Nasrallah. Doesn't want to be blamed for Hariri murder
Photo: AP
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Smadar Peri
Photo: Gabi Menashe

A man with a matchbox

Op-ed: Nasrallah trying to buy time while preserving image of crazy regional thug

Nobody, even in Lebanon (with the exceptions of his cronies,) buys into the “proof” and “new evidence” presented by Nasrallah in his unconvincing conference last week in Beirut. We can bet that Nasrallah himself does not believe that Israel killed Lebanon’s prime minister. Why in the world would Israel assassinate al-Hariri?


But what stops Nasrallah from having a little fun? As far as he’s concerned, Israel can loudly declare that he showed himself to be an even greater liar, prattler, schemer, and swindler; he may have also looked anxious. However, he is not a fool. While moving from one hiding spot to another in the past four years, what’s most important for Nasrallah now is to stay in the game and preserve the image of the crazy, threatening, and dangerous neighborhood thug.


If nobody wants to see a civil war in Lebanon, And Saudi Arabia’s king bothered to travel all the way to Beirut in order to secure a lull between the frightened and the threatening – Nasrallah was not frightened. There, the Lebanese are shaking in their boots, fearing a military confrontation with Israel, but he threatens to fire missiles (which he indeed possesses) on Tel Aviv.


The most important thing for him is not to be blamed for the Hariri assassination. Such charge may shake up Nasrallah and his organization. First of all, the government would collapse, the wave of assassination will make a grand comeback, and Hezbollah fighters would have to take over Beirut.


Nasrallah’s nightmare scenario also includes the worst option: Commandoes (guess where they would come from) embarking on a manhunt for the group’s leadership (and thanks to all the agents and spies) and kicking it out of Lebanon. Nobody would shed a tear should such operation succeed.


Playing a slow game 

For the time being, Nasrallah is managing to get what he wants. In the wake of his grand media show, regardless of what people say about Nasrallah, Hariri probe Commissioner Daniel Bellemare has no choice but to issue an invitation: Anyone in possession of documents that had not been reviewed is invited to hand them over.


Nasrallah, who currently works in line with a plan aimed at buying time and scaring all parties involved with a ticking bomb, intends to slowly proceed with his game, making the lives of the people who are seeking his downfall miserable. He will of course hand over his videos and clips, and he also possesses a pile of documents that would put off the publication of the full report for long months.


Nasrallah intends to do everything that needs to be done in order to keep the investigators busy. In the next phase, honorable judge Bellemare will attempt to get Nasrallah to leave his hiding spot and testify. Yet the Hezbollah chief is in no rush. He will announce that as long as Israel’s prime minister, defense minister, Mossad chief, and army chief are not summoned, he intends to stay in his hole. And if anyone wishes to force him out, they should turn to Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, who already announced he has no plans to touch top Hezbollah men and certainly no intention to detain Nasrallah.


So here we are, back at square one. The international prosecutor is hereby invited to try his luck. Even if he rules that Hezbollah and Syria assassinated Hariri, who will adopt the conclusions? Even Saad al-Hariri, who swore to pursue his father’s killers, escaped to the family resort in Sardinia. Before leaving, he ordered his ministers and party members not to respond to Nasrallah’s tricks.


So who keeps Lebanon intact these days? Maybe the president, maybe the security services, but certainly not the government, which may collapse if Nasrallah just says the word. As far as he’s concerned, they can try to come and get him. He may be a liar and a prattler, but he’s the one holding the matchbox.



פרסום ראשון: 08.16.10, 12:09
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