During the Safavid era, Shia Islam effectively moved to Iran . Gradually, the sect got more Sunni in its concentration on laws and observances, and religious scholars began to gain their independence from state policies. With the transformation from Arab to Persian came the ritual to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein at Karbala. Meetings were organized and professional reciters were brought in to recite an emotive version of the events at Karbala, accompanied by weeping and wailing.
It worked for the Safavids because it kept their hold over the Shia masses, and increased hatred towards the Ottomans—identified with the historical Sunni oppressors at the time.
In the 21st century, Hassan Nasrallah is a professional reciter of the glories of Karbala, and his own Karbalas in southern Lebanon. There he is, denouncing a new eternal enemy, vowing victory over new assassins. He may want to appear less Safavid and more Arab, but who is he kidding?
Nothing has changed. Not even the anti-Shia sentiments in this Sunni world. Nasrallah could liberate Jerusalem and hand it back to the Palestinians tomorrow, but to the guardians of the Holy Land East, he will always be a rejectionist Muslim converting the masses to a dangerous and revolutionary creed.
So why waste your time and our time, Hassan? What are you doing trying to lead the Arab masses? No Shia will ever be allowed to rise above the lowest Sunni dictator in this "Sunni Arab" world, as the Saudi King described it.
Must we endure other Karbalas, each and every day, in the name of a cause that died when it no longer involved the Shia? Don't you know, Hassan, that you are not welcome in old Jerusalem?
In his latest speech, Khomeini's disciple told us of a plot that targets all resistance movements in the region — Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon. One plot to divide them all, he says. So if it weren't for the American plotters' evil scheme we would see one unified resistance movement from Babylon to Sinai—with much camaraderie and dedication to reject invaders. With Karbala behind them, and Jerusalem in their hearts, Sunnis and Shia will unite and defeat the evil Zionists and Americans.
And Lebanon will be the enemy's "graveyard."
That Lebanon, which has Nasrallah rioting, occupying and destroying, will be transformed into a graveyard in order to "punish Bush".
"In Lebanon, I affirm the determination of the resistance and steadfastness. He who says the resistance is desperate and tired is delusional… The resistance that is in touch with God and the love Abi Abdallah al-Huseeun cannot tire or despair. The resistance whose men and women heed the call of Hussein every year cannot tire or despair… And here I say to those who claim we forgot about the Shebaa farms and descended to the alleys, come and let us declare a real national resistance to continuously liberate the farms. You are the one who claim to seek its liberation. Great. You are the ones who criticize us for seeking to liberate Shebaa, Kfarshouba, and there's the constant accusation that we don't let anyone else undertake the liberation… You are welcome to go ahead and liberate, we are no longer at the border and that is no secret. I call today for a national resistance... let us establish one resistance for everyone who claims to want to play that role..… In Arqoub, for instance, there is sectarian diversity and anyone can carry out the resistance duty, and the role of the state here is to protect this project."
في لبنان اؤكد جنوبا على عزم المقاومة وصمودها. ومن يقول بان المقاومة يئست وتعبت هو واهم واهم. إن المقاومة التي تتصل بالله وبحب ابي عبدالله الحسين لا يمكن أن تتعب أو تيأس. ان المقاومة التي يلبي رجالها ونساؤها نداء الحسين كل عام لا يمكن أن تيأس أو تضعف... وهنا أقول لبعض من يقول اننا نسينا مزرارع شبعا ونزلنا إلى زواريب تعالوا لاعلان مقاومة وطنية حقيقية لتحرير المزراع دائما، وانتم الذي تدعون أنكم تسعون لتحريرها عظيم.. وانتم الذين كنتم تنقدوننا لأننا تسعى إلى تحرير مزارع شبعا وكفرشوبا وهناك الاتهام الدائم اننا لا نسمح لأحد غيرنا على القيام بالتحرير فليتفضل يطلع للتحرير نحن اليوم لسنا على الحدود وهذا ليس سرا.. ادعو اليوم الى مقاومة وطنية تفضلوا لنقيم ونؤسس مقاومة واحدة كل من يدعي انه يريد القيام بها الدور وكفى مزايدة في هذا الموضوع فلا يزايد احد على احد بالمقاومة. ففي منطقة العرقوب فيها كل أشكال الانتماء الطائفي وغيره حيث يمكن لأي كان أن يقوم بواجب المقاومة وواجب الدولة هنا أن تحمي هذا المشروع
Nasrallah knows very well that there could be no such thing as "national resistance" in Lebanon. Not anymore. He also knows that his Shia description of the resistance does not sit well with the other "resistance" movements of the Arab world, especially the one in Iraq. This Ashoura-inspired call is mostly for domestic Shia consumption, especially after Subhi Tufaili's (former Hizbullah secretary general) accusation that Hizbullah has abandoned the resistance against Israel and leading the Shia to slaughter. It is also a response to some critics in March 14, who thought they could drive a wedge between Nasrallah and his resistance crowd by accusing him of prostituting an otherwise (to them) legitimate resistance.
But also read this statement in the context of his disastrous performance at the domestic box office. Nasrallah is like the filmmaker who kills his audience to impress them with his bravery. His battle against the Lebanese state (or part of it), which wants to put a leash on his Iranian-Syrian undertakings, has pit him against an enemy he has been avoiding for decades: the US. This is his hardest battle yet, and no amount of cross-regional conspiracy theories will save him. He cannot fight "Lebanon First" with "Palestine First" without turning Lebanese against him. He cannot liberate Jerusalem on a Persian horse.
Do not be fooled by his defiance and threats to bury the invaders. Nasrallah is weeping. His emotional revenue on the Arab street is ebbing now that the great Sunni dictators have found a way to win their people back by reducing him into an Iranian attempt to proselytize Sunnis. Nasrallah could try to reclaim some moral superiority by declaring war on the US, but this Shia is no Saladin.