July 25, 2006


Why Hezbollah won't be easy to defeat: Islamic group is deeply entrenched and enjoys grassroots support (OLIVIA WARD, 7/25/06, Toronto Star)

"I was going to university in 1982, but I believed that defending my land was a sacred duty," the wheelchair-bound Wahabi said in an interview before the current war. "Israel had invaded our country and my brother was killed in the fighting. It was not a difficult decision for me to go and fight too," he said, referring to Israel's offensive to root out Palestinian guerrillas attacking it from Lebanon.

But Wahabi's fighting career ended six years later when he was shot through the neck by an Israeli sniper. Quadriplegic, and deeply depressed, he lived in isolation in his parents' flat.

However, Hezbollah's loyalty to its supporters is as legendary as its ruthlessness toward its enemies. Its informal "marriage agency" for disabled guerrillas introduced him to Kamila, a striking young woman who shared his Shiite sense of sacrifice. It was, she said, "a love match."

With Hezbollah's medical aid, the union produced four healthy children, housed in an apartment tended by a paid nurse's aide. The family was confident the children would receive the best education until they were self-supporting.

The Wahabis' home now lies in one of the worst-hit areas of Lebanon as Hezbollah continues its rocket barrage into Israel and Israeli bombs pound Lebanon's towns and cities.

But the network of community support that Hezbollah (which means Party of God) has built during the past 15 years with its financial, medical, educational and housing services has paid dividends.

Although the group's military training programs have dwindled since the civil war ended in 1990, and it is estimated to have no more than 500 to 600 crack troops, it can call on tens of thousands of reservists whose will and loyalty are assured. They are joined by dedicated young people who have grown up under Hezbollah's paternal social wing.

"If we're at peace with Israel I can live with that," said Mustapha Naji, now 15, supported and educated by Hezbollah after his father was killed fighting Israeli forces near his village in southern Lebanon. "If they take aggressive action in Lebanon, I'm ready to fight."

And all we offer is that they subject themselves to a central government that's never given a fig about them.

MORE (via Marisa):
U.S. Wants Force To Block Arms Shipments (Ori Nir, July 21, 2006, The Forward)

During a briefing with senior officials at several major Jewish organizations, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams reportedly said that a multinational force in Lebanon would have to be “combat ready,” authorized and appropriately equipped to engage Hezbollah militarily if needed. Such a force, he said, would also have to patrol not only Lebanon’s border with Israel but also Lebanon’s border with Syria, to prevent smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah. In addition, such a force would have to observe Lebanon’s sea and air ports to make sure that Iran is not rearming Hezbollah, Abrams reportedly said.

It is not clear whether Abrams’ position was shared by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, when she left Sunday on her Middle East shuttle mission in search of a resolution to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict. According to several Washington insiders who in recent days spoke with senior State Department officials and other U.S. policy makers, Abrams’ statements do seem to reflect the administration’s approach.

In several conversations with Jewish communal leaders, administration officials made clear that, once the current hostilities subside, they do not expect that the Lebanese army will be able to reign in Hezbollah. The army is not only weak, understaffed and poorly equipped, but also approximately 60% Shiite, senior administration officials said. There is no guarantee that Lebanese soldiers would be more loyal to their commanders than to Hezbollah, a Shiite group, and therefore there is a chance that when directed to confront their religious brethren, the troops would either seek a way out or flatly refuse to carry out their orders.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 25, 2006 10:16 AM

They've seemingly had their own state for a decade now, and have acted grossly irresponsible.

The reason for that is that they don't really have their own state, and that has nothing to do with the Sunni and Christians and the gvt in in the north.

The Shia in the south have been governed by creatures who are the creation of Iran and are solely beholden to the mullahs and their revolutionary guards -- as the Fuad Ajami column to which you linked approvingly last week noted.

Israel and their Cedar Revolution allies in Lebanon in the end will be doing the Shia in southern Lebanon a favor by freeing them from their Persian masters. Heck, Lebanese Shia can even call their gvt the Party of God after that.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 25, 2006 10:38 AM

Exactly, give them an independent state and Persian meddling becomes an issue. We didn't hate France until after we won our independence either.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 10:47 AM

Thy've had their own de facto state. And thus Persian meddling has become the issue.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 25, 2006 10:51 AM

The Shi'a only get the speakership of the parliament.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 11:09 AM

The Shia in this case deserve nothing.

http://hnn.us/roundup/entries/28539.html is written by someone who knows a little more about Lebanon then most.

Posted by: tps at July 25, 2006 11:16 AM

They deserve a nation, so they'll have one.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 11:17 AM

Nobody "deserves" a nation. It's true enough that if "they" (meaning the Shiite community) really want one, they'll probably get one. But where has Hezbollah ever said that that's what they want?

Posted by: b at July 25, 2006 11:40 AM

What did they ever do to 'deserve' a nation? Actually b they do want one and its called Lebanon. The fact that there are Christians and Sunni there doesn't matter because they will either leave, become dhimmi, or be put to the sword.

Just because they are Shia doesn't make them special. A nation isn't a right. You abuse the privledge and you must expect that somebody is going to take it away from you.

Posted by: tps at July 25, 2006 12:00 PM

tps: I agree with everything you said. I was responding to the implication in oj's e-mail that Hezbollah & the Shiites want their own state in S. Lebanon.

Posted by: b at July 25, 2006 12:04 PM

Hezbollah just represents the Shi'a and they want the political power a plurality is entitled to, rather than oppression by Christian and Sunni minorities.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 12:08 PM

If the Shia are so hard up to have their nation, then why are their rockets flying in the wrong direction? Shouldn't they be fighting their "oppressors"?

Posted by: ratbert at July 25, 2006 12:16 PM

oj: Be consistent. The non-Shiite communities of Lebanon don't want to be ruled by the Shiites. So they won't be.

Posted by: b at July 25, 2006 12:20 PM


Yes, that's why they oppress the Shi'a, who would win power in free and fair elections. There is no Lebanon so it will devolve into separate states.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 12:27 PM


Because the Israelis, not the central government, have Hezbollah prisoners.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 12:28 PM

(1) The Shia havebeen the de facto gvt in the south. Own taxes, own army, with little or no interference from Beirut. Therefore, it matters not what positions that get in the parliament in Beirut. Beirut has no power over them, and in fact their de facto gvt in the south is more powerful than the Beirut gvt thanks to the Iranians.

(2) In pt of fact, from everything I've read, its the Shia who are still, despite the X'n flight from the country over the last 20 yrs, the minority. Shia make up 40%, X'ns also make up 40% and Sunni and others the remainder.

(3) HB does not represent the Shia. That's the point. They represent the Iranians only. They are not a nationalist movement at all. They need to be replaced by an actual nationlist mvt, whether it looks to Beirut or to Tyre or somesuch new Shia capital -- then your pts, oj, might have some merit.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 25, 2006 12:30 PM

b: I figured as much. :) Just wanted to expand on it a bit is all.

The reason the non-Shia groups have tried to resist them is because their militas were all disarmed by....wait for it...Syria. Who, curiously enough, are Hezbollah's chief allies and who didn't bother to do the same to their friends.

For the past 10-15 years the Shia have been acting like the playground bully. The past few weeks they've been getting their nose's plastered against the brick wall by an adult who's had enough of them. Let them get a good whipping, become nice children, and THEN we'll talk about 'nations'.

Posted by: tps at July 25, 2006 12:36 PM

OJ: And they are prisoners because of what they did. They are not innocent flowers being held by the big bad Jews. We hold Mexicans, Brits, etc in our jails and that doesn't give them the right to fire rockets at us to 'free' them.

Posted by: tps at July 25, 2006 12:40 PM


We fought the British because they impressed Americans, no?

Of course Hezbollah isn't innocent--no one is.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 12:44 PM


So let's recognize the Shi'a state of South Lebanon, following which Hezbollah will win free and fair elections and we can all move on.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 12:48 PM

They don't want a nation, they want an empire, an empire that encompasses Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, and beyond to, ultimately, the whole world.

Why did Hezbollah precipitate this war? Because they don't care about Lebanon or a state, or even about the Shi'a people in the south of Lebanon who support them. That is why they built their bunkers under people's homes and apartments, use their own supporters as human shields, and celebrate the "martyrdom" of their own civilian supporters, women and children as well as men.

Posted by: pj at July 25, 2006 12:49 PM

Without Iranian support, Hezbollah wouldn't be able to provide for their people the way mentioned in the linked article. Give them their own country and they will still be beholden to Iran to support them. They have no oil or industry or means of support. They would have to continue as Iranian puppets to be used against Israel if they wanted to receive the support they need. That's why we have to deal with Iran and Syria first. Hezbollah is a side show, and whether they have a country or not, we have to tame their enablers to control the situation.

Posted by: Patrick H at July 25, 2006 12:54 PM

Because Hamas was getting hundreds of prisoners back by taking just one soldier. Hezbollah miscalculated.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 1:11 PM


We are their enablers.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 1:12 PM

Cold turkey isn't going to be a lot of fun for gangsters who have been running the show with $100 million plus of Iranian money every year for the past 20 or so years.

Will Hezbollah have the nerve to ask the Euros for money?

Posted by: ratbert at July 25, 2006 4:09 PM

America and Israel will give them money.

Posted by: oj at July 25, 2006 5:19 PM

Israel might, if the Iranian connection is severed. But the US - not. When even Richard Armitage says (in Congressional testimony, no less) that we have a blood debt with Hezbollah, they will be pariahs in Washington for quite a long time.

The only possibility would be a prior American cleansing of the Bekaa Valley, which is highly unlikely (although it would wonderfully concentrate every mind from Paris to Islamabad).

Posted by: ratbert at July 26, 2006 1:26 AM