Hezbollah Didn’t Win

Amir Taheri’s opinion piece states that Hezbollah Didn’t Win. In it he outlines the case for why they didn’t win and how some people are under the misguided impression that they did. Let’s take a look at one selection:

“…Let us start with Lebanon.

Immediately after the U.N.-ordained ceasefire started, Hezbollah organized a series of firework shows, accompanied by the distribution of fruits and sweets, to celebrate its victory. Most Lebanese, however, finding the exercise indecent, stayed away. The largest “victory march” in south Beirut, Hezbollah’s stronghold, attracted just a few hundred people.

Initially Hezbollah had hesitated between declaring victory and going into mourning for its “martyrs.” The latter course would have been more in harmony with Shiite traditions centered on the cult of Imam Hussain’s martyrdom in 680 A.D. Some members of Hezbollah wished to play the martyrdom card so that they could accuse Israel, and through it the U.S., of war crimes. They knew that it was easier for Shiites, brought up in a culture of eternal victimhood, to cry over an imagined calamity than laugh in the joy of a claimed victory.

Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah’s shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because “a great strategic victory” had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

Mr. Nasrallah followed his claim of victory with what is known as the “Green Flood”(Al-sayl al-akhdhar). This refers to the massive amounts of crisp U.S. dollar notes that Hezbollah is distributing among Shiites in Beirut and the south. The dollars from Iran are ferried to Beirut via Syria and distributed through networks of militants. Anyone who can prove that his home was damaged in the war receives $12,000, a tidy sum in wartorn Lebanon.

The Green Flood has been unleashed to silence criticism of Mr. Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran. But the trick does not seem to be working. “If Hezbollah won a victory, it was a Pyrrhic one,” says Walid Abi-Mershed, a leading Lebanese columnist. “They made Lebanon pay too high a price–for which they must be held accountable.”

Hezbollah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hezbollah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that Hezbollah represented the whole of the Shiite community. “I don’t believe Hezbollah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting the] war,” Mr. al-Amin said. “The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name.”

There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hezbollah as “one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time.” He accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon’s existence in the service of Iran’s regional ambitions.

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  1. Jack's Shack August 28, 2006 at 2:58 am

    If they choose to let Hezbollah stay and they are not willing to be responsible for rooting out a terrorist organization then they will pay the price.

    Sad but true.t

  2. Minor Fast Days August 27, 2006 at 11:42 pm

    Nice to hear the reality of Israeli-Hezbollah war. Unfortunately, CNN and most media outlets frame Israel’s military operation as a failure and many fall for it. Lebanon has paid a heavy price for letting a terrorist organization, a cancer, grow in it’s country unchecked. If they choose to let Hezbollah stay and they are not willing to be responsible for rooting out a terrorist organization then they will pay the price. They make Israel have to defend against unprovoked missile attacks and then cry foul when Israel does it’s dirty work.

    Jim, all of a sudden after this incident you are anti-Israel?…have you not paid attention for last twenty years…why change your position now…Israel has done nothing different but defend itself against these kinds of attacks.

    You are always anti-Israel, don’t fool yourself.

  3. Jack's Shack August 27, 2006 at 6:27 pm


    I have heard the same thing.


    You clearly are not real familiar with the history (both past and present) of the area and the realities that exist there.

    Beirut was not destroyed, not even close. The war was not started solely because soldiers were kidnapped.

    The terrorists crossed the border and launched an attack. Any time a sovreign nation is attacked it has a moral obligation to its citizenry to defend itself.

    Furthermore it is documented and well known that Hezbollah is the proxy arm of Iran. The same country whose leadership has called and is still calling for the destruction of Israel.

    Above and beyond that your comment about interest lead wars is funny. Every war is fought because it is in the interest of the combatants.

  4. Jim Palacio August 27, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    ok look the war started cause they kidnapped a guy….
    U dont attack other countries for that reason.
    No, this attack was perpetrated for the destruction of the world city Beiruit! I was an avid supporter of Isreal until this happened u are no different than the US and its interest-lead wars!

  5. Amishav August 27, 2006 at 4:44 pm

    I’ve recently heard on NPR of all places that many lebanese christians are going to leave because they want nothing to do with the new shiite theocracy in the making.

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