If Hezbollah is the Party of God, Allah must really hate Lebanon.
As noted earlier here, Hezbollah has been staging a public camp-in near the Lebanese Parliament as part of its strategy to topple the Saniora government. When that didn’t work after nearly two months, Hezbollah called for its supporters to engage in a “general strike.” A strike implies public workers withholding their labor to illustrate to the general public what important jobs they do, and how much they would miss the buses, or the taxis, or the subways. The Lebanese learned about general strikes from their one-time colonizers, the French, who engage in general strikes whenever some segment of the French workforce has reached a breaking-point of ill-treatment--say, about every two weeks.
In this case, Hezbollah’s minions are mostly unemployed and don’t provide Lebanon any services, unless you consider having someone firing RPGs at Israeli gunships from your driveway a service. So because the would-be strikers weren’t doing anything but increasing Beirut’s sanitation problems, the next nearest thing to striking would be to burn tires, block roads into and out of the city, fight with police, and make sure there were a lot of injuries and some fatalities, which there were. Unlike its European counterpart, this sort of “general strike” is designed to make the public realize how much they miss streets that aren’t blocked by violent mobs, and air that isn’t choked with the stench of burning rubber. Like all undemocratic initiatives in the Middle East, success isn't meant to be gained by persuasion or even direct violence, but by slow, steady, unrelenting annoyance of the dominant population. The nicer media coverage always refers to Hezbollah in this situation as “the opposition” to the Saniora government, as if mob violence is just one more form of parliamentary procedure. The harsher coverage goes so far as to call it a “protest.” It is neither. It is a slow-motion coup.
Whether Nasrallah actually has a plan that involves months of Hezbollah squatting in Beirut, intermixed with gradually more violent outbursts, or whether he’s making it all up as he goes along, really doesn’t matter. All that matters is his object, which is the installation of a Hezbollah government that will reduce Lebanon to an Iranian satellite. It is likely his Iranian handlers have restrained him from a traditional armed coup because it will make Iran—whose hand up Nasrallah’s backside goes unnoticed by only the most doctrinaire Israel-haters—look worse when they’re trying to dodge out from under international sanctions for their crash bomb-building program.
Nasrallah’s pattern in his Beirut campaign has been to engage in some low-level violence, (that is, low-level for the Middle East), and then threaten the legitimate government with something worse if his demands aren’t met. First the Hezbollah members of Parliament boycotted the government. Then Nasrallah ordered mass street protests. Then someone came up with the bright idea of throwing up a tent city in downtown Beirut. Nasrallah’s plan was to stay there (or make his supporters stay there), “more or less until we eventually impose by our peaceful, civilized and democratic means the toppling of an illegitimate and unconstitutional government."
Could Nasrallah really be so oblivious to the inner conflict between “peaceful, civilized, and democratic means,” and mass street demonstrations, toppling governments and imposing one’s own by means of progressively more violent means? Or is he just paying the lip-service to “democracy” that the media and European intellectuals need so they can later rationalize a coup as an unlooked-for popular eruption climaxing Hezbollah’s patient requests for a seat at the table? Did I mention that the Hezbollah MPs already walked out of Parliament?
So far Saniora has met every one of Nasrallah’s threats with defiance, including the phony general strike on Tuesday. Late on Tuesday Hezbollah “lifted country-wide roadblocks but threatened ‘more effective’ measures if the government refused to meet its demands.”
(One bright spot is that Hezbollah's threatened "general strike" didn't deter Saniora from traveling to Paris, whereas heads of state who feel a coup is imminent usually would not dare leaving the country).
The Lebanese government is limited right now in its ability to respond with force to the mob in Beirut because so much of it army is tied up in southern Lebanon making sure Hezbollah down there doesn’t provoke another war with Israel.
The media, ever-helpful, reports many of the facts of what's happening, then draws completely unrelated conclusions, such as that Tuesday's street violence was a “glimpse of how quickly the confrontation between Saniora’s government and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies could spiral out of control, enflame tensions among Sunnis, Shiites and Christians and throw Lebanon into deeper turmoil.” Except tracing the causes of all this back to tensions among Sunnis, Shiites and Christians makes no sense, when it is clearly a staged challenge by Hezbollah of Lebanon’s elected government. Yes, there are tensions among all Lebanon’s numerous religious groups, but that has nothing to do with Tuesday's unrest. As soon as Hezbollah’s goon squads took their burning tires back to their tents, everybody immediately went back to their normal activities, i.e., back to work and school. Does that sound as if ordinary Lebanese are enflamed over religious differences?
When the war with Israel ended, it was with no thanks to Hezbollah. The Party of God was prepared to fight to the last civilian life, and conducted its operations to bring down maximum destruction on the Lebanese population just so it could make Israel look bad. Only Israel’s agreement to withdraw and abide by a cease-fire ended the war, a cease-fire by which Hezbollah very publicly refused to be bound. Once the IDF was safely over the border, up from his hole like a prairie dog popped Nasrallah, barking about how many Qassam rockets he still had left, and how he’d beaten Israel after all.
Even Hezbollah’s former secretary-general Sheikh Subhi Al-Tufeili isn’t buying that, complaining bitterly that Hezbollah’s abduction of the Israeli soldiers was “an unsuccessful adventure,” and a pretty stupid one at that. He also said that Hezbollah these days is nothing more than a “tool” of Iran leading Lebanon into a civil war for no higher purpose than to accomplish Tehran’s regional goals at Lebanon’s expense. (Well, that was always the case. But this is Hezbollah’s own secretary-general saying it now.)
Lebanon is now in need of money and stability to rebuild and recover from the war damage brought on by Hezbollah’s unprovoked war against Israel. Still, it has to commit military and other resources just to hedge against trouble-making in both the south and in Beirut caused not by Israel, nor by warring religious sectarians, nor any other internal or external enemy, but by Hezbollah. No one, even those who are most virulently propagating it, buys the lie that Lebanon’s biggest threat is Israel. No one seriously claims that the ancient “tensions” between Lebanon’s numerous religious sects are a significant threat to political stability right now, except where those tensions are being enflamed deliberately by Hezbollah.
Right now, Lebanon’s biggest threat is Hezbollah, a “tool” in the hands of Iran and Syria.
Why are so many of Dearborn’s Lebanese committed to this organization?