Ignorance is bliss.
Today, Lebanese bliss is illustrated in justified celebrations of the army’s victory over Ahmad el Assir’s gang in Saida. The celebrations aren’t just about our army adding a second victory to its list of victories in this country. They are also about the supposed downfall of Ahmad el Assir and with whatever he represents.
A lot can be said about Ahmad el Assir. A phenomenon is one. A bigot is two. A nauseating existence is three. A byproduct of the current times is four. A hypocrite is five. A lone case born out of immaculate conception is not six.
There are pertinent reasons as to why something like Ahmad el Assir existed. You can celebrate all you want that he was defeated and made to flee to who knows where because it makes you sleep better at night. You can extrapolate the battle with the army all you want to convince yourself that your hypocrisy towards the Syrian war is justified because it makes your brand of politics sound much nicer. You can call Ahmad el Assir and his gang terrorists and ridicule their existence as much as you like in order to further convince yourself that they are the only problem around this place.
I, however, am simply waiting for the rise of Ahmad el Assir 2.0 who, we can only hope, is not more extreme, not more prepared and better good-looking. Ahmad el Assir 2.0 is only a matter of time. At the rate things are going, the when may have just been given a catalyst because those same reasons that brought the original Ahmad el Assir into existence are still here, flexing their muscles left and right.
I remember when Ahmad el Assir first went on TV. He was portrayed as an irrelevant sheikh of some mosque in Saida no one had heard about. He had some serious allegations to say about Hezbollah. And the media listened. The second time he spoke, the media listened even further and decided they wanted others to listen as well. Slowly, he was given a halo. His life was turned into a reality TV show. His trips to the beach were documented. Journalists were taking personal tours around the city in his BMW X5. Even his outing to ski got turned into a national crisis.
Today, Ahmad el Assir is a lunatic – which he is – who dared to be the only entity in this country to attack our army, which he isn’t. The difference between Ahmad el Assir attacking our army and others is that the attack of those others comes with a big * to explain. It’s not all set in stone.
Samer Hanna was killed.*
*By an individual, not the party.
Nahr el Bared is a red line.*
*The civilians, not the armed men.
Excuses, excuses. Explanations, explanations. Ahmad el Assir’s abomination of an existence is simple: there is something else in this country that is even worse than he is and which most of the people panicking over the lunatic in question and the battle that took our infinitely-weak army one day to finish not only wholeheartedly accept but adore and chant for: Labbayka [insert name], labbayka [insert name]*.
*Name not inserted because.
Terrorism is not set in stone. It’s a matter of perception. Ahmad el Assir is a terrorist. Others who do similar actions are not.
Hezbollah is the main reason people like Ahmad el Assir exist in this country, the reason why his demented rhetoric resonates, the reason why he is able to find equally weak-minded people to recruit and the reason why he finds support.
When you have an entire party with arms in the country that are no longer used for their original purpose (in fact, they are being used for everything but that purpose lately), how can I tell someone like Ahmad el Assir who sees nothing but his sect being targeted that you’re not allowed to procure weapons?
How is the existence of Ahmad el Assir non-sensical when those arms are used to demolish the politics of moderate Sunnis and create a sense of Sunni weakness that is shared by moderate and extreme Sunnis alike, a weakness that the lunatics like him know how to milk?
What excuse can be given when those arms, supposedly being used to fight Israel, were employed in the clashes in Saida yesterday with a list of casualties that was propagated by news sources of different allegiances?
What excuse can be given when those arms are dragging the entire country to war in Syria because they’re somehow fighting Israel over there, a rhetoric their die-hard supporters eat up like a fat kid in a mountain of snickers, with a regime that decimated Lebanese for years, headed by the best anti-Israel dictator that Israel could hope for?
You want to stop Ahmad el Assir? You stop empowering the lunatics on all sides of the Lebanese equation. You stop using the argument that they are the only ones who can protect us from Israel as the status quo you don’t want to change and work on empowering our army so they become the only people to protect us from Israel. You stop being a hypocrite towards weapons that exist outside the jurisdiction of the state. You stop empowering the movements that disempower moderation and secretly empower extremism. You stop justifying the extremism that suits you.
Extremism is extremism. Terrorism is terrorism. You want a decent country for yourself and your children? Entities such as Hezbollah and Al Assir have to be removed. But, you know…*
*comes up with an excuse to justify the existence of one over the other and sleeps at night soundly.