Lebanon, Hezbollah, March 14

Some Post-Speech Thoughts

Here are some quick thoughts on Hizbullah secretary-general Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah’s speech this evening, which I live-blogged here (see here for another English translation).

Firstly, I found Nasrallah’s discussion of the terms of the Syrian-Saudi initiative to be quite interesting. If Saad al-Hariri really did agree to the opposition’s demands that they (a) withdraw the Lebanese judges; (b) stop funding; and (c) abrogate the cooperation agreement with the STL, then this is noteworthy. What were, I wonder, al-Hariri and the Saudis’ demands? It seems unlikely to me that al-Hariri and his allies would have agreed to these three demands, which amount to essentially torpedoing public trust in the STL, even if it would not have brought the actual Tribunal to a close (as Nasrallah pointed out).

Secondly, the fact that Nasrallah is able to make so much hay out of the false witness issue is entirely the fault of Hariri himself and his political advisors. As I’ve argued in the past, Hariri’s people have failed miserably in shaping the debate on the false witnesses, while the opposition has basically taken the issue and run with it. Even as we speak, the al-Jadid recording is changing minds in Lebanon, even though it more or less confirms what March 14 politicians have consistently (but poorly) articulated, namely that Siddiq was not fed information by Hariri’s people.

Thirdly, Nasrallah did an excellent job of framing the resignation of the opposition in terms of their dissatisfaction with the Hariri government on a number of fronts (corruption, lack of transparency, incompetence, false witnesses, vulnerability to foreign pressure, etc.) rather than just its commitment to the STL. Earlier in the day, Michel Aoun had similarly made a persuasive and typically belligerent case against Hariri’s government, articulating the reasons that the opposition had decided to abandon the national unity path. The question is: does Nasrallah know something that the rest of us don’t, with respect to Nabih Berri’s nomination decision? All of this will become clearer in the next couple of days.

Finally, allow me to reiterate a basic point that I’ve made several times before: can anyone doubt that the opposition has the big guns (rhetorically speaking) in Lebanon? Here we have Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of a conservative religious-political party and a militia stronger than the Lebanese army that is about to be accused by the United Nations of masterminding the assassination of a Sunni prime minister, and he sounds like the most reasonable, rational, straightforward politician in Lebanon. Note that I am not agreeing with the content of what he said (which was, let’s face it, just another shade of demagoguery like everyone else’s talking points), but simply pointing out the obvious: Hizbullah would be in a vastly different position in Lebanon today were it not for the leadership of Hasan Nasrallah. No one else would be capable of reconciling the manifold contradictions in Hizbullah’s projected identity and framing their program in as capacious and catholic a manner as Nasrallah. To understate his role is to misunderstand the rise of Hizbullah completely, in my opinion.

The floor is open.

UPDATE: Trella.org has the transcript of the second Al-Jadid recording. And here’s the actual recording on YouTube.
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219 thoughts on “Some Post-Speech Thoughts

  1. Just read this gem:

    A leading Hizbullah source stated on Wednesday that Tuesday’s actions took place after the party received information that the some March 14 supporters, specifically Mustaqbal supporters, were going to mobilize in Beirut in a show of support to Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
    It revealed to Akhbar al-Yawm news agency that supporters from Tripoli were also heading to Beirut to demonstrate their support and the indictment in the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

    Tuesday’s action was a “preemptive step to prevent any action by the Mustaqbal supporters and to thwart any street tensions,” it explained.

    “The most important aspect of the action was drawing the security forces and the army to the street where they prevented the gatherings that the other camp was planning and whose backers were already on the ground,” they added.

    Wow! The nerve on these people.

    1) So first of all, it’s ok for HA to have huge gatherings to show support for the resistance. But they seem to believe that the “other camp” has no right to demonstrate peacefully to show support for Hariri. And that such protests should be prevented. There’s democracy and freedom of speech in action, right there.

    2) Gotta love the assbackwards logic of trying to explain how HA mobilized its men on the streets to “prevent the other camp from getting any ideas” and “drawing the security forces out”.
    Wow. First off, nothing like trying to explain intimidation by disguising it as pre-emptive action. “I pointed a gun at your head cause I wanted to make sure you didn’t get any ideas.”
    If only the real world operated that way…

    3) So…When we have tips that someone might start a demonstration, the correct course of action is NOT to call the authorities. It’s to pre-empt by putting your own militia on the street. Got it. Rule of law? Nah. Who needs that. Why call the Police. We’ll draw them out instead by intimidating people on the street, this ensuring those people’s own safety…Gotta love the logic there.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 19, 2011, 2:56 pm
  2. oh, and I’m sure these thugs on street corners are also CIA operatives, right?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 19, 2011, 2:57 pm
  3. All the problems of Lebanon will go away once the Syrian and Iranian regimes fall and HA disbands and relinquishes its illegal weapons.

    Well, the Lebanese still have to sit down and iron out their constitution and laws and show willingness to live under the rule of law. But first those two regimes must go and HA must disarm.

    The USA is not responsible for any problems in Lebanon. Actually, the US is the best friend of Lebanon.

    Posted by anonymous | January 19, 2011, 3:36 pm
  4. Millions of Cluster Bombs and GBUs, courtesy of the USA, plus the 7000 Tons of explosives sent by USA on Lebanese infrastructure, Bridges and civilian property in 2006…
    Plus ALL the CIA proxy Militias of 2011…
    With Friends like those, who needs enemies.
    The crumbling Empire is a monstrosity….

    Posted by Jhon | January 19, 2011, 3:51 pm
  5. 7:51pm OTV: Groups from two Arab countries, which are at odds with the Opposition and the Resistance, have been deployed in the vicinity of several hotels.

    Qabbani: Bassil fires government commissioner to Electricité du Liban

    Coupled with Nahhas’ fight with a Sunni Employee @ Ogero

    The opposition is tightening its rope around the Sunni’s, and I think Nasrallah is miscalculating the Sunni/Salafi/Takfiri angle in this situation, Lebanon could easily turn into the new Iraq.

    Posted by tamer k. | January 19, 2011, 4:14 pm
  6. CIA Killers, JSOC and OSP are still looking for more blood, A La IRAQ and Afghanistan…
    I am sure that they can pull Another Fath Al-Islam out of their dirty hats and their infamous White House Murder INC, is still there too. The Crumbling Empire is a barbaric abomination.With Friends like those US murderers, who needs enemies.

    Posted by Jhon | January 19, 2011, 4:24 pm
  7. Jim/Jhon;

    CIA is at it again along with Mossad.

    From Naharnet:
    8:10pm Hizbullah sources to MTV: Opposition factions are on alert and Hizbullah’s cadres have been informed that a state of emergency is in effect.

    Those damned neocons of the Islamic Resistance…

    Posted by danny | January 19, 2011, 4:46 pm
  8. I think there’s nothing more to comment on this topic until the details of the indictment are made (officially) public, non?
    Maybe if they get leaked in a way that can be verified to contain the genuine information… which I hope does not happen.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 19, 2011, 4:50 pm
  9. HP,

    The issue is what has HA planned for Lebanon in the days and months ahead? That’s the question. The situation will unravel quite quickly and fluidly in the days ahead.

    Posted by danny | January 19, 2011, 5:10 pm
  10. First, they stood silent when the finger was pointed at Syria.Then, when the finger was pointed at them, they blamed Israel.Now theyd stop at nothing to null it all together.
    If they had nothing to do with it, wouldnt they have jumped on it from the start taking advantage of an easy israel bashing campaign?
    It strikes me when people get pursuaded by Nasrallahs speeches just because he speaks eloquently, and i’m talking about the educated ones.
    In my opinion, Nasrallah is a giant amongst dwarves, and this is why he is perceived in that aura, coupled with the Lebanese’ insistence on adherence to a cult figure.I just dont see it.

    Posted by Maverick | January 19, 2011, 7:17 pm
  11. HP…(208)

    I know it’s a serious issue, and I ought not to joke about it… but isn’t there a part of you that’s curious!

    Don’t you want those leaks coming! What other juicy material could we then argue about, lol.

    Posted by Gabriel | January 19, 2011, 7:19 pm
  12. Maverick,

    “First, they stood silent when the finger was pointed at Syria.”

    I’ll assume you don’t follow Lebanese politics too closely, I am not an expert but I am pretty sure that you didn’t read the news on March 8, 2005. Enough said let’s move on

    Posted by tamer k. | January 19, 2011, 7:26 pm
  13. Honest Patriot,
    I’m willing to make a bet that within a week or two, some details, if not the whole document, will be leaked. If loose, I’d buy GK lunch ,since we both live in the same city.lol
    To those who wonder what will happen in the coming days or week, I predicted, and still insist that Lebanon will not have a new government for a long time(months or years).
    The opposition didn’t topple the cabinet so that it forms its own government and repeat the mistake of Hamas, nor did it topple it to allow Hariri to form a new government. The whole idea is to create a political vacuum where no one is responsible for any thing.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 19, 2011, 7:45 pm
  14. Prophett,
    If you do not want the whole world to know where you live why don’t you send me a personal email:


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | January 19, 2011, 8:02 pm
  15. LOL Ghassan.
    right on.

    Posted by The Prophet | January 19, 2011, 8:06 pm
  16. “The opposition didn’t topple the cabinet so that it forms its own government and repeat the mistake of Hamas, nor did it topple it to allow Hariri to form a new government. The whole idea is to create a political vacuum where no one is responsible for any thing.”

    DING DING DING! Winner!

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | January 19, 2011, 8:08 pm
  17. Gaby, of course I’m curious. I’m dying of curiosity. However, I think that if the subject stays completely quiet with no leaks whatsoever, then first, it would be much better for the process, second, and importantly, it will reduce the chance of conflagration in Lebanon. For the benefit of the poor souls in the native country, I sincerely hope the secret remains strictly hidden until it gets officially released.

    Ya Nabi, I am of the same penchant in your prediction about no new government for a while. Your reasoning makes sense.
    As far as leaks, I hope you’re wrong but of course I don’t know. I expect the STL to be very strict with all its staff and, having learned from the deleterious effects of the previous leaks, will go out of its way to control its information flow to anyone on the outside of the tribunal. This will, of course, not prevent some folks from claiming to have leaks and, of course, all these will cite unnamed sources. I do hope that any unnamed-source leak is immediately discredited by the STL and called for its negative intentions.

    Posted by Honest Patriot | January 19, 2011, 8:12 pm
  18. BTW, I don’t mind everyone knowing where I live,I was not sure everyone knew where you live.lol

    Posted by The Prophet | January 19, 2011, 8:17 pm
  19. 213,

    Agreed with your conclusion. However, add to it that it gives HA added excuse to act “in defence of the country” as it sees fit to save us from ourselves…Just like SHN said it did after the “glorious May 2008” assist. 😀

    Posted by danny | January 19, 2011, 8:30 pm

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