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Imad Mughniyeh: Earthly and Heavenly Perspectives - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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One of the most compelling things about Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination is the nature of the description and image that various parties use to depict him. For Hezbollah, Iran, Syria and their supporters in Lebanon, such as followers of General Aoun, the [Weam] Wahab, [Talal] Arsalan or [Omar] Karami movements, Mughniyeh is a saintly resistance hero and a symbol of martyrdom and jihad.

However for others, especially in the Gulf region and among some Arabs and Lebanese, he is a master of plane hijacking, explosions and terrorism. It’s true that Iran employed Mughniyeh as an instrument to spread terror and panic but he was also an ‘academy’ [accomplished mentor] that specialized in generating Shia movements across various states in the same vein as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mehdi Army in Iraq and the Shia terrorist groups in the Gulf region. In this regard, we must also refer to his basic role in the Khobar Towers explosions in Saudi Arabia in 1996.

Hajj Radwan, Mughniyeh’s nomme de guerre, or the Shia fox or the Shia Bin Laden, are all names that connote conflict not union. This is why it only seems natural that his assassination would continue this conflict and disunion since he had dedicated his life and services to serve a vision, project, and course that constitute a point of contention and conflict in the Arab region, which has been witnessing a broad and extensive state of transformation in its present and future.

The Arab region is divided between some parties who seek to transform it into a land of strife, war, martyrdom and another Karbala, such as illustrated by some of the slogans raised in the Iranian demonstrations that hailed Lebanon as ‘Karbala’ following the assassination of Mughniyeh. However, there are also those who want to head in another direction towards progress, developing the economy and catching up with the contemporary world. Such a contradiction may be summarized as: the two cultures [trends] of life and death and it can be used to describe the conflict between these two visions, such as those of Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and Syria on the one hand, and the March 14 Coalition Forces, Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the other. The latter culture is one that propagates stability, calm and peace and is against revolutionary trends, suicide operations and weapons.

This is why Hezbollah, Iran and those that orbit in the same circles should not expect the world to praise or commemorate Imad Mughniyeh since his life and efforts – and even his death – reflect the interests of a hostile party, namely Iran and its supporters. My approach is not one that stems from Sunni-Shia sectarianism to which I oppose strongly; rather it emerges from a practical description of reality.

What I am referring to is the audacious manipulation of Khomeini’s Iran of all Shia followers around the world with the intention of attaching them to pure Iranian interest under holy slogans about al Hussein’s blood and the symbolism of Karbala. Exalted slogans that evoke religious sentiments become provocative and rebellious and ultimately only serve the interests of the Iranian political agenda, and moreover do nothing to quell the rebellious groups that are far from the Iranian territories.

Division among the Arabs has reached unprecedented depths; compliments and rehashed words about the interests, dreams and objectives of the Arab nation are useless, as are the tours and statements issued by Amr Moussa [Secretary-General of the League of Arab States].

So, which Arabs are we referring to? Are they the Arabs of Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, or the Arabs of Egypt and Saudi Arabia? Is it the procession of Arab martyrs, bomb devices, the media of martyrdom and the war on America and “death to the United States”? Or is it about the Arabs for globalization, education and sustainable development? Are we referring to the Arabs of Dubai or those of the southern neighborhood [Lebanon]?

We are all suffering a chronic state of division and differences. Regardless of our position towards his personality or history, when Walid Jumblatt speaks about the impossibility of coexisting with the culture of Hezbollah, he touches upon an open wound – notwithstanding the anger that it evokes among Nasrallah’s supporters and the Syrian ‘orphans’ in Lebanon.

All it takes is tuning into Al-Manar TV, which is affiliated to Hezbollah, to gauge your feelings and reactions. You will find yourself bombarded by scenes of martyrs, death, explosions and songs of praise for suicide bombers and other media tools that are only dedicated to one purpose: to glorify the dead and persuade the living to seek the same end so that they may share the same fate as the archetypal martyr: al Hussein. And it goes on and on…

But if you happen to change the channel to any other, even if it were the Disney Channel you would suddenly feel as if you had just exited a stifling steam room to an open space with fresh air and scenes of life; a place where death does not reign.

The culture of Hezbollah that Walid Jumblatt refers to is a death culture – even if some turbaned members of the party try to convey otherwise. Only a few days ago, Hezbollah affiliates appeared on Al-Manar saying that the party’s martyrs are the ones responsible for spreading life since the afterlife is eternal!

Notwithstanding their words, the truth is quite different. Based on this transcendental culture that claims to be founded upon divine vindication and heavenly purity; this culture that governs Hezbollah is an exception on every level and is quite different from the rest of the misguided groups that are far removed from the light of faith and religion.

Among these exceptional characteristics is the lack of any real dependence on the state and nation since Hezbollah seeks a deeper aim; that is, Islamic unity under the symbol of the Supreme Guide, bless his holy secret. The party believes that borders are nothing but mud barriers and that we are all just martyrdom projects that will only exist until Judgment Day and the advent of the Awaited Mahdi [the Savior among Shia Muslims].

Indeed, this is the mobilizing culture that drives vital youth to become reduced to nothing but guns and bombs that heed the direction of Sayyed Nasrallah or follow the orders of Hajj Radwan. And this is exactly what happens to their Sunni counterparts who have been recruited as the soldiers of Al-Qaeda and other Islamic movements that adopt the Salafist Jihadist approaches – they are the sons of heavens not of this world.

A friend of Imad Mughniyeh’s mother told Asharq Al-Awsat (18 February 2008) that even thought they had succeeded in killing Imad, hundreds who adopt the same approach would emerge. And although she may have exaggerated the figure, her prediction rings true. The ceaseless spawning of similar candidates is a defect and shortcoming and certainly not a reason to praise and rejoice. How could we, or even Hezbollah and their affiliates, be proud and praise this abundance of suicide bombers and their mentors?!

The defect, originally, is a defect in culture and mindset. Even if Hezbollah were to liberate the Shebaa farms and free the prisoners held in Israeli prisons, it would still not mean that it would shift into becoming a civil party with a civil ideology and a civil vision. The party will not stop generating individuals who are obsessed with death and martyrdom since its very structure is built upon ‘resistance’, as Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told the ‘understanding’ General Michel Aoun in their second meeting. And yet, the very thing that makes Nasrallah proud of the nature and essence of his party is precisely what concerns and alarms us about it.

But this time Hezbollah’s leader and the Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Mohammad Ali Jaafari have raised the ceiling of their demands and the party’s arms and ideology have now become entangled with Israel. As such, the aim behind Hezbollah’s armament, and therefore its culture and exceptional nature, is to annihilate Israel!

This is why after the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh; Nasrallah came out to say that his blood would wipe out Israel. A few days later General Jaafari offered his condolences and support to Mughniyeh’s supporters and said that Hezbollah would eliminate the Israeli virus “soon” according to Asharq Al-Awsat as reported by the Iranian Fars News Agency (FNA).

Thus, Hezbollah’s arms and culture will always exist until Israel no longer exists, which is an impossible objective – just as Hezbollah’s stipulations are in the Lebanese arena. It is a laborious task not just for the party but for the entire Lebanese state, let alone Syria, which is a major state and which could not succeed in eliminating Israel.

“Imad Mughniyeh’s blood means the annihilation of Israel…soon!”

It is true what the great Arab poet Abul Alaa Al-Maari said:

These words are fully loaded with meaning

They mean that we have no brains!

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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