Politically […] Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.
Nasrallah used this tactic along with another called “the Green Flood” to silence critics. Money was ferried from Iran via Syria and distributed to whoever can prove his home was damaged. But $12,000 dollars per destroyed home will not redeem Hizbullah, argues Tahri, who points out the failure of Hizbullah’s victory tactic.
The Green Flood has been unleashed to silence criticism of Mr. Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran. But the trick does not seem to be working. "If Hezbollah won a victory, it was a pyrrhic one," says Walid Abi-Mershed, a leading Lebanese columnist. "They made Lebanon pay too high a price -- for which they must be held accountable."
Hezbollah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hezbollah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that Hezbollah represented the whole of the Shiite community. "I don't believe Hezbollah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting the] war," Mr. al-Amin said. "The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name."
There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hezbollah as "one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time." He accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon's existence in the service of Iran's regional ambitions.
Taheri mentions growing criticism of Nasrallah’s “Stalinist” style within Hizbullah. I am not sure about this claim, given the structure of Hizbullah and Nasrallah’s rights, as bestowed by Iran’s supreme leader. Still, Taheri brings up the following issue:
Mr. Nasrallah was also criticized for his acknowledgement of Ali Khamenei as Marjaa al-Taqlid (Source of Emulation), the highest theological authority in Shiism. Highlighting his bay'aah (allegiance), Mr. Nasrallah kisses the man's hand each time they meet. Many Lebanese Shiites resent this because Mr. Khamenei, a powerful politician but a lightweight in theological terms, is not recognized as Marjaa al-Taqlid in Iran itself. The overwhelming majority of Lebanese Shiites regard Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, in Iraq, or Ayatollah Muhammad-Hussein Fadhlallah, in Beirut, as their "Source of Emulation."
Unfortunately, it is easy for many people, including the Shia themselves, to forget these differences at times of war. Just recently, Sistani ruled that only the state has the right to carry weapons. As for Fadlallah, he has been a constant source of disappointment, unwilling to oppose Hizbullah openly, and actually declaring it a sin to disarm the resistance.
Tahari’s piece is interesting overall. But the quoted Shia dissent remains marginal, despite Taheri’s attempt to paint it in broad strokes. Hizbullah’s tactics aside, Taheri also ignored the effect the Israeli war had on shoring up support for Hizbullah within that community.
As I said in a previous post, which argued that Hizbullah lost on a national level and in the long term, the onus is on the Lebanese government to counter Hizbullah’s tactics and assume the defense of the country. Yesterday, Siniora announced a compensation program, and proposed that the reconstruction effort be privatized.
"We are trying to be in contact with sister countries and donor countries, as well as Lebanese individuals and Arabs and other individuals who would like to, let's say, 'sponsor' certain projects and pay for them," he said.
"We have already put into place such a mechanism, so that we have something that is expedient, cost-effective and transparent," he said.
When asked about Hizbullah’s cash handouts, he said,
Saniora said the cash donations offered by Hizbullah "are limited to" one-year rent and furniture for citizens whose homes were totally destroyed. "But at the end of the day, the issue (reconstruction) will be up to the government," he said.