Nasrallah’s Commitment to Political Suicide

By Mahmoud Yamak

It does not come as a surprise any more that many Arabs nowadays refer to Hezbollah (“Party of God”) as Hezbolshaytan (“Party of Satan”). Their continued military engagement in Syria has eroded their popularity all across the region. A Pew poll conducted in 2013 displays the ever increasing unfavorable view of Hezbollah with numbers as high as 72%, 75%, and 73% in Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, respectively. Even with such staggering disapproval of Hezbollah’s involvement in propping up Assad’s war machine, Nasrallah has made it clear that his party’s relationship with the Baathists in Damascus is ironclad.

This comes amidst a wave of Syrian revolutionary fighter gains in Idlib province, where Idlib City was liberated, followed by Jisr Al Shughoor, and most recently, the Mastoomeh military base. Bashar Al-Assad’s promise to liberate Jisr Al Shughoor Hospital was futile, as Assad troops attempting to escape rebel siege on the complex were targeted in open fields. Meanwhile, ISIS has captured the last remaining regime border crossing with Iraq in addition to the central city of Palmyra. This sets the stage for a possible ISIS assault on Hama, while simultaneously cutting off crucial supply routes for Assad troops.

As a result, the regime’s morale is at an all-time low with many staunch pro-Assad activists, including Abdul Massih Al-Shami, a Syrian writer, citing his frustration that the “Axis of resistance” continues to use Syrian lives as “cannon fodder to advance their own interests”. Also, numerous reports have come out from the Alawite heartland of Lattakia, regarding the refusal of men to enlist in the Army due to the wave of military losses all over the country. The situation is so dire that there is an extreme shortage of young, Alawite men left to fill in the ranks of their fallen comrades.
With such a bleak situation for the regime, Nasrallah came out with some noteworthy remarks on Saturday. These remarks were all reported by Lebanese newspapers considered to have a visible, pro-Hezbollah slant, Al-Akhbar and Al-Saffir. Nasrallah begins his remarks, as he is accustomed to doing, by exploiting Shiite terminology, specifically references to Zainab (a figure highly respected in both branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia) and the protection of her sanctity from the “takfiris”. He then cites the Siffin battle as some sort of analogy to the battle taking place in Syria. Of course, Nasrallah sees himself as representing Ali Bin Abi Taleb. Consequently, he reminds everyone that their involvement in Syria is part of “God’s promise” because they represent the “House of the Prophet”.

However, it seems that “God’s promise” is only allocated to the Shiites who support Hezbollah. By almost making devotion to Shiism synonymous with support for Hezbollah, Nasrallah states that the “American embassy Shias are stupid and traitors, and they will not be able to change our beliefs [about Syria]”. The expression “American embassy Shias”, here, is meant to describe some Shias as sellouts to their own people, in favor of their oppressors, much like the derogatory American expression “Uncle Tom” is used. Such exclusionary rhetoric and name calling has brought fear to people like the Shia MP, Okab Sakr, who had to flee to Istanbul. This was the result of threats on his life from pro-Hezbollah circles, due to his outspoken resistance to Hezbollah intervention in Syria.

Nasrallah continues with some more desperate and irresponsible remarks, as he claims that he is willing to have one half of his people killed for the sake of “living in dignity”. He goes on to say that this is a “life or death matter” for us. Furthermore, he claims that Hezbollah is “prepared to fight everywhere”, which once again signifies the complete lack of consideration, as a legitimate political entity in Lebanon, to abide by Baabda Palace’s non-intervention policy. All of this builds up to his main point where he calls for a “general mobilization”, a seemingly frantic attempt to use Lebanese Shias as replacements for Assad’s soldiers killed in battle. All of this, of course, is happening with barely any loss of life by Iran, who, in reality, has the most to gain while Hezbollah has the most to lose.

Once again, Nasrallah’s remarks draw attention to the quagmire that has been the result of his very own actions. His latest remarks show his sense of desperation at the current state of affairs, which he himself has described as “the worst since the 1982 Israeli onslaught”.

Referring to Shias who oppose his interventionism as “American embassy Shias”, having one of his MP’s, Mohammed Raad, openly threaten the Secretary General of Al-Mustaqbal, Ahmed Hariri, and his willingness to sacrifice half of his sect for this war contribute to the appearance of growing discord within the movement and a behavior bordering hysteria. According to Saudi analyst, Jamal Khashoggi, there may still be a way out for Hezbollah if it chooses to withdraw from Syria and cease in taking part in the murder of Syrians. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case and this decision will lead to their ultimate suicide. Nasrallah did get one thing right in his series of crazed remarks; it has truly become a matter of life or death for them. And the blame lies solely on Nasrallah.

Mahmoud Yamak is a Texas-based blogger currently pursing his Masters degree in Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University.