[Marxism] Re: They look like us..
brian_shannon at verizon.net
Mon Jul 24 09:46:25 MDT 2006
Hezbollah's grip will be tough to break
By SUSAN TAYLOR MARTIN, Times Senior Correspondent
Published July 14, 2006
When I was in Lebanon last year, I had an interview with one of the
leaders of Hezbollah, the radical Shiite organization that kidnapped
two Israeli soldiers this week.
To accompany me, I hired an interpreter, a blond, blue-eyed Lebanese
Christian woman in spike heels and a short skirt. As we drove to
Hezbollah's headquarters in southern Beirut, home to hundreds of
thousand of poor Shiites, the streets got more crowded, the buildings
more decrepit, the women more modestly dressed to the point many wore
Iranian-style black abayas and head scarves.
My interpreter, eyes widening as a truly foreign scene unfolded
before her, had a confession: Even though she was born in Beirut, she
had never seen this part of the city.
"I had no idea," she kept repeating.
In many ways it was a moment that told the story of Lebanon and
showed why its government may be unable to crack down on Hezbollah
even in the face of huge Israeli pressure. In retaliation for the
kidnappings and rocket attacks, Israel on Thursday bombed Beirut's
international airport, blockaded its seaport and created a near panic
that sent thousands of visitors fleeing to neighboring Syria.
After Lebanon's terrible civil war ended in 1990, central Beirut went
through a building boom that helped restore its image as the "Paris
of the Mideast." Today, the Beirut that my interpreter and many other
well-to-do Lebanese know is a city of luxury hotels, smart shops,
fast cars and trendy restaurants.
Much of the credit for Beirut's transformation went to the late Rafik
Hariri, a Sunni entrepreneur who started out in the construction
business in Saudi Arabia and returned home to become one of Lebanon's
richest and most influential citizens. He twice served as prime
minister, favoring friends and relatives, critics say, and largely
ignoring the Shiites who populated the slums of south Beirut and the
villages in southern Lebanon close to the Israeli border.
Hezbollah stepped into the gap left by the government, starting
schools and health care clinics and building a base of support among
the Shiites, who are thought to make up a majority of Lebanon's 4-
million people. There has been no official census since 1932. The
organization now has 14 seats in Lebanon's Parliament and, along with
Amal, another Shiite party, controls about a third of the Cabinet.
. . .
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