The Mideastwire Blog

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

Yet another unhelpful, gossip article about Hezbollah: Why does Foreign Policy publish this stuff?


Of course there are always loads of articles about Hezbollah based on one or two unnamed “sources” (and always a “Hezbollah fighter” who just loves to tell foreigners bad things about the party.. and always a “security source” who “talks closely” with Hezbollah).

These articles are not useful and have never been useful in serious analysis, in trying to understand Hezbollah much less craft effective responses to its politics and practices.

But why in the world does Foreign Policy publish a gossip article by a freelancer named Susannah George?

This type of piece is for the more crass Israeli websites, al-arabiyya, gossip arabic papers etc…The standards should be higher than to allow an article that does not even attempt an interview with Hezbollah itself – or even mention that a request was at least filed and turned down.

Ms. George should have made her request which reporters here do, to the media office. Anne Barnard and others are evidence that Hizbullah has shifted its media stance and is now in a process of “opening up” to Western media after several years of a far more closed stance.

As a result what we get in this FP article is mere conjecture that is not useful for any analysis – guessing about corruption and being stretched etc… no contextualization so we understand how ALL of Hezbollah’s enemies are facing similar if not greater problems i.e. the old gossip stories over many many years we all know about here. YES MAYBE her points are true, but there is next to no credible content, facts etc.

You have these three items ONLY to rely on:

— The commander of Hezbollah who loves talking to new foreign reporters (which necessitates the immediate discounting nod): She writes, “this commander, now in his 40s, first fought for Hezbollah during the group’s operations against Israel, when small teams of fighters carried out clandestine cross-border raids.

FACT CHECK – the reporter may not be aware of this but her suggestion is that in the 1990s this guy was doing cross border raids… into Israel. Does she mean raids into the occupation zone of south lebanon controlled by the SLA/IDF? Because “cross-border” raids were extremely rare including after the 2000 withdrawal period… unless of course this commander was the one who launched the 2006 cross border raid in July?

— Her second “source” “They’ll take anyone [to go fight in Syria],” said a young fighter, who asked to be referred to only by the nickname Abu Ali.”… he said that on the streets of his neighborhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Hezbollah security forces, once a symbol of stability, now only add to the growing sense of unease. He believes the need for men on the front lines has forced Hezbollah to drop its recruiting standards.”

Does she attempt to ask people in the area what they think – is this guys impression – and remember lots of people LOVE claiming they are Hezbollah members when they ARE NOT – representative of how residents feel in dahiye about the beefed up security?

— Finally the third “source:” the “security official”….“The Syrian conflict, it’s exposing cracks in the organization,” said a Lebanese security official who meets regularly with Hezbollah’s leadership. The cracks, he says, aren’t ideological.

Unfortunately a bad outing for the reporter on a subject that is difficult to tackle honestly and with any degree of interest for the reader.. FP itself really should reconsider publishing these types of gossip articles – leave em for the un-serious websites!


Written by nickbiddlenoe

January 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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