Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Pox on Both Their Heads

Although Hizbullah's popularity in lands ourside of Lebanon is currently shining, capturing the imaginations of those who see them as the little David who stood up to the heavy handed Goliath of Israel, in southern Lebanon people are facing the reality of war's aftermath: homes that have been damaged beyond use, fields littered with unexploded munitions, and winter coming on.

And, as to be expected, there is a lot of unrest. "Hizbullah has given me nothing but grief," said one elderly man. "I've lost everything I own and my dignity because of this war." Another man echoed his feeling, saying: "May God rid us of the Jews and the enemies of the Jews.""Agriculture is our livelihood and we can't even work the fields any more because we risk being blown up," complained Abu Qasim, 37, a resident of Zawtar al-Gharbiyeh, where 70 percent of the 300 homes were destroyed or damaged. (source)

And there is cynicism about the aid coming in, that it will be used to further various politicians and political parties, either by making them the purveyors of goods, or by their profiteering on it, even as Hizbullah works on its public image by generous social aid ( Daily Star is carrying a story about this).

And political groups are beginning to voice their opinions. The March 14th Forces, an alliance of anti-Syrian political leaders has come out and criticized the inability of Hizbullah as a military force to protect Lebanon from Israel, which is a major part of Hizbullah's official reason for being. In their statement, the group said, "The first condition for any country to be able to perform its duties is to have complete and exclusive authority over national security and be the sole defender of its sovereignty," a clear slap at Hizbullah's militia status outside of the government. (source). The Maronite Bishops Council has released a statement highly critical of Hizbullah's role in things: "There are 18 sects in Lebanon with equal rights and duties," the statement said. "But in reality, we see that some groups are monopolizing the decision-making process and leading the country to unwanted situations." They criticize the president for his weakness, yet reiterate the need for national government and consensus. (source)

Sayeed Ali al-Amin, a Shiite moderate and mufti of the Tyre and Jabal 'Amel district, said this about Hizbullah and the people of South Lebanon:

"I don't think Hizbullah asked the Shi'ite community about the war. Perhaps the great emigration from the south is the best proof that the people of the south were against the war. The Shi'ite community authorized no one to declare war in its name or to drag it into a war that was far from its wishes and from the wishes of the other ethnic communities in Lebanon. What happened in the south does not represent the will of the Shi'ite community, and is not its responsibility, but was caused by the vacuum that the Lebanese state left for years in this region... What happened is the natural result of a state relinquishing its duty to defend a region and its citizens." (source)

Onis al-Haj in Al-Akhbar wrote "One month after the Israeli war, the onus is now on Hizbullah. The party has one of two options: either it turns its achievement into a source of threat and intimidation for the rest of Lebanese society, or utilises it to rebuild national unity." If they do not, then more may say, "a pox on both your (Hezbollah's and Israel's) heads." And that way, fraught with the possibility of civil war and foreign intervention, might be trickier yet.


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