Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hezbollah: Victorious in the Eyes of Most Arabs

Hezbollah didn't defeat Israel's army. They weren't able to stop Israel from invading. They weren't even able to defend their strongholds. They used civilians as human shields. Their infrastructure is in tatters and many of their soldiers have been killed. Still, at least in the eyes of most Arabs, Hezbollah was victorious.

Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt - Babies have been named "Hezbollah" and "Nasrallah." Even some die-hard secularists are praising the Shiite fundamentalist militia in the wake of its cease-fire with Israel - saying its fighters restored their feelings of honor and dignity.

But behind the outpouring of support for Hezbollah in recent days, some in the Middle East are increasingly worried about the rising power of religious extremists.

"The last thing I expected is to fall in love with a turbaned cleric," wrote Howeida Taha, a strongly secular columnist in Egypt, in the Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper this week. "I don't like them, and of course they will never like somebody like me ... (but) I feel I've been searching for Nasrallah with my eyes, heart and mind. I feel Nasrallah lives within me."

Yet, she added, "No matter how much we admire Hezbollah's fighters' bravery, the last thing we want to see is the rise of a religious party in Egypt."

Around the Arab world, Hezbollah was widely seen as the victor in the 34-day war with Israel, because of the tougher-than-expected resistance it put up under Israel's relentless bombardment and heavy ground assaults.

As a result, Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, have emerged as popular heroes.

"Thanks be to God and to Hezbollah," read the banner of an opposition independent weekly, Al-Destour, in Egypt on Wednesday.

More than 120 babies born during the war have been named after Nasrallah in the Egyptian city of Alexandria, according to the official registrar there. In Gaza City, there are at least a dozen newborns named Hezbollah, (Party of God) Nasrallah (Victory from God) or Hassan.

On an Islamist Web site for youth, based in Egypt, many women wrote saying they would love to marry someone like Nasrallah.

"I want to marry one of Nasrallah's three boys and dedicate myself to resistance and pride of my (Islamic) community," said Noha Hussein, a university student in Cairo.

Necklaces and key chains with his image are now in style, the Web site notes.

Much of the enthusiasm has come from finally seeing an Arab military force dig in against Israel.

Arab nations fought several wars with Israel - in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973, as well as Israel's previous two invasions of Lebanon. The first three were heavy defeats for Arab armies, and though Egypt's army saw dramatic successes in 1973, the battle had swung to Israel's favor by the time it ended.

In the eyes of many Arabs, Hezbollah's performance shook the Israeli military's image of invulnerability.

"The Lebanese people may have lost a lot of economic and human resources .... but away from figures and calculations, they have achieved a lot of gains," said Youssef al-Rashed, a columnist for the Kuwaiti daily Al-Anba.

Lebanon's "heroic resistance fighters have proven to the world that Lebanese borders are not open to Israeli tanks without a price," he wrote Tuesday. "Lebanon was victorious in the battle of dignity and honor."

Also, the image of a guerrilla force doing what a regular army could not has apparently deepened the popular resentment toward Arab governments.

"The crux of the problem in Lebanon is that a political movement became bigger than the state," said Maamoun Fandy, the director of the Middle East program at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. "The same syndrome - a perceived lack of legitimacy of governments that are being challenged by armed political movements - can be seen in many Arab and Muslim states. ... Their message is that movements can do what states failed to do, and can restore the honor that governments have squandered."

Awni Shatarat, a Palestinian refugee from Baqaa camp, is among those who strongly view Hezbollah as victorious.

"Israel was defeated by a small group, which succeeded in demolishing the image of the undefeatable army," he said.

But others are far more critical of Hezbollah and pessimistic about what the war might bring.

Jordan's former information minister, Saleh Qallab, said Hezbollah's new strength could now be turned against the anti-Syrian, pro-democracy movement that gained power in Lebanon last year - "which means that a civil war is imminent in Lebanon, unless a miracle occurs."

"Do we call this a victory?" he said.


At 2:04 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Youre so right AC...Israel did lose the propoganda war ..sigh. excellent post!

At 6:35 PM, Blogger FreeCyprus said...

"Jordan's former information minister, Saleh Qallab, said Hezbollah's new strength could now be turned against the anti-Syrian, pro-democracy movement that gained power in Lebanon last year..."

Brother...I am worried about that too.

At 6:47 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

Apparently Syrian Baath party wants to create another Heznollah in Syria.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Off-topic here....I posted an addendum to my posting "CAIR Whines--Again." You're not going to like it!

At 5:47 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

felis..I read that. Apparently Syria thinks that through guerrilla warfare they can regain the Golan Heights.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Hezbollah will indeed gain political power freecyprus

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

Spot on, AC!

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Ergotelina said...

Dar al-Harb New York....

i loughed reading it...


you know about Middle East...

I agree with you

In the lebanese elections
we ll see Hezbullah profits...


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Babies have been named "Hezbollah" and "Nasrallah."

And Kaytusha as well--or so I've read.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger MissingLink said...

....thinks that through guerrilla warfare they can regain the Golan Heights.
This is wishful thinking of course since they would have to launch an open attack. Gurilla warfare doesn't work like that.

They can only annoy by shooting rockets.

Well, anyway methinks it's just tactics to capture some of the Hezbollah's glory on Syrian government side - they feel threaten by true Islam as well.

At 5:53 AM, Blogger Obob said...

what if this allows thm to stick their neck out further as they get cockier? Sort of a one step back, two foward type thing


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