Nasrallah on Syria
So Hassan Nasrallah delivered yet another speech on Syria last week. It came on the heels of the explosion(?) in Damascus that targeted key leaders of the military-intelligence apparatus. There were high expectations regarding the speech. Both sides anticipated the speech as if it was going to bring a new element to Hezbollah’s stance, but it did not. Far from that, the speech entrenched the party's position alongside the regime.
In that speech, Hassan Nasrallah spoke not in his capacity as the leader of Hezbollah, but as the leader of the mumanaa (refusalness) camp which includes Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. Hamas was another member of this camp until recently. It was clear that Nasrallah went all out in his defense of the Syrian regime and in his tribute to the key henchman of the military-intelligence apparatus.
In the Western press – and in the Saudi-funded and Qatari-funded press – Nasrallah was caricatured and represented as a mere tool of the Syrian and Iranian regime. Such analysis disregards the fact that Nasrallah has attained a regional stature that put him on the same level with Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad. It is not an exaggeration to maintain that Nasrallah has a lot of clout in Iran and Syria.
But the speech basically declared that Hezbollah has decided to go all the way in its support of the Syrian regime. Hezbollah has decided that his enemies (US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel) have basically took over the cause of ridding Syrians of the Assad regime from the Syrian armed and unarmed opposition.
Hezbollah decided that the talk of reform is now irrelevant and that there is a regional and international war going on and that Hezbollah is up to the challenge. There is one line in that speech that summarizes the long speech. In it, Nasrallah declared its party’s readiness to fight. Nasrallah basically said that defending the Syrian regime is now part of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But Hezbollah has yet again displayed disregard for the suffering of the Syrian people. How could Nasrallah express sympathy for the dead henchmen of the regime – even if they rendered services to Hezbollah in its fight against Israel – and not express sympathy for the any of the civilian victims of the regime? Hezbollah, like all allies of the Syrian regime in Lebanon from the Phalanges in 1976 to Jumblatt and Hariri and many others, never really expressed concerns for the welfare of the Syrian people.
The alliance with the regime and the extraction of political and military benefits exceeded other humanitarian considerations. But still the voices against Hezbollah in the Syrian exile opposition are rather hypocritical. They had started peddling (false) stories about the presence of Hezbollah fighters in Syria before Hezbollah had a chance to respond to the developments in the country.
They attacked, and singled out, Hezbollah before waiting to hear its reaction. The agenda was set in advance. The foes of Israel had to be attacked by an opposition group that acts as a mere vehicle for Israel’s (not Syria’s) friends in the region and beyond. And with the rising sectarian rhetoric in the Syrian Brotherhood-affiliated opposition, Would Hezbollah have been welcomed had it decided to throw its lot in with the Syrian opposition? Would the Syrian exile opposition have been satisfied if Nasrallah declared opposition to Bashar? Probably not, and the opposition would have asked Nasrallah to personally shoot Bashar in that case.
The demands would have been made to be impossible no matter what because the demands themselves are not sincere. The Israeli coalition in the region was going to go after Hezbollah no matter what position it took in the conflict in Syria.
The conflict in Syria is a world war in which sides have been taken and Israel is a full participant in the conflict beyond the few Mossad agents reported “near the border with Syria”. There is a proxy war in Syria and the Syrian people are paying a double price for that conflict.
If Hezbollah feels it can only choose the side that is opposed to Israel, it should know that it has alienated a large section of the Syrian people. Especially since it had posed as a champion of the Arab uprisings when they erupted. Hezbollah media now characterize most Arab uprisings – except for Bahrain – as an American-hatched conspiracy.
While Hezbollah is right, from its standpoint, to be most focused on its supply line from Syria and on the military support it has received from the regime. It has to know that support from the people of Syria lasts far longer than support from a regime that sooner or later will go down.
- The NYT’s unsubtle war on fairness in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict | Nov 24 2014
- Justifications for Israel’s founding: transformation of Richard Cohen | Nov 17 2014
- Jeffrey Feltman’s children: The jihadis of Lebanon | Nov 10 2014
- Some determinants of Iranian foreign policy in the Arab East | Nov 03 2014