Re: Pride in Hezbollah Fades as Lebanese Query War's Toll (Update2)
- From: "nadr" <nadr@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 22:05:36 GMT
"BASIL K" <maysaloun@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
Pride in Hezbollah Fades as Lebanese Query War's Toll (Update2)
That is not a surprise. I have said on this newsgroup many times that as
the Lebanese recover from the shock of the damage and they face reality,
they will be very disgruntled and they will begin to question the "divine
victory" slogan. I also predicted that Shiite resentment will be bigger and
more vocal. In addition, Nasrallh may be killed by a Shiite who lost all
his family, relatives and business. It is very plausible. He has been safe
thus far because he is hiding in a bunker. He is no longer hiding from
Israeli planes. He is hiding from the angry Lebanese. He does not feel as
safe as he used to. He is finally tasting the feeling of insecurity that he
has long inflicted on other Lebanese.
By Daniel Williams
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Pride among Lebanese in surviving the war with
Israel has given way to questioning why it all happened, with measures
of blame heaped on Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim militia that triggered
During most of the 33 days of combat, national unity overshadowed
unease among many Lebanese about Hezbollah's autonomous armed force.
Concern has resurfaced as Lebanon faces the reality of damage to
houses, roads and its economy.
``Do I have to pay for someone else's adventure?'' said Abdel Rahman
Soubri, 52, a construction worker in Haret Hreik, a heavily bombed,
mostly Shiite district of Beirut. Soubri, a Sunni Muslim, said he
wasn't protesting from a sectarian point of view. He complained that
other militias from Lebanon's turbulent past had given up arms, and
Hezbollah should, too. ``Doesn't Hezbollah ever get tired of
shooting?'' he asked.
Such views among the Lebanese public -- and among other political
groupings in the country -- are calling into question Hezbollah's
future place in Lebanon's fractured political landscape, and as a model
for other Islamic movements in the Middle East.
Shiite criticism of the movement is harder to come by; many continue to
laud Hezbollah for its military prowess. ``The results are simple for
us,'' said Samaar Sayeed, 28, a mother of a young boy. ``Israel will
not be in Lebanon anymore.''
Even so, Shiites too face a long process of rebuilding their homes and
livelihoods. ``Our leader got us into this,'' said a woman who
identified herself only as Umm Ali, which means Ali's mother. ``Let's
see them fix it.''
Deaths and Damage
Hezbollah ignited the conflict when it abducted two Israeli soldiers in
a July 12 cross-border raid. During the war, Hezbollah guerrillas
foiled Israel's expressed goals of disarming and dismantling the
militia. The count of Lebanese fatalities topped 1,000, and about
130,000 houses and buildings were damaged. Government officials
estimate the cost of reconstruction at $3.5 billion.
Lebanon had been debating Hezbollah's military role since Israel ended
its 17-year occupation of south Lebanon in 2000. Hezbollah, a political
party whose militia dates from the 1980s, waged a war of attrition
against the Israeli forces. The party and its militia are supported by
Syria and Iran, and accused by the U.S. and Israel of masterminding
While two United Nations Security Council Resolutions -- in 2004 and
this year -- call for Hezbollah to be disarmed, the group's leaders
argue that its weapons are needed to protect the border region. Rival
parties in Lebanon counter that only the central government can take
responsibility for the nation's defense, and that Hezbollah is an
Danger for Lebanon
The danger for Lebanon, which was split by civil war from 1975 to 1990,
lies in the possible repercussions of these competing views, according
to Joseph Bahout, a professor at the Institute for Political Studies in
``Lebanese have a very costly and painful experience with opposing
narratives, with stories of one party's triumph turning out to be
another's debacle,'' Bahout wrote in the Beirut-based Daily Star
newspaper. ``When an entire sector of society is depicted as having a
deeply different sense of belonging, identity and collective goals and
when that sector is moreover accused of being a hostile foreigner's
proxy, then the `enemy within' has arrived and strife is not very far
Lebanese analysts say that Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah indirectly
acknowledged evolving opinions of the war within the country in a
Lebanese television interview Aug. 27. Referring to the abduction of
the two Israeli soldiers, he said, ``Had I known that capturing the
soldiers would lead to this result, I never would have done it.''
His comments unleashed criticism from rival Lebanese politicians, and
he modified them in an interview with the as- Safir newspaper published
Sept. 5. ``I say we did not make a mistake in judgment,'' Nasrallah
said. ``Our calculations were correct, and we do not regret it.''
Nasrallah warned against efforts ``to tarnish the image of victory
gradually by means of provocation until it is permanently destroyed.''
That left supporters in the unaccustomed position of offering up spin:
Was Nasrallah repentant or not? ``He was just reminding that Israel was
responsible for the damage,'' said Naim Bilal, a member of Hezbollah's
Islamic Institution for Education and Teaching.
`Didn't Want All This'
``No, Nasrallah's first comment was an admission,'' said Gebran Bassil,
a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party that is
allied politically with Hezbollah. ``He didn't want all this to
In any case, political rivals took Nasrallah to task. Walid Jumblatt,
leader of Lebanon's Druze minority, criticized Hezbollah's raid into
Israel and argued that Hezbollah is too beholden to Iran to give up its
weapons and take a purely political role in Lebanon.
``Do they really want a Lebanese state or do they want an open
battlefield that would serve Iran's interests?'' Jumblatt asked in an
Aug. 31 interview on al-Arabiya, a Dubai-based television news network.
Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat, while steering clear of criticizing
Hezbollah, acknowledged that the glow is fading from its military
achievements. ``Hezbollah could become less influential,'' he said in
an interview. ``In a few weeks, even Shiites might be asking where all
this warfare got them.''
The price of the conflict will continue to be paid economically as well
as in the streets. Standard & Poor's today cut Lebanon's credit-rating
outlook to ``negative'' from ``stable,'' even as Lebanese television
showed pictures of crowds in central Beirut protesting the visit of
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who refused to condemn the Israeli
bombardment during the war.
Censure of Hezbollah in Lebanon has jump-started negative media
commentary in other Arab countries. Even as Hezbollah's military
prowess electrified large parts of the Arab population, it horrified
governments that feared being drawn into war. Monarchies and secular
dictatorships in the Middle East are also contending with Islamic
political movements that challenge their right to govern.
``As much as we salute the leader of the resistance for his courage and
honesty, we must blame those who sought to falsify facts and considered
the recent conflict a heroic act, strategic choice and a war for
freedom and liberation,'' Abdul Rahman Al- Rashed, general manager of
al-Arabiya, wrote in a-Sharq al- Awsat, a newspaper funded by Saudi
``It is important that Arab citizens become aware of the difference
between political fraud and facts on the ground,'' he said. ``Those who
cheered the war and attacked those who sought to discuss it are leading
the nation to more destruction.''
Timor Goksel, who for 20 years served as spokesman for UN peacekeepers
in south Lebanon and now teaches at the American University of Beirut,
said he considers what Lebanese think to be a better gauge of
Hezbollah's future than outside Arab opinion.
``Winning the Arab street won't mean anything to Hezbollah if it loses
its appeal in Lebanon,'' said Goksel, who retired in 2003. ``Hezbollah
doesn't have an easy road here.''
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Williams in Beirut at
Last Updated: September 11, 2006 15:46 EDT
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