Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hizballah's political maneuverings

Fascinating analysis from Electronic Intifada of Hizballah's perspective on the current conflict in Gaza: what the organization thinks about this, whether it might intervene, under what conditions, how it has coordinated with Iran to put pressure on Egypt, etc.

It is quite long, but it's worth a read, especially for the politicking:

While many have dismissed Nasrallah's verbal barrage on the Mubarak regime as little more than a diversionary or compensatory tactic designed to divert attention from or compensate for Hizballah's inaction, such a view fails to appreciate the unprecedented nature of this attack, as well as the wider strategy underpinning it. Not since the 1980s has Hizballah adopted such an inflammatory discourse against an Arab regime, or even singled out any one for attack. Not even during the July War, when Arab complicity with Israel was at its peak, did Nasrallah call on the Arab masses to exert pressure on their governments, nor did Hizballah's relations with those regimes take a turn for the worse thereafter. At the time, Hizballah clearly did not want to burn its bridges with Arab regimes or provide them with ammunition to invoke the Shiite scarecrow and stoke Sunni-Shiite tensions. In Gaza though, Hizballah has not found any such room for diplomacy and self-restraint. In his 7 January speech, Nasrallah warned that although Hizballah did not make enemies of those who had betrayed it during the July War, "we will make those who collaborate against Gaza and its people our enemies."

Hizballah's policy shift and its coordination with Iran on this matter signal a joint Iranian-Hizballah strategy of exposing the Mubarak regime's collusion with Israel and pressuring it to lift its siege of Gaza. These goals also fulfill the grander objective of shaking the foundations of the Egyptian-Israeli alliance which, in turn, would serve to weaken Israel's regional position. A strategy of this kind is deemed necessary given Egypt's "public embrace" of Israel, as one Israeli journalist put it (Haaretz, 9 January).


While Nasrallah's strategy has failed to persuade Mubarak to open the crossing, it did serve to greatly embarrass his domestic and regional standing and reduce his regime's role to a purely defensive one, preoccupied with formulating lamentable counter-arguments to the Hizballah chief's accusations, and rallying its moderate allies to its defense.

I argued, in a recent paper, that both Hamas and Hizballah are pseudo-states, political actors with comparable clout to that of the governments of the countries where they are located. (A proper explanation of this reasoning will have to wait for another time.) To me, Hizballah's alliance with Iran and its pressuring of Egypt signal that the organization is a political actor on par with regional governments. In the paper, I had discussed domestic aspects of pseudo-statehood: supporting a population (service delivery) filling a power vacuum, control of the use of force, etc. It's interesting to see a similar phenomenon occurring in an international context as well.

You'll notice that no one seems to care what Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has to say about Gaza.

No comments:

Post a Comment