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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Possible Effects of Hizbulla's Maneuverings on the Sunni-Shia divide in Lebanon

Sound analysis of the Lebanese crisis over the course of the past couple of years -in the aftermath of Hariri's assassination and especially after the war last July -necessarily leads to the conclusion that the schism between the two sides of the Lebanese political spectrum can only widen. More dangerously, the effects of that schism can take on an increasingly sectarian image pitting Sunni against Shia.

A quick glance at what the future holds in store in the Lebanese political and legal arena shows two main events looming on the horizon - the presidential elections and the establishment of the international tribunal. In both cases Hizbulla and its allies, Nabih Berri and Michel Aoun are swimming upstream. There is not much they can do to stop the tribunal and even less to elect a president of their choice, both apparently objectives of the aptly named opposotion. To be precise, the only game they can play is one of hampering, obstruction and general bullying, which is exactly what they have been doing and will continue to do. The reason behind Hizbulla choosing to fight a losing battle is simple: the stakes are simply too high and eventhough the deck is stacked against them, Hizbulla have no choice (short of changing their very identity, ideology and MO) but to continue in their desperate tactics aimed at preventing the game from changing. But they have already lost that battle.

Naturally, with the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, there was no turning back the clock. But Hizbulla and its allies have not come to terms with that yet. In fact, they have tried various tactics to fill the vacuum that the Syrian overlords had left in their wake, the most obvious of which were bullying - political terror, so to speak - and instigating a war.

Recently, one can argue that more signs of hardening have started to emerge in their rhetoric and politics, whether by refusing to comment on the tribunal or by refusing the Arab proposed peace deal - even as Bashar is desperately trying to get Israel to engage him.

In any case, time moves forward and the direct Syrian era is fading into the background, but Hizbulla is becoming evermore associated in the eyes of many Lebanese with the opressors of a bygone era. With its goals of protecting Syria and imposing the will of the few, Hizbulla is playing a dangerous game. The Syrians were a foreign opressor, regardless of how "brotherly" our relationship with them should be. But Hizbulla is Lebanese, regardless of the foreign masters it serves. Its popular base is distinctly Lebanese, Shia to be specific. And as the stances of Hizbulla - from the rejection of a tribunal designed to investigate and try suspects in the brutal killing of a Sunni leader, to the rejection of a (Sunni) Arab launched peace initiative, to numerous other acts - start looking more and more like overtly sectarian behaviour shamelessly protecting murderous regimes at the expense of the interests of other communities in Lebanon (and of Lebanon as a state) - Hizbulla is putting its willing Shia base in an increasingly precarious situation, as the Sunni leadership in March 14 is becoming more and more comfortable with its Sunni identity, that can be a dangerous game to play...


Solomon2 said...

Then why not encourage the Shia to abandon their loyalty to Hezbollah or insits that it change its character?

Jeha said...

We may already be too far gone.

As last January demonstrated, the Sunnis are past point of no-return. The pattern of real-estate deals also indicates some entrenching of sectarian divisions...

R said...


A change of character for HA is contingent on a change of character of its Pasdaran overlords. Encouraging the Shia to abandon their loyalty to HA is a much more feasible option that has to be done thru a long term process of education and providing access to state institutions that are as accessible and efficient as HA's. A medium to long-term project at best...

The sectarian issue, particularly the Sunni-SHia aspect of it has been on my mind for a while now. I fear that in any potential civil war, after the initial phase, the Shias might end up suffering a similar fate to the one suffered by the Maronites during the most recent civil war. I fear that they have pushed the Sunnis (who anyway have no love lost for them) a lot - unwisely. Too many missed chances and too much blind support. I just hope its fixable and that its not too late.

Blacksmith Jade said...

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Anonymous said...

As an American observer I can only liken my feeling to walking on what looks like concrete but knowing some of it is actually quicksand that looks like concrete.

Whichever forum, wherever, that I look at I see the US as pivotal in discussions.

That is not good.

Ever since blundering unto the world stage a century and a half ago in defiance of the Founding Fathers, the United States has had an incredibly disruptive effect.

It is the nature of the US makeup to have "seasons" when it is bold and engaging, and others where it withdraws. It is in these withdrawn stages that chaos seems to reign. Now is such a time.

The reason for that is that the US is neither monolithic or united.

Few outside the US know that it is in flux - a state which the US media skillfully conceals from the world, and has for quite some time.

The US is not united - there are little known movements for independence within the states like Vermont, California, Texas - most notably in the Southern states of the former Confederacy. The government does its best to keep this quiet, but it is gaining momentum.

We were supposed to be neutral in the world but the more ambitious states changed that - that segment of the American people that desired an empire like the British one - that they so hated and envied at the same time.

When they are in the ascendancy the US is outward and aggressive - when the balance shifts the US is withdrawn.

These will laugh when you bring up secession, but they are gravely worried about it in private.

Keep in mind that there is a strong possibility that you may wake some morning to hear that the US is no longer one country, but two, or three.

What a shock that will be.