Rick Moran of Right Wing Nuthouse sent me a link to an intriguing article in Lebanon’s Daily Star, in which Sheikh Nasrallah explains quite clearly how Hezbollah now runs the Lebanese government. Nasrallah gave an interview in which he told A-Jazeera that he has assigned some tasks to government officials regarding international negotiations, and how the Lebanese government has entered into an agreement with Nasrallah to allow Hezbollah to operate at will against the Israelis.
Nasrallah mentioned five points for his program (emphases mine):
First, Nasrallah insisted on an exchange of prisoners, beginning with the longest-held Lebanese detainee, Samir Qantar. However, according to contacts with Israel, the Jewish state would never agree to release Qantar because he killed Israeli civilians.
Second, Nasrallah said he did not care about Arab criticism of Hizbullah. Commenting on the issue, Nasrallah said, “We forgot them as if they [Arab states] do not exist,” and advised the Arabs to “leave us alone.” Some observers said the latter comment had a “harsh and negative” tone.
Third, by agreeing to conduct negotiations through the government (specifically Speaker Nabih Berri), ,b>Nasrallah consolidated an agreement made between Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Berri and Hizbullah last week. Nasrallah also said the government was relaying proposals from the international community and that the resistance was commenting on them. …
Fourth, Nasrallah said his party would “hold some accountable and forgive others,” in response to MP Saad Hariri’s accusations that “adventurers who banked on the situation in Lebanon will be held accountable.” The ministerial sources saw in this statement an “open threat without clear consequences.”
Fifth, Nasrallah’s most remarkable stand, in addition to ruling out the possibility of civil war, was his keenness on preserving his alliance with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.
Most remarkably, Hezbollah now openly states that it has co-opted the Lebanese government, and that they now do his bidding. That places responsibility for the act of war against Israel back on the Lebanese government, and that means that Israel now can consider the entire nation of Lebanon at war with them — if Ehud Olmert wants to do so. The international reaction has treated Fuad Saniora as a hostage to Hezbollah’s terrorist wing, but this makes him look much more like an accomplice, along with Michel Aoun.
This also explains the official Lebanese statement proclaiming that the same military that could not disarm Hezbollah over the last year would now join the terrorists in the field against the Israelis. It appears that the executive branch of the Lebanese government has either lied about its inability to address the Hezbollah militia forces, or is fooling itself in squaring off with the finest native army in the Middle East. Given this, Saniora’s protestations for the last ten days certainly appear to have been empty words indeed. While he pleaded that he lacked the power to disarm the terrorists, he secretly concluded an alliance with them.
Nasrallah’s other points bear mentioning as well. He demands the release of Samir Qantar, a Lebanese national held since 1979 by Israel. However, that appears unlikely at best, since Israel convicted him of three murders in Nahariya, including a policeman and a four-year-old girl. Qantar’s family says that the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers was “the best news in the world”, because they expect Israel to trade him for the two soldiers. Olmert does not appear in any mood to give Qantar’s family any good news at all, and this demand will only mean an extension of military action.
So why has Nasrallah decided on the impossible? He put himself in the position of having to deliver Qantar. In 2004, the Germans arranged a swap of 400 Palestinian and 23 Lebanese prisoners for the bodies of three Israeli soldiers killed in 2000 and a live Israeli businessman. Nasrallah did not get Qantar in that trade, though; the Israelis refused to release someone who had killed a policeman and a little girl, epsecially for an act of calculated murder. Nasrallah promised at the time that he would get Qantar released, and the abduction of the two IDF soldiers this month intended on providing the pressure on Israel to help him validate his promise.
Nasrallah’s reputation depends on delivering Qantar, whom Hezbollah built up into a folk hero (for killing a toddler, which tells people enough about the Islamist state of mind). If Nasrallah cannot spring him, then he will have created a lot of damage and destruction for nothing, and once again will have fallen short of his grandiose declarations.
Another Nasrallah point deals with internal criticism from Lebanese politicians, notably Saad Hariri, the son of the slain Rafik Hariri whose assassination wound up pushing Syria out of Lebanon. Nasrallah boldly states that Hezbollah would “hold some accountable”, which even the Daily Star interpreted as a threat of further assassinations. One would think that the Hariri family had sacrificed enough for a free and independent Lebanon, but Hezbollah has other plans. If Nasrallah actually acts on that threat, it might be enough to see the rest of Lebanon rise up against the Islamists and start a new civil war to rid the nation of the Hezbollah blight. Nasrallah must be counting on Syrian intervention, but unfortunately for Hezbollah, it looks like Israel will get their first, and in bigger numbers.
Nasrallah also rejects Arab criticism of his actions, claiming that their objections has made Nasrallah “forg[e]t them as if they do not exist”. He had better remember them quickly, because if he continues on the path he has chosen, he may need to relocate in one hell of a hurry.
Be sure to read Rick’s commentary on this as well.