How Hezbollah can get its groove back
AFP Lebanese Shiite leader Hassan Nasrallah has had a bad couple of months. Only in July—when he valiantly playing the David in the summer clash with Israel—did his Hezbollah organization transcend sectarianism to become the toast of the Arab world. That’s all changed. Hezbollah is now being blamed in the region for the Middle East’s gathering storm ...
Lebanese Shiite leader Hassan Nasrallah has had a bad couple of months. Only in July—when he valiantly playing the David in the summer clash with Israel—did his Hezbollah organization transcend sectarianism to become the toast of the Arab world. That’s all changed. Hezbollah is now being blamed in the region for the Middle East’s gathering storm of sectarianism. What’s a sheikh to do? Here’s what:
- Support the insurgency in Iraq. Your Sunni critics are right: It’s hypocritical, in the words of Jordanian MP Zaki Irsheed, “to ask people to support their resistance in Lebanon and at the same time stand short of supporting the resistance in Iraq.'” Yes, Sunni Islamists also target Shiites. But both the insurgency in Iraq and your “Lebanese Resistance” share the same ultimate enemy: the United States. What’s the harm in a few statements calling for violence against the occupiers?
- Quit equivocating on the Rafiq al-Hariri tribunal. Give full cooperation to the investigation of the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister. This is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate your distance from Syria, commitment to Lebanese autonomy, and support for the rule of law.
- Drop the strike. Even if you manage to provoke Saudi Arabia and Iran to intervene to stop the boycott of the government, any parochial gains you exact aren’t worth the costs. You’ll be fingered more than ever by Lebanese nationalists as an alien presence eroding the country’s autonomy.
- Don’t gloat over Sunni setbacks. Your popularity after the July war transcended the Shiite-Sunni cleavage, but celebrating Saddam’s hanging via your al-Manar TV station set you at odds with indignant Sunnis who might otherwise be sympathetic to Hezbollah.
- Watch the polls. While the October poll taken by the Beirut Center for Research and Information suggested that you were favored by 58 percent of Lebanon, your dramatic lead over the rival March 14 movement has probably withered away by now. Play it like Hamas, and continue to focus publicly on your reconstruction efforts.
- Emphasize Arabism. The larger Iran looms on the regional scene, the more visible your Shiism will become. Remind the Lebanese that you are fighting for Arab unity against Western and Israeli interference in Lebanon.
More from Foreign Policy
No, the World Is Not Multipolar
The idea of emerging power centers is popular but wrong—and could lead to serious policy mistakes.
America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want
Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.
America Can’t Stop China’s Rise
And it should stop trying.
The Morality of Ukraine’s War Is Very Murky
The ethical calculations are less clear than you might think.