Hezbollah and the three misfortunes
Misfortunes tend to come all at once and Hezbollah has been afflicted with three misfortunes at the same time
Hassan Nasrallah’s speech in Lebanon did not pass without angry reactions. Ashraf Rifi, former chief of the Internal Security Forces, commented on Hezbollah’s recent speech via Twitter, saying that he rejects “the language of the Middle Ages of [accusing] others of treason and infidelity and of threatening them.” This is the rhetoric which Hassan Nasrallah adopted and which he used to bolster the strength of his party in past years. But this rhetoric is not apt for the time being because Hezbollah’s influence is waning.
Misfortunes tend to come all at once and Hezbollah has been afflicted with three misfortunes at the same time - not only in the Arab and Lebanese political arena but also within the Lebanese Shiite community. The first misfortune is the massive exhaustion of its forces in Syria and the second is the emergence of extremist groups confronting it within Lebanon. The Ahmad al-Assir group has become a real problem for Hezbollah - a problem that refuses to disappear. The third and most dangerous misfortune is that Hezbollah will be the first to pay the price of the American-Iranian reconciliation to be sealed during the final agreement that will be signed at a later date. This is why Ahmad al-Hariri, the Future Movement’s secretary-general, was right when he advised Nasrallah to behave modestly as the coming days will be harder than the days of the past. Nasrallah’s party is bleeding in Syria like it’s never bled since its establishment three decades ago and it’s losing more than it lost during its previous confrontations with Israel. The party is still garnering losses.
On the domestic front, extremism among the North’s Sunnis reached its peak as they view Hezbollah as a model they want to imitate. Therefore, they want to establish armed groups. This development is not in Hezbollah’s favor, neither is it in the favor of the Future Movement or the Sunnis. It’s a natural reaction as Hezbollah turned into a local militia, imposing its presence on others by force. Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir is the Sunni extremists’ Nasrallah. Assir was not previously known, but today he is a symbol for many people who are willing to commit suicide attacks.
Misfortunes tend to come all at once and Hezbollah has been afflicted with three misfortunes at the same timeAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The third misfortune may be a crushing catastrophe. An American- Iranian agreement won’t be signed unless there’s a major article stipulating that Hezbollah disintegrates as a strong military organization. The U.S. will not proceed with a military security and political agreement with Iran without Israel’s consent - despite the disagreements and complaints the Israeli premier conveys. The agreement’s major aim is to end the Iranian nuclear threat - a threat linked to the presence of the Jewish state. The negotiators cannot reach an agreement without satisfying the Israelis. It’s certain they will demand Hezbollah’s head on a platter. Historically speaking, the party was born within the context of the Iranian-American struggle at the beginning of the 1980s and Tehran’s command completely finances the party as part of its military program in the region. Since Iran wants to end this state of hostility with the U.S., it will not be able to keep its armed groups, and particularly Hezbollah, in its ranks. In addition to this, the collapse of the Assad regime will besiege the party as Syria protected it.
Considering Hezbollah’s exhaustion in Syria, Sunni extremists’ competition with it and Iran sacrificing it in nuclear negotiations, it would be wise if Sayyed Nasrallah behaves modestly and descends from the tree he’s placed himself atop. His current, and future, interest is to push for a Lebanon that fits everyone, in a civil and peaceful manner, where decisions are not based upon the power of arms and where rival political parties are not threatened with intimidating speeches made from cellars.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Dec. 23, 2013.
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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