[lit-ideas] Is Hizbollah a Resistance Organization or not?

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2006 15:55:17 -0700




From: Lawrence Helm [mailto:lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx] 
Attempted to send: Sunday, August 06, 2006 12:17 PM


Here is an interesting dispatch from MEMRI indicating that the Arab world is
split over the Hizbollah/Israeli war.  The nation leading the opposition to
Hizbollah's actions is Saudi Arabia.  The nation leading the support is
Syria.  The dispatch doesn't contain a list of the nations representing each
side.  It quotes from a member of the PLO opposing Hizbollah and it quotes
from an Egyptian newspaper that opposes Hizbollah but another Egyptian
newspaper supports it.  One of the Syrian articles supporting Hizbollah
criticizes the "nations" (plural) that oppose Hizbollah so there must be
more than just Saudi Arabia and elements in Palestine and Egypt.


I note how close Omar's arguments seem to Syria's.  The Lit-Ideas Leftists
aren't as articulate but side with Omar, Syria and Hizbollah.  I haven't
seen any of them siding with Israel.  And by "side" I mean in the same sense
that the Dispatch indicates, in the same sense that Saudi Arabia does.
Saudi Arabia blames Hizbollah for adventurism.  This doesn't imply any
long-term support of Saudi Arabia for Israel, but it does recognize Israel's
right to defend itself.  Syria claims Hizbollah was "resisting."  Even the
invading of Israel and capturing of hostages was resistance according to
them.  I suppose if you don't believe in Israel's right to exist anything
you do to them "resists" their existence and is therefore legitimate.  The
Syrian articles don't present any real arguments.  They just rail at those
who oppose them.  




Special Dispatch - Jihad & Terrorism Project August 7, 2006 No. 1234


Debate in the Arab Countries - Is Hizbullah a "Resistance" Organization or

Cracks in the United Arab Position on Hizbullah's Right to "Resistance"
Against Israel


To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit:
http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD123406 .


The war between Israel and Hizbullah has revealed profound disagreement in
the Arab world concerning the legitimacy of Hizbullah's activities against
Israel. Two major camps have emerged. The first camp, led by Saudi Arabia,
opposed Hizbullah's activities and called them "uncalculated adventures,"
not "resistance," and said that in order for a group to be considered a
resistance organization it must meet certain criteria that Hizbullah does
not meet. The second camp, headed by Syria, has supported Hizbullah and has
considered it a true resistance organization that is conducting "glorious
national resistance" that brings honor to the Arabs. They contend that
resistance is always legitimate, and that its legitimacy is not dependent on
any particular conditions.(1)


In a speech at the emergency summit of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, on
July 15, 2006, Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh observed that there
was a shift in Arab perceptions: "There has been a development in the
concepts and criteria employed in the international arena. [These concepts]
are crystallizing in a manner that is contrary to the Arab interest.
[According to these criteria,] resistance is terrorism, but [Israel is seen
as employing] self-defense, which gives it a free hand to destroy and kill
without any limitation."(2)


The following are excerpts from statements by Saudi and Syrian officials and
media, as well as the Egyptian press.     



Senior Saudi Officials: Hizbullah's Actions "Uncalculated Adventures" 


The contention that Hizbullah's actions were not resistance was first heard
July 12, 2006, from a senior Saudi official who stated: "There is no choice
but to differentiate between legitimate resistance and the uncalculated
adventures that some elements in the country [i.e. Hizbullah] are carrying
out _ they and those who stand behind them _ this without their having had
recourse to the legitimate sovereign authority in their country, and without
any coordination or consultation with the Arab countries. Saudi Arabia sees
this as a very dangerous situation that is bringing destruction to the Arab
countries and to their achievements, without these countries being able to
express their opinion [on the matter]. The time has come for these elements,
and they alone, to bear full responsibility for their irresponsible
behavior, and they alone need to bear the burden of the crisis they


Similar statements were made by Saudi Foreign Minister Sa'ud Al-Faisal, in a
speech at the emergency summit of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on July
15, 2006: "A decision made [independently] by a single country is not
acceptable _ all the more so when irresponsible elements who do not
recognize the supremacy of the state make decisions on their own that not
only entangle that country, but also push the other countries to
uncalculated adventures."(4)


*"The Land Has Been Liberated; the Role of the Resistance Must End"

Saudi Ambassador to the Arab League Ahmad 'Abd Al-'Aziz Qattan explained the
Saudi position: "No one is opposed to resistance everywhere in the Arab
world, but the true aim of any resistance must be the liberation of land. If
the land has [already] been liberated, then the role of the resistance must
end, and it must be dissolved into the melting pot of the country..."(5)



Saudi Daily: "[Hizbullah] Cannot Be Considered Legitimate National
Resistance if it is Loyal to Anyone Other than Lebanon... [if it is]
Unilateral... And if it Disregards [Arab] Reactions"


An editorial in the Saudi daily 'Okaz claimed that Hizbullah does not meet
the criteria to be considered legitimate resistance: "There exists a
consensus concerning the definition of an 'occupier': he is one who uses
force to illegitimately steal land that is not his own from its residents.
However, there is disagreement concerning the definition of 'legitimate
resistance.' In the case of the resistance in southern Lebanon and the
degree of legitimacy [given] to Hizbullah as national resistance, we find
ourselves before an interpretation that is different [than the standard one
in support of resistance movements]... The Hizbullah organization's being a
defense [organization] on Lebanese soil is not sufficient for it to be
considered a legitimate resistance movement, if it acts outside of the
umbrella of the Lebanese government. Actions that some [i.e. Hizbullah]
consider quality actions against the Israeli enemy are actually [actions]
that bring disasters and troubles on all of Lebanon.


"Likewise, [Hizbullah's] resistance cannot be considered legitimate national
resistance if it is loyal to anyone other than Lebanon, for any reason, and
it cannot be [considered] legitimate national resistance as long as it does
not receive the blessing of the government and the people. It also cannot be
considered legitimate resistance that enjoys the support of Arab and Muslim
public opinion if [it undertakes] unilateral actions whose consequences are
uncalculated, and if it disregards the [Arabs'] reactions to this..."(6)  



*"When Injustice is Done, This is No Longer Resistance"


Egyptian columnist 'Abdallah 'Abd Al-Salam also claimed that Hizbullah's
actions can no longer be considered resistance. In an article in the
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram he wrote: "Isn't it strange that Hizbullah
disregarded even to the need to inform the Lebanese government about the
operation before it happened _ and then afterwards demanded that it attest
that it had seen nothing, that it lend its signature to [Hizbullah's]
strategy being correct, and that it got Lebanon entangled in a declared war
with Israel _ this after Hizbullah expropriated the decision to go to war
from the government, and made it into its own decision...


"One of the most important goals of resistance is to eliminate injustice and
to restore to the people their stolen honor. But when [the resistance]
becomes a tool that gives the enemy an excuse to violate the country's
sovereignty, wipe out installations on the ground, and murder innocent
Lebanese _ and even worse, when other countries can take advantage of the
resistance for the sake of escalation _ then the resistance fully ceases to
be resistance."(7) 


*The Sovereignty of the Government "Has Been Expropriated"


Yahya Rabbah, former PLO Ambassador to Yemen and columnist for the
Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, wrote: "The Palestinian
resistance forces [i.e. Hamas] took political decision[-making] hostage from
the Palestinian political framework [i.e. the PLO]; the Lebanese resistance
forces _ Hizbullah _ took political decision[-making] hostage from the
Lebanese [government]. The resistance forces here [in the PA] and there [in
Lebanon] led to both of the political regimes, the Palestinian and Lebanese,
having to pay a high price, even though they did not know what was going on,
and even though they were not given even the smallest chance to manage the
crisis that was caused by the two actions. 


"In other words, the roles of the two regimes were expropriated, their
legitimacy was sidestepped, and they were left irrelevant to what was going
on. The resistance forces here and there took hostage the role of the
regimes in the Arab states, and left them [i.e. the regimes] standing
confused and impotent, almost completely paralyzed... All of this [was
carried out] via a regional coalition axis, stretching from Gaza to southern
Lebanon, to Damascus, to Tehran."(8)



Top Syrian Officials: Criticism for Hizbullah's Critics; "We Support the


The countries supporting Hizbullah's activities _ and first and foremost
Syria _ claimed that Hizbullah was carrying out legitimate resistance, and
denounced its Arab critics. At the Cairo summit of Arab foreign ministers,
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Mu'allem defended "Hizbullah's right, and
the right of the Lebanese people, to put up resistance against Israel's wild
behavior, which is not in need of excuses [in order to attack]," and
expressed criticism of any Arab element providing "Arab backing for
[Israeli] aggression."(9)


Mahdi Dakhlallah, former Syrian information minister and current head of the
Syrian leadership's research department, said: "We are proud of our support
for Hizbullah and the resistance, wherever it is being conducted. It is a
great source of pride, not shame. We support the resistance with all our
force and with all our capabilities, whether in southern Lebanon or in
Palestine... The Arab people has taken matters into its own hands. The issue
is no longer in the hands of official institutions, governments, and armies.
It is rather the people who decide. This is a positive development for the



Syrian Dailies Praise the "Resistance"


*"The Resistance... is the True Face of the Nation, Whose History is Full of
Glorious Deeds" 


An article in the Syrian government daily Al-Thawra read: "The brave
resistance of today, as Hassan Nasrallah said, is leading the nation's
battle, and this is a historic opportunity for the nation to achieve victory
over its enemy. The resistance... is the true face of the nation whose
history is full of glorious deeds. This face will never agree to [accept]
the denigrating blows, and it has freshness and vitality that allow it to be
the face of the new East."(11)


*"Resistance is Always a Legitimate Act"


Another article in Al-Thawra fiercely attacked those who cast doubt on
whether Hizbullah was a resistance organization: "It is unthinkable that, at
a time when the nation is facing the boundless Israeli hatred and is subject
to these mad crimes, the criteria are being turned inside out in the
dictionary of some of the Arabs, and the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] is
being blamed for what is happening...


"The strange thing is that these voices... still do not understand that
resistance is always a legitimate act for which there is no need to receive
permission from anyone or to consult anyone. In light of this, the quality
operation that the Islamic resistance carried out in southern Lebanon is a
moment of glory and victory for this nation whose honor has been destroyed
by the Arabs' traitorous positions, and the open conspiring with the
nation's enemies..."(12)


*"The Arab Public... Is Stunned by These Voices [Critical of Hizbullah]"


A third article in Al-Thawra read: "It would have been better if these
voices [of criticism], which remained silent for a long period of time and
did not do the slightest thing in the face of what is going on in Gaza and
the cities of the West Bank... had continued to remain silent, so long as
they do not understand the meaning of the action of the capture of the two
Israeli soldiers... Indeed, the Arab public, which expected [to hear]
positions in support of the Islamic resistance, is stunned by these voices,
about which the least that can be said is that they justify Israel's
barbaric aggression and its wild crimes, and give it a green light to pursue
its attacks and its open war on all fronts... Those who are saying these
things should have listened to the pulse of the Arab public..."(13)



The Arab Press: The Lebanese Have the Right to Resist the Occupation


The Syrian position, that Hizbullah is a true resistance organization, has
been echoed in numerous other articles in the Arab press. For instance,
columnist and former editor-in-chief of the Egyptian government daily
Al-Akhbar, Galal Duweidar, wrote: "As is known to all _ and to Israel as
well _ Israel's refusal to sit at the negotiating table led to despair among
the Palestinian people. Likewise, its determination to persist in its
occupation of Lebanese territories and to apply pressure, through the U.S.,
to lay siege to the legitimate resistance to this occupation [i.e.
Hizbullah] _ these are among the factors that encouraged the outbreak of
this crisis. It is impossible to separate the aggression and the destruction
planned in advance that is occurring in Lebanon from what is happening in
the Palestinian territories. Did Israel think that the Palestinians and the
Lebanese should surrender and accept the occupation and the [territorial]
expansion? In fact, the international conventions grant peoples the right to
resist occupation and to confront military forces..."(14)


Columnist Ahmad Bahjat wrote in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram: "Nasrallah did
nothing wrong when he took two Israeli soldiers prisoner. The capture took
place on Lebanese territory that is occupied by Israeli forces. The meaning
of this is that he [i.e. Nasrallah] has the right to take prisoner or to
kidnap any Israeli soldier who places foot on Lebanese land, as part of the
legitimate resistance.


"International, human, and religious [i.e. Muslim] law grant him this
right... Southern Lebanon is occupied land, and following this logic, the
residents of the occupied south can resist the occupying army."(15) 



(1) The last major split in the Arab world on an issue related to fighting
Israel was over suicide attacks. See: 

MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 53, " Debating the Religious, Political and
Moral Legitimacy of Suicide Bombings Part 1: The Debate over Religious
Legitimacy," May 2, 2001,  http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives

MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 54, " Debating the Religious, Political and
Moral Legitimacy of Suicide Bombings Part 2: The Debate over Political and
Moral Legitimacy" ,  http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives
&Area=ia&ID=IA5401 ; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 65, " Part 3: Debating
the Religious, Political, and Moral Legitimacy of Suicide Bombings"
&Area=ia&ID=IA6501 ; MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 66, "Part 4: Debating
the Religious, Political, and Moral Legitimacy of Suicide Bombings: Part"
&Area=ia&ID=IA6601 .

(2) Al-Nahhar (Lebanon), July 16, 2006.

(3) Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 14, 2006.

(4) 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), July 16, 2006.

(5) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 21, 2006.

(6) 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), July 15, 2006.

(7) Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 15, 2006.

(8) Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), July 14, 2006.

(9) Al-Nahhar (Lebanon), July 16, 2006.

(10) Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 2, 2006.

(11) Al-Thawra (Syria), July 18, 2006.

(12) Al-Thawra (Syria), July 17, 2006.

(13) Al-Thawra (Syria), July 17, 2006.

(14) Al-Akhbar (Egypt), July 14, 2006,

(15) Al-Ahram (Egypt), July 21, 2006.








The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent,
non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle
East.  Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background
information, are available on request.


MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with
proper attribution.


The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) P.O. Box 27837, Washington,
DC 20038-7837

Phone: (202) 955-9070

Fax: (202) 955-9077

E-Mail: memri@xxxxxxxxx

Search previous MEMRI publications at www.memri.org


Other related posts: