The US wants the Lebanese to 'roll'

The Lebanese have no confidence that the U.S. will sustain its currently declared policy toward Iran.
by Bassem Ajami

25 March 2019 | 12:44

Source: by Annahar

  • by Bassem Ajami
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 25 March 2019 | 12:44

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda east of Beirut on March 22, 2019. (AFP Photo)

BEIRUT: It is apparent from the visit by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to Beirut that the U.S. considers Lebanon a hijacked country. The hijacker is Hezbollah acting on behalf of Iran. According to Secretary Pompeo, Washington expects the people of Lebanon to rise and take control of their country.

The U.S. wants the Lebanese to "roll."

From the American perspective, the situation in Lebanon today resembles the case of United Airlines flight 93. The airliner was one of the four airplanes that were hijacked on September 11, 2001. But unlike the other three airplanes, the hijackers of flight  93 were overwhelmed by the desperate passengers, which caused the airliner to crash killing all on board.

As the passengers prepared to attack the hijackers, a voice was heard on the phone inciting the passengers: "let's roll." Since then, "let's roll" became in the U.S. a symbolic cry for action.

But who is going to cry "let's roll" in Lebanon?

No one is prepared to risk crashing the country in order to save it from the Iranian yoke. The reason is that such call against Hezbollah is certain to dive Lebanon into a civil war. And with the dark memories of the 1975-90 civil war still fresh in the psyche of the Lebanese, there is no group in Lebanon willing to challenge militarily Iran's rising influence.

Over the past years, the Lebanese have learned to co-exist with the Iranian influence in their country. The prevailing view is that Hezbollah is a regional problem with local implications. They accommodated themselves to such state of affairs while remaining hopeful that regional events will resolve this issue without shedding Lebanese blood.

Moreover, the Lebanese have no confidence that the U.S. will sustain its currently declared policy toward Iran.

How can they trust that no new president will occupy the White House who may sympathize with Iran's regional ambitions, as was the case with President Barak Obama? What do they do then?

And even if President Donald Trump is reelected, how can the Lebanese be certain that he wouldn’t one day change his mind, as he has often done? Syria is one example, and Iraq is another.

Still, the attitude of the U.S. administration toward the Palestinian conflict hardly reinforces its credibility in the region. Its recognition of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as Israeli territories will make endorsing its policy toward Hezbollah an act of "treachery."

There are many in Lebanon who would be eager to call "let's roll." But the current political landscape, domestically and within the region, doesn’t offer much support to such an idea.

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