On a weekend filled with inflammatory comments on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), Loyalty to the Resistance bloc MP Nawwaf Moussawi’s statement on Friday in which he clearly threatened violent retribution upon those who supported the international court could not be outdone.
In comments reported by the National News Agency, Moussawi said that any group that backed the decision of the STL (created to bring to justice the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and subsequent victims of political terror) to indict members of Hezbollah for their involvement in the February 2005 assassination, will be “dealt with on the basis that they are one of the tools of US-Israeli aggression” and would “face the same response as the US-Israeli aggressor.” As if that were not enough, he loaded the threat further by saying that “the period after the indictment will not be like the period before,” and that those committed to the tribunal should be “not just worried, but scared.”
Fighting words indeed. Moussawi – who, when he is not threatening his own people with violence, is head of Hezbollah’s office of international relations – has made his party’s position in the tribunal debate unequivocal. His statement formally introduces the third phase of the party’s campaign against international justice and its battle to survive with its weapons to both serve Iran in its standoff with the West and consolidate its own domestic power base within Lebanon.
Phase one was the issue of the false witnesses, that certain individuals had misled the court and that this was enough to destroy its credibility. It was (and still is, given Michel Aoun’s fire-and-brimstone rhetoric on Sunday) a scattergun approach because it eschews any legal argument and hinges upon convincing people that the tribunal is nothing more than a huge conspiracy between Israel, the investigating team (one made up of many nationalities) and a handful of so-called perjurers to frame Hezbollah for a crime that was in fact committed by Israel.
Phase two was the “evidence” of Israeli involvement in the crime presented by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on August 9. The material was laughable, but it did two things: It easily shifted the local debate on who killed Hariri, and more importantly, it allowed Hezbollah, which handed its so-called Israeli file to the tribunal investigators, to use the fact that no one has acted on the material (presumably because there is nothing to act on) as proof that the tribunal does not want to consider the Israel theory. Clearly therefore, if we follow this line of reasoning, the tribunal, as former March 14 politician Walid Jumblatt declared on Sunday, is just another attempt, after the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 and the 2006 war, to disarm Hezbollah.
Phase three uses Moussawi’s maddening logic that those who support it are in league with Israel and will suffer the consequences. It posits that if you unconditionally support international justice (is there any other way to support justice?) and at the same time want a country that is predicated on the notion of the state; and if you oppose the open-ended right of Hezbollah to both maintain its weapons and dictate matters of war and peace, while at the same time using the threat of those weapons to promote its domestic agenda, then you are a Zionist.
And how do we deal with Zionists? Well, Hezbollah has used the very words of President Michel Sleiman himself to tell us how. Hezbollah’s number 2, Sheikh Naim Qassem, said on Sunday that his party supported Sleiman’s comments to the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday in which the president said that Lebanon has the right to distinguish between “terrorism and resistance,” as well as “Lebanon’s right to liberate its land with all permissible means.” This, we can extrapolate, means the Resistance is permitted to confront the Israeli enemy, and presumably those who support it. If you don’t support Hezbollah, then you support Israel. If you support Israel, you are the enemy, and the enemy will be dealt with.
Qassem is right about one thing: The Lebanese really do have the right to distinguish between “terrorism and resistance.”