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By Barry Rubin

In February, the British government announced it would begin contacts with the non-military wing of Hizballah. Now this strategy has been further clarified. The specific target—perhaps not the best choice of words since it is Hizballah that really targets people—are Hizballah legislators.

The goal is to talk to Hizballah members of the Lebanese parliament to get them to encourage their organization to abandon violence and play a constructive political role in Lebanon.

This approach is based on the assumption, of course, that parliamentarians are parliamentarians, friendly, outgoing chaps who know how to kiss babies and slap backs in the local constituency. This, however, misreads what Hizballah is about.

Yes, Hizballah is a political party but that’s where the similarity to the Labour or Conservative parties ends. The name gives it way. At least historically, the Labour party is supposed to represent workers; the Conservative party those who are either better-off or favor the historical status quo more. But Hizballah means, in Arabic, literally, the Party of God. That’s who they represent, or think they do, and their purported constituent is a bit harder to please than the trade unions and the local gentry or greengrocers.

And the Hizballah parliamentary delegation is called the Loyalty to the Resistance group. Resistance has become the codeword for the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas-Iraqi insurgent (a nice word for terrorist) bloc which seeks to promote Islamist revolution throughout the Middle East. What are they resisting? Peace and moderation. Who are they resisting? America, Israel and the West. How are they resisting? Assassinations, car-bombs, kidnappings, and suicide attacks are high on the list of favored tactics.

Of course, Hizballah like other revolutionary Islamists has social welfare programs. But the purpose of these is to build its mass base so it can seize power, and then to do all the things it wants to do .

Having tea with Hizballah parliamentarians is sort of like breaking bread with the elected members from Stalinist Communist parties or fascist parties of the past. While you’re breaking bread, their doctrines are all for breaking heads. Hizballah is led by clerics and gunmen (perhaps that’s what is meant by the division into political and military wings). The Honourable Member from south Sidon is not making the decisions or influencing party policy.

Even if Hizballah plays a political role within Lebanon it is hardly likely to be a constructive one. Their goals include: turning Lebanon (or at least the Shia parts of it) into an Islamist society; welcoming Iranian-Syrian hegemony over the country; wiping out Israel violently; expelling Western influence; spreading Islamic jihad elsewhere; and such things.

For Hizballah the word constructive means constructing a caliphate.
This is a naïve approach to say the least. And of course such actions are read by Lebanese as Western support for Hizballah so the opposition might as well give up and the faint-hearted jump on the Syrian-Iranian bandwagon. Arab states look on such antics as crazy. Why help your worst enemy take power? No wonder they believe in Western conspiracies. The alternative would be to believe in that the West is insane.

* A sort of pun since Dear al-Harb means House of War, a traditional Islamic designation for lands not ruled by Muslims. House of War/House of Lords.
Source article: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/03/28/news/ML-Lebanon-Hezbollah-Britain.php

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to http://www.gloria-center.org

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