of policies and find a way of banning the extremist parties.

This being the situation, it is ludicrous to claim that Hezbollah won. On the contrary: Hezbollah lost its monopolistic control over southern Lebanon which in itself is a tremendous accomplishment followed by the fact that although vulnerable, the Lebanese government did not collapse and the country did not fall into the civil war trap once again.

Moreover, Lebanese soldiers have returned to a region from which the army has been virtually absent for the last 40 years. This is a first step in the right direction, but not enough.

The UN is close to organizing a force of 15,000 troops. However, doubts remain as to how quickly the first units could be deployed and what their role would be. What the UN troops need but do not have is a strong mandate, which means that the UN troops will do only what the Lebanese government will permit them to do. So far, the Lebanese government has been incapable and unwilling to fulfill UN Resolution 1559. UN Resolution 1701 faces a similar fate.

Fuad Siniora’s soft approach of disarming Hezbollah only prolongs the instability of the country and demonstrates a failure to accept responsibility.

The shortcomings of this conflict are the following:

  • The culpability of Syria and Iran in supplying Hezbollah logistically and with weapons has not been addressed by the UN resolution

  • By refusing to hold Hezbollah accountable for its actions and thus ask it to lay down its weapons immediately, Lebanon fails to be seen as an independent and sovereign nation

  • Since Israel has not completely destroyed Hezbollah, it bears the fatality of facing it again in the near future

  • the issue of the Shebaa Farms, the fate of SLA (South Lebanese Army) soldiers who are in Israel, Hezbollah’s weapons, possible Israel/Lebanon ties and the omnipresent Palestinian cause remained largely untouched and unsolved

Exclusive WSN-Interviews with Samy Gemayel and Dr.Joseph Hitti will follow.