Cornered and attacked, Hizbullah did what it does best: hide behind the suffering of its people—suffering inflicted (at least in part) by their own policies.
Nasrallah in an interview to be aired tonight on al-Jazeera said that Hizbullah was backstabbed during the war by some parties in Lebanon, alleging that until now Hizbullah had been patient. He described these parties (i.e. March 14) as "partners" in the Israeli attacks. He described hosting British Prime Minister Tony Blair as an "immoral act" committed by "that prime minister that we have". He said if an invitation had been extended to Blair, it is a national catastrophe. If Blair had decided to come out of his own will, then it is a national insult. He said Israeli media was more fair towards Hizbullah than some of the March 14 media. (source: Aljazeera broadcast)
Yesterday, Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar addressed a group of young Shias in a destroyed part of the southern suburb, and declared that Hizbullah would never relinquish its weapons. He sent a message to whoever wants to discuss or negotiate their disarmament to do so with the "shoes of Qana's children". Ammar accused March 14 of aligning themselves with the "Israeli enemy" in front of thousands commemorating the birthday of Imam al-Mahdi, who, ironically, was sent into occultation in the 9th century by Shia scholars committed to a quietest version of Shia Islam. It was Khomeini who appropriated the hidden imam's powers in wilayat al Faqih.
We say this government must go. We want a national unity government. We want a government with Michel Aoun and Suleiman Franjieh, and all those honorable faces that stood by the resistance… (source: LBC news broadcast. AFP has a story here.)
Another Hizbullah MP yesterday even warned against UNIFIL being used by March 14 as leverage in domestic politics. He added that it was "forbidden" for UNIFIL to exceed its mandate and areas of operation, probably in reference to calls by Walid Jumblatt for UNIFIL to monitor the border with Syria.
What Hizbullah has been doing since the March 14 and Maronite bishops' statements is mobilizing its "street" against the Siniora government, promising "action" after Ramadan, and diverting responsibility for the calamity to the forces who want to end their monopoly over defense matters.
Also, what Hizbullah is realizing now, with UNIFIL on the ground giving March 14 the teeth they never grew, and with the official "resistance party" fully engaged in domestic politics, it risks becoming redundant or at least losing its god given monopoly.
Make no mistake. Hizbullah is not just offended by the speeches of March 14 leaders. This isn't about honor or backstabbing. It's an existential battle. They are beginning the feel the siege imposed on them by the international community, and most importantly, the Siniora government. International monitors are starting to watch the sea and the country's ports and entry points. Whereas Hizbullah was counting on its people and allies in the various security services and the army to turn a blind eye to weapon shipments, Siniora is increasingly involving European forces in the monitoring process (especially the airport), tightening the noose around Hizbullah, which risks losing its supply routes.
The dissent in the Shia religious circles is also starting to bother God's alleged party. The Shia Muftis of Tyre and Jabal Amel, and Sidon (which covers most of the south) have openly criticized Hizbullah's weapons. Nothing bothers Hizbullah more than the prospect of rule of law and religious leaders not affiliated with their "wilayat al Faqih" moving to reclaim the community, taken hostage by Khomeini's soldiers through war and bribery.
Hizbullah, after all, is not a real political party. It's a Jihad movement with a political agenda. You neutralize the Jihad part, thrust them into the country's sectarian politics with its many checks and balances, and the movement's existence risks becoming redundant. That is why they cherish the Christian and political cover provided by Michel Aoun.
Will Hizbullah resort to civil war? With Aoun on board, it is unlikely in the short term. Nasrallah in the past had insisted their weapons are only aimed at Israel. But then, he also said they weren't permanent. Ali Ammar yesterday told us they are as permanent as the Qur'an and the Bible. But expect a lot of vandalism, many demonstrations, though they should realize that in Lebanon, for every demonstration, there is a counter demonstration. And for every March 8, there is March 14.
One of the major obstacles now in reining them in is the extent of control the Siniora government has over the army and the internal security forces. That is a question many are afraid to ask. The assassination attempt last week was a reminder that the government's control of security is at best loose. I think Siniora is counting on UNIFIL to fill that gap, although his government should be moving towards consolidating its control over the military. That is why removing Lahoud is so important at this stage, which Hizbullah and Aoun oppose on grounds it would turn March 14 into the sole rulers of the country—as if March 14 were one person (like Aoun) or homogenous entity (like Hizbullah) with dictatorial aspirations.
Update. Asharq Al Awsat reported today that 3 shipments of weapons arrived for Hizbullah via Beirut's international airport on board planes from Dubai (the shipments reportedly originated in Iran). The weapons, which include anti-aircraft missiles, were transferred unintercepted to a "Hizbullah base in Baalbeck". The report cited Israeli military sources. The sources attributed the success of the smuggling to Lebanese government constraints limiting UNIFIL's capabilities. The sources claimed UNIFIL forces are stationed 1 km from the airport runway and naval forces 12 km from the coast. The Tripoli port is also largely unmonitored, allowing small syrian boats to roam the Lebanese waters freely.