A Lebanese Perspective

The Lebanese Political Journal offers a post about where things stand now.

“No maybe political statements have been made from the 14 March camp, but Druze leader and regular Lebanese rhetorical firestarter Walid Jumblatt announced that he will hold a press conference on Thursday entitled, “We will not surrender to Assad and Nasrallah’s conditions.”

The tone in Lebanon has already changed. According to friends in Beirut, not even the Shia were happy with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s post-ceasefire speech.

The Shia community is the most vulnerable right now. Hezbollah is using fierce rhetoric, most likely, to intimidate other Lebanese politicians and sects from criticizing them and to delay any talk of their disarmament. This rhetorical move is sending shivers down the spines of most Shia because now is precisely the time to talk about Hezbollah’s weapons. We were talking about them before in an effort to prevent something happening like what just occurred. Now, the urgency to talk is even greater.

Hezbollah’s rhetoric is frightening many Shia because they are without homes, food, electricity, medication, money, roads, utilities, and other necessities. They could take the fight against Israel. They can’t take much more. And they definitely can’t take arms against the people who most recently supported them when they were in need; the very people who currently in a much better state than those who lost their homes.

Many Shia claim that if Hezbollah doesn’t provide them with support very soon, they will no longer be able to support the organization. Many Shia were willing to support Hezbollah through thick and thin because Hezbollah took care of them. In Dahieh Jounoubieh (the southern suburbs of Beirut which is primiarly Shia and where Hezbollah’s headquarters are located), Hezbollah was referred to as chebab (guys) who took care of all sorts of mundane problems.

Now that they have truly suffered for Hezbollah, the Shia want something in return. Their houses are gone. Their furniture is gone. Their loved ones are gone. And they want to know if Hezbollah will help offset their losses. In his speech, Nasrallah claimed he would. But most likely that support will be too little, too late.”

We shall have to see what this all means.

Updated to include:

The war Hezbollah couldn’t lose – and might

(Thanks Snoopy)

So how could Hezbollah lose?

They still might. And not only because its gunners have yet to make good on Nasrallah’s probably ill-advised (and reminiscent of Israeli blunders) vow to send missiles crashing into Tel Aviv.

The answer lies in the nature of the cease-fire now under debate at the United Nations and across the Arab world. The answer lies, no less, in the one phenomenon that Israelis planners could not have foreseen, and which they are still at a loss to explain:

The world’s silence.

For all the name-calling and hand-wringing – much of it perfectly valid, others drearily, predictably one-sided – Israel has been for a solid month operating under no real international pressure.

The reason this time may have little to do with Israel, and everything to do with Iran.

The world is scared of Hezbollah. Because the whole world is scared of Iran. Especially large swaths of the Arab world.

If, for the first time, Hezbollah is forced by international pressure to pull back its fighters in favor of the Lebanese army and a multi-national force, even at the cost of a large prisoner exchange.

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