Hezbollah’s sectarian politics

Friday 01/05/2015

Beirut - It might be a somewhat pointless and tedious exercise to recall previous speeches by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to highlight the position that his party has come to occupy amid the political and military developments occurring in the region.
But the party’s open declaration of hostility towards the Arab posi­tions on events in Yemen, made during the most recent address by Nasrallah, sums up Hezbollah’s political trajectory since the early 1980s.
After Nasrallah’s statements about the Saudi-led alliance in Yemen, the questions are: How much of Hezbollah’s Arab and Lebanese identity remains intact as the party definitively demon­strated its complete bias on the side of the Iran camp? And what will be the repercussions of this latest stance on Lebanon’s internal politics and its relations with Arab and especially Gulf countries?
Nasrallah must have realised that his allies are holding back. This applies to former Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri as well as Christian MP Michel Aoun; they would rather stay out of Nasral­lah’s fierce anti-Saudi Arabia campaign.
This realisation forced Nasral­lah to say in his address, devoted to expressing “solidarity with Yemen”, that he “doesn’t blame anyone or ask anyone to adopt Hezbollah’s policy, since he under­stands their positions”.
The party’s declarations are in line with its ongoing political pro­ject and behaviour, which reflect badly on the balance that Lebanon has sought.
It is reminder of the many pre­vious warnings about Hezbollah’s two-pronged intent. The party thinks it is able to alter Lebanon’s political makeup by imposing its logic of defeating all other Leba­nese and relying on its regional allies. The latter are deluded into believing they can move ahead with their project which consists in dominating the entire country.
And, if this can’t happen, Hez­bollah will be as determined to be­have as a de facto state, relying on its own capacities. Nasrallah has accordingly put Lebanon before two options. Either there is con­sensus agreement on its policies, or pursue its own course, whatever the consequences.
The new and unprecedented development, however, is Hezbol­lah’s public expression of these policies, which will eliminate any chance of a political settlement, especially with the parties calling for some type of federal, confed­eral or dramatically de-centralised system.
Hezbollah has monopolised decisions of war and peace with Israel. It has become militarily involved in the war in Syria, has given priority to the war in Yemen and has launched a vicious cam­paign against Saudi Arabia. These facts can’t be hidden; they confirm once again that there can be no ac­ceptable political deal in Lebanon with the party exercising this level of dominance.
As for the Arab political scene, since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran there have been changes to the balance of power and ma­nipulations of the socio-political makeup of several countries. Reforming the situation requires many years, as changes will affect these societies as they struggle to regain their political balance.