Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hezbollah Gets Veto Power in Lebanon: Not Good News

Hezbollah has quite a few aliases:
  • Hizballah
  • Hizbollah
  • Hizbullah
  • Hezbollah
  • Party of God
  • Islamic Jihad
  • Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine
  • Organization of the Oppressed on Earth
  • Revolutionary Justice Organization
And that's just in English.

Hezbollah has been a growing force in Lebanon: helped by Syria, Iran, and suicide bombers. The Islamic movement doesn't approve of Israel, thinks that Palestinians don't have what they should have, and acts against Israel by:
  1. Bringing terrorists and collaborators through the border crossings using foreign documents
  2. Setting up a terrorist organization inside Israel and in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip
  3. Cross-border operations - smuggling weapons and terrorists
  4. Financial support for Palestinian organizations and groups.

With its track record, I wasn't very happy when I read that Hezbollah now has veto power over the Lebanese cabinet.

I'd like to believe that reason and the collective common sense of the international community would serve to restrain Hezbollah (see "The final straw," below).

Somehow, though, I doubt it: Although it's barely possible that Syria and some other countries will now find it less convenient to support that particular bunch of Islamic enthusiasts.

On the other hand, since they've got veto power in Lebanon, Hezbollah is much closer to being a 'legitimate political party,' rather than a 'terrorist organization.' At least, in the world where international diplomats live.

Lebanon Under Hezbollah: A Potential Reality Check

I think that it's possible that a Lebanon effectively under the control of Hezbollah might serve to clarify what is happening in the Middle Eastern theater of the war on terror.

Back when the Munich Pact brought "peace for our time," it wasn't all that unreasonable to pursue a policy intended in part to "correct what many British officials regarded as the injustices of the Versailles Treaty...."

After Germany invaded the Belgium, the Netherlands, and other parts of Europe dearer to the British leadership than the Sudetenland, it became clear to the English speaking world that Germany's national socialist party wasn't quite as dedicated to "the peace process," as we call such things now, as had apparently been hoped.

Right now, there's a great deal to be concerned about in the Middle East: It is remotely possible that Hezbollah, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations will prove to be harmless advocacy groups: and that all that is needed for peace in the Middle East is for America to withdraw troops and support from that area.

I think it's more likely that some Hezbollah, or another player in the region, will sooner or later launch a "final solution." I hope this does not happen. But, if terrorists, or states which support terrorism, begin using nuclear weapons, I think that their acts may bring the nature of the war on terror into sharper focus.

Or, maybe not. The optimism, if that's the word for it, of those who desire "peace for our time" seems boundless.

Sources used for this post:
  • " Lebanon agreement shifts power to Hezbollah"
    International Herald Tribune (May 21, 2008)
    • "BEIRUT, Lebanon: An agreement reached by Lebanese political factions early Wednesday amounted to a significant shift of power in favor of the militant Shiite group Hezbollah and its allies in the opposition, who won the power to veto any cabinet decision.
    • "The sweeping deal to form a new government promised an end to 18 months of crippling political deadlock here, and underscored the rising power of Iran and Syria, which have backed Hezbollah in a proxy battle against the governing coalition and its American and Saudi allies."
      [emphasis mine]
  • "The final straw"
    International Herald Tribune (May 19, 2008)
    • "America is always looking for ways to weaken Hezbollah and end its violent operations. The good news is that Hezbollah may now finally be undermining itself from within.
    • "Trapped between Israel's wrath and the disillusionment of the Lebanese people, the "Party of God" is bringing about its own destruction and damaging its credibility by openly taking on the world.
    • "Last month, Hezbollah announced that its top military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, had been assassinated in Damascus. Mughniyeh had been on the most-wanted lists of 42 countries for his involvement in several high-profile bombings, including attacks that killed more than 200 Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s. After Mughniyeh's death was announced, Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, quickly accused Israel, and vowed vengeance: 'You have killed Hajj Imad outside the recognized battle zone,' he declared, speaking in front of party militants. 'If you want an open war, then let it be an open war.'
    • "An open war will leave Hezbollah in shambles and destroy its infrastructure and influence. Any operation from Hezbollah in response to Mugniyeh's assassination will surely be met with a massive Israeli retaliation, with consequences harsher than even the last war. This will not be accepted by the majority of Lebanese who are still struggling to regain their livelihood, and will inevitably lead to a civil war. Nasrallah, in effect, is caught between two wars: one of Israeli retribution, and the other initiated against him by the outraged Lebanese people.
    • "Rather than serving as a fearsome threat, Nasrallah's proclamation has trapped Hezbollah. In any future confrontation, Israel will not refrain from bombing economic infrastructure and civilians, whose villages Hezbollah guerrilla fighters use as a launching pad for their attacks. As Nasrallah is well aware, this will inflict on Lebanon a price it cannot pay. The balance of fear, which Hezbollah has claimed is tilted in their favor, has been nullified....
    • "Today the Party of God is out of options. By trying to avenge the murder of the party's military commander, Nasrallah would bring disaster upon Lebanon and the Shiite community. He cannot deliver on his vow to wage an open war and will have to backtrack on his threats.
    • "What the international community needs to do now is to capitalize on Hezbollah's troubles by strengthening Lebanon's moderate, democratic forces and the authority of their central government. America should seize this opportunity to undercut the influence of an organization that has the blood of many people on its hands. Time is of the essence."
    I think, particularly looking at the veto power Hezbollah now has, this analysis is overly optimistic.
  • "Syria weighs peace with Israel against costs"
    Reuters (May 21, 2008)
    • "DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Under pressure over an alleged nuclear program, Syria is exploring a peace deal with Israel that could alter its links with Iran and with anti-U.S. groups such as Lebanon's Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas Islamists.
    • "Syria and Israel confirmed on Wednesday that they were conducting indirect talks mediated by Turkey -- eight months after Israeli planes raided a target in eastern Syria.
    • "Washington said last month that site was a nuclear reactor being built with North Korean expertise and stepped up its campaign to isolate the Baath Party government in Damascus...."
    The Reuters piece gives a pretty good background on the tangled relationships between Syria, Israel, and Iran.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.