The talking point de jour among the more Gandalfy fringe of the Sunni commentariat is to refer to the Lebanese Army as a “Safavid“, “Majusi“, “Batini” fighting force under the sway of Hizbullah and its Iranian patron. Medieval mud-slinging is in, big time. Dust off your Shahrastani if you want to have any chance of sorting out who’s who.
More seriously, though: Nick Blanford and Mitch Prothero — two reporters who have a thing for reverse-commuting into conflict zones — have published a couple stories today confirming the presence of Hizbullah fighters in close coordination with the Lebanese Army in Saida. Recall that this was one of the main accusations leveled at the army yesterday by the supporters of Ahmad al-Assir, and even by political figures who applauded the army’s response while condemning the role being played by Hizbullah. Here’s a snippet from Nick’s piece:
Although the Lebanese Army’s special forces units spearheaded the assault on a mosque and compound belonging to Sheikh Ahmad Assir, a Salafist cleric who had holed up there with 200 to 300 of his followers, it became evident today that they received some assistance from Hezbollah’s battle-hardened fighters.
“Today we are doing surgery,” says Haj, a local commander of Hezbollah forces in an area on the eastern edge of Abra, the hilltop Sidon neighborhood where Sheikh Assir’s mosque is located. “We are removing a cancerous gland in a quick clean operation to cure the city.” […]
Ah yes, a quick and clean surgical operation: this is how Hizbullah described its May 7 2008 incursion into Beirut, which led to the Doha Accord. Removing cancers, restoring security, etc. All very selfless of them, don’t you think? Positively Hippocratic…
The trouble is, there is no such thing as a quick and clean surgery to remove a cancerous gland, not if the cancer has already metastasized all over the body. And even if the cancer were confined to a specific area, the use of a carcinogenic implement to remove it would doom the patient anyway.
In 2008, the Lebanese Army stood by as Hizbullah scrubbed up and went into surgery. Today, they’re performing operations together. I find the sectarian garbage slung at the Army by Tripoli shaykhs to be as offensive as the next guy, but can anyone deny that Hizbullah is an equal partner in this latest effort to take Lebanon back to a scene of flashing swords, whinnying horses, and medieval heresiographies?