For three decades, Hezbollah has influenced and colored the political scene of the tiny country of Lebanon.
The “Party of God” evolved from advocating the ethos of the 1979 Iranian revolution and applying the orders of Iran’s supreme leader, among Lebanon’s Shiite community in the 1980s.
In the early 90s, Hezbollah embraced Lebanon’s post-civil war arrangement and became part of the political system embracing the democratic, republican constitution and sent lawmakers to parliament.
In the early 2000s, Hezbollah became the symbol for Lebanon’s liberation movement and struggle against Israel, and the popularity of its Supreme Leader Hassan Nasrallah extended beyond Lebanon and reached most Arab countries.
Nasrallah’s latest attacks on friends and foes show a schism, not a fracture in his leadershipMohamed Chebarro
After former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassination in 2005, Hezbollah took off its mask as a Lebanese movement and pursued a clear policy to support the Assad regime’s proxy control of Lebanon.
Later, they became Iran’s pawn to spearhead a proxy war taking place in the post-Arab Spring scene between Persian Iran and the core Arab states, and what many think wrongly is a war between Sunni-Shiite Islam.
The latest speeches by Hezbollah’s Nasrallah echo the tension and pressure felt within the ranks of its supporters: namely, the Lebanese Shiites. The numbers of those killed in action in Syria, Iraq and maybe Yemen is pushing questions about role of Hezbollah and the Lebanese Arab Shiites in the region.
A new era
Nasrallah’s latest fiery speeches herald a new era – and maybe one could even call it the end of the beginning as it is clear that Shiite Lebanese support is dimming. The voices of Sunni and Druze allied to Hezbollah shied away recently from endorsing the militant group’s vocal attacks on the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen and Bahrain.
Nasrallah’s latest attacks on friends and foes show a schism, not a fracture in his leadership. Those comments demonstrate a certain impatience at the lack of progress in Syria, and the intransigence of allies and long-term backers to chip in and help.
The strong vocabulary used to describe dissenters to his calls for general mobilization to meet his Iranian patron’s effort to prop up a waning Assad regime seem to be the trigger.
Despite constantly reminding Christians - more than Muslims - of the danger posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremists, He even went further to warn Lebanon’s Christian minority of potentially being taken as hostages in a similar way to Iraq’s Yazidis.
In his words, Nasrallah called those doubters of his many military adventures morons and traitors, as it was made clear by some that they will not be ready to send their sons to war in Syria, Iraq or Yemen or approve his continued attacks on Saudi and the Gulf states where thousands of Lebanese Shiites, Sunnis and Christians have lived and worked for decades.
All this is maybe a sign that Iran called for more action by Hezbollah in Syria. After Nasrallah’s speeches, Hezbollah could be better described as a small mercenary contingent in Iran’s elite Quds brigade, and no longer a Lebanese party with Lebanese aspirations and dreams.
Thus, this period could mark the end of the beginning and the return of an unmasked Hezbollah, as Arab Shiite blood is spilled for Iran’s interests in the region.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC News and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.