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Hezbollah lost while Hamas won

Khaled Meshaal, exiled leader of the Islamic Palestinian organization Hamas, addresses a rally in his honour on 21 October 2015, in Cape Town. [RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images]
Khaled Meshaal, exiled leader of the Islamic Palestinian organisation Hamas, addresses a rally in his honour on 21 October 2015, in Cape Town [RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images]

Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas abroad, has received an invitation to visit Lebanon by a number of Palestinian figures living in Lebanon. It was natural for the matter to be discussed within the Movement's political bureau, which decided that the visit would be in mid-December, coinciding with the anniversary of the Movement's establishment, and the celebration of the Palestinians in the camps of Lebanon.

The Movement received a wide welcome from the official authorities in Lebanon, namely the Presidency, the Presidency of Council of Ministers and the Presidency of the Parliament. However, an exceptional event occurred – that is, Hezbollah has informed the Hamas leadership that it is not concerned with this visit and would not receive Khaled Meshaal. Then, Hezbollah pushed its followers, allies and allies of Iran and Syria, to attack Meshaal and defame his reputation and patriotism. They tried to create a rift inside the Movement by entrenching the idea of ​​a fundamental disagreement within the Hamas leadership over Meshaal's visit. However, the Hamas leadership is credited with insisting on continuing the visit despite Hezbollah's demands. It was a clear message to Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian regime that Hamas does not accept pressure or dictates from Tehran, Damascus or Hezbollah.

It is worth mentioning that Hezbollah's rejection of the visit is a rejection of Khaled Meshaal personally, who stood by the Syrian people and their revolution against the murderous autocrat, Bashar Al-Assad. This was the position of Hamas as a whole, which was unanimously decided by its leadership and not by Meshaal alone.

READ: On relations between the Palestinian resistance and Iran

When the message of Hamas reached Hezbollah, it noted its content that the visit was still scheduled and the Movement had not cancelled it. A few days before the visit, an explosion occurred in the Borj El Chmali's camp, which killed one of the most prominent youth leaders in Hamas, martyr Hamza Shaheen. On the day of the funeral, members of the national security forces affiliated to the "Fatah" movement fired at the funeral, resulting in the death of three Hamas youths in Lebanon. The situation became more tense; the warning message was understood that the visit must be cancelled and renounced.  However, the Hamas leadership, after discussing the matter and assessing the situation, insisted on continuing the visit, since real leadership exists among its people in these difficult circumstances.

We have to note here that the decision of Khaled Meshaal's visit is not a single decision taken by Meshaal alone without coordination with the party's leadership, as the party's media tried to depict from the first moment of the visit announcement. Rather, the visit was taken by a decision of the Hamas leadership.

When Hezbollah's attempts to totally prevent the visit were unsuccessful after Hamas' insistence on completing it, Hezbollah worked to thwart it by all permissible and impermissible ways. When Meshaal arrived at Beirut airport, the media and journalists were surprised that they were prevented from entering the airport and meeting Meshaal. Hezbollah not only rejected the visit but announced through its writers that Nasrallah refused to receive Meshaal, although Hamas did not ask for a meeting between its Secretary- General and Khaled Meshaal!

Hezbollah did not just do that but, in order to thwart the visit, it pressured Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri, to cancel the meeting, which he had previously agreed to and was on the visit's schedule. Hezbollah also exerted the same pressure on Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, to cancel the meeting; however, Mashaal met him at his home, away from the government palace in order to avoid embarrassment and to turn the meeting into a personal visit away from the official form.

Likewise, there was also pressure from Syria and Hezbollah on the Mufti of Lebanon to cancel his meeting with Meshaal, but the Mufti did not submit to this pressure and the meeting took place.

The peak of Hezbollah's attempts to thwart Meshaal's visit is by withdrawing and cancelling the license of the festival commemorating the establishment of the Hamas Movement. The celebration was scheduled to be a mass rally in which Khaled Meshaal would give a speech of Hamas on this occasion.

READ: Why is Khaled Meshaal in Beirut?

Hezbollah also put pressure on the Lebanese media figures to refuse meeting with Khaled Meshaal, thinking that this would make the visit to fail but it did not realise that, by doing so, it is firing its slogans and policies, which it tried hard to embellish in the name of alliance with the Palestinian resistance.

Despite all these obstacles and nasty methods that Hezbollah utilised in front of Khaled Meshaal's visit, the visit did not fail. Rather, Hezbollah failed and lost a lot, as it was exposed and appeared with its ugly racist face; all its allegations about the resistance and its strategic relationship with Hamas against the Zionist enemy has vanished.

Hezbollah did not aim only to besiege Meshaal and to cause his visit to fail, but it also aimed to create internal strife in Hamas; Hezbollah thought that it had succeeded in attracting some of Hamas' leaders to the Iranian camp and, thus, removing Meshaal from his position as the movement's leader abroad, so that Iranian support for it would continue. This means creating strife, but Hamas immediately became alert to it and instantly rushed to end it by sending the Movement's vice-president, Saleh Al-Arouri, one of the most prominent figures enthusiastic about Iran to be within the delegation headed by Khaled Meshaal to visit Lebanon.

In conclusion, Hezbollah has not only besieged Meshaal, but has also besieged itself and Iran. It is not affirmed that Hamas will reassess its rushed positions to Iran after what happened with Hezbollah. These positions have angered a lot of its proponents in the Arab and Islamic world. Hamas and Khaled Meshaal have won. While Hezbollah has lost, Hassan Nasrallah has lost a battle that he ignited without his opponent showing any hostile attitude against him or acting against him. Hezbollah has lost and Hassan Nasrallah has lost politically and morally.

This Op-Ed was amended on 06 January 2022 at 12.16 with references to Prof Asad Abukhalil retracted, MEMO apologises for the inconvenience caused.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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