Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monopolizing Weapons…And Other Monopolies

By Elias Harfoush
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 15/03/2011
Hezbollah has gone through drastic changes since it first accepted to participate in politics in Lebanon. The party, whose resistance against Israel used to be the object of a quasi unanimous internal and regional acceptance, is now busy using the resistance credits earned in the past to improve its political position in the face of its internal adversaries. Thus, the party is no longer different, neither through its actions nor through its methods, than many of its predecessors that brandished the slogans of resistance in the region. [Hezbollah’s] latest campaign against its opponents went further than the regular political criticism and the respect of the others’ right to disagree, and accused those opponents of being traitors and foreign - and sometimes Israeli - agents. Also, under the pretext of being a resistance party, it is now granting itself the right to several monopolies – the monopolization of arms being but one of these. This is taking place although the circumstances of resistance action have drastically changed in the past five years with respect to the conditions and practical capacities due to the measures imposed by resolution 1701 on the field situation in the border zone. This situation is echoed in several other silent borders between Israel and the rest of the confrontation countries. However, this did not lead to a change in the language and slogans of “objection” brandished by those countries.

And in the framework of its internal battle, Hezbollah granted itself the right to distribute certificates of patriotism, in addition to the right of leading the project of the confrontation of Israel and the “imperialist and Zionist plans.” It is deeming itself the pioneer of the “objection” train of thought and the undisputed leader of the sides that adopt this train of thought in the region. These actions of the party are not new if compared to the legacy left by the similar movements such as the Nassirism, the Nationalism, the Baathism, the Islamism and others. These movements, under the slogans of the liberation of Palestine and the confrontation of the Western projects of hegemony, have climbed to the ruling platforms and have monopolized the capacities of the Arab populaces for decades. However, the promised liberation never came true, nor were the projects of hegemony aborted. On the contrary, a number of those movements ended up working on gaining the sympathy of the authors and perpetrators of the projects of hegemony, with the sole aim of remaining in power.

The long confrontation with Israel, which has been going on for more than six decades, has helped in the establishment of parties and organizations in the Arab region that found in the task of confronting Israel, a good technique to invest internally in confronting their opponents. Thus, they used this technique in order to hinder the freedom of expression, enhance prisons and detention camps, and block the road for any democratic movement. All this was carried out under the slogan of “no sound must rise above the sound of the battle.” As a result, every opposition voice was deemed a traitor, even if that opposition only aimed at internal reform, because this opposition was considered to represent “treason” of the higher nationalistic objective, the objective of liberation. But liberation remained farfetched as a result of the nature of the politics of hegemony and domination, as well as the major power imbalance. In order to achieve balance, there is a need, primarily, for an internal, sound and cohesive structure before weapons and military equipments.

Where did all this lead to? It led to a complete incapacity on the confrontation arena, a major collapse of the Arab defensive base, and broken regimes controlling their populaces by force while suffering on the domestic fronts much more than their suffering on the lines of the confrontation border [with Israel].

The sectarian structure of Lebanon has pushed Hezbollah to be more immersed in the internal politics and to have its activities tainted with a sectarian color compared to the national support it once had. The tool it is now using in the face of its adversaries is its proficiency in the field of resistance and “objection,” where the party outruns the others according to its own claims. However, the outcomes of this proficiency contradict with the rules of correct democratic work, which is based on giving equal chances to the competing parties. This has pushed Hezbollah to use the tools - that had been prepared to be used in the confrontation with Israel – in its internal confrontation, as it now believes that winning this confrontation is as important as winning the other confrontation, and even compensates it.

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