What's in it for Hezbollah?
By FRANKLIN LAMB
Editors' Note: This is the third and final installment in Franklin Lamb’s three-part series.
Part One: Historical Context and Current Posturing
Part Two: The Israeli Project Has Failed in Lebanon
Hezbollah accepts dialogue as a matter of principle and axiom. Historically, the Shia culture generally and Hezbollah in particular is comfortable with discussions and exchanging ideas with friends and foes ranging from issues of war and peace to social problems to religion and ways to improve peoples lives. It is prepared for dialogue over the question of Palestine, the bloodstream issue and central cause of Arabs and Muslims and increasingly people around the World.
However, Hezbollah has consistently rejected most US feelers because, as Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah has stated, "our acquiescence to America's demands would simply have meant abandoning our faith, our people and our history."
As far back as November 16, 2001, Hassan Nasrallah explained Hezbollah's past objections to US offers to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam:
"As for their demand that we sever our connection to the Arab-Israeli conflict, that would mean the total elimination of Hezbollah's head and heart, a complete disregard for the martyrs' blood and a betrayal of their families' tears, of our people and of their sacrifice. It would also mean giving up our religious and legal duty to come to the assistance of Palestine".
According to Hezbollah, the US has tried several times "to place us in a state of confrontation with what they called "Sunni fundamentalism".
They tried to provoke us along these lines, on the grounds that, in the future, Sunni fundamentalism will pose the gravest threat to Shiism". The Bush administration, according to Hezbollah, also tried to get Iran to attack the Taliban and provoke a Shia-Sunni confrontation. But Iran did not fall into the trap.
With respect to the bargaining chip of pulling back from the Palestinian cause, Hezbollah considers that it has, in the words of Nasrallah, "a moral, humanitarian, religious, patriotic, and national duty towards the Palestinians".
Hezbollah believes that peace will come to Palestine and the region not through a phony 'peace process' trying to buy off the Palestinian or Lebanese Resistance but when the occupation ends. It really is that simple. And until the Bush administration or its successor in Washington really understand this, negotiations will remain just talk.
One Hezbollah acquaintance stated: "We need to ensure at the beginning of negotiations that the occupation ends. Then peace can be made between states. An occupied people cannot make peace with its occupiers".......
What the Hezbollah leadership discusses in its Shura Council becomes public knowledge only when Hezbollah wants it to. But until today Hezbollah views US proposals with deep suspicion and as calculated to advance Israel's agenda in the region.
Hezbollah is no stranger to the Bush Administration carrot and stick pattern of wooing and then harshly threatening if overtures are spurned. Hezbollah respects the American people but views most of the recent American governments proposals "as nothing but a political bomb meant to destroy Hezbollah, since they cannot of course destroy us by dropping a nuclear bomb on us," as Hezbollah's Secretary General Nasrallah has said........
Many in Washington would favor dialogue with Hezbollah. It remains to be seen if 'bridge builders' can make that happen and if we are going to see some serious changes in US foreign policy starting with the Middle East."