It was only natural that Hezbollah would be upset at the parliamentary victory achieved by its March 14 rivals in Lebanon. The movement was shocked and speechless but the truth is that many of those who have watched Lebanon carefully over the past two years were themselves sceptical about the victory of the March 14 Alliance. These people thought that if the movement did win, it would do so by a very slight margin. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the leader of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc Mohammad Raad or MP Hassan Fadlallah made contradictory statements after it became clear that the Future Movement, the Kataeb Party, the Progressive Socialist Party and the independents [that along with others make up the March 14 Alliance] were winning.
With a frown on his face, Mohammad Raad told Agence-France Press (AFP) that, “The crisis will continue unless the current majority decides to change its attitude.” He added a few more basic principles that the majority must abide by to overcome this crisis. He stated that the majority should either give guarantees or secure the obstructing third in the cabinet.
Raad went on to specify these guarantees: “The majority must commit not to question our role as a resistance party, the legitimacy of our weapons arsenal against the Zionist enemy and the fact that Israel is an enemy state and that those who work with it are not the most honourable of people.”
This is funny. Not a single Lebanese, politician or not, would say that agents working for Israel are honourable let alone the most honourable of people! This is more of a preachy demand than a political necessity or real guarantee!
There is something even more interesting about Raad’s statement. He volunteered to present his explanation for the March 14 Alliance’s great victory over the divine party. The MP attributed the victory to “sectarian fanaticism, political funding and religious sermons that served as a political lever,” according to the news piece carried by Al Manar and AFP.
Al Manar quoted Hezbollah’s MP Hassan Fadlallah as telling AFP that the results of the elections “must not upset the delicate balances of power that exist in the country. We rule in partnership.” There is nothing significant in this statement but what’s important to notice is Fadlallah’s lack of confidence in the election results changing the current political structure. He argues that Lebanon is based upon a sectarian balance and believes that whoever has the majority has the majority of all sects. He points out that according to today’s figures General Michel Aoun still has the Christian majority, whereas Hezbollah and Amal Movement have the Shia majority. Then he asks: “How can we form an authority in light of the existence of sectarian majorities that are not in power?”
In the same televised interview broadcast by Al Manar, Raad said: “Hezbollah believes that Lebanon is built on diversity and multiplicity rather than majorities and minorities because no party is capable of winning the majority of the votes of all sects.”
He is confusing us. He said that Amal and Hezbollah constitute the majority within the Shia sect, which is true, and says the same about Aoun with the Christian sect, which I don’t think is true especially after the clear defeat suffered by the Aoun current in the elections. Yet Fadlallah says that no party is capable of winning the majority of the votes of all sects. Does this apply to Amal and Hezbollah? Reality contradicts so and shows that the main entities representing Lebanon’s Shia are Hezbollah and Amal.
In any case, that is not the point here. The aim here is to warn against getting carried away with this electoral victory by changing the well-entrenched nature and role of Hezbollah both inside and outside of Lebanon. Its state of confusion and contradiction is clear from its political position and the justifications that it presents. MP Mohammad Raad condemns sectarianism and the religious discourse that encouraged the supporters of the Sunni Future Movement to vote in droves. So this must mean that Raad is against religious discourse and mobilization based on doctrines. So how can Hassan Fadlallah, Raad’s colleague boast that no one is capable of surpassing the Shia sect and that Hezbollah constitutes the majority within the sect? How can Hezbollah maintain such predominance within the Shia sect if it does not resort to using doctrinal “appeal” at least within its internal discourse aimed at the sect? How else can we interpret the speeches delivered by the Secretary General of the “divine” party that are loaded with blatant doctrinal references and ardent references to the Waliyat al Faqih and promises of receiving the blessings of the Supreme Leader, and whilst banners marked with clear doctrinal slogans surround the Secretary General as he makes his speeches?
Is it doing what it forbids others from doing?
I agree with Mohammad Raad that doctrinal and sectarian mobilization played a significant role in gaining “mass appeal”. This was clearly the case with the Shia and the Sunnis and then the Christians joined in and what helped them was the defiance and nonchalance of Hassan Nasrallah who proudly declared his allegiance to the Waliyat al Faqih party at a time when Muslim countries were suffering from doctrinal and sectarian tension. It would have been better for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and all leaders of fundamentalist movements to try and put out the fire rather than start it.
Despite the victory achieved by the March 14 Alliance, we are facing a new crisis in Lebanon. I wonder what makes the majority this time so different from the majority last time. Didn’t the March 14 Alliance also form the largest entity over the past period even if Nasrallah, Aoun and their allies called it the “illusionary majority,” and claimed that it rose to power on the back of the brutal assassination of Rafik Hariri? This is merely defamation.
Hezbollah along with Michel Aoun and Nabih Berri ruined everything during the rule of the majority, from parliament to government, all the way down to the public. So why would the majority think that they have changed, and what would make this majority capable of changing the attitude of the “divine” party and its supporters?
Does the renewal of the majority’s legitimacy raise the important question once again; is Hezbollah above the state? Mohammad Raad was very clear in his explanation or should I say threat. No matter what the election results might be, Raad would think that even if the March 14 Alliance were to win 90 percent of the Lebanese votes, the armament of the “divine” party should not be questioned.
Our criticism of Hezbollah and its negative role in consolidating sectarianism and the culture of fanaticism, as well as its contribution to instigating counter-sectarianism, comes out of concern. Due to this concern we have always criticized all Sunni fundamentalist currents whether armed or unarmed. They all belong to the same kind of narrow-minded salvational ideology and create more problems in analyzing the ills of Arab societies.
Would it be fair to say that what happened in Lebanon has kindled national sentiment? It is difficult to say, but it could be the case that this is a prelude to that because there is no doubt that there was fanatical counter-sectarianism amongst Hezbollah’s rivals.
But what reduced the vehemence of this counter fanaticism was the fact that it did not mobilize around an ideological and organizational structure and a closed network of services and guardianships that are difficult to escape, which is the case with the Hezbollah statelet. Moreover, it comes as a reaction to Hezbollah’s increasing influence over the past few years and not as deliberate action that aims to create a sectarian state.
Hezbollah was defeated in the elections, but the issues of its armament, information and role are still not to be questioned until further notice. Any attempts to do so would anger the “divine” party because today it is licking its wounds, unless, of course, the others succeed in establishing a model that is enticing to Hezbollah based on the consideration that Lebanon is for everybody and that it is a civil state and not a state for “the most noble, the most honourable and the greatest of people,” as Sayyed Nasrallah once said.