Al-Mayadeen just aired footage from the Syrian town of Qusayr, showing an Israeli- made armored vehicle belonging to the Syrian/foreign rebels, with Hebrew writing inscribed on the exterior and interior. The Syrian Army spokesman in the video revealed that the jeep contained either communications’ jamming devices or communications’ interception devices which were on full display for the camera. He said it was not by coincidence that the army’s communications would always be disrupted whenever its forces entered Qusayr. Over and above these latest findings (we can’t even call it a scandal any more because opposition supporters could care less), the spokesman claimed that the rebels had raised the Israeli flag at the town center. Not that we needed evidence like this to underline how this battle is one between forces resisting Israel, the US et al, and those collaborating with them and serving an imperialist-Zionist agenda.
Yes the Qusayr battle is strategic because it links Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, lies adjacent to Hizbullah strongholds in Lebanon and serves as a crucial supply route, but it is also important because once fully overtaken (which should be a matter of hours from now) it will lead to the fall of Homs and hopefully, other areas soon where we will witness this: “When we reached the town’s main square, we removed the [French] mandate flag and planted the Syrian flag,” a Syrian Army general speaking to al-Mayadeen in the strategic town of Qusayr.
We do not regard this uprising/ insurrection to be a Zionist one solely on account of Israeli and Syrian opposition figures’ open love for one another. Nor is it solely on account of the Zionist state’s official support for this opposition and their shared interests in toppling the Assad government and destroying the Syrian Arab Republic.. What really makes this a Zionist uprising is the fact that in just two years it has achieved the same strategic objectives that Israel sought hard, yet failed to affect in over 60 years of its existence. And it has succeeded in achieving Israel’s goals almost exclusively with sectarianism, which has effectively become the new Israel in our midst. No Israeli invasion, attack, occupation, annexation, settlement construction, humiliating peace, or hasbara [Israeli PR] campaign, was ever able to force resistance movements like HAMAS to change their priorities and abandon their erstwhile allies; or to persuade the Arab people that the Assad government, Iran and Hizbullah are their primary enemies as opposed to Israel; or to reduce anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism to the politically incorrect “old school” politics of a bygone era; or to elevate the statuses of once despised Arab monarchs to regional liberators; or to render Shi’ism as the cancerous cell in the region rather than the Zionist entity. An uprising which not only collaborates with Israel but serves its strategic interests can only be a Zionist uprising. And the worst part is, that we have reached a point where such labeling is no longer taken as an insult or seen an accusation.
Unfortunately, the Israelis talked of their “enemy’s enemy” and “friend’s friend”. Isn’t the Israeli enemy the benchmark? Isn’t this rudimentary? This is part of our Islamic lexicon.
Of course there were objectives behind Israel’s attacks which it sought to realize. I want to define this reality so I can discuss the nature of the [Syrian] response and so that we can understand it.
One of its objectives, especially over the past two years— its objective and that of others— is to remove Syria from the military equation in the struggle with Zionist enemy. First of all, Syria hasn’t made a peace agreement with Israel as other Arab states have. Although there is a hudna (truce), everyone knows—the enemy knows this more than friends do—what Syria offered resistance movements for tens of years now and especially over the past few years, particularly the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance movements. If the day comes when our brothers in the Palestinian resistance will declare on their pulpits what they used to admit in private meetings, they will say that no Arab regime has offered us what the regime of Bashar al-Assad offered us.
The Israeli knows that one of the most important sources of strength for the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine is Syria. This is why they want to remove Syria from the [military] equation and they want to besiege the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. What this siege means is that any material or moral or military support from whoever supports the resistance must end. The Israelis said they won’t allow the transfer of any weapons which could upset the balance of power with the resistance into Lebanon. Now they are saying they will prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, meaning we won’t even allow you to increase the weapons you currently have. So they struck Damascus and its environs, in order to tell Syria—and we should read this part carefully so we understand the nature and scope of the Syrian response—that the continuation of support for the resistance and the transfer of capabilities will spell the demise of the regime and a declaration of war on Syria. Therefore, the real objective behind the latest attacks is the subjugation of Syria and breaking the will of its leadership, army and people and to permanently remove it from the resistance equation.
By the way, everything you heard in the media about 200, 300 and 400 [Syrian army] martyrs, is all lies. Unfortunately, we heard on [Arab] cable tv takbeer [cries of Allahu Akbar] and jubilation, because Israeli planes were bombing Syrian facilities or locations or bases. This is very sad. According to the reliable information I have, those killed were 4 or 5 martyrs from the Syrian army who were guarding these places.
So these were their objectives. How should one respond? First of all, one must thwart the aims of the aggression. This is the minimum response for resistance and mumana’a movements, and if possible, to turn the magic on the magician. And this is what the Syrian leadership did. There are some well-meaning people who want Syria to bomb occupied Palestine for reasons related to morale, and some hateful people who want it to bomb occupied Palestine so that war can break out between Israel and Syria and let all hell to break loose.
The first [Syrian] response: You Israelis are saying that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, so the first response is that if you consider Syria to be a weapons’ conduit for the resistance then know that Syria will continue supplying the resistance with weapons. This is a huge strategic decision. More than this, if you are claiming that the aim behind your aggression was to prevent the resistance’s military capability from growing, then Syria will provide the resistance with game-changing weapons that it did not possess before. This means upsetting the balance of power.
Show me one Arab regime which would dare to openly supply the Palestinian resistance with so much as a rifle, let alone a game-changing rocket. And then we have a leadership which was bombed just two days ago which says I want to give them weapons they don’t even have. This is Syria’s strategic response, and it is much more significant than firing a rocket or launching an attack on occupied Palestine.
The second strategic response, which is no less important or dangerous, is to open the Golan front—opening the door to the popular resistance on the Golan front. In this war you have launched on Syria, the threat has been turned into an opportunity.
Let us set the third response aside for now. To go back to the first response, we the resistance in Lebanon announce that we are ready to receive any sophisticated weaponry even if it is game-changing and we are ready to protect this weaponry and use it to defend our people, country and sanctities.
As for the second response, just as Syria stood by the Lebanese people and supported its popular resistance materially and morally until this resistance was able to liberate South Lebanon, we in the Lebanese resistance declare that we will stand by the popular Syrian resistance and offer it our material and moral support, as well as cooperation and coordination, in order to liberate the Syrian Golan.
[Chuckling] The third response is a huge deal so we won’t discuss it now.
All the latest events and responses and positions taken by the Syrian leadership suggest that it is a leadership with nerves of steel, that it is a very wise leadership which is managing the battle with the Israelis with a strategic mind and not in an emotional or impassioned manner. This is how the resistance and mumana’a axis has foiled all schemes in the region since the 1990s.
Whoever wants to retrieve Jerusalem, whoever wants to achieve Palestinian rights and realize Palestinian aspirations, should know that this won’t be achieved in the Arab league or the UN or the Organization for Islamic Cooperation or anywhere else. The only choice has always been resistance and remains so.
Oh Palestinian and Arab people who reject Israeli hegemony, you will not find anyone to stand by your side except he who has stood by your side for tens of years. Protect those who stood by you, protect the sources of strength in your axis. Any serious effort to find a political solution in Syria which refuses to allow Syria to fall into the hands of the US, Israel and the takfiris is effectively the battle for Palestine, the battle for Quds, the battle for the Aqsa mosque.”
Over and above the sense of empowerment, security and much needed assurance people in our political camp derive from Seyyid Hassan’s speeches— especially at strategically critical times as these— another important reason so many of us eagerly await his speeches is a very personal/emotional one: when so many of our former political heroes have fallen from grace, so many intellectuals who once inspired us have opportunistically joined the mainstream, and too many people in our lives have disappointed and hurt us by becoming everything they promised they would never turn into, Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah—who is recognized even by his staunchest enemies as “a man of his word” , a man who “delivers on his promises”— somehow serves as a beacon of hope. His honesty, transparency and consistency helps us regain our childlike faith in humanity. When Seyyid Hassan speaks the world seems less absurd; we are reminded that there are some people we can still trust, people who will always remain principled, people who will continue to love and care for us, people who will never let us down. Seyyid Hassan doesn’t have a cult of personality, nor do we idolize him, we simply love him because he is real, because he is true.
If there is any consolation to raising one’s kids in a country which is perpetually on the brink of civil war, is constantly subject to Israeli invasion and aggression, suffers from periodic terrorist attacks, FSA rocket fire and continuous power cuts, it’s the ability to urge your dentist’s assistant to not to laugh at you because you wish to reschedule your daughter’s appointment tomorrow as “Seyyid Hassan will be giving a speech at the same time as the appointment” and have her reply from the posh Beirut clinic: “are you kidding me? Why would i find that funny? I fully understand you”. Long live the culture of resistance.
“Hezbollah has already declared that it is operational and active in Qusayr” in central Syria, Hezbollah expert Amal Saad-Ghorayeb told AFP.
“The Iranians have admitted in the past that they have advisers there and yesterday we heard them say they were ready to train the Syrians… the involvement of these actors has become more open,” she said.
“But I also think that it has increased.”
The intervention raises the prospect of a dangerous “regionalisation” of the conflict, the analysts warned.
“I don’t think Hezbollah’s going to respond to this,” Saad-Ghorayeb said.
What’s problematic is how Syria’s going to respond,” she said, adding that Damascus was unlikely to respond “conventionally” but would feel forced to produce some reaction to avoid emboldening Israel.
“I think what’s required now is for them (Syria) to find a way to respond in an unconventional way that wouldn’t drag the region into a war.”
Not that we needed confirmation, but al-Mayadeen TV reports that the FSA media spokesman described to Israeli Channel 2, the “great joy which filled the hearts of the Syrian revolutionaries and fighters” after Israel’s attack on Syria. He further acknowledged that prior to Israel’s military intervention, the rebels were in a state of “despair” on account of the military successes the Syrian Army had scored [in Qusayr particularly]. Mayadeen reported elsewhere that the prominent Syrian opposition figure, Kamal al-Labwani announced that the “Syrian people” were “happy” that Israel hit Syrian military facilities. Enjoy your Zionist revolution.
When the same resistance that fought and defeated the Zionist enemy in 2006 becomes militarily engaged in Syria, this only confirms the fact that this is not a “revolution” against the Syrian “regime” but a war on the Syrian Arab Republic and the Resistance Axis of which it is part. This war is an extension of the July War, and it is no coincidence that it is backed by the same Arab and Western powers which backed Israel’s onslaught against Lebanon. Just as Hizbullah was accused of neglecting its resistance priority in May 2008 when it was dragged into clashes with Lebanese Sunnis, it is being similarly accused today of turning its guns against fellow Muslims. What many fail to understand however, is that as in 2008 when March 14 tried to dismantle Hizbullah’s telecom network and drag it into a civil war, the movement’s involvement in Syria today IS a defense of its resistance and not merely a defense of its Syrian ally. Protecting Lebanese and Syrians in neighbouring villages, assisting the Syrian army in liberating areas occupied by takfiri jihadis which border Lebanese villages — and hence pose a strategic threat to its resistance— and training the government backed Popular Committees in guerilla warfare are all part and parcel of Hizbullah’s defense of the resistance which will be the first casualty of any regime change in Syria, as opposition forces have been promising for two years now. While this may seem distasteful to many Arabs who pay lip service to supporting Palestine, such are the sacrifices that must be made for the liberation of Palestine and the region from the Zionist entity. It is also the price that must be paid for preserving Syria’s territorial intergrity and holding in check those who seek to annihilate Christians, Shias and mainstream Sunnis. To prevent a regional sectarian war, Hizbullah has no choice but to help defend Syria from those whose primary agenda is precisely that. And for those who believe western and Arab media’s exaggerated reports about the scope of Hizbullah’s military activity in Syria, one need only point to the limited number of martyrs Hizbullah has lost (around 35) and remind them that if Hizbullah did indeed deploy large numbers of fighters to Syria, much of Syria would have been liberated by now.
Surprise, surprise, mainstream media has launched an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible campaign to depict Mikati’s resignation in sectarian terms. A case in point is this report from Sky News: ” He stepped down on Friday in part as a protest over Hezbollah’s refusal to extend the tenure of the country’s police chief, Maj Gen Ashraf Rifi…Mr Rifi, like Mr Mikati, is a Sunni Muslim who is considered a foe by Hezbollah.” As the sentence above insinuates, Hizbullah has a real problem with all things Sunni: Mikati resigned because he is a Sunni; Hizbullah refuses to extend Rifi’s term because he is a Sunni; Hizbullah considers Rifi a foe because he is Sunni. What no western or Arab media will tell you is that the real reason Mikati resigned was not the Rifi extension but ongoing outside pressures from the US, Saudi etc. in order to destabilize Lebanon. Nor will they tell you that Rifi is a “foe” because he heads the Internal Security Forces, which is essentially under Hariri’s control. Nor will they admit that Hariri himself is considered a POLITICAL rival by Hizbullah rather than a sectarian one, just as much a rival for Hizbullah as Hariri’s Shi’a aide, Oqab Saqr. What makes this shitty report particularly absurd is the fact that i also lets it slip that “Hezbollah frequently accusing him [Mikati] of loyalty to the pro-Western opposition.” Now THAT is the real fault line—foreign allegiances and political agendas— rather than sectarian identities.
Nothing is sillier than when Syrian opposition activists declare that intellectuals in our anti-imperialist camp have “lost credibility” or are “pseudo-intellectual” or “shabiha” or “Hizbullah groupie” or whatever other label that suggests we are not neutral, expecting us to be insulted. When will they ever learn that when we lose the approval of the oppressors of this world, which they call “credibility”, this is a badge of honour for us? When will they learn that if the only genuine intellectuals are those that belong to the establishment and/or are on the Saudi-Qatari payroll, then we are proud to be pseudo-intellectuals? When will they learn that we do not make pretenses at neutrality like they do but loudly assert our bias towards real freedom, independence and dignity?
When our camp judges their intellectuals, we do not use the White Man’s benchmarks like credibility or neutrality. Arab anti-imperialists merely describe their kind as having been “exposed” [in Arabic, فضح] because in our minds, the only meaningful and morally just criterion is integrity. For when one positions oneself on the same side as America and Saudi Arabia and Israel, what else can this signal but the loss of integrity?
I was watching some old clips of Chavez supporters discussing why they were going to vote for him in the October elections. Aside from their expected responses about social justice and equality, the underlying theme which resonated widely was how he was “the only one” who cared for their plight and how this was “the first time” any leader did so. In other words, there was a general awareness of injustice and oppression which provided the backdrop for their gratitude. This illustrates the very flawed and shortsighted nature of the dominant western liberal view of Chavez’s popular support— and by extension, the support all oppressed people lend their revolutionary or resistant leaders— as resulting from material “bribery” or fealty paid to a strongman who has enough charisma to captivate an impressionable and ultimately, politically naïve, audience.
Another good example of this is corporate media’s portrayal of the relationship between Nasrallah and Hizbullah’s supporters. In both cases, the mediating role played by political consciousness is completely neglected. Whether it is socio-economic programs and services these leaders provide or charismatic authority, the consequent popular support is mediated by a political identity and consciousness that is driven by a strong sense of justice. Without this political consciousness, social and economic benefits would be seen as just that—largesse bestowed by one leader among many to be traded for votes. Without this political consciousness, charismatic authority would be stripped of all political meaning and find no mass resonance. Neither economic rewards nor leadership skills would translate into “Chavez vive y la lucha sigue” or to “Labyaka ya Nasrallah”. Without political consciousness, neither economic rewards nor leadership skills would instill in people a commitment to the Bolivirian Revolution that Chavez launched or the resistance project that Nasrallah leads.
And it is this political consciousness rather than any material benefit which has forged global solidarity among the oppressed of the world; Hizbullah’s supporters mourn Chavez just as Chavistas identify with Nasrallah. And it is for this reason too that alliances between anti-imperialist states and actors extend to their peoples too, making them acts of genuine political solidarity rather than mere national interests.
Hizbullah’s media office issued a statement on Hugo Chavez’s death which I have translated below:
It is with great sadness that we received news of the passing of the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. Along with the free world and the oppressed of the world, we lost a dear friend …who spent his entire life standing beside the downtrodden and oppressed, and who boldly defended the Third World’s rights to progress and prosperity.
Neither Hizbullah nor Lebanon as a whole can forget his genuine support for Lebanon in the face of Zionist aggression, which was most clearly demonstrated during the July war in 2006. Just as the Arab and Islamic people cannot forget his courageous stand in support of the Palestinian people’s right to liberate themselves from the yoke of occupation, and the right of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
President Chavez represented a bulwark against America’s imperialist policies and refused to make any concessions to successive US administrations, nor to submit to US pressures or incentives, proving that countries can take an independent and progressive path without relying on US custodianship.
We in Hizbullah offer our most sincere condolences to the family and comrades of the great and late [leader] and to the brave Venezuelan people as a whole, and we declare [our intent] to stand by their side during this great misfortune. We hope that the late leader’s comrades will complete his mission to protect the Venezuelan people’s freedom, independence and prosperity as well as his support for the oppressed and downtrodden in the world, and to retain the approach he adopted throughout his life in confronting American and Zionist conspiracies.
An op-ed today in al-Akhbar referred to Israel as “the enemy” in Arabic. Although use of this term to describe Israel was once very common in Arab popular parlance and in local media, its use in this context has significantly decreased since the Syrian uprising. Once a term reserved almost exclusively to Israel, the concept of the enemy from without has been fast replaced by the enemy from within in both pro-government and opposition circles. While government supporters can hardly be faulted for depicting the Zionist-normalizing, NATO-loving FSA as an “enemy” force, especially given its proxy status and military links with Syria’s strategic enemies, as well as its intent to destroy Syria as a state, it is both morally inexcusable and intellectually indefensible for Syrians and Arabs who profess enmity towards Israel, to use this term to describe the Assad government or Hizbullah or Iran, all of whom have paid a high price for confronting the Israeli enemy both politically and militarily.
The danger of such labeling can hardly be overstated in this case; the link between power and language has been well documented by the likes of Michel Foucault and Edward Said. As these thinkers have noted, language creates not only knowledge, but reality itself. The resulting discourse, which becomes internalized by its subjects shapes their assumptions, values and cultural habits. In short, it changes and re-fashions their political identity and beliefs.
To be more accurate, this discursive onslaught began in 2005 when the Lebanese became divided over whether Syria or Israel was their real enemy, with some March 14 politicians referring to the Zionist entity as “our neighbor”. But irrespective of this semantic divide and March 14’s collaboration with Israel during the July war as Wikileaks documents later revealed, not once did Hizbullah refer to the opposing camp as “the enemy”,” and settled on terms like “ our opponents/rivals” and “the other camp”. Compare this to the Syrian opposition camp today, whose leading “intellectuals” and activists in the Arab world have no qualms about speaking of the “Shia enemy” or the “Iranian enemy”, or cheering on the FSA who issue empty threats to attack Hizbullah and assassinate Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah.
By redefining the concept of the “enemy”, both the Syrian uprising and to a lesser extent, its US- engineered counterpart in Lebanon, have succeeded in reversing decades of Arab political socialization, whereby those who prioritize resistance to Israel and the US are mocked and dismissed as old-school anti-imperialists, or more disparagingly by Third Wayers like Bassam Haddad, as “Fumigating Anti-Imperialists”.
The Arab Spring may not be a revolution in the economic or political sense of the term, but it has achieved a semantic revolution which, if left unchecked by counter-hegemonic forces, will lead to the full intellectual and political colonization of the Arab mind and the Arab identity.
I was chatting with an old student the other day who is currently doing his MA thesis. He described his thesis supervisor as someone who is “great politically,” though “only in private.” Nothing insults my intelligence more than this oxymoronic phrase. So often I have heard how much Third Way intellectuals, who oppose the opposition but call for Assad’s overthrow, secretly support the Assad government’s struggle— views which they only dare utter in private. Or academics who privately support the resistance yet insist on sounding “balanced” when writing or speaking publicly about Hizbullah. Let’s get one thing straight, whether we are talking about Syria, Palestine, Hizbullah, resistance, or any other controversial political cause: your privately held, publicly unexpressed thoughts and feelings count for nothing. A political position is an activity, not a state of being; it entails an active and substantive role, not a passive point of view, otherwise we would call it an opinion and not a stand or position. Either keep it real or keep your deepest, darkest, radical views you are too ashamed or afraid of declaring, to yourself. If you are too scared to get out of your comfort zone by articulating a controversial anti-imperialist, anti-Zionist position, then do us all a favour and stop trying to market your undeclared opinions as a principled stand in your private conversations with a trusted few. It is not. If every intellectual behaved as you did, the truth would remain forever hidden and there would be no anti-imperialist movement to begin with.