Hezbollah’s Syria Support Comes at the Expense of its People

Article Summary
On the anniversary of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, famed Lebanese historian Fawwaz Traboulsi writes that Hezbollah’s continued support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad, which was reiterated in a speech delivered by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah earlier this month, demonstrates his disregard for the lives of Syrian civilians. 

It is still necessary to comment on the speech given by Hezbollah Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the anniversary of the [2006 Lebanon-Israel] war. We will only comment on Nasrallah’s points that are directly related to the bloody Syrian crisis

Nasrallah successfully uncovered a new fact about the war. He revealed that Israeli aircraft targeted missile platforms and caches belonging to the resistance [Hezbollah], including Iran-made Fajr-3 and Fajr-4 missiles, during the first 34 minutes of the invasion. I admit that I did not quite understand the significance of Nasrallah’s revelation of such information in connection to Syria’s support for the resistance during the war. Was it to let us know about a trick pulled by the resistance against the [Israeli] enemy after having learned that the latter detected the location of the missiles? The resistance moved the missiles to another location after misleading Israeli intelligence into believing that they were still in the same location. If this is the case, what does it have to do with Syria? Or does the leader of Hezbollah want us to know that a significant portion of those missiles were actually destroyed and later replaced by Syrian missiles? In this case, why not say it explicitly? Whatever the case, revealing this story served two purposes: to show that the resistance deceived the Israelis, and that the war was saved by Syrian missiles. Thus, he is saying that without these missiles victory would not have been achieved. Whoever wants to believe this can.

We have no doubt about Syrian military support for the resistance during this war and others. Yet the question is: Does this support come for free? Is it a free sacrifice by the Syrian leadership and its sole leader, as a result of which it endures enormous woes and risks? Or is it the result of a joint Syrian-Lebanese interest, both national and popular, in the face of a common Israeli enemy? Is the Lebanese side responsible for the weapons of Hezbollah as a national defense force, especially after the liberation of the Lebanese occupied territories, with Syrian support, in the year 2000 (except for the Shebaa Farms and Kafr Shuba hills) while the Syrian regime is responsible for Hezbollah as an irregular military force on Lebanese territory? Is this support dependent on Hezbollah being a proxy force that constitutes a threat to the State of Israel, allowing the Syrian regime to control the security situation at the northern border of the State of Israel? This may strengthen the role of Damascus as negotiator on behalf of Syria and Lebanon when the moment arrives for holding bilateral negotiations with Israel.

Let us ask honestly: Were these Syrian missiles given by the Syrian leadership without the knowledge of the people? These missiles were bought with the Syrian people’s sweat, hard work, and taxes. They have endured a decades-long military rule, military budgets, corruption, and squandering. They were deprived of their right to work, freedom, and dignity. When the people finally revolted, the Syrian regime directed its own forces against them. It was as if the army was compensating for a role it had been denied for four decades in the conflict with the Israeli enemy.

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More than ever, Nasrallah’s speech was overflowing with talk of conspiracies plotted by unknown actors, and terms such as: the Greater Middle East, the US-Israeli project, the rejectionist [front], the resistance. Despite that, the speech was lacking in argument and persuasion.

Nasrallah claims that the aim behind the conspiracy is to dismantle the Syrian army, as the Americans did with the Iraqi army. The question is: What has the Syrian regime done to prevent and foil this plot? Senior officers from the regime’s innermost circle advised President Bashar al-Assad not to put the army in a confrontation with a peaceful civilian popular movement. Despite this advice, he involved the army and replaced the army commander who gave him that advice. Another [senior officer who gave Assad similar advice] defected. Army recruits and soldiers were forced to fire on peaceful civilian demonstrators, as if it were the ultimate obligation of the “October Army.” Soldiers were forced to carry out field executions against other recruits who rejected orders to fire on protesters. This was then followed by field executions of defectors, attempted defectors, and even suspected attempted defectors. This was before the start of field executions against civilians, and the destruction and bombing by helicopters of villages, towns, suburbs and residential areas over the heads of their inhabitants. This begs the question, would any regime protect its army from disintegration by forcing soldiers to kill civilians and their fellow soldiers?

The regime’s soldiers responded to a peaceful popular uprising by helping to divide their own army, through their insistence on the “military solution.” This created a counter-militarization by the opposition. Did this help to preserve the unity of the army?

This is a remarkable conspiracy that is always based on unknown [factors], and which rejectionists always fail to win over or protect themselves against.

Nasrallah says that “they” prevented, and continue to prevent, the Syrian regime from implementing democracy and reform. He notes that “they” even prevented the national opposition from holding dialogue with the regime. We do not know who exactly he means by the national opposition. Is it that which was fabricated by the regime, including Ali Haidar and Qadri Jamil, or another one? If the “national opposition” was really national, what could possibly prevent it from fulfilling its national duty and holding a dialogue with the authorities? We will not ask Nasrallah to present a single piece of evidence of the regime’s willingness to engage in a national dialogue, since he gave himself the right to distinguish between a “national” opposition and a non-national one. 

This is with regard to the opposition. As for the regime, what has prevented it from “implementing democracy and reform?” And was it really prevented from implementing certain reforms? In fact, if there were people who tried to prevent implementation of reforms, they certainly failed miserably given the amount of “democracy and reforms” that have been “implemented” in recent months. 

During that period, the regime held municipal and parliamentary elections, in addition to a constitutional referendum. It also issued laws pertaining to [the work of] parties, the media, and fighting terrorism. The president inaugurated the [new] People’s Assembly after having endorsed its members. A new Council of Ministers was formed. The prime minister and ministers took an oath of office before the president. The president appointed the Supreme Constitutional Court. What was the result of these steps? The result of the implementation of “democracy and reforms” was the reproduction of a Mafioso, autocratic, security, military rule. An individual ruler sits on his throne and, under the new constitution, enjoys absolute constitutional powers that exceed those he enjoyed under the previous constitution. What’s more is that he is exempt from any accountability to any body or authority.

To show that we are not exaggerating in our description of the Syrian regime, we suggest a comparison [between the Syrian and Bahraini revolutions]. Hezbollah’s secretary-general, its party, media apparatuses, supporters and allies all support the peaceful political protest movement in Bahrain, which we agree is deserving of support. If we put aside the common faith shared by Hezbollah and the majority of the Bahraini opposition, only considering the common elements between the parties of the Bahraini opposition, we find that they are demanding the establishment of a parliamentary and constitutional monarchy in the face of an absolute monarchy. Bahraini citizens are protesting against the control of a single family over power, economy, and the country’s resources, in addition to various forms of discrimination against the Shiite majority. We do agree with Hezbollah’s secretary-general that such regime must change or fall. However, if Nasrallah were to look at the Bahraini Constitution, he would discover that the absolute authorities of the King of Bahrain do not exceed those of President Assad under the new “reformist” constitution!

It is surprising that Hezbollah’s secretary-general has expressed his condolences over the death of four Syrian military and security officials, yet could not find the appropriate words to do the same for hundreds of thousands [sic] of their victims. This disregard of the Syrian people’s right to “democracy and reform” seems to be the flip side of what is required of the party’s engagement in the Lebanese political system, and its role in weighing down Lebanon’s sectarian and confessional system. This is in addition to its role in covering up for a regime of theft, looting, and corruption. Hezbollah supports a regime with contempt for the basic rights of the disadvantaged from all sects, confessions and areas, not to mention its participation in a government that is even unable to prevent the deterioration of the power crisis in a scorching summer. Regretfully.

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Found in: syrian uprising, syrian, reforms, israel, hezbollah
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