Yesterday evening, while throngs and throngs of tens of thousands of youths (average age 17, and a true pan-Lebanese mix, with the girls dressed in anything from ultrashort miniskirts to fully veiled and covered head-to-toe) were jampacking the newly opened streets and squares of downtown to celebrate Lebanon’s newfound unity and gape at Haifa Wehbe singing on the big stage, trouble was brewing again on the streets of Tariq al-Jdeide and Corniche al-Mazraa. Supporters of Hizbullah, shooting away at the common celebratory gunfire thing to mark Nasrallah’s speech, were insulted by some Mustaqbal supporters and off we went again, starting with sticks and stones and ending with an RPG… Same thing happened in the Bekaa valley. Future TV, demonstrating again why exactly they were the only station to be shut down by the opposition forces last week, spoke of ‘Hizbullah attacking civilians’ and ‘Hizbullah aggression‘, contrary to the rest of the press, which offered the foregoing less biased account. The shutting down of Future TV and newspaper offices was presented in the western press as an attack on press freedom and ‘independent journalism’ – in fact, the opposition didn’t attack any ‘independent media’, and not even the propaganda outlets of other parties than Mustaqbal. It’s just that Future media are utterly biased and devious and involved in inciting sectarian hatred to an extreme degree even to Lebanese standards, where unbiased reporting is hard to come by in any case and most media outlets are propaganda tools working on behalf of one or other of the parties/militias. This has now become so blatantly obvious that all other media in this country, even the not-so-unbiased themselves like nowlebanon and naharnet, have started quoting Future TV in quotation marks, as in ‘Future news, the media group associated to the pro-government Future Movement party, led by MP Saad Hariri, reported that 16 people were wounded in an “attack on civilians” by Hezbollah.”
Anyway, the celebratory gunfire thing (or ‘jubilant shooting’ in Lebanenglish) is getting completely out of hand, and on all sides – on Sunday, five people were wounded by ‘bullets of joy’ raining down randomly on Amchit, the hometown of Michel Suleyman – or Sleiman, as seems to have become the accepted transliteration in the english-language press now. The incidents of yesterday night yielded at least 10 wounded.
Nasrallah’s speech contained some interesting analyses of the Lebanese political field and the resistance-versus-collaboration issue, talked about an imminent exchange of prisoners with Israel and reaffirmed for the nth time that Hizbullah does not seek to impose an islamic state in Lebanon. The following excerpt is from nowlebanon’s reporting of the speech. For the full text, see here.
‘“Today I say, Hezbollah does not want power over Lebanon, nor does it want to impose its thought on the Lebanese people, for we believe that Lebanon is a special, pluralistic country. The existence of this country only comes about through coexistence, and this is what we are demanding.” Yet the Hezbollah leader made a point of articulating his pride in being a leading member of what he called the “Wilayat al-Faqih party.” “I today say that I am proud of being a member of the party of Wilayat al-Faqih … Wilayat al-Faqih says that we [Hezbollah] are its party, and Lebanon is a pluralistic country we must preserve,” he stated. Nasrallah commented on popular Lebanese political discourse on the need for national a defense strategy. “I also say we need a liberation strategy for the Shebaa Farms … and the liberation of detainees,” he said. “Very soon, Samir [Quntar] and his brothers will be among us,” Nasrallah said only hours after rumors of negotiations between Hezbollah and Israel on the mutual release of prisoners had begun to circulate. Nasrallah noted that, contrary to popular belief, Lebanon’s situation was far from exceptional. Drawing on the Israeli invasion of Beirut, Nasrallah said, “Throughout history, when a force invaded a country, the people of that country would divide. This was the state in Lebanon in 1982. … People break into numerous groups.” “One group stands by … another group does not care … a third group is a group of conspirators, such as Jeish Lahad [the South Lebanon Army]… a fourth group cooperates with the invaders due to common interests. A fifth group … works to limit national losses, and these are usually the educated. A sixth group fills the media… but thinks its humanitarian, ethical, religious and national duty is to liberate the nation, and is willing to pay the price, no matter what religion or nation it defends. This is the resistance,” he stated. The Secretary General refused to look at such divisions as unique. As such, he continued, there could be no consensus on the resistance or any other national decision, a “natural and historic” fact. “There is a difference between those who believe in negotiations, and those who believe in armed resistance. From our experiences, Hezbollah believes in the resistance,” Nasrallah added. The resistance strategy, then, may remain a point of inter-Lebanese contestation. Nasrallah cited the July War, a month-long battle between Hezbollah and Israel on Lebanese territories that left 1,000 Lebanese dead, mainly civilians, was an indicator of the success of Hezbollah’s “defense strategy as well as a resistance strategy.” He said the war was a trial that decreased the likelihood of war in the region, as it had proved that the resistance could stand for weeks before one of the world’s strongest armies, adding that the resistance would also fight in any future wars against Israel, the US or those who “bargained on either.” “We are not talking about a defense strategy written in books or universities, but of a tried strategy that was implemented and brought the others to defeat with international acknowledgement,” he added. Nasrallah noted that other armed resistance movements in history had either taken over power or demanded power. “We did not demand power,” he said. “We did not request a change in the government or the Taif Accord, nor for shares in power. We did not ask for anything at all.” Nasrallah added that the illegitimate government’s decision to rescind its two “cursed” decrees, which were cited as the cause of the violence that ripped through western Beirut and other parts of Lebanon earlier in May, leaving almost 70 dead and 200 injured as armed opposition and government supporters fought out a long-standing political deadlock in the streets, were “the right of the people.” “The opposition did not change any of its requests after the recent events. We went there [to Doha] to save Lebanon from what is even more dangerous,” Nasrallah said, adding that he personally agreed to constitutional amendments that would make the Arab identity of Lebanon clearer. On Hezbollah’s arms, which some accuse the party of having turned inward in May, Nasrallah said he reaffirmed the Doha agreement clause that precluded the use of arms to attain political goals. “When we go to discussion, we will discuss this. The resistance’s arms are to fight the enemy, liberate lands and prisoners, and defend Lebanon – and for nothing else,” he stated.’