By Rami G. Khouri
"This has serious implications for the whole region, which I expect we will now witness in the form of sharper political polarization, already seen in Lebanon. This polarization will take several forms. The first is rising tension and greater competition between official governments and non-state actors in the Arab world who have stepped into the void of credibility and impact that many Arab state institutions have forfeited in recent decades. Other like-minded movements in the Arab world will seek to emulate Hizbullah's organizational and political prowess.
A parallel polarization that has crystallized in the past year, and has been a theme of some recent Nasrallah speeches, is that between countries and political forces within the region that wage a regional cold war for the political identity of the Middle East. Syria and Iran, along with groups like Hizbullah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and others, are actively challenging the more conservative, often pro-Western states like Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt. This contest will simmer for many years. This is closely linked to a wider contest focused around American-led pressure on Iran to stop its plans to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle.
The strength and assertiveness of the Islamist movements - whether through military confrontation like Hizbullah or through winning elections as in many other cases - is a sign that majorities of Arab citizens are not content to remain docile and dejected in the state of subjugation and defeat that has defined them for decades. Israel and the US have shown they are prepared to destroy an entire country to assert their interests if not also their dominance in this region. Most Arab countries watched all this on television, and sent relief supplies when Israel gave them permission to do so."