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March 6, 2005
Hezbollah Endorses The Occupation

Hezbollah had mostly remained silent in the face of the Cedar Revolution, presumably to avoid drawing attention to its special status and relationship to the Syrian occupiers. Now it has decided to fight for the occupation to continue rather than face a free Lebanon, calling for counterdemonstrations to support continued Syrian administration of the country:

Hizbollah, Lebanon's most powerful party, threw its weight against Syria's opponents on Sunday, calling for a peaceful mass rally in central Beirut on Tuesday in support of Damascus and against Western meddling.

The Shi'ite Muslim group, which has the largest following in the country and is the only one with weapons, has in the past steered clear of plunging into internal Lebanese politics or flexing its political muscles against domestic rivals. ...

In the name of loyalist parties, he called for a mass rally Tuesday at a square in central Beirut close to another square where opposition protesters have been demanding Syria quit Lebanon for the past three weeks.

"I call on all Lebanese to this peaceful popular gathering to reject foreign intervention that is contrary to our independence, sovereignty and freedom," he said.

I somehow doubt that the Lebanese, who have flocked to Beirut to demand Syrian withdrawal, would describe their country as independent, sovereign, or free as long as Syrian troops and Syrian intelligence control Lebanon. Hezbollah apparently thinks that its status as defenders of the southern border and its pledged numbers give it a political status that somehow trumps widespread Lebanese demands for complete independence from their eastern neighbor. However, Hezbollah doesn't count on the reflexive nature of tyrannical support; when given no other option, people will include themselves as supporters of the status quo, which Hezbollah certainly represented during the Syrian occupation.

Hezbollah probably made a fatal mistake by publicly supporting Syrian occupation instead of just transforming itself into a political force working towards the same ends. History proves that after a liberation, the collaborators endure a painful -- usually fatal -- reconciliation with the liberated. As part of the armed services that Syria used to keep the Lebanese in line, their status with their soon-freed countrymen will be worse than normal collaborators. I predict that many of those on whom Hezbollah relies for political power will have denied their membership or any connection whatsoever to the terrorist group, and will actively work against them to prove their bona fides.

Hezbollah's protests will only serve to identify the flat-earthers who refuse to recognize reality. Even worse, the Lebanese will see these people as Assad's attempt to work around the pullout or even start using violence to justify a Syrian reoccupation. Hezbollah will find itself incredibly isolated as a result of this mistake. They would have been smarter to get in front of the movement and transform themselves into a potent political force by endorsing their country's sovereignty, but then again, they never did have loyalty to Lebanon in the first place.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 6, 2005 10:07 AM

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