Sakr Shakes the Future Movement: Heroism or Entanglement?
By: Maysam Rizk
Published Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Future Movement politicians have rallied around MP Okab Sakr in the wake of his scandal involving leaked recordings of phone conversations that implicate him in Syrian rebel military operations, including bombings that killed civilians. Prime Minister Najib Mikati distanced himself from the political fallout, saying that Sakr “had the right to do what he wanted.”
Following his ouster from his position as prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri found himself in a sticky situation. He never thought seriously about a way out of the crisis that had strangled him politically and financially.
As his political power in Lebanon waned, and with it his regional influence, the master of Qoreitem started looking for a new role, which he found as benefactor of Syrian opposition groups.
Hariri began his political life as ‘the father of the poor,’ then gradually promoted himself to become ‘the father of the Syrian revolution,’ providing arms to its ‘mujahideen.’
Since the crisis in Syria is a “war that only befits an implacable man,” in the view of one member of the Future Movement. “Hariri the son could only find his first MP Okab Sakr for the job.” Of course, it was not because Sakr was staunch, but because he was the only one suicidal enough to go along with Hariri’s plan.
The task had already been rejected by a former Future Movement MP who refused to get involved in “squandering the blood of Syrians.”
They set up military operations rooms, communicated with Syrian fighters, established armed groups, and provided them with weapons and ammunition. Hariri and Sakr’s latest adventure highlights how far the Future Movement has fallen since the heady days of the ‘Cedar Revolution,’ having lost both support and direction.
In the wake of their exposure following the leaked recordings, Future Movement officials and politicians appeared unsure what to do.
Many immediately reacted by distancing themselves from the issue. Their “colleague will be indicted in case his involvement is proven true,” one of them declared.
Yet Hariri’s involvement led them to reconsider. Some said the recordings were part of a series of lies chasing the Future Movement since the beginning of the Syrian crisis and, therefore, they doubted their veracity.
Taking a cue from Mikati, they later shifted their positions, insisting “only Sakr can answer for the recordings and explain them.”
The extreme wing of the movement justified the actions of Hariri and Sakr on the grounds that “what they did is a big favor to supporting the oppressed Syrian people.”
Several prominent members of Hariri’s movement were colder in their responses. They saw themselves as “very far from its president.” Some were even convinced that the Future Movement’s role in Syria was limited to political and humanitarian support.
Their favorite metaphors in commenting on the issue show that they are either distancing themselves or exhibiting reserve about the contents of the recordings.
Sakr’s “mission” created a big stir inside the Future Movement, and disagreements reportedly arose over how to justify the implicated MP’s actions. Shall they give Sakr cover or leave him on his own to defend himself? What will his position be in the Lebanese parliament?
On the other hand “there are those in the movement who are not ashamed of their colleague’s actions.” In fact, in their view, Sakr became “a hero in the eyes of Future Movement supporters.”
The “hero” moniker was bestowed by a senior MP from his parliamentary bloc. But that was before his “heroic sacrifices” became public.
“If the claims about Sakr’s involvement in the Syrian events and his support to the rebels against the regime are proven to be true, it is not a shameful thing,” the senior colleague reportedly said at the time.
“If the revolution succeeds, the Future Movement will reward Sakr for his sacrifices,” he added.
The same MP said that the recordings published by Al-Akhbar demonstrated “professional work.”
“We were not surprised by the news, knowing that Sakr did have a role in the events in Syria, as reported by Arab and foreign newspapers,” he said. “We did not expect him to be that deeply involved, providing weapons.”
What the MP could not understand was “Saudi Arabia’s reliance on Sakr as one of the main lines to provide the Syrian opposition with what they needed to carry out their military operations.”
He denied knowledge of “the relationship between Hariri and the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria since 2005, as mentioned.”
More importantly, however, the Future politician said Sakr now “holds the rank of casualty,” especially since he is “fighting a war where there is no going back,” implying that Sakr is a marked man.
Future Movement statements and press releases since the eruption of the Syrian crisis would lead one to believe the movement’s primary concern was for the lives of innocent Syrians. But the actions of Sakr and Hariri tainted the image of the movement to a large extent, as they were implicated in the killing of Syrians from both sides, according to the source of the leaked tapes, who worked in one of Sakr’s military operations rooms in Turkey.
Some Future partisans feel no shame following the revelations of Sakr’s involvement in the shedding of blood, to the extent that some were upset not by Sakr’s actions, but because they did not receive the honor of the mission themselves.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.