by Tony Badran
The recent tension in
After its military assault in May 2008 against western
During the 1990s, the Lebanese political class robotically regurgitated Syrian-imposed slogans, and Hezbollah is reproducing the same phenomenon today with the “Resistance, people, army” mantra, thereby aborting any domestic debate about its armed status. As such, Nasrallah pointed to Michel Sleiman’s endorsement of the formulation, which the president offered on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV no less. The Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has also performed the required ritualistic profession of this mandatory article of faith.
The absence of any reference to the “state” in this formula, and its substitution with the category of “people” is not accidental. It is useful in this regard to recall a peculiar March 2007 encounter between Jumblatt, when he was still hostile to Hezbollah, with the correspondent of the Iranian Arabic-language Al-Alam TV in
The correspondent then asked Jumblatt, “Is the state more important than the people?” To which Jumblatt replied emphatically, “Yes!” Jumblatt wasn’t offering a gratuitous thought about political philosophy, nor was he mounting a defense on behalf of statism. Rather, he understood the underlying premise of the question, which directly echoed a central policy of the Islamic Revolution in
Dissociating the peoples from their governments in the Arab world was and remains a vital aim of the Iranian revolutionary regime. The Islamic Revolution posits a leadership role for
For instance, in the mid-1980s, as factional rivalries raged in
In keeping with this doctrine, Hezbollah distinguishes between the “Arab system” or “Arab regimes” on the one hand, and the “Arab peoples” or the “region’s peoples” on the other. The former are complacent capitulationists, while the latter embrace “resistance.” It is from this vantage point that Nasrallah, for example, sought to address the people and armed forces of
That is the essence of Hezbollah’s formula. Much like the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah operates in a parallel universe; it forms a parallel military and presides over a parallel society, which “coordinate” with the armed forces and interact with the state only in order to neutralize the state’s ability to challenge the party’s autonomous, parallel existence. All of which of course makes a mockery of those in the West advocating dialogue with Hezbollah to encourage its further “integration” into the “political mainstream.”
As party official Mahmoud Qomati explained in 2009, Hezbollah seeks to integrate the state into “the axis of the army, the people, and the Resistance.” This of course merely echoed a central theme in the thinking of Hezbollah, articulated by the party’s deputy secretary general, Naim Qassem, in a June 2007 article in An-Nahar revealingly titled “How Does the Rest of Society Integrate into the Resistance?”
In also exalting the virtues of the “Resistance, people, army” concept, Hezbollah parliamentarian Mohammad Raad declared, “We are a great people … in a state that is still in the formation process.” According to Hezbollah’s vision, it’s a process that prepares the foundations of the state in order to create a parallel structure that can better control the state’s actions – the IRGC model.
Whoever said Hezbollah gave up its long-term objective and its longtime slogan of Islamic revolution in
Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies
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