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7.1 Hizballah: Facing the change|
As we have seen, several factors in Lebanon have inescapably changed its context compared to the civil war: formal and institutionalized Syrian ascendancy, law and order, governmental control, domestic peace, and in 1992 even parliamentary elections. Thus, when confronting those new circumstances with the ideological agenda of Hizballah, several problems and question marks will arise. In this final chapter, I shall therefore try to clarify those problems by studying the movement's perception of this new context, what kind of problems it foresees, in what way it is trying to overcome them and what Hizballah wants to achieve.
However, the questions concerning this chapter will be taken step by step, in a continous manner. That is, by elucidating certain specific factors - concerning the Syrian role, the Lebanese political system, the peace-process, the guerilla warfare, the socio-economic agendas and possible prospects - I will treat them respectively, discuss the problem and find out Hizballah's point of view. In the end, my aim is to connect all those factors and try to answer the basic questions presented in the introduction.
The implementation of the Ta'if agreement in 1991 implied, for Hizballah's part, an imposed cease-fire with Amal (mediated through the Syrians), a continued resistance in the south against Israel (sanctioned by the Syrians) and later on an entrance into the political system of Lebanon by joining the elections in 1992 (masterminded by the Syrians).
Firstly, with respect to the two former aspects, these undertakings can be seen in a context in which neither Syria nor Iran comfortably had observed the inter-Shia warfare. Iran, headed by President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, had a problem in controlling Hizballah at the end of the eighties due to the strong alliance of the Hizballah leadership with the radical flank within the Iranian regime, led by Ali Akbar Mohtashemi. Things changed however as Rafsanjani outmanoeuvred Mohtashemi and his supporters in the post-Khomeini era of Iran in 1989. A spin-off effect on Hizballah of this Iranian moderation could be seen in July 1991, as the movement's Shura Council chose the moderate and Rafsanjani-supported Sheikh Abbas al-Musawi to be secretary-general, replacing the ultra hardliner Sheikh Suhbi al-Tufayli. At the same time, Syria aspired to appear as a serious actor in the upcoming Middle East peace negotiations. Damascus thus managed to strike a deal with Teheran: in return for the releasing of all western hostages, Hizballah should be allowed to continue its resistance against the Israeli occupation of the south.
As I have shown in the previous chapter, a continued resistance in the south also served the interests of Syria, but, it must be noted, Damascus desired to restrict the resistance; its actions were not allowed to get out of hand as that might again lead into another direct conflict with Israel (like in 1982). Hence, in view of the activities of both Iran and Hizballah, the Syrian vice-president Abdul Halim Khaddam stated that Syria "greatly valued" its alliance with Iran, but in any resistance operation Syrian interests should be paid attention to; the regime would not permit "the creation of complications on the Lebanese arena".
Secondly, the decision to participate in the parliamentary elections of 1992 benefitted Hizballah with eight seats in parliament where it formed the 12-seat strong "The Bloc Loyal to the Resistance" together with two Sunni and two Christian M.P.s (constituting the largest single bloc in the parliament). Noteworthy is that while the main militia leaders who had acknowledged the Ta'if agreement was granted at least one seat in cabinet, Hizballah did not participate. Moreover, the decision to join the Lebanese political system caused dismay among the hard line sentiments within Hizballah's rank and file. Former secretary-general Sheikh al-Tufayli called upon his supporters to burn down the polls at the eve of the elections, as well as he was reported to consider a formal break with Hizballah, setting up his own movement, Ansar Allah (the Partisans of God). In addition, the senior radical Shiite cleric, Sayed Sadek Musawi, wrote in a letter to a Lebanese periodical:
Who is going to explain the deviation of the Hizballah command from the clearcut fatwa of Imam Khomeini to eradicate the atheist Maronite regime? Hizballah leaders have become a part of that regime. I declare to all Hizballah faithful that the Nasrallah and Kassem leadership has deviated from the true line of Ayatollah Khomeini and sold out the principles of Islamic revolution and the pure blood of our youths for its own purposes
The "Ta'if order" thus had its impact on Hizballah which was bent to tow the Syrian line. By entering the elections furthermore, they joined a political system they earlier on had condemned - together with the Ta'if Accord - as long as it was not "changed from the roots". How was this sudden participation possible? Had the movement given up its principles? Had Hizballah, as Sayed Sadek Musawi asserted, abandoned the "true line of Ayatollah Khomeini" and his Islamic vision which was declared in the "Open Letter" in 1985?
Not at all, Hajj Youssef Merhi said. The fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini was no fatwa: it expressed the Ayatollah's personal opinion about the Lebanese confessional system - and the movement still supports his particular point of view. For this reason, Hizballah also rejected the Ta'if Accord at a first stage, because it established the kind of political system which is built upon sectarianism. However, to Hizballah the Ta'if Accord is a temporary settlement, and the movement would not have agreed to it if it did not stipulate a certain timetable and schedule for the abolishment of confessionalism. According to Merhi, the undertaking of this abolishment is one of the movement's top priorities, all in order "to change it from the roots".
Moreover, besides the negative value of continued confessionalism, he also underlined that the Ta'if Accord brought along positive values, for example, the end of the civil war, the reforms that eliminated the domination by the Christian Maronites, an establishment of the necessity for ending the Israeli occupation of the south and the regime's later consent to let resistance operations continue. He maintained although that the participation of Hizballah in the Lebanese political system does not mean that the movement supports this system per se - rather, it opens up the opportunity to change it:
Our rejection of something does not mean we can not coexist with it, refusing it does not mean we can not live with it...This [Hariri] government does not answer our ambitions, but this does not mean that we can not deal with this government...That's why we have taken part in this system, hoping that we can change it from within, and this is for us nothing illegitimate.
With respect to the Islamic vision and the implementation of an Islamic republic in Lebanon, no member of Hizballah denies that this is still their dream and final goal. "We would not be real believers otherwise", Dr. Abdallah Mortada said. "Every Muslim has the idea of Islam, the most just system in the world. Therefore, our vision of saving humanity and society is by raising the Islamic state". On the other hand, as Youssef Merhi asserted that Iran still is the leader of Hizballah, he also underlined that the time is not ripe in Lebanon for such an enterprise. "There is a multitude in Lebanon we are careful to keep", he said, "and that's why we don't have this proposal [of an Islamic state] in our political program". The same view was further expounded by the Hizballah M.P. Muhammed Fneish, who emphasized a society's need for a strong state in consensus if to be sound and solid. "You can not insert a state in a society which is not totally fit for it", he argued. Therefore, due to regional circumstances and the Lebanese mix of "cultural varieties, multitude of confessions, different values, political currents and agendas", any effort to implement an Islamic regime at the present stage "would only cause chaos, instability and disturbances".
However, if the spokesmen of Hizballah agreed upon that an Islamic state in Lebanon at this stage is an impossibility, they also maintained their rights in expressing their views and visions freely. Muhammed Fneish stated:
We as a party have our ideology, our creed and our beliefs in Islam. We have the right and we have the freedom to work from within the general existing system. We seek to spread out Islam as an ideology, because Islam is an invitation and a message. However, we do not attempt to impose our creed and beliefs on the other parties...And there shall be a possibility for any party to seek to express their opinion and convince others about it.
Likewise, Muhammed Fneish whisked away the idea that Hizballah, due to rapid changes in demography in favor of the Muslim community, especially the Shia, demand a deconfessionalization of the political system in order to gain a majority vote and thereby raise an Islamic state. To him this is not realistic, because even within each confession there are no political homogeneity, there are too many different political trends. Rather, the deconfessionalization-demand is, on the one hand, founded upon the principle that no confessional label shall determine a persons individual status and qualifications, and on the other, that "mingling up the people" is an uniting factor in itself. "It will abolish the bigger unit of a confession and make individuals to deal with each other as individuals". He also remarked that the Lebanese have tried the confessional concept and this has for sure proved to create a weak state, even after the implementation of the reforms.
Anyway, the participation of Hizballah in the political system of Lebanon, can indeed be regarded as a controversial step, on the one hand because it raised protests within the movement, and on the other hand, because it ackowledged the Syrian influence over the Lebanese regime. Do these factors constitute any problems in the eyes of the movement?
Firstly, with respect to the protests from the radical flank of Hizballah, Muhammed Fneish pointed out that "there were no splits". Some protests were heard when a majority vote within the leadership established that Hizballah should participate in the elections, but after the decision, he said, no one has split up and "no wings" have been created.
Secondly, both Muhammed Fneish and Youssef Merhi seemed to accept the Syrian presence in Lebanon. It is "a fact at the present", Merhi noted, and argued that the coordination with the Syrians makes Lebanon strong against Israel. The Syrians support the resistance and "we believe that this is the most important issue between us [Hizballah] and Syria". Furthermore, Muhammed Fneish asserted that the Syrians had their "role in ending the civil war and forming the stability and security", and Syria is also a neighbouring country so co-operation is needed because "the whole world is now aiming at forming blocs between states". On the other hand, both Merhi and Fneish regretted that the Lebanese leadership is too weak, and that it too often heads for Damascus in order to reach a decision. "Our position is that we do not like that", Youssef Merhi said, "but this is the state of the country...We hope that the Lebanese should be able to solve their problems themselves, not with the help from anybody. We want complete independence and sovereignity".
As we have seen, the end of the eighties and the early nineties implied an important turning point for the Middle East, Lebanon and Hizballah. As Iran moderated under the leadership of Rafsanjani, Syria gained ascendancy over Lebanon and took part in the American initiative of peace negotiations with Israel in 1991. Without doubt, those factors together compose a delicate matter as neither Iran nor Hizballah ackowledge Israel's right to exist as a state and moreover oppose any negotiation with the "Zionist entity". In a response to the commenced negotiations in Madrid 1991, Hizballah declared that the "peace which we aspire to will come from the disappearance of Israel, the liberation of Palestine, and the departure of all Jews who have come from Ethiopia, the USSR, Europe, the US and elsewhere since the creation of the Hebrew state", and the secretary-general at the time, Abbas al-Musawi, furthermore promised that the movement would "intensify its military, political and popular action in order to undermine the peace-talks".
Juxtaposed, Syria joined the negotiations on the premise that Hizballah had the full right to fight the Israeli occupation of the Lebanese south until the Jewish state undertakes its unconditional withdrawal in accordance with UN resolution 425. Thus, as I noted earlier, this is the strong card for the Syrians. Damascus showed that it can strike a deal with Iran and coordinate a release of the western hostages; it extended its security apparatus over Lebanon and put an end to the civil war. The Syrian argument is that they could also undertake the security of the south, if Israel withdrew, provided that conditions were favorable to Syria.
Then, what is Hizballah's response to this? Does the movement accept that the Syrian regime together with the Lebanese is negotiationg with Israel? Will it agree to a trilateral peace settlement if it comes true?
Firstly, Dr. Abdallah Mortada declared that Hizballah will never, under no circumstances, recognize any legitimacy of the Israeli state. There is no reason, he argued, to recognize a state created on "ethnical cleansing" which is "nowadays turning out to be a total gathering point for Jews world wide". Israel is a "racist state", he declared, established "on the ruins of the Palestinian people who once lived there" but were driven away and are not allowed to return just because they are Palestinians. He emphasized moreover that the on-going talks between the Jewish state and various Arab countries have nothing to do with "peace" - any observer should be careful not being seduced by this particular word. To Hizballah, these settlements are obviously not in accord with any Arab interests but merely constitute a new strategy by Israel in imposing its order on the Arab world. Supported and encouraged by the US as an all-throughout-biased broker, Israel has been able to sort each Arab country out and puncture them while they have been weak:
The "pseudo-peace" [Israel] is bringing forward can be translated as making all people in the Arab world dependant upon the strength of of Israel's economy, through manufacturing, banking etc. The production will be in the hands of the Israelis and the consumers will be the Arab countries This means that Israel can impose their power economically rather than military...Israel wants peace, maybe, but on the terms of Israel - like the "peace" with the PLO. Is that peace? With 4 million Palestinian refugees that are not allowed return to the country where they belong?...That is peace with no equilibrium. Israel simply exploited the weakness of the PLO...
Secondly, he remarked that even if Hizballah reject any negotiation with Israel, the movement can not stop the Lebanese and Syrian authorities from negotiating. However, Hajj Youssef Merhi wanted "to make one thing clear: we will not accept any agreement signed by the Lebanese government with Israel". He explained that this is also the main reason why Hizballah have no interest in taking part in the current government - because it is "in negotiations with the enemy". On the other hand, as he put it, the present regional situation is a fact, and in "choosing between two evils", Hizballah prefer that Lebanon is negotiating in the accompanying track with Syria. Thereby, he maintained, Lebanon can escape the fate of those Arab countries who had submitted to imbalanced "peace-treaties" with the Jewish state:
We believe that an accompanying course, with Syria and Lebanon together in the peace negotiations, is in the interests of the Lebanese - even if Hizballah is against the issue of negotiations...And we say this because this accompanying track can restrict Israel in putting pressure on Lebanon...Israel doesn't want this. Israel wants to do to Lebanon exactly what it has done to all those other countries it has established peace treaties with, singeling them out, making them weak...
Accordingly, Hizballah puts trust in Syria, and Merhi labelled this relation as something "clear and natural" because Syria wants to "protect Lebanon as a part of its own land"; it knows that Lebanon is "weak", and the Syrians, he said, "would never sell Lebanon out".
On the other hand, at present and in the absence of any truce, Hizballah is fighting a ruthless war of attrition in the south against the Israeli occupation forces and their proxy, the SLA. As Hizballah spokesmen oftenly refer to this struggle as a "sacred duty", one also has to be aware of the fact that this fighting is sanctioned by the Syrians and to some extent also controlled by the Syrians. Asked wether the movement take any orders from Damascus when conducting its operations, one Hizballah "official" stated:
We don't need to be told. We know the Syrians are the key to even our future. We have no benefit in weakening its bargain position. This, of course, doesn't mean we have begun to support the peace process. It only means survival through pragmatism.
Another Hizballah "source" has reveiled that the movement has been taking "great pains" when calibrating what they "perceive as Syrian interests", although adding that "watching out for Syrian interests is one thing - submission to Syria is another". Noteworthy as well, even Iran supports the Syrian line of being catious when it comes to armed resistance, and the Iranian foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayti, has called upon Hizballah to avoid being "reckless".
The issue of a continued armed resistance against the Israeli occupation of south Lebanon must be regarded as Hizballah's absolute top priority. They make a clear distinction between those activities and the parlamentarian participation. One of Hizballah's leaders recently hinted that American pressure on the Lebanese and Syrian governments has created an offer where Hizballah would stop its war against the Israelis and in return be given more seats in the Lebanese parliament: "Our role would thus be limited to the ordinary political life", he said, "and we would no longer be carrying arms. But we are not playing that game".
As did Sayyed Musa during the Shia mobilization in the seventies, Hizballah secretary-general, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, in May 1996, on the tenth day of Muharam, the anniversary of the death of Hussein, recalled the symbolism of Hussein's fate at Kerbala, its present relevance and what lessons there are to be learnt from it:
We stand today and find ourselves in the battlefield of Kerbala, confronting the Yazid of the time: the USA and the usurping Israel, these arrogant front barracks in the heart of our Islamic world. As was the case with Imam Hussein, they put us before two choices: either surrender, recognize and be humiliated, or to fight, resist, strive and martyrize...We have learnt from Hussein that surrender and recognizing the tyrant is death and that life is in martyrdome, strife and resistance. What we want is life. We, the sons of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon, will never surrender or accept to be humiliated.
Without doubt, the issue of armed resistance against Israel is one of the movement's main attributes and surely keeps up the steam going for the vast Islamic revolution, initiated by Ayatollah Khomeini. To fight the oppressor and reject a life in humiliation are, as we have seen, two basic principes of Hizballah, stemming from its adopted activist doctrine of Shiism. Moreover, to fight for liberation is not merely the natural right of an occupied people to expel an occupier - it is as well the only way. Without resistance in the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of 1982 - Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah argues - Israel never would have withdrawn the way it did, at least without having imposed a certain order serving its own interests. Hence, Israel will never leave totally without "taking something in return", and the Jewish state is therefore holding on to its "security-zone" because it wants to use it as a card in future negotiations. To Nasrallah, this picture shows that "resistance is what liberates the land. Negotiations are a factor which will delay the liberation of the south, not the resistance".
Anyhow, Hizballah's Islamic Resistance was one of the leading actors in the relentless firestorm against the Israel forces in 1983-85, and the unit has ever since been the absolute dominating party within all the Lebanese guerilla groupings. Indeed, along with the years of warfare in the mud and mountains of the Lebanese south, it has also improved its standards and emerged from a rag-tag character to a skillful and efficient unit of elite standards, which, for example, increased its attacks from a number of 20 in 1990 to 310 in 1995, and also managed to counter-balance a ratio of one dead Israeli/SLA soldier to 5.2 dead guerilla fighters in 1990, to 1:1.7 in 1992. In addition, an estimated number of 100 Israeli soldiers have lost their life on duty in Lebanon since 1993, most of them at the hands of the Islamic Resistance. Giles Trendle, a British free-lance journalist well-initiated in the doings of Hizballah, describes its fighters as "extremely determined people" who by ambushes and road-side bombs are seeking to "slowly sap the the physical and psychological powers of the Israeli troops and the SLA militiamen rather than going for the single knock-out blow." Reports also tell of an increasing demoralization among the Israeli units serving in Lebanon due to the steady loss of lifes and the heavy psychological pressures those conscripts and reserves are enduring in the "security-zone". Nonetheless, the militia men in the SLA fear their destiny in case of peace, as some of them - not everybody - are being charged for treason by the Lebanese state authorities. Anyway, the persistent perception of the Israeli administration is that the zone is needed in order to protect the Israeli border from being penetrated by "terrorists", and even if the bulk of the political establishment in Israel seems to dislike the occupation as such - or at least the consequences of it - they can see no better alternative in the absence of a peace treaty with Syria. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly articulated this in February 1997 as he stated that "we have no desire to stay in Lebanon...Our concern is that if we simply walked away to the border, Hizballah and other terrorists would just come to the fence and attack our towns and villages and our citizens from that improved position."
Even though the continuing battle in the south is no easy matter of anyone involved, the heaviest brunt is probably borne by the Lebanese civilians of whom 345 have been killed by fire from the Israelis and the SLA since 1993. Giles Trendle argues that when defending themselves on their hill top positions all throughout the "security-zone", both the Israelis and the SLA suffer from the same dilemma which is characteristic for all conventional armies fighting guerillas - they are "denied a target". The hit-and-run-techniques and mobility of the small units within the Islamic Resistance, well-orientated in the hilly terrain of the south, implies that those guerillas are usually long-gone when it is time for the Israelis and the SLA to hit back. As a result, and in "a mere outlet of frustration", they often strike at areas populated by civilians. Thus, in the absence of a visible enemy during actions in the "security-zone", the Israelis have undertaken other measures in order to deter and weaken Hizballah. In 1989, for example, Israeli commandos kidnapped Sheikh Abd al-Karim Obeid, a Hizballah leader of the south; in 1992, an Israeli attack helicopter blew up the car in which Hizballah secretary-general at the time, Abbas al-Musawi, was travelling with his family; and in 1994, Israeli fighter jets attacked a Hizballah training base in the Bekaa Valley, killing dozens of Hizballah recruits in their barracks while asleep.
Likewise, unconventional measures have even been undertaken by Hizballah, that on several occasions have fired katyuscha rockets across the border into civilian settlements in northern Israel, as well as being charged for two spectacular bomb attacks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, against the Israeli embassy in 1992, and against a Jewish community center in 1994, causing 125 civilian casualities in total. Although Hizballah themself firmly den any involvement in the Argentinian attacks, and although no sufficient evidence can verify any charges, it is crucial, in my view, to note that those were carried out shortly after the assassination of Abbas al-Musawi in 1992, and after the Israeli onslaught on the movement's barracks in the Bekaa Valley in 1994.
Moreover, alongside the restoration of law and order through the implementation of the Ta'if Accord, Israel has started to put pressure on the Lebanese state authorities in order to make them restrain the actions of Hizballah. Besides long term strategies like blockading the Lebanese coast with Israeli gunboats and harassing Lebanese fishermen in order to obstruct revenues and business, Israel has also accomplished two very comprehensive bombing campaigns in the south of Lebanon in July 1993 ("Operation Accountability") and April 1996 ("Operation Grapes of Wrath"). Both campaigns were undertaken with the outspoken aim of the Israeli administration to punish the Hizballah for firing katyuscha rockets across the border on civilian areas in Israel, and to force the Lebanese authorities to disarm the movements military wing and reach a solution in negotiations. However, although civilian casualities amounted to 128 in 1993 and 200 in 1996, and a vast destruction of houses and infrastructure caused 400 000 people to run northwards, Israeli demands were not met on either occasion. In response to the 1996 onslaught and the Israeli demands on the Lebanese state to commit itself to curbing Hizballah, the Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, replied that it is "the [Israeli] occupation which generates the resistance. Whether their political convictions please us or not, there will be no confrontation [between us and the resistance] and certainly not with Hizballah...The only solution to this cycle of violence which has lasted for years lies in the application of UN Security Council Resolution 425".
Anyway, both occasions were followed by similar outcomes: agreements were laid according to which neither Hizballah nor Israel nor SLA were to strike at civilian targets. Hizballah, though, would still enjoy the right to attack military installations and convoys within the "security-zone". Israel and SLA, in turn, would solely enjoy the right of direct self-defense, no punishing retaliations.
However, as Hizballah refuse to take part in any negotiation with Israel, have they ackowledged those agreements? In view of all tormenting warfare, why do Hizballah fire katyuschas against Israel? Is not that to beg for Israeli retaliation campaigns in which the civilians will suffer the main casualities, and does not that merely give Israel a reason to stay in Lebanon, declaring that it is only defending itself against "terrorists"? And considering the earlier ethical discussion of means of violence, how does the movement justify the launching of katyuschas against a civilian population?
Firstly, with respect to the agreements of restricting the actions of combat, Hizballah secretary-general, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has stated that the movement is not "bound to the words and letters written in the agreement" because there are "terms we do not approve of", as "we do not believe there is a land called Israel; there is a land called occupied Palestine". However, the basic content of the agreements - not to hit civilian targets - will be followed because this principle will serve the security of the civilians of the south. Therefore, he declared, Hizballah will in the following exclude any action outside Lebanon - because from "the political point of view and the point of view of world opinion, it is not in Hizballah's interest or to its benefit to retaliate anywhere outside the occupied area".
Secondly, regarding the katyuscha-policy, the word "retaliate" is important to note if to understand the movement's view of this undertaking. According to Dr. Abdallah Mortada, the launching of katyuschas is a way by Hizballah to defend the civilians of the south. All throughout the years of Israeli occupation, he explained, its army and air force have used the Lebanese civilians as bricks, pushing them around, harassing them with shellings and bombings. In 1993 thus, Hizballah became fed up with this policy of Israel, and from then on, he said, "we have answered with firing katyuschas against the civilian population in northern Israel, all in order to make the Israeli army stop shooting at our civilian population. From my point of view this have worked. It is not a strategy of ours to attack civilians, but a means to make the Israelis stop attacking ours". In addition, Hajj Youssef Merhi, stated that Hizballah's "weapons are mainly directed at the Israeli army" but the resistance cannot let the Israelis attack civilians without doing anything about it. The katyuschas, he said, was a way to force the Israelis to be cautious in Lebanon; they know that if they strike at Lebanese civilians, Hizballah will respond with that policy. Although he regretted that this would give reason for people to label Hizballah as "terrorists", he remarked that "our concern lies at first hand with our civilian population in the south".
Thirdly, concerning any justification for striking at civilians, Hizballah have declared that it has "no fancy or infatuation" to fire katyuschas against Israel but conditions have forced the resistance to do such. This logic is clearly exposed by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who says that when Israel uses civilians in Lebanon as a means, Hizballah can do likewise:
If you cannot catch the fish, then drain the pool and the fish will automatically die. Where's the value of the resistance. It is a fish which swims in a sea of people...When we mount an operation [against a military target], they hit the civilians. Why are we sensitive to the issue of civilians? The civilians are our people. The Israelis are using them as a pressure tactic against us...In the same manner they are pressuring our civilians to tell us to stop the resistance, we can pressure their civilians to tell the Israelis not to shell Lebanese civilians.
Considering the ethical point of view of attacking civilians, both Hajj Youssef Merhi and Dr. Abdallah Mortada expressed the same view: that Hizballah regard Israeli civilians as "different" from other civilians in the world. Merhi described the Israelis, armed or unarmed, "as one whole": "If an immigrant comes from the other part of the world", he said, "and takes the place of a Palestinian, he is more like a soldier. He does not have the right to that land, so it is the right of others to resist him. If a Lebanese civilian takes my house, I have the right to resist him and expel him from my house." In a similar fashion, Dr. Abdallah Mortada stated that Hizballah consider the Israelis to be "militant" because "they are the reason for expelling and displacing the Palestinians". He added that - whatever the view of the Israelis as a people - the main target for Hizballah is the Israeli army because "in our religion it is not something desirable to kill an enemy which is not about to kill you".
Anyhow, according to Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hizballah have committed themselves to the essence of the latest agreement in April 1996, and he even declares that Hizballah will not apply their policy of launching katyuschas, at least as long as the international monitoring committee is effective in inquiring any violations of it. 
With respect to certain "rules of combat", it was actually established already in 1989 that both sides committed themselves not to strike at civilians. In this context, it is worth noting that Hizballah actually was reported to have recognized this principle until 1992. With one exception, UNIFIL spokesman Mikael Lindwall said, Hizballah have only launched katyuschas against civilian settlements in Israel when being preceded by at least one Lebanese civilian casuality at the hands of the Israeli forces or the SLA. In addition, General Shlomo Gazit, former commander of the Israeli military intelligence, stated that "[we] need to say it again and again that Hizballah did observe 'the rules of the game' for a long period. They refrained from shelling [Israeli] territory and infiltrating it. They limited their operations to the 'security zone'. It was our retaliation for their skilfull strikes at [our] soldiers [in the zone] which made them escalate the fighting". Moreover, in 1992, just before the assassination of Hizballah's secretary-general, Abbas al-Musawi (an event followed by a storm of katyuschas against northern Israel), another UNIFIL spokesman, Timor Goksel - who has served in the force since its inception in 1978 - argued: "I don't think that anyone can claim that any of these groups have ever attacked Israel - they have been fighting Israeli forces in Lebanon...I don't think that anyone can claim that these groups have inflicted any civilian casualities on the other side of the border, because they have not breached the border. We don't think, as United Nations here, that there has ever been an attempt by Lebanese groups to breach the border".
Thus, as I see it, in the absolute belief that armed resistance against the Israeli occupation is a moral imperative and the only rational way out to liberation for Lebanon, Hizballah are facing certain problems. Firstly, the movement is not completely independent, it has to consider its actions in respect to the interests of not only the Lebanese government and Syria, but also of Iran, as none of those regimes are interested in an all-out regional war with Israel. Secondly, the frustration following the impotence of the Israeli forces when fighting the mobile guerillas in the "security-zone" has made Israel using other measures against Hizballah. One was assassinating the secretary-general, Abbas al-Musawi, another to attack the movements barracks in the Bekaa Valley, and a third one to strike at civilian areas and the infra-structure in Lebanon in order to make Hizballah unpopular among the Lebanese, creating unbearable conditions for the government in Beirut and thereby forcing it to curb the actions of the resistance. Hence, the weak spots of Hizballah are not to be found in regard to their military campaign against the Israelis in the "security-zone". Rather, as guerillas, the movement is successful, even victorious, and with the support from Beirut and Damascus, it operates in the firm conviction that Israel can not afford its occupation in the long-run. Therefore, in my view, Hizballah have every reason to concentrate their confrontation with the Israelis to this particular area, because anytime the fighting escalates they might face the real threat: that the Lebanese and Syrian army will clamp down on them, restrain their actions and freedom of movement, maybe even dismantle them. Thus, in this context problems are more to be found on the political arena than the military. On the other hand, when the actions of Israel have transcended the borders of the "security-zone", killing Abbas al-Musawi, striking at the stationary positions of the movement in the Bekaa Valley, or undertaking vast bombing campaigns like in 1993 and 1996, the movement has responded with measures of non-conventional kind. Hence, even though Hizballah firmly deny any involvement in the Argentina bombings, they have, as I see it, their rationale: those bombing attacks can be seen as a clear hint from Hizballah to Israel, meaning 'restrict your actions to the "security-zone", do not assassinate our leaders, do not hit our stationary locations, or we will strike at your interests all over the world - we will naturally deny this in front of everybody else, but you will know, so you better keep to the zone'. The policy of launching katyuschas fits this picture as well. It is a clear means of Hizballah to restrain the Israelis from exhausting the civilian population of the south or putting pressure on the Lebanese government. Therefore, the agreements laid down in July 1993 and April 1996 are to the advantage of the resistance as they legitimate its successful actions and hinder Israel from attacking vital spots of the movement or from using other measures in order to "turn the water cold for the fish"; that is, harrassing the civilians until they can not take it anymore. In the latter case, the cause of Hizballah would face the resentment of the people it is supposed to protect. The movement is working hard on not letting this happen.
As shown earlier, the socio-economic imparity between various districts in pre-war Lebanon, the "tunnel-visioned" policy of the Beirut government, and the warfare in the south between Palestinian guerillas and Israel constitute some of the main contributing factors to the deteroriation of the state and the outbreak of the civil war in 1975. Of course, the war itself did nothing to improve the socio-economic misery of certain areas of the country, and today, as Lebanon is slowly recovering from 16 years of civil war, this process of healing and reconstruction carries similarites to the conditions preluding the outbreak of the war. The policy of the post-civil war government being to rebuild Lebanon (i.e. Beirut) to its former position as a central junction of trade, finance and tourism in the Middle East, the rest of the country has more or less been neglected. An estimated number of one third of the Lebanese population is reported to live in poverty. Any fruits of growth, William Harris argues, are merely enjoyed by the upper classes, and day-to-day living for the rest of the Lebanese constitutes of "depressed incomes and deteroriating living standards". Besides the fact that this reality at some extent is due to the politics of the regime, Giles Trendle also points out that aid programs from the outside world are scarce. The Arab countries are facing economic recessions themselves since knocking Saddam out, and the international community is giving priority to the East bloc and Africa.
Moreover, the issue of corruption is still valid within the Lebanese administration, financial aid is often being reported as not reaching its destinations. "[No] water, no roads, no electricity, no school, no dispensary", one Lebanese daily commented the situation, "credits go into the pockets of influential people and their protégés". Indeed, the warfare in the south is neither to the advantage for any investment potentional or socio-economic improvements. Most certainly not since the last Israeli onslaught in April 1996, as the Israelis chose to strike at areas all the way up to Beirut, deliberately damaging the infrastructure - like roads and elecricity plants - in order to place the Lebanese government and its reconstruction efforts in dire straits.
However, within this landscape of neglect, corruption and socio-economic stand-still, Hizballah is running social-welfare programs, independent from the regime and financed by the movement itself. Among areas where governmental help is defective or downright absent, The Holy Reconstruction Organ (Jihad al-Bina), a department within Hizballah, is administrating a wide range of services to the Lebanese public. It provides free education and medical care, it helps farmers with agriculture techniques and offers seeds and fertilizers below market prices, runs subsidized departement stores, distributes drinking water and electricity generators, handles scholarships to students, and takes care of refuse collection. It also functions as a moral catalyst in the south where it is busy rebuilding roads and houses damaged by Israeli bombings and shellfire. In this latter approach, another division within the department, The Martyre's Foundation, is financing the daily life of the families of the guerillas killed in action alongside support to fighters and civilians who have been maimed and crippled in the war.
Unlike Amal, which enjoys at least one seat in the cabinet and is closely connected to the governmental agency, the Council of the South, Hizballah is working independently from the Lebanese regime. Thus, Judith Palmer Harik argues, the movement "claims moral high ground", because of its support from abroad and contributions from private individuals and agencies "its extensive public services [supplement], rather than [exploit], flagging governmental agencies".
Kassem Oleik, the head of the Holy Reconstruction Organ, said that the main bulk of contributions derive from various Islamic civil associations within the country and the region, Hizballah's own collections and campaigns, the sakhat from supporters (an Islamic equivalent to "the tithes" within Catholicism), exil-Lebanese merchants in Africa and the Gulf, the Islamic republic of Iran, and certain investments projects earlier established from which it is now enjoying profits.
Kassem Oleik explained that one aim with public service-policies is to raise "the resisting society", another to "help the oppressed". Due to the war against Israel in the south, he said, Hizballah have to face the Israeli efforts of turning the Lebanese against the resistance through harrassments and bombings and shellings. Thus, by being in the south, especially within the villages along the front lines, and constantly providing assistance in order to improve the infrastructure - despite the fragile situation and non-inviting climate of investments - Hizballah want to "keep the moral high among the people in order to help them to stay in their places" and thereby preventing the Israelis from realizing their aims. In this sense, he said, "the resistance will be like a fish; you can not take it out of its own water. The same thing with society, it has to step up, it has to remain in the land, it is not in the interest of the resistance that people shall be displaced and refugees".
Neither, he declared, do Hizballah make any distinctions between those they are helping, be it Christians or Muslims, because the strategy of Israel has for many years been to exploit the multitude of the Lebanese demography, stressing sectarian sentiments and creating a state of conflict between the various confessions, all in order to gain control over the south by dividing and ruling.
We do not discriminate between helping Muslims or Christians in the resisting society. If a mosque is hurt and a church is hurt we start rebuilding the church. We want to obstruct the enemy from entering through this hole...Because our enemy wants to say 'Oh, they are repairing the mosque and not the church' - but we don't want give our enemy this opportunity...It is a smart thing to do because then the enemy won't be able to divide us...[This] is something natural, a kind of strategy of ours.
Commenting the imbalanced development plans of the government, Kassem Oleik argued that this agenda is nothing new to Lebanon. Ever since the creation of the Lebanese state, its decision-makers have been dependent upon the Western powers that indirectly have been supportive to Israel. The Lebanese state therefore has followed the directives from the West to keep the southern areas underdeveloped due to the fact that this is in the interest of Jewish state. "Israel has its aim and ambition in our land", he said, "in our waters, in our human beings, they want to enslave our people who are living here in order to serve the Jews who are living there. And this is according to their own agenda, their own project, as it is mentioned in the Talmud". Thus, he concluded, by keeping the southern parts of Lebanon weak, Israel wants to exploit that region at the same time as the Lebanese regime turns a blind eye toward the whole thing - all in order to appease the powers of the West. That is why Hizballah is "helping the oppressed", to counter the fact that the Lebanese administration is looking discriminatelly at the socio-economic development. Everywhere the government neglects to provide any service, he asserted, Hizballah will be there to assist, "we are filling the vacuum made by the state negligence".
On the other hand, can not these measures be regarded as just another way of attracting followers, buying hearts and minds? Is not Hizballah spreading its propaganda and values alongside its social welfare policies?
Of course, Kassem Oleik said, and this is one of the main points with Hizballah: the movement brings forward a message from Allah, the message of Islam as a value and norm. If Islam is the solution to all ills of mankind, why keep quiet about it? The teaching and distribution of values of Islam, he pointed out, is anyway the main purpose of Hizballah. The movement was established in 1982 on the "ruins of a collapsed society: morally, politically and economically". At the time, it had by no means any ambitions to join the parliament; the main issue was thus to "revive" the people of Lebanon through a vast distribution of Islamic moral, a need still valid and relevant:
How can we build the resisting society if no one is supporting it? How could this society go on if we could not give it that good moral and treatment?...With the morals that we are pumping into the society, we are building new powers from within...So by pumping these morals into this society...we will make a whole way of improving the solidity of it...The morals are very important in the future...We want to improve the humanity in the human being, and Islam is one part of the humanity schooling...
This is also why Hizballah condemn any form of corruption. Firstly because corruption is one of the main reasons for the problems of Lebanon, and secondly because it would deprive the movement of the possibilites to spread its messages. To Hizballah financial contribution is not a way to buy oneself a Mercedes, it is a way to provide public services and thereby gain a mass following. Concerning corrupted authorities, Kassem Oleik said: "It is good to let people know that you are doing good things" because "it will deprive [the authorities] of the opportunity to take advantages of them". Besides, he said, no one in Hizballah could be corrupt, even if willing to, because the movement is controlled by the greatest supervisor of them all, Allah, "who sees everything...[and] Allah will not let that happen".
Hizballah's performance within the landscape of Lebanese reality thus streches from a role as a military resistance and a social welfare organization to a political party integrated in the legislative powers. May Chartouni-Dubarry argues that the eight deputees of Hizballah, together with their four allies - forming the "Bloc Loyal to the Resistance" - has constituted the "strongest and most cohesive bloc" in the Lebanese parliament, opposing measures undertaken by the government (at the extent allowed by "the Syrian ceiling"). It has, for example, rejected to pass a vote of confidence to the government in 1992 and 1995, and it condemned the 1996 budget plan, labeling it as "anti-social". In addition, she notes, Hizballah "seldom raises any Islamic-related claims" in parliament "whether on political or merely ethical grounds"; rather, the agenda of the bloc has focused on issues such as the need for a continued armed resistance, assailing the alleged corruption within the state administration and the infringements laid down by the regime on matters such as public freedom and the prerogatives of parliament.
Muhammed Fneish described the four recent years in opposition as an experience in which the Lebanese public had been able to build a clearer view of Hizballah's political work and standpoints. And the movement has also during this period of time been given the possibility to "correct the positions of the government". He regarded the issue as a "matter of relativeness", because "we can't get everything we want as we are not alone in the parliament", and there are "regional circumstances that impose themselves" at the same time as the confessional system preserves certain traditional structures and put the powers into the hands of a few persons. "This restricts the abilities to change", he said, " and the ambitions to change".
However, in the fall of 1996 new parliamentary elections were held. At the eve of the elections Hizballah released a political program in which the movement demanded that the Lebanese state should take on a more "effective role" in the liberation process. The program also promised that the movement would continue to "oppose the logic of the theatrical negotiations which wishes to consolidate the Israeli position on behalf of the [Lebanese] population". The Lebanese public, the program stated, should "engulf" the resistance in thought and mind in order to eliminate any future "direct or indirect" presence of Israel in the Lebanese arena. "Protecting the people" - in turn - should "be the heart of the performance of the resistance". Internal weaknesses, such as socio-economic discrepancies, should be countered by a balanced economic policy in which the state would shoulder its social responsibilities at a larger extent than before. Furthermore, the abolishment of confessionalism is needed in order to dismantle the favoritism, corruption and patron-client relations within the state administration. In order to get rid of this old order, Hizballah propose than Lebanon should be transformed into one electoral district with proportional representation. Externally, the movement emphasized the need for an ongoing strong relation with Syria, as the regional "threats and challenges" posed by "American dominance" and "Zionist terrorism policy" are too strong to be faced by Lebanon alone. Hizballah also opposed any involvement of the USA in Lebanese internal politics, because the "American policy", the movement declared, "must be seen in the light that it is in unity with and supports the standpoints of the Israeli enemy...". The program does not mention any claim for an Islamic state.
Anyway, the outcome of the elections was that Hizballah lost one seat in parliament, from eight to seven.Two of their former allies in the "Bloc Loyal to the Resistance" did not succeed in being reelected. Thus, the bloc now desposes of nine parliamentary seats. Official figures show that the movement received 80 per cent of the votes within the Shia community. Still it was curbed, William Harris argues, on the one hand by Syria, as Damascus wants to show that it can restrain and control the Islamists whenever it wants, and on the other by the re-elected prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, who fears that the armed resistance of Hizballah and its uncompromising attitude towards the peace-process are bad for investments and future development projects. Under the banner "moderation against extremism" during his election campaign, the prime minister declared that he will not "cooperate with extremists" in the future. The secretary-general of Hizballah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, responded that, obviously, the Lebanese regime had started its own operation, "Grapes of Wrath", against the movement.
In the new parliament however, Hizballah have already adapted themself. In December 1996, M.P. Muhammed Fneish was elected (with the support of Amal leader Nabih Berri) chairman of the board of a parliamentary committee handling matters of economy, trade, industry and oil. Hizballah M.P. Hussein Allas Hassan was to be secretary to the chairman leading the committee of planning and development. This is the first time a member of Hizballah has received a chair in a parliamentarian committe. Moreover, in civil society Hizballah have been a leading party, working across sectarian and political barriers, for example supporting strikes and demonstrations in protest of the tight financial policy of the Lebanese government.
With respect to the south, guerillas of the Islamic Resistance are still attacking the occupation forces, and the committee monitoring the agreement is having busy days investigating accusations from both sides of violating the agreement. In August 1996 the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu (elected in May 1996), offered a "Lebanon first"-deal which implied that Israel should commit itself to withdrawing from the "security-zone" if the Syrians guaranteed the security along the international border. Thereafter, the stalled negotiations of the Golan Heights would be commenced. This was rejected by both the Lebanese and the Syrian government, calling this proposal as a clear attempt to "drive a wedge" between the two countries. Positions are thus frozen, even if a debate seems to reemerge in Israel whether the "security-zone" really is paying off or not.
Anyhow, some questions, as I see it, are still valid to ask in regard to Hizballah and the future. Firstly, is the movement ready to lay down its arms if Israel withdraws? Or will it, as it has declared before, continue the battle across the border in order to "liberate Jerusalem"? And how do Hizballah envisage the future, and what will its role be?
With respect to a possible Israeli withdrawal, spokesmen of Hizballah have been very ambiguous over the years, but Dr. Abdallah Mortada declared:
We will speak clearly now: we will stop our armed resistance when Israel withdraws...but we will continue our struggle against [Israel] with speech - the democratic way, if you want. Calling for boycotts, social, economic, political. On the other hand, and this is a sensitive part,if Israel should not respect an agreement and for example continue its hunt after us...conditions will be unstable...Then we will retaliate. How? That depends on the situation and the circumstances.
Hajj Youssef Merhi, on the other hand, was more cautious. Holding on to the old line of ambiguity, he said that an Israel withdrawal does not automatically imply that the war is over. "The issue if we lay down our arms or not is related to the nature of peace that will come", he said, "we cannot talk about right now. Let the Israelis withdraw from the south, then we can talk... It is wrong to talk about it when the Israelis are still occupying our land". In addition, the secretary-general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah remarked that the Lebanese government has committed itself to securing the safety at the border if Israel should withdraw. Therefore, a "big problem" would occur if Hizballah or any other group should mount an operation.
The Israelis know that, so why are they stuck? Why do they insist on a commitment from us to stop the attacks? I do not say that we want to go on with the operations, but at the same time we cannot commit ourselves that we are going to stop operations. We say that we have no business in the peace process and the guarantees. I tell you: My land is occupied, so get out. After you leave, you will hear from me.
Adding to this picture, Hajj Youssef Merhi argued that "Hizballah is one of the most careful Lebanese parties concerning civil peace" and the movement would only use its weapons against the Israeli occupiers. "We will never use our arms domestically", he said, "under no circumstances". Whatever the outcome though, and whatever the actions, he asserted that Hizballah will always be a party opposing any legitimacy or normalization with Israel. The movement is already cooperating with other political parties in a multi-confessional and political network called "The Committee against Normalization with Israel", an institution he envisaged would play a prominent role in all spheres of Lebanese society and the Middle East in the future. Furthermore, the head of the Holy Reconstruction Organ, Kassem Oleik, argued that the social programs of Hizballah will remain an active element even if "an order" would be imposed under the banner of "peace". In no way, he said, would this scenario profit the people in the south; the present government will continue to neglect the poor areas and Israel just wants the people living there to become a bunch of hapless consumers of Israeli products.
Moreover, Hajj Youssef Merhi described the present peace process in the Middle East between Israel and certain Arab countries as a "reconciliation between regimes" and not "peoples". A referendum within those countries, he argued, would for sure elucidate the fact that "those regimes [and their signed peace treaties] does not represent their peoples at all". In the same pattern did the deputy secretary-general, Na'im Kassem, envisage a "peace" in the region in which Israel would exist with the "assent and patronage of [Arab] rulers", despite the feelings of their own people and with three million Palestinian refugees dispersed all over, not allowed to return. In this scenario, he noted, Israel's strong economy would lock all the other Arab economies into its own and Israel would "interfere in our culture, mentality, and proceeds of thinking", demanding, for example, that the school-books should be changed in order to describe Israel as a friendly state "with rights going back thousands of years". "The danger of peace", he thus concluded, "is much greater than the danger of war".
In these circumstances Hizballah point to the "sterility of negotiation" and its "suicidal negativism" and the movement declares that it will oppose this Israeli "entity" in the future "even if the whole world makes peace with it". Dr. Abdallah Mortada declared in the same manner that Hizballah will stand strong and proud and thereby symbolize resistance all throughout the Islamic world.
Finally, Hizballah secretary-general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah envisaged that the imparity now reflecting what is going on in the region will create a base for future grievances, a perspective the movement has acknowledged and will work within as time is heading forward:
The logic of history, laws and historical norms which governs societies say that the unjust peace will not work and the just peace will work. The peace process going on is unjust. Not only unjust but humiliating, too...If today our rulers accept this injustice and abasement and are quiet about it, noone can guarantee that the future generations can accept them. There is no minimum of justice or essence of justice. Therefore I believe the entire situation that is being founded is founded on unacceptable foundations...and cannot continue in the future.
For an overview , see Norton (1991) p. 470-473.
Hamzeh (1993) p.324.
Ranstorp (1997) p. 127-130; Harris (1997) p. 313-315.
Hiro (1993) p. 133.
See Hamzeh (1993) p. 325; Foreign Report, 27 May 1993.
Foreign Report, 27 May 1993.
According to deputy secretary-general Na'im Kassem, Hizballah condemn sectarianism because "sectarian affiliations means that one has a certain religion because of his parents and he becomes a fanatic for it without understanding it or without being convinced to it." For example, he continued, "some Muslims are not Muslims in terms of actually living their religion, while they are sectarian in all senses of the word. Some of them are leaders who boast that they represent Muslims in the elections, but they represent the sect of Muslims, not Islamic principles or thought." Monday Morning, 17 October 1994.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996. In addition, deputy secretery-general, Na'im Kassem, has stated that any political involvement during the eighties was "useless" because of the "framework of divisions and the complicated situation". But as soon as it was made clear that the elections were about to be held, Hizballah "decided that, in the context of our concept of what Lebanon should be, and of the fact that we represent a large part of Lebanese society, we had a duty to take part in the elections". Monday Morning, 17 October 1994. Secretery-general Hassan Nasrallah likewise explained that Hizballah is serious in its project of bringing down the government, but the movement should nor resort to "negative steps" because "the country is passing through a delicate stage". Harris (1997) p. 302. From al-Safir, 24 February 1994.
Interview, Beirut, 4 June 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Interview , Beirut, 4 June 1996. Secretery-general Hassan Nasrallah has said that "the solution, in our opinion, is the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon and beyond...I cannot honestly say I do not advocate an Islamic state...but I do not wish [to impose this] by force or violence, rather we prefer to wait for the day that we succeed in convincing our countrymen - by means of dialouge and in an open atmosphere - that the only alternative is the founding of an Islamic state". Zisser (1996) from al-Ahd, 10 April 1994.
Interview, Beirut, 4 June 1996. In addition, Fneish developed this argument in a Lebanese weekly, saying that freedom of speech is a guarantee for stability in society, and it is not the other way around: "Preventing parties from undertaking politcal action would not end their existence. It would merely drive them underground, which would threaten social stability...[as] is seen in Algeria and Egypt". Monday Morning, 6 March 1995.
In 1990, estimates showed that the Shia community constitutes 35 per cent of resident Lebanese. Considering that Christian Maronites at the same time was appreciated to constitute 21 per cent (other Christians 14 per cent), Sunni Muslims 24 per cent and Druze 5 per cent, the Shia thus is the largest confessional community in Lebanon. Harris (1997) p. 68-76.
Interview, Beirut, 4 June 1996.
In April 1995, Hizballah held a congress where views differed sharply and where strong protests were reported to have been heard about the movement's "subordination" to Syria. However, the leadership elected by the congress - whereas Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, for example, was re-elected as secretary-general - was clearly of an accomodating character towards Syria. Former secretary-general, Sheikh al-Tufayli, on the other hand, who all along had toed an anti-Syria line, was reported to have been eased "out of power and influence". Foreign Report, 27 July 1995.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 4 June 1996. Similarly, deputy secretery general, Na'im Kassem, declared that, "[our] relationship with Syria is good. Syria upholds the Lebanese right to resist the occupier. This is a base meeting point, and Syria is working to maintain internal stability in Lebanon". Monday Morning, 17 October 1994.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
The Iranian presiden Rafsanjani stated in February 1992: "Our policy toward Israel is very clear. We reject the very existence of Israel as entity on the territory of Palestine. This is an usurper regime. This is our position and nothing can be above this." Calabrese (1994), p. 153. From Kayhan International, 20 Febraury 1992.
Middle East International, 8 November 1991.
See for example Harris (1997) p. 309-320.
Interview, Beirut, 6 June 1996.
Interview , Beirut, 16 May 1996. In addition, deputy secretery general, Na'im Kassem, has declared that Hizballah rejects any peace-negotiations because they only consider the land occupied by Israel from 1967 onwards, and this is "preventing the dicussion of 80 per cent of Palestinian land [occupied since 1948] and take for granted Israeli possesion of that land...Where are the negotiations for peace? They are overlooking in this process all the problems and difficulties of the region and the objective circumstances for coexistence". Monday Morning, 17 October 1994.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Foreign Report, 21 July 1994.
Foreign Report, 21 September 1995. It has also been reported that guerillas within the Islamic Resistance went "on strike" during a period in 1995 and refused to fight as Hizballah's leadership had agreed to Syrian demands on being briefed about the movements military operation in advance. However, the Syrians soon gave in and dropped this claim and the Islamic Resistance resumed its operations. Foreign Report, 19 October 1995.
Calabrese (1997) p. 153. Quoted from Al-Safir (Beirut) 3 June 1992. "The objective of the resistance is not random", he stated and pointed to the necessity of pursuing "succesful tactics that take into consideration the existing circumstances of time and place, the nature of the struggle, and the powers involved in it".
Magazine, 24 May 1996.
al-Maokif, no. 3 June 1996
Middle East Insight, p. 42, May-August 1996.
According to UN sources an estimated number of Hizballah's "hard core" guerillas is 300, whereas 3000-4000 are "part time" soldiers, ready to get into action to "support the cause" in the south. In case of an other Israeli invasion with ground forces, reports say that Hizballah has 150 volunteering suicide-bombers in the wait for them. The Middle East, June 1996.
 Sources from Israeli Foreign Ministry Information Division (http://www.netaxe.com/~iris/ hizbgph.htm) and Harris (1997) p. 315, Ha'aretz, 16 July 1993.
Newsweek. 17 February 1997.
Middle East International, p. 19, 3 November 1995. One Hizballah official stated: "Our military strategy of keeping pressure on and inflicting casualities here and there, without incurring losses ourselves, instead of mounting costly spectacular operations is working. Some of our supporters demand more front-page type of attacks, but we won't let our emotions take over." Foreign Report, 14 July 1994. The Israeli journalist Youel Marcus noted that just like the Americans in Vietnam "we have entered a dead-end street...Hizballah is now in full control in the field. Our soldiers are constantly on the defensive". The Middle East, March 1997.
Middle East International, 3 February 1995.
Uri Lubrani, Israel's coordinator of activities in Lebanon, has said that "tension is mounting" within the SLA, and "as soon as they learn about a breakthrough in Israeli-Syrian negotiations, the Israel army will have no option but to reoccupy the 'security-zone' all alone". Middle East International, 3 February 1996.
 See for example, Time 17 February 1997.
Leb-Net Weekly Digest, nr. 600, 21 February 1997. In addition, regarding the percieved aims of Hizballah, the Israeli Minister of Defense declared that: "They don't just want to get us out of Lebanon but out of Jerusalem, and it is better we fight them there [in Lebanon] even if the price is heavy". Jerusalem Post, international edition, 22 February 1997. For discussions over Israel's options in Lebanon, see Heller (1996); Bishara (1996).
Norton (1996) p. 38.
Middle East International, 3 November 1995. The Israeli army, on the other hand, says it is striking at the villages because Hizballah have their bases within civilian areas. New Statesman and Society, 19 April 1996.
Harris (1997) p. 318.
 To accusations for running training camps and undertaking operations abroad, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah replied that this "is a press atmosphere released by the Israelis so that Hizballah would be held responsible for any reaction by anyone in the world against Israeli or Jewish interests or the like, such as what happened in Argentina...[But we] have said that our revenge for the civilians will be on the Israeli military". al-Maokif, nr. 2 1996.
Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, declared during the 1993 operation that the refugee storm it created was a way to "put pressure on the government in Beirut and hit those who collaborate with Hizballah". (AFP, 28 July 1993). Israel's Chief of Staf, Ehud Barak, said that "[we] regard Hizballah, the population that harbours it, and the Lebanese regime which permits all this activity as responsible." (Israeli Televison Network, 26 July 1996) Both statements and an analyse of the two operations are to be found in "Human Rights Watch, Reports on Events on the Lebanon-Israeli Border". Journal of Palestinian Studies, Autumn 1996.
Monday Morning, 15 April 1996. In addition, Lebanese Foreign Minister, Faris Buwayz, stated that if the government would take any action against Hizballah while Israel still occupied the south, it would make the regime "look like a collaborator with an occupier". Middle East International, 12 April 1996.
See for example Murphy (1996).
al-Maokif, May 1996.
Time, 13 May 1996.
Interview 16 May 1996.
Interview 20 may 1996.
al-Maokif, May 1996.
Middle East Insight, May-August 1996, p. 85.
Interview 20 May 1996.
Interview 6 June 1996.
"The direct retaliation is no more a right" he said. "Now both parties are restricted. We cannot launch katyuschas and the Israelis cannot retaliate. For us it is not a problem...A few katyuschas to protect our civilians, and now they restrict us. In return, Israel, which has the tanks, cruisers, artillery and air power, was restricted. Our main concern is the civilians. Not launching katysuchas". Middle East Insight, p. 86, May-August 1996.
Conversation, Beirut, 1 June 1996.
Middle East International, 18 December 1992. The Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, even admitted that Hizballah never had fired katyuschas against Israel without "provocation" and never at a populated area "as a target in itself" - "they were invariably launched in response to 'Israeli operations against Hizballah in southern Lebanon". Middle East International, 20 November 1992.
Middle East International, 21 February 1992.
In addition, the senior defence writer of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, Zeev Schiff, pointed out that Hizballah have "moved its bases from the south [of Lebanon] and a large part of its training is now done in Iran. This, in turn, has reduced its number of its vulnerable targets". The Middle East, March 1997.
Most likely, I assume, this strategy of denying measures that would upset the international community were also applied regarding the hostage-takings during the eighties.
"This is rabid, vicious, uncontrolled capitalism", one Lebanese university professor said. "The modern West evolved a social system and accountability alongside free enterprise. Lebanon hasn't." Time, 15 January 1996.
Harris (1997) p. 282.
Harris (1997) p. 283. From al-Nahar, 3 April 1995.
Harik (1996) p. 51. In addition, Dr. Kamal Shehadi, researcher at the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (and certainly no supporter of Hizballah), argued that in comparison with the corrupt elements within the governmental administration and the Amal movement, Hizballah look good - "Hizballah say, 'where is the money being spent?'; Hizballah say, 'well, we are not spending money bying Mercedes 600 SES or whatever, we are spending it on schools and infirmaries and so on', and that is true, that's what they are doing, because they are honest. Say what you want about Hizballah's politics, at least they are honest people". Interview, Beirut, 23 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 29 May 1996. Judith Palmer Harik refers to "well-informed sources who desire anonymity" who say that the contributions from expatriate Shiites today exceed those Iran supports Hizballah with. Harik. (1996) p. 63.
Inteview, Beirut, 29 May 1996.
Chartouni-Dubarry (1996), p. 59-62.
Interview, Beirut, 4 June, 1996. When questioned if Hizballah felt any repugnance in cooperating with their former enemies, the Phalange party and its member Elie Hobeika (accussed of being in command over the [Phalangist] Lebanese forces that conducted the massacres in Sabra and Shatila), Muhammad Fneish stated that Hizballah at present actually are in a "dialouge" with the Phalange party. Since the Phalange cut their ties with Israel, he said, and since they changed their domestic performance there was nothing that could prohibit that dialouge. Concerning any "direct cooperation" with Elie Hobeika, though, he pointed out that "there will be a shadow of certain historical events that took place which will cause an obstruct for us". Ibid.
From the "Electoral Program of Hizballah" and a report from UNIFIL that translated a broadcast on "Hizballah Radio" in the south of Lebanon at the eve of the elections.
Harris (1997), p. 321-322. See also Middle East International, 25 October 1996.
Leb-Net Weekly Digest, nr. 588, 22 September 1996. Middle East International, 4 October 1996. The Lebanese daily, al-Nahar, wrote that Hizballah is facing a "merciless war" by the Lebanese regime which was "aimed at clipping the wings of a bird that has outgrown all the others so fast that [the regime] now panic". Ibid.
See Leb-Net Weekly Digest, nr. 593, 19 November 1996.
See Leb-Net Weekly Digest, nr. 595, 22 December 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 16 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996. Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah considered already in 1985 that there was a difference between the liberation of Jerusalem and the liberation of south Lebanon, at least "as far as the method of operation is concerned". The former needs a comprehensive "Arab-Islamic plan for confrontation", he argued, otherwise, any operation from Lebanon into Israel would only become "mere acts of martyrdome". Kramer (1989) p. 57.
Middle East Insight, p. 85, May-August, 1996. Giles Trendle remarks that Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah "privately accepts as a 'dream' his party's official line that all Jews settled in Palestine after the creation of Israel, along with their descendants, must 'return' to the countries from which they emigrated". Trendle moreover adds that top officials within Hizballah state that "it is the Palestinians, and not Hizballah, who must assume the responsibility for taking up any armed struggle for the land of Palestine". Trendle (1996), p. 64.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 29 May 1996.
Interview, Beirut, 20 May 1996.
Monday Morning, 17 October 1994.
al-Maokif, no. 1; no. 5. 1996
Interview, Beirut, 4 June 1996.
Middle East Insight, p. 85, May-August 1996.
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