Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Hizballah - One Scary Possibility We have Ignored...

The Lebanese blogosphere has grappled with the issue of Hizballah's weapons and its status in post-occupation Lebanon galore. The general consensus among all bloggers is that Hizballah should disarm and participate in the Lebanese political process as nothing more than a political party.
Our reasons for disarming Hizballah have been the following:
  1. Its weapons can be turned towards other political parties (within and outside of the Shi'a sect) as a means of intimidation, therefore giving it an unfair advantage
  2. Israel has withdrawn from Lebanese territory and as long as the Syrian government refuses to demarcate its borders with Lebanon, the Sheba'a farms cannot be considered as occupied Lebanese land
  3. Given that the Israelis have withdrawn their forces, the Lebanese Army can and should take over the role of defending Lebanese sovereignty - a duty Hizballah now proclaims to uphold
  4. And finally, only the state can exercize the legitimate use of force because in such situations, the country will go to war only when there is a broad consensus to do so, not when certain parties (whomever they may be) decide that it is in their own interest to excercize political violence.
After reading an article that Anton Afandi posted in the comments section of a previous post, I have surmised that there is a third, and very real, reason that Hizballah's weapons pose a threat to the Lebanese population (the other two being pointing the weapons towards other Lebanese and dragging the country into war): the possibility that factions within Hizballah decide to duke it out militarily.
The fact that absolutely no one in the blogosphere pointed to that possibility before Tony posted that article just goes to show how successfully Hizballah has maintained a facade of unity in the face of overwhelming political pressure from all corners of the globe. On one side, there is the UK, France and the US, all pushing for disarmament. On another side, there is pressure coming from the Gulf, whose sheikhs see Hizballah as nothing more than a threatening Iranian appendage. On yet another side, there's Bashar, who is most likely asking his mentor for some help in this time of desperate need. And finally, but most importantly, there are the deep and growing fissures that exist within Iran's clerical elite, the main protagonists being Ahmadenijad and Rafsangani.
Ahmadenijad has purged almost every Iranian governing institution he's laid hands on. Who is to say that he would not attempt to do the same to Hizballah? As far as I am concerned, so long as the clerics in Tehran are at each other's throats, Hizballah's leadership will not be at rest.
So, why should we care? Why should we care about tensions within Hizballah's politburo? We should care because they have arms. We should care because every member of Hizballah's leadership has his own followers who make up factions. We should care because if things get out of hand (a very unlikely but real possibility), these factions may take up arms against each other.
Some may say that the former chief of Hizballah, Tufeili, was kicked out without much incident. My response to them is that there was a superficial unanimity at the time of his expulsion that was imposed on us by Syian hegemony. It is much harder to assume that the entire Lebanese state will support one Hizballah faction to militarily crush the other today. Nasrallah is relatively popular, and is also a unifying figure; but what happens if he is assassinated? Different factions may successfully forge intersectarian coalitions to suppress their rival(s). If such a scenario manifests itself, a civil war may be the consequence!
This image of Hizballah is very different from the hegemonic monolith that has thus far been portrayed by myself and others in the Lebanese blogosphere; however, it is as real as its counterpart. The tensions within the organization exist, and are exacerbated by all the pressure that emanate from so many corners of the world. The sooner Hizballahis are disarmed, the better for all of us. If the factions do eventually develop irreconcilable differences, then at the very least, their bickering will be limited to words not bullets!


Anton Efendi said...

I've refrained from posting on it before I get back some information from people who know much more about HA's command structure than I do. Also, I don't understand how they left out Khamenei in all this, given that Nasrallah's allegiance to him is total.

But with regards to fissures within the party, it dates back to the elections. There was a serious apprehension among rank and file and allies about some of the decisions made during the elections, and HA has been trying to mend fences with those forces ever since. It also bears a note that Nasrallah has tried to reconcile with Fadlallah during Ramadan.

But I remember a piece after the elections in al-Hayat (remember when we started seeing assertions of some hardcore Islamist behavior in HA areas), about the Islamic Republic agenda of the party, and the piece reported the discontent among some in the command about the apparent laxness on that agenda, etc.

So we'll see. And when I get more information I'll post something. But you're certainly right about yet another reason why they should disarm and why the weapons are indeed of concern INTERNALLY, contra to the idea that the weapons weren't and won't be pointed towards the interior. They put us in the crosshairs both regionally and domestically.

Anton Efendi said...

Also, I forgot to add, there was an important piece by Hani Fahs on the politics inside the Higher Council, and the HA/Iranian takeover of that Council and the role of Qabalan. I have all this in my files, I just have to dig them up.

Abu Kais said...

when did al-Seyassah publish this one, Anton. I've been working on another post but akhh.. work must come first. There's an intense debate going on over at the Future Movement forum about my Basij post (Khaled left link in the comments section of that post). It's mind boggling to read FPM members defend Hizbullah the way one of them in that forum did. Anyway, thanks for posting that article. I will touch on it in my future post which will hopefully include Khamenei and Hizbullah's command structure.

Doha said...


The fear is that keeping arms in the hands of Hizbullah would create grounds for establishing what they call: federaliyyat al-twa'if (sectarian federation) in Lebanon. The Al-Siyassah article touches on Hizbullah's next move which would be to consolidate its power by absorbing Amal; hence becoming the sole political representative of the Shiites in Lebanon.

Anton Efendi said...

I think it was published yesterday. I sometimes get confused because of the time difference which allows me to check it twice (i.e., two issues) in one day.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point Raja, I have never thought that the Hezbollah could collapse because of the pressure that's being applied.
In real life, nothing is monolithic.