Hezbollah’s response to the report by the German Der Spiegel magazine that accused the group of being responsible for Rafik Al Hariri’s assassination, and revealed a number of details surrounding the Lebanese crime of the century, caught my attention. I was not interested in Hezbollah’s defense and denials, nor even in the accusations of treason that the group leveled against any media organ who merely reported this news; rather what caught my attention was the statement that Hezbollah released in response to this article, and in particular what this statement revealed of the organization’s underlying psychology and ideology.
In the statement that was published on the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar website [the response to the Der Spiegel article was that] “these parties will fail in achieving their sinister objectives, just as they failed before.” The sinister objective mentioned in the Hezbollah statement is the weakening of “Hezbollah’s position and role.” Hezbollah did not respond to the German magazine’s report with evidence and information to clear its name from accusations that the group betrayed honor and decency.
On an Arab current affairs program that discussed the Der Spiegel crisis in which a Hezbollah supporter said “It is not enough for [Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad] Siniora and [Saad] Al Hariri to refuse to comment [on the Der Spiegel article], and saying that they only recognize the official decision…of the International tribunal.” According to our Hezbollah supporting friend, it was Hariri and Siniora’s duty to [publicly] acquit the party, and immediately and directly deny everything that the German magazine reported. This would mean [Siniora and Al Hariri] exiting the world of the judiciary and entering the world of politics; otherwise the sword that Hezbollah uses to brand others as traitors would be used against them.
At this point it is not important to express an opinion on the information revealed by the German magazine, or its sources, or to interpret the magazine’s political objectives – if there are any – for publishing this article, nor is it important to interpret the timing of this article’s publication. This is not the purpose of this article – despite the importance of the above – rather the purpose of this article is to examine Hezbollah’s statement responding to the German magazine’s report in order to see how the party views itself and its mission, and how it views its position in the world of politics with regards to the movement describing itself as a divine authority that transcends everybody else. This [authority] of course is built upon its weaponry and its faithful soldiers, as well as the support of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard on behalf of the Supreme Ruler in Tehran.
Hezbollah believes itself to be above the crowd, and therefore entitled to do what it prohibits others from doing, therefore Hezbollah does not believe that ordinary laws apply to it due to the good works that it has previously done. This is similar to a famous story from the life of Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] when one of the Prophet’s companions from the city of Badr made a political mistake. The Prophet forgave him and when asked the reason for this, he said “Perhaps God has looked favorably upon the people of Badr and said ‘Do what you will, for I have forgiven you [due to their heroic actions during the Battle of Badr].'” And so it seems that Hezbollah wants everybody to deal with them in the manner of “Do what you will for we have all collectively forgiven you.”
However Hezbollah’s wars are not the same as the Battle of Badr from history, for Hezbollah’s wars are sectarian, and poisons the minds of its soldiers and supporters internally, whilst fulfilling the obligations of the party’s supporters externally. Secondly, Hezbollah only represent one sect at the expense of others. Thirdly and most importantly of all, the Battle of Badr is agreed upon with regards to its details and outcomes which the entire ummah [Muslim community] benefited from. This is completely opposite with Hezbollah’s wars since the organization began operating in Lebanon in the 1980s, and includes splitting from the Amal movement and aligning with Khomeini’s Iran, as well as the group’s operations in Southern Lebanon against Israel, the Summer War in 2006 which resulted in Hezbollah giving Israel justification to invade, and also the invasion of Beirut and the intimidation of its population which resulted in the death of dozens of Lebanese citizens.
In all of these wars undertaken by Hezbollah, we are not seeing a unified ummah; rather the only Muslim community that Hassan Nasrallah is addressing is the small community of his own party. Notice that I did not say the ummah of the Shiite sect, which we well know that Hezbollah wishes to monopolize, as in some cases the political ummah of Hezbollah is comprised of nationalist and leftists trends, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood.
The nature of [political] parties and ideological groups that achieve their goals by using Tehran’s slogans and calling for [religious] salvation is their belief in their own immortality and endurance. These groups believe they are last hope for salvation and that they alone possess solutions to the major problems. These are not parties that have the capacity for discussing differences in opinion or ideology especially in times when they are convinced of their own hegemony. They also do not doubt that they alone are in possession of the whole truth, and are convinced in their own duty of treating everybody as sheep.
For many of those who were shocked [by the statement] will now understand the statement made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in which he glorified the Beirut attack, in the same way that Osama Bin Laden praised his own military conquests and bombings across the Islamic world. And so the leader of Hezbollah, in a moment of transcendence, surrounded by the sounds of celebratory gunfire and the cheering of his supporters, lacked any political sensitivity, and without any embarrassment, said that he would do as he willed, for this was forgiven for him.
This psychological inclination not only applies to religious/political movements, but also to any who believe that they are the salvation and [uniquely] possesses the major solutions to problems, from Saddam Hussein, to Hitler and Mussolini. There is an incident in Islamic history that serves to remind us of Hezbollah. Abu Al Abbas Al Safah, the first Abbasid Caliph following the Abbasid victory over the Umayyad dynasty, wished to implement certain things, he used the slogan of “a return to Mohammed” [i.e. returning to a more simple way of life] and wished to implement divine justice and restore the rights of the vulnerable. In his first address to his followers as Caliph in 749 C.E. Al Safah proclaimed that God had chosen the Abbasids specifically to implement justice, and that power would stay with the Abbasids until the end of time, and this came before Fukuyama’s End of History.
In this speech Al Safah told his cheering followers “You are the happiest of people with us, and the most generous of people to us.”
In the same way that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the people of Hezbollah are the kindest and noblest of all people, and he is correct in this assessment according to his own opinion, which must pass the Hezbollah criteria.
In any case, Hezbollah’s defiance is only a small entry in the book entitled “Islamic History” that will eclipse the party, in the same way that it has other parties with the same ideology of salvation and belief in divine right. However Hezbollah and its members, do no and will not see this, they believe themselves to be untouchable, and will continue under the maxim; Do what you will, for I have forgiven you!
It is only left for me to say that this article does not discuss the report that appeared in the German Der Spiegel publication which alleges that Hezbollah were involved in the death of Rafik Al Hariri. Rather this article hoped to examine the psychological nature behind Hezbollah’s statement [responding to the Der Spiegel article] and Hezbollah’s opinion of itself, and its divine nature.