Earlier this month a British MP got up in the House of Commons and proposed that the UK government outlaw, or “proscribe,” the whole Hezbollah organization, not just its military wing.
“I accept that a full ban on Hezbollah may be difficult to achieve,” he said, “but even an EU ban on the military wing of Hezbollah would send a powerful message that we do not tolerate Hezbollah’s and Iran’s terrorism.
“…It is beyond doubt that Hezbollah does Iran’s bidding in upholding the bloody regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and that it perpetuates the misery of millions of Syrian civilians.”
The MPs argument included gems like these:
“This organization [Hezbollah] is aggravating the current situation in Syria, creating instability in Lebanon and threatening not only Israel but nations across the globe. The heartbreaking news coming to us from Syria every day reminds us how complex and fragile is the situation all over the Middle East. One large cloud lurking over all these difficult situations is the presence of Hezbollah….”
Hezbollah, long-time allies of the Ba’ath party in Syria, have unwisely allowed themselves to become embroiled in the civil war, supposedly to defend Shiite villages and the Sayida Zeinab Shrine threatened by the Sunni rebels.Stuart Littlewood
“Hezbollah is Iran’s proxy and is used by Tehran to exert its sphere of influence over Lebanon and the wider region. It has also been used by Iran to help prop up through military means the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.”
“Hezbollah continues to maintain its military capacity in contravention of U.N. Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1701.”
“Hezbollah leaders continue to maintain that they are not only re-arming, but acquiring more sophisticated military technology.”
“Iran and Iranian-backed Hezbollah are supporting President Assad’s crackdown, and are supplying military and intelligence assistance to the regime and shipping weapons to Syria that have been deployed in violence against civilians.”
“It is to the eternal credit of the state of Israel that it alone has sought to intervene in the crisis in Syria, and its intervention was purely intended to prevent weapons transfers designed to allow Hezbollah to increase its military threat throughout the region.”
The MP did at least declare an interest: “I am one of the vice-chairs of Labor Friends of Israel.” Well, there’s a surprise. Unfortunately he’s also a member of the Select Committee on International Development.
'Hezbollah remains as long as Israel remains'
For a start, what’s causing instability in the region are the armed jihadist groups in Syria and the thousands of international terrorists backed by the West (including Britain), the Gulf states and Turkey who provide them with weapons or money or both. There is an EU ban on supplying arms to these terror groups but our foreign secretary, Agent Hague, is working feverishly to overturn it in his eagerness to topple Assad, presumably for the benefit of Israel whose devoted friend he has been since schooldays.
Reuters report him telling a meeting of the ‘Friends of Syria’ alliance: “We do want to amend the arms embargo on the (opposition) National Coalition in order to be able to … have the legal right to provide … increased assistance, including if we decided to do so, lethal assistance.” He said he wants “decisions about sending lethal equipment”. He seems to love that word “lethal”. I wonder what a shrink would make of it…
I’m no expert on Lebanon or Hezbollah, but even I know that Hezbollah, a Shiite group, came together as a result of the Israelis’ 1982 invasion and for the purpose of resisting their vicious occupation. The Israelis prepared the ground for war by manipulating their provocations and Lebanese responses in order to provide ‘justification’, a tactic they also use against Hamas in Gaza. When the ‘justification’ came Israel retaliated with disproportionate air and artillery strikes against Palestinian targets in Lebanon, including the refugee camps.
The Sabra and Shatila camps were bombed for four hours and the local “Gaza” hospital was hit. The PLO retaliated with rockets at northern Israel. An international commission concluded that Israel “committed acts of aggression contrary to international law”, that the government of Israel had no valid reasons for its invasion of Lebanon, and that the Israeli authorities or forces were directly or indirectly responsible for the massacres and killings carried out by Lebanese Phalagist militiamen in Sabra and Shatila. The Israeli army had re-occupied West Beirut and ‘invited’ the Phalagists into the camps, even supplying jeep transport. The United Nations General Assembly declared the Sabra and Shatila massacre an act of genocide.
So Hezbollah (the ‘party of God’) came into being for perfectly good reasons. If Iran helped them, so what? The U.S. funds and arms Israel.
In their 1985 manifesto Hezbollah’s aims included Israel’s departure, an end to imperialist power in Lebanon, bringing the Phalangists to justice, and allowing the people to choose the system of government they wanted while maintaining their own preference for Islamic rule. Yes, Hezbollah dreams of Israel’s demise but who in the Middle East doesn’t?
In Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Amnesty International called on both Hezbollah and Israel to end attacks on civilian areas and identified the destruction of entire civilian neighborhoods and villages by Israeli forces, attacks on bridges with no apparent strategic value, and attacks on infrastructure indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. They said Israeli actions suggested a “policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population”. AI also highlighted the IDF’s use of white phosphorus shells, and after the ceasefire some parts of southern Lebanon were uninhabitable for a long time due to unexploded cluster bombs left lying around by Israel.
Israel began overflying Lebanon on a regular basis in May 2000 when its troops vacated parts of southern Lebanon they had occupied since 1978. These flights are mainly for intelligence-gathering, are illegal under international law and a serious non-stop provocation. In June 2008 Lebanon’s Cabinet confirmed Hezbollah as an armed organization with the right to “liberate or recover occupied lands”.
U.N. Resolution 1559, mentioned by the MP, calls for the disarming and disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias but reiterates strong support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon within its internationally recognised borders. Mohamad Issa, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon, told the U.N. that there were no militias in Lebanon, only the national Lebanese resistance which would remain as long as Israel remained. The resistance force exists alongside the Lebanese national forces and Lebanon determins the presence and size of that force, depending on the country’s need.
U.N. Resolution 1701 required the Israeli army to withdraw behind the Blue Line and both parties to respect that boundary. It also required Israel to hand over all maps of landmines in Lebanon.
However Israel still occupies the Shebaa Farms area. There is discussion as to whether this formally belongs to Syria or Lebanon, but it certainly doesn’t belong to the Israelis, so what are they doing there if not to cause perpetual trouble and unrest? In fact Israel repeatedly breaches 1701 by crossing the Blue Line or violating Lebanese airspace. No way is Hezbollah going to disarm.
Hezbollah, long-time allies of the Ba’ath party in Syria, have perhaps unwisely allowed themselves to become embroiled in the civil war, supposedly to defend Shiite villages and the Sayida Zeinab Shrine threatened by the Sunni rebels. However, they are seen to be fighting alongside Assad’s forces and this joining-up, which could harm their reputation and cost them much goodwill in the Arab world. On the other hand they cannot neglect their key alliances and supply chains.
Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons
In another House of Commons debate a year ago this same MP said Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for Hamas meant “it is a spark that could ignite the powder keg of the Middle East… We should remain resolutely focused on challenging Iran and its illegal nuclear programme, using sanctions…” He surely knows that Iran’s civil nuclear activities are legitimate and there’s still no clear evidence of a nuclear arms program. He should worry instead about Israel’s hundreds of nukes, some of which are said to target European cities, and the regime’s refusal to sign up to the Non-Proliferation Treaty or submit its nuclear facilities to international inspection and safeguards.
He urges the House of Commons to support Israel. He may be a very good MP in other respects so why spoil it by letting himself to be so misled by a violent and criminal foreign military power?
Why can he not accept Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance organization that defends the Lebanese homeland against Israeli aggression?
Note that he also talks of “Iran-backed Hezbollah” as instructed by the Zionists’ hasbara manual. Perhaps when referring to Israel (whose interests he so enthusiastically promotes in Britain’s parliament) he should, for balance and clarity, call it the U.S.-backed racist regime.
Meanwhile that other avid fan of Israel, Agent Hague, is still working flat-out to get the EU to brand Hezbollah a terrorist entity. The world should know that Hague may speak for the UK’s warmongering government, which still includes many of the loons who voted for the Iraq war, but not for the man in the street.
Recent reports suggest that Syria’s citizens who initially supported the anti-Assad uprising following those appalling events in Deraa in March 2011, are now having second thoughts. Owing to fear and distrust of the likely alternatives, the pendulum seems to be swinging back in favour of Assad’s regime.
And Israel’s attacks on Syria using a bunker-buster bomb – possibly nuclear – may prove to be a provocation too far. The West’s policy of fomenting and escalating the struggle by any means in order to oust Assad and implant themselves into the chaotic aftermath, has brought the Russian navy to the Mediterranean for what looks like a permanent stay to protect their interests.
Where does all this leave the schemers in the U.S. and Israel, and their followers in the UK parliament?
Stuart Littlewood is a marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.