[Marxism] Hezbollah cements victory with political "coup d'etat", rebuilding work

M. Junaid Alam junaidalam1 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 16 02:53:32 MDT 2006

Quite apart from Israel's military embarassment is what's doubly worse:
political humiliation. The Israelis wanted to kick Hezbollah out of the
south, but they have in fact cemented its presence and stature in the entire
country! At the outset of the war, that arrogant fool Peretz was using a
favorite Israeli proto-fascist slogan usually meant to indicate a campaign
to severely brutalize the Arabs for not submitting - "imprint on their
consciousness" - "The name Amir Peretz will be imprinted on the
consciousness of Nasrallah!" The delicious irony is that it is Nasrallah's
name that will be imprinted on Peretz's consciousness, as he will inevitably
be forced to step down and cede power, because the only place Peretz has
imprinted his own name is on the consciousness of the Israeli masses who
will remember him as the man who led them to defeat.

August 16, 2006
The Overview
 Hezbollah Leads Work to Rebuild, Gaining Stature  By JOHN

BEIRUT, Lebanon<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/lebanon/index.html?inline=nyt-geo>,
Aug. 15 — As stunned Lebanese returned Tuesday over broken roads to
shattered apartments in the south, it increasingly seemed that the
beneficiary of the destruction was most likely to be

A major reason — in addition to its hard-won reputation as the only Arab
force that fought
a standstill — is that it is already dominating the efforts to rebuild
with a torrent of money from oil-rich

Nehme Y. Tohme, a member of Parliament from the anti-Syrian reform bloc and
the country's minister for the displaced, said he had been told by Hezbollah
officials that when the shooting stopped, Iran would provide Hezbollah with
an "unlimited budget" for reconstruction.

In his victory speech on Monday night, Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan
offered money for "decent and suitable furniture" and a year's rent on a
house to any Lebanese who lost his home in the month-long war.

"Completing the victory," he said, "can come with reconstruction."

On Tuesday, Israel began to pull many of its reserve troops out of southern
Lebanon, and its military chief of staff said all of the soldiers could be
back across the border within 10 days. Lebanese soldiers are expected to
begin moving in a couple of days, supported by the first of 15,000 foreign
troops. [Page A8.]

While the Israelis began their withdrawal, hundreds of Hezbollah members
spread over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning,
organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting lanes
through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants of buildings
are now, just a day after a cease-fire began, fully passable.

In Sreifa, a Hezbollah official said the group would offer an initial
$10,000 to residents to help pay for the year of rent, to buy new furniture
and to help feed families.

In Taibe, a town of fighting so heavy that large chunks were missing from
walls and buildings where they had been sprayed with bullets, the Audi
family stood with two Hezbollah volunteers, looking woefully at their
windowless, bullet- and shrapnel-torn house.

In Bint Jbail, Hezbollah ambulances — large, new cars with flashing lights
on the top — ferried bodies of fighters to graves out of mountains of

Hezbollah's reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network —
as opposed to the Lebanese government, regarded by many here as sleek men in
suits doing well — was in evidence everywhere. Young men with walkie-talkies
and clipboards were in the battered Shiite neighborhoods on the southern
edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on the extent of the damage.

"Hezbollah's strength," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at the Lebanese
American University here, who has written extensively about the
organization, in large part derives from "the gross vacuum left by the

Hezbollah was not, she said, a state within a state, but rather "a state
within a nonstate, actually."

Sheik Nasrallah said in his speech that "the brothers in the towns and
villages will turn to those whose homes are badly damaged and help rebuild

"Today is the day to keep up our promises," he said. "All our brothers will
be in your service starting tomorrow."

Some southern towns were so damaged that on Tuesday residents had not yet
begun to return. A fighter for the Amal movement, another Shiite militia
group, said he had been told that Hezbollah members would begin to catalog
damages in his town, Kafr Kila, on the Israeli border.

Hezbollah men also traveled door to door checking on residents and asking
them what help they needed.

Although Hezbollah is a Shiite organization, Sheik Nasrallah's message
resounded even with a Sunni Muslim, Ghaleb Jazi, 40, who works at the oil
storage plant at Jiyeh, 15 miles south of Beirut. It was bombed by the
Israelis and spewed pollution northward into the Mediterranean.

"The government may do some work on bridges and roads, but when it comes to
rebuilding houses, Hezbollah will have a big role to play," he said.
"Nasrallah said yesterday he would rebuild, and he will come through."

Sheik Nasrallah's speech was interpreted by some as a kind of watershed in
Lebanese politics, establishing his group on an equal footing with the
official government.

"It was a coup d'état," said Jad al-Akjaoui, a political analyst aligned
with the democratic reform bloc. He was among the organizers of the
anti-Syrian demonstrations after the assassination of former Prime Minister
Rafik Hariri two years ago that led to international pressure to rid Lebanon
of 15 years of Syrian control.

Rami G. Khouri, a columnist for The Daily Star in Beirut, wrote that Sheik
Nasrallah "seemed to take on the veneer of a national leader rather than the
head of one group in Lebanon's rich mosaic of political parties."

"In tone and content, his remarks seemed more like those of a president or a
prime minister should be making while addressing the nation after a terrible
month of destruction and human suffering," Mr. Khouri wrote. "His prominence
is one of the important political repercussions of this war."

Defense Minister Elias Murr said Tuesday that the government would not seek
to disarm Hezbollah.

"The army is not going to the south to strip the Hezbollah of its weapons
and do the work that Israel did not," he said, showing just how difficult
reining in the militia will most likely be in the coming weeks and months.
He added that "the resistance," meaning Hezbollah, had been cooperating with
the government and there was no need to confront it.

Sheik Nasrallah sounded much like a governor responding to a disaster when
he said, "So far, the initial count available to us on completely demolished
houses exceeds 15,000 residential units.

"We cannot of course wait for the government and its heavy vehicles and
machinery because they could be a while," he said. He also cautioned, "No
one should raise prices due to a surge in demand."

Support for Hezbollah was likely to become stronger, Professor Saad-Ghorayeb
said, because of the weakness of the central government.

"Hezbollah has two pillars of support," she said, "the resistance and the
social services. What this war has illustrated is that it is best at both.

Referring to Shiek Nasrallah, she said: "He tells the people, 'Don't worry,
we're going to protect you. And we're going to reconstruct. This has
happened before. We will deliver.' "

Hassan M. Fattah contributed reporting from Sreifa, Lebanon, for this
article, Sabrina Tavernise from Taibe and Robert F. Worth from Jiyeh.

M. Junaid Alam

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