The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Hezbollah and the Unrest in Syria

The following Asia Times commentary can be accessed in full at:

Hezbollah caught in vortex of chance
By Nicholas Noe

BEIRUT – With unrest and violence growing daily in Syria, the Shi’ite movement Hezbollah now confronts a strategic challenge whose negative effects have been magnified by the sheer suddenness of it all.

Just three months ago, Hezbollah confidently precipitated the collapse of the Lebanese government led by prime minister Saad Hariri and rejoiced over the fall of president Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt. Together with its “Resistance Axis” allies Iran, Syria and Hamas, Hezbollah openly touted the climax of several years of hard-fought victories that had successfully cut into the preponderance of power held by the United States, Israel and most of the Sunni Arab regimes.

But that trajectory, on course since at least the start of the insurgency in Iraq and accelerated by Israel’s disastrous July 2006 war that was vigorously encouraged by the George W Bush administration, has now suddenly come to a dead halt.

Worse still for Hezbollah, the Party of God, reasonably predicting the future course that the balance of power in the region is likely to take has become a far more complicated, perhaps impossible, task.

Indeed, for all the commentary and analyses of Hezbollah as a thoroughly radical and (obtusely) totalitarian project, the reality is that the one thing Hezbollah hates perhaps as much as Zionism is the prospect of chaos – the unpredictable, the unintended consequences lying in wait – with the leadership usually preferring to pre-empt such scenarios via pragmatic concessions and the broadening of alliances that together can stabilize their understanding of the future.

This predilection means that the current situation the party faces all around it – but especially vis-a-vis its only open land border, ie Syria – is likely the main subject consuming the time of its secretary general, Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah.

You wouldn’t guess this by Nasrallah’s public speeches of late.

Just as Hezbollah avoided almost any public discussion of the post-election crisis in Iran – its leading patron and ultimate guide (on some occasions) when push comes to shove – Nasrallah has almost completely avoided talking about the deepening instability and brutal government crackdown in Syria.

Though a pragmatic choice not to interfere in its vital allies’ internal business, Nasrallah’s unwillingness to publicly explain the party’s stance – to explain the apparent contradictions between his vocal criticism of the Tunisian, Libyan, Bahraini, Egyptian and Yemeni governments and his different (non-)positions on Syria and Iran – is helping to effectively undermine one of Nasrallah and Hezbollah’s most important and effective weapons to date: their appeal to reason, especially when it comes to regional matters…



Written by nickbiddlenoe

May 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Posted in ANALYSIS

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