April 9, 2007


Hezbollah and Al Qaeda (Bilal Y. Saab and Bruce O. Riedel, April 9, 2007, International Herald Tribune)

The assumption that Hezbollah and Al Qaeda have a solid operational or strategic relationship and cooperate on matters pertaining to global jihad can be challenged on the basis of the following four reasons.

One, irreconcilable theological differences: Al Qaeda follows a Manichaean ideology that sees Shiite Muslims as the lowest of the low, even worse than the Jews and the "crusaders." For Al Qaeda, Shiites are rawafidh (rejectionist Muslims) and should be fought like all other infidels. A week before he was killed by a U.S. air strike, the Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, issued a fiery statement accusing Hezbollah of acting as a protective buffer for Israel. Hezbollah, generally reserved in its comments on internal Islamic issues, first commented on Al Qaeda and its ideology soon after the 9/11 attacks when Hassan Nasrallah, the party's secretary general, described it as an "entity trapped in medieval ages and bent on killing innocent Muslims." In June 2006, Nawaf al-Musawi, the director of Hezbollah's external relations office, replied to Zarqawi's allegations by accusing him of being a tool of the United States and Israel against Arab resistance groups and by viewing his criminal acts as solely intended to ignite civil wars and sectarian fighting.

Two, conflicting political strategies: Contrary to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has accepted the political process and has been legitimately engaged in participatory and competitive politics (notwithstanding of course the controversial nature of its paramilitary wing). While Al Qaeda is bent on destroying Arab regimes and their allies and on replacing them with Taliban-style systems of governance, Hezbollah aims to work within the Lebanese system. As revolutionary as it is, Hezbollah indirectly negotiates and makes deals with its enemies (evidenced in the several prisoner exchanges with Israel over the last decade). In sum, contrary to Al Qaeda, Hezbollah can be engaged.

You'd have to be as obstuse as the "intelligence" services to imagine they were allies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2007 3:46 PM

What about the discovery a few days ago that Mahdi Army factories in Diwaniya have been mass-manufacturing IEDs and car bombs, presumably for Al Qaeda? The Mahdi Army has known connections to Hezbollah.

Posted by: pj at April 9, 2007 7:22 PM

It's at the "presumably" that you gave away the game.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 7:32 PM

You'd have to be as obstuse as the "intelligence" services to imagine they were allies.

What did they say about enemy of my enemy? Heard of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact?

Posted by: ic at April 9, 2007 9:28 PM

Wasn't that just before Hitler attacked Stalin?

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 9:45 PM