Last week, a report in the Al Akbar newspaper indicated that the leader of Hezbollah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, whispered into the ear of released prisoner Samir Kuntar, “this war was fought for you” during a massive victory rally in the southern suburbs of Beirut. The BBC, perhaps unknowingly, has uploaded a video that documents this event. But it doesn’t seem to be a whisper. We can hear Nasrallah quite clearly toward the end of the clip, seen here. Interestingly the BBC seems to have missed this detail, which is not mentioned in the text of the story. This is quite a contrast to the Lebanese press, where the “whisper” made headlines such as in this An Nahar report.
The remarks and the controversy surrounding them bring recent developments in Lebanon full circle. Despite the celebrations, the Lebanese continue to be deeply divided over Hezbollah’s ability to control the country’s fate militarily, especially since the July 2006 war.
Many say that Lebanon is now more powerful as a result of the recent prisoner exchange, which is seen as the ultimate symbol of victory from that war. Others, however, question the value of releasing one combatant at the cost of over 1000 Lebanese civilians who were killed during the fighting– the lingering disagreement over which has brought the country close to civil war and wrecked the economy in the process.