Who is Arming Lebanon’s Sunnis?
The question March 14 supporters are struggling to agree on an answer to
If you ask a supporter of Hezbollah or March 8 in Lebanon about who is arming Lebanon’s Sunnis, the answer is usually quick and immediate, and it is always the same: Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries through Hariri’s Future Movement (FM). But if you grab 5 random March 14 supporters (especially Sunnis) and ask them the same question, you might get as much as 5, hesitant, answers.
Until recently, many Lebanese Sunnis and supporters of the Future Movement lived in a reality in which they were the good guys who didn’t carry guns. Their attitude to armed Sunni fighters (who openly and publicly declared their support for Hariri) was similar to the attitude of Syria’s supporters to the killing of Rafik Hariri: It’s an awkward question that they prefer not to think of an answer to.
But those darned armed Sunnis from Tebbaneh keep showing up on the TV news. And worse, they keep giving interviews, machine-guns in hand, on live prime-time TV. Denial was becoming very difficult and it is time to face the fact that a powerful party, friendly to March 14, is giving money (those are expensive weapons) and political cover (They’re showing their faces on TV and nobody is arresting them) to armed fighters in Tebbaneh and Tarik el Jdideh.
In response to the question: Who is arming Lebanon’s Sunnis? Here are some of the answers you might get:
- “Their arms are the natural result of Hezbollah’s arms. Weapons beget weapons.”
This is the official line of March 14 politicians. But that is not answering the question about the source of those arms. It could be a fair answer, but it’s deflecting the question not answering it.
- “The enemies of the Sunnis who want to destroy their reputation”.
But that still doesn’t explain why Hariri does not publicly ask Tebbaneh fighters to disarm and give their weapons to the legitimate authorities.
- “We don’t know”.
How then to explain the political cover for Tebbane’s fighters?
The reason March 14 supporters prefer not to answer that question, and not even think of an answer, is because it will get them face to face with a reality they wish to avoid. That the entire edifice of their political rhetoric, the notion that only legitimate power should have access to weapons, would crumble and take with it their entire sense of political righteousness.