Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hezbollah Changes its Mission Statement. No One Notices.

Ever since Hezbollah's military "victory" against Israel in 2006, the media has been hyping their ascendancy.

I've always disagreed with the widespread assessment that 2006 was a military victory for Hezbollah. It's true that Israel didn't vanquish Hezbollah (kind of an unrealistic expectation), but look at the map on the ground after the war: Hezbollah no longer occupies southern Lebanon. And that was, in fact, Israel's goal with that invasion. The U.N. cease fire also mandated that Hezbollah disarm. So far, Hezbollah has been able to skirt the mandate to disarm, but it increasingly dogs them as they engage politically in Lebanon.

Indeed, much more important, Hezbollah's ascendancy has actually brought them into the political mainstream.

And stop the presses: They don't seem to have an interest in going toe to toe with Israel anymore. (Hmmm... I wonder why. Could it have anything to do with this?)

Check out this (garbled) passage in today's NYT story. Despite the NYT's off-topic aside—"Sheik Nasrallah [Hezbollah's leader] did not sound concerned"—the report actually says that Hezbollah supports a peace deal with Israel (a complete reversal of anything they've ever said) and they're willing to negotiate disarming.

The NYT writes:

If Israel’s goal of the release was to begin to strip away the issues that Hezbollah uses to justify keeping its weapons — as some political analysts in the region speculated — Sheik Nasrallah did not sound concerned. After leaving the stage, in remarks broadcast to the audience, he said that he would be willing to accept a diplomatic solution to the remaining land disputes with Israel — and with Lebanese factions that are opposed to Hezbollah keeping its weapons.

It seems to me like that revelation warrants a little more attention.


GrimTim said...

I look forward to these posts. Hezbollah in the mainstream and Nasrallah's statement are a revelation to me.

But.. can't Nasrallah pose as a mainstream political leader until such time as he can pull some more stunts?

Do you think the NYT did not make a big deal out of this reversal because they regard it as just more hot air from this guy?

Martian Bracelets said...


Glad you like the posts.

The more Hezbollah operates in the mainstream, the harder it will be for them to pursue the "Israel Must Be Destroyed" policy. Certainly, they can stick to the rhetoric, but others in real positions of accountable political power in the Middle East, who also trade in that rhetoric, don't actually act on it.

With Israel working on it with Fatah and Hamas, I think Hezbollah will eventually just become a conservative religious party in Lebanon. And good luck installing Shariah in Lebanon (another original tenet on Hezbollah's mission statement.)

I don't know why the NYT downplayed (or misplayed) Nasrallah's quote. I think they're so caught up in the sexy story line of Hezbollah's ascendance that they didn't quite know what to do with it.