Thursday, 20 September 2012

Re-focusing the Conflict with Washington

Nasrallah reminded the world that the problem with America is not confined to a specific security, political or current issue, but the battle extends to wherever the Americans are engaged in dirty deeds. (Photo: Marwan Bu Haidar)
Published Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Amid all the reactions to the wretched American-Israeli film, what stood out for many was the behavior of Hezbollah and its secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah.

This is not because of the rallies. These have become customary in Lebanon, whether Nasrallah calls for them directly or the marchers themselves have an occasion to mark. There was nothing new about the calls for rallies. Even those who thought it was a show of force know that. The idea, rather, was to turn out these crowds within just a few hours. The party’s followers and the supporters of the resistance treated the demonstration as being about more than just the film.

Nobody, of course, expected Nasrallah to appear in person, nor to address the crowd directly, if briefly, rather than from behind a TV screen. But those who know Nasrallah appreciate that there would have been no meaning to his call to “sacrifice ourselves for the prophet” had he remained behind the screen to evade the assassination attempt against him which Israel, along with a host of Arab and Western intelligence agencies, have been readying for years. In so doing he said nothing new to his supporters, but reaffirmed his personal position to his many enemies, who know him, yet hope his behavior will change with time.
The other point concerns the substance of what Nasrallah had to say the day before the march, when he explained the political and religious background and the behavior that prompted his stand, not toward the film itself, but toward the real sponsors of such material (though anyone seeing the dubbed portion of the film might be more outraged by the offense it causes to the intelligence and senses than the insult intended by its producers). A number of points are worthy of consideration here.

First, Nasrallah called on all Muslims – and what he clearly meant was Sunnis and Shias – to stand as they should against those who incessantly insult them and target everything they have: their sanctities, their countries, their freedom, their rights and their dignity. Here he could succeed where other Islamists failed. For Nasrallah has no favors traded with the Americans that oblige him to appease them, unlike the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood and the governments of various states that claim to rule in the name of Islam. That is why the protests that took place in several countries were not organized, resulting in acts of violence, for which there was no consensus, though some believe that Americans, citizens and officials, should be made to feel directly responsible for the evils inflicted on our world today. The “official” Islamists who rose to power on the backs of the Arab uprisings clearly showed that they are not interested in taking on the Americans or their followers. Hezbollah’s move thus flustered them, prompting some of their leaders to accuse Nasrallah of trying to commandeer the ship.

Secondly, Nasrallah reminded the world that the problem with America is not confined to a specific security, political or current issue, but the battle extends to wherever the Americans are engaged in dirty deeds. He had things to say on this in his speech on Sunday, including what he defined as higher and lower ceilings of demands. He then accompanied those demands, on Monday, with a warning signal that there would be serious consequences if the US takes its contempt for Arabs and Muslims further.

On the first point, there are no signs that the Arab and Islamist camp that colludes with the US and its Western allies is about to change its political plans. It will therefore continue using confessional and sectarian prejudices in its battle against the resistance axis (and who knows, perhaps the row with the Russians and Chinese will bring forth religious denunciations of Orthodox Christians and Buddhists too). This means, ultimately, that Hezbollah’s move will create a dissonance, which it hopes will have an effect on the general public.

On the second point, there is a new equation based on the principle of “re-focusing the conflict” with the US administration. The conflict itself is not new to anyone. But it has been renewed in light of the US’ greater involvement in denying Arab and Islamic peoples their freedom and rights, and its attempt to either contain the Arab uprisings to prevent real change as in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Libya, or assume control of them as in Syria, with the aim of turning the civil war of attrition into an open-ended conflict with no horizon for a political solution. It is therefore naive to think the US will be spared from paying a price for its actions.
In this regard, it seems abundantly clear, based on abundant evidence, that the US has decided to up the pace of activities aimed at isolating the countries and forces of the axis of resistance. It is spending tens of millions of dollars on programs aimed at turning collusion with itself, or even with Israel, into a normal activity, the mere exercise of a different point of view. That will never be the case, however much those who think otherwise lie and however low they stoop. Those who collaborate with the enemy, or have no problem with such collaboration, would do well to get the message before it is too late.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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