[News] Hezbollah Militants Chafe as Gaza Burns

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Jan 14 15:12:13 EST 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/lamb01142009.html
January 14, 2009


Hezbollah Militants Chafe as Gaza Burns


A Second Front?

By FRANKLIN LAMB

Beirut.

"The Resistance is one project and the resistance 
movement is one movement and has one course, one 
destiny, one goal, despite its different parties, 
factions, believes, sects and intellectual and 
political trends
Resistance movements in this 
region, especially in Lebanon and Palestine, 
complement one another and (Hezbollah and Hamas) are contiguous groups."

-- Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, 7/18/08

"In Lebanon, we, the Islamic Resistance, are 
ready and prepared to confront any Israeli 
stupidity. We are prepared to face any 
foolishness. We have the wisdom to act calmly and 
we will not be dragged to any act of which we are 
not convinced. But we will not accept becoming a 
target for anyone. Hezbollah's level of readiness 
is greater than the enemy's imagination."

-- Mohammad Raad, leader of the Hezbollah block 
in the Lebanese Parliament, 1/09/09

"Where is my friend Hussein?," I asked some of 
the guys yesterday at my favorite motorcycle 
repair shop in Dahiyeh, the Hezbollah area in 
Beirut, as I helped, with my bandaged arm, off load my motorbike.

The problem was Beirut's flash hailstorm on 
Sunday. Immediately upon entering Verdun street 
near the Dunes hotel, Silver, not being used to a 
surface road mixture of oil and ice, and having a 
van cut it off from the right, tried to maneuver 
and skidded on it side and I went tumbling 
(again!). This time against a hotel protective 
barrier as some army guys jumped out of the way 
then courteously helped me up with a friendly "Welcome to Lebanon."

"Isn't this about your third 'divine accident' 
this year?," one of Hussein's mechanics, Ali 
grinned, as payback for me telling him a Sunni 
joke the other day about Hezbollah's string of "divine victories."

Again, I asked why my friend Hussein was absent. No response.
If one wants his motorcycle fixed cheap, well and 
quickly, even the pro government-anti Hezbollah 
Sunni repair shops in the central Beirut area of 
Hamra neighborhoods will tell you it's best to 
take it to Ghouberi. "Ghouberi" is code language 
for the Hezbollah area of Dahiyeh/Haret Hareik, 
where most macho Hamra guys fear to tread as they 
continue to smart over "the events of May," when 
Shia Hezbollah and some of their allies in Shia 
Amal and the Christian National Syria Socialist 
Party stormed parts of Sunni West Beirut and 
locked it down tight for around 72 hours before 
handing it over to the Lebanese Army. It was all 
about sending a message to the US-Israeli backed 
government not to mess with Hezbollah's 
communication system or with their guys at the Beirut airport.

Once again the Hezbollah shop that took care of 
Silver did a great job. The mechanics, mainly 
Hezbollah reservists with 'day jobs,' apply the 
same work ethic of thoroughness and skill to 
their bike work as they do defending Lebanon 
against Israeli attacks. Space only allows for 
one example. As I inquired about the prospects 
that Hezbollah would open a second front, I 
noticed that a mechanic and his Palestinian 
dropout helper (quitting school is the growing 
pattern these days in Lebanon's Refugee camps due 
to economic and political pressure), one with a 
screwdriver and the other with a wrench, 
literally checked and tightened every nut or 
screw on the bike. Never in 20+ years of riding 
and crashing motorcycles in more than a dozen 
countries had I seen mechanics do that.

"So where was Hussein?" I asked for the third 
time. "He not in Beirut," one of the mechanics said.

I immediately understood.

There is quite a lot of code language used in 
Lebanon these days, and "He's not in Beirut" in 
Hezbollah parlance means, "He's been called up," 
he's off somewhere for a few weeks doing 
'training' or he's been posted with his 5-6 man unit.

While Hussein is "not in Beirut." it's likely no 
one among his family or friends will hear from 
him. He may spend days or weeks in a tree along 
the Blue Line electronically eavesdropping on 
Israeli soldiers or recording their movements and 
habits or any one of hundreds of preparatory 
tasks. Hussein will return as if he just 
completed his day off but will answer no 
questions that begin with where, what, why, who, 
when, are, can, do, etc. Quite likely he will 
look leaner, stronger, more serious than when he 
left and will parry inquires with a smile and a 
question about "what's new with you," etc.

One might gain some inkling where he has been 
from what he brings back as gifts for his pals. 
For example, if Hussein brings special pastries 
acquired only from a certain village, which he 
did last time for me, obviously he had been 
posted in the Bekaa Valley. If he returns with a 
bag of oranges perhaps he was down south. Iranian 
candies or Iran's famous Pistachios? For sure he was, well 


Today, the Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah 
remains on full alert, in the 1/10/09 words of 
Lebanon's Oppositions leader in Parliament, 
Mohammad Raad, "in case Israel does something stupid, we are ready."

Some Hezbollah officials took note of what might 
be an Israeli record of some sort. They pointed 
out that whereas in the July 2006 War, Israel 
killed approximately 1,100 Lebanese civilians in 
33 days of carpet, frenzied and indiscriminate 
bombing, in Gaza they have achieved the killing 
of approximately the same number of Palestinians, 
in about half the number of days. No doubt some 
kind of a lesson the Israeli military learned 
from their failure in the earlier conflict.
Many questions are being asked throughout Lebanon 
about whether the Hezbollah leadership will yield 
to growing pressure from all parts of Lebanon and 
within its ranks to force Israel to lift its 
destruction of Gaza? If so, are there ways it 
could be done without a igniting a sixth war in Lebanon?

Contemporary Wisdom in Lebanon

Every day brings more questions from Resistance 
observers inside and outside of Lebanon: when is 
Hezbollah going to deliver on all those speeches 
by Party leaders expressing Hezbollah's 'sacred 
commitment' to the bloodstream issue for all 
Arabs and Muslims: the liberation of Palestine?

These days the Lebanese Resistance, led by 
Hezbollah is on Full Red Alert and there is a 
palpable sense of foreboding in many Hezbollah supporting neighborhoods.

In the bike shop, with its "town meeting" 
atmosphere, some Hezbollah members are more explicit.

"We can hit Dimona with hundreds of rockets on 
the first day, if we get the order," the veteran 
Abass explains. "The Zionists are very lucky I do 
not have the authority or we would have joined 
the battle when the first bomb fell on Gaza. It 
is just a matter of when, not if, we join the Gazan Resisters."

The largest of dozens of demonstrations in 
support of the Gaza Resistance Hamas have been 
organized by Hezbollah. Thousands of those in 
attendance at every demonstration bristle with 
anger along with hundreds of millions all over 
the World. In Lebanon, many, not only in the 
Palestinian camps and Hezbollah areas, but north 
and south ache to do something to help the trapped and dying Gazans.
Regarding the likelihood that Hezbollah will come 
to the military aid of Gaza, the local 
conventional wisdom, much of it likely wrong, includes:

* Hezbollah is still regrouping its base from the 
July 2006 Israeli aggression and rebuilding 
thousands of homes and businesses and doesn't want them destroyed again.

* Hezbollah may not yet be prepared militarily.

* Hezbollah has not completed its redeployment to 
the Bekaa Valley and to the strategic mountain 
tops where the next war with Israel will be 
largely based. This includes towns such as Sajad 
near Al-Rihan Mountain, north of the Litani River 
with its clear view of all of South Lebanon and 
the upper Galilee of occupied Palestine, as well 
as part of the Golan and the Mediterranean 
coastline. The geographic location of Sajad 
between the Al-Zahrani and Litani Rivers give it 
strategic importance and links the South and the Bekaa. They need more time.

* The certain massive destruction of Lebanon's 
infrastructure of roads, bridges, schools, would 
turn the populace against it and undermine its 
great political progress since 2006.

* That Hezbollah, having recently consolidated 
its base and formed a political coalition with 
Christian and some Druze leaders wants time to 
see its alliances grow stronger and free of 
potential military and political "unintended results."

* Hezbollah wants to win the currently scheduled 
June 9, 2009 elections, and being seen as 
sparking another massive destruction of Lebanon 
would give its rival parties plenty to beat it 
over the head with at the polls. Every time 
Israel issues a new threat against Lebanon and 
announces in advance that it intends to commit 
war crimes by destroying Lebanon, this helps 
Hezbollah's rivals in the polls as they take to 
the airwaves and argue that Hezbollah wants 
another war and does not care about destroying 
Lebanon like last time. Or, as scholar Amal 
Saad-Ghorayeb observed last week, intense 
domestic pressures to disarm, and possible, more 
externally manufactured, locally-executed 
conspiracies hatched against it that could drag 
it into the kind of civil warfare that the 
movement found itself in during May 2008.

* Hezbollah does not want to risk losing the June 
9 election and wants to keep its lead in the polls.

* Hezbollah is currently behind in the polls and 
needs peace in Lebanon in order to convince swing 
voters that it will be behave responsibly if the 
voters will allow it to govern.

* Hamas is assured of winning the war in Gaza, 
given that Israel must win with its 1000 to 1 
military advantage or it will be humiliated and, 
as Anthony Cordesman has pointed out, would 
likely in any case lose its deterrence position, likely for good.

* That the Israeli government and its supporters 
claim that Israel learned from their poor 
performance in July 2006 is wishful thinking and 
their performance to date strongly suggests 
Israel has learned nothing and will deliver to 
Hamas a silver platter with huge organizational and political gifts.

The "Varsity Squad" of Hezbollah has so trained 
the "Junior Varsity Squad" that there is no need 
to intervene unless Hamas is on the verge of 
total elimination which appears very unlikely. As 
one Hezbollah reservist noted, "If Hamas survives 
to fire even one rocket into Israel after Israeli 
forces eventually withdraw from Gaza, the world 
will declare Hamas the winner." Israel discovered 
Hezbollah expertise last weekend when it learned 
that the capabilities of Hamas are much more than 
they anticipated including its ability to strike Beer Sheba.

Based on conversations with several Hezbollah 
functionaries, Shia Hezbollah appears to have 
increasingly deep respect for Sunni Hamas. They 
share an ideology and a set of strategic goals 
that transcend their religious difference. Both 
were created as an alternative to failed Arab 
nationalist organizations in order to effectively 
confront the Zionist occupation. Hezbollah has 
been the primary role model, trainer, and "coach" 
of a "new" Hamas with apparent dramatic results.

Strategically, the fact that Sunni Hamas and Shia 
Hezbollah cooperate well, despite differing 
interpretations of some of the Koran, and the 
Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Mohammad), leads 
some observers to believe that this display of 
Muslim unity dampens the effects of the fiery 
rhetoric of Egypt's Mubarak and Jordan's 
Abdullah, among others, who regularly raise the 
chicken-little alarm of an Iranian constructed "Shia crescent."

When Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, was 
assassinated last February, one of the major 
projects he had been working on for nearly two 
years was to teach Hamas the lessons Hezbollah 
learned during the 22-year Israeli occupation of 
much of Lebanon as well as the 2006 Israeli 
aggression against Lebanon. The current conflict 
in Gaza may indicate how well Hamas learned from 
"Hajj Radwan," Moghinyeh's nom de guerre.

It was Israel that killed Imad. One reason was 
that he was deeply involved in training Hamas 
with the Hezbollah model of Resistance. He is 
known to have been very proud of the Palestinians 
and stated shortly before his death to Party 
colleagues: "They (Hamas) are becoming a very 
good resistance force." Some in Lebanon refer to 
Hamas as the JV (Junior Varsity) or "red shirts" 
as opposed to the Hezbollah "Varsity" or "blue 
shirts," and "Hajj Radwan" is the coach of both. 
In another Report to the Party, he expressed his 
admiration for their ability reporting that, 
"they are proving day after day that they are 
powerful people capable of facing all challenges."

During Mughinyeh's scores of tutorials, Israel 
was tipped off by certain Palestinians who had 
met with Imad and who knew or suspected his real 
identity from "the old days" when Imad spent 
years with the PLO and was close to Arafat and 
his inner circle. Most people, even those who 
worked closely with him, did not know his true 
identity and he tried to keep it that way even 
avoiding his home village where half the 
residents are Mughinyehs. Yet, some who met with 
him remembered him and ultimately betrayed him.

Some, including this observer, theorize this is 
why Mughinyeh was killed, almost certainly with 
the help of Syrians in Israel's employ since 
every individual allowed in the Damascus "special 
security zone" where the killing occurred was 
closely vetted, examined and then carefully 
watched. A "full report" on the assassination was 
claimed to have been made by the Syrian 
government, which promised to release it within a 
few days. In two weeks the report will be exactly 
one year past the promised release date and no one claims to have seen it.

Yet Hajj Radwan is said to have helped revamp 
Hamas' military command and replaced certain 
elements. One subject Mughinyeh is said to have 
stressed to Hamas during such meetings was the 
importance of "the communications network as a 
strategic weapon," which included Hamas keeping 
in direct battlefield contact with other 
Resistance groups fighting Israel, and advising 
Hamas on ways of fighting Israel using a number 
of different tactics and bases in locations in 
Syria, Lebanon and Iran, according to the authoritative Beirut daily Al Akbar.

One of his communications to superiors in 
Hezbollah is said to have reported: "The way the 
bottom of the earth was transformed in (areas) 
around the Strip and inside cities indicates that 
if determination and leadership was provided to 
them (the Palestinians), they would achieve what hasn't been achieved before."

Other lessons Mughinyeh offered Hamas, based on 
the lessons from 2006, included that each Hamas 
small unit of approximately five fighters should 
be fully equipped and must have a clear plan to 
fight Israeli soldiers and to wage a long war of 
attrition until Israel withdraws. Another 
included instruction on ways to stockpile weapons 
that would allow Hamas to have quick access to 
them even if Israel occupied many areas in the 
Gaza Strip. It is some of these pre-positioned 
weapons that special Israeli search units try to 
find in order to exhibit them for propaganda purposes.

How well Hamas has learned from Hezbollah's 
experience remains to be seen. Meanwhile plenty 
of suspicions and speculation remain concerning 
exactly who killed Hezbollah's much loved Imad Mughinyeh and why.

As Hezbollah has leveraged its 2006 victory, 
Hamas will likely do the same, with the losers 
again being the American–Israel axis, the current 
PA leadership, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. 
The winners, in addition to Hamas, are once more 
Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. Never in American 
history has one US administration delivered such 
a long and consistent string of political 
victories to its declared adversaries while 
assuring the eventual collapse of its most 
favored nation, and managing to turn most of the 
World, and its own country, against itself.

Franklin Lamb, currently based in Beirut, 
drafted, for HOKOK, the International Coalition 
against Impunity, its Complaint/Submission filed, 
on December 10, 2008, the 60th Anniversary of the 
signing of the Universal Declaration of Human 
Rights with the Internationally Criminal Court in 
The Hague. The Case charges Israel with 
continuing Rome Statue International crimes in 
Gaza and throughout Occupied Palestine. He can be 
reached at <mailto:fplamb at sabrashatila.org>fplamb at sabrashatila.org.




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