Dear Lebanon, do not give up
By : Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
The international community has turned a blind eye to Iran’s domination of Lebanon. Pleas for help to rid this Arab country of an armed militia under Tehran’s orders have gone unheard, because world powers do not think this small Mediterranean country has sufficient strategic significance to warrant military involvement.
Now that Iran is being courted by the West, to the detriment of the Sunni Arab world and the regional balance of power, it is understandable that some political leaders within Lebanon’s March 14 bloc have opted to reconcile with Hezbollah. Negotiations to nominate a new president that have been underway for 19 months resulted in stalemate because Hezbollah would not accept any candidate who was not sympathetic to its camp.
It is disappointing that Hezbollah’s long-time foe Samir Geagea, executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces, capitulated by backing Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah and Syrian butcher Bashar al-Assad, for the presidency, while former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is now supporting pro-Assad figure Suleiman Franjieh.
This is a mistake. The day the Lebanese choose slavery and lose their will to take their country back will be a knife in the hearts of all those who love Lebanon, including myself. I do not wish to judge them unfairly. Both Geagea and Hariri are Lebanese patriots who would like nothing more than to see their country proud and free, but without tangible heavyweight assistance they have been fighting windmills.
In recent days, Hariri made a rare visit to Lebanon, where he held a rally to mark the anniversary of his father’s assassination. “We will not allow anyone to pull Lebanon to the camp of hostility towards Saudi Arabia and its Arab brothers,” he told the crowd. “Lebanon will not be, under any circumstances, an Iranian province. We are Arabs, and Arabs we shall remain.”
A year ago, those fighting words would have been little more than inspirational rhetoric without real substance. Not so today. Lebanon has been taken over by force, and only force can smash the Iranian yoke. Aside from Hezbollah, the only other force is the Lebanese army, but unfortunately it has been infiltrated and is not up to the task.
The Lebanese people should ready themselves for a better future free of Iranian influence. The chains dragging Lebanon down will be broken.
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor
However, the situation is no longer hopeless in light of an Arab reawakening in the face of threats to our very existence. My message to the good Lebanese people who resent being treated as Iran’s vassals is: “Do not give up, be optimistic and stay strong. You, the great Lebanese people who hold fast to your Arab roots and your culture, once a beacon of light for all of us, get ready to take your country back!
“You, the noble people of northern Lebanon who have proven your worth and shown courage, should be an inspiration to all others. And you, the people of Beirut, must stand tall against the followers of paid Iranian lackeys and those cowardly self-appointed leaders who have exchanged their principles for their comfortable chairs and the luxurious trappings that go with them.”
A new reality is on the horizon. Predominately Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have woken up to the danger Iran presents to the region, and are taking matters into their own hands. Bahrain was stabilized due to Saudi and Emirati intervention, and Operation Decisive Storm was waged to cleanse Yemen from pro-Iranian traitors and terrorists. Liberty is within reach and should be grasped.
Riyadh is seizing its rightful leadership role – backed by Gulf states, Turkey, Egypt and many others – as defender of the Muslim faith and of brotherly countries. I am grateful to King Salman bin Abdelaziz for his courage and guidance, and salute this exceptional monarch who has given us reason to once again hold our heads up high. I could not be prouder that my own country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stands with him.
A newly-assertive Riyadh is now calling the shots. Washington may have dropped its demand for Assad to go, under pressure from Moscow, but Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir is adamant that if peace talks fail, Assad will have to be removed “by force.”
That statement might have been viewed as wishful thinking months ago, but with reports of Saudi troops and warplanes stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik airbase in preparation for a ground invasion potentially involving 150,000 soldiers, Saudi resolve is clear.
Syria will be cured from its multiple cancers – regime war crimes, terrorist atrocities and armed Iranian interlopers – so the millions of displaced persons and refugees can return home to live in peace.
I strongly believe the Lebanese people should ready themselves for a better future free of Iranian influence. The chains dragging Lebanon down will be broken. Release from the yoke of Hezbollah or any other occupying or terrorizing force – internal or external – will happen sooner rather than later. Soon we will see Lebanon’s so-called leaders fleeing the country to escape the people’s anger at being sold out to a foreign would-be power.
It is my fervent hope to see Lebanon unfettered from Hezbollah’s strangulation, blossoming as it did in the 1960s and early 1970s when it was truly independent. I long for the day the true Lebanese identity, which has been robbed by outside forces, can reveal itself in an atmosphere of free expression.
I want to stroll along Hamra Street soaking up the gaiety there once was in a country where whispers are no longer needed, before driving north to Damascus to visit the resting place of Salah Eddin al-Ayoubi, and onward to Homs to pray at the tomb of Khalid Ibn al-Waleed – two of the most fearless warriors in Arab history.
This will soon be a reality, provided the Lebanese people choose well between serfdom under a gang of Iranian puppets, and an opportunity to reclaim their heritage with the help of their friends.
Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group – one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowledge and views on international political affairs; his philanthropic activity; his efforts to promote peace; and he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al-Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under the one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.