The Hezbollah Revolution (Part 1)

18 09 2007

1154380260.jpgHezbollah – the militant, political and social group in Lebanon – is todays most influencial and formidable force in the middle-eastern arena. It was established by a handfull of fanaticly religious scholars and a few dozen break-aways from the rival but Shi’a Amal group.

The main reason for militants to break from Amal and into Hezbollah was simple. During time of occupation, secular-pan-arabist-nationalist groups had not made any significant achievements in their struggle against Israeli aggression. Rather, there were scores of embaressments – such as the shipping of the Fatah group from Lebanon to Tunisia and Algeria after being beseiged by the IDF for 88 days.

Islamism had been seen as the new way forward. Although, the way early groups approached this new method of engagement was very wrong. Very wrong and back-ward indeed. Hezbollah very much included.

Notoriously feared for its secrecy and mystery – as well as fanaticsm in every extreme – Hezbollah started early life as an unpopular and unwanted gangof dissilussioned youth. One of the Hezbollah founders – Subhi al-Tufayli – and the first Secretery-General, had been at the realm of backwardness and extremism. Diluting the young and fresh-minded member of Hezbollah into hardcore extremist fanatics whom almost whole-heartedly believed in terrorist tactics and objectives as holy and blessed by god.

Sheikh Subhi was known for his formidable speeches and campaigns. His berzerk ideology goes something like this:

  • If you shave your beard with a razor – you’re an infidel
  • It is Halal (not forbidden) to kill an Amal (a militia) member or activist (even though Amal was Lebanese, Shi’a and resisting the Israelis – the same as Hezbollah)
  • A shi’a theocratic state is to be set up in Lebanon
  • One must always wear praying beads around their necks
  • Long hair and beards are a sign of being religious

and the list goes on beyond this by so many times.

This ideology led to something of a cult in itself. Soon enough, Hezbollah had flared a fire-fight between itself and it’s Amal rivals. The blame was admittedly on Hezbollah. They had been caught distributing leaflets calling for the beheading of Amal members. Amal released a statement the same day claiming that in it’s territory – the south beirut suburbs and south Lebanon – Hezbollah is allowed to hold offices and even a small militia, under the condition that Hezbollah members do not provoke or threaten Amal or its members. The second condition had been to never try and infringe Amals authority and security aparatus in the territories.

Hezbollah did not comply but did the opposite. Sheikh Subhi stood up on a stage in the Beka’a Valley of Eastern Lebanon and proclaimed that in the morning he will pray in Ba’albeck, pray the afternoon in Tyre (Soor), and pray in Bint Jbeil in the evening. This speech was followed by a kidnap of 22 Amal militants by Hezbollah before being executed.

What followed was a year-long, Amal-Hezbollah, Shi’a-Shi’a civil war between the two groups. The consequences were catastrophic. The normally impoverished Shi’a people of Lebanon had had infrastructure destroyed, jobs lost, homelessnes, and further poverty. This coupled by a full-out civil war in Lebanon between all the countries sects, Israel, Syria and the partitioned Lebanese Army.

What had happened next astonished the Lebanese and later on, historians from all around the world. Hezbollah held an internal election and elected their secretary-general out in favour for another man – Sayyid Abbas Al-Musawi. Hezbollah had managed to wake up and learn from the materialistic catastrophy it had ignited and fuelled. More significantly was the symbolism of this flare-up. Hezbollah members realised that they had originally broke from Amal to create a better organisation. A deciplined and non-corrupt organisation. One that rejected civil war and shedding Lebanese blood.

What exactly had transformed Hezbollahs direction and mind as whole remains a mystery. Although, from much speculation and analysis, one could say that since Hezbollah was from the Shi’a community, it reflected what hardships it’s fellow Shi’a citizens had felt. The Amal-Hezbollah mini-war was ubsurd in every sense of the word. Thousands had been killed in a pointless confrontation that resulted in family feuds and vendettas as well as brother against brother battles (this is not a metaphor – there was at least one famous case of two brothers realising they had fought against each other in the same battle).

Some may ask, why did Hezbollah change but Amal did not – if the above argument is true. There are many possible answers. It may be that Amal was seen as a rightful defender and Hezbollah as an aggressor. Or it may be that since Amal was a secular nationalist movement, it did not necesserily bind with the Shi’a street in a spiritual or symbolic way.

Never the less, back to the Hezbollah argument. The new secretary general, Abbas Al-Musawi, had returned from Iraq after finishing his studies and incidently being kicked out by the anti-Shi’a Saddam regime. He was an extremely religious man who was described as “non-materialistic” and “observant”. This short assesment will shed some light on his character and how this affected Hezbollah and its supportes as a whole.

Sayyid Abbas Al-Musawi had been inspired by the very fact that God is invisible. His argument is that, since God does not want us to follow materialistic and physical objects in life, it would be contradictive if God himself was a tangible being. Therefore, Sayyid Al-Musawi had been very admired by God himself to a larger degree than religion – if that makes sense to anyone. He rejected all materialistic objectsin his life-time. At the same time – since he was a commando in the Amal militia before breaking out with it – he thought tacticly and realisticly. His faith and spiritual emotion did not blind him of what is realistic and what isn’t. He was famous for claiming that while he and his brothers in arms pray daily for victory against his enemies, succesful operations and fighters who are efficient – he did not turn a blind eye to the ground basics of what realisticly needed to happen. Therefore, while he and others pray – the organisation needed to arm, finance and train itself and its members. Try t achieve the maximum of preperadness to confront any danger. Draw up succesful and rehearsed tactics and strategies as well as use the most enhanced technology the organisations’ pockets could buy. Only then do you pray for what you have and hope it is used to best effect.

This had been somewhat a groundbreaking tactic by an Islamist group and way forward. Other Islamist groups very much believed – and clinged on – the theory of fate. That whatever is to happen will happen regardless of what one might try to do to change that. This is the equivilent of saying if in an attack a hand grenade kills 10 soldiers – then those ten soldiers’ fate were to die that day, and the rest to live. Even if a truck-load of bombs were rammed into them, only ten would die because that’s those 10 peoples’ fate. This obviously seemed as a half-truth. It is a fact that it was those ten soldiers’ fate to die that day simply because they had died that day! But to continue and say that even if a truck full of bombs is detonated in the middle of the group of soldiers, the exact same ten would die is ubsurd. MAYBE by freak chance not one soldier dies. Maybe all die. Who knows. One thing is for sure, a hand-grenade does not kill more people than a truck rigged with explosives. That’s one thing Iraq taught me.

Part 2 will be posted soon; It will include

How Hezbollah is today socially, politically and militarily.

The influence Hezbollah commands and what it’s new ultimate goals are.

Its new belief system – from fanatism to mainstream.

All in Part 2

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