Lebanon according to Dehqan
Hassan Haidar
Al-Hayat - 20/03/08//

In a few days, the Arab Summit will be held in Damascus, with Lebanon and its open crisis prominent on its agenda. The participants, of different levels of representation, may be obliged to court the host country even if it is held responsible for the ongoing presidential vacuum and institutional paralysis in Lebanon. As usual, diplomacy will prevail over honesty. A general statement of solidarity will be issued asserting the "support" of all states for the Arab initiative, with a focus on the "full package" and a reiteration of demands to liberate the Chebaa farms. Ever since Syria and Iran's "geographers" discovered that this piece of land was Lebanese, all other issues had to be "put on hold" until it was reclaimed, and endless "open wars" had to be fought for its sake. This regardless of the fact that the people of Chebaa probably do not care much about, and may in fact even reject, the ongoing efforts in Beirut's southern suburb to liberate them and return their land to Lebanese sovereignty.

But the story of Tehran and Damascus with Lebanon is an old one, one which predates the "invention" of Chebaa and its implications. In a statement a few days ago, Hussein Dehqan, an aide to the Iranian president, declared that "Lebanon, which three decades ago was described as the Bride of the Middle East, has today become the Pride of Islam." Dehqan simply does not want Lebanon to be a "bride," but a "battlefield." He added, "Muslims, and in particular the Shiites, are willing to struggle against domineering powers through their loyalty to the rule of Ahl Bayt Al-Nubuwwa (the Household of Prophet Muhammad) and their commitment to the culture of Ashura," in an unequivocal disregard of the plurality and diversity that are fundamental to Lebanon's existence.

The three decades that he mentions nearly coincide with the period that has passed since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran in 1979, and with the three decades between the deployment of Syrian troops in Lebanon in 1976 and their withdrawal in 2005. This means that plans were made to export the Islamic Revolution to Lebanon as soon as it was victorious in Tehran. It also certifies that the slogan - "every land is Karbala and every day is Ashura" - held up by Hezbollah in Beirut was neither absurd nor improvised, but was rather the result of careful planning, with clear goals and deliberate means.

By the standards of Dehqan and his masters, a "bride" could never be a source of pride. She must be stripped of all attributes of beauty and turned into a carcass, precisely as his allies did in July 2006 and are still doing in downtown Beirut. For in his view, people cannot be "happy," but must remain doomed to a life of suffering in the continuous struggle against their enemies. A struggle with no limits or political framework; an open battle, whose true nature is known only to religious scholars. All the people must do is obey, sacrifice, and rise above their demands for a normal life. As for "the culture of Ashura" we are invited to embrace, it has led us only to regret that we did not die earlier. Surely we must compensate for such shortcomings by sacrificing ourselves, our children and our homes, in hopes of obtaining what was not given to us by our mortal "bride."

Syria and Iran were successful in turning Lebanon into a "widow," weeping over her martyrs and her desecrated land. Will Lebanon's children, with the help of some Arabs and the world, be able to reclaim their "bride"? Surely they will