Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah recently slammed those criticizing him, saying: “Anyone who says other to what is said here is a moron, is blind and a traitor. The Shiites of the American embassy are traitors, agents and morons. No one can alter our convictions. We won’t be silent anymore and we will no longer humor anyone.”
However this time, Nasrallah’s angry and threatening statements were not directed against his usual rivals. They are directed against Shiites in Lebanon. These statements reveal the extent of such disputes and they expose the increasing criticism against him, after a prolonged Syrian war and after the battlefields, which Lebanon’s Shiites are required to fight in to meet the demands of Iran’s warlords, expanded.
A few days before this angry speech, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s supreme leader, had visited Beirut to deliver a message to Nasrallah. This message was probably behind the Hezbollah chief’s frustration and the call to further mobilize his party’s ranks. It’s also probably why he made these threats to those who oppose him.
Nasrallah’s speech reveals divisions and disputes within the Shiite community, which had previously stood as a symbol of obedience where there was a majority in support of him and an opposing silent minority. However now after the party’s increased human losses in Syria and Iraq, objections seem to be threatening his status – unlike how it was in the past when no one dared to hold him accountable.
Hezbollah’s war in Syria is an Iranian war, and a lost one tooAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Some may say Hezbollah is not the only one party drowning in the moving sands as there are struggles in the entire region. This is true. However the difference is that other parties were destined to fight because the war is happening in their own territories, Hezbollah is fighting in Syria alongside the Assad regime upon a promise made by Iran to defend it. Hezbollah has thus become like mercenaries who are brought from Iraq and Afghanistan to fight far away from home upon an Iranian arrangement. As time passed and as more Hezbollah members died – although most casualties are not announced – Hezbollah exhausted its excuses with the first of them being that it is fighting in Syria to “defend sacred shrines.”
When it was later revealed that most of its members were falling in areas which are far from these shrines, the Shiite party came up with the excuse that it has launched a preemptive war to defend Lebanon. “If we hadn’t fought in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus, we would have fought in (Lebanon’s) Baalbek, Hermel, Ghaziyeh and other areas,” Nasrallah said. Of course, it’s illogical to go to war in a large country to prevent a war in your own country. In fact, it’s this very same act which brings war to you! Hezbollah’s participation in the war in Syria with his extremist Shiite members brought thousands of extremist Sunnis to the frontline. The war in Syria thus turned into a Shiite-Sunni-Alawite battle.
A lost war
Hezbollah’s war in Syria is an Iranian war, and a lost one too. Hezbollah’s fighters will later see that Tehran will have to sell them. I mean Iran will make compromises at their expense to take either of two paths: provide a safe exit from Syria, i.e. a complete defeat, or accept a solution in which the Syrian regime’s head exits power – a solution which both Iranian and Syrian regimes rejected resulting in the death of thousands. Therefore Hezbollah does not have a compelling excuse to fight in Syria. The Iranians are fighting there for the sake of gaining influence and due to their megalomania to rule the region. Hezbollah’s participation alongside the Iranians in the war will bring about two disasters. The first is that Hezbollah will suffer from human losses, which will be much more than the combined losses suffered during its wars with Israel in the past 30 years. The second is that this participation alongside Iran will attract extremist groups to Lebanon – groups which threaten all parties and ignite war there.
The defeats, the corpses, the wounds, the broken promises and the ongoing war all show that the Hezbollah command’s only choice is to respond to Tehran’s demands until its last fighter.
In his speech, Nasrallah expressed his in capabilities calling on his followers to support him amid the criticism, doubts and objections. “Now it’s time for mobilization. Everyone can participate even by just speaking out. Whoever has credibility among people (must speak out) and contribute to this mobilization. Scholars must speak out. Those who have a martyred child must also speak out.”
What’s more dangerous is that Nasrallah has not concealed what is may soon be his greatest adventure: “In the next phase, we may announce general mobilization (that applies) to all people. I am saying we may fight everywhere.” “Everywhere” means sending more men to fight in Iraq and Yemen! And since he knows he is increasingly being rejected by the Shiite community, he threatened those who oppose him: “We won’t remain silent anymore. We will look those who speak to us [with objections] in the eye and tell them ‘you are a traitor’ whether they are young or old .”
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on May 24, 2015.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former 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.SHOW MORE