Published 14 Aug 06
Walid Phares, Ph.D.
World Defense Review columnist
Hezbollah's Political Blitzkrieg
Many in the media and sectors within public opinion are wondering why the U.S. isn't able to get a mild French draft of a UN resolution passed quickly via the UN Security Council? Others are stunned to watch Lebanon's Prime Minister, Fuad Seniora, crying in front of the Arab League meeting and calling for the rejection of a strong Multinational Force, caving in to Hezbollah. Commentators are barely able to decipher why is it that the so-called allies of the U.S. in the War on Terror – Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – are pushing for Israeli withdrawal, rejecting the multinational force while maintaining the status quo for Hezbollah.
It sounds as if the year 2005-2006 was full of mirages: Cedars Revolution in Lebanon, free elections, and formation of an anti-Syrian Government backed by the son of the slain PM of Lebanon, Saad Hariri. Qué pasa? Who is calling the shots now? Israel is pounding southern Lebanon and many bridges into rubble, but Hezbollah is on a terror blitzkrieg, wrecking political havoc inside Lebanon and in the region. Israel is scientifically winning the military battle and Hezbollah is crumbling the political future of the war anyway.
Back in April of 2005, while Assad was pulling its hardware back into Syria and the free world was celebrating the very colorful Cedars Revolution in Beirut, Hezbollah's counteroffensive was being designed as follows:
- Absorb the fury of the Lebanese masses but kill their political project
- Construct the conditions for non-disarmament of the militias
- Penetrate the post Syrian Government and its institutions
- Solidify the bridges to Iran and Syria
- Begin the terrorizing of the new Government
- Sink UNSCR 1559; and, at the timing of Nasrallah, trigger a war with Israel for the ground to shift back to Hezbollah
- Finally, contain Israel's reactions and crumble the Lebanese government genius Ahmedinijad-Assad-Nasrallah grand plan: Unfortunately invisible to the Western decisions makers for a whole year.
And here comes the Hezbollah Blitzkrieg:
A. Luring the Lebanese politicians of the Cedars Revolution into stopping the demonstrations short of toppling pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud. Hence having Lahoud's intelligence services protecting the activities of the "axis" (Hezbollah, Syrians, Iranians, others) in Lebanon. Keeping Lahoud in place secured a pressure on the Lebanese Army, since the President is the "commander in chief."
First target achieved by July. Brilliant.
B. Running in the legislative elections "before" being disarmed, and with 300 million dollars to spend on voters, Hezbollah and its Amal allies secure 30 members of Parliament. That's the equivalent of the Taliban running for elections when they were in power, but on a provincial scale.
Results: More Hezbollah MPs enter the new Parliament, supposed to be anti-Syrian. And incredibly (never seen in any other country), while the resistance to Syria get a comfortable majority in the assembly - 70 percent), it ends up bringing back pro-Syrian Nabih Berri as a speaker: Allah knows how this so-called majority shot itself in the foot twice in one month with maintaining Lahoud and Berri in place.
Second Hezbollah target achieved by early July.
C. Outmaneuvering the Seniora Cabinet by threatening to isolate the Shia from the Government if the Hezbollah bloc doesn't obtain four ministers. A bloc that can veto all decisions on the Lebanese Army deployment and on the disarming of militias. A high school analyst realizes that Hezbollah has just grabbed the Cabinet capacity of disarming it!
Objective secured by August 2005.
D. Between July and December 2005, the "axis" terror squads assassinate Cedars Revolution leaders who didn't accept the Hezbollah influence in the Lebanese government, among them: Samir Qassir, George Hawi, and particularly Gebran Tueni, the leading young figure of the Revolution. Other journalists and cadres were targets of plots, shootings and threats including May Chidiac.
Cedars Revolution beheaded by end of the year.
E. By March 2006, Hassan Nasrallah signs an "agreement of understanding" with General Michel Aoun, ex anti-Syrian politician, separating his movement from the pro-Government parties and splitting the Christian community in two camps. The opposition to Hezbollah was reduced to shambles. Druze leader Walid Jumblat and a few Christian MPs are still firing against Syria and gently against Hezbollah. Nasrallah accompanies his victorious offensives with Iranian funding of many socioeconomic projects outside the traditional Shiite strongholds.
F. By April 2006, Hezbollah's dual blitz moves faster, as the government is almost paralyzed on the implementation of UNSCR 1559. On the one hand, Nasrallah and his ally Nabih Berri induce the remnants of the anti-Syrian politicians to sit down around a "dialogue table" to discuss the "future of Lebanon" away from street demonstrations. In other words, drop off the Cedars Revolution, i.e. what made you visible to the international community and let us waste your time in Byzantine discussions.
Hezbollah gained three more precious months.
G. Meanwhile, through the very open Lebanese Syrian borders, Iran sent all the weapons systems needed by Hezbollah to wage the "deflection war" against Israel.
Nasrallah's Plan A was a limited war against Israel followed by a revolt against the Seniora government and its takeover. Israel made it into a longer war. So, Hezbollah's Plan B is a longer resistance against whatever Israel is cooking, with still a near future control of the Government. Now the Jihadi blitz is provoking regional and international results, or about to.
Hezbollah threatens the Seniora Government of disintegration if it doesn't abide by its plan. Nasrallah and al Manar speaks of open battle till the end. But the real plan of the Iranian-Syrian axis is in fact to use the Seniora Government as a hostage. The seven-point plan of the Lebanese cabinet has been approved, some say suggested by Hezbollah: No deterring-MNF, no chapter 7, no Security Council resolution that would disarm the militia, etc.
Seniora cries in front of the Arabs, Nasrallah calmly controls the situation and most Lebanese politicians have become irrelevant in the equation.
The mostly Sunni Arab government hears the Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon pleading for his 7 points (Hezbollah recipe to survive and strike back) and rushes to Manhattan to convince the U.S. and France into watering down the draft.
Ironically, the bombed-into-rubble Nasrallah is shelling the UN Security Council with "Arab diplomats." He knows all too well that, in the absence of the Cedars Revolution (abandoned by its politicians but still breathing), he is winning the political offensive.
Since no one is opposing his agenda in Lebanon and as his services have almost controlled the "news rooms" of most Lebanese media; and as we learn progressively that the Hezbollah agencies have most messages of foreign correspondents practically under control, while Jihadi and oil influence is widespread throughout the contractors of the news agencies worldwide, Nasrallah is in business. His blitzkrieg is pushing forward politically, for now.
With UNSCR 1701 voted, Hezbollah's options have been reduced to two.
For the resolution, a salad bowl of measures in all directions, relies almost completely on the Lebanese Government's determination to seize back control of the country with UN support.
Nasrallah will have to fight the resolution upfront or seize the control of the Lebanese Government, so that he would paralyze the implementation of the resolution. My instinct tells me he is going to try to do both: control the government and continue the war.
— Walid Phares holds degrees in law and political science from Saint Joseph University and the Lebanese University in Beirut, a Masters in international law from the Universite de Lyons in France and a Ph.D. in international relations and strategic studies from the University of Miami. He has taught and lectured at numerous universities worldwide, practiced law in Beirut, and served as publisher of Sawt el-Mashreq and Mashrek International. He currently teaches Middle East political issues, ethnic and religious conflict, and comparative politics at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Phares has written seven books on the Middle East and published hundreds of articles in newspapers and scholarly publications such as Global Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, and Journal of South Asian and Middle East Studies. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and BBC as well as on radio broadcasts. Aside from serving on the boards of several national and international think tanks and human rights associations, Dr. Phares has testified before the US Senate Subcommittee on the Middle East and South East Asia and regularly conducts congressional and State Department briefings.
Dr. Phares is a visiting fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels and a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is Future Jihad, and he was the author of the memo that introduced UNSCR 1559 in 2004.
© 2006 Walid Phares
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