Dear writers: Please, no more unhelpful stories about how Hezbollah is weakening, collapsing and becoming unpopular
For decades – but especially since the 2005 “Ceder Revolution” one sees polemical pieces as well as more serious analysis pieces trying to divine the inner workings of Hezbollah and the level of their popular support.
Both attempts are almost always doomed from the start – not even because of the political purpose driving some of the pieces – but because gathering evidence on both counts is extremely difficult.
My advice has always been: Stick with what is public and what we can know and leave aside the hopeless attempts to explain things that most intelligence agencies seem to have a bad record on divining.
Nevertheless, these pieces continue to multiply – sometimes on the same day in different publications! – invariably quoting only enemies of the Party, far away “researchers” that many of us have never heard of and, most often, a guy who claims he is a Hezbollah commander or fighter – or who “knows” the party’s thinking intimately, or knows a guy who knows a guy that sells bananas in the Souther Suburbs … who then goes on to say damaging things about the party.
Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker had a particularly bad piece in 2013 that quoted a “fighter” with the same fake name saying the same thing, on the same day, as a McClatchy piece by David Enders… raising the well known issue here in Beirut of the same journalists relying on a few fixers who say they have access to Hezbollah “members” who will then spill the beans.
A particularly unhelpful recent piece from vice is here:
Now the garbage crisis is “weakening” Hezbollah because a guy named Karim (possibly last name: Makdisi)- who says he is a fighter – says that is what is happening. Unfortunately Anderson also twists Timur Goksel’s words a bit to make it seem like he is supporting her thesis (which his words do not but her explanation of his words tries to accomplish).
David Schenker has a piece this summer which is the same piece he has been writing since he left the bush administration:
And then there is this one – same ideas, same evidence basically… and same result: not useful for serious analysis.