Monday, August 28, 2006

Nasrallah: It Wasn't Worth It!

(in collaboration with Debate)

In comments given in an interview on Lebanese television station New TV Sunday night, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah toned down much of his group's post-war rhetoric. Nasrallah conceded that the destruction caused as a result of his group's abduction of two IDF soldiers had cost the nation and its people too much and outweighed the benefits derived from the operation.

"Had we known that the kidnapping of the soldiers would have led to this, we would definitely not have done it," said [a calm Nasrallah].

"We did not think that there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war of this scale and magnitude...Now you ask me if this was 11 July and there was a 1% chance that the kidnapping would lead to a war like the one that has taken place, would you go ahead with the kidnapping? I would say no, definitely not, for umanitarian, moral, social, security, military and political reasons...Neither I, Hezbollah, prisoners in Israeli jails and nor the families of the prisoners would accept it."

This change of tone is a reflection of the very real devastation and destruction the Shiite community (Hizballah's primary base of support) is having to deal with as they return to the homes they fled during the conflict. Earlier in the week, the leading Shiite cleric of the city of Tyre and the surrounding regions, questioned the monopolization of political life by the two dominant Shiite parties of the country, Amal and Hizballah, and said that the majority of Shiites were moderates that did not adhere to an extremist agenda. The cleric went on to state that the Shiites of Lebanon rejected the notion of a 'state within a state', and that following this summer's events would start to question their leaders more closely.

In other statements made by Nasrallah, the leader revealed that initial contacts leading to indirect negotiations on a prisoner exchange had already had been taken. According to the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, terms for the exchange have already been agreed to by Israel and Hizballah, through German mediation with the actual exchange taking place in the coming weeks. Germany has mediated similar exchanges in the past, most notably the January 2004 release of 400 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the bodies of 3 IDF commados killed in a raid on Lebanon and an Israeli businessman accussed of having ties to Israel's intelligence body, Mossad.

According to figures provided by the Lebanese Higher Relief Council, approximately 15,000 housing units were destroyed throughout the duration of the war, displacing approximately 800,000 people.
Arabic Sources


  1. Well... This is somehow nice to say, but I think he should've thought of this 1% possibility that a devastating war will happen! I am sure he considered, and this is just talks, to be sent to the audiance and people and especially chiite who lost so much as morphine...

  2. Absolutely. This speech was totally aimed at a Shiite audience who's anger with the war (and the abduction that precipitated it) is on the rise given the difficulties they must now endure as a result of it.

    As an aspiring national leader, and the leader of an armed group, Nasrallah's job is to consider this 1%, that is what his supporters expect of him, his remarks to that effect will, I think, reduce his stature on the Shiite political scene.

    There are rumors of internal rifts in Hizballah, between pro-Iranian elements and more nationalistic ones. Check out:

    A Theory

  3. Indeed, actually various sources confirm these rifts. There's a heated debate between a strongly pro-iranian wing and another one that takes more into account the seperate Arab identity of Lebanese Shiism. Now concerning external rifts in the shiaa community itself, strong comments voiced by Mufti Ali Al Amine cannot be ignored because he represents a deep rooted segment of Shiaa Islam in south lebanon. As a matter of fact, a silent majority in the lebanese shiaa community refuses to acknowlege the theocratic wilayah of the deputy of the hidden imam (Ali al Khamnei) in the Iranian city of Qom. Historically, Lebanese Shiites thought of themselves to be leaders of shia thought, and always had an Arab reference (Najaf in Iraq) and frankly find the Iranian attempt to take control as a act of arrogance to say the least.

  4. Teapot10:11 AM

    Nasralla is not innocent or stupid as he pretends to be. Lets see the time-line:
    June 25 Gilad Shalit captured
    - Hamas demands thousands of prisoners released.
    - Olmert says he wont negotiate and starts ground operations in Gaza.
    July 12 Hiz Attacks
    - After two whole weeks, Nasralla had enough time to realize Olmert is not acting like Sharon.
    - Nasralla calls Olmert and Peretz "rookies" (u don't insult heads of states like that if u don't intend for war). Also, Peretz was born in Morocco and honor is very important to these people (people from Arab countries)
    - Nasralla intensifies attacks on Israel using longer range Fajar missiles and hits deep into Israel.

    You really think he made a mistake?
    Don't be fooled.

  5. Did nt they say just a few days ago that Israel was planning to attack Lebanon in october anyway? And that its good that it happened now because Israel still was not ready?

  6. to nobody: this can never be a GOOD thing simply because it happened. Thousand-plus victims.

    I don't think that Nasrallah would admit to making mistakes on any public forum. He may not have expected such a massive outburst, but it was clear that he had made provisions for such.

    This was simply a message to soothe those direly affected by this war.

  7. In the interview he maintained that Israel had been planning to attack Lebanon in September and that his operation took them by surprise and forced them to move ahead of schedule, eliminating the element of surprise from their plans and leading to a mismanagement of the campaign a result of being rushed.

    As far as I'm concerned Nasrallah's logic - or what he's trying to pass as justification for a war nobody in Lebanon wanted - is completely flawed. If you know someone is planning on attacking you then why give them the pretext under which they can carry out their plan? What you do is expose the plan and defuse it. Secondly, I think its normal for Israel to have contingency plans that attempt to take advantage of a situation. Thats what this operation was, a contingency plan put in place to try and change the status quo and put Hizballah in a corner. There were several ways of doing this but the Israeli government didn't commit whole heartedly to the full military solution while the IDF made it impossible to pursue a more tactful solution.


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