Friday, 23 November 2007

HEZBOLLAH: A PROLETARIAN PARTY WITH AN ISLAMIC MANIFESTO

A Sociopolitical Analysis of Islamist Populism in Lebanon and the Middle East

Authors: Imad Salamey a; Frederic Pearson b
Affiliations: a Political Science and International Affairs,
Lebanese American University, Center for Peace and
Conflict Studies and Political Science
Department, Wayne State University

Published in: Small Wars & Insurgencies,
Volume 18, Issue 3
September 2007
pages 416 - 438

Abstract
This article examines the rising contention between a global foreign
policy promoting liberal democracy in the Middle East and Islamist
rejectionism. It provides a sociopolitical analysis of the phenomena
of radical Islamist politics while focusing on the experience of
Hezbollah in Lebanon. It associates the growth of Hezbollah, a
political movement seen in various forms in several countries, with
social class dynamics that have been antagonised by social
inequality, opportunistic leadership, the importation of Western-
ordered democracy and by perceived foreign intervention. By
examining the root dynamic of Hezbollah in Lebanon, this article
argues that poverty has provided the fertile ground for the growth
of Islamic populism as a revolutionary movement and has represented
a major reason for the rejection of democratisation and political
reform. A global foreign policy that seeks to uproot extremism in
favour of state-building and the advancement of democracy in the
Middle East needs to be reoriented so as to help undermine class
inequality and to strengthen government-sponsored public services
programmes for the underclass.

Framing Foreign Policy Response to Islamist Movements in the Middle
East

Who would have thought that religion, once termed by Karl Marx
the 'opiate of the masses', would one day characterise the most
militant of class-based 'anti-capitalist' political movements?
Indeed, Islamists have succeeded where most Marxists and secular
reformers have failed in the Middle East. Religious demagogues,
charged with resentment toward the national bourgeoisie and Western-
imposed lifestyles, have prompted the most appealing, mobilising and
radicalising movement among the broad masses of the poor. By
forcefully and effectively confronting enemies such as Israel and
neocolonialism they also have addressed the chronic historical sense
of humiliation facing Arab societies.

While it has been proceeding in various forms for more than two
decades, many scholars have been intrigued by the phenomenal rise of
Islamist movements and have offered a range of explanations for this
upsurge. According to Masoud Kazemzadeh, three principal competing
traditions provide theoretical interpretations: Islamic
exceptionalism (cultural relativists, neo-Cold War warriors and
Islamic 'Fundamentalists'); comparative fundamentalisms; and class
analysis.1 The first asserts, in different perceptual outlooks, that
Islamic 'fundamentalism' must be examined as a phenomenon on its
own.2 Alternatively, comparativists argue that it is part of wider
global development inspired by the rise of religious movements.3 In
contrast, class analysis uses social scientific concepts to explain
Islamic resurgence as a political movement that aims to achieve
class interest of a particular social group. Adherents of the third
paradigm include Farhad Kazemi (1980), Sami Zubaida (1993), Ervand
Abrahamian (1993), Misav Parsa (1989), Fred Halliday (1996) and Adam
Webb (2006) among others.4

Each one of the different traditions has implicated a distinct
foreign policy outlook. For instance, adopting an Islamic
exceptionalism paradigm necessitates examining the peculiarity of
the phenomena at hand, so as to assess the degree to which US or
Western foreign policy in the Middle East can be reformulated so as
to defeat, accommodate or 'contain' Islamic radicalism. Eric
Watkins, for example, attributes the growth of Islamic
fundamentalism to the bi-standards of US foreign policy, seeking
positive Arab relations while providing near total support of
Israel.5 From this perspective, undermining Islamic extremism
necessitates appropriate rebalancing of the US foreign policy.
Abdesalam M. Maghraoui recommends that such a containment strategy
can be further achieved through an 'Islamic Renewal' where support
is relocated to moderate-reform-minded Islamic groups.6 Of course,
from the opposite side of the spectrum is the security anti-
terrorism perception, where the war on terror, in addition to other
remedies, is considered the primary means of defending democracy and
the 'Western way of life' and defeating Islamic extremism.7

The comparative perspective, on the other hand, draws from
historical experiences and responses that have succeeded in
undermining similar trends. S.V.R. Nasr, for example, concludes that
a foreign policy strategy of support for increased democratisation
would guarantee the inclusion of dissenters and extremists in the
political process, and thus moderate their radical appeal.8 In the
comparative perspective, of course, one notes that various strands
of extreme Islamic movements exist, contrasting for
example 'millennial' movements for broad regional or global goals
with more localised and reactive movements such as those among rival
clans in failed or feeble states such as Somalia or among newly
emergent 'Islamic' political parties, Sunni and Shi'a, in post-
Saddam Iraq. Foreign policy is complicated in that such groups might
not agree among themselves and in that millennial movements might
try and manipulate such local groups to their advantage.9

Compared to both Islamic exceptionalism and comparativist views, the
socio-economic analysis of Islamist resurgence highlights a further
dilemma in foreign policy formation. Class analysis, particularly in
explaining the socio-economic dynamic of Islamic fundamentalism,
implies economic reform measures that undermine foreign policy
doctrines and global economic outlooks, as, for example, in
the 'free market' approaches of Western powers and international
financial organisations. While such self-interested reform efforts
are not impossible, they may be unlikely, given doctrinaire
approaches to capitalism and limited government. In addition
contemporary globalist policy, including elements of both nineteenth-
century liberalism and twentieth-century conservatism as seen in the
US, emphasises, in addition to fostering buying power among
potential markets across the world, removing trade barriers,
privatising the public sector, pushing for the free flow of capital
and investment, reducing bureaucracy and regulations and abandoning
command-based economy.10 While references are made to reducing
poverty and corruption, notes that would agree with some Islamist
precepts, support is wanting for major shifts of wealth from
advantaged to disadvantaged classes, as seen in the reaction to
assertive 'populists' such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. Though
decidedly secular in orientation, the latter has even discussed
common resistance to global economic hegemonism with Islamists in
Iran.

Islamists themselves do not reject all forms of capitalism as long
as Islamic legal traditions and applications are maintained and as
long as their autonomous power is promoted. Those who would undercut
Islam's class appeal range from reform advocates who desire to 'put
a human face on capitalism and globalisation' to those proposing the
eradication of global capitalism as a mean to win the struggle
against regressive religious movements. As Lal Khan put it, what is
needed is 'a political programme - attacking imperialist
exploitation - and the drudgery of landlordism and capitalism, as
necessary to seriously combat fundamentalism'.11

Socio-economic perspectives on foreign policy remain the least
studied in terms of Islamic appeal and the most difficult to apply
in policy terms, particularly when they contradict the prevailing
global socio-economic agenda. Thus framing a responsive foreign
policy position to 'contain' Islamic extremism raises crucial
questions: to what extent, if any, has the radical Islamic movement
emerged as a direct consequence of deteriorating class conditions in
regions such as the Middle East; why have global and bilateral
policies failed to be constructive and responsive in engaging or
coopting such radical reactions; and, finally, if marked socio-
economic improvement is realised in Islamic regions, will that
obviate or elevate the level of revolutionary fervour?

Establishing the Class Link

Increasingly studies have focused on the link between terrorism,
political extremism and economic conditions. While notable
terrorists such as Osama Bin Laden and associates have been anything
but poverty-stricken, considerable evidence points to the role of
economic deprivation as an underpinning for effective mobilisation,
recruitment and dedication to extremist causes.12 Based on such
perceptions, promoting economic justice and reducing inequality have
become the basis of increased advocacy in counter-terror policy.13
Significant to these studies is the contribution of Brian Burgoon,
who supports the notion that effective social welfare policies
undermine terrorism. He has demonstrated that:

social welfare policies - including social security, unemployment,
and health and education spending - affect preferences and
capacities of social actors in ways that, on balance, discourage
terrorism: by reducing poverty, inequality, and socioeconomic
insecurity, thereby diminishing incentives to commit or tolerate
terrorism, and by weakening extremist political and religious
organizations and practice that provide economic and cognitive
security where public safety nets are lacking.14


Analysts of popular rebellion such as Ted R. Gurr, however, have
also noted that the most destitute seldom join insurgencies. It is
the transitional communities, those who have risen above abject
poverty but have not yet reached a level of welfare commensurate
with that of others, that take to arms and employ violence to
rectify their comparative disadvantages and frustrations, especially
if they also experience ethnic discriminal.15

Promoting social welfare in the Middle East has been sometimes
overshadowed and other times associated in recent years with calls
for democracy and political reform, seemingly premised on the social
science claim that a peace exists among democratic states.16 One
form of such strategic thought came to be known as 'The New Greater
Middle East' initiative, a US foreign policy vision, associated with
the war in Iraq, that prioritised political participation,
institutional reform, gender equality, minority and ethnic rights,
rule of law, privatisation and modernisation as keys for the
ultimate realisation of a stable, prosperous and peaceful Middle
East.17 The G8 Summit at Sea Island in 2004 adopted the 'Greater
Middle East' doctrine wherein priority in the 'Broader Middle East
and North Africa' was given to political, social, cultural and
economic spheres. In regard to the latter, which was the last stated
priority, the G8 established supporting entrepreneurship as key to
economic reform.

11.3 In the economic sphere, creating jobs is the number one
priority of many countries in the region. To expand opportunity, and
promote conditions in which the private sector can create jobs, we
will work with governments and business leaders to promote
entrepreneurship, expand trade and investment, increase access to
capital, support financial reforms, secure property rights, promote
transparency and fight corruption. Promotion of intra-regional trade
will be a priority for economic development of the Broader Middle
East and North Africa.18


The G8, however, has been confronted by the reality of war-borne
dislocation, failing entrepreneurship and emerging radical Islam
throughout the region.19 In 1997 the US National Intelligence
Council anticipated that 'the increasing number of young unemployed
men will exacerbate social and political tensions throughout the
region'.20 Evidently the G8 and US policy-makers have failed to
offer this expanding mass of unemployed population any substantial
hope or economic intervention beyond prescriptions for failing
national entrepreneurship, standing to lose in a highly competitive
global market dominated by major powers and developing states which
have promoted mass-based technical education and high levels of
foreign investment (such as India).

Alternatively, and with extensive success, radical Islamists have
provided networks of social services and welfare-based sub-economies
for the poor and the unemployed. Building upon and perhaps exceeding
prior efforts by the PLO in the Palestinian territories, Hamas's
economic public welfare network, along with its perceived anti-
corruption and hard-line policy on Israel, not only guaranteed
itself wide public support, but also helped the movement grasp
electoral victory and political power. Similar 'democratic'
political success stories can be found among Islamist organisations
in Iraq (Jaysh Al-Mahdi), in Jordan and Egypt (Islamic Brotherhood),
in Lebanon (Hezbollah) and other countries such as Yemen, Morocco,
Algeria and Sudan. Nikki Keddie's analysis of Islamist groups in the
Middle East concludes that:

[t]he considerable post-colonial failure of governmental solutions
to socioeconomic and cultural problems has brought a growing
alienation between people and their governments. In the Muslim
world, governments have often found it difficult to suppress
Islamist movements because of their decentralized organisation, use
of mosques and religious networks and their increasing popularity
resulting from their provision of social services, especially to the
poor.21


It is particularly these social services that have provided
Islamists with wide public support while, despite the appeal of the
global economy, the USA's 'Greater Middle East', suspected as a
neocolonial control mechanism, received condemnation on
the 'streets'. Similar to Keddie's views on identifying the causes
behind radical mobilisation, scholars have noted the rapid global
change that is leaving behind masses of the economically
disadvantaged who, in turn, become subject to radical 'social
mobilisation' that outruns 'institutionalisation' and, ultimately,
induces a revolutionary volatility.22 Ironically some trends along
these lines exist in America's own inner-cities as well, though with
generally lower levels of political mobilisation.

In this article we take a closer look at Hezbollah in Lebanon, one
seemingly successful manifestation of Islamist political
organisation that has taken an active role in Lebanese and cross-
border politics; we examine the nature of the party's: socio-
economic roots, propaganda, political tactics, mobilisation,
alliance-making and alternative revolutionary agenda. The intention
is to reveal the extent to which Hezbollah has grown on the backlash
of local and global policies that hardly address the immediate socio-
economic conditions of the poor. It shows how such conditions have
instigated a revolutionary party dynamic with class-based public
support and regional backing that extend beyond strict religious
adherence.23 The revolutionary development of Hezbollah in Lebanon
indicates a growing wedge between the social classes and increasing
polarisation in global visions.

Conceivably the appeal of radical Islam cannot be offset without
solutions to major political conflicts such as those involving
Israel and the reduction of Western presence in the region. However,
if the socio-economic characterisation of Islam's class based appeal
is accurate, it would appear that radical Islamic appeal cannot be
effectively reduced without global, regional, and national socio-
economic initiatives prioritising the reduction of inequality and
providing the 'underclass' with institutionally sponsored social
service networks, housing, educational and employment opportunities.

An Anti-Bourgeois Vanguard Party

While general sympathies have been growing across many sectors of
Middle Eastern society, hardcore support for Islamist parties tends
to come from within the poorest urban slums, from workers in
factories and from the rural villages where support for Islamist
groups such as Hezbollah is nurtured and cultivated as a
counterweight to what is seen as class-based exploitation. According
to a nationwide public opinion poll conducted by Statistics Lebanon
with 400 participants in June 2006, Hezbollah drew most of its
support from lower socio-economic groups; 81 per cent of those
expressing support for Hezbollah were of lower socio-economic strata
with monthly income below US$1,000; 38.6 per cent had below middle
school education, 45.6 per cent received secondary education, and
only 15.8 per cent had college education.24 Having been left out of
the processes of globalisation, democratisation, modernisation and
state building; with hardly enough to eat or a place to sleep, the
poorest classes in Lebanon have created their own political
allegiances. For those who have nothing to lose, Hezbollah has shown
the way: there are a whole world and a heaven to conquer.

A revolutionary styled vanguard party, Hezbollah has offered a
permanent class struggle with godly support that links national
liberation with cultural cleansing and class emancipation. While
indigenously Lebanese, centred in the Shi'a communities, Hezbollah's
revolution has been Trotskyite in its international appeal, for no
national borders, doctrinal differences or democratic stages
precondition its revolutionary appeal.25 The party is
internationalist in its dynamics and has succeeded in linking the
poorest Lebanese Shi'ites with Sunnis in Gaza, Palestinian refugees
across the region, 'anti-imperialists' in Iraq and Syria,
revolutionaries in Iran and anti-American/Western movements
throughout the Middle East.26 Middle Eastern Islamists such as
Hezbollah, along with their Iranian and Arab allies, have proved to
be unwavering obstacles against a US-sponsored 'Greater Middle East'
initiative involving the attempted installation of pro-
Western 'democracies' even as the Islamists themselves take part in
democratic processes and parliaments.

Despite its highly attractive appeal for a wide sector of middle-
class groups, professionals and entrepreneurs, who have long awaited
the prospect of democratisation and global integration in the
region, American-sponsored democratisation has hardly won
the 'hearts or minds' of the modern classes in most states, let
alone the poor.27 While prosperity was initially promised in
the 'liberation' of Iraq, for the economically dispossessed,
estranged democratisation provided no direct answer to hardship,
violence and widespread unemployment.28 Women's equality, human
rights, electoral participation, minority rights, rule of law,
environmental protection, political reform, while compelling
aspirations, have remained clichés to the vast majority of the
masses struggling against a persistent sense of cultural humiliation
and for daily water, bread and butter.29 Worse, democratisation, as
such, has increasingly appeared as a hostile movement whose end
result is strengthening corrupt elements of government, alienating
ethnic and sectarian communities, barring disfavoured (usually
Islamist) parties from taking office, facilitating foreign
intervention and investment, failing to solve the Palestinian-
Israeli conflict and undermining the underclass.

For such reasons, as well as their well-developed social welfare
service functions modelled on Iranian experience, Hezbollah and
other authoritarian styled Islamist groups have gained greater
appeal among the Lebanese poor than any democratic movement. As a
consequence, certain modernist leftist groups that have championed
democracy and/or social justice, despite their opposition to
globalisation excesses, began to emerge at odds with the largely
poor masses. For reasons of secular reform and anti-Syrian
nationalism after 2005, the Lebanese Democratic Left, a group of ex-
Communists and socialists, found their secular programme for
democratic government in general harmony with the right-wing Hariri-
led Future Movement and at odds with Hezbollah and its supporters.30
Hezbollah's agitation campaign among the poor and the opportunity
afforded by Israel's bombardment and invasion in July-August 2006
further elevated the party as both a proletarian vanguard and
nationalist standard-bearer leading the struggle against a 'Western
imposed imperialist democracy' in the Middle East.31

These developments have spotlighted various forms of perceived
hypocrisy in US policy. While praising and backing Lebanon's new
government and the democratic resistance to previous Syrian
domination, US policy, alongside Israel's ill-fated and destructive
anti-Hezbollah campaign of 2006, has undermined and discredited
those very elements of Lebanese reform. While speaking for
democracy, Washington clearly draws the line against devolution of
power to duly elected Islamist and extremist organisations. While
prioritising counter-terror, US military equipment has been used to
inflict destruction if not terror on civilian populations. While
speaking of the virtues of private enterprise, American lawmakers
fail to give preferences to imports or the indigenous industries of
stricken developing states.32

For the vast majority of poor, democratisation and globalisation
have been associated with an ever-increasing social inequality, with
affluence concentrated in metropolitan areas and among the educated,
leaving rural areas and urban suburbs to poverty.33 Democracy has
emerged, if anything, in direct antagonism with the sociopolitical
conditions of the underprivileged. In most cases, it ensures the
rule of law and strengthens government control, with implications of
removing illegal housing, controlling illegal labour, imposing
taxes, enforcing city zoning codes and expanding governmental
authority, implying greater dispossession and less security for the
poor. While job opportunities have filtered down for some, the
general gaps in education and opportunity as well as low wage scales
have limited democracy's and globalisation's promise of prosperity.
It was relatively easy for the Hezbollah leadership to capture the
imagination and sympathy of poverty-stricken peoples and those
fearing the domination of alien social groups, secular and religious
powers. Indeed, traditional advocates of the mass Shi'a populations
in southern Lebanon, such as the Amal movement, have had to give way
and join with the more dynamic Hezbollah leadership (see Figure 1).


[Enlarge Image]
Figure 1. Distribution of religious groups in Lebanon. Source: C1A,
1983.
Capturing these sentiments, Hezbollah, as other Islamists, have
incorporated alternative campaigns to empower the poor and weaken
the 'establishment'. Hezbollah-controlled urban slums and rural
areas have emerged as closed pockets, operating as states within the
state and beyond the reach of the central authority. Following a
pattern set during the Iranian revolution, the party uses mosques
and religious centres as civil courts and establishes religious
school networks, hospitals, orphanages, social service centres,
media outlets, boy scouts, civil defence and mujahedeen fighters all
organised independently from central state power.34 These form in
distinction from 'civil society' organisations which the West tends
to see as the building-blocks of democracy - professional and
voluntary social service organisations and 'non-profits' which bind
people together across cultural lines, a civic model that has some
manifestations (e.g. Rotary clubs and professional organisations)
but has hardly succeeded broadly in the Middle East.35

Thus Hezbollah-controlled territories began to emerge as a base of
pride for the poor, while instigating greater fears and concerns for
the wealthy and middle classes, as well as for non-Shi'a and non-
Muslim sectors of the society. These territories have become refuges
for low-paid labourers, the unemployed and outlawed renegades,
providing a safe haven for those who have not been able to afford
high-rental housing, state taxes and the comparative luxury of
Westernised cities. While daily routines and family responsibilities
dominate the lives of most poor people, their mass concentration can
appear to be a revolutionary reservoir ready to explode at any
moment against the sociopolitical status quo.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, once served by secular PLO social-
service organs, have emerged as natural allies to Hezbollah and
associated Islamist movements since they too have been left out of
the growing economic prosperity. For them, the creation of a strong
Lebanese government could be, arguably, the worst scenario, and they
have fiercely battled the emergence of strong Lebanese authority
since the late 60s.36 Their experiences with strong Arab governments
stood witness to massacres and suppressions as experienced in
Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Kuwait. Devastating socio-economic
conditions inside and outside refugee camps remained the major
reason for their sympathy and support for Hezbollah, though a rift
may have occurred with the ultra-radical Sunni based Palestinian-
Lebanese fighting of 2007.37

Thus an important reason for Hezbollah's rise to power in Lebanon as
well as that of Islamists elsewhere has been its ability to
transform masses of adherents into a coherent movement against the
social 'stability' of the country. The party was quick to mobilise
its supporters behind economic demands, often in public
demonstrations against government policies and regulations,
frequently threatening governmental collapse. Hezbollah continued to
dampen entrepreneurial interests by its ability to spread mob
actions throughout commercial districts and to obstruct economic and
political life at will.38 The disaffected rallied behind the party
with enthusiasm, having grown frustrated with economic growth that
targeted sectors such as tourism while urban areas were invaded
by 'alien' Western lifestyles.39

Diffusing Bourgeois Opposition

Opposition to the party from within its own sectarian ranks has been
muted for important reasons. First, the party was able to threaten
dissidents and renegades. Opposition risked community isolation and
accusation of treason and infidelity. Additionally, the party
represented an important political outlet by preserving power and
access for elite Shi'ites within the Lebanese confessional
structure. By its sectarian mobilising power, its participation in
government and through its respective sectarian elites, Hezbollah
has made political gains that retained important public offices to
the advantage of the Lebanese Shi'ite community. This was manifest
in the party's alliance with its own national sectarian bourgeoisie,
such as the Amal Movement, with the latter kept in close sectarian
rank. After all, the Shi'ite national bourgeoisie recognised that
Hezbollah, with its growing constituency, was a crucial force for
their own political survival amid the country's sectarian power
struggles.

Internal sectarian unity further helped the party to outmanoeuvre
its political opponents by gaining legitimacy through the ballot box
and by joining official governmental ranks. This allowed Hezbollah
to utilise public forums for its own purposes, often by using
governmental institutions and the press against the government
itself. Party candidates headed electoral lists, established
electoral alliances and coordinated effective election campaigns to
win parliamentary seats and municipal offices. After electoral
sweeps in their districts, Hezbollah MPs not only entered
municipalities, parliament and the cabinet for the purpose of
accessing public services and resources for their constituencies,
but also used these official offices as public forums to expose
governmental corruption, criticise policies and obstruct strong
central authority.40 Thus, in a bold duality which other parties
were ineffective in resisting, the revolutionary character of the
party was preserved while government institutions were subjugated to
the party's own ends.

Fearing a solid opposition being crystallised against its programme
by government middle- to upper-class based bourgeois parties (known
as the March 14th Alliance - see Table 1), Hezbollah aimed to break
the ranks of its political foes. It sought a coalition with a wide
national network of politically marginalised individuals and
opposition groups (known as the March 8th Alliance - see Table 1),
pitting them against government parties while providing them with
the necessary financial and political support.41 Its coalition-
building opportunism and success against government parties was best
seen when the party struck an alliance with the Maronite Christian-
based Free Patriotic Movement of General Michel Aoun (see 'Aoun-led
Alliance' in Table 1), a deal that guaranteed the party's support
across sectarian lines and denied the government parties' claims of
an absolute national majority. These alliances and political tactics
provided Hezbollah with the ability to operate from within the
government to disrupt the formation of coherent pro-government
policies; at the same time it allowed the party to orchestrate
opposition from the outside as well.

Table 1. Distribution of political alliances, 2005 Lebanese
Parliament Alliance Main bloc/leader Leading party/affiliation
Main/leading confession Parliamentary size %
Source: EU Election Mission to Lebanon 2005, Final Report on the
Parliamentary Election
March 14th Alliance 71 55.47
Hariri Future Movement Sunni 39 30.47
Jumblat Progressive Socialist Party Druze 16 12.50
Ja'Ja Lebanese Forces Maronite 4 3.13
Atallah The Democratic Left None/secular 1 0.78
Ahdab Renewal Democratic Movement Sunni 1 0.78
Qornet Shehwane Independent Maronite 7 5.47
Tripoli Coalition Independent Sunni 3 2.34
March 8th Alliance 35 27.34
Berri Amal Movement Shi'ite 16 12.50
Nasrallah Hezbollah Shi'ite 15 11.72
Baath Party Baath Party None/Secular 1 0.78
Syrian Nationalist Party Syrian Social Nationalist Party
None/Secular 1 0.78
Kataab (pro-Syrian) Kataab (pro-Syrian) Maronite 1 0.78
Saad Nasserites Sunni 1 0.78
Aoun-led Alliance 21 16.41
Aoun Free Patriotic Movement Maronite 14 10.94
Skaff Many Maronite 5 3.91
Murr Many Orthodox 2 1.56
Independent Dakash Independent 1 0.78
Total 128 100.00

Working within a complex Lebanese socio-sectarian-regional
environment (see Figure 1), the party succeeded in nationalising
support for its agenda well before the events of summer 2006.
Despite its radical Islamic appeal, Hezbollah had popularised itself
as a voice for other deprived socio-sectarian groups, including
certain Lebanese Christians, a remarkable achievement by any
measure. It emerged as the party of the oppressed, opposing
government policies and privatisation efforts that targeted public
programmes and the safety nets of the lower classes. The party's
anti-Western, anti-Israeli cultural rhetoric further mobilised
traditional and conservative elements across the religious divide.
For these reasons, anti-Hezbollah groups, particularly the March
14th Alliance, failed to isolate the party or undermine its
popularity. On the contrary, the party appeared to draw support from
larger cross-sectional groups throughout the county in support of
its political programme.42

This momentum finally allowed Hezbollah to wage an unprecedented
anti-government campaign that culminated in November 2006 with the
resignation of the opposition ministers from the cabinet, pushing to
the street massive anti-government demonstrations that literally
mobilised half the country's population, organising an open sit-in
in downtown Beirut that brought Lebanon to a standstill, imposing a
one-day general strike that shut down all public and private
sectors, and bringing the county to the edge of an open conflict and
civil war.

Perhaps among the most strategically significant characteristics of
Hezbollah has been its accumulation of weapons and its well-trained
and disciplined internal security apparatus that has remained beyond
the government's control. These capabilities were impressively
displayed during Israel's invasion following the killing and capture
of Israeli soldiers in the Lebanese-Israeli border area. The party's
historical reputation as being the sole force against Israeli
occupation in the south, and as a resistance movement opposed to
national security infringements, stripped the Lebanese government of
the ability to disarm it or to decrease its military presence in an
estimated quarter of Lebanese territories. The party defended its
acquisition of weapons through the pretext of continuous Israeli
threats and rejected efforts aimed at restricting its resistance
forces.43 Thus the party has accumulated all crucial political and
military foundations to establish a quasi-state operating within the
state.

In sum, Hezbollah ensured itself a solid backing from a large lower
socio-economic section of the population whose interests seem to run
in contradiction with the promises of democratisation, modernisation
and state-building. The party's political advantages were elevated
by outmanoeuvring opponents, establishing a wide national anti-
government coalition, using public institutions for the government's
own demise and effectively confronting Israel, both during the
Israeli occupation of the predominantly Shi'a Southern region before
the year 2000 and later during the Israeli military campaigns of
2006. Significant to the party's power was its ability to immanently
move massive anti-government demonstrations as well as its ability
to spur its supporters to mob uprising in commercial centres across
the country, thus sabotaging civil peace.44

Joining an Anti-Imperialist International Alliance

Hezbollah's strength was not drawn from national class-based support
and a revolutionary programme alone. Rather, it was manifest in the
party's successfully linking its struggle to topple democratisation,
modernisation and stronger government with that of a wider regional
network of states and groups standing to lose power with the
implementation of the American-sponsored 'Greater Middle East'
paradigm. Nation states such as Iran and Syria, along with such
groups as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian and Iraqi insurgent
militia joined the core of this regional revolutionary alliance.45
In turn, Hezbollah has become the leader in the struggle against the
new political order by opening the battleground against Israel in a
bid to support Hamas and mobilise the Arab street against the US-
Israeli camp, thereby sparking the largest anti-American grass-roots
protest movement in the Middle East. After all, it is the
confrontation with Israel and Hezbollah's remarkable, though still
limited, tactical successes that have given the party its widest
regional appeal to call for an open battle on behalf of the ummah,
which was reduced in actuality to an appeal for cross-regional class
solidarity against the invasion of perceived democratic
imperialism.46

For this reason, many conservative, monarchical, wealthy and Sunni-
or Christian-based factions and Arab governments across the region
also grew to fear and sporadically criticise the movement. Sunni
regional initiatives involving states such as Saudi Arabia and
Egypt, in consultation with Western powers, to contain the expansion
of Shi'a power as seen in Iraq and Lebanon have been evident since
2006. Yet the more Hezbollah appeared to succeed where other Arab
nationalists and leaders had failed, especially militarily, the more
difficult and embarrassing it became for critics to remain vocal.47

Hezbollah's strategic regional importance became evident when it was
able to fill the power gap left by the Syrian pullout from Lebanon
in May 2005. It was Hezbollah's struggle against anti-Syrian
Lebanese domestic groups that gained the party crucial backing from
the Syrian-Iranian regimes and further strengthened the Iranian-
Syrian-Hezbollah-Hammas front. Its consistent struggle against the
predominantly anti-Syrian Lebanese cabinet and parliament helped
shield the Syrian regime from an all-out international condemnation
over a widely believed Syrian-sponsored assassination of former
Lebanese Prime Minster Rafik Hariri.48 In fact, and after two years
of consistent opposition, Hezbollah was able to delay and undermine
an all-out international tribunal against an alleged Syrian link
with the Hariri assassination.

Hence, despite the party's small size, its dependence for armament
and financing on regional powers such as Syria and Iran and its
place within a sectarian political system in a very small nation,
Hezbollah's significance and influence have been demonstrated in its
ability to instigate tactical battles while mobilising the support
and aspirations of large economically deprived and frustrated social
groups across Lebanon, the Middle East and Muslim states. Hezbollah
gained the political initiative in both domestic struggle for
economic justice as well as in the international struggle against
Israel and the US, preventing regional governments and political
opponents from presenting any serious challenge.49

Seen in this light, Hezbollah has emerged as a revolutionary
proletarian party with an Islamic manifesto par excellence. Its
model has inspired greater militancy in groups in the region, who
have found among the dispossessed and disillusioned a fertile ground
for a mass opposition against outside and non-Muslim regional
domination, groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad among
Palestinians, as well as Jaysh Al-Mahdi in Iraq. Ironically, the
greater Hezbollah's success in resisting Israel through guerrilla
and armed tactics, the less the apparent need for more primitive
forms of terrorism and resistance, such as suicide bombing missions.

A key strategy in this new wave of resistance by entities such as
Hezbollah and Syria, a state that seeks to maintain both access to
the West and resistance to Western domination, is the manipulation
of social and regional stability to achieve political demands.
Sometimes this can happen in literal abductions such as the capture
of Israeli military personnel, useful both as a trigger for Israeli
responses and for subsequent prisoner exchanges or 'liberations' -
though Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's general secretary,
maintained that the destructive consequences of the summer 2006
confrontation went well beyond what he had anticipated. Sometimes
the strategy entails undermining the parties and forces of
traditional Arab ruling elites. In Lebanon, this strategy has
jeopardised the ability of the national bourgeoisie to sustain and
fulfil its goals in attracting foreign investment, stabilising the
economy, strengthening governmental authority, resisting outside
intervention and advancing political reform and democracy. This
further demonstrates that the party has acted as an anti-globalist
force using Islamic slogans, even as it might pragmatically
cooperate with merchant and middle-class economic interests, as the
Iranian leadership did earlier.

Anti-Democratic Thesis: A Non-Government Party-Commanded Welfare
Economy

Democratisation in Lebanon, indeed in the region as a whole, has
been sabotaged by instability and economic conditions that rendered
political and institutional reform irrelevant, if not contradictory
to the aspirations of the lower social classes. In fact, Hezbollah's
armed struggle against Israel, with the active support of Iran and
Syria, has provided a large section of the population with financial
support beyond the ability or willingness of the government and of a
capitalist-based Lebanese economy to do so (clearly of course much
of Iran's resources come from intimately capitalist dealings in the
petroleum markets, while Syria continues a search for international
trade relations). Not only did that support provide steady income to
thousands of Hezbollah fighters who would otherwise have remained
unemployed for lack of skills beyond military training, but it also
supported a wide network of social services for poor Shi'ite
families. Hezbollah has provided monthly pensions to families
of 'martyrs' as well as to party veterans and ex-detainees released
from Israeli prisons, in addition to socialised programmes such as
free schooling and access to hospitalisation for everyone among the
faithful in need. Furthermore, the party has been able to mount and
conspicuously publicise post-war rebuilding and development
programmes throughout the Shi'ite rural areas, undercutting whatever
resentment might have existed against its leaders for instigating
the hostilities that brought all this on. Neither the government nor
a bourgeois capitalist-based economy with a democratic agenda was
prepared instantly and efficiently to provide any serious
alternative services to this broad section of the population. As a
consequence, the Iranian foreign policy that supported Hezbollah's
social welfare programmes for the poor in addition to military
backing gained wider popular sympathy, in contrast to support for
the West which rhetorically supported entrepreneurship and arranged
for peace monitoring forces (and an expanded UNIFIL role). Thus, in
another hostage strategy, the national bourgeois parties were
effectively immobilised, unable to advance an independent agenda
without Hezbollah's approval.

During the conflict with Israel and through his many televised
addresses to the Lebanese, Arabs and Muslim peoples, Hassan
Nasrallah appeared as the de facto president of an 'Islamic Lebanese
State'.50 Upon his guidance and decision the destiny of the entire
country depended, a fact causing consternation among many Lebanese
and Arab regional opponents of militant Shi'a Islam.51

Israel's devastating American-backed military retaliation against
Hezbollah in July-August 2006, which led to a widespread destruction
of the country's civilian infrastructure and to the additional
displacement of the Shi'ite population from the rural south and the
southern suburbs of Beirut, undermined the government's power at the
very time it had become a favourite of the West for expelling the
Syrians.52 Israel's attack further marginalised the bourgeois
parties, setting back economic prosperity and increasing the numbers
of homeless, displaced and poor in the country and increased the
chances of renewed sectarian violence. All of this played into the
Hezbollah leadership's hands. Walid Jumbalt, Druze leader and head
of Progressive Socialist Party, concluded: 'After 12 July [the start
of the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah], Lebanon is now
unfortunately being entrenched solidly into the Syrian-Iranian
axis.' He went on to add: 'The hopes of a stable, prosperous Lebanon
where we could attract investments is [sic] over for now. It is a
fatal blow for confidence.'53 Confronting an ever-increasing non-
government-commanded welfare economy, a laissez-faire-based
democracy has continued to lack the framework for advancement in the
region. Hopes for a strong stable government attracting foreign
investment and generating economic prosperity, gradually undermining
poverty and politically strengthening the bourgeoisie against
radical parties, as envisioned by global perspectives, continue to
be sabotaged. With the keen support of regional powers, in
particular Iran and Syria, Hezbollah retains the ability to recruit
warriors and draw wide-ranging public support to advance its
political programme. Thus a growing social-welfare revolutionary-
based economy commanded by a single party has emerged in direct
competition to the bourgeois state, undermining its political
foundations and its ability to achieve global economic integration
or advance liberal democracy.

Can Democracy Triumph?

Compared to radical Communist parties of the third world during the
Cold War, Hezbollah appears to be a movement equally or more
entrenched among the underclass. As demonstrated in this article,
Hezbollah, as well as various other Middle Eastern Islamist
movements, has emerged as a vanguard of the poor and the
dispossessed, battling global policies that strengthen bourgeois
governments and strip the poor of their basic social safety nets.
Led by politically astute clerics, the party's ability to mobilise
militant adherents from poverty-stricken areas and across ethnic
divides while implanting a non-government party-commanded welfare
economy further aligned Hezbollah as antithetical to economic
liberalisation and democratisation.

In the long term such a movement might, given diminished perceived
foreign threat entailed in such potential agreements as a
Palestinian-Israeli accord, an Israeli-Syrian border agreement, a US-
Iranian nuclear deal or a US withdrawal from Iraq, lose some power
of appeal. Washington might regain regional access by abandoning its
extreme interventionist orientation and more closely aligning its
Middle East policy with that of its European allies such as France
and Germany as well as Russia and China; thus forming an
actual 'global' approach to the region. Israel might reap greater
security by finalising direct peace negotiations with the
Palestinians and Syrians, thus de-linking these parties from Iran,
which has vowed to abide by agreements the Palestinian and Syrian
authorities find acceptable. Yet without addressing the root causes
of Islamist socio-economic discontent, which lie in global economic
policies that fail to confront the growth of poverty, despair and
dispossession in the Middle East, radicalism is unlikely to lose its
flame.

The precise linkage between economic development and democracy or
civil violence is not entirely clear. Many scholars have noted
an 'inverse U' relationship, in which it is the transitional
economies that experience the most domestic upheaval and
instability.54

Thus there are no guarantees that anti-poverty programmes and
economic infusion will reduce violence and produce pluralistic
democracies, at least in the short term. Yet it appears that the
failure to address the needs of the mass underclass significantly
undermines such political prospects and at least in the short to
middle term empowers militant political organisations, especially if
the latter are ingeniously led with a combination of
incorruptibility, tactical flexibility and opportunism. The
advancement of a global liberal democratic agenda along with
political moderation may not be achievable without a global outlook
that supports broad and efficient institutionalised social welfare
programmes.

As demonstrated in this article, Hezbollah's power is not solely
drawn from public anger against perceived American support of
Israel, nor is it driven solely by a strict adherence to religious
precepts. It is not even entirely based in opposition to Western
order and democratisation, or primarily driven by Iranian-Syrian
foreign policy. Rather, all these factors combine and constitute
political outlets for Hezbollah's fundamental strength rooted in the
socio-economic conditions of the underclass, in needs unmet by
previous Middle Eastern nationalist movements and regimes. As a US
National Intelligence Council report stressed, '[t]he extent to
which radical Islam grows and how regimes respond to its pressures
will also have long-term repercussions for democratisation and the
growth of civil society institutions'.55 In this article we have
suggested that uprooting Radical Islamist movements and advancing
democracy in the Middle East, as called for by the West, remains a
political mirage, in stark contrast to the reality of poverty and
economic instability, now compounded by war damage in places such as
Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Sudan, Somalia and
Lebanon. Winning the battle against religious militancy, therefore,
needs to be, crucially, a fight against economic deprivation and
political alienation where the central government takes the
initiative, supported by the global community, in placing effective
social-service programmes for the poor - thus empowering social
justice and winning moderation against despair and extremism.
Nothing could be more symbolic of the opportunity gap and of missed
opportunities for reconciliation, for example, than Israel's
demolition of perfectly viable housing, community buildings and
infrastructure during its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

Ultimately, achieving social and international peace and developing
moderation and appropriate forms of democracy can only succeed
through a global policy that assists in removing the root cause of
social instability and building the size and influence of those
class elements that have traditionally supported secular democracy.
Military intervention and the fight against terrorism without
comprehensive economic development, progress toward cross-border and
cross-cultural peace agreements, conspicuous acts of mutual inter-
cultural respect and sympathy or political reform reducing
authoritarian rule and corruption can only lay the groundwork for
the future growth of extremism and revolutionary reaction.

Notes

1. Masoud Kazemzadeh, 'Teaching the Politics of Islamic
Fundamentalism', Political Science and Politics 31, no. 1 (1998),
pp.52-9.


2. While it is a term better applied to Christian revivalism, there
are many definitions of 'Islamic fundamentalism'. For purposes of
this article, however, we aim to examine the radical Islamic
mobilisations that seek, in different forms and strategies, the
eradication of the current traditional or 'moderate' Middle Eastern
governments and the expulsion of Western influences. It is from this
angle that we look at Islamist movements without ruling out other
social, cultural or religious traits.


3. See Martin Marty and Scott Appleby's Fundamentalism Project vols.
2-4 (1993-2004), an edited series from the University of Chicago
Press.


4. Farhad Kazemi, Poverty and Revolution in Iran: The Migrant Poor,
Urban Marginality and Politics (New York: New York University Press,
1980); Sami Zubaida, Islam, the People and the State: Political
Ideas and Movements in the Middle East (London and New York: I.B.
Tauris, 1993): Ervand Abrahamian, Khomeinism: Essay on the Islamic
Republic (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993); Misav
Parsa, Social Origins of the Iranian Revolution (New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers University Press, 1989); Fred Halliday, Islam and the Myth
of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East (London:
I.B. Tauris, 1996); Adam Webb, 'The Calm Before the Storm?
Revolutionary Pressures and Global Governance', International
Political Science Review 27, no. 1 (2006), pp. 73-92.


5. Eric Watkins, 'The Unfolding US Policy in the Middle East',
International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs) 73,
no. 1 (1997).


6. Abdesalam Maghraoui, American Foreign Policy and Islamic Renewal
(Washington: USIP Special Report 164, July 2006).


7. President George W. Bush has described Islamic extremists,
terrorists or fundamentalists as 'Fascists' whose defeat cannot be
compromised. Also see Stephen Van Evera, 'Assessing U.S. Strategy in
the War on Terror', Annals of the American Academy of Political and
Social Science 607 (2006), pp.10-26.


8. S.V.R. Nasr, 'Democracy and Islamic Revivalism', Political
Science Quarterly 110, no. 2 (1995), pp.261-85.


9. Somewhat similar divisions were seen in the
supposedly 'monolithic' Communist bloc during the Cold War.


10. See G8's resolutions on 'Partnership for Progress and a Common
Future with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa',
G8 Information Centre, Sea Island, 9 June 2004.


11. Lal Khan, 'Fundamentalist Resurgence: Causes and Prospects',
International Marxist Tendency, 1995, available at
http://www.marxist.com/fundamentalist-resurgence-causes-
prospects.htm [accessed 2006].


12. See Eli Berman, 'Sect, Subsidy, and Sacrifice: An Economist's
Views on Ultra-Orthodox Jews', Quarterly Journal of Economics 65,
no. 3 (2000), pp.905-53; Daniel Chen, 'Economic Distress and
Religious Intensity: Evidence from Islamic Resurgence during the
Indonesian Financial Crisis', PRESS working paper no. 39, Harvard
University, 2003; Christina Paxson, 'Education Poverty, and
Terrorism: Is there a causal connection?', comment on Alen Krueger
and Jika Maleckova, mimeo, Princeton University, 2002; Quan Li and
Drew Schaub, 'Economic Globalisation and Transnational Terrorist
Incidents: A Pooled Time-Series Cross-Sectional Analysis', Journal
of Conflict Resolution 48, no. 2 (2004), pp.230-58.


13. Laura Tyson, 'It's Time to Step Up the Global War on Poverty',
Business Week, 3 Dec. 2001; James D. Wolfensohn, 'Fight Terrorism by
Ending Poverty', New Perspectives Quarterly 19, no. 2 (2002), p.42.


14. Brian Burgoon, 'On Welfare and Terror: Social Welfare Policies
and Political-Economic Roots of Terrorism', Journal of Conflict
Resolution 50, no. 2 (April 2006), pp.176-203.


15. Ted Robert Gurr, Why Men Rebel? (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1970).


16. See the work of Bruce Russett et al., 'The Democratic Peace',
International Security 19, no 4 (Spring, 1995), pp. 164184; Brown,
Michael E., Steven E. Miller and Sean M. Lynn-Jones, Debating the
Democratic Peace (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996).


17. See draft proposal presented by the American government to its
G8 counterparts in early 2004: Al-Hayat, 13 Feb. 2004, translated to
English by the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin at
http://www.meib.org/documentfile/040213.htm [accessed 2006].


18. 'Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Region of
the Broader Middle East and North Africa', G8 Information Centre,
Sea Island, 9 June 2004.


19. See Nikki Keddie, 'The New Religious Politics: Where, When, and
Why Do 'Fundamentalisms' Appear?' Comparative Studies in Society and
History 40, no. 4 (1998), pp.696-723.


20. National Intelligence Council (NIC), Global Trends 2010
(Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, 1997).


21. Keddie, 'The New Religious Politics', p. 721.


22. Gurr, Why Men Rebel?; James C. Davies, 'Toward a Theory of
Revolution', American Sociological Review 27, no. 1 (1962); Samuel
Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1968); Adam Webb, 'The Calm Before the Storm?
Revolutionary Pressures and Global Governance', International
Political Science Review 27, no. 1 (2006), pp.73-92.


23. See also Hilal Khashan, 'The New World Order and the Tempo of
Militant Islam', British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 24, no.
1 pp. 524 (1997).


24. Statistics Lebanon Ltd., June 2006. The question was 'Which
political party or group represents your views and reflects your
political opinion?' (n = 400)


25. In his various speeches, Hezbollah's Hassan Nassrallah has
mocked the 'Lebanon First' policy advocated by the Lebanese
bourgeois nationalist parties (particularly the March 14th Alliance)
as a political shortsightedness by leaders who think they are living
on the moon not on a globalised earth. He called on Venezuela's
President Hugo Chavez as a better Lebanese and Arab nationalist
leader than many in Lebanon and the Arab world for his proclaimed
solidarity with Hezbollah against Israel.


26. Several public opinion polls conducted by Al-Jazeera during July-
August 2006 showed overwhelming support for Hezbollah throughout the
Middle East, undoubtedly conditioned by its military successes
against Israel. See http://www.aljazeera.net/Portal/vote/?
DoSearch=true&Subject=???%20????
&SelectSite=000&DaysFrom=31&MonthsFrom=7&YearsFrom=2006&DaysTo=15&Mon
thsTo=9&YearsTo=2006 [accessed 2006].


27. After Israel's bombardment of the southern district of Beirut
during July-August 2006, banners were raised on the ruins of
destroyed apartment buildings with slogans such as 'This is the US
Sponsored New Middle East!'


28. According to American intelligence indicators, before the
Israeli attacks of 2006 the Lebanese unemployment rate was already
close to 18%, with 28% of the population below the poverty line. The
28% figure may indeed understate the extent of poverty, as years of
war and occupations in southern Lebanon left the majority of
southern towns largely dependent on Hezbollah's financial support,
without many alternatives other than limited agriculture. Even in
the agricultural sector, many in the south engaged in relatively
menial pursuits such as harvesting fruit. A national history of
political marginalisation and elite family dominance of the
country's power centres left the majority of Shi'a relatively
politically alienated. Shi'ite businessmen tended to invest out of
Shi'a areas, seeking financial stability and higher profit margins.
Most investments in Shi'ite regions were small in scale and utilised
temporary workers. Most government contracts are politically
influenced and controlled by either AMAL or Hezbollah. See the CIA's
World Fact Book, at
https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/le.html#Econ
[accessed 2006].


29. According to a Lebanese public opinion poll conducted by the
American University College of Technology with 450 Lebanese
participants during January 2006, only 4% prioritised democratic
reform for the country while majority (57%) considered security as
the single most important national issue, followed by achieving
independence and sovereignty (25%) and economic revitalisation
(14%): Al-Balad (Beirut), 6 March 2006.


30. The Left-Democrats and the Progressive Socialist Party joined
the anti-Syrian anti-Hezbollah March 14th Alliance along with
various right-wing bourgeois parties.


31. According an Information International opinion survey conducted
with a sample of 800 participants in September 2006, following the
Hezbollah-Israeli conflict in July-August, 66.3% believed that
Israel was conspiring to attack Lebanon while waiting for a pretext
to achieve its aim (Information International, Beirut, Sept. 2006).
This public perception of a hidden Israeli-American agenda
conspiring to control the region has well served the emergence of
Hezbollah as the liberator and defender of national rights.


32. 69.1% of respondents surveyed by Information International in
September 2006 characterised the United States as being the enemy of
Lebanon during the July-August war with Israel.


33. The vast majority of Lebanon's population is reported to be
living in mainly urban centres with widespread slums surrounding
major cities known as 'belts of misery': see Choghig Kasparian, La
population libanaise et ses caracteristiques (Beirut: University of
Saint Joseph, 2003). The country's current population is estimated
at four million (July 2004 est.) in addition to 400,000 Palestinian
refugees and close to one million foreign workers, mostly Syrians
(see https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
factbook/geos/le.html [accessed 2007]).


34. See Mona Harb and Reinoud Leenders, 'Know Thy Enemy:
Hizbullah, "Terrorism" and the Politics of Perception', Third World
Quarterly 26 (2005).


35. See Marina Ottaway, 'Democracy and Constituencies in the Arab
World', Carnagie Papers, Democracy and the Rule of Law Project,
Middle East series, No. 48 (July 2004).


36. The 1968 Cairo Agreement between the PLO and the Lebanese
government limited government authority over refugee camps and
legitimised the military presence of the PLO in them.


37. Average annual Palestinian refugee income is US$3,633 in Lebanon
with unemployment rate of 17.1% (1999 est.) and US$1,000 average
annual income with unemployment rate of 15.6% in Syria (2000 est.).
60% of Palestinian refugee households in Lebanon are reported to
live below poverty level (2001 est.). See Palestinian Central Bureau
of Statistics, Statistical Abstract of Palestine, no. 2 (2001).


38. Since 1992 Hezbollah has organised public protests against the
Hariri-led government, often clashing with police. The pattern of
public protests, however, gained greater intensity following the
Syrian pullout from Lebanon and the emergence of an anti-Syrian
parliamentary majority and cabinet in May 2005.


39. It is remarkable, for example, that as reported in Western
media, during the Israeli bombing campaign, tourist and resort
hotels in south and central Beirut continued to operate with a
clientele seemingly remote from the unfolding events.


40. Hezbollah's 'Loyalty to Resistance' bloc won 15 parliamentary
seats during the May 2005 election out of a total of 128 and helped
secure its co-sectarian Shi'ite ally Amal Movement's 'Resistance and
Development' bloc an additional 15 seats. Together they held five
crucial cabinet ministries out of 24, including the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-
factbook/geos/le.html [accessed 2007]).


41. Among those supported by Hezbollah against the March 14th
Alliance were: Salim Al-Houss and Omar Karami, Sunni leaders against
Hariri's Future bloc; We'am Wahab and Talal Erslan, Druze leaders
against Walid Jumblat and his Progressive Socialist Party; Souleiman
Franjeyah and Michel Aoun, Maronite leaders against various other
groups such as Lebanese Forces, Phalanges and Ahrar groups.


42. In a Statistics Lebanon and International Republican Institute
national public opinion survey, conducted in July 2006 and covering
2,400 Lebanese citizens, support for Hezbollah appeared to cross
regions and sects. When asked 'What political party best represents
you in Parliament?' respondents who choose Hezbollah, among other
political parties, were distributed geographically as follows: 24.5%
from Mount Lebanon District, 21.6% from the Northern District, 26.1%
from the South, and 24.8% from Bequaa Valley. The respondents were
distributed according to their religious sect as 15.4% Christians,
27.8% Sunni, 50.7% Shiite, and 6.2% Druze (Beirut: Statistics
Lebanon Ltd, July, 2006).


43. According to Al-Jazeera's news poll conducted between 17 and 20
August 2006, more than 85% of respondents considered that disarming
Hezbollah should not be a Lebanese national priority. Al-Jazeera
News Network, http://www.aljazeera.net/Portal/vote/?
DoSearch=true&Subject=???%20????
&SelectSite=000&DaysFrom=31&MonthsFrom=7&YearsFrom=2006&DaysTo=15&Mon
thsTo=9&YearsTo=2006 [accessed 2006].


44. Tens of thousands of Hezbollah supporters took to the streets
against the government throughout 2006 under various pretexts. In
May, massive anti-government labour union demonstrations led by
Hezbollah brought down government economic recovery plans; in June,
Hezbollah supporters blocked streets in protest against a local TV
comedy show critical of Hassan Nassrallah; in September close to one
million supporters rallied in celebration of a claimed Hezbollah
victory against Israel, but celebration was soon turned into a
demonstration critical of government policies. Attacks in Iraq
against Shi'ite shrines quickly drew massive street mobilisations
critical of the Lebanese government. Events in the Palestinian
territories also had similar outcomes, with Hezbollah blockading
major roads and highways with checkpoints demanding financial and
political support for Palestinians while loudspeakers played
revolutionary songs in a direct challenge to the Lebanese central
authority. Finally, after the resignation of its ministers and
allies from the cabinet in November 2006, Hezbollah succeeded in
brining the entire country to a halt with hundreds of thousands of
supporters massing in the streets of Beirut demanding the departure
of the perceived American-sponsored government of Prime Minister
Fouad Saniora.


45. Hezbollah is believed to receive annually over US$100 million
from Iran as well as weapons and logistic support from Syria to
assist its various activities in Lebanon.


46. The ummah refers to 'Islamic and Arab' nations or communities of
believers. Hezbollah, through Hassan Nassrallah's televised
interviews and addresses, has stressed this notion to remain
inclusive of non-Muslim communities and refrained from using
exclusivist rhetoric often adopted by other Islamist extremists such
as 'Jihad' and 'anti-crusaders' slogans.


47. The Saudi Arabian, Egyptian and Jordanian governments initially
were critical of Hezbollah's armed presence and actions against
Israel, but had to back off such criticism as war atrocities emerged
and Hezbollah's appeal swelled regionally.


48. Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in
a massive car bomb explosion on 14 February 2005. Hariri was a
prominent wealthy Lebanese Sunni leader who established close
linkages with former French President Jaque Chirac and the Saudi
ruling family. He gained significant international and domestic
backing that worried the Syrian regime. The United Nations Security
Council passed various resolutions sponsoring an international
tribunal on Hariri's assassination.


49. After Hezbollah's July-August 2006 military confrontation with
Israel, which coincided with the escalation of US pressure against
Iran's alleged military-aimed nuclear programme, the party gained
strategic regional importance. It demonstrated an ability to
initiate crucial tactical attacks against Israel whenever called for
by a regional confrontation, particularly in a likely scenario of an
Israeli-Palestinian, Israeli-Iranian or American-Iranian military
conflict. On another front, the party displayed the ability to lead
domestic Lebanese political battles in favour of Syria's strategic
advantage vis-à-vis Israel and the West. This further strengthened
the centrality of the party within the 'anti-imperialist' regional
alliance.


50. 69.3% of 800 Lebanese respondents who were surveyed by
Information International in September 2006 said that they had
followed in great detail the televised addresses of Hezbollah's
general secretary Hassan Nassrallah throughout the war with Israel;
24.5% said they followed them occasionally, and only 6.2% said they
were not interested.


51. Hezbollah's stance in the Lebanese army's siege of radical
Palestinian Islamists in Nahr Al-Bared Refugee Camp in May 2007 was
slow to develop and represented something of an enigma in
determining the degree of radical solidarity in Lebanese/Palestinian
Islamist movements.


52. Close to one million Lebanese or approximately one-third of the
Lebanese population, mostly Shi'ites, were displaced as a
consequence of Israel's attacks on Lebanon in July-August 2006.
Entire villages and suburbs were reduced to rubble, the civilian
infrastructure was severely destroyed and hundreds were killed and
injured. Even with the international airport's reopening and
villagers' return home on cratered roads, the consequent economic
devastation and dislocation is alarming the country with massive
unemployment, economic stagnation and poverty, particularly among
the Shi'ites.


53. 'Fighting "has sunk hope of a free Lebanon"', Financial Times
(London), 1 Aug. 2006. Jumblat is also a leader of the March 14th
Alliance.


54. See Demet Yalcin Mousseau, 'Democratizing with Ethnic Divisions:
A Source of Conflict?' Journal of Peace Research 38, no. 5 (2001),
pp.547-67.


55. National Intelligence Council, Mapping the Global Future: Report
of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project (Washington, DC:
National Intelligence Council, 2004).

--- End ---

2 comments:

President Ahmedinajad said...

THE FOLLOWING ISSUE CAN DESTROY ISLAM, ZIONIST RACIST ISRAEL AND THE TEACHINGS OF THE CHURCH AND NOT THE WAY OF JESUS WHICH IS PERFECT. RESEARCH THE BELOW SMALL THESIS to see if there is any truth to it.

READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).

The COVENANT with Abraham and his DESCENDANTS is central to JUDAISM/CHRISTIANITY/ISLAM.

Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link


http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=GENESIS%2021;&version=46;

Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

GENESIS 16:16
And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.

GENESIS 21:5
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

BY DOING SOME KINDERGARTEN ARITHMATIC USING ARABIC NUMBERS (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)
NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING

THAT WOULD MAKE ISHMAEL 17 YEARS OLD IN GENESIS 21:14-21
BUT IT IS A DESCRIPTION OF AN INFANT.

Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.


The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.
AS THE DESCRIPTION OF ISHMAEL IN GENESIS 21:14-21 IS THAT OF AN INFANT IT CAN BE ASSUMED SOMEONE HAS MOVED THIS PASSAGE FROM AN EARLIER PART OF SCRIPTURE!!! AND HAVE GOT THERE KNICKERS IN A TWIST.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:

http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/Muhammad_Bible.HTM

(MUHAMMAD IN THE BIBLE)

http://bible.islamicweb.com/



http://www.islamicity.com/

http://www.islamonline.net/english/index.shtml


http://www.islamalways.com/


http://ifamericansknew.com/


http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MB_BQS/default.htm

(BIBLE, QURAN and SCIENCE)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ANTI-WAR

http://www.harunyahya.com/
(EVOLUTION DECEIPT)

http://www.barnabas.net/

http:/www.answering-christianity.com/ac.htm

HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

ISHMAEL IS THE FIRST BORN AND GOOD NEWS OF ISSAC DOES NOT APPEAR UNTIL AFTER THE SACRIFICE?????

Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.




HADITH

Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:
Narrated Ibn Abbas:
The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.

Cedars1559 said...

Why Hezbollah LOST the War in Lebanon!
And the Current 'Present' Situation in Southern Lebanon

By Gabriel al-Amin
Beirut, Lebanon

http://www.lebanonwire.com/0709MLN/07092429MN.asp


On July 12, 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers that led to Israel's war with them and, by extension, Lebanon itself. Hezbollah has been on Israel's fence since the latter's withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000. Israel always requested from the international community and from the Lebanese government to deploy its Lebanese Army there instead of Hezbollah militants. Hezbollah, quite naturally, refused! Hezbollah vowed to NEVER allow any other force other than itself to occupy southern Lebanon. Even during the conflict, Hezbollah said it would never agree to allow either the Lebanese army nor international monitors to patrol southern Lebanon.


Then finally, when two IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers were kidnapped, Israel found the perfect excuse it was looking for to go into Lebanon and push Hezbollah well away from the Lebanese-Israel border. Israel pursued a limited invasion and killed over 500-600 Hezbollah members during the one month war. Additionally, Israel took over every single village in southern Lebanon. During the conflict even though Hezbollah received such a blow and all its members were freaked out and on the run. Yet when the hostilities ended, Hezbollah claimed victory! But did it really win?

Firstly, Israel agreed to a cessation of hostilities NOT because it surrendered and defeated militarily, but because of international pressure from the European Union and the United States. During this conflict Israel endured more international pressure, than it ever did in the past 10 years. Israel was put forth conditions and international agreements, such as the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers and 15,000 United Nations peace keepers into southern Lebanon, and arms embargo on Hezbollah. "This" proposal which was presented to Israel which EVEN Hezbollah agreed to accept, was something Israel was yearning for for many decades and was a once in a life time opportunity, it was a REAL "golden opportunity," even the far right in Israel said "this is an excellent proposal, so give it a shot." This cessation of hostilities, known as "The August Ceasefire", was initiated by the United Nations and International Community, and was put forward before both parties, Israel and Hezbollah, Hezbollah JUMPED right on the wagon to accept, because they saw it as the only way out of the mess they got themselves into. While at the same time, Israel was more stubborn on accept this ceasefire-agreement, since they were on a winning streak. Ever since then Hezbollah has not been seen or heard from in Southern Lebanon! At long last the frail Lebanese Government has finally had a degree of sovereignty over all of its state and is finally monitoring and guarding its own borders.

Not too long ago, nearly all television and print media images coming out of southern Lebanon were that of armed Hezbollah fighters with their guns, outposts, and banners. Not anymore! Hezbollah is now hiding under rocks in Southern Lebanon, its military might having received a substantial blow. In addition, Hezbollah is no longer enjoying the freedom and luxury of easily transferring Syrian/Iranian weaponry across the Lebanese-Syrian border or via the Beirut seaport. Much of this due to the combined efforts of a stronger Lebanese army and U.N. forces keeping a lid on such transferals.

But even though the International Troops and the Lebanese Army keep Hezbollah in check, isn't there still Hezbollah presence in Southern Lebanon, EVEN THOUGH they are hiding "under rocks?" The same could be said for Al Qaeda presence in the United States, who are also hiding under rocks.

Hezbollah may portray themselves as fearsome "militants" but they are in fact cowards cowering behind Lebanese civilians. Yet, through mostly pin-point targeting, the IDF dealt a heavy blow to Hezbollah. Five to six hundred Hezbollah terrorists were killed and nearly all of their bases, headquarters and tactical infrastructure destroyed.

Some might say, "But didn’t Hezbollah manage to shoot over one hundred rockets into Israel every single day? AND why, during the war, didn't the Israel army/air-force ever manage to stop the Katyusha fire?" Well the answer to that would be "What's so impressive about groups of one or two rag heads pointing and setting off an unguided Katyusha southward into Israel?" In addition to the fact that Hezbollah only needed 1% of their military might in order to shoot Katyushas from their scattered fields and caves, into Israel every day. Plus, the only way to have completely stopped the Katyusha fire would have been to occupy every square inch of South Lebanon, including 20 miles north of the Litani, and to stay there for a few months.

Israel 'BADLY' miscalculated Hezbollah, those past 6 years since it withdrew from Lebanon. Why? Because in 2004, it was estimated that if Israel was to engage in war with Hezbollah, their Katyusha arsenal would result in 100 deaths per day on the Israeli side, but instead only 2 people per day were killed by those rockets. But during the war, Israel came to the realization that 99.9% of all those rocket attacks, mostly result in a lot of noise and broken windows. Prior to the war it was also estimated that if Israel launches a ground invasion, it would result in the deaths of over 70 Israeli soldiers per day, which would have left over 2000 dead on the IDF side at the end of the 34 day conflict. But only 120 soldiers were killed in total, which makes it 3-4 soldiers per day.

The reason 120 soldiers were killed in the first place, is because what would someone expect if an army deployed 30,000 soldiers squashed together in a small, tight, open space (South Lebanon)! It was amazing that after the war, those soldier didn't all suffer from cluster phobia. But even though Israel deployed so many soldiers in the open, Hezbollah didn't manage to deliver that harsh blow as was estimated before the ground invasion. But after all, Hezbollah didn't fight as courageous as the Egyptians during the Suez Canal invasion, nor as the Syrians during the war in the Golan heights.

It shouldn’t shock the world that Hezbollah bombed a couple Israeli Merkava Tanks, because even the Palestinians have done it in the past too. Blowing up a Merkava Tank is NOT an ‘uncommon’ operation. But at the same time Israel was still advancing and still taking over every village in South Lebanon, bombing every headquarter and outpost, all Hezbollah members were on the run. Even though Israel lost a couple of tanks and didn’t destroy Hezbollah, it still doesn’t mean they (Israel) were defeated militarily. The definition of military defeat, mean: to crush the other side, force it to flee and or be on the run, or force it into surrender. Israel was not defeated militarily!

The same can be said about the Israeli naval ship that was bombed by Hezbollah of the coast of Lebanon, during the first week of the conflict, which caused a tiny bit of damage to the ship and which resulted in the deaths of 4 Israeli naval soldiers. Once again this wasn’t a military defeat, but it was an internal flaw, which meant that; Israel needed a better anti missile naval detector radar, a better anti missile interceptor, and better armor for its ship. But did Hezbollah succeed in sinking the ship and destroying it completely, did they destroy all the Israeli naval ships of the Lebanon Coast, did Israel scurry away with all its ships with its tail in between its legs, or did Israel ask for a cease-fire? NO! Instead, Israel simultaneously the same day, brought the damaged ship back into Israel for repair and sent another ship to the Lebanon Coast to replace it.

During and after the war, Hezbollah regretted starting the war in the first place, by kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers. But Israel on the other hand, didn’t regret going to war with Hezbollah, not even 1%. In fact Israel was ready to go for round two, but Hezbollah, will not dare even consider thinking about it.

During the fighting, many people (both inside and outside Lebanon) finally saw Hezbollah as they really are... a terrorist group. It's strategy had little or no military value. The rockets they launched were intended to cause terror among Israel's citizenry. They were not aimed at Israel military targets.

Israel never managed to destroy Hezbollah. As much as the IDF might have wanted to, the wiping out of Hezbollah was not Israel's goal. Nor could it ever be its goal. It is against the laws of physics to destroy a guerilla/terrorist group (America is learning it the hard way with Al Qaeda) since their operatives and members are always blending in and out of the civilian populations from which they so cowardly operate. In fact NEVER in history has a guerilla group ever been destroyed.

Additionally, rescuing the kidnapped IDF soldiers without a strong intelligence as to exactly where they were hidden, would have been a nearly impossible mission.. assuming they had not already been secreted out of Lebanon into Syria or Iran!

We constantly hear phrases such "Hezbollah emerged stronger," "Hezbollah is now stronger than ever," or "Hezbollah is now seen stronger than before!" There is some truth to that. Since before the Israeli withdrawal of 2000, Hezbollah was seen as more of a small arms, home made explosive, cut and run group, but during this conflict they were able to show off their Iranian made weapons. But they were no match for the Israeli army, whom they bowed down to at the end, by feeling too threatened to attack and provoke ever again.

When the United Nations wanted to impose a 48-hour ceasefire, it was Hezbollah which rushed to accept while Israel had to be pressured. Obviously this was because Israel had the military momentum in her favor. And when the month-long conflict ended, Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, remained in an underground bunker, no longer enjoying frequent visits to central Beirut, giving daily "Hate Israel" speeches, driving down to his home town of southern Lebanon or enjoying first class flights to Damascus and Tehran. Nasrallah even admitted that had he known that even one percent of this war would have gone as it had, he would have NEVER kidnapped the soldiers and thus started the war!

"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.” - Hezbollah Leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, August 27, 2006

In February 2007, there was a skirmish between Israeli troops and the Lebanese army on the Israel/Lebanon border, even though this skirmish that resulted in a shoot out and was unfortunate, the ray of light from all this, was that Israel was confronted and attacked by the Lebanese army and not by Hezbollah. This was one of the first signs that showed that the Lebanese army was doing its job. This was mostly due to the fact that Hezbollah lost its kingdom in Southern Lebanon, and is NOW in constant check by UNIFL, Lebanese Army, and International Troops. At least the Lebanese army was able to stand its ground and take control, unlike BEFORE the August 11 ceasefire! At least Israel finally got its wish, after 40 years, to FINALLY have the Lebanese army in control of the border. Since August 11, 2006 when the Lebanese army began its deployment in Southern Lebanon, not a single Katuysha, let alone a singe bullet was fired toward the Israeli side of the fence by Hezbollah. Unlike after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, when Hezbollah would look for any excuse to shoot Katyushas into Israel at least once every three months, but not anymore. No longer will the Israeli citizens of Northern Israel will ever live in fear once again!

People in the Lebanese Government now hate Hezbollah, for bringing destruction to Lebanon. All of Hezbollah's southern Beirut strong posts were destroyed by Israel. Even after the cease fire, Israel stayed in Lebanon for two more months in order to destroy all remaining Hezbollah outposts and bunkers while Hezbollah stood by and did nothing. During the conflict some of the Israel/Lebanon border fence was destroyed and torn down, and Israel was in no rush to fix it, since what's the point? Hezbollah will not want to mess with the IDF again! Even until today some of that fence has not been fixed yet, since the only threat of infiltration, now, is from drug dealers smuggling Hashish across that border.

But what about the Winograd Commission, "which is an independent Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Israeli chief judge Eliyahu Winograd, which is set out to investigate and draw lessons from the failures experienced by Israel during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Which resulted in a war panel, and even the resignation of high figures such as the Israeli chief of staff Dan Halutz." The reason THIS is currently taking place in Israel, is it goes to show that Israel is a democratic country! If a "Lebanese-Winograd Commission" would be done to Hezbollah; for launching an illogical irresponsible attack on Israel, by kidnapping the two soldiers which led to the war and the destruction of Lebanon. And if a Lebanese Winograd Commission would be done to the Lebanese government; for not controlling its southern border by allowing thuggish armed militias (Hezbollah) to roam free there, allowing illegal weapon shipments via the Lebanese seaport, air port, and Syrian Lebanese border to those armed "non-governmental" militias, and allowing Syria and Iran to meddle in its politics, then Lebanon would crumble to dust! But after all, Lebanon is not a Democracy.

Worst case scenario, the Winograd Commission and some of the failures of this war, prove, that Israel might have been defeated from within, but not militarily.

Furthermore there hasn't been one complaint filed against Hezbollah on behalf of UNIFL and the International Troops since last year's August cease-fire, the only complaint filed, was against the Israeli army for their over flights over Lebanese territory. Speaking about Israeli over flights, even the Israeli army itself, hasn't complained even once, about hostile enemy fire against its planes by Hezbollah. Since Israel withdrew from Lebanon in May 2000, up until the war last summer, they continued their daily over flight and breaches over Lebanese territory, only to find themselves being confronted by Hezbollah anti-aircraft artillery. But after the August cease-fire Israel 'STILL' continued its breaches over Lebanese airspace, but this time, Hezbollah hasn't even shot one pellet at them! Maybe because they are deterred and maybe because UNIFL and the Lebanese army are now in control.

After the war, Hezbollah saw that it could no longer push around and bully Israel, and are therefore now trying to bully the "weak" Lebanese government by; their mass demonstration, camping out in front of the Lebanese Parliament, and political assassinations.

Israel did loose the war last summer, but not in Lebanon, but instead in Gaza. After Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, Israel began a massive military campaign in Gaza, destroying infrastructure, entering towns and cities, going after terrorists, and also trying to stop the Qassam rocket fire. But instead, all it achieved was nothing, and the results of it were, that now, the Palestinians saw even more of a weakness in Israel. After the Israeli military campaign in Lebanon, deterrence was at least achieved, BUT unlike in Gaza, after the massive military campaign took place there (Gaza), the Israeli deterrence was lost for good, and now, the Palestinians are, even, more UNDETERRED from Israel that ever! And therefore have increase their rocket fire into Israel. In addition to the fact that as soon as Israel stopped its military campaign, Hamas and other groups said, "They are now even more determined than ever to kidnap another Israeli Soldier." In April of 2007, they acted on their promise, under the cover of intense rocket fire on the Israel town of Sderot, Hamas terrorists again attempted to infiltrate Israel in order to abduct another soldier, but failed. A month later the militant group Islamic Jihad successfully infiltrated Israel, to also try to kidnap an Israeli soldier, but also failed. At least they weren't afraid to try!

After the war some Arab Governments claimed Hezbollah achieved a divine victory! But hey, lets not forget, that some of those Arab governments which claimed Hezbollah won that "divine victory," are some of those "same" Arab governments who "STILL" until today claim that the Syria and Egypt won the 1967 War and the 1973 War!


Conclusion:

People from around the world, before the August cease-fire, would have never believed nor imagined that the Lebanese army would EVER be in control of its southern border. Nor, people would have never believed Lebanon would EVER be able to establish control over "illegal" arms shipments across its Lebanese/Syrian border, sea ports, and airports, and, well, it finally is!

Hezbollah will most likely never dare kidnap IDF soldiers because they saw the might and strength of the Israeli army, and they now feel threatened. Sure, some Hezbollah sympathizers may throw rocks, wave Hezbollah flags or scream "Allah Akbar" at the Lebanese-Israeli border fence but Hezbollah rank and file are laying low. Very low! And Hezbollah is no longer the imminent threat at that very same border.

Since the 'moment' the two soldiers were kidnapped and even during the war, Israel knew, they would not succeed in getting them back, in addition to the fact that destroying a guerilla group is against the laws of physics! Once people will get those two facts into their heads, then THEY will realize that, the outcomes that were achieved as a result of this conflict, were the best possible "REALISTIC" outcomes that Israel could have achieved.

Obviously this past year, the Northern Israeli border has been the quietest it has ever been over the past 40 years.

By, Gabriel al-Amin
Beirut, Lebanon



Articles and Refernces:

UNIFL: Not 'ONE' complaint filed against Hezbollah since last years cease-fire
(Jerusalem Post 6/14/2007)
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1181813036239&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Again, Israeli gloom is misplaced (First Post - 4/17/2007)
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/index.php?menuID=1&subID=688&WT.srch=1

Lebanese army, UNIFIL are keeping Hezbollah in check (Haaretz - 2/21/2007)
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/828765.html

Hezbollah's 'Victory'? (Washington Post 9/1/2006)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101444_pf.html

The Lebanese Winnograd Commission (Thomas Friedman, New York Times 5/10/2007)
http://www.theolympian.com/109/story/104847.html