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February 28, 2013

Hezbollah in a Slump

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Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militia, has been thrust onto center stage of the Syrian civil war. Its new role as enforcer for the Assad regime is not playing well to the crowds. There is mounting anger directed against the Shiite militia for its brutality against Syrian insurgents and civilians. Incensed Syrian rebels threaten to exact retribution against the group. The Lebanese, themselves, express alarm that Hezbollah will drag Lebanon into a regional war.

Several senior Hezbollah commanders and an Iranian general who sat on the group's leadership council have been killed in recent weeks, and the Free Syrian Army today claims to have killed the group's deputy leader, Naim Qassem (unsubstantiated so far).

Arab sources openly denounce the organization as a subsidiary of Iran. Hanin Ghaddar, of the Lebanese web site, NOW, recently wrote:

Hezbollah is not, as it claims to its supporters, a Lebanese party whose mission is to protect Lebanese people and territories. It is a militia which uses Lebanon as a geographical base from which to launch attacks against Iran’s enemies no matter where or who they are.

Hezbollah is not faring well on the diplomatic front either. Its alleged involvement in the murder of five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver in 2012 may compel the European Union [EU] to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization, despite the strong desire by EU members to avoid taking any action that might upset the group. Such a move threatens to shut down a major source of funding for its operations.

This is all a far cry from the adulation for Hezbollah in the Muslim world in 2006 after its summer war with Israel. It must also be a source of consternation to Hezbollah's admirers in the West. Former U.S. ambassador Edward Peck, journalists Robert Fisk of the Independent and The Nation's Adam Shatz, and British parliamentarian George Galloway were all deeply impressed with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah when he was taking on Israel. Elderly radical icon Noam Chomsky even trekked to Lebanon to pay homage to him. It's amazing what obsessive hostility towards Israel will do to blunt one's intellectual faculties. Today, Nasrallah's image seems a bit tarnished.

Posted by SS at February 28, 2013 10:52 AM


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