Abducted by Hezbollah, Lebanese suffer from Stockholm syndrome
We have a family history involving one of our parents who is now deceased. As he entered the bathroom, which had just been cleaned, he was unable to find his razor blade for his daily shave. So he started complaining loudly, “Where’s my razor blade? Who misplaced my razor blade? Inshallah, I can’t find my razor blade. You’ll see what will happen if I don’t find my razor blade. At that time, his wife came into the bathroom and shouted, “Tell me, what are you going to do if you can’t find your razor blade?” So he replied shyly, “Nothing, honey, I won’t do anything, I just won’t shave, why are you upset?” All would have been fine except another family member was a guest that day and spilled the wick to the rest of the family.
There are many things in Lebanese politics today that resemble this scene. People are shouting, “Where is our prime minister? Where is our president? Where are our deputies? They can all shout, but eventually Hezbollah comes and says, “What are you going to do about this? And everyone answers: “Don’t get angry, we’ll manage without it.” This is already happening with the constant, constant humiliation of the Prime Minister’s Office. We only have the right to have an interim Prime Minister and the Lebanese have accepted it.
When it comes to the presidency, she gets more respect. Just a little more to avoid a precedent. Yet, inherently, it has become a position under Hezbollah’s control. This is why, as the mandate approaches, the opposition only asks for an undisputed president. It is the same opposition which, I remind you, could make its own selection if it were united. It is a total capitulation. I seriously don’t understand what that means. The only request is not to be insulted and to try to find an imaginary consensus, while Hezbollah continues the destruction of the country. It’s crazy politics.
In fact, the Lebanese suffer from Stockholm syndrome. They have more reason to storm public buildings than people in Sri Lanka or Ecuador, but they won’t. It is simply because they know very well that the power does not reside in any of the buildings or symbols of the republic. They know that the real power – the power that controls the country and kidnapped them – belongs to Hezbollah. And that’s exactly it: hostage-taking. Much like the bank robbery situation in Sweden, from which the syndrome’s name derives, victims refuse to act or testify against their captors.
The syndrome is so strong among some on the left that they will actually side with Hezbollah, presenting the organization as a symbol of resistance against international imperialism and an example of ethics and purity. The fault lies entirely with the political parties, Israel and the United States, which are trying to colonize Lebanon. It must be easier to live with this illusion than to face the reality of being held hostage. The milder version of this syndrome is to avoid mentioning Hezbollah, to blame political parties, and to analyze Lebanese politics as if it were a working democracy. This one is proving popular with Western pundits and is all the more pernicious for it.
They have more reason to storm public buildings than people in Sri Lanka or Ecuador, but they won’t.
Khaled Abou Zahr
It is not only the power imbalance that paralyzes the Lebanese and prevents them from acting. They may not say it, but they all understand too well what it would mean to stand up to Hezbollah. It would be a second civil war. Obviously, the kidnapper knows this well and viciously uses this fact to maintain a complete grip on power. Hezbollah has already eliminated all threats, no matter how small. He essentially continued and complemented the actions of the Syrian troops. To this day, he continues to exploit the fears of every minority to control everyone. The occupation playbook is the same across geographies and history. Obviously, corruption is just a side effect. It is the necessary fat on the cogs of such diets. Everyone complains about it, but they also envy those who are close enough to the kidnapper to take advantage of it.
The technique is the same as that of the Hezbollah boss in Tehran. It’s about arm wringing and threats of chaos. And so today, as a final text has been reached in the nuclear deal negotiations, there is little mystery about what the years to come will look like. In these negotiations, the West suffers from the Stockholm syndrome just like the Lebanese. The Europeans, in particular, are looking for a quick fix, having lost access to Russian oil with the rapid approach of winter. If we go back to 2015 and 2016, after the initial Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed, Hezbollah and all other Iranian proxies felt emboldened and used the agreement to seize more in all areas. It will probably be the same now. The only difference is that countries in the region will not suffer such abuse this time around.
Unlike my silly family story of a bickering husband and wife, there’s no love there. There isn’t even a family anymore. This image of Lebanon is dead and buried. There is nothing to build with a terrorist group like Hezbollah, no matter how often Western experts describe the organization as Lebanese. This is a lie. Hezbollah is not Lebanese and it is not even a political organization. It is a violent extremist group that is holding an entire country hostage and destroying its freedom and its fabric.
• Khaled Abou Zahr is CEO of Eurabia, a media and technology company. He is also the editor of Al-Watan Al-Arabi.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News