‘Out of the north, an evil shall break forth’

While the revolution in Egypt and the upheavals in Iran, Algeria, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain are currently dominating the headlines, insufficient attention has been paid to recent events in Lebanon.

Nasrallah on Screen 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Nasrallah on Screen 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Out of the north, an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.(Jeremiah 1:14).
All eyes are currently on the upheaval in the Arab world. The anger of Egyptian citizens, the clashes in Bahrain and the protests in Yemen, Algeria and Libya are broadcast live by world media in our living rooms. The top commentators sit in their studios from morning till night, analyzing every protest sign in Cairo’s Tahrir Square from 1,000 different angles. There is not a single media outlet that has not sent reinforcements to its existing crew in the Middle East, lest it miss an event that instantaneously changes the region’s history.
For some reason, no one is interested in a country where the most dangerous revolution has already taken place. For the first time in Lebanon’s history, an extremist and violent terrorist group has taken over the parliament and government without a single shot fired. And the world exhibits profound indifference to this dramatic development.
True, tires are not burning in the streets of Beirut, and there is no effigy of Saad Hariri (the ousted pro-Western prime minister) swinging from a power line with a noose around its neck. Lebanon is not providing chilling scenes for ratings-lifting newsbreaks. But there is news – bad news. Lebanon has performed an alarming U-turn that drove it from the heart of a pragmatic camp in the Arab world directly into the arms of a fanatic, radical axis.
Hosni Mubarak’s ouster by millions of frustrated and angry citizens was a powerful event, but it is still too early to predict the direction Egypt will now take. The possibilities are vast; not all are negative. One can imagine scenarios in which democratic elections will enable such strong political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood that Egypt will disregard its long-time alliance with the US and nullify its peace treaty with Israel.
At the same time, there is a chance that the army and the security forces, together with the secular political forces who in essence led the protests in the first place, will be wise enough to lead the transition into a democratic society, one in which the power of fundamentalist parties remains limited.
It is also too early to evaluate whether the king of Jordan will follow the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, or whether the clever and battle-tested Hashemites will guarantee his survival and stability once again. King Abdullah provided an early cure when, at the beginning of the Egyptian disturbances, he fired his government and appointed Dr. Marouf Bakhit, a former general, as the new prime minister.
WHEREAS IN Egypt and Jordan there are still many uncertainties about the future, the revolution in Lebanon leaves no room for doubt. The new prime minister, Najib Mikati, was elected only with Hezbollah’s approval.
The billionaire may be able to seem innocent in CNN interviews, but in the Land of the Cedars, there are no surprises. You do not receive a personal appointment to the premiership from Hassan Nasrallah unless you are a steadfast supporter of his agenda. It is an agenda written in Farsi, so it can be applied in Beirut by the Iranian-Syrian coalition of Walid Jumblatt the Druse, Hezbollah the Shi’ite, Michel Aoun the Christian and Mikati the Sunni.
In the coming months and years, this coalition will act to achieve a number of goals, which taken individually, and certainly together, will serve as a red warning sign to the interests of Israel.
The first order of business for the Mikati government will be to thwart any attempt by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to arrest and try senior Hezbollah figures for their involvement in the murder of prime minister Rafik Hariri.
The next goal will be to remove any obstacles placed by the Saad Hariri government to weapons smuggling from Syria to Hezbollah. The Lebanese army, in which even before the government shift there was an important presence of Shi’ite officers and soldiers, will receive an unequivocal order to turn a blind eye to all activity meant to strengthen Hezbollah, whether on the Syria- Lebanon border, at the airports or at the seaports.
At the same time, that army will be instructed to limit UNIFIL’s operations in southern Lebanon, so that even its limited responsibilities, granted by Security Council Resolution 1701, will be neutralized.
Afterward, Hezbollah will act to change the internal agreements which serve as the basis for the political balance in Lebanon, including the distribution of governmental positions among the various ethnic groups. The Shi’ites have been claiming for years that the agreements of the past no longer reflect the demographic changes that have occurred over the past few decades. Hezbollah’s dominance in the parliament and government will enable it to impose these changes and, as a result, perpetuate its future hold in Lebanese politics, at the expense of its Christian rivals.
Eventually, Lebanon, like Syria its patron, will likely sign a defense pact with Iran, through which the regime of the ayatollahs will provide it with modern weapons and advanced intelligence capabilities, similar to the intimate cooperation that exists between Tehran and Damascus.
In this way, the prophetic warning of Jeremiah will once again come true.

The writer is a former Kadima minister.