Karl Sharro







Hezbollah with 'bare' arms 

 A year has passed since the defeat of the Israeli occupation army, a defeat that was brought upon by the various resistances that started only two days after the IDF captured Beirut in 1982 and, especially, by the firm decision of the Lebanese population to stand ground and defend its land. We grab this opportunity to salute the Lebanese people, and to remember each martyr that gave his/her life for Lebanon and the eleven who are still giving of their lives in Israeli prisons. 

And yet the question grows more pressing. If the Hezbollah party enjoyed in the last ten years a range in maneuverability founded on a number of factors, is it still able to do so after the Israeli retreat from south Lebanon? 

When towards the end of the 1980's, Hezbollah took on the task of military operations against the occupying Israeli army, it found itself facing strong resistance from the Syrian controlled Amal party with which it engaged in ferocious battles, ending in the marked defeat of the latter. And yet unlike their predecessors, the leftist national liberation front, Hezbollah found its first crucial positive factor in its relative social and religious homogeneity with the inhabitants of the villages inside the occupied zone and in the areas surrounding it. Something which remained for the "urbanized" leftists of the national liberation front a growing liability and kept them dangerously marked and visibly different. 

Hezbollah added, by 1991, an unconditional Syrian backing and the consequent and convenient demotion of Amal party to the diminutive role of supplying the necessary liberational rhetoric. This, along with the political, religious/ethical and financial support from Iran, Hezbollah had the necessary tri-partite base on which to maneuver effectively. 

Since the retreat of the Israeli army on May 25th 2000, the Lebanese official position has been to demand the further liberation of the Shebaa farms and the release of Lebanese prisoners from Israeli prisons. Such has been the limited (albeit vague) position of the Lebanese government and as such it robbed Hezbollah of one of its founding factors. And that is the internal social Lebanese factor which was previously at the root of the slow but inevitable decline of the leftist national liberation front in 1985. With a radically narrowed field for its operations, a limited population - 50 thousands - among which to 'disappear' and move in secrecy, and the dominant presence among these 50 thousands of other religious denominations than the one with whose blood and support Hezbollah was fighting, the equation is now changed. Hezbollah is now more than ever before in need of the official Lebanese and Syrian backing, and with that it becomes an a-popular movement whose least decision is now calculated in lives and deaths as opposed to the putative past resistances and martyrdoms. 

The Hezbollah crisis is that of the Syrians. And the choice of the Israelis to eradicate the Syrian radars following a Hezbollah operation unveils the gratuitous Syrian presence in Lebanon as well as it exposes the vagueness of the Lebanese official insistence on the Shebaa farms, which according to the united nations is part of Syrian territories and therefore is subject to UN resolution 242. 

With these changes, Hezbollah is finding itself in the process of becoming a mere military band, following the orders of Syria and disarmed of its internal Lebanese backing. And as such it necessarily is "escaping forward" in its adoption of the liberation of Palestine as its new cause, and that of course is a cause that has been often abused and made to become generic, timeless and even 'placeless'. 

How do we move forward from here? The coalition of Left wing forces reunited in Al Minbar al Dimoucrati issued a paper stating clearly that the sovereignty of Lebanon is absolute. This sovereignty and this Lebanon were a starting point in 1982; they can also be our starting point today.


Bilal Khbeiz , Fady Abdallah , Fady Tawfiq , Karl Sharro , Marwan Rashmawi , Nadim Qtaysh , Tony Shakar , Walid Sadeq

[The signatories to this statement are independent leftists or members of the Organization for Communist Action (Mounazzamat al 3amal Ashyou3I)]

May 2001