Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ICG: "Hizbollah and the Lebanese Crisis"

[Excerpts from embargoed report]
"... At war’s end, Hizbollah’s opponents within and outside Lebanon were hoping to establish an alternative Shiite movement. This rapidly proved an illusion. At almost every social level, Shiite support for Hizbollah has solidified -- a result of both the movement’s longstanding efforts to consolidate its hold over the community and a highly polarised post-war context..."
"... Hizbollahs’ popularity and staying power cannot be properly understood without bearing in mind this collective Shiite experience of victimisation at the hands of more powerful parties, coupled with the state’s utter and repeated failure to protect them..."
"...The war also altered the movement’s relationship with Shiite intellectuals. According to Hassan Abbas Nasrallah, a historian, "prior to the war, Shiite intellectuals were very divided, and few backed Hizbollah. The war changed all that"
"...The pro-Saudi Salafi preachers who backed Hizbollah during the latter part of the war also quickly broke with the movement as a result of its campaign to oust the government and control Beirut’s centre..."
"...None of these represents the Sunni community’s centre of gravity, and most are paying the price of the current sectarian divisions; they are a minority and a shrinking one at that, a phenomenon that mirrors the situation among the Druze..."
"...Practically, this means that Hizbollah’s most important non-Shiite ally – and the key to its efforts to avoid a sectarian label – is Michel Aoun."
"...Although inherently fragile given clear ideological differences, the alliance has stood firm in the face of serious strains and challenges and even though Aoun has paid a steep political price..."
"...As an Aounist deputy remarked, "it is not really in Hizbollah’s interest to bring Aoun to power, because the general genuinely wishes to pursue a state-building and militia-disarming agenda. In a way, Hizbollah is stuck: it doesn’t really want Aoun but, since the July war, it owes him a huge moral debt..."
"...Hizbollah is contemplating a deal whereby Aoun would renounce the presidency in exchange for a major say in choosing the candidate, important ministerial posts in the future government and an electoral law more favourable to Christians..."
"Hizbollah is adapting in several ways. The shift from resistance to deterrence"
"Unlike Amal, Hizbollah does not view politics as an end in itself and has not made Shiite representation its priority. For an expert on the movement, "Hizbollah has only two priorities: the Palestinian question and resistance against U.S. regional projects. All other objectives, including Shiite empowerment, are ancillary..."

No comments: