A propagandist-in-chief's war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme

Posts Tagged: hizbullah

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As I watch Putin’s standing ovation today in the Russian parliament, and read news about Hizbullah’s latest attack on Israeli occupation troops in the Golan, I can’t help but think how terrifying it is to have an enemy as quintessentially stupid as the US and its allies. Just 3 weeks ago, an NYT headline penned by the head of Carnegie’s Moscow Center, boldly declared “Why Russia Won’t Interfere.” Such myopia is reminiscent of the “Assad’s days are numbered” mantra, and predictions about how “Hizbullah won’t respond [to Israel]” .
Time and time again, we find that US intelligence services, think tanks and policy makers misread their enemy’s intentions and willingness to respond militarily to US/NATO/Zionist destabilization and aggression campaigns. The problem lies in their very rationality which is based on the deeply flawed premise that only imperialist powers will dare act militarily in puruit of their “security interests” (a euphemism for imperialist designs) while other nations can be sanctioned, destabilized and even bombed into submission, without standing up for their rights, security and very existence . And when anti-imperialist forces do strike back in self-defense, the US & co appear genuinely shocked by their digression from this “rational actor” model and are consequently branded as irrational (Assad is “delusional”, Putin is “in another world”, etc.) pariahs who can only be restrained by means of further sanctions, destabilization and bombing campaigns. What can be more terrifying than an enemy who possesses such a rationality?

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I am copy-pasting this very important Haaretz analysis  since it is protected by a firewall. Here is the full piece:

The “room for denial” doctrine — under which SyriaHezbollah and Israel all deny that Israeli attacks have occurred so as to avoid the need to respond — was dealt a blow on Wednesday. Hezbollah’s announcement that one of its bases in Lebanon was hit by Israeli jets and that the organization will respond when and where it sees fit, attests to a tactical shift, and perhaps even a new strategy.

This doesn’t mean that from now on, either Hezbollah or Syria is going to make a public announcement every time Israel attacks. But the “open account” between Israel and Hezbollah has now become public, and that grants the Lebanese organization double legitimacy.

First, if it decides to attack Israel, it will no longer be accused of starting a war; it can defend the attack as merely “settling accounts.” Second, it can parlay the Israeli strike into official government support for it to retain its arms, which have come under increasing criticism within Lebanon due to the organization’s participation in the Syrian civil war. On Tuesday, for instance, Nabil Kaouk, deputy chairman of Hezbollah’s executive committee, demanded that the newly formed Lebanese government offer support to the “resistance” and declare this a fundamental principle of its policy.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that the attack was not on Hezbollah alone, but on all of Lebanon, poses a dilemma for the new government. The organization is trying to force the government into responding to an attack that at least some ministers see as a punishment aimed solely at Hezbollah, not the country. And for Israel, Hezbollah’s new tactic means the “room for denial” policy no longer provides an umbrella under which it can attack without claiming responsibility, and to a large extent, without fearing a response.

From a military standpoint, Hezbollah has not lost its ability to respond. It can still launch just as many rockets and missiles at Israel as it could before. But domestic political considerations, as well as strategic considerations related to the war in Syria, are dictating its moves these days. Hezbollah’s desire to keep Israel from expanding its military operations in a way that would aid the Syrian rebels — who are now waging fierce battles in Syria’s Qalamoun Hills, near the border with Lebanon — could be outweighing its fear of an Israeli attack on its bases in Lebanon.

In this context, the statement put out by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is interesting. The group, which is considered close to the rebels, said that Israel struck a Hezbollah missile base near Baalbek from which missiles had been fired at the Qalamoun Hills. That statement was denied by Hezbollah, but it portrays Israel as having become an active player in Syria’s civil war, on the rebels’ side.

This isn’t the first time rebel spokesmen have reported on “Israeli military aid” for their cause. A few months ago, for instance, they reported that Israel had helped a rebel force entering Syria from Jordan by disrupting the Syrian army’s communications system, thereby making it impossible for the local field headquarters to communicate with the Syrian high command. On another occasion, rebel representatives voiced hope that Israel would continue to attack Syria, saying its previous attacks had helped the rebel forces.

What does Israel really want?

Publicly, Israel insists it isn’t involved in the rebels’ military operations. The only aid it acknowledges openly is the humanitarian aid it gives the rebels — medical treatment for the wounded and limited amounts of food. But according to Jordanian sources, Israel is briefed on the coordination between the United States and Jordan, where soldiers and officers of the Free Syrian Army are being trained.

At the same time, some Syrian opposition representatives continue to accuse Israel of wanting Syrian President Bashar Assad to remain in power. Assad’s regime, for its part, accuses Israel of aiding the rebels, seeking thereby to undermine the opposition’s legitimacy.

The uncertainty over Israel’s strategy on Syria has so far served to keep the radical Islamist groups, including those affiliated with Al-Qaida, from opening another front against Israel. Their fear is that any attack on Israel, even an unintentional one, could grant Israel license to expand its military operations in Syria beyond attacking missile convoys and Hezbollah bases.

So far, this fragile balance has been strictly maintained, and aside from occasional errant shelling in the Golan Heights, Israel is considered off-limits for attacks. But the key word in that sentence is “fragile.” The balance could be broken at any moment.

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I was just reading some of the reactions on Twitter to Hizbullah’s latest statement in which it confirmed that Israel had struck a Hizbullah base in the Bekaa on Monday, while denying the strike had caused any casualties or targeted any weapons’ caches. The problem with dismissing Hizbullah’s threat to respond at “a time and place of its own choosing” as empty rhetoric is part and parcel of the wider problem of all-purpose punditry and the industry of self-styled Hizbullah “experts” . This phenomenon has become all the more acute in the wake of the war on Syria, whereby  Western pundits and Arab social media activists, emboldened by the mainstreaming of “citizen journalism”, have become overnight “experts” on Syria, Hizbullah and the Resistance Axis.

As someone who has been studying and writing about Hizbullah for the past 18 years, I have always been particularly wary of the western journalist or pundit who claims to have spoken to Hizbullah officials, let alone Resistance commanders. Not only are such claims usually flagrant  lies, but the notion that Hizbullah trusts these people and is so eager to please the white man that its officials will gladly bypass the Hizbullah Media Office (which, incidentally has not granted a single interview to western journalists in years) and divulge the movement’s strategic plans in Syria and Lebanon, is both incredibly condescending and insulting to the intelligence. 

I am equally skeptical of western “expert” claims of any special insights on Hizbullah, not least because THEY NEVER GET IT RIGHT. The depth of expert knowledge is not hard to measure, for as in the natural sciences, knowledge in the social sciences is gauged by its predictive value. And the fact is that the overwhelming majority of Western, Israeli , and colonized Arab “experts” just haven’t been able to reliably predict Hizbullah’s future actions. There are many reasons for this intelligence gap but the principal one is that they are outside observers who view Hizbullah from a western-centric lens. Their understanding of concepts like power and interest emanate from a Euro-American dominated political science tradition that is peculiar to western historical experiences.

As one of the more colonial disciplines, Western anthropology introduced the role of the “participant-observer” who both observes and participates in the life of the group she is studying . Despite the scientific and ethical shortcomings of this colonial “going native” approach, it did signal a recognition of the western observer’s limitations in understanding non-western cultures from a geographic and social distance.  Unfortunately, today’s epistemic community of academics, policy wonks and journalists are far less cognizant of these limitations than some of their old-school colonialist predecessors.

Any meaningful insights into the mind of Hizbullah will continue to elude all those who do not share its worldview. By that I don’t simply mean the Hizbullah supporter in the abstract sense, but those who view political reality through the same lens, share the same purpose, and are deeply committed to the same cause. Only “committed-observers” can understand Hizbullah and predict its future actions because they do not have to second-guess its intent and motives, or make assumptions about its priorities; they know them because they live them.

They do not view Hizbullah as an organization that is external to them, nor do they support it on a partisan “Team Hizbullah” basis. Hizbullah is synonymous with Resistance which belongs to all its adherents. Supporters of Hariri don’t know the Future Movement in the same way that Hizbullah’s committed-observers know Hizbullah, and that is because the former are not bound by any shared cause, beyond a reactivity to Hizbullah cemented by sectarianism. In this sense, Hizbullah is a culture not a party with card-carrying members. And as a political culture it has its own unique mindset and rationality.

 It is precisely this rationality that I invoke whenever I am interviewed by media on Hizbullah. Of course, as an analyst my knowledge of the movement is based on empirical evidence I have observed, but my assessment of Hizbullah’s actions and intentions, my prognostications of its future actions come from this resistance rationality that I share with it. When I am asked “how will Hizbullah respond” I essentially ask myself “how should we [who are committed to the Resistance project] respond?”  And I am usually able to provide an accurate response or prediction, not because I possess any superior intellectual abilities, but because I, like many others in Lebanon and beyond, share the Resistance’s priorities and concerns, and my analysis is guided by the same political values and rationality as them. In fact, I am very confident that a committed 18 year old Hizbullah supporter would yield more valuable insights on the movement and offer more reliable predictions of its behavior than a western academic or journalist who claims expert knowledge.

And I am equally confident that if any committed observer is asked “will Hizbullah really respond to Israel’s attacks on Monday?” he or she will tell you that as the first such attack since the end of the July War in 2006, Hizbullah has no choice but to respond, irrespective of how deeply mired it is in the Syrian conflict and in safeguarding Lebanon from terrorist infiltration. It has to respond because confronting Israel will always constitute the larger part of its raison d’etre, even if its mission has expanded over the years. And it will respond because to not respond would upset its doctrine of deterrence and “balance-of-terror” with Israel which it painfully earned after two decades of blood and sacrifice. Hizbullah will respond because there is no precedent of Hizbullah not retaliating for an Israeli attack (I am not including assassinations here) and it is highly unlikely that it would want to set a new precedent for its enemies. We just have to wait and see when and how it will do so, because no matter how committed we are as observers we are not privy to Hizbullah’s military strategy.

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And that’s how those “Hizbullah stronghold” folks do Valentine’ s <3

And that’s how those “Hizbullah stronghold” folks do Valentine’ s <3

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Israel Welcomes Sunni-Shia Conflict

By Israeli officials’ own accounts, the Syrian uprising/war and even the rise of al-Qaeda on Israel’s doorstep have generally boosted Israel’s position in the region: “an increase in terrorist activity on Israel’s borders by terrorist groups … has thus far not materialized into a strategic threat….the opportunities presented by the upheavals in the Arab world outweigh the risks they incur. Foremost among these opportunities is the worsening relations between the Sunni axis led by Saudi Arabia and the Shia axis led by Iran. The weakening of the Shia axis, primarily as a result of the civil war in Syria, has broadened Israel’s room to maneuver in the Middle East and created an opportunity to expand its cooperation with the Sunni axis countries.”

Read al-Akhbar’s summary of Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin’s conclusion for the “Strategic Survey for Israel 2013-2014” here

 

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After listening to ISIS leader Abu Sayyaf al-Ansari’s declare war on all of Lebanon I can’t help but wonder if and when Seyyid Hassan Nasrallah will announce a new equation in the Resistance’s war with the Takfiris, similar to the one he made in 2006 when he threatened to retaliate in Tel Aviv for any Israeli attack on the capital Beirut, in his famous “Haifa, and what’s beyond Haifa and what’s beyond beyond Haifa” threat. 
Our only hope in Lebanon today is for Hizbullah to devise a new military strategy for confronting and expelling Takfiri Jihadis from Lebanon— a new “Imaad Mughnieh school of fighting”. What we need is for Nasrallah to issue a threat to them and a promise to us that Hizbullah will retaliate in “West Syria, and what’s beyond West Syria, and what’s beyond beyond West Syria.”

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Without understating the existential threat which religious “takfiris” (those who accuse other Muslims of apostasy) pose to our region, we must also be equally wary of the secular liberal takfirism which is now on the rise. Like the religious kind, the secular variant is also rabidly sectarian though the sectarianism it practices is not doctrinal, i.e. based on the religous beliefs of its opponents, but political; anyone who dares digress from the Saudi-Western manufactured narrative adopted by the Syrian opposition is ipso facto declared a sectraian Shia/Christian/self-hating Sunni and political heretic who has veered from the mainstream. Thus for example, journalists like the highly respected Sunday Times correspondent, Hala Jaber are branded “sectarian Shia” and “Hizbullah/Assad groupies” by secular liberal opposition supporters for daring to commit political blasphemies like clarifying the origins of a misattributed photo and interviewing President Assad . More than this, secular liberal takfiris find common cause with their religious cohorts in so far as they wax lyrical about the “Shia threat” while cheering on religious takfiris like the al-Nusra/Islamic Front/ Jaish al Mujahideen’s recent assault on ISIS, in a very twisted bid to rebrand them as “moderate” Takfiris—you know, the kind of takfiris who merely flog you for not performing the Friday prayers as opposed to beheading you for lesser offenses. Were it not for the Dahyeh bombings and the journalists and others whose lives they are endangering , secular liberal takfirism could be quite funny.

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As the name and description of this blog reveals, its main focus is to expose intellectual and discursive imperialism, i.e. the language imperialists use to distort our reality which we then internalize. If we are to successfully resist these attempts, we must devise a counter-hegemonic discourse of our own. In this ongoing effort, I propose the glossary below containing 20 key terms which anti-imperialists and supporters of the Resistance project should avoid or use with caution. For each widely used concept, I have suggested alternatives that we should adopt and normalize in its place. This is of course just a small sample of the discursive imperialism we are subjected to daily. I urge readers to send me suggestions for other important terms I have omitted or forgotten, especially those that relate to the war on the Resistance Axis. Once I have enough suggestions, I will update this post with a longer glossary.

1.  Arab street : This term should be avoided at all costs given its negative connotations. It alludes to an angry and unruly mob lacking organization, discipline and independent thought, and has violent and irrational connotations. The term is used exclusively to describe Arabs; all other peoples and nationalities are considered publics or people by western media. Moreover, since the Syrian crisis began, the concept of the “Street” is now used selectively by western media when referring to anti-western or anti-Zionist protests, while the concept of “people” i.e. the “Syrian people” is reserved for those representing the West’s allies. i.e. the Syrian opposition. The concept of Arab public should be used instead as it implies a politically aware and rational political culture which has democratic aspirations, and hence, is on an equal footing with western and other publics. 

2. International Community: Used mainly by US and Western officials, this essentially particularistic concept has now entered the Arab popular vernacular. It attempts to universalize the small elite club of UN Security Council members and NATO member states to imply the whole world, hence the concept of “international”. As such, any decision or stand taken by this small group of states, who make up less than 1/3 of the world’s nations, is construed as a universal decision or position taken by the whole world which stands united (the concept of “community” alludes to agreement and unity) in the face of a specific threat.  The term is therefore used as a tool for isolating states and political actors which defy imperialist powers. The concept of NATO powers or “some members of the UN Security Council” or the US and EU or US/EU/Arab Gulf alliance , depending on the context, should be used instead to downsize the alliance as one consisting of a few imperialist states and their regional proxies.

3. Regime: The concept in English has very different, and much more negative, connotations than its Arabic translation ( نظام ). Given that a regime is an authoritarian form of government, western media and public officials routinely use the term to demonize the US’ enemies, even if those governments are popularly elected i.e. the “Iranian regime”.  By the same token, US allies like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain etc. which are not merely undemocractic but openly anti-democratic, are bestowed with popular legitimacy by western officials who refer to them as “governments”. Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies should be uniformly called monarchies or regimes, while members of the Resistance Axis should be referred to as governments. This should also apply to the Syria government, which admittedly, has not historically enjoyed free and fair elections, but still enjoys a large degree of popular support and hence, has a considerable extent of popular legitimacy which regimes lack. Since repression of dissidents is not peculiar to authoritarian regimes, but also typifies some liberal democracies like the US, this criterion alone should not preclude the designation of a political system as a  government.

4. Israel:  As per the policy of Resistance media, “Israel” should never be granted legal recognition and referred to as such. Common substitutes include “Zionist entity” though it is preferable to use the term “Israeli regime” or “Zionist regime” as the latter reduces Israel to a tyranny that can be subject to “regime change” and overthrow like any other authoritarian regime, as opposed to an invincible power or permanent fixture in the region. It is also preferable to “entity” in that calling for an entity’s eradication could be construed as mass genocide, whereas a regime’s eradication is merely revolutionary overthrow of a political order.

Other synonyms that should be popularized are “Occupied Palestine” with reference to territories outside of the ’67 borders. Jerusalem should always be referred to as “Occupied Quds”. Moreover, the “illegal settlements” should be called “settler colonies” as that is a more accurate historical description, and will strike a deeper chord with Arab and Muslim viewers, as well as anti-imperialist non-Arabs and non-Muslims, and liberals who reject all forms of racism.  

5. Democracy: This concept has become less of a scientific description of political systems than a moral value or label that western powers use to undermine and isolate nations who refuse to submit to their hegemony. Moreover, the term is almost invariably used to denote one specific form of democracy—liberal democracy—which typifies European and North American democracies that focus on procedural aspects of democracy like elections and constitutional legitimacy. This excludes many other forms of democracy found in other parts of the world which emphasize substantive aspects of democracy like popular participation, national self-determination, economic equality etc.   In order to break the Western liberal monopoly on the term, we should refer to western democracies as liberal democracies to be distinguished from other types such as “Islamic democracy”, “Socialist democracy” etc.

6. Arab Spring: Despite the pervasiveness of this term in both Arab and Western media, it should be avoided on account of its origins and connotations. The concept of a revolutionary “spring” was previously associated with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. The American political journal Foreign Policy later used it in the Arab context as a catchall phrase for uprisings in the Arab world. The term quickly caught on in American policy-making circles and was subsequently wedded to US foreign policy objectives in the Arab world to steer the uprisings towards liberal democracy and US-friendly governments. This was mirrored on the political and intellectual levels by a reprioritization of objectives whereby confronting imperialism and Zionism became secondary to domestic political struggles. Owing to these considerations, and the fact that the term has now become synonymous with Islamist takeovers, civil wars, and US/NATO invasions, it is preferable to adopt the less optimistic and less controversial concept of “Arab Uprisings”

7. Revolution: This term should be used very sparingly as no Arab uprising has come anywhere close to a full-fledged “revolution” in the scientific sense of the term. The most they have achieved is regime change, and in some cases, i.e. Egypt, not even that. Moreover, considering how all of these uprisings have been hijacked by reactionary and conservative Islamist forces, they have effectively become “counter-revolutionary”, if we are to adopt a Marxist or liberal understanding of revolution. Far more appropriate and accurate substitutes are revolt, “rebellion” , “uprising” and “insurgency”.

8. Middle East: The universalized concept of “the Middle East”, which has even found its way into our Arabic vocabulary, needs to be de-naturalized and removed from our lexicon. The problem with this term is its British colonial origins. Seeing itself as the center of the universe or the self-styled geographic “zero-point”, Great Britain referred to countries to its east as the “Near East” or “Middle East”. We are not “Middle Easterners”; we are Arabs. When we start referring to our region as the “Arab world”, we not only normalize a new anti-imperialist discourse, but an anti-Zionist one as well; for while Israel can, in theory at least, be considered part of the Middle East, it can never be part of our Arab world. Alternative terms include “Arab and Islamic world[s]” which covers non-Arab, Islamic countries as well.

9. “Moderation/Moderate” This term should not be adopted in any context as it was coined by the Bush administration to designate regional allies including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and UAE who were juxtaposed with “extremists” like Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Palestinian resistance groups. The term was later used to distinguish US-friendly branches of the Muslim Brotherhood from more “extremist” Salafi and jihadi Islamists. Even sectarian Islamists are labeled “moderates” by the West (Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi was once dubbed a “moderate” by many western observers) if they serve the Empire’s agenda. As such, we should use the term “mainstream” Muslims/Islamists if the aim is to distinguish between groups or movements, while avoiding the concept of “moderation” altogether.

10. Tolerance:  Although this term is used frequently by western liberals to highlight positive qualities like pluralism and diversity which characterize liberal multiculturalism, it actually has hidden discriminatory undertones. To “tolerate” someone or something suggests that it is somehow inferior, deviant or bad, and is being graciously endured by those practicing this tolerance. It s therefore preferable to boast the “openness” of a state or movement vis-à-vis others, or its pursuit of communal, religious, or any other type of  “coexistence” between equals, rather than its mere “toleration” of them.  This is especially the case when discussing coexistence under the Assad government, or in Iran and Lebanon. People in these countries don’t merely “tolerate” Christians, Sunnis etc. they coexist with them and are open to others.

11. Religious minorities: While this seems to be a neutral term devoid of any hidden meanings, in the context of the civil war in Syria and the wider anti-Shia regional campaign, it would be preferable not to highlight the minority/majority binary. Not only does this binary invite accusations of a Shia power grab in Syria and Lebanon etc.,(i.e. minorities usurping majority rights)  the concept of minority denotes identity politics, group exclusivity and  sectarianism overall. The concept of religious community is better suited to describe religious minorities and sects as it doesn’t invoke numerical comparisons and has more harmonious inter-religious overtones.

12. Human rights: There is nothing inherently wrong with invoking arguments of human rights violations, especially when it serves our political agenda, but we should also naturalize a discourse of “people’s rights” which is an entirely different concept of rights. The difference is an important one: “human rights” refer mainly to “negative” individualrights (freedom fromstate interference) and belongs to the western liberal tradition. The West then succeeded in enshrining these rights as a universal value shared by all cultures, even ones which do not share, let alone, prioritize, such values.  “People’s rights” is a concept which arose in the Third World as a reaction to this ethnocentric rights discourse, and called attention to the collective or communal rights that groups, communities and nations are entitled to, such as sovereignty, independence, self-determination and autonomy, which, for anti-imperialist nations, take precedence over individual rights.

13. Terrorism: This is probably the most problematic term for any media as there is no universal definition of what constitutes terrorism. Although policy-makers and officials use the term very selectively to designate their enemies, western media has become much more cautious in its use of the term and often puts quotation marks around it. That is not to say that Resistance media should shun the term, only that it should be careful in its use, especially concerning takfiri groups. A sound approach would be to refer to “terrorist attacks/bombings”, when speaking of violent activities, but to refrain from calling the bombers “terrorists” as this type of labeling has a very strong association with Bush’s “War on Terror”— which essentially targeted the Resistance Axis—and will appear to many as reminiscent of the post- 9/11 Islamophobic political culture which enraged Muslims. Moreover, for the sake of ideological and intellectual consistency, if the term “terrorism” is used with reference to takfiri violence, it should also be used to describe all instances of violence which deliberately target innocent civilians such as US drone strikes and Israeli attacks on Palestinians, so as to avoid conforming to US-Eurocentric definitions of terrorism.

14. Assad: All too often in western media one reads of “Assad’s Alawite sect”, “Assad forces”, “Assad’s army”, the “Assad regime”, or simply to Assad alone as though he were synonymous with Syrian the state, i.e. “Hezbollah has helped turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favour this year.” Whether in the case of the Alawite sect, the Syrian Arab Army, or the Syrian state or government, the purpose behind this practice is to personalize the conflict and reduce all of the above to mere instruments of a “dictator” thereby denying them any sense of agency or institutional role in a post-conflict Syria. Making Bashar al-Assad synonymous with the above, also serves to legitimize violence against Alawites, Syrian soldiers, Syrian government and state infrastructure etc. as they come to be perceived as various incarnations of a single leader. It is therefore imperative that the term “Assad” is not used to preface any other word or to betoken any other idea. Assad should only be used when referring to the person of the Syrian president.

15. Stronghold/heartland: Another widespread practice in western mainstream media is to name Alawite areas in Syria as “Assad’s heartland” or areas controlled by the Syrian government as a “regime stronghold”. This is also the standard norm when describing any Shi’a area of Lebanon as “Hizbullah’s stronghold”.The very sinister usage of this term is evident when areas in Dahyeh or in Syria have been subjected to terrorist bombing, and they are  depicted as “strongholds” of Hizbullah or Assad. Such [mis]labeling conceals the fact that these are heavily populated, residential areas and renders them legitimate objects of violence and destruction.  It also has the effect of sanctioning the punishment of the inhabitants of these areas for supporting Hizbullah/Syrian government. We should therefore shun such terms and restrict ourselves to describing the religious composition of an area if this factor was a principal motive for the bombing, i.e. “Takfiris targeted the predominantly Shia area of Bir Hassan”.

16. Foreign backed: In order to offset western and Arab media’s pervasive use of epithets such as “Iran-backed” or “Syria-backed” when referring to Hizbullah or other movements, we should refer to the Syrian opposition, the March 14 camp in Lebanon, and others in that category as “Saudi-backed”  (in the case of the al-Qaeda affiliates and takfiris in Syria, as well as March 14) and “NATO/US backed” (in the case of other armed factions in Syria and March 14). This will not only undermine the autonomy these groups like to project, but will also tarnish their image in the region as the majority of Arabs are still ardently anti-American, and very few have favorable perceptions of Saudi Arabia. Wherever possible, the strategic alliances these groups have with the US, Israel, NATO and Gulf monarchies, should be mentioned. While it may be tempting to also dub these groups —especially March 14—as “pro-western” as western media customarily does, it is preferable not to as this alliance is not based on any shared cultural values (some of which are positive) with the West but on a patron-client relationship and political expediency.

17. Hizbullah: We should avoid any of the adjectives and terms used to describe Hizbullah in western media. The gravest of these errors is to refer to its allies as sponsors or backers as this reduces it to a proxy and obscures the fact that it is a significant regional force which has an interdependent relationship with regional allies . Moreover, it should never be introduced as a “Shi’a” movement as this will only further undermine its support among Sunnis, especially given the general sectarian climate in the region which has caused Hizbullah to lose of some of its popular appeal. Finally, Hizbullah should not be referred to as a “party” unless one is discussing its political participation in Lebanese state institutions. Nor should it be downsized to a mere “group” or worse, a “militia” for obvious reasons. The most accurate description is “resistance movement”, “political movement” and “grass-roots movement,” all of which reflect its composition, the scale of its support and its political priorities. 

18. Activist: This is another problematic concept that is mainly used in mainstream western media but which has also found its way into Arab media. The word is a peculiarly western concept as it refers to individuals and groups who belong to civil society and work independently in pursuit of political, social, economic and environmental causes. The activities they engage in are supposed to be non-violent and they are theoretically independent of state control as more often than not, their grievances emanate from government policies or lack thereof. This definition confers activists with an automatic sense of legitimacy, non-partisanship and other positive democratic attributes. However, given the absence of civil society and independent political actors in the Arab context, usage of the term is often misleading particularly when used in the Syrian and Lebanese contexts where the overwhelming majority of “activists” are financially supported by western governments and western NGOs which also rely on political funding. In short, they are hardly independent and often unwittingly serve foreign agendas.

The term is all the more problematic when mainstream western media refers to Syrian opposition supporters as “anti-regime activists”, while calling their counterparts “regime supporters”. This labeling misrepresents the much broader political ambitions of the “regime supporters” who may or may not support the government per se, but are united by a fear for their lives, the territorial integrity of their country, communal coexistence and the state’s secular character, among other concerns . By referring to them to as “regime supporters” they are stripped of agency and a political cause and reduced to sectarian Assad groupies.

The solution is either to refer to supporters from both camps (this applies to Lebanon too) as “activists”, i.e. Syrian government activists, Resistance activists in Lebanon etc. or, to drop the term altogether and label them “opposition supporters”. The term “activist” can then be reserved exclusively for individuals and groups advocating non-partisan goals like civil marriage, environmental causes etc. even if they receive foreign funding.

19. War in Syria: While there can be no denying that there is a war is taking place in Syria and it does possess characteristics of a civil war, referring to it as such suggests that there are two independent sides who have some political or moral parity between them. This terminology distracts the reader or viewer from the proxy nature of this war and obscures the broader imperialist /Gulf Arab onslaught against the Syrian state using local and foreign tools. As such, it remains a war ON Syria and not one between two sides in Syria.

20.  “Spillover” effect, this phrase has become very popular since the crisis began in Syria and is used almost exclusively to refer to violence in Lebanon. The problem with Resistance media’s adoption of this term is that it tacitly acknowledges that the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria, which is a distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. Usage of this term is a huge misnomer which downplays what is essentially an external plot to eliminate political and military resistance forces in the region by replicating the sectarian dynamic in Lebanon. It should therefore not be used in the context of Lebanese violence.

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It is beyond the realms of irony and symbolism that a Saudi-backed takfiri suicide-bomber targetted Ahmad Kassir Street in Dahyeh today, a street dedicated to the resistance fighter, Ahmad Kassir who carried out the first martyrdom operation against Israeli soliders in South Lebanon in November 1982. Nor is it a coincidence that the bomb was detonated in front of the Kazma building, the first building Hizbullah’s reconstruction company, Waad, rebuilt after the Zionists flattened Dahyeh in 2006. These syncronicities epitomize the takfiri-Saudi-Zionist nexus and aptly illustrate how al-Qaeda’s affiliates are serving Israel’s interests, irrespective of their intent. Hizbullah is neither “fighting fellow Muslims” as claimed by its enemies, nor merely “defending the Shia” from annihilation as argued by some of its supporters. In fighting the takfiris and their backers, who are attempting to achieve what Israel failed to accomplish in 2006 , only with new means, Hizbullah is continuing to resist Israel as part of its expanded concept of Resistance.

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Fuck any journalist or observer who calls today’s bombing in Dahyeh a “spillover” effect of Syria’s war on Lebanon, as though the violence is a spontaneous and local reaction to Hizbullah’s role in Syria which would never have occurred otherwise.. This misnomer is a gross distortion of reality given that Hizbullah’s involvement in Syria was triggered by the presence of takfiri and Syrian rebels in Lebanon, and attacks on Lebanese Shi’a in Syria and on Lebanese territory. It also ignores the targetting of Sunni areas and officials, like Mohammad Chatah last week. This is nothing less than a Saudi-Zionist plot which aims at replicating the Iraqi and Syrian template by sowing sectarian strife in Lebanon, and at eliminating/wearing out the Resistance by opening multiple battle fronts and overextending its security and military forces.

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This excellent blog post on “Hezbollah TV’s Special Christmas Coverage” is a must see. In fact, Hizbullah’s celebration of Christmas isn’t actually new, as I recall my Christian mother receiving Christmas cards from Hizbullah as far back as the 1990s. What’s important to note here, other than the very obvious contrast with the Wahhabi, Salafi and Takfiri brand of Islamism for whom the execution and repression of Christians is not merely permitted but enjoined, is how Hizbullah’s approach to religious coexistence far transcends the concept of “tolerance” which underpins western liberal multiculturalism. The notion of tolerance actually has hidden discriminatory undertones; to “tolerate” someone or something suggests that it is somehow inferior, deviant or bad, and is being graciously endured by those practicing this tolerance. Hizbullah does not merely tolerate Christians in Lebanon; it EMBRACES and CELEBRATES Christianity both on the doctrinal and religious levels, as well as politically. It views Christians as equals ; as national partners and strategic allies who are indispensable to its Resistance project in the region against their joint Zionist enemy and the Saudi-backed executioners who are hell-bent on destroying Syria and Lebanon. And it is precisely this sense of shared destiny which distinguishes liberal multiculturalism from real diversity and coexistence which the Saudi-Zionist sectarian scheme is doing its utmost to eliminate.

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The following assertion Nasrallah made in today’s speech, probably won’t be reported in mainstream media, but it is extremely important as it is one of the rare occasions when Hizbullah has described the war in Syria in similar language to its war with Israel: “No amount of pressure can change our position on Syria because it is an existential battle for us; I don’t just mean for Hizbullah, but for Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and for the entire resistance project in the region.” 
Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem elaborated on this point last week when he said: “Wherever our resistance is, it is ultimately a resistance to the Israeli enemy, because our enemy fights us directly in some places and it fights us indirectly in others with groups and proxies who either serve its agenda or are controlled without knowing it, which is an even greater calamity.”

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I have been trying to hold back on deconstructing mainstream media reports on Syria and Hizbullah, mainly because it is just too time consuming in light of the constant supply of glaring inaccuracies and fabrications. But this piece in AP today “Car Bomb Hits Hizbullah Stronghold in Lebanon”, was just too much. Excerpts and my commentary below:

"Hezbollah’s participation in the civil war in Syria is highly divisive and unpopular in Lebanon, where many feel it has deviated from its original purpose of fighting Israel and that it has exposed the Shiite community to retaliation."

Note the term “highly unpopular” which falsely indicates that an overwhelming majority of Lebanese oppose Hizbullah’s role in Syria. This connotation is further corroborated by the allusion to Hizbullah’s  Shia supporters as turning away from it: “many feel….it has exposed the Shiite community to retaliation.” The first insinuation is misleading as the same polarization and antipathy towards Hizbullah has been in place since February 2005 in the wake of Hariri’s assassination—a good 8 years before the movement’s participation in the Syrian war. The very same March 14 supporters who decried Hizbullah’s alliance with Syria which was initially blamed for the assassination, continue to oppose it today for siding with the Syrian government and fighting alongside it. Nothing new there. Implying that Hizbullah has lost support among its core Shia constituency is a gross fabrication of reality and even lacks the anecdotal “evidence” mainstream media customarily uses as the basis for its Hizbullah narratives.

My argument is based on easily observed indicators such as the massive turnout for the Ashura commemoration it organized this year, as well as the unprecedented number of secular and non-observant Shia who partook in the event and campaigned for it on social media. As a longtime participant observer of the resistance movement and its supporters, I can confidently say that while Hizbullah has lost Arab Sunni support in the region as whole, it has not suffered any loss of Shia support in Lebanon. In fact, one of the unfortunate consequences of the war on Syria is that the Shia have increasingly come to view themselves as an embattled sect facing an existential threat and have rallied in even greater numbers behind Hizbullah for that reason. Moreover, the notion that the Shia feel Hizbullah has “deviated from its original purpose of fighting Israel” is an outright lie as they do not extricate the Saudi-Takfiri onslaught against the Resistance from the US-Israeli Zionist project to eliminate it; Hizbullah’s constituency is very much aware of the Saudi regime’s open alliance with Israel, and of the direct or indirect collusion between the takfiri fighters and the Zionist enemy, as the bombing of the Iranian embassy and Hassan Lakkis’s assassination demonstrate. The downfall of the Syrian government, the defeat of the Syrian Arab Army and the wholesale destruction of Syria are viewed as serving Israel and furthering the Empire’s divide- and- rule strategy. For Hizbullah’s supporters, the loss of Syria and its government not only poses an existential threat to them personally, but to the Resistance and by extension, the Palestinian cause.  

"The group’s open support of Assad has enraged Sunnis and left it with no shortage of enemies eager to strike at its strongholds and leadership. Dozens of people have been killed in deadly car bombings claimed by radical Sunni groups."

While it is true that Lebanon’s Sunnis are indeed virulently opposed to Hizbullah’s alliance with the Assad government and the Syrian Army, AP’s attempt to translate this public animosity into Sunni militancy against Hizbullah and the Shia in general (note that the concept of the Hizbullah “stronghold” is information warrior shorthand for Shia civilian areas which have been repeatedly targeted) is nothing less than sectarian agitation. As the author admits herself, the bombings have been the work of “radical” not mainstream Sunni groups; asserting that angry Sunnis have left Hizbullah with no shortage of enemies eager to strike at its strongholds and leadership” suggests that Lebanon’s Sunnis are all potential car and suicide bombers.

"Most recently, on Dec. 4, gunmen assassinated a senior Hezbollah commander, Hassan al-Laqees, in the garage of his building in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut. And last month, two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, killing 23 people. An al-Qaida-affiliated group claimed responsibility, saying it was payback for Hezbollah’s support of Assad."

This backgrounder is intended to obfuscate Israel’s continued intelligence war on Hizbullah as it completely ignores the Zionist regime’s very obvious culpability in the Lakkis killing and its highly probable collaboration with the Saudis and their jihadi agents  in masterminding the embassy bombing, especially considering it occurred days before the imminent US-Iranian nuclear agreement which both parties were trying to sabotage for months. Also noteworthy is how AP completely ignores the two suicide attacks on Lebanese Army posts in Sidon and Majdalyoun on Sunday night, which, like the Bekaa car/suicide bomb against Hizbullah today, were also carried out by takfiri groups. The failure to contextualize today’s bombing with events that occurred just a day earlier by the same type of perpetrator is not only sloppy journalism or omissive reporting, it is a crude propagandistic attempt to portray takfiri groups in a purely reactive light—  Hizbullah is a target solely because of its participation in the Syrian war. If the reader is reminded of the attacks on the Lebanese Army, which is obviously not party to the Syrian war, then Hizbullah cannot be blamed for terrorist acts committed against it and its supporters. 

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Western and Third World leftists, as well as some of us here in the region, often romanticize governments, movements and individuals in the Resistance Axis. The truth is that our side which represents politically just causes can be grossly unjust on the interpersonal and social levels, in professional settings, in the domestic political arena, and in the economy to name but a few. Our camp is not immune to corruption, crime, violence or even treachery as Hamas has demonstrated all too well. Sometimes it is greed and opportunism which drives some Arabs to sell out to the imperialists and their cronies, but often-times it is disillusionment with our camp for all of the above. In times of such disillusionment and outright disgust with such injustices I remind myself that I am not supporting the Resistance Axis or its constituents per se, but its struggle against imperialism and Zionism. And if Iran, Hizbullah, Syria, and Palestinian groups were to abandon this struggle, then we should abandon them. This is beyond partisanship and ideology; it is identity and being.

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Hizbullah announces the assassination of a Resistance commander last night, in front of his home in the St.Therese area in Haddad, Beirut. Hajj Hassan Hulu al-Lakkis was a fighter in the Resistance since its early days, and was father to of one of the Resistance martyrs in the July War. Hizbullah lays full responsibility for this crime and its implications on the Zionist enemy, who had made several attempts on his life in the past.
May he rest in power.

Full statement here in Arabic.

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