Walid Phares: Hezbollah's Political Blitzkrieg

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy. He most recent book is Future Jihad and he was the author of the memo that introduced UNSCR 1559 in 2004.]

Many in the media and sectors within public opinion are wondering why isn't the US able to get a mild French draft of a UN resolution passed quickly via the UN Security Council? Others are stunned to watch Lebanon's Prime Minister, Fuad Seniora, crying in front of the Arab League meeting and calling for the rejection of a strong Multinational Force, caving in to Hezbollah. Commentators are barely able to decipher why is it that the so-called allies of the US in the War on Terror, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are pushing for Israeli withdrawal, rejecting the multinational force while maintaining the status quo for Hezbollah. It sounds as if the year 2005-2006 was full of mirages: Cedars Revolution in Lebanon, free elections, and formation of an anti-Syrian Government back by the son of the slain PM of Lebanon, Saad Hariri. Que paso? Who is calling the shots now?

Israel is pounding southern Lebanon and many bridges into rubbles, but Hezbollah is on a Terror Blitzkrieg, wrecking political havoc inside Lebanon and in the region. Israel is scientifically winning the military battle and Hezbollah is crumbling the political future of the War anyway..

Back in April of 2005, while Assad was pulling its hardware back into Syria and the free world was celebrating the very colorful Cedars Revolution in Beirut, Hezbollah's counteroffensive was being designed as follow:
1) Absorb the fury of the Lebanese masses but kill their political project
2) Construct the conditions for non disarmament of the militias
3) Penetrate the post Syrian Government and institutions
4) Solidify the bridges to Iran and Syria
4) Begin the Terrorizing of the new Government
5) Sink UNSCR 1559; and at the timing of Nasrallah, trigger a War with Israel for the ground to shift back to Hezbollah
6) Finally, contain Israel's reactions and crumble the Lebanese government genius Ahmedinijad-Assad-Nasrallah grand plan: Unfortunately invisible to the Western decisions makers for a whole year..

And here comes the Hezbollah Blitzkrieg:

a. Luring the Lebanese politicians of the Cedars Revolution into stopping the demonstrations short of toppling pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud. Hence having Lahoud's intelligence services protecting the activities of the "axis" (Hezbollah, Syrians, Iranians, others) in Lebanon. Keeping Lahoud in place secured a pressure on the Lebanese Army, since the President is the "commander in chief." First target achieved by July. Brilliant.

b. Running in the legislative elections "before" being disarmed, and with 300 million dollars to spend on voters, Hezbollah and its Amal allies secure 30 members of Parliament. That's the equivalent of the Taliban running for elections when they were in power, but on a provincial scale. Results: More Hezbollah MPs enter the new Parliament, supposed to be anti-Syrian. And incredibly (never seen in any other country), while the resistance to Syria get a comfortable majority in the assembly 70%), it ends up bringing back pro-Syrian Nabih Berri as a speaker: Allah knows how this so-called majority shot itself in the foot twice in one month with maintaining Lahoud and Berri in place. Second Hezbollah target achieved by early July.

c. Outmaneuvering the Seniora Cabinet by threatening to isolate the Shiia from the Government if the Hezbollah bloc doesn't obtain 4 ministers. A bloc that can veto all decisions on Lebanese Army deployment and on disarming of militias. A high school analyst realizes that Hezbollah has just grabbed the Cabinet capacity of disarming it! Objective secured by August 2005.

d. Between July and December 2005, the "axis" terror squads assassinate Cedars Revolution leaders who didn't accept the Hezbollah influence in the Lebanese Government, among them: Samir Qassir, George Hawi, and particularly Gebran Tueni, the leading young figure of the Revolution. Other journalists and cadres were targets of plots, shootings and threats including May Chidiac. Cedars Revolution beheaded by end of the year.

e. By March 2006, Hassan Nasrallah signs an "agreement of understanding" with General Michel Aoun, ex anti-Syrian politician, separating his movement from the pro-Government parties and splitting the Christian community in two camps. The opposition to Hezbollah was reduced to shambles. Druze leader Walid Jumblat and few Christian MPs are still firing against Syria and gently against Hezbollah. Nasrallah accompany his victorious offensives with Iranian funding of many socioeconomic projects "outside" the traditional Shiite strongholds.

f. By April 2006 Hezbollah's dual Blitz goes faster, as the Government is almost paralyzed on the implementation of UNSCR 1559. On the one hand Hassan Nasrallah and his ally Nabih Berri induce the remnants of the anti-Syrian politicians to sit down around a "dialogue table" to discuss the "future of Lebanon" away from streets demonstrations. In other words, drop off the Cedars Revolution, i.e. what made you visible to the international community and let us waste your time in Byzantine discussions. Hezbollah gained three more precious months.

g. Meanwhile, through the very open Lebanese Syrian borders, Iran sent all the weapon systems needed by Hezbollah to wage the "deflection war" against Israel.

Nasrallah's Plan A was a limited war against Israel followed by a revolt against the Seniora Government and its takeover. Israel made it into a longer war. So, Hezbollah's Plan B is a longer resistance against whatever Israel is cooking, with still a near future control of the Government. Now the Jihadi Blitz is provoking regional and international results, or about to.

Hezbollah threatens the Seniora Government of disintegration if it doesn't abide by its plan. Nasrallah and al Manar speaks of open battle till the end. But the real plan of the Iranian-Syrian axis is in fact to use the Seniora Government as a hostage. The seven points plan of the Lebanese cabinet have been approved, some say suggested by Hezbollah: No deterring-MNF, no chapter 7, no security council resolution that would disarm the militia, etc. Seniora cries in front of the Arabs, Nasrallah calmly controls the situation and most Lebanese politicians have become irrelevant in the equation.

The mostly Sunnis Arab Government hears the Sunni Prime Minister of Lebanon pleading for his 7 points (Hezbollah recipe to survive and strike back) and rushes to Manhattan to convince the US and France into watering down the draft. Ironically, the bombed-into-rubbles Hassan Nasrallah is shelling the UN Security Council with "Arab diplomats." He knows all too well that, in the absence of the Cedars Revolution (abandoned by its politicians but still breathing) he is winning the political offensive. Since no one is opposing his agenda in Lebanon and as his services have almost controlled the "news rooms" of most Lebanese media; and as we learn progressively that the Hezb agencies have most messages of foreign correspondents practically under control, while Jihadi and Oil influence is widespread in through the contractors of the News Agencies worldwide, M. Nasrallah is in business. His Blitzkrieg is pushing forward politically, for now.

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Amin Ali Golmohamad - 9/4/2006

The crisis that gripped Lebanon is most likely to be a mere sample of the horrors that may shadow this region in the next decade.

Arnold Shcherban - 8/13/2006

The main issue is that US
and Israel in its current incarnation (the same as in the past) just don't want to LEARN
any lesson, they want to TEACH lessons to the rest of the world.
Until they have overwhelming military
advantage over their immediate adversaries (and they will for many years to come and on many reasons), I don't see much of a hope for those in opposition to their foreign policies for so much touted by US peace, stability, democracy, and economic progress.
Moreover, I consider eventual usage
of nuclear weapons (at least tactical ones) by either US or Israel
as quite probable, on the very reason you mentioned - the consolidation of political power by
extreme elements in Islamic societies. Then the world peace will
hang on a very thin thread.

Cary Fraser - 8/12/2006

Given Shimon Peres's acknowledgment that the Israeli effort to destroy Hezbollah is about Israel's survival, is it possible that Nasrallah's strategy has demonstrated that the balance of political forces has shifted in the region. Israel will now have to face the cold reality that its own project of uncontested dominance in the Middle East is both unaccomplished and unachievable since Hezbollah has acquired political and strategic depth by way of its alliances inside Lebanon and in the wider region. With that shift in the balance of forces, and with the Palestinian issue now central to the relationship among Sunni and Shia communities, Israel's room for maneuver has diminished considerably especially since the United States has proven itself remarkably incompetent in Iraq. Both Israel and the Bush administration have had to learn the lesson that the use of overwhelming military power has little significance without an achievable political strategy. Power without intelligence inevitably leads to disaster.

Arnold Shcherban - 8/10/2006

<Israel is pounding southern Lebanon and many bridges into rubbles, but Hezbollah is on a Terror Blitzkrieg>

Let's see who is on Terror Blitzkreig

From Associated Press:


A month of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah has laid waste to large parts of southern Lebanon. Here is a summary of the human and economic cost of the conflict:

• Dead: 1,103 people killed, including 1,002 civilians, about a third under the age of 12 (at least 30 soldiers or police, 58 Hezbollah fighters, eight other militants, four U.N. observers and one member of the U.N. peacekeeping force are among the dead)
• Displaced: More than 900,000, including 220,000 who fled the country
• Damaged or destroyed: 145 bridges and overpasses, 23 gas stations, 6,900 houses or apartments and more than two dozen airports, seaports, water plants and power plants
• Estimated cost: $2.5 billion

• Dead: 80 soldiers and 38 civilians, including 16 Israeli Arabs
• Displaced: 300,000 to 500,000 Israelis have fled their homes
• Estimated cost: $1.6 billion

Source: AFP