Free Patriotic Movement, Hezbollah, Lebanon

Nasrallah Overreaches?

may7Two nights ago, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah gave a speech in which he, for reasons I can’t quite comprehend, re-opened the file on the events of May 7th 2008. It seems that the Future Movement’s latest round of campaign billboards — which feature slogans like “We won’t forget,” “They won’t return,” and “We won’t leave  you,” which reference the May 7 takeover of West Beirut — managed to touch a nerve with Nasrallah, and he felt the need to respond.

Nasrallah’s reading of the events is one that most opposition partisans will typically present: March 14th was doing the bidding of the United States, Israel, and the Arab puppet regimes by attempting to disable a crucial component of Hizbullah’s military apparatus; as soon as they crossed this “red line”, they were given two days to reverse their decision, which they ignored; Hizbullah then struck with surgical precision, shutting down the city and neutralizing all the pro-government militias that had been preparing for a battle envisioned to last weeks and which would eventually lead to the intervention of foreign armies to “keep the peace”; when this plan was foiled (with minimal casualties), the country was forced back to the dialogue table and a peaceful solution was  reached in Doha.

Therefore, concluded Nasrallah, “May 7th was a glorious day” for the Resistance. Predictably, there are many who disagree, and interestingly, they are not all on March 14th’s side. Former PM Salim al-Hoss, a strong supporter of Hizbullah, criticized Nasrallah’s remarks yesterday, and the Free Patriotic Movement has not moved in any overt way to back up their ally. My own experience speaking to various pro-opposition types here in Beirut confirms the uneasiness with which Nasrallah’s words were received. The feeling is that he overstepped.

Not that it really matters, this close to the election. It seems that the desire to win is so strong on both sides that it overrides any petty intra-coalition grievances. At some point, however, one wonders whether the FPM and Hizbullah are going to lock horns on resistance issues.

I had a conversation recently with a relative of mine, “Samir”, who is a strong supporter of both the FPM and the Hizb. I think his feelings are representative of how many opposition voters (particularly within the FPM) think about the future of the resistance and Lebanon’s role within the Arab-Israeli struggle. I reproduce as much of it as I can remember, below:

"We won't forget, as long as the sky is blue." (h/t beirutntsc.blogspot.com)

"We won't forget, as long as the sky is blue." (h/t beirutntsc.blogspot.com)

Samir: What the March 14th Christians do not understand is that the FPM is able to have a more productive dialogue with Hizbullah based on respect. It is easier to have an effect on someone when they respect you.

QN: What kind of effect?

Samir: I mean, let’s take a superficial example. I, as a Christian, have no problem going on al-Manar and being interviewed by a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf. I respect her customs. But why is it a problem for a Hizbullah leader like Naim Qassem to be interviewed by a Christian woman if she is not wearing a headscarf? Shouldn’t he respect her customs? Do you see what I mean? This is not an important issue, but the basic point is that a Lebanese Forces MP can’t have a sensitive dialogue with Hizbullah because there is no trust between the two sides. But the FPM can, because we are allies.

QN: Is there anything that the FPM can’t talk about with Hizbullah?

Samir: Like what?

QN: Like the Resistance. Take, for example, the business about Hizbullah cells operating in Egypt.

Samir: I’m totally against that. It was a major mistake for them to get involved in Egypt. Not that I’m defending Mubarak — I can’t stand him — but he was right when he said that Hizbullah has no business operating secretly in Egypt.

QN: Do you think Nasrallah made a mistake by admitting it?

Lebanese Forces mock FPM "selling out" its principles (h/t Ouwet Front)

Lebanese Forces mock FPM "selling out" its principles (h/t Ouwet Front)

Samir: They shouldn’t have been involved at all, in my opinion. I don’t understand why Lebanon — which is the smallest country in its region — has to pay the largest price in the struggle with Israel. We have paid enough already. For now, I want to go back to the hudna and in the long run I want a peace deal. I want to support the Palestinians in the camps here, to improve their living conditions and give them their rights, and to send money to Palestine. That’s what I can do. But to go and fight and bring another disaster down upon our heads… no, I’m against it.

QN: So the Resistance is, in your opinion…

Samir: … a national defense. That’s what Hizbullah is saying and I trust them. If they start to reveal something else, then I’m against it.

As we saw recently in the flap about Jezzine, it does not take much for the old battle lines to become visible. I don’t know how many people feel the same way as my cousin Samir, but I’m sure he is not part of a tiny minority in the FPM. M14’s Christian leadership, however, has proven to be so hamfisted in its attempts to exploit this ambivalence that it will probably end up costing them the election.
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Discussion

51 thoughts on “Nasrallah Overreaches?

  1. Interesting post, man. I found the speech to be really ballsy, and probably a bad idea overall, since there are a lot of people who are on the fence or even ostensibly support Hezbollah who could be angered by this sort of rhetoric about last May. I also found the tone to be particularly derisive. Expect this to be translated and posted on Memri in the coming days…

    Posted by sean | May 18, 2009, 11:53 am
  2. The simplest explanation is the following:
    Nasrallah does not want to win the elections. He prefers that March 14 win by a small margin.

    Posted by AIG | May 18, 2009, 1:55 pm
  3. An “overstep” by SHN, perhaps, although studying his public appearances, especially since the 2006 war begs a more in depth analysis of this assumption. I felt that SHN was in control, alerting the audience when he is raising the rhetoric (by saying this is a public speech rather than a meeting with the media) or lowering his tone. Furthermore, upon raising the bar during a particularly fiery segment of his speech about 7 May, he made a point of addressing Haj Amine (Amine Shirri, the Hizb candidate in Beirut who was withdrawn) jokingly saying it doesn’t matter to him (haj Amine) as he is out of it. This indicates to me SHN was quite aware of what he was saying and realised the potential impact of his utterances.

    This leaves us with the question that QN seems to pose: why, so close to election day, appear to be alienating a certain segment of the ‘wavering’ electorate?

    Angry Arab on his post sees SHN’s latest speech as a further indication that the Hizb is showing signs of ambivalence towards winning the upcoming election. Angry Arab goes further to suggest, based on conversations he had with ‘opposition’ supporters, that the Hizb is “more worried about winning the elections than losing it”!

    Be that as it may, there is a growing belief, based on hindsight, that the Hizb leadership analysed the situation, conducted a profit-loss examination and reached a conclusion that in the prevailing circumstances it is more beneficial to pass on certain messages, internally (the party members and its supporters), domestically and regionally, no matter how vociferous it sounds, than keep quite with respect to what the Hizb’s rank and file consider a ‘free hand’ given to M14, especially Mustaqbal, in the propaganda arena.

    Is it possible that the Hizb is so confident of winning the election that it doesn’t feel that increasing the tempo would not matter? Or is it time that we take on board what some observers, including Angry, Arab, believe to be the Hizb hidden agenda that revolves around not getting too much involved in Lebanese domestic institutions?

    Regards

    Posted by Question Marks | May 18, 2009, 2:00 pm
  4. There is another theory and I look forward to your thoughts on it:

    HA wants some escalation or at least the threat of an escalation before and on the elections because they believe that some M14 voters will be too scared to go out and vote in fear for their safety. Because many M14 voters are not as ideologically “fanatic” or “tough” as their M8 counterparts.

    While HA supporters are much more ideologically linked and passionate about their party that they would risk personal harm to go out and support them.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | May 18, 2009, 2:12 pm
  5. “Nasrallah’s reading of the events is one that most opposition partisans will typically present:..”

    What Sayyed Nasrallah said about the May 2008 events, especially about May 5, was only about facts. In a long speech back in 2008, he explained in details what was happening between Hizbullah and some security officials who were sent by the Hariri, Siniora and Junblat gang and the issues that were discussed. One can go back to that particular speech to understand what happened on May 7, 2008, and what Sayyed Nasrallah said a few ago. Although there are still many things that one day will be uncovered about that notorious May 5 meeting that lasted overnight, no one can deny that phone calls were made to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Washington to take instructions, that some ministers were against those decisions, that Walid Junblat threatened to withdraw his plucky ministers if the decision to literally criminalize the Islamic Resistance was not taken, that the Hariri clan brought thousands of armed men and thugs to West Beirut aided by “intelligence” officiers from Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia who were flushed later on out of Beirut, etc.

    Trying to play the so-called impartiality game does not obscur those facts and many others that, as I said, one day will come to light.

    Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech is the least reply one can have in the face of the utter racism and xenophobia that permeates the Hariri gang media. If it was for the partisans of Hizbullah and co., the Hariri gang should have been expelled outside the country back in 2008 and criminals and warlords like Walid Junblat should have been put in their place, along with cowardly criminals like Samir Geagea and petty criminals like Khaled Daher the one who is behind the Halba massacre.

    As for taking power, it is certainly not the right moment for Hizbullah to be in full control along with his partners. They should not allow the Hariri gang to walk away from the public debt they profited from the most and with there Solidère project, just as Rafiq Hariri did between 1998 and 2000. They will have to account for what they did in one way or the other.

    Regarding the Palestine issue, one can only say that the only country that benefited the most from what happened to Palestine and the Palestinians is Lebanon from 1948 onward. And many members of General Michel Aoun’s FPM are still imbued with the racist propaganda against the Palestinians that they brought with them from the Guardians of the Cedar or other right-wing parties who were part of the Lebanese Front.

    As for a long term “peace” treaty, one can only dream.

    As for what Hizbullah did in Egypt, one can only say: the road to Palestine passes by every capital in the Arab world because those capitals conspired with the Zionist project since its inception and they still do.

    Posted by Jihad | May 18, 2009, 3:16 pm
  6. IC,
    I dont think thats the case,I mean, the election outcome is going to be decided within predominately christian areas,ie zahle,jbeil,baabda,kesrwen etc. Im imagining young and old,families and the lot turning out in full force to take advantage of the opportunity.Planes are coming in from far and wide even.
    Im seeing colourful flags, balloons,decorations,tags etc…theres a certain extravaganza about it not unlike the election atmosphere in the USA for example.Good ol Ziad Baroud has his work cut out for him.

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2009, 3:22 pm
  7. How is it that he re-opeed the file if M14 are touting these campaign billboards? Is it not natural for him to respond to the propoganda?

    Why an over reach? It was clear at the time that tensions were simmering. The rehtoric was reaching new levels and the actions by the cabinet were antagonistic. Even if you agree with the cabinets decision you cannot deny they were meant to provoke a response.

    And lets quit with this Hizballah doesnt want to win. Its far easier for the opposition to win and Hizballah not take a major part in govt. than for them to lose and risk going through what the country has gone through in the last 4 years.

    Posted by mo | May 18, 2009, 3:28 pm
  8. Mo,

    I do think that Nasrallah could have ignored these particular campaign billboards, in the same way that he has ignored the vast majority of them. I was surprised that he decided to talk about May 7th all over again, not to mention labeling it as a “glorious day”. Most Lebanese do not regard it as such, if we are to judge the media responses (or lack thereof) by Christian and Sunni politicians on the opposition side.

    Jihad,

    You clearly accept Hizbullah’s reading, but not everybody else does. And coordination with foreign powers is not the exclusive province of March 14, as I’m sure you know.

    As for xenophobia and racism, I think that these are terms that should be used properly. I don’t like the Future Movement’s media campaign, but I think it is a stretch to call it racist or xenophobic. Call it “sectarian” or “divisive” or whatever, but racist and xenophobic is just inaccurate. Or at least, give me some examples of what you consider racist and xenophobic so I know what referring to.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 18, 2009, 3:52 pm
  9. In another context or another country, such a speech could be understood as an attempt to rally the faithful, motivate the base, except here, the base is already motivated. The only two other possibilities that come to mind, then, is self-handicapping for one reason or another, or arrogance.

    I’m leaning toward the latter. It’s become common wisdom that March 8 is going to win, so perhaps Nasrallah took that for granted and when faced with an electoral campaign that strikes a nerve decided to double down, thinking that it wouldn’t significantly hurt March 8’s results in June.

    The problem with this is that, as Hezbollah knows very well, legitimacy is always important for a successful party, not just during an election campaign. You’re right that many, many people (all but the opposition’s base) saw last May as a terrible, not glorious, day. For a party whose electoral campaign has focused on creating a big tent through talking about national issues, this speech could have negative effects in the long run.

    Posted by sean | May 18, 2009, 4:20 pm
  10. No, the vast majority are realtively vacuous and speak to the choir. These ones could not be ignored because they can sway the undecided. The reasoning behind bringing it up again is something only they know, but if I were to guess, it would be to make the point that the party is not ashamed of what it did and that their actions were nothing compared to what would have happened if the situation had been allowed to deteriorate further. We could all see were it was leading at the time and I have yet to hear a single M14 supporter give me a credible reason behind the actions the cabinet took as an alternative to the fact that they were looking for a fight. Nor has any M14 supporter told me how the actions of May 7 were any more criminal than the sniping that had been going on more than a year beforehand.

    Jihads reading maybe a M8 one, but there are facts that cannot be denied, most importantly that there were armed M14 men on the streets of Beirut. If M14 were not looking for a fight and were looking to establish the authority of the state, what were their armed men doing on the street?

    The difference between Nasrallah and his Christian and Sunni allies is that the election results have no net effect on his position. For Aoun, Hoss etc. these are make or break elections. They cannot afford to be rocking the boat at this stage (which is probably my only crticism of the speech in that it may imapct his allies negatively).

    P.S. Aren’t we becoming a little Nasrallah-centric? Should we not also be talking about why Samir Geagea doesnt have the confidence to run himself? Or why a sitting PM is running in a potentially dangerous seat rather than a safe seat in beirut?

    Posted by mo | May 18, 2009, 4:29 pm
  11. Let’s see: if it is true that the election result is going to be decided by christian votes, and christian opinion is the one –besides the sunni one – likely to be uneasy about the polemic remarks, then would it be possible to conclude that, while the Hzb will win (their part) anyway, they don’t want the FPM to win by too much, or maybe simply they do not to want them to win at all? And if that is true, or makes sense, why the hell could that be? -If one were to believe the theory that WJ’s video was posted on purpose, then a parallel could be drawn between the two cases…or not?

    Posted by mj | May 18, 2009, 4:37 pm
  12. mo said:

    No, the vast majority are realtively vacuous and speak to the choir. These ones could not be ignored because they can sway the undecided.

    The LF posters have been pushing the exact same message for months and Nasrallah hasn’t deigned to say anything about them.

    I have yet to hear a single M14 supporter give me a credible reason behind the actions the cabinet took as an alternative to the fact that they were looking for a fight. Nor has any M14 supporter told me how the actions of May 7 were any more criminal than the sniping that had been going on more than a year beforehand.

    Mo, I’m sure M14 was looking for a confrontation. That was the point. But looking for a confrontation is not itself an indictment of the action. March 14th’s position against Hizbullah’s resistance is not a secret: it’s their entire platform and raison d’etre! There’s an op-ed on NOW Lebanon today that basically says that the Cedar Revolution has not lost its momentum because the common antagonist (Hizbullah’s weapons) remains.

    This is the crux of the problem. Both sides regard the other’s position as entirely illegitimate and incompatible with their vision of a viable Lebanese state. It’s not that hard to understand.

    For Aoun, Hoss etc. these are make or break elections. They cannot afford to be rocking the boat at this stage

    I think you’re right but I also think you underestimate the degree to which Aoun’s constituents were disturbed by the May 7 events. Mo (and Jihad), as recently as 2006 the FPM’s leadership (from Michel Aoun to Ibrahim Kanaan to Issam Abu Jamra to Ziad Abs to Alain Aoun, etc.) were talking about Hizbullah’s weapons in ways not so different from the Lebanese Forces! Sure they occasionally used some conciliatory language like “we can’t force Hizbullah to disarm immediately,” but there was no doubt that they considered the present state of affairs to be untenable.

    Ya shabab! I’m going to be in the mountains for the next 24 hrs far far away from an internet connection, so please excuse my silence in the comment section. Sean, you keep an eye out for trouble makers.

    Cheers

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | May 18, 2009, 5:41 pm
  13. I wonder: Regardless of the fact that all these electoral slogans are creative, humorous and punning, are they understood by the larger segment of Lebanon’s electorate?

    I mean, it’s one thing to understand and master the usage of the “Remonde Control”, to stand on the “Balgon” on warm summer nights and to take the “Onstrade” for quicker access … Are the Abou & emm Melhems of Lebanon really atuned to a google ad?

    What happened to old fashion ads like “Elect me because I am honnest and confident”, or don’t elect him because he’s a crook and a wimp?

    What is this infatuation with overstretched creativity ….

    Posted by F | May 18, 2009, 6:35 pm
  14. QN,

    Nasrallah might not wanted to ignore the billboards but choose to, to avoid appearing like he is part of the political mass (i.e. politicians campaigning on a daily basis). This way, when he eventually makes a speach it weighs heavier than others.

    Maverick – Maybe, but a low turnout by M14 supporters couldnt hurt. especially in some beirut areas.

    MJ – I think your conspiracy theory is a little far-fetched. HA will bend backwards to support FPM, their areas are more vital than Hizb’s to secure M8 majority.

    Posted by Innocent Criminal | May 18, 2009, 7:23 pm
  15. If SNH does not want to win the elections, why doesnt it just say so, in true HA fashion. Its not feasible on their behalf to look like theyre trying to win( HA has sacrificed alot for its allies)and then untangle what theyve built through inciting unecessary reaction( May7 merry day).
    I guess ill wait to see SNH again tonight,maybe he has the explanation, but one thing still lingers in my head:
    If what SHN had said about the May 5 conspiracy and the justification of the may7 events in Beirut gave people some insight, then how on earth can he explain the incurion and the bungled misadventure into the heart of the Druze mountain?

    Posted by Maverick | May 18, 2009, 8:29 pm
  16. In case you guys still have doubts about who was the real speaker in that speech of HN, then you should have a look at this.
    The Wali Faqih has just entered strongly into the presidential election campaign in Iran and made his endorsements very clear. HN was just the moutpiece and he doesn’t care about the parliemantary election results. Khamenei was the real speaker and the message was faithfully delivered to so-called ‘puppets’.

    Posted by mike | May 18, 2009, 11:05 pm
  17. I think it is pretty clear, as Mo said, that Hizbullah is simply not ashamed of its actions, and doesn’t feel the need to hide from them. Nasrallah has no qualms about defending May 7 because he believes it was a correct move.

    The anger he expressed during his speech is probably a reflection of his understanding of the importance of the “facts on the ground” in Lebanon. I am fairly confident that he considers the political/election game as something other than the “facts on the ground” and thus he is less concerned with the results of the political game v. the results of the direct politics Hizbullah engages in on a daily basis. In my opinion, this view of politics (being the result of concrete activities by the rank and file, and not born by the results of a one-off election) is what makes Hizbullah different than the other political organizations in Lebanon, and is the source of their great success. They know this, and will not abandon this calculation any time soon.

    Further, after considering this dynamic, the charge that they are trying to lose is ridiculous. YET, that is quite distinct from the fact that they are also not particularly concerned whether they “win” or not. Hizbullah does not gain its popularity or power from a legislative mandate, and thus does not consider the elections a primary motivating factor in its calculations. Thus, many people misunderstand Hizbullah in thinking that their semi-apathy toward the outcome of the elections means they are trying to lose.

    As for your cousin, this distinction between the politics of direct and concrete organizing v. politicking/electioneering is probably why Hizbullah does not worry about making alliances with factions like FPM. They probably feel that they can deal with them on a fairly superficial level, and they share mutual interests and can mutually benefit from such a relationship… But since FPM can never really threaten Hizbullah in a substantive way, and that Hizbullah knows this, I think your cousin’s skepticism is probably justified in large part.

    Mike,
    Get real. If you actually believe what you say, you have the depth of understanding of Bush or AIG.

    Posted by Joe M. | May 18, 2009, 11:41 pm
  18. Joe M.,

    I am not waiting for some one like you to make an opinion about my personal abilities. I believe it is against the rules of dialog as required by this blog. I could easily say the same thing about you and dismiss your opinion as irrelevant. I could also ignore your comment altogether as a piece of **** and move on.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 1:00 am
  19. Why not consider the fact that Hariri in ALL his electoral speeches has breached the Doha agreement and the entente mutuel he made with Nasrallah during their”reconciliation” meeting ,not to escalate the sectarian tones and as regard the 7 may events,let by gone be bygone?It has been quite painful to the ears to hear him speak during this electoral campaign,ressassing sectarian hatred and slogans.
    And there is the escalation in Saida with the Siniora nomination,breaching there a modus vivendi that,what ever one think of it,has brought a certain stability to the “capital”of the south.
    It seems to me that with this very harsh discourse(albeit ending in a conciliatory tone)he preempted what he saw as a future threat,on the line of the precedent one,by reminding the other part that his party was still vigilant,did not forget,and was still able to defend its interests.
    Of course ,he wants the opposition to win the election.His party has made a lot of concessions in this sense.The last 4 years have been a “kabus”for all the opposition,including this party.

    Posted by Bonzai | May 19, 2009, 2:16 am
  20. He may be overreaching (and i can certainly imagine some risk averse fence-sitters in key Christian districts being turned off by the rhetoric), but I think this speech is fairly consistent with his general emphasis on the HA’s might and “ability to get stuff done”/act as a more effective governing force than the actual government (of which, from their perspective, May 7 was the ultimate demonstration).

    I haven’t been in Beirut for over a month now, (so I don’t know if this is in fact the case) but I find it interesting that there seems to be very little discussion of Israel’s threats towards Iran and what that might mean for the resistance. The HA generally goes out of its way to avoid discussing Iran. Yet, in light of the recent revelations of their assistance to Gaza (and the possibility of operations outside Lebanese soil), I’m surprised that M14 hasn’t exploited the Iran issue further. Though to be honest, if Israel does attack Iran, I’m not sure the HA’s being in the majority or opposition will make much of a difference in terms of the choice of response (or maybe that’s an open question).

    Posted by nk | May 19, 2009, 2:28 am
  21. It seems my campaign slogans a few posts ago, have spurred sectarianism!

    Its good to see that the more things stay the same, the more likelihood there might be changed, ah heck who am I trying too fool?

    They are all a bunch of sectarians!

    Posted by Enlightened | May 19, 2009, 3:08 am
  22. It seems my campaign slogans a few posts ago, have spurred sectarianism!

    Its good to see that the more things stay the same, the more likelihood there might be change, ah heck who am I trying too fool?

    They are all a bunch of sectarians!

    Posted by Enlightened | May 19, 2009, 3:09 am
  23. All the FPM leadership from top to bottom used to say worse things about Hizbullah prior to 2006 and to 2005. Regardless, Hizbullah chose to work with the FPM since the early 1990s. An example was the issue of the municipality of Haret Hreik were General Michel Aoun was born.

    During the municipal elections of 2004, they worked in tandem with the FPM regarding the allocation of seats on the municipality board. If one looks at the photos that are taken during the meetings between General Aoun and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, one can notice how General Aoun is always beaming as if looking with tremendous pride at the son he never had. Please find hereafter a link (Bintjbeil.org and alintiqad.com published more shots of the meeting):
    http://www.almanar.com.lb/newssite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=84850&language=en

    One can always speculate about what might happen to the FPM and its policies in a post-Aoun era.

    Edward W. Said wrote once: there are facts and there are interpretations of the facts. But the events that lead to May 7, 2008, cannot be interpreted otherwise than an attempt to go after Hizbullah.

    Posted by Jihad | May 19, 2009, 3:40 am
  24. I once attended a seminar by a lobbyist-for-hire. Absolutely fascinating. A large part of his approach was based on the control of terminology. The methodology is incredible.

    For example, in many cases important words can be presumed to be part of the debate before the issue arises. They already carry a good/bad connotation. They do not necessarily carry any meaning. They create a list of these words & fight to “own” them in the debate. He was very confident that owning words is owning the debate.

    Sometimes the words have a predetermined meaning (but more rarely then you would expect). In these cases, you need to control which words are used.

    Many of the examples related to agricultural/trade/environmental policy. So think sustainability, custodianship, heritage, reform.

    I think just visiting Lebanon would qualify you to play this game.

    Posted by netsp | May 19, 2009, 4:31 am
  25. The dialog that purportedly took place between QN and his relative Samir is quite interesting. It began with a superficial issue which to Samir means “Lebanese Forces MP can’t have a sensitive dialogue with Hizbullah because there is no trust between the two sides. But the FPM can, because we are allies.” Samir’s conclusion actually is as superficial as his superficial example. I’ll show that later.

    The dialog continues into much deeper issues and yet it fails to go to the crux of the problem. Interestingly enough, the dialog shows that this FPM/Hizb ‘alliance’ is no more than a marriage of convenience. Samir should be concerned with the question of the ‘divine nature’ of all of Hizb arguments beginning with its view on so-called resistance, the accumulation of arms outside legitimate government control, and ending with the unquestioned allegiance to yet another ‘divinely inspired’ and ‘infallibly behaved’ wali faqih of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Perhaps, the Lebanese Forces have already concluded that it is futile to have dialogue with such MP’s who can only function on the basis of their blind obedience to a ‘divinely inspired’ guide!

    Samir erred as I mentioned at the outset by ignoring the important events that showed how HN is bound to the wali faqih of Qom whose interests do not necessarily coincide with the best interests of Lebanon. I recently made a comment #9 here in which I explained the dilemma that HN faced following Sharon’s disengagement from the SLA in 2000. I did not explain in that comment the actual political events that led to the 2006 war instigated by HN. Prior to that war, the Lebanese politicians were engaged in a National dialogue in which HN was a party. When he was cornered about his weapons he withdrew from the dialogue, and further advised his ministers in the government to resign in protest. It is clear that for HN, the weapons are not subject for discussion. So, can Samir convince HN otherwise through his so-called ‘alliance’?

    Today HN went on air again and gave his latest speech here.
    What did HN have to say today that he didn’t say two days ago? HN remembered the Nakba on its 61st anniversary. He recalled that on this day the zionist entity was formed, and the Palestinians were made homeless. He mentioned that the illegal zionist entity committed and continues to commit atrocities against the people of Palestine. We cannot but agree with him one hundred percent.

    He continued to express concerns throughout his speech. In fact, the speech can be considered as a speech of concern because of the so many times he repeated that word. What is HN concerned about? He is concerned about the upcoming military maneuvers that the zionist entity is planning for May 31 to June 4 – a full five day giant maneuvers where the whole country including the population, the government and the army including the air force will be put on total war footing. He mentioned that the zionist entity has now made two separate classifications of regional groups that pose threats to it. He believes that the resistance of which his organization of Hizb is a part poses a STRATEGIC threat to the illegal entity of the zionist settlers entity. On the other hand, according to HN, Iran poses a far greater and deadlier threat to the entity and he described this threat as EXISTENTIAL.

    His concern about the upcoming maneuvers relates to the fact that the zionist entity is preparing something in order to deal with the EXISTENTIAL threat facing it, namely Iran or its nuclear program. The groups that are part of the STRATEGIC threat, therefore, should prepare themselves for this outcome, and he made it clear that he and his organization are prepared. Therefore, the object of the speech is to give notice to all concerned (people of Lebanon, Government, Army, Media, Etc…) that he is in a state of full alert and everyone should be ready if he were to be forced to start firing his missiles at the command of the ‘infallible’ wali faqih of the Islamic Republic. This is exactly what HN means by the so-called plan of strategic defense for Lebanon. The plan is to make Lebanon organically part of the Islamic Republic’ defense. In this case, his organization and the people of Lebanon should be prepared at a moment’s notice to pay the price for the right of the Republic to continue with its nuclear plan until the promised one appears. Of course HN mentioned Iran only once in the speech. This is important, because it is not in his best interests to highlight the subject more than it should. After all, we all know that the objective of such maneuvers is to prepare the zionist settlers for a possible attack against Iran by the zionist entity. If HN were to highlight Iran in his speech, then hard questions may arise, what does Lebanon have to do with it? Why don’t Iran and the zionist entity fight it over? Why does HN have to fire his 50000 missiles on the settlers’ heads if the zionist entity attacks Iran’s nuclear installations? Were President Helou and his army commander right or wrong when they refused to commit Lebanese troops to the June 1967 war? I suggest that QN should carry on with this dialogue with his cousin as soon as QN is back from the mountains. QN should find out and let us know as soon as possible if Samir still thinks in light of HN’s latest speech that the FPM’s ‘alliance’ with Hizb is strong enough to convince the Hizb to relinquish control of the arsenal of the wali faqih deployed on Lebanese soil.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 7:51 am
  26. The two links embedded in my comment above don’t work for some reason. So I provide links herein below. Hope they work this time.
    comment #9 here

    And

    HN latest speech.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 7:58 am
  27. Mike,
    I can never understand the point of your posts. You make very little sense to me and just seem to be spouting wild anti-Hizbullah rhetoric. All you do is criticize Hizbullah as a proxy of Iran. But this argument is pretty weak.

    Ok, nobody doubts that Hizbullah has a relationship with Iran, but Hizbullah is not a proxy of Iran in the way your raving implies. If I wanted to use wild hyperbole, I could make a similarly ridiculous argument about Feltman being the Welayat alFaqih of LF and Future, or of Sfeir being a Welayat alFaqih. Obviously, there is a big difference between having a close relationship and being a proxy. And that holds for Hizbullah’s relationship with Iran, or with M14’s relationship to the USA/Saudi/Israel…

    If you seriously want to make these arguments concerning Hizbullah, you have to pay closer attention to Iran and Ali Khamenei first. Because, for example, he seldom (if ever) directly instructs anyone in Iran and I have never seen him instruct Hizbullah directly. Let’s start with Iran. Considering your view of Khamenei’s direct control and instruction of Hizbullah, how do you square your extremist view of Welayat alFaqih with the fact that even Iranian candidates for president have strong public conflicts and advocate extremely different policies? Or look at the Iranian parliament, and you see differences of opinions that rival those in Lebanon., what does that say about the level of control Khamenei has over political institutions (even in Iran)?

    My point is just to highlight the ridiculousness of your argument that Hizbullah takes orders from Iran. How can Hizbullah be under the direction of Khamenei when even the Iranian government is not?

    And this is just a starting point, we can expand the discussion as appropriate. My problem with this discussion is that I feel you have such an unreasonable view that I don’t know whether it’s worth my energy to engage it directly. But I am making an honest attempt here, and we will see where it goes…

    Posted by Joe M. | May 19, 2009, 8:54 am
  28. Part of the 85 letter/understanding was that Hezbollah was to never use its arms against fellow Lebanese–and it did last May. Now they are running cells in Egypt? They might as well be re-branded from an Islamist nationalist group to a regional actor who likes to support other anti Israeli groups, even if their general creed differs.

    Cool post though. Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese political scene now. Can they continue/start to respect each other?

    Quick question: When you talked about foreign armies intervening, any others in mind other than Syria’s?

    Posted by Abu Guerrilla | May 19, 2009, 8:54 am
  29. Joe M. says honestly and without any apology for his previous insults, “And this is just a starting point, we can expand the discussion as appropriate. My problem with this discussion is that I feel you have such an unreasonable view that I don’t know whether it’s worth my energy to engage it directly. But I am making an honest attempt here, and we will see where it goes…”

    And Joe M. also says, “Mike,
    I can never understand the point of your posts.”

    My answer to you is simple. Until you can come up with a clear apology about your previous insult, “Mike,
    Get real. If you actually believe what you say, you have the depth of understanding of Bush or AIG.”
    , WE WILL CONTINUE TO DIFFER. And you can continue to live on a different planet. So get real, and go play with someone else.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 9:20 am
  30. Yalla ya shebab, let’s try to keep on topic and stay away from the ad hominem arguments.

    At the end of the day, no one on this blog knows exactly how the relationship between the various Lebanese parties and their foreign patrons work, so I’m not sure how helpful it is for one to present x or y as an incontrovertible fact. More importantly, that’s a separate topic that’s only tangentially related to this post.

    Finally, I think the point of the comments section is for us to discuss these issues, but it’s hard to do that if we continue to keep talking past each other…

    Posted by sean | May 19, 2009, 10:15 am
  31. Sean,

    Are you saying in your last comment that HN’s latest speech is not related to the current topic? I believe the current topic is about what HN has said two days ago. So what he had to say today would have a bearing on the topic. Besides Samir in his dialogue with QN did mention Hizb weapons and what he would like to do with them. So today’s speech is actually part of the topic.

    The other question is: Do you think that HN’s relation with the Islamic Republic needs a mathematical proof of the x and y type as you stated? Is it not obvious that Hizb is financed, armed and trained by the Islamic Republic? Did not HN clearly state he’s proud to be a soldier of the Wali Faqih? Are we little kids here to play the apologetic cover up or the obvious game of cheap propaganda?

    Thanks for the ad hominem reminder. Hope the other guy will understand his folly and starts making comments instead of insults.

    One of my comments did not show up. I was trying to fix those links in it. So if you have access could you release it please?, Thanks.

    Otherwise here are the links again.

    My comment #9 here,

    https://qifanabki.com/2009/05/11/war-of-the-camera-phones/#comments

    HN’s latest speech at

    http://www.journaladdiyar.com/articles.asp?ID=122264&CatID=4

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 10:56 am
  32. For some reason when I try to include links in comments, the comment will not get published. A notice appears saying it is being moderated. This never happened before. So this comment may appear twice

    SEAN,

    Are you saying in your last comment that HN’s latest speech is not related to the current topic? I believe the current topic is about what HN has said two days ago. So what he had to say today would have quite a bit of bearing on the topic. Besides Samir in his dialogue with QN did mention Hizb weapons and what he would like to do with them. So today’s speech is actually part of the topic and so was my comment.

    The other question is: Do you think that HN’s relation with the Islamic Republic really needs a mathematical proof of the x and y type as you stated? Is it not obvious that Hizb is financed, armed and trained by the Islamic Republic? Did not HN clearly state he’s proud to be a soldier of the Wali Faqih? Are we little kids here to play the apologetic cover up or the obvious game of cheap propaganda?

    Thanks for the ad hominem reminder. Hope the other guy will understand his folly and starts making comments instead of insults.

    One of my comments did not show up. I was trying to fix those links. So if you have access could you release it please?, Thanks.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 11:01 am
  33. Hmmmm, isn’t the LF poster of the Tayyar a bit libellous?

    Posted by offended | May 19, 2009, 11:16 am
  34. Likening someone’s depth of understanding to AIG’s isn’t an insult IMO. It might be a disgrace. but insult it is not.

    Posted by offended | May 19, 2009, 11:25 am
  35. mike, it is obvious that you do not like Hizballah and would like to see them give up their weapons. What I can’t tell is if your arguments are based on pushing propoganda or whether you actually believe it.

    If its the latter, I’m afraid you have seriously been misguided on the Welayat. The position is not one of a leader but of a guide. It is an advisory position not one you can issue orders from.

    Secondly, while I have no idea what your position is on the Lebanese who live in the South of the country is, but your branding of the sacrifice they have made for this country and its freedom over the last 25 years as simply doing the bidding fo Iran is both extrememly disrespectful and insulting. Whatever you may think of Nasrallah vis-a-vis Iran, have some respect for the men and women who have given their lives so that the South did not become another Israeli settlement.

    Abu G,
    The understanding was not use the arms to attack fellow Lebanese. This was, and I know this is contentious but from a Hizballah pov, a defensive action.

    They have never denied helping the Palestinians and never will. The only part of this “news” that was “news” was the how.

    And when QN was talking of the “plot”, the foreign armies that were supposed to be intervening were anyone but Syria (Specifically though the plot envisaged US/French marines).

    Posted by mo | May 19, 2009, 11:50 am
  36. It was wise on the part of some contributors (I think it was #15 by Maverick) to suggest monitoring SHN TV appearance last night(as opposed to a public gathering where different nuances are required), as it might shed some light on the ‘mystery’ of Friday’s utterances re 7 May.

    Few people disagree with the assumption that the Hizb has demonstrated a relatively superior level of strategic thinking regionally, as well as tactical acumen and organisational prowess not to mention ability to motivate and mobilise its rank and file. That said, the Hizb has asserted, indeed practiced over and over again its ability to be pragmatic to a fault ( note the ‘Alliance Of The 4’ during the 2005 election that put him in the same camp/government with long-standing ideological foes such as LF). There are two related issues however that the Hizb has demonstrated intransigence over namely the ‘eternal enmity” to the State of Israel and the maintenance of the overall capabilities of the ‘resistance’.

    In the light of SHN’s appearance last night and the time he devoted to the declared manoeuvres by Israel, purportedly the largest in its existence, could bringing up 7 May – glorifying the day and calling on the other side not to forget- reflect a belief that Israel is up to something vis-à-vis Lebanon, accompanied by a sense that some domestic forces could take advantage of such an assumed action by the Israelis; thus his call in no uncertain terms that the recent history ought to be heeded?

    Worth consideration, along with all the hypotheses presented as a possible explanation for SHN’s Friday public speech.

    Regards

    Posted by Question Marks | May 19, 2009, 12:58 pm
  37. Excellent article on the Israel/Iran issue:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124260085181828313.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 19, 2009, 2:33 pm
  38. By the 4th paragraph of the WSJ article, I became convinced that objectivity will not be had, as spin abound in terminology and direction!

    Thanks Akbar Palace all the same.

    Posted by Question Marks | May 19, 2009, 2:43 pm
  39. Akbar Palace said:

    Excellent article on the Israel/Iran issue:

    An important FYI: the author of the excellent article, Reuel Marc Gerecht, once said: “the iranians have terrorism in their DNA..”

    Posted by offended | May 19, 2009, 4:19 pm
  40. mo said, “If its the latter, I’m afraid you have seriously been misguided on the Welayat. The position is not one of a leader but of a guide. It is an advisory position not one you can issue orders from.”

    Really??? And you expect me to believe that? I believe every one on this planet knows by now that the Wali Faqih is the SUPREME LEADER and not just a ‘guide’. And I wonder who’s making propaganda.

    If you read my comment #9 at one of the links in comment 31 above, you’d rid yourself of the notion that I do not respect the people of the south.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 4:37 pm
  41. Question Marks/Offended,

    What does he know? He only studied Iran his whole life and speaks fluent Farsi.

    http://www.defenddemocracy.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=11784049&Itemid=326

    Posted by Akbar Palace | May 19, 2009, 4:53 pm
  42. Question Marks,
    The two recent speeches of SHN found a common denominator, in that, the so called M14-ruling clan are not capable/indifferent of protecting Lebanon against Isreal which resurfaces the notion of Isreali collaboration on their behalf.(the timing of the discovery of widespread Isreali spy ring in Lebanon,ignites this further)

    Posted by Maverick | May 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
  43. There is a very good analysis at the link below which explains much of what Hizb has been going through since 2005. It shows the clear state of disarray and disorganization Hizb has put itself in due to its lack of understanding of the fundamental changes that were and still are taking place in the region. In fact, further to this analysis, Hizb has been in this state since the year 2000 following Sharon’s disengagement from the SLA. Hizb has failed since then to find a meaningful role to its so-called resistance that would fit in a purely Lebanese National framework. It can only legitimize its continued amassing of arms outside the control of the legitimate government through a perceived role in the defense of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in the possible scenario of an attack by the USA or the zionist entity, thus exposing Lebanon once again to becoming a hostage in the regional play of power. Read the article at:

    http://www.daralhayat.com/portalarticlendah/17855.

    The Lebanese government on the other hand succeeded under PM Siniora in reclaiming the South from Hizb control following Hizb’s 2006 fiasco – thus silencing voices who continue to accuse the Government of M14 of being indifferent to the plight of the Southerners or the integrity of Lebanon. In fact, HN would have been commemorating a second nakba version Southern Shia refugees had it not been for the statesmanship and decisiveness of Siniora who sent the army to the South after a period of over 30 years absence forced by a veto of monopoly by the Hizb. However, for HN, this is inconvenient, since the presence of UN troops alongside the Lebanese army limits its freedom of action and hampers the fulfillment of the role of the soldier of the Supreme Leader. Hence the attack on Beirut on May 7 was a reaction to this encirclement of the Hizb fighters who effectively became un-employed in search of new opportunities. Therefore, they turn their weapons northward towards the new enemy represented by a government capable of using its armed forces in defense of the countries independence. The new enemy of course can only be fought if it were found to be in a perceived state of collusion with the Zionist entity and made responsible for the failure of the original plan of HN’s abduction of the two zionist soldiers – a charge that can be easily fabricated by the media offices of the capable Hizb operatives. On the other hand, it is the Intelligence Branch within the ISF, which is the main government security branch, which is uncovering the spy rings in the country. Many of the uncovered agents have been found to be either Hizb members or residing in areas that are or used to be under Hizb control – a possible explanation for this would be the state of disenchantment of these members with the results of HN’s ‘divine promise’ that so far has failed to materialize.

    Posted by mike | May 19, 2009, 7:38 pm
  44. Ok Mike,

    your appreciation of this:
    “It shows the clear state of disarray and disorganization Hizb has put itself in due to its lack of understanding of the fundamental changes that were and still are taking place in the region”

    and this:
    “second nakba version Southern Shia refugees had it not been for the statesmanship and decisiveness of Siniora ”

    and this:
    “Hence the attack on Beirut on May 7 was a reaction to this encirclement of the Hizb fighters who effectively became un-employed in search of new opportunities”

    At least allows us to know where your philosophies, motivations and knowledge of Lebanon stand.

    Posted by mo | May 20, 2009, 12:19 am
  45. So here’s my uninformed theory:

    I read a book recently that touched upon Castro’s rise to power in Cuba. Very important in Fidel’s strategy was making a Communist victory seem preordained. Once people believed that he might win, forces that would have been inclined to oppose him instead stood aside, hedged, or attempted to placate him, thus making his victory more likely. As the timidity of his potential enemies increased, victory became more likely, causing his opponents became yet more timid. It’s what we biologists call a “positive feedback cycle”, and it’s how a small band of guerrillas took over a country.

    Is it possible that Nasrallah is trying to scare people? Trying to convince them that he is going to get what he wants one way or another, so you might as well go easy. Vote for me, or at least parties I find palatable, so that I don’t have to storm West Beirut again.

    Posted by Abraham Rotsapsky | May 20, 2009, 8:39 am
  46. mike,
    If you are looking for propoganda then Tony Badran (or his bum chum Totten) is your man. You may as well ask me to read Hariri’s thoughts on Hizballah (actually, Hariris thoughts may be less biased and less full of crap). Considering Badran has had the honour of being invited to speak for AIPAC, I dont see him as the go to guy for any thoughts on Hizballah.

    Abraham,
    May 7 sent two signals to M14. Firstly, it made it clear that any attempt at formenting civil strife would be relatively breif and for them doomed; And secondly it drew a line at was acceptable in attacking the Resisitance. It was a necessary evil that quite likely scuppered a greater evil. However, were Hizballah to use such tactics, like you suggest, as a way of actually taking power, they would lose a great deal of support, not just from amongst their allies, but from within the Shia community itself.

    Posted by mo | May 20, 2009, 1:24 pm
  47. Mo,

    I don’t necessarily mean seizing total power. Just making it clear that they are willing to use violence when their aims aren’t met, whatever those aims may be.

    Posted by Abraham Rotsapsky | May 20, 2009, 3:16 pm

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