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    Hezbollah Is Bleeding Alone

    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is finding itself increasingly isolated as allies in Lebanon begin second-guessing the party’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

    The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is a dead man walking. The protests against him have been raging for four months, and it is only a matter of time until he is forced to step down. The only concern is how many more people Assad’s regime is going to kill before he goes.

    It seems Assad is working in line with the following formula: “I will either kill them all or die.” But the thing is, each time he kills, more demonstrators pour into the streets. Assad, in this sense, is his own worst enemy. He is shooting himself in the foot and at the same time hurting his allies.

    His old friends, Qatar and Turkey, abandoned him as soon as they realized that he is no good for reform. Even his recent, forced, friend, Lebanese Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt, said on Sunday that “Syria is a wounded country and will only be healed when the people responsible for the crimes against the Syrian people are punished.”

    Jumblatt called for “releasing all the former and current detainees in Syrian jails, ceasing fire on protesters and refusing every armed activity against institutions, establishments and the Syrian army.” He also called for “drafting a new constitution that allows [political pluralism] in Syria and opens new horizons for the enormous potential of the Syrian people.”

    Although Jumblatt noted that the Syrian president himself promised these reforms, and that it seems “some people in the regime do not want to apply them,” he immediately added that “only free people can liberate the persecuted and oppressed people,” and that the “regime-of-resistance theory is meaningless.”

    Jumblatt’s radar is functioning again, and he realized that he has been siding with a loser. Jumblatt knows that, as the leader of a minority group, he needs to protect himself again.

    Jumblatt thinks that if he makes the shift away from the Assad-allied, Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition, people might respect him again; they would understand his fear of Hezbollah and his choice to shift from being a national leader to a petty sectarian za’im.

    Whether people understand or not is another question. But Hezbollah, which has been wounded by the brutal and inhumane actions of the Assad regime, which is supposedly pro-resistance, cannot use Jumblatt’s flip-flopping for its own purposes. Hezbollah, which is wounded and bleeding, will lash out, no matter how much it hurts itself in the process.

    Signs of Hezbollah’s weakening have already started to emerge. This past week, in an unprecedented challenge to the Party of God by residents of the South, shops in the city of Nabatiyeh, which Hezbollah prohibited from selling alcohol four months ago, have started selling liquor again.

    People in the South expect Hezbollah to react forcefully to things like this. But this time it did not, and now one can find alcohol in Nabatiyeh, a major Hezbollah hub in the South.

    Instead, Hezbollah forces attacked a store in the southern town of Houla for selling alcohol and tried to force the owner to close shop in an attempt to compensate for its defeat and humiliation in Nabatiyeh. However, members of the Communist Party, normally an ally of Hezbollah, intervened to protect the owner of the shop, also an unprecedented incident in the South, at least since the early 1980s.

    Hezbollah has been hurt by the stupidity of its ally, Bashar al-Assad, whom the party’s local allies are beginning to question. With Assad’s actions, and with the sword of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at its neck, the party is standing alone, bleeding. Not a pleasant situation for a party that is still more or less in control of Lebanon and its state institutions.

    As Lebanese who are aware of the potential dangers of this situation, shall we just sit back and watch the Syrian revolution bring the toppling of their regime and ours, or should we act?

    And if we do decide to act, how should we?

    Those who forced the Syrian army to leave Lebanon in 2005 are feeling helpless. The main leaders of the 2005 Independence Intifada are either dead or away in Paris. The rest have so far been incapable of steering the street in the same manner.

    The Lebanese street is ready to move again, but is used to the fact that it cannot act without the green light of its leadership, which is still suffering from a political coma.

    Their leaders say that the situation is different and that Najib Mikati’s new government is not like that of former PM Omar Karami. Taking to the street is not a good idea for the opposition for the time being. They no longer know how to act. They’ve gotten used to reacting and have lost the mindset for taking initiatives.

    But the circumstances are ripe: The Syrian regime is facing collapse, Hezbollah is suffering the consequences, and the current government is more helpless than it seems. Even Jumblatt is offering them an opening that they could use.

    If the opposition is incapable of, or uninterested in, acting like a real opposition, is that it for the Lebanese? Can’t we take the initiative with whatever is left of our civil society, as the Syrian people did, even though their civil organizations were crushed for over 40 years? Can we be better than our so-called leaders? Can we at least publically support the Syrian people, who are our only hope for freedom and dignity in Lebanon?

    It is a pity that pro-Syrian regime demonstrations in Beirut are growing more frequent and vigorous. It is a pity that we do not believe we can seize this opportunity to realize dignity on our own; that it will be given to us by someone else, be it the March 14 leadership or the Syrian people, who are facing death with bare chests.

    Bashar al-Assad is a dead man walking. The Syrian people know it, the world knows it. Maybe it is time for the Lebanese to finally come to terms with the true meaning of freedom.

    Hanin GHADDAR
    NOW Lebanon

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