MIDDLE EAST

Hezbollah’s exit strategy

Hezbollah may not have been behind the rocket attacks in Lebanon’s Yarzeh and the presidential palace a month ago, and it may not have carried out the Tripoli bombings or fired rockets at northern Israel, yet many believe that the group is behind all these attacks. Claiming that the “Ziad Bin Jarah” organization, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, is behind the attack on Israel is also unbelievable, not only because Hezbollah’s media have promoted these allegations, but because the southern region in Lebanon is fully controlled by Hezbollah checkpoints, intelligence and security units.

It is impossible for others to break through the Hezbollah zone in southern Lebanon and carry out a military operation, and then vanish into thin air. Israel does not need to rely on Hezbollah’s media to know the truth, because it monitors and knows everything about the region.


Sectarian war

The explosion in Tripoli was expected after the southern Lebanon car bomb attack. Hezbollah is retaliating in its own way through killing civilians tit for tat. But this will only lead to justifying the emergence of armed Sunni extremist groups against Hezbollah. Unfortunately, there are large numbers of young people today who are ready to take part in such a sectarian war; they will first fight against Hezbollah in response to its support for the Assad regime and its involvement in the Syrian war, and then they will become a party analogous to Hezbollah.

 

The explosion in Tripoli was expected after the southern Lebanon car bomb attack. Hezbollah is retaliating in its own way through killing civilians tit for tat.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Regardless of the daily political and military fighting program that Hezbollah is embroiled in, the most important question is how Hezbollah will come out of this problem after being allied to the Assad regime and Iran. The security and military wing is currently controlling the party, but what will happen to Hezbollah when the Assad regime collapses and Tehran’s regime is bridled. Hezbollah knows very well that the Assad regime will inevitably fall, even if it takes a year, five, or even more. The regime is practically no longer controlling Syria today.

The question is, when this happens, what will Hezbollah’s status evolve into on Lebanese, regional and international fronts?

The balance of power in Lebanon will surely change because of what is happening in Syria; it is normal for Hezbollah to find itself more beleaguered, and the proof is the boldness of those who carried out the bombings in southern Lebanon, which is the most secure and controlled region in the country.

This means that Lebanon has changed, and will change more and more later on. Everyone knows that Hezbollah is disordered at all levels, and that there is a movement within the Shiite community that does not agree with the party, to the extent that it’s no longer a secret that Hezbollah has silenced many writers who used to support them, and are now criticizing the party.


It can only get worse

We should know that things will get worse with the development of the events in Syria and the changing rules of the game in the regional Shiite community.

Since Hezbollah is still in a state of denial, or maybe because it is incapable of thinking beyond recent events, the question remains what is its “exit strategy?”

No one can deny that Hezbollah still represents 90% of Lebanon's Shiites, who constitute a large share in the Lebanese society. If the party had relied on its arms more than electoral votes, its political choice would have been better than bullying or flaunting its weapons. Arabs do not believe anymore the story of fighting against Israel and the Shiite community is now indifferent to the party's commitment to the resistance’s cause. And so, Hezbollah will lose its marketing campaigns and everything it has worked for so far.

We believe that Hezbollah can shift towards politics, and strengthen the presence and legitimacy of the state according to an electoral and political concept which is still in favor of the party. With such a political project, Hezbollah will not only save itself from drowning in the shifting sands of change, but it would also be supporting a country that needs legitimate political work and not an armed resistance.

 

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 2013.

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Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

 

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Last Update: Saturday, 24 August 2013 KSA 10:07 - GMT 07:07
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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