Hezbollah, Lebanon

Hizbullah Rebuilds South Beirut

hizbullah-waad1I remember hearing Thomas Friedman on NPR after the cease-fire that ended the July War in 2006. He was speaking to Terry Gross if I’m not mistaken, and he said something along the lines of: “Nasrallah is yet another Arab leader who repeats the same formulas as many before him. He’s just another leader who stands on the rubble and says “We won”. Why? Because “it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, all that matters is if you fight the Jews.”

It seems that Friedman was wrong about Nasrallah, or at least about the ‘standing on the rubble’ bit. Hizbullah has apparently rebuilt 241 buildings and renovated hundreds more. Highly worth reading is this report by AFP about the progress of Hizbullah’s campaign to rebuild al-Dahiyeh. I will post the introduction below.

Salam Hassoun is thrilled by the new flat Hizbullah has built for her to replace the one Israeli bombs destroyed during the 2006 summer war. The war ravaged Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold that includes the teeming neighborhood of Haret Hreik, where a mammoth Hizbullah-orchestrated reconstruction drive is under way.

The deafening explosions of Israeli bombs have been replaced by the grinding cacophony of earth-movers and cement mixers contracted to rebuild 241 of the 282 buildings destroyed in the bombing.

The project, dubbed Waad (pledge in Arabic), has won the heart of Hassoun but has also raised a storm of political dust between Hizbullah and the government, whose authority in the southern suburbs has lagged for decades.

“I used to dream of an apartment where the living room was separated from the dining area and where the kitchen would be much bigger, and Waad gave me that,” Hassoun told AFP during a Hizbullah-organized tour of Haret Hreik.

“May God protect [Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan] Nasrallah. He has kept his promise,” she said from her ninth-storey flat in one of several spanking new towers…

In the famous “let’s burst this boil” speech about the defense strategy, Nasrallah seemed to suggest that the best way to address the issue of Hizbullah’s resistance was not by attempting to dismantle it, but rather by transforming it from a private Shiite army into a national force that is capable of defending the homeland. In other words, rather than subtracting weapons from the resistance, the best solution would be to add people, especially members of other sects, in order to ‘nationalize’ what is inherently a sectarian militia and decouple it from a conservative theocratic social movement.

One can imagine a future speech in which Nasrallah makes the same point about the rest of Hizbullah’s growing social services empire. With the right spin (think “public-private” synergy), and given the high prices for housing, telephones, and everything else that one pays in West Beirut, I suppose anything is possible!
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34 thoughts on “Hizbullah Rebuilds South Beirut

  1. And they dont get your vote because?

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 12:24 pm
  2. Whose vote? Mine?

    3a fikra ya Mo, are you the same Mo who comments prolifically on Sic Temper Tyrannis and Abu Muqawama? If so, how the hell do you have time for all of this?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 12:43 pm
  3. It only seems prolific because we are interested in the same topics. If you were to check posts not related to Lebanon, Palestine and Israel on both those blogs you would find me strangely absent.

    On AM, its mostly because, as you will have noticed, its mainly me and another poster who are in constant argument/debate.

    On Col Langs site, well I have a lot of time and respect for the Colonel. I first came across his blog during the 2006 war when he got me with a great post title, The Tabouleh Line, about Hizballah’s defence.

    How do I have the time? Low boredom threshold.

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 1:28 pm
  4. And sorry, yes I meant your vote

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 1:28 pm
  5. How do you know who’s getting my vote? 😉

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 1:41 pm
  6. To quote your good self:
    “Now if only I had someone to vote for…”

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 1:47 pm
  7. Ahh, yes of course.

    Well the long and short of it is that nobody has offered to stock my larder with enough olive oil to last me a couple of years. Once someone does, I’ll say nafdik.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 1:50 pm
  8. Ah then you are between a rock and a hard place.

    March 8 has all the good olive oil but only March 14 is making the offers. I thnk Berri is your best bet there but i think he demands one years olive oil up front first….:)

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 1:58 pm
  9. But they’re dreary Iranian-style apartment buildings! Totally unlike the witty, charming and bonvivant Lebanese-style apartment buildings.

    Posted by alle | March 24, 2009, 2:24 pm
  10. Mo

    Why don’t you convince me to vote for your party of choice?

    (Anybody else want to weigh in on this? If I get enough impressive arguments, I’ll create a post out of them).

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 2:24 pm
  11. My party of choice? Can you guess who that is? 🙂

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 2:43 pm
  12. “One can imagine a future speech in which Nasrallah makes the same point about the rest of Hizbullah’s growing social services empire.”

    Why not? A prerequisite for governmental authority is monopoly. If Lebanon can unite under something.. well better then what you’ve got now. Maybe.

    Posted by netsp | March 24, 2009, 2:47 pm
  13. Mo,

    Of course, it’s plain as day to me.

    Now, you have a golden opportunity to explain why I should vote for Hurras al-Arz. Tfaddal. 😉

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 2:50 pm
  14. Change you can believe in?

    Seriously, if one is not swayed by the deeds and actions of an entire party I don’t really see how I can sway you here and now, over something as impersonal and dispassionate as a comment box. But seriously, we do have the better zeit zaytoun.

    p.s. I’ve always wondered about Hurras al-Arz. Considering there are about 10% of the Arz left compared to 50 years ago, should they be charged with dereliction?

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 3:00 pm
  15. lol… are you suggesting they change their name to bayyaa3 al-arz?

    Ok, it seems like Mo is not willing to convince me to vote for the opposition. Anyone else? And are there any M14ers lurking around who want to make the case for their guys?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 3:04 pm
  16. PS: Mo, I am only ever swayed by impersonal and dispassionate arguments. The rest is just phony baloney to me.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 24, 2009, 3:07 pm
  17. Ah, but what about deed?

    Posted by mo | March 24, 2009, 3:19 pm
  18. Now that Hizballah has rebuilt, how likely are they to enter a war and risk having it all taken down again?

    Hizballah is losing its credibility as a “resistance” which is good for Lebanon and good for Israel (and quite bad for Syria and Iran). All Israel needs is no war on its borders and this the 2006 war has delivered with Lebanon.

    Posted by AIG | March 24, 2009, 4:13 pm
  19. AIG –

    The Israeli political “Merry-Go-Round” continues…

    Who is to the Left and who is to the Right? Is Kadima (an offshoot of Likud) more liberal than Labor? And how did a group of ex-Likudniks get to be more liberal than Labor? I’m as puzzled as you are.

    Personally, Labor, Kadima and Likud should combine to form ONE 66-seat party. No coalition necessary. But, I guess, that would mean 2 people couldn’t be Prime Minister!

    What a mess!

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 24, 2009, 5:43 pm
  20. AP,

    Are you suggesting an analogy? A few days ago QN mentioned offering Barack a job. That’s looking less & less funny.

    Posted by netsp | March 25, 2009, 12:39 am
  21. netsp,

    No, I’m just frustrated with the nutty Israeli political system of “coalitions”.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 25, 2009, 1:24 am
  22. Hey QN,

    You know, if I was looking for one line in the AP report to convince anyone about which party in the upcoming elections does things in a manner that shows it cares rather than in a manner to make it seem it cares, it would be this one:

    “earthquake-proof apartment blocks”

    Posted by mo | March 25, 2009, 1:42 am
  23. AB, it’s unfortunate but so are most alternatives. You can have a system that encourages small parties leading to political diversity. You can have a system that discourages them & you usually end up with two very similar choices (like in the US).

    But the system is only half the recipe. Political culture is the other half. In one case, you can have party lines drawn along policy or ideological divides. In the other you have them drawn along sectarian ones. The coalitions have similar choices.

    Then again, you can drop all pretences & just go with plain alliances. A good canary test might be if parties start getting described as ‘pro-European religious party’ or ‘anti-American secular party.’ But we’re not that far. If I say small ‘pro-Peace religious party,’ can you guess it?

    Posted by netsp | March 25, 2009, 2:31 am
  24. How about this canary test netsp, the Labor party is “centrist”:


    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 25, 2009, 4:09 am
  25. Last night’s shameful decision taken by 57% of Labor members demonstrates just how Israel has lost its Leftist ideology. The only ones still holding anything that remotely resembles the Left are Meretz (with its miserable 3 seats), and the Arab parties.


    If you’re referring to the notion that Ehud Barak is open to a position of power in Lebanon, I’d like to request credit for this idea – it was mine. 🙂 And yes, I think he proved last night that he’s capable of anything, and so is his party. Amazing that a party that barely got 10% of the votes (13/120) feels it is justified in representing 1/3 of the Israeli government. I wonder how much “rehabilitation” can be done from volvos and busy ministers in Jerusalem and the Kirya.

    Posted by Shai | March 25, 2009, 7:42 am
  26. Shai, I will give you the credit if you manage to shift the bugger across the border.

    *BTW, I wouldn’t call the Arab parties (other the Hadash) left.

    Posted by netsp | March 25, 2009, 10:31 am
  27. Mo,

    Just to play devil’s advocate: does nothing about the party give you pause?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 25, 2009, 12:18 pm
  28. Last night’s shameful decision taken by 57% of Labor members demonstrates just how Israel has lost its Leftist ideology.


    I know. The other 43% would have preferred if Barak joined the PLO.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 25, 2009, 12:50 pm
  29. QN,
    Yes, there are things that give me pause.

    I am not bothered by its relationship with Iran as the Shia across the ME have a good familial, personal and political relationship anyway. But I oppose their alleigance to the Welayat; I think its both unIslamic and unLebanese.

    The party is too-Nasrallah centric. It is a council run org. but the “force is strong with this one”.

    And they have done and said things that have shown a politcal immaturity.

    But, the game is a relative one. Comapred to nearly every other organisation, leadership and example in the Arab world, they stand head and shoulders higher. They are many things I admire and a number of stories I could tell you but above all else they actually represent the weakest, most vulnerable people in our society, the same people that the leaders of M14 have spent too many decades abusing.

    Posted by mo | March 25, 2009, 4:31 pm
  30. What about the Wilayat al-Faqih is un-Islamic in your opinion (I can see why it is “un-Lebanese”)?

    Sure, they represent the weakest, most vulnerable people, but I’m not asking about the people, I’m asking about the party.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 25, 2009, 5:55 pm
  31. I wasn’t actually clear enough there sorry. I did not mean that the theory is unislamic. What I meant that using it to give clerics absolute rule is. In fact in its purest and most unpolitcal form, I agree with it and it embodies what they are about in that it gives protection to those that need it.

    But to be used as a form of governance is unIslamic because of a plurality of reason for me personally. However, if you wanted to do away with all the arguments of shura and jurists one only has to look at the actions of the Prophet Mohamed and the “Dustur al-Madina”; this was effectively the worlds first written constitution and stressed principles of equality, consensual governance, and pluralism.
    I also personnally believe that Theocracies, based on any system, are flawed because of one simple fact. Simply knowing the teachings of your religion does not automatically make you the best person to run a country and theocracies certainly do note promote either consenual governance or pluralism.

    Posted by mo | March 25, 2009, 6:23 pm
  32. I dont understand what you mean by what you ask about the party. What was i i said that wasnt about the party?

    Posted by mo | March 25, 2009, 6:37 pm
  33. Mo,

    When you said “above all else they actually represent the weakest, most vulnerable people in our society,” I wasn’t sure how this translated into your support for the party. Are you saying that you support them because they stand up for the poor and downtrodden?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 25, 2009, 7:21 pm
  34. Well yes, because they give an honest voice to people who never had one or at least a real one.

    Posted by mo | March 25, 2009, 10:51 pm

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