Thursday, 29 November 2007

FRENCH BANLIEUE INTIFADA?

Home-Grown, Externally-Inspired Intifada
International Terrorism Monitor
Paper No. 315
By B. Raman
SAAG

Certain areas in the suburbs of Paris, with a large
immigrant Muslim community from North Africa, have been
going through a wave of violence by sections of Muslim
youth acting collectively against the Police since November
25, 2007. The Muslim youth rioting in the streets are not
acting in the name of any organisation. They are acting in
the name of and on behalf of their community.

2. The current street violence, which resembles that of
October,2005, has been---- as in the case of the violence
of 2005--spontaneous to start with, but orchestrated in its
continuation. While the geographical spread has not yet
been as wide as in October, 2005, the intensity of the
violence has been as high as in 2005. There are two new
factors in the current violence, which one did not notice
in 2005. The 2005 violence was the work of mainly young
Muslims born and brought up in the ill-developed suburbs.
There was little involvement of elders, who had migrated
from North Africa. This time one has been seeing a mix of
home-grown Muslim youth and their elders, who had migrated
to France, acting in unison. The second new factor is the
readiness of the rioters to use firearms against the
police. The fire-arms used so far have not been of a very
lethal type and hence have not caused fatalities among the
police, but a large number of policemen has reportedly been
injured. Whereas the 2005 incidents were largely acts of
vandalism focussing on destruction of property, this time
the attacks have been on property as well as individuals.

3. The current violence started spontaneously after the
death of two Muslim youth in a street of Villiers-le-Bel, a
blue-collar town in Paris' northern suburbs. The Police
were blamed for their death. The allegation of the local
Muslim community was that the Police deliberately caused
the death of the two Muslim boys, who were on a motor-bike,
by ramming their patrol car against them and going away
without stopping as the two Muslim boys lay dying on the
road. The October 2005 violence erupted after the death due
to electrocution of two Muslim boys, who were running away
from a police party, which was checking the identity papers
of passers-by.

4. There are increasing pockets of anger in the immigrant
Muslim communities of West Europe----particularly in the
UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Denmark and France.
But, the phenomenon of Muslim anger in France differs
significantly from the phenomenon in the other countries.
France did not support the US invasion and occupation of
Iraq. But, as a member of the NATO, it has been involved in
a limited way in the NATO's operations in Afghanistan.
There is so far no evidence to show that its external
policies have in any significant measure contributed to the
anger of sections of its Muslim community.

5. The causes for the anger in France are more
domestic----unemployment, poverty, lack of respect for
Islamic traditions and practices through measures such as
banning the use of a head-cover by Muslim girls in
Government-funded schools, alleged excesses of the police
against the Muslim migrants etc. The anger in France tends
to be collectively expressed through co-ordinated street
violence by individual Muslims not known to be belonging to
any known jihadi terrorist organisation. What one has been
seeing in France is jihadi Intifada and not jihadi
terrorism. At least, not yet.

6. In the other countries, the anger has been more due to
external causes such as the support of the local
Governments for the US in Iraq, involvement of their troops
in the operations against Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban in
Afghanistan etc. In those countries, the expression of
anger has not been collective, but individual through the
Jundullah phenomenon. This phenomenon refers to angry and
self-motivated individual Muslim youth, who perceive
themselves as Jundullah or Soldiers of Allah, taking to
sporadic acts of suicide terrorism to give vent to their
anger. Examples: the Madrid blasts of March, 2004, the
London blasts of July, 2005, and the attempted blasts in
London and Glasgow in June this year. Although conventional
causes of anger such as poverty, unemployment, the
perceived anti-Muslim attitude of the Police etc are
prevalent in those countries too, these have not so far
resulted in Intifada-like street violence.

7. While one does not see for now, the conscious influence
of any organisation --- despite past suspicions of the
involvement of the Hizbut Tehrir, which advocates AGITPROP
methods and not terrorism---the new outbreak of violence in
France has come in the wake of Al Qaeda'as decision of last
year to adopt a mix of strategies to achieve its objective
of a global Islamic Caliphate. The mix consists of
terrorism and Intifada.

8. Since last year, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No.2 to Osama
bin Laden in Al Qaeda, has been appealing to the Muslims of
the world to emulate the Intifada in Gaza in giving
expression to their anger against their Governments.
Zawahiri projects Intifada as a kind of struggle in which
the role of motivated individual Muslims will become more
important than that of organisations so that the weakening
or collapse of an organisation does not result in a
collapse of the Intifada. He wants the Intifada to acquire
a momentum of its own as a result of the sacrifices of
individual Muslims. He said in his message of January 22,
2007: "Every Muslim today is directly responsible for
defending Islam, Islam's homeland and the Islamic Ummah.
"The importance of a central command and control in keeping
the Intifada going is down-played. The motivation of
individual Muslims is more important than any centralised
command and control. He also projects the Intifada as a mix
of military and non-military struggles. He said in his
message of December 20, 2006: "We must bear arms. And if we
are unable to bear them, then we must support those who
carry them. This support comes in many forms and guises, so
we must exploit all Da'wah, student and union activities to
back the Jihadi resistance....... The Muslim Ummah must
exploit all methods of popular protest, like
demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, refusing to pay taxes,
preventing cooperation with the security forces, refusing
to provide the Crusaders with fuel, hitting traders who
supply the Crusader forces, boycotting Crusader and Jewish
products, and other ways of popular protest."

9. One has been seeing this mix in operation in West
Europe---Intifada in France and jihadi terrorism in other
countries. Al Qaeda looks upon Algeria, Morocco, Spain,
Portugal and France as constituting the Western garrison of
the Ummah and Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as
the Southern garrison. Both the garrisons are encouraged to
act in unison, with the Muslim communities in each country
using methods appropriate to local conditions.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

INTERVIEW WITH CHAIRMAN OF SOMALIA'S ISLAMIC COURTS

The So-Called Legal Government Is a Farce

Spiegel Online
November 27, 2007

ABOUT SHEIK SHARIF SHEIK AHMED

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed [pictured], 43, is the chairman of the Council of Islamic Courts and is considered a moderate. A former teacher, he decided to take a stance against Mogadishu's warlords after one of his students was abducted in 2003, and he helped to found the Islamic courts. He fled Somalia after Ethiopian troops marched into the country in December 2006. He surrendered in Kenya, where he was briefly detained. He now divides his time between Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

War-torn Somalia is experiencing ongoing fighting between Islamic
insurgents and the Ethiopian-backed government. Sheik Sharif Sheik
Ahmed, chairman of the Council of Islamic Courts, talked to SPIEGEL
ONLINE about how the Ethiopian forces are violating human rights and
why he opposes al-Qaida.

Sixteen years after descending into anarchy, there still seems to be
little hope of a lasting peace in Somalia.

The capital Mogadishu is plagued by continuing violence. Thousands
have been killed in the city this year as Islamist insurgents battle
the country's transitional government, which was set up in October
2004, and over half the city's inhabitants are reported to have fled
the violence.

Until this year, the strongest of the many groups which had been
battling for power in Somalia was the Council of Islamic Courts
(CIC). The loose-knit union of Islamic courts took control of
Mogadishu and much of southern Somalia in 2006 and also threatened
to take countrol of Ethiopia's Somali-speaking eastern region, the
Ogaden.

The Islamists imposed Sharia law during the second half of 2006.
They managed to reunite Mogadishu, which had been divided up among
rival warlords, and brought some semblance of law and order to the
anarchic country.

The Ethiopian army marched into Somalia in December 2006 to help
Somali's interim government oust the CIC. The Islamic group, who are
strongly opposed to the presence of Ethiopian troops in the country,
fought back, prompting the current wave of violence.

However the CIC is not a homogeneous group but is divided between
moderates and hardliners, all of whom claim they want to restore
stability and the rule of law in the country. However the hardliners
also want to stamp out "immoral" foreign influences: While in power,
they closed down cinemas showing foreign films and banned some radio
stations from playing foreign music.

Meanwhile the Somali transitional government has been criticized for
cracking down on the media. The government accuses the media of
undermining national security and has arrested journalists and media
managers. Seven reporters have been killed in the country since
January.

Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed is the chairman of the Council of Islamic
Courts and is considered a moderate. He talked to SPIEGEL ONLINE
about the "popular uprising" against the Ethiopian troops, his
opposition to al-Qaida and the future of Somalia.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Sheik Sharif, why don't you give your rebels the
order for an immediate ceasefire?

Sheik Sharif: I'm powerless to do that. The popular uprising against
the hated Ethiopian occupation troops -- which every Somali patriot
must see as his enemies -- can't be stopped.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But this isn't just about the Ethiopians. You're
also fighting against the army of the legitimate Somali government.

Sheik Sharif: The so-called legal government is a farce. There were
no free elections worth speaking off. They're keeping us out of a
true national dialogue -- which we've always called for -- with the
slimmest of arguments. Critics of the government find themselves in
jail without trial or simply disappear without a trace, just because
they condemn military collaboration with that very part of Ethiopia
which has been oppressing millions of Somalis for decades ...

SPIEGEL ONLINE: ... You're referring to the eastern Ethiopian
province of Ogaden, which is populated by Somalis and which the last
Somali president, Mohamed Siad Barre, wanted to "liberate" ...

Sheik Sharif: ... but how can we question the internationally
recognized borders of Ethiopia when our own country of Somalia is
breaking up into several regions, where local interest groups have
grabbed power for themselves and can operate without any kind of
control? You don't need an intelligence service to figure out that
Ethiopia and Kenya, along with other countries in the region,
interfere pretty openly in Somalia's affairs. But the Somali people,
which right now is held together only by a common language and by
Islam, is no longer going along with them. The resistance against
the Ethiopians and their stooges in Somalia keeps spreading and will
sooner or later topple the regime.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Ethiopians marched in to keep Somalia from
turning into an Islamist state.

Sheik Sharif: That was a weak pretense which only complicated the
situation even further. We never intended to declare an Islamic
republic.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But it was clear which way things were heading in
Somalia. Alcohol and music were outlawed and women had to wear
veils. Some of your coalition partners declared open sympathy with
the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. And didn't the terror network al-
Qaida gain a foothold in Somalia?

Sheik Sharif: That was an evil slander. Even if a few of our
comrades favored a strict interpretation of Islamic law, it was up
to the citizens to orient themselves toward Islamic custom according
to their own discretion. I was, and still am today, strictly against
giving asylum in Somalia to al-Qaida criminals and their kind.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: But that couldn't happen right now anyway, because
government troops still hold the reins of power.

Sheik Sharif: The government troops are fighting with their backs to
the wall. They control only 5 percent of the country's territory.
The Ethiopians, whose army composes the real backbone of the current
Somali government, are not very motivated. They are moving through
an occupied country, haphazardly murdering and pillaging, fully
aware that sooner or later they will have to leave. When the last
Ethiopian armored car leaves Somalia, the regime will collapse like
a house of cards. We are gaining territory every day -- it's only a
matter of time.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: That means the bloodshed will not end any time soon.
Is it true that Eritrea is providing you with weapons and money?

Sheik Sharif: Although Eritrea has experienced the expansionist and
racist regime in Addis Ababa at first hand, it is neither providing
us with weapons nor any other logistical support. We are surviving
because the Somali people are on our side. At first it was students
and shopkeepers who supported us, but now we are backed by every
social class. Our influence is growing inexorably.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: That sounds like wishful thinking. If you truly
wanted peace and democracy, wouldn't you ask the United Nations to
actively intervene?

Sheik Sharif: If the international community simply opened its eyes
to the continuing violation of human rights in Somalia, and if it
were ready to make a fresh start here, we would of course welcome a
UN intervention. But that doesn't seem likely, unfortunately.
Nevertheless, I stick to my position that if, instead of trigger-
happy Ethiopian occupiers, we had neutral blue helmets here in our
oppressed country, who could make free elections possible and secure
a transition to a future of peace and reconstruction, we would
welcome them. The European Parliament in Strasbourg has already
taken the first step. It has imposed an arms embargo against the
current Somali government in protest against the violation of human
rights.

Interview conducted by Volkhard Windfuhr

Monday, 26 November 2007

DYAB ABOU JAHJAH REMEMBERS RACIST MURDER IN ANTWERP

26th of November 2003, 5 years after the events, the files are open

Tomorrow is the 26th of November once again, and on that date 5 years ago Mohammed Achrak ( the brother of Satif a friend of mine of whom I was the footbal trainer for years) was murdered by a racist Belgian and riots exploded in the city of Antwerp. That day I came to the streets with several AEL activists to try and canalise what was already starting as small rioting into a positive and dignified protest. Arriving at the scene of the riots, I realised that the police force was blocking people in a cordon and that in that cordon provocations, jokes and shared laughs between the police and Vlaams Blok militants were very present. Militants like Rob Vereyken who are known as provocateurs and extremists were already at the scene.

We tried to negotiate a solution and proposed to lead the crowd, that was anything but explosive, into a nearby mosque, this initiative was, however, stalled by hours of waiting. When we asked again, we were attacked with pepper spray in an orchestrated move to clearly provoke a violent reaction from our side.

That violent reaction did not come, and all what came was that verbal confrontation that was aired time after time on Belgian TV between me and the police chief Luc Lamine, in which I tell him that: ” we will hold a demonstration of 10 000 people in Antwerp without a permit and then you will laugh”. Luc Lamine was laughing to my face just after I regained my senses from the full load of pepper spray I received, and my reaction to him was, to say the least controlled, considering the circumstances. After all the constitution gives us the right to demonstrate without a permission, and if he likes laughing that much even when a person was shot and people are saddened and angry about it, he can then do that at any occasion as far as I am concerned.

Eventually, the police released the crowds and I lead them to a mosque where i called for calm and asked everybody to go home and pray and wait for the investigation. waiting for the investigation, however, is not what the Mayor of Antwerp did, she interrupted her birthday party that evening, to tell us through the media, that the murder was not racist and that AEL and Abou Jahjah seem to be orchestrating the riots.

Astonishing news, but that opinion was echoed in the Belgian media and in the public debate…. No one spoke about the murder and what it means to be shot dead because of wearing Islamic clothing, the problem was the AEL and how some people reacted to that murder. Later on, the prime minister of Belgium practically decreed my arrest in parliament in a disgusting exhibition of abuse of power, hysterical politics and racism.

I was arrested and thrown into Jail, practically because I had helped that night to keep things under control and canalise things. The establishment wanted to reckon with me and the AEL because of our outspoken positions on the Integration issue (our anti racism, assertivity in the debate and mainly our civil patrols that we organised to keep an eye on police behaviour, these patrols shook Belgium in the weeks before the murder of Achrak and made first page headlines in Belgium and beyond. We were accused of illegal practices but a Judge last year closed that chapter for good stating in his verdict that there was nothing illegal about the patrols) and the Palestinian cause ( mainly the Sharon case and the embarrassment it brought to the racist state of Israel and the pressure that was put on Belgium to modify its genocide law).

In the mean time things became clearer, we know that the police declaration against me were rigged and manipulated, we know that Luc Lamine himself admitted in press interviews that my role that evening was constructive and reasonable. We even know that he insisted to be present during the search of my apartment because he was suspecting other colleagues of his of having the intention to plant evidence in order to convict me. Yes, it is that kind of story….

Next Friday this case will be open, and we expect it to be a long fight, and I will be covering it on this blog and writing regular comments on it. This is a political trial, and nothing else. I hope that the judge will see this and dismiss the case of the prosecution as unfounded and ridiculous, but knowing Belgium and the kind of political cabal that is classical in that country, I have my doubts.

In the middle of all this, 26th of November will always be the day that Mohammed Achrak was shot dead, my thoughts will go tomorrow to his brother Satif and his family.

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 ---

BUSH'S HYPOCRISY EXPOSED OVER PAKISTAN EMERGENCY

Pakistan Alerted U.S. It Planned Emergency Rule
By JAY SOLOMON and
PETER WONACOTT
November 23, 2007
WALL STREET JOURNAL

As his government battled democracy protesters and an Islamist
insurgency, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf startled his
countrymen this month by imposing emergency rule and jailing
thousands of opponents. The move wasn't a surprise to the U.S.

In the days before the Nov. 3 announcement, the general's aides and
advisers forewarned U.S. diplomats in a series of meetings in
Islamabad, according to Pakistani and U.S. officials.

One of Gen. Musharraf's closest advisers said U.S. criticism was
muted, which some senior Pakistanis interpreted as a sign they could
proceed. "You don't like that option? You give us one," the adviser
says he told his American interlocutors. "There were no good
options," he adds.

But a U.S. official familiar with the discussions says the talks were
part of "intensive efforts" to dissuade Gen. Musharraf from declaring
a state of emergency. "There was never a green light," the U.S.
official said.

Yesterday, the general's difficulties eased a bit, as Pakistan's
Supreme Court ruled against a challenge to his re-election last month
as the country's president. Gen. Musharraf, who purged most of the
court's judges after he declared emergency rule, had been expected to
step down as army chief once the court ruled in his favor. Pakistan's
attorney general said Wednesday that the general could do so as early
as Saturday. But challenges to his rule by mainstream political
rivals and Islamist rebels are likely to continue.

Meanwhile, one of his opponents, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif,
now in exile in Saudi Arabia, is expected to get the go-ahead today
during a meeting with the Saudi king to return to Pakistan, according
to Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Mr. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League
(N).

He said Mr. Sharif, who was forced back into exile following a brief
return to Pakistan in September, would likely come home within days
-- in time to contest parliamentary elections on Jan 8. Mr. Sharif
and another former Pakistani premier, Benazir Bhutto, control two of
the country's biggest political parties.

In the past few days, the Pakistani government has begun to release
many of those it detained, but has yet to say when the emergency
might be lifted. It has made little headway in defeating insurgents
in the country's northwest. And many Pakistanis fear their problems
could increase as the January elections approach.

The Bush administration has staked its hopes of taming radicalism in
Afghanistan and South Asia on its marriage of convenience with Gen.
Musharraf, but American policy in Pakistan has been beset by mixed
signals and missed opportunities.

Calls on the administration to engage more with politicians outside
Gen. Musharraf's sphere were rarely heeded, say current and former
American officials. Billions of dollars in U.S. aid went to
Pakistan's military, rather than to build up its civil society, a
decision that widened a rift between Washington and the moderate
Pakistani forces the White House now says it wants to empower.

As a result, during Pakistan's recent blowup, the U.S. has found
itself in a bind: unhappy with the general, but limited in its
ability to influence him.

A growing number of current and former Bush administration officials
now say the U.S. waited too long to shape an alternate approach to
Pakistan. "We've been ignoring those who are rejecting Musharraf,"
says Xenia Dormandy, who headed the National Security Council's South
Asia desk in the White House from 2004 through 2005. "Unless we
encourage them, we'll have even more problems five years down the
line."

There are signs the administration is shifting its attention to
Pakistani political forces outside Gen. Musharraf's orbit, such as
Ms. Bhutto, as well as conservative Islamic leaders. But with few
existing relationships on which to build, the chances of success are
uncertain.

Pakistan's most powerful institution, the military, enjoys the
strongest ties with the U.S. government. But the partnership is
suffering as anti-military and anti-American sentiment in Pakistan
fuels an Islamic insurgency that continues to capture new territory.
Many U.S. counterterrorism officials fear this instability is
empowering al Qaeda and the Taliban, which take refuge in the border
region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

One big reason the U.S. finds itself at an impasse is the
foreign-policy style of President Bush. The terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11, 2001, were masterminded by Osama bin Laden from
Afghanistan, next door to Pakistan. The U.S. saw strengthening its
alliance with Pakistan as key to defeating al Qaeda.

Mr. Bush built his Pakistan policy around a relationship with Gen.
Musharraf, in much the same way his relationships with Russian
President Vladimir Putin and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai shaped his
policy toward their countries. That set the U.S. on a track of
bolstering its counterterrorism and strategic objectives by upholding
the general's rule, at the expense of democracy and human rights.

In an interview, former Prime Minister Bhutto, who returned from
self-imposed exile last month after reaching a tentative deal with
Gen. Musharraf to help guide Pakistan toward civilian rule, said the
fight against extremists can't be separated from the struggle for
democracy. "We differed on the view that military was a problem, not
a solution," she says of her disputes with the U.S. "It's a
contradiction to believe a democratic evolution can take place under
a dictatorship."

Mr. Sharif, the former premier deposed by Gen. Musharraf in 1999,
says the U.S.'s attitude changed after 9/11, adding: "I don't think
President Bush should go against the wishes of 160 million people of
Pakistan."

State Department officials deny the U.S. has undercut Pakistani
democracy. They say the Bush administration has consistently
pressured Gen. Musharraf to repeal the state of emergency and hold
free elections. They also say Washington never gave Gen. Musharraf a
signal that it would acquiesce in his declaration of martial, or
emergency, law.

"We believe that the path of political moderation is the best way
forward for Pakistan," Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said
Saturday in Islamabad.

Today, even Gen. Musharraf's allies say the state of emergency has
backfired. The curbs on constitutional freedoms prompted protests by
lawyers and journalists, and led to a breach with Ms. Bhutto, who at
one point was Gen. Musharraf's potential political partner in a new
government. In 1999, most American officials and many Pakistani
citizens welcomed Gen. Musharraf's rule after he seized power in a
bloodless coup.

The administrations of Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif had left Pakistan's
economy in bad shape and its government riddled with corruption. They
hoped he would clean up Pakistan. In retrospect, there were signals
early on that the general was straying from his stated commitment to
democratization.

In 2002, Pakistan held parliamentary elections, but there was
widespread evidence of voter fraud and electoral tampering by the
military, says Robert Grenier, the Central Intelligence Agency's
station chief in Islamabad from 1999 to 2002. The immediate result
was the weakening of secular Pakistani political parties, such as Ms.
Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, and strengthening of Gen.
Musharraf's party and the country's Islamist factions, he says.

The Bush administration didn't raise a fuss, signaling to the
military leader that Washington wasn't going to push him for
democracy. "We might have had more marginal influence today if we'd
put down a marker" back in 2002, Mr. Grenier says. An ambitious U.S.
aid program to reform Pakistan's political and education systems
largely served to strengthen Islamabad's military and
counterterrorism operations, say current and former U.S. officials.

In all, the Bush administration has distributed nearly $11 billion to
Pakistan since 9/11. Analysts at Washington's Center for Strategic
and International Studies say as much as 80% of this went into
Pakistan's armed forces. In 2002 and 2003, Pakistan's military and
intelligence services captured hundreds of al Qaeda operatives,
including its one-time chief of military operations, 9/11 mastermind
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Early on, U.S. diplomats recognized that these funds were benefiting
Pakistan's military at the expense of its police, judiciary and other
public institutions. "I advised to give more aid to the police and to
education" in cables sent to Washington, says Wendy Chamberlin, who
served as U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002. "But this
didn't happen."

Today, Ms. Chamberlin argues that in the places where American
development aid largely wasn't distributed, such as Pakistan's tribal
areas, Islamist charities and Taliban officials are largely filling
the void.

As Washington's relations with Gen. Musharraf strengthened, its ties
to leading opposition figures withered. Ms. Bhutto saw her stock
plummet in the late 1990s after corruption charges were filed against
her and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, her minister of investment.

U.S. diplomats, meanwhile, viewed Mr. Sharif, exiled in Saudi Arabia,
as in league with hard-line Islamist political parties. Ms. Bhutto
found herself persona non grata in Washington, according to U.S.
officials. U.S. trips usually included meetings only with desk
officers at the National Security Council or State Department's South
Asia Division.

Many senior U.S. officials remain skeptical of Ms. Bhutto, viewing
her party as too beholden to the country's old land-owning class and
believing she would be unreliable in the war against al Qaeda. They
also suspect her recent negotiations with Gen. Musharraf were aimed
largely at clearing her name of various corruption allegations.

Ms. Bhutto says she is driven by a commitment to democracy.

This spring, the State Department -- with reservations --seized on
the idea of a political marriage between Ms. Bhutto and Gen.
Musharraf. The goal was a peaceful transition from military to
civilian rule. But many Pakistanis viewed it as a way to perpetuate
military rule, albeit with civilian cover.

Washington's isolation from Pakistan's opposition proved costly when
a political crisis erupted in March after Gen. Musharraf suspended
the country's chief justice.

U.S. diplomats voiced support for an independent judiciary, but the
U.S.'s ties to Gen. Musharraf led to criticism that it wasn't doing
enough to rein him in.

In August, Gen. Musharraf was leaning toward imposing emergency law,
but was warded off by a late-night call from Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, say U.S. State Department officials. On Oct. 31,
days ahead of the emergency declaration, Gen. Musharraf met with key
aides and members of his political party at the residence of Prime
Minister Shaukat Aziz to discuss options.

Some voiced concerns that martial law could upset the economy and
unwind the steps Gen. Musharraf had taken to free up Pakistan's
media, according to attendees. As the meeting broke for dinner around
midnight, 20 of the 25 who attended voted to go forward with the
state of emergency, arguing the negative impact on Gen. Musharraf
would be limited.

Some predicted he would easily weather international criticism. The
prospect of U.S. opposition in particular wasn't raised, according to
Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the secretary general of the ruling Pakistan
Muslim League (Q), who was one of the five to vote against the
emergency.

Ms. Rice and the U.S. ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, issued
follow-up warnings to the general. By this time, however, he was
preoccupied by the threat he saw from the Supreme Court, which was
set to rule on whether he could continue in power while also
remaining head of the army, and not on any potential rebukes from
Washington.

Since the emergency declaration, the Bush administration has hinted
it may be altering its stance toward Gen. Musharraf. Ambassador
Patterson has held meetings with leading opposition leaders,
including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the deputy chairman of a coalition
of six conservative Islamist parties. She has also met with the
army's deputy commander, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, in a signal to some that
Washington has put out feelers to other powerful Pakistani generals.

Traveling to Pakistan's financial capital, Karachi, this week, Ms.
Patterson extolled press freedoms during a stop at Geo TV, a station
curtailed by martial law.

President Bush, meanwhile, offered his strongest support yet for Gen.
Musharraf since the emergency, telling ABC News Tuesday that
Pakistan's leader "truly is someone who believes in democracy."

State Department strategists say they are continuing to try to forge
a political marriage between Gen. Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto. They say
they are hoping to see political temperatures cool, after which the
pair could meet publicly to outline an agenda.

That appears unlikely before elections in January, which Ms. Bhutto's
party and others may choose to boycott. Ms. Bhutto says she's no
longer interested in allying with Gen. Musharraf. "My question is: If
the U.S., which is giving more than $10 billion in aid, can't get him
to lift emergency rule... what's the point of my negotiating with
him?"

- Zahid Hussain contributed to this article.