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Hezbollah and Lebanon: Whistling in the Dark


The revolting victory of the Hezbollah in Lebanon is being delivered in installments. The first was the takeover of Beirut by armed force. This was followed by the army "compromise" that gave Hezbollah what it wanted so it could withdraw its soldiers and allow them, and all other wishful-thinking Lebanese, to pretend that they were not using force to get their way. This was followed by the Qatar agreement that put the stamp of approval on the "compromise," and additionally gave the Hezbollah veto power over any government action, as well as setting up the next elections so that Hezbollah supporters would have a certain majority. The latest humiliation to date was the glowing approval of the shameful agreement was given by the UN Security council.

A number of commentators in Israel, the Arab world and elsewhere have insisted that the Hezbollah "lost" the encounter when they turned their arms on fellow Arabs, a view summarized by David Kenner in The New Republic. Eventually, it is argued, the right-thinking Lebanese of the majority will force the Hezbollah to lay down its arms.

however. Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah are not stupid. Yhey understood exactly how far they could go. We can also trust that they would not make an agreement that would put them out of business. They cannot exist without their arms, so they would not allow any agreement that disarmed them.

They have engineered the takeover in such a way that they no longer need force. They have veto power over any government decision according to the terms of the Doha agreement. In effect, they almost passed an "enabling law" similar to the one that Hitler used to take dictatorial power in Germany. The government will be packed with pliant politicians, and the army already proved its pliancy. Therefore, it is almost inconceivable that they will be induced to lay down their arms.

Moreover, while their might be a lot of dissatisfaction with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, this is meaningless unless it can be translated into armed force. How many divisions has Future TV? None. It was shut down in fact by Hezbollah thugs. In the showdown, the army sided with Hezbollah, working out a near-bloodless capitulation to Hezbollah demands, that only required that they remove their troops from the streets. Saad Hariri, leader of the pro-government and anti-Hezbollah forces, had no say in the matter. He was a prisoner in his own house, and his Future TV was put off the air. As Hezbollah had won all their demands, there was no reason for them to keep their troops in the streets.

Moreover, one cannot ignore the apparently limitless capacity of Lebanese and their politicians to delude themselves. One has only to read the Beirut Daily Star to understand that a significant element of Sunni Arabs and Christians are willing to make believe that the Hezbollah are really working for the unity of Lebanon and that the Qatar agreement is a "good thing." This is no doubt preferable to opposing the Hezbollah, which has often proven to be very bad for the health of journalists and politicians.

Hezbollah has managed to take power by terrorizing and assassinating its most important enemies and then using just enough armed force to make clear who is in charge. Rather than disarmament of Hezbollah, it is far more likely that if Hezbollah ever "surrenders its arms" it will be because its own troops have been absorbed in, and have come to dominate, the Lebanese army. At that point, there will be nothing left of Lebanese sovereignty. The issue of popular support doesn't matter. Islamic Republics like Iran are not dependent on the support of a democratic electorate. They maintain their rule at gun point. The AK-47 and the explosive device, rather than the ballot and the public opinion polls, will decide the future of Lebanon, just as they have now decided the Qatar "agreement."

The next stage in the Hezbollah show will be, without doubt, the humiliation of Israel. Israel and Hezbollah are apparently negotiating an agreement for "exchange" of hostages. If all goes as planned, in a few weeks, the vicious and unreprentant serial murderer Samir Kuntar will stand free in Beirut with Hassan Nasrallah, along with a Lebanese Jewish spy, and accompanied by the release of a large quantity of Palestinian prisoners. A huge victory celebration will enthrone Nasrallah and Hezbollah forever as the the saviors of Lebanon and heroes of the resistance. A 'minor' consequence of this exchange will be to declare de facto that Israel lost the Second Lebanon War - a very humiliating retroactive defeat, as if the triumph of Hezbollah were not itself sufficient evidence of that defeat. Israel sacrificed the lives of over 150 soldiers and civilians precisely because of Israel's refusal to exchange Samir Kuntar and others for the kidnapped soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. However regrettable it is, all evidence indicates that there is almost no probability that Regev and Goldwasser survived the attack on them. IDF analysts who examined the site of the attack and the vehicles surmised from the damage to the vehicles and the bloodstains. that they must at least have been quite severely wounded. It is unlikely that if they were alive then, they got reasonable medical care. There has been no sign of life from the supposed captives since. Even if the captives are alive, an unlikely contingency, the Hezbollah will be handed a huge victory by the exchange. It will tempt them to carry out further kidnappings, and endanger hundreds of lives for the two that were saved. It is difficult to understand what might be motivating the Israeli government to make any such deal. Human concern for our two captured soldiers should not be put above the lives of hundreds of people that will be lost in future wars that are made inevitable by capitulation to Hezbollah demands.

In these circumstances, those who continue to find a 'silver lining' in the Hezbollah coup in Lebanon are truly whistling in the dark. A very dangerous enemy with clear goals of the most sinister kind has achieved all of its objectives, frustrating and humiliating not only Lebanese patriots and Israel, but also the will of the Arab world as well as the international community. Hezbollah intends to set up an Islamic Republic in Lebanon by their own admission. This monster state will without a doubt be a poppet of Syria and Iran and an exporter of radical Islamism and terrorism, producing a very hazardous situation for Israel as well as for most of the Arab world. Deluding ourselves will only make matters worse. It would be far more constructive to make the most sober assessments, to recognize the damage that has been done, and to see what may be done about it. The least that we can do is make certain that all of us have a realistic appraisal of what happened - and will happen - in Lebanon.

Ami Isseroff

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Replies: 3 comments


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Posted by mikana @ 06/10/2008 11:27 PM CST

What happen in the Middlie East was that the West's meddling in Lebenese affairs backfired. The so called ceder revolution was nothing more than the Sunni, Druze, and Maronite Christians attempt to grab power. The Lebenese Shia rallied around the only force they have capable of keeping the richer factions from abusing them. If anything Hezbollah proved the rest of the world should keep its nose out of Lebenon's business.

Israel and Hezbollah talking to each other is always a good thing. Rather than being humiliating for Israel it could allow to finally realize that talking to hostile groups and not fighting them will make for better opportunities.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 06/23/2008 12:51 AM CST

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