Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hizbullah and other Militias Obstinate in Face of Domestic Pressure

"Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah repeated on Tuesday his warning
that the resistance had 'thousands' of rockets capable of hitting Israel at any time"

Lebanon is in the midst of a lot of political change. The withdrawal of Syrian troops and the increased confidence of anti-Syrian forces are finally allowing for open debate on Hizbullah's continued existence as an armed militia. Sayyed Nasrallah, leader of the "resistance" movement, is of course feeling the heat and is busy dodging accusations of being an Iranian and Syrian stooge. For now, however, he is still firmly rejecting calls for the dismantlement of Hizbullah or its "absorption" into the regular Lebanese military forces. His argument for maintaining the "resistance" (i.e. Hizbullah) as an armed militia is that, contrary to
Some political leaders [who] do not agree that Israel is the enemy [and] others [who] believe we can rely on international protection [...] We believe Israel is still the enemy and our resistance proved that Israel can be defeated, while all other options have proven wrong for as long as Israel has existed.
Nasrallah makes it clear that he believes that the only way to deter Israel is by preserving his terrorist organization as a militia that is not controlled by the conventional Lebanese army or by the Lebanese state. This way, Hizbullah can continue attacking Israel while the Lebanese government and army will be able to cry foul if Israel tries to hold them accountable through retaliation. Nasrallah wants to continue maintaining a terrorist militia in a sovereign country that finally wants to become a normal player in world stage. Speaking at a recent "Resistance Culture" Conference in Beirut, Nasrallah responded to calls in Lebanon for absorbing Hizbullah with the following argument:
To merge the resistance into the classical Lebanese Army is not a realistic option because this will weaken the Lebanese position in facing the much superior Israeli Army. Our army can never match the Israeli Army equipment or its experience.
So basically, Nasrallah is saying that he wants to continue operating independently so as to "resist" Israel for Lebanon even though Lebanon doesn't want him to "resist" and in order to protect Lebanon from the Israeli reactions to the "resistance" that Lebanon doesn't want.

Well, maybe I'm a little too optimistic about Lebanon not wanting Hizbullah. After all, there are probably many Shi'is that are still behind it. But if one looks at statements made by other Lebanese politicians in the wake of the Syrian withdrawal, it is clear that they are carefully upping the pressure on Nasrallah, probably in response to public opinion.

Other militias which in my view would not stand a chance in Lebanon if it weren't for continued veiled Syrian threats are all the Palestinian militias operating there from their autonomous camps. Recently, a Lebanese army soldier was actually killed during a clash between a Lebanese unit and a convoy of Palestinians bringing weapons to their terrorist base from Syria. Of course, the Lebanese tried to cover it up at first, because, dammit, it's embarassing for groups to operate with such impunity on your sovereign territory, but in the end they had to speak frankly about who was carrying weapons and where they were coming from.

Adnan el-Ghoul, "Nasrallah: 'thousands' of rockets still at the ready," Lebanon Daily Star (May 24, 2006), Online Edition

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