Taking Responsibility for Hezbollah

Israel and the West have performed their part in building up the cult of Nasrallah. Paris, September 2006.

Winning a war means conquering hearts and minds — even when the cause is justified. The US gained great sympathy throughout the world when it played a leading role to save Bosnian Muslims from Serbian oppression, but the US today is totally different because of its policies in Iraq and Israel.

Thanks to the War on Terror, the 21st century belongs to the Shiites.  George W. Bush believed only in preventive war, not peace, and so have all the American governments that have followed his lead since.

Sadly, in Lebanon and Palestine, Iran and Syria are in conflict with the international community, especially the United States. No one is benefiting from this struggle; not the Arabs, not the Lebanese, not the Palestinians. Tehran and Damascus are using these fields to settle their differences with the international community. They do not care for the blood of the innocent who are slaughtered. Nor do they care about the destruction that has set these two countries back a few decades.

Hezbollah wants to drag Israel onto Lebanese soil again as part of the plan.  If that happens, it will certainly experience serious losses but those militants are ready to sacrifice their lives especially after inevitable scenes of a massacre in Lebanon.  Given the facts, there is no reason for Hezbollah to advocate for peace; the war is just a beginning for them.

But why is south Lebanon roaring and the Syrian Golan fast asleep? Many are also asking why did Iran not plant Hezbollah on Syrian soil, especially the occupied Golan, instead of planting it in the south, which was not occupied in the first place? Syrian-Iranian relations, since the bloody revolt against the Shah, have been very close and powerful to an extent that has made it and still makes it threaten Arab interests.

We agree entirely with the Saudi concerns about the situation in Lebanon. Hezbollah fighters hide amongst civilians so they can cry before the world when a child is killed whom they have hidden behind or an old woman whom they have used for a shield; enough misinformation and claims of bravery and Jihad.

Despite the heroic role played by the Hezbollah fighters, it is not strange to hear some dissonance that will denounce or have reservations against this stance of Hezbollah. These voices will claim that the balance of power is not in our favour and that the timing is not right and that this or that operation will affect the tourism season and that Israel will destroy the infrastructure.

Still, I write about Lebanon to criticize what is called ‘The Hezbollah Republic.’ This republic has acted foolishly during these already hard times revealing that its leadership did not comprehend the Israeli lesson well. This also demonstrates Hezbollah’s willingness to bury all of Lebanon.

Today, Arabs must more than any other time put an end to irresponsible actions. It is incomprehensible, as the Saudis said, for a single entity to push the Lebanese government without its agreement or any coordination with the Arab countries to declare war on Israel. But, for Bashar al-Assad,  a “New Middle East” defined by Hezbollah, must stand as a rival of America’s ‘Greater Middle East’.

That’s why it is not fair to blame Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria or Iran without examining all aspects of the problem. Laying blame is not enough. What is needed is a mechanism to guarantee the rights of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. Israel, ironically, has convinced the Arab and Islamic public to support Hezbollah and to consider them legitimate and a basis for Arab pride.

Western democracies carry their own responsibilities for having allowed the Iranian Revolution to take place and for having fraternized with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, as well as having tolerated the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. The result stands before our eyes, personified by Hezbollah. US military experts are astounded at Hezbollah’s power, and on the strategic advantage that Hezbollah provides for Iran.

Indeed, even Turkey is witnessing renewed activity by Hezbollah, which had been dormant since a military crackdown in the 1990s. Unlike the PKK, Turkish Hezbollah is employing a “hearts and minds” campaign in the Turkish east, not threats and violence, to win recruits and sympathizers.

This strategy could make it more successful than the PKK. Hezbollah is opening free health clinics, distributing food and doing other humanitarian work. The aim of the group is to create a “Kurdish-Islamist synthesis.” The “Islamist” aspect is of the greatest concern to the Turkish authorities, who fear that this provides an opening for influence by other extremist Islamic organisations.

Their funding appears to come entirely from small, legal, businesses such as butchers and grocers in eastern provinces such as Bingol and Siirt. He said there is still no known connection between Hezbollah and the organization in Lebanon.

Adapted from State Department diplomatic cables courtesy of archive.org. Photograph by Looking4Poetry. Published under a Creative Commons license.