Attempts to Decipher the 'Victory' Riddle and Its Intricacies
Hazem Saghieh Al-Hayat - 06/09/06//
No sooner had the pelting over 'victory' and its meaning subsided, than it was once again inflamed by Hassan Nasrallah's words, interpreted by some as 'repentance' and by others as 'self criticism'.
It is a continuing pelting between the anti-victorious and the pro-victorious, whose version carries the threat of transcending the country in question, Lebanon, and measuring the conflict through a strictly strategic gauge formulated without taking the State, the people's will, their lives, economy, displacement, or migration into account.
Once again, these tangible values are replaced by rhetoric outcries of inflated dignity, honor and nobility that go hand in hand with cold-hearted strategic analysis.
Conscience and moral principles, at least since Munich on the eve of the Second World War, entail nothing more than defending the interests of small countries and peoples, by snatching them from the fangs of strategic inevitability and deterministic analysis which chew on these interests as crocodiles chew on fish.
The case with the Lebanese war, nevertheless, is a bit more than that, where the country is ignored according to a theoretical, nihilist, and malignant scheme that makes no secret of its desire to surgically eliminate countries, uproot its policies as modals connected with concrete and tangible inhabitants. Policies, according to this scheme, should be produced in a political vacuum which is called the struggle with Israel and the US, where it is impossible for borders to separate land, to classify millions into peoples, and to categorize issues according to their different levels. This is a shortcut to confusion and total anarchy, with savagery waiting at the end of its road.
Even if we accepted the victorious-strategic version, the real danger lies in the fact that the domestic party in concern is incapable, as a national political entity, to capitalize politically on such a 'victory.' Never, in a world that has its structure based on nation-states, has a political party or a movement been able to accomplish such a mission except in two cases:
The first is when the party, as in the cases of national liberation movements and revolutions, contains the seeds of an alternative power that can replace the existing situation or foreign influence. This is not the case with Hezbollah, at least as long as it has not yet overthrown the Lebanese government.
The second case is when the party is closely related to another state and is being used by it to challenge a competing or hostile state, a situation similar to the relationship between the Vietcong and North Vietnam; or when a militia is used, and sometimes created, by any given State to fight another. And even in that case, when it is time for the political harvest, the 'helper' state gets the lion's share. This second case leads to only two possibilities:
The first is that this analysis is inapplicable to Hezbollah, which, subsequently, cannot exploit its military effort politically. And this assumption is supported by all the steps that proceeded from the war's end, starting from the Franco-American proposals to Resolution 1701 and ending with the land, sea and air blockade on the 'victorious' and the Lebanese victims alike.
The second possibility has to do with the assumption of Hezbollah as an Iranian battalion, which means that Iran is solely exploiting its military effort (we leave Syria aside since it is too weak and too ailing to exploit anything). This assumption is also supported by the susceptibility of Iran to profit from the current developments in the region (as proven by the Chatham House's most recent report).
As a matter of fact, Hezbollah possesses the sort of qualities that make it a candidate for both cases, since Hezbollah is an intrinsic part of the Lebanon, except that it hijacks its constituency to amalgam it, without any intermediaries, in the regional politics.
And while it maintains a close relationship with Iran, the world's division into states whose national agendas are different, prevents it from presenting itself as an Iranian battalion.
This is exactly where the dilemma of the 'victory' lies; it is obvious that Israel's losses, as abundantly explained by commentators and politicians, could not be attributed to the Lebanese component, but the Iranian component of Hezbollah.
And this explains the paradox of the destruction of a country and the 'victory' of one of its political parties. It also explains, more eloquently than inconclusive military results, Hezbollah's inability to convince us with its 'victory', since its Lebanese element prevents it from admitting that Iran is the only side exploiting and in a position to exploit Israel's loss.
More reasons for concern lies in the fact that radical forces in the area, whether like Hezbollah or Hamas, the Iraqi 'resistance', or regimes like the Syrian are by definition 'preventive' powers; they succeed in preventing others from achieving victory but never actually achieve it themselves. Haven't some said that the boarders between Israel and Iran are mere Arab vacuum?

What About the Iranian Project?
Hazem Saghieh Al-Hayat - 05/09/06//
An American project in the region, whether of a New or a Great Middle East, is beyond any doubt. However, it is an insolvent and contradictory
One, and in some countries it is deteriorating and ailing. A lot has been said and written about this project, but this does not deny the existence of another equally dangerous project: its Iranian alternative.
The worst thing about the American project is marginalizing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the extent of disregarding it. What makes the Iranian one even worse is that it is based on this marginalization and disregard. The Iranian project even complements these attitudes and benefits from them. It attempts to employ the regional conflict in the same manner it has employed the two American 'solutions' for the Afghani and Iraqi issues. The Iranian regime invested the fragile Arab presence, or rather the Arab absence, in the Iraqi issue. Similarly, Iran seeks to exploit the Arab impotence in terms of the Palestinian-Israeli issue as a prelude to highlighting this impotence and re-produce it.
Needless to say, the Iranian regime, contrary to its claim, has no sincere 'Islamic' sentiments toward its neighbors. Otherwise, it would not have retained the three occupied islands in the Gulf and it would not have treated the Iranian Arabs the way it did and still doing. In spite of the Iranian anti-Israeli rhetoric, Tehran was not active in combating Israel's influence until the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, when it seemed that a new Arab situation is on the rise, a situation where the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will cease to impede the growth of a healthy relationship with the West and the outside world. Prior to that, the Iran-Gate story is well known, which reflects how far the Iranian regime can go in betraying its anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetoric.
Now, what is most dangerous about the strong Iranian wind blowing west is: first, undermining the nation-state system as it exists in our region, for the benefit of endless chaos hidden under some false ideological allegations, particularly, the conflict with Israel . Second, mobilizing primordial sentiments and igniting them, as is currently the case in Iraq, thus bringing sectarian conflicts to their maximum level. And, third, besides the conflicts and chaos, exporting some 'political' concepts that only take us back to the Middle Ages. At the top of the list comes the Islamization of public affairs, the rejection of all that has to do with progress and enlightenment and lifting despotism to the ranks of hope and salvation.
If it is true that the above were the features of the Iranian expansion, then it is equally true that the Arabs opposing Iran are invited to enter into a new activity and a new way of thinking. The activity must focus on the revival of negotiations regarding the settlement of the Palestinian issue. This will halt the functional integration between America's disregard and Iran's benefiting from it. As for the new way of thinking, it revolves around developing a modern and dynamic vision of the world that runs contrary to the Iranian medieval thinking and does not allow it to employ the ideological premises that might appear to be common.
The first form of resistance against what Iran is doing and what it intends to do, is to give up the intimidating, 'Saddami' and chauvinistic rhetoric of agitation against 'Persians' and adopt a modern political language while competing with the Khomeini influence. This should come along with tangible plans for serious political and social reforms in the Arab countries concerned.
As far as Lebanon is concerned, it has been turned by Hezbollah and the Syrian 'mediator' to the first battleground for the Iranian expansion westward. Meeting it there would be the only condition for obstructing this expansion.