Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hizbollah: Losing the peace?

Will Hizbollah win the war in Lebanon only to then loose the peace?

It is a question that more Lebanese are asking themselves these days, as Hizbollah strikes out to capitalize on its successful stand against the Israeli army, and plough it's efforts into reconstruction of the south.

That on it's own is not what is troubling some Lebanese. It is instead the independant and sectarian nature of this effort that troubles them.

Hizbollah's leadership are not stupid in one regard at least. They have cultivated good relations with many of their Christian neighbors in the south. Many Lebanese in the south give at least nominal support to Hizbollah because of its role in forcing an Israeli withdrawal in 2000. Sunnis, Christians, Shia, secular and religious all suffered from the long Israeli occupation and credit Hizbollah for ending it. All Lebanese can and many non-Shia do sometimes benefit from the social and other services Hizbollah provides.

But now Hizbollah is talking about rebuilding southern Lebanon on it's own, and that it doesn't want help from the Lebanese government. Hizbollah is talking about it's victory, it's fighters and it's sacrifices, leaving many Lebanese to wonder what it is they were doing during the 33 months of bombing the Hizbollah cross-border attack instigated.

Hizbollah will probably be more efficient in reconstruction efforts than the national government. The national government has largely shown that it is anything if not inept, failing miserably to respond to the humanitarian disaster brought on the war with any semblence of order or effectiveness. But what troubles Lebanese is the increasingly sectarian nature of how Hizbollah and it's supporters view this war and it's aftermath.

There is a real fear that Hizbollah will use the post-war reconstruction, with funds Iran is already supplying for this purpose, to solidify both its hold on the Shia population and independence from Lebanon. Instead of speaking and acting as if the victory over Israel was a Lebense victory, they are talking about it as only a Hizbollah victory.

All Lebanese have suffered and will suffer as a result of this war, one for which there was no national consensus. If Hizbollah does not soon reconcile its own over abundance of hubris and seek to speak and act in terms inclusive to all Lebanese, it will signal yet one more step towards the renewal of serious and deep sectarian conflict. God forbid, but it may even contribute at some point to an outbreak of yet another civil war.


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