Sunday, June 15, 2008

Why Hezbollah's Victory may lead to peace in the Middle East

Interview with Franklin Lamb
by Mike Whitney

Global Research, June 14, 2008

".......Franklin Lamb:......Hezbollah's Sheik Naim Qassim stated to a US Delegation two days ago that the party and its allies expect to win 64 of the 128 seats in next years election. Others think the current opposition may win as many as 70 seats in the new Parliament. In either case Hezbollah and their allies will effectively be the next government of Lebanon.

Will the predicted Hezbollah electoral victory be the fourth Democratic election in the Middle East rejected by the Bush administrations new Middle East project? Will the Bush administration accept the fact that Hezbollah will likely have the Ministries of Defense, Exterior and Finance (the others don't matter much) and be true to its daily claims that it wants to help Lebanon have a democratic and stable government which the Hezbollah government will bring? Very doubtful.

Hezbollah will face many challenges but the Party will also have the opportunity to demonstrate what it is capable of delivering in terms of social services to Lebanon's increasingly desperate population. Hezbollah's much anticipated Economic Plan may reshape the Middle East and the populations of Egypt, Jordan, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may demand a local version of the same.........

Question: How will it affect relations with Israel and the US? Does Hezbollah now pose a credible deterrent to a future Israeli invasion?

Franklin Lamb: Yes. There has been a fundamental shift in this respect. Hezbollah actually achieved its deterrent capacity following the July 2006 War. Some say as early as 1996 or 2000 when it forced Israel out of most of Lebanon.

Several times in the past 20 months Israel has "probed" Lebanon and Hezbollah has signaled thru back channels that it was ready for a ferocious response if Israel again attacked Lebanon.

Most recently Hezbollah's deterrence capacity was exhibited when Israel cancelled its attack on May 11 which was green lighted in Washington to assist the Siniora government allies in West Beirut. Frankly put. Israel is no longer able to attack an Arab country, Lebanon, with impunity. A historic first. Rather, it knows that it faces massive retaliation when it next attacks Lebanon. Recently there was a Report that Tel Aviv would receive 600 missiles each day following an Israeli attack on Lebanon. US Congressional sources have challenged that figure and have estimated the number at 1000 Hezbollah missiles per day against Tel Aviv is war breaks out......

........Potentially the 'Hezbollah model' has application in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, if oppositions there can replicate the Hezbollah model of study, analysis, caution, patience and determined, disciplined execution. Hezbollah is not essentially a Shia phenomenon, it is a rapidly expanding resistance and justice movement and that it what makes it so lethal to colonialism and occupation enterprises such as Zionist Israel and hegemonistic America during the current period..........

Question: Even before the takeover, Hezbollah chairman, Hassan Nasrallah was the most popular Arab leader in the world. Is Nasrallah really the "terrorist-extremist" he is made out to be in the western press? What affect has Nasrallah had on Arabs living in the region?

Franklin Lamb: Hezbollah under the leadership of Hasan Nasrallah has given the Arabs of the region restored self-respect following 60 years of humiliation and 41 years of repeated and voracious occupation and aggression. Hezbollah's sometimes spectacular success has inspired many in the younger generation throughout Lebanon among all the sects as well as the Middle East and far beyond. One sees this in the faces of the old and young…….in the market places and play grounds in the universities and middle schools.,,in the course also of interviews. The Middle East is standing up and reclaiming it pre-Crusade unity, spirit, purpose and culture. Nasrallah is the new Salaadin, Nassar and regional hope.......

Question: How do you respond to people who believe that Hassan Nasrallah is a religious fanatic who wants to install a "Iran-type" theocratic regime in Lebanon?

Franklin Lamb: I would ask them to study the subject a little more closely and they would learn that Hezbollah, in the words of PLO founder and longtime representative of the PLO in Lebanon, Shafiq al-Hout, recently discussed with this observor, Hezbollah is probably the most secular of the Parties in Lebanon. What he meant is that Hezbollah and its leaders rely on reason, dialogue, and empirical analysis not on what we often think in the West as blind application of Sharia.

Hezbollah believes in one God as you know. Having said that they are very secular in the ways they tolerate and respect others beliefs and rights to differ on issues of politics, philosophy, sociology, and personal beliefs. I personally know many Shia and Hezbollah members who are very secular and keep their religious views to themselves........

Question: Are the prospects for peace in the region better or worse with a well-armed Hezbollah?

Franklin Lamb: Better in the sense that there is for the first time in modern history an Arab/Muslim deterrence to Zionist and Western colonialism. Worse in the sense that the US and Israel are rapidly losing influence and viability in the Middle East and may once againresort to war to stem the breach. "

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