Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The secret of Hizbullah's success

Hizbullah's unbudging resistance to Israel – and the results that has achieved – explains its clout in the Arab world

Lebanon celebrated with lavish festivities the return of the last prisoners held in Israeli jails, and clamoured to be the only Arab country to have done so, and to have done so by imposing its demand on a reluctant Israel. Hizbullah fulfilled yet another pledge, and successfully ended another chapter in its longstanding battle with Israel.

Lebanese dignitaries from across the political and religious spectrum, Muslims and Christians alike, were lined up to welcome the freed prisoners, in a display of unity not seen since the earlier prisoner exchange of 2004. While many had previously lamented the cost of war and resistance, they now seemed eager to share in the glory of welcoming the last Lebanese prisoners of war.

Hizbullah's success can be added to its already long list of achievements, and reminds Arab and Muslim audiences worldwide of the effectiveness of a steadfast resistance. In an Arab world used to humiliations and defeats, the list of achievements claimed by Hizbullah in the past decade is indeed noteworthy.

The resistance movement was able to liberate most of Lebanon's territory from a two decade-long Israeli occupation, conducted a successful prisoner exchange in 2004, broke the invulnerability myth of the Israeli Defence Forces in the 2006 war, and managed to return all Lebanese prisoners held in Israel this past week. Hizbullah's charismatic leader has argued that his movement has never capitulated to Israeli demands, and thus never been defeated in its 25-year history – "the era of [Arab] defeats is over".

This is in stark contrast to what "Arab moderates" could show for in the same decade they spent negotiating with the Israeli state. The much-publicised and now barren "peace process" keeps edging "forward" through road maps, countless summits, visits, and vague "visions" of a Palestinian state that fails to materialise, and which remains as elusiv

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