The Hezbollah: tormented by contradictions
Nidal Ayoub - 05/05/2012
The destabilisation caused by the revolutions and the uprisings did not only affect the countries of the Arab Spring. In Lebanon, the revolutions have led some parties to make contradictory statements and inconvenient changes in their positions. They were not spared by the numerous questions and condemnations that followed. This was the case of the positions taken by both the Sunni and Shiite Islamist forces and parties.
The Arab revolutions have undoubtedly helped reveal the masquerade of many parties. The Hezbollah is the best example. The party never missed an opportunity to talk about freedom and the need to free people from despotic regimes. It has failed to implement its slogans. Its positions have proved to be selective, supporting some revolutions and stigmatising others. When the revolution began in Tunisia and Egypt before spreading to Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, the Hezbollah has openly approved and supported. It has also expressed its relief at seeing the people rise up in a way that could only positively influence the Arab nation. The party used every available forum to support the revolutions and encourage people to resistance. These honourable positions were in consonance with the story of a party that has become famous thanks to its resistance.
At the time, the Hezbollah had no fear that the uprisings would spread to Syria because this country’s government supported the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. When the popular movement started in Syria, the Hezbollah changed lexicon: the word “revolution” was no longer used to describe the protests; it was replaced by the word “conspiracy”. The Hezbollah did not content itself with leaving the Syrian event out or by attributing them to foreign agendas. It has mobilised its media to support the Syrian regime by all possible means even considering the Syrian claims for freedom, dignity and democracy as a dangerous plan aiming to divide the region and threatening resistance.
The Hezbollah is certainly losing its popularity and its credibility among its partisans due to disparity of its positions according to the country and the changing of its viewpoints going from supporting the victims of tyranny and the Arab Spring to supporting tyrants. The image of this resistant party has been tarnished in the eyes of man people especially since it has not even condemned the disproportionate violence that the Syrian regime is using against its own people. Some people have described the Hezbollah as a “defeatist” party as it supported the Arab revolutions and failed to do so with regards to the Syrian one. On the 7th May, the day when the weapons of resistance were used against the people, the Hezbollah had already lost its credibility. Many people were even more shocked when the party declared that the day was glorious.
Some observers were probably not surprised by the Hezbollah’s position regarding Syria but it is undeniable that the Arab people were disappointed, especially the Syrians who have long supported the party and expected some support. However, the Hezbollah has opted for political and sectarian interests at the expense of the support to a population struggling for their rights and freedom.
The Hezbollah has estimated that every movement, whether it is peaceful or not, against the Syrian regime was part of a plot against the resistance irrespective of this tyrannical regime that is no different from other Arab governments based on repression. This position reflects the relationship and the interests that bind Syria to the Hezbollah. The Hezbollah is probably showing its gratitude to the Syrian regime that supported the party’s political career and its armed struggle against Israel. The Hezbollah seems to support his “brother” against all odds, ignoring the fact that Syria is unjust towards its own people.
In order to praise the strength of its ally, the Hezbollah had to leave out the statements of Ramy Makhlouf, nephew of the Syrian President when talking to an American newspaper: “Israel’s security depends on the security and the sustainability of the Syrian regime.” Besides, the party had to ignore the concerns that were openly expressed by the Israeli government that fears the fall of the Syrian regime considered as a “wise enemy”.
The Hezbollah has lost its last throw of the dice as an opposition party and as a resistance fighter when it accepted the release of the agent Faïz Karem, retired general and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement[i]. The Lebanese Intelligence has discovered that he had been a soldier in Israel since 1982. Having always claimed the execution of any traitor, the Hezbollah did not oppose the release of this agent because of his “sacred” alliance to the Free Patriotic Movement.
It seems that this party that used to enjoy the respect and the sympathy of all for its positions and feats of arms is engaged in a political game that recommends it exploits its history of a resistance fighter as an asset to retain the narrow interests ensuring its survival, even if it is at the risk of taking positions that go against its principles. The Hezbollah is no longer a party of religious obedience with a strong reference to Islam. It had become a political party par excellence: today, it acts with self-interest and its past as an activist is just a cover.
What distinguishes the Syrian revolution from the other ones, is its direct impact on Lebanon. It has destroyed the image that many people had of the Hezbollah who failed in supporting the Arab revolutions. These changes will surely affect the Hezbollah’s popularity and its place in Lebanon as well as in the rest of the world
These changes will surely affect the Hezbollah’s positions and achievements in Lebanon as well as in the rest of the Arab world until the Syrian regime on which it has placed its hopes, expires.
Translated from French by Elizabeth Grech
[i] Courant patriotique libre - http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courant_patriotique_libre