Why Hezbollah is spearheading an ‘anti-corruption’ campaign

But why would Hezbollah want to target Siniora?
by Bassem Ajami

2 March 2019 | 12:56

Source: by Annahar

  • by Bassem Ajami
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 2 March 2019 | 12:56

This photo shows Hezbollah MPs. (AFP Photo)

The fight against corruption is starting on the wrong foot. It is turning into a vehicle for politicians to distract attention from their own corruption and advance their agendas.

A striking example is Hezbollah's embrace of the cause.

Hezbollah is targeting former prime minister Fouad Siniora. The party accuses him of misappropriating $11 billion of government funds. The accusation has been repeatedly made by the "Axis of Resistance" several times before, and each time Siniora offered the same convincing answer.

But why would Hezbollah want to target Siniora?

The confrontation between Hezbollah and Siniora is one between two radically opposed mindsets. Siniora stands for everything Hezbollah is not. He stands for the state and its institutions, while the party stands for weakening the state and its institutions. Siniora wants to strengthen Lebanon's independence, while Hezbollah aims to drag Lebanon into the Iranian orbit. The difference between the two mindsets manifested itself in several confrontations. Below are some examples:

Siniora pushed for the establishment of the international tribunal to investigate the assassination of Rafic Hariri, while Hezbollah, which stands accused of the murder, strongly objected to it. Moreover, during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, Siniora, who was prime minister, refused a proposal by Syria and Iran to negotiate on behalf of Lebanon the terms of the ceasefire, while Hezbollah enthusiastically supported the proposal. And after the war, Siniora refused Hezbollah's demand that donations to rebuild the areas devastated by the war be handed to the party.

Still, in 2007, Hezbollah strongly objected to Siniora's government decision to deploy the Lebanese army to fight the shadowy group, Fath al Islam. The terrorist organization had taken over the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon. Its aim was to turn Tripoli into a Sunni emirate.

Moreover, in 2007, Siniora defiantly stayed put in the Grand Serail, the official headquarters of the prime minister, while Hezbollah and its allies besieged it for a year and a half.

These and other confrontations convinced the militant group that Siniora was adamant in his opposition to its long term agenda. Consequently, the party began a character assassination effort against him. And the anti corruption sentiment that currently sweeps the country provided a suitable opportunity.

All praise for Hezbollah in its fight against Israel. But if the party truly wants to fight corruption it should start with its own practices at home. The bottom line is not to abuse its popularity to make unwarranted political gains. It should take a close look at its own behavior. The fact that the party is armed, financed, fed and inspired by a foreign country is against the law. Moreover, its use of its military force to intimidate the Lebanese citizenry is against the law. And keeping the presidency vacant for two years, insisting on installing its own candidate, defies the law.

Combating corruption is not a political issue. It is a law and order issue. The Lebanese penal code includes the necessary laws to realize that objective. It is the same politicians who make noises about the need to fight corruption who prevent their implementation.

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Mr. Ajami is a freelance researcher, writer, and contributor to The Arab Weekly, London. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Annahar.

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