Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hezbollah’s Hypocritical Resistance

N Y Times

"SINCE the mid-1980s, the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas have tirelessly pursued armed resistance against Israel in the name of liberating Palestine — often with enormous Arab popular support.

But when a so-called resistance movement fails to support a bottom-up popular revolt against a tyrant, its leaders expose themselves as hypocrites.

That is precisely what is happening to Hezbollah. Faced with the Syrian people’s uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and a democratic tsunami sweeping the Middle East, Hezbollah’s alignment with Mr. Assad is destroying its reputation across the Arab world.

The Syrian masses who once worshiped the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah today curse him when they parade in public squares. The posters of Mr. Assad and Mr. Nasrallah that once adorned car windows and walls throughout Syria are now regularly torched.

Until recently, Mr. Nasrallah, a Shiite, was a pan-Arab icon. His standing as Hezbollah’s chairman and commander of the 2006 war against Israel elevated him to new heights of popularity among Shiites and Sunnis alike, reminiscent of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s political stardom following the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956.....His fans were in the millions. The Arab multitude from Casablanca to Mecca saw him as a genuine hero who talked the talk and fought the good fight.

But when such a wildly popular resistance movement abandons the ideal, much less the practice, of liberation in support of tyranny, it loses credibility with the public....

Syrians, in Mr. Nasrallah’s eyes, apparently, do not deserve democracy because that would mean the downfall of Hezbollah’s patron in Damascus, not to mention the destruction of the “axis of resistance” that reaches from southern Beirut to Syria and Iran.

Hezbollah’s fellow “resistance” movement, Hamas, has been more politically savvy. It has adapted to the new political landscape, navigating the uncharted territory of the Syrian uprising by impressing onlookers by what it didn’t do and say rather than what it did or said.....

Meanwhile, resisting the Syrian people’s resistance has steadily darkened Hezbollah’s prospects as a popular movement throughout the region.

In a speech last week, Mr. Nasrallah vowed to continue supporting the Syrian regime while commemorating the martyrdom of the venerated Shiite Imam Hussein ibn Ali during the battle of Karbala in the year 680.

But Mr. Nasrallah forgets that before his death Imam Hussein lamented that living under the tyranny of the Damascus-based Umayyad Caliphate was a great sorrowa message that seems to have been lost on Hezbollah today.

Blind to his present political predicament, Mr. Nasrallah has instead declared that Hezbollah will never allow the ouster of Mr. Assad.

Luckily for the Syrian people, that choice is not Mr. Nasrallah’s. "

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