Our Partner, the Brutal Enemy

Our Partner, the Brutal Enemy

Nida Al Watan, Lebanon, October 29

No treachery or condemnation, but a look of disgust and suspicion. In effect, the recently signed maritime demarcation deal with Israel is an agreement flavored with concessions, which the Lebanese government falsely turned into a national achievement. Out of respect for the people of Lebanon, the government should, at the very least, avoid calling it a victory. They wanted to demarcate the border, and they achieved that goal. But the process was far from transparent. The Lebanese government only consulted itself and failed to submit to parliament – or the Lebanese public – any insight into the content of the deal. What is done is done. The agreement may be in Lebanon’s interest if it finally allows Lebanon to extract gas from the ocean in a manner that brings money into the Lebanese economy. But there is a big “but.” Like most parts of the Lebanese economy, Lebanon’s energy sector has also been plagued by widespread corruption. No one knows which middlemen will cut the biggest check on the oil extraction operations. Doubts are legitimate. The Lebanese are not to be blamed for the lack of confidence in the demarcation system. This demarcation agreement is a far more important matter than people admit. It isn’t a mere understanding between two warring parties. Rather, it is a formal treaty signed at the highest levels of leadership and backed by the United Nations. It has binding legal status. And it will be closely monitored by the United States. The denial of the “maritime normalization” with Israel has deep roots in the Arab world. Lebanon’s celebration of the deal as a victory over Israel reminded me of the June 1967 war, when the Sawt al-Arab radio station announced that all Israeli fighter jets had been shot down by the Egyptian Air Force during the first few hours of the war. This so-called victory quickly turned into what is described until this very day as “The Setback.” From the “Three Noes” of the Khartoum Resolution to present-day “resistance,” empty words have replaced the need for truth. Anti-imperialist rhetoric has flourished, begging to suppress freedoms and install tyrannical regimes. Iraq “ready to destroy half of Israel” using its chemical weapons ended with Iraq invading its neighbor Kuwait. The “beating heart of Arabism,” which acted under the pretext of “liberating Palestine,” sent half of its citizens to the grave. As for Iran, which inherited this discourse and boasts its ability to exterminate the “Zionist entity” in “seven minutes,” it, too, is inflicting pain on the Arab world. The victory claimed by the “resistance” in Lebanon is not different from previous claims. The truth is that the demarcation agreement recognizes in writing the State of Israel and legitimizes its existence. Our politicians might claim that the agreement was signed with “occupied Palestine,” but the truth is that this “brutal enemy” will now formally share Lebanon’s profit from the oil extracted out of the Qana field, after securing its ownership over Karish. Bechara Charbel (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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