Monday, July 31, 2006

Hizbullah's Support among the Shi`ite refugees. Make no mistake about it. The surprising show of support among the Shi`ite refugees from South Lebanon for Hizbullah is only partly due to sectarian bonds of solidarity. In the ugly world of Lebanese sectarian politics, each sect is pushed toward a sectarian group or leader. And the sectarian lines are more sharply drawn now in the wake of that famous Hummus Revolution. Narrow sectarian identities now prevail more than ever, and Shi`ites feel, rightly or wrongly, that Hizbullah is what they have to protect members of the sect, especially that secular parties have all but died in Lebanon, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party squandered a great opportunity (for pushing secularism that is) by becoming an arm of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon. But that is not the whole story. Israel and US were expecting the refugees to blame Hizbullah for Israeli bombings and destruction the way many South Lebanese Shi`ites blamed (so unfairly) the PLO for Israeli crimes in Lebanon in the early 1980s. This time around it did not happen. The main reason in my opinion is the very performance of the party and its fighters. In other words, if the fighters fled quickly in the face of Israeli attackers (as many Lebanese and Palestinian fighters did in 1982 not out of cowardice but due to the lousy and corrupt management and leadership of Yasir `Arafat--who has not sent millions to Suha `Arafat in a while now (my mother hates it when I attack `Arafat; she admires his asceticism), then the refugees would have easily turned against them. This time around, the stiff resistance exhibited by Hizbullah fighters solidified the bonds between the party and the Shi`ites, and it enhanced, not hampered, the image of the party.