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Hezbollah's war continues to inspire some unprecedented politics in the Middle East, this time in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. An influential cleric who helped inspire Osama bin Laden's war on the West has issued a fatwa demanding that Saudis oppose the 'devil' in this conflict -- but if you think that means the yahoud, you'd be mistaken:
A top Saudi Sunni cleric, whose ideas inspired Osama bin Laden, issued a religious edict Saturday disavowing the Shi'ite guerrilla group Hizbullah, evidence that a rift remained among Muslims over the fighting in Lebanon.
Hizbullah, which translates as "the party of God," is actually "the party of the devil," said Sheik Safar al-Hawali, whose radical views made the al-Qaida leader one of his followers in the past.
"Don't pray for Hizbullah," he said in the fatwa posted on his Web site.
The edict, which reflects the historical stand of strict Wahhabi doctrine viewing Shi'ite Muslims as heretics, follows a similar fatwa from another popular Saudi cleric Sheik Abdullah bin Jibreen two weeks into the conflict with Israel.
"It is not acceptable to support this rejectionist party (Hizbullah), and one should not fall under its command, or pray for its victory," bin Jibreen said at the time. That fatwa set off a maelstrom across the Arab world, with other leaders and people at the grass roots level imploring Muslims to put aside differences to support the fight against Israel.
The war has sundered the Sunni community in the region. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the Saudi rejections, pitting two of the most influential Sunni factions against each other. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for support for the Shi'ite terrorists in Lebanon even while killing Shi'ites in Iraq, a position that Zawahiri doesn't even bother to try to rescue from incoherence.
People have warned about unifying Islamists around a terrorist culture through Israel's attempt to dismantle Hezbollah's military capability after years of provocations. They may eventually prove prescient, but at the moment it looks like Hezbollah has driven even deeper fractures into the Islamic world. In any event, ignoring Hezbollah has done nothing to either solve the terrorism or to garner a consensus among Islamic nations to end it, so these warnings sound almost as incoherent as Zawahiri on this issue.
We should quit worrying about the so-called Arab street on this point. Not only is it not a one-way thoroughfare, it looks like a street that can't even pick out two distinct directions.
UPDATE: AJ Strata links to this as well, but his primary point sounds intriguing:
If Hezbollah is as well armed and trained as the Syrian and Iranian militaries, then maybe we have been overestimating the ability of these nations while we underestimated Hezbollah. Syria is looking especially vulnerable since their military has not been in a fight for decades and therefore is not battle hardened. In fact, I would wager Syrian and Iranian elements are inside the Hezbollah units right now. One thing is for sure. As this battle rages on, those who fear confrontation at all costs get shriller as we saw in Qana. But those who are not afraid of confrontation in self defense are watching how the last bastions of Islamo Fascism in the Middle East are looking like less and less of a force to deal with. As long as the other side doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.
And that is what the handwringing media has lost site of. This conflict was started because Iran was willing to start a regional war to hold onto their hopes for nuclear power and possible state-initiated martyrdom.
Read the rest of his thoughts.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Tracked on August 8, 2006 9:19 PM
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