June 20, 2013
Waheeb Ayob, a Druze, is a founding member of the Syrian Secular Democratic Coalition and an opponent of the Assad regime since the 1980s. From his home on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, he spoke with Abdulrahman al-Masri about the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon in light of Hezbollah’s victory in Qusayr last week. Ayob says that Hezbollah, despite dwindling support among Lebanese Shi’ites, will dictate Lebanese policy in Syria.
Q: In your opinion, does the battle of Qusayr mean the beginning of the battle in Lebanon?
A: The battle of Qusayr was an important turning point for the Hezbollah-Iran intervention in the Syrian crisis. I think, today, the Syrian crisis is controlled more by Iran than by Bashar al-Assad.
Q: In your opinion what does the spillover of the conflict into Lebanon mean?
A: This is what Bashar al-Assad was threatening to do, it was his desire from the beginning. Iran helped realize this desire by showing that it was capable of igniting the region and threatening its safety, which subsequently reduced the pressure on Assad.
Q: What is the Lebanese point of view on how to deal with the Syrian crisis?
A: Even if we assume that there is a Lebanese Government or a Lebanese State, the government cannot control the situation within Lebanon or make decisions regarding Lebanese policy. In fact, Hezbollah is stronger that the Lebanese Government, thus the government cannot make any moves regarding Hezbollah’s actions.
Q: According to your information, is there division among Lebanese Shi’ites regarding the Syrian crisis?
A: I believe that there is a real division among Shi’ites in Lebanon, but most of them are behind Hezbollah, as Hezbollah controls a large part of the Shi’ite sect with the money it receives from Iran. We can’t deny that there are real supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and also real Shi’ite opponents of Hezbollah. When they announced Hezbollah’s victory in Qusayr and distributed baklava in celebration in Dahia [the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburb of Beirut], it was met with very strong negative reactions from Shi’ite people toward Hezbollah. I think Hezbollah is witnessing a serious loss [of support] among the Shi’ite sect, not to mention a loss of support on the Arab, Muslim, and regional levels.