July 28, 2006


Boosting Extremists With Bombs: Hezbollah's popularity rises, dimming the prospects for democracy (Dilip Hiro, 25 July 2006, YaleGlobal)

To understand how and why Hezbollah has loomed so large on the Israeli radar, take a quick canter down the history lane. By all accounts, Muslims now make up two thirds of the Lebanese population, with Christians half as numerous. But such is the “confessional democracy” – established by France as the Mandate Power, modified after the 1975-1990 civil war and buttressed by the Cedar Revolution of 2005 – that Muslims and Christians have an equal share of seats in the 128-member parliament.

While Shiites are three fifths of the Muslim population, they are entitled to two fifths of the Muslim seats. Among high officials, Maronite Catholics are entitled to the presidency, elected by the parliament; Sunni Muslims to the premiership; and Shiite Muslims merely to the parliamentary speaker. [...]

After the end of the Lebanese civil war in October 1990, Hezbollah fighters moved to the area adjacent to the Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon.

In late 1991 a three-way swap – involving 450 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners, seven dead or captured Israeli soldiers, and the remaining Western hostages – ended this phase of Hezbollah’s hostage-taking.

Steadily, Hezbollah increased attacks on the Israeli and its surrogate south Lebanon army targets, pushing the total to 1,200 in 1998. Unable to withstand the pressure, Israel withdraw unconditionally from southern Lebanon in May 2000, except from the disputed Shebaa Farms, as required by the UN Security Council resolution 509 of June 1982.

This boosted the standing of Hezbollah, led since 1992 by Hassan Nasrallah following the assassination of his predecessor Abbas Musawi by the Israelis. By then, Hezbollah had contested three general elections and established a parliamentary presence, with enough political clout to resist surrendering arms.

Kind of bizarre the way otherwise sensible folks think the Shi'ites of Lebanon ought to just lay back and enjoy it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2006 3:21 PM

Ah, so the way to make Lebanon's democracy more representative is to terrorize and kill Jews? Got it.

Posted by: Rick T. at July 28, 2006 3:59 PM

As bizarre, no more and no less, than thinking the Jews of Israel should.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2006 4:22 PM

I'm not aware of anyone saying that they should enjoy it, although I take it that your position is that they should resent it as Shi'ites, rather than as Lebanese. I also note that the Lebanese government still hasn't actually done anything about the Israelis. The longer it drags on, though, the more it will be resented and the more it will give the Lebanese a unifying hatred of Israel. That's why I wish they had done Damascus instead.

Posted by: David Cohen at July 28, 2006 4:53 PM

There is no Lebanon.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 6:04 PM


They didn't--they too took a nation of their own away from the residents, just as the Shi'a are. Seems petty to quarrel with simple turnabout.

Posted by: oj at July 28, 2006 6:06 PM

Who wants them to enjoy it? If they're the sort of people that lend popular support to a vicious, child-murdering terrorist organization, then here's hoping they hate every last minute of it.

Posted by: djs at July 28, 2006 7:07 PM

The Israelis' petty quarrel is with being rocketed.

Posted by: joe shropshire at July 28, 2006 7:08 PM

Any and all sects of Lebanese should be disarming Hezbollah, in compliance with the UN resolution and common sense. Instead, too many of them consciously allow this terror group to live and operate in their midst, and then blame Israel for the pain that inevitably results. Anyone who sides with Hezbollah is on the other side in this war, as far as I'm concerned. Their degree of Abrahamicness is irrelevant.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 29, 2006 12:09 AM

HB: bu-bye.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 29, 2006 1:57 AM

HB: Line A

Posted by: oj at July 29, 2006 8:45 PM