Paris, First of August (IPS) Three weeks after attacking Lebanon massively with the aim of destroying Hezbollah and make the Lebanese people hate the leader of the Iran-backed organisation, Hasan Nasrallah, Israel has made him the Arabs and Muslim’s number one hero, replacing the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezjad, increased Hezbollah’s public standing, reinforced its military machine, replenished its financial coffers in the one hand and on the other, helped Iran to become the region’s major actor instead of being isolated, another aim of the Tel Aviv’s latest adventure.
All these objectives could have been achieved if Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime Minister who is in a vegetable state would be at the helms, for, according to many political analysts, because of his own experiences, he would have stopped military operations after 48 hours, leaving the ruins Israeli air force had caused to Lebanon’s infrastructures do its work – as it was doing --: Not only the international community, not only most of the Lebanese and Arab leaders, but even the bulk of the people was condemning the nightly raid of Hezbollah commandos on an Israel columns, killing eight soldiers and abducting two others, triggering the devastative Israeli response.
“What the Hezbollah did was an act of irresponsibility. It attacked the Israelis outside internationally recognised borders without informing the Government in which the Organisation has ministers”, commented Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, summing up the sentiment of the majority of the Lebanese people, including Sunni Muslims and some Shi’ites.
The notable exception was the Iranian people which, in its great majority, was critical of the excessive verbal support provided by the Government to Hezbollah.
But by ordering the army continuing the bombings, destroying houses, roads, bridges, killing innocent people, mostly children and old men and women, pictures and television reports from Arab media not shown by the Western press of fear of creating mass support for Lebanon, Ehud Olmert, the inexperienced Prime Minister of Israel, made the mistake of his life, partly because of the assurances he received from the Bush Administration, not knowing that crushing a guerrilla fighting at home is more difficult, if not impossible, than defeating regular armies, as the Americans had experienced it in Vietnam and the Russians in Afghanistan.
In fact, as the war continued, as Israel inflicted more collective punishment to the civilians, the public opinion in the world in general and in the Arab and Muslim communities in particular expressed more and more sympathy with the Party of God. The resistance by the “Resistance” (the alias for Hezbollah) to the mighty Israeli army, considered as “invulnerable” was seen as the fight of David against Goliath, this time David being Hezbollah-Lebanon.
The notable exception was the Iranian people which, in its great majority, was critical of the excessive verbal support provided by the Government to Hezbollah in the one hand and the Palestinian Hamas on the other, making it “the nanny more affectionate than the mother”.
“Of course I am angry’’, said one worker. “All our income is going to Palestine and Hezbollah”. “We Iranians have a proverb that says a lamp needed at home must not be given to the mosque”, commented another, adding: “The government should help its people first, and then help the people in Lebanon”.
“Let them fight with each other until they get tired”, said a young man giving his name as Mohammad. “Arab countries are not supporting Hezbollah, but why we who are not Arabs?
According to some sources, one percent of Iran’s budget has been approved by the Majles (Iran’s Parliament) to the Palestinian radicals. Hezbollah for its part is reported to receive 50 to 100 million US Dollars par year. “Why should I not get angry about this?”, Mohammadi asked.
The relentless pro Palestinian, pro Hezbollah programmes in the State-owned, conservatives-controlled public media and pro-Government press has caused a kind of indifference and even repulsion towards the Hezbollah and the Palestinians in particular and the Arabs in general. In a recent edition of the daily newspaper “Aftab-e Yazd” (The Sun of Yazd), one reader wrote in saying: “Radio and television broadcast so many programs about Arab countries that I sometimes wonder if it is the Iranian TV or an Arab TV”.
“Pray tell us, how on earth are we related to this Seyed Hassan Nasrallah whose photos have been plastered all over the country?!”, another reader told the same paper, owned by the younger brother of Iran’s all powerful Ayatollah Ali Khameneh’i, who actually had appointed Mr. Nasrallah as the leader of Hezbollah.
A taxi driver suggested Nasrallah be captured and brought to an international tribunal to tell the truth about the 12 July attack on the Israeli soldiers. “If he refuses, he must be given truth syringe. He must explain why he ruined a nation, killed hundreds of innocent people. He must say who ordered him to attack the Israelis? He must say where he gets his armaments, his money?”.
Hezbollah has defended its action to capture the two Israeli soldiers in order to bargain an exchange of prisoners. In an article in the Guardian on 25/7/2006 with the title “We are defending our sovereignty”, Ali Fayyad, a senior member of the executive committee of Hezbollah asserts: “In the context of the continued occupation, detention of prisoners and repeated Israeli attacks and incursions into Lebanese territory, the capture of the Israeli soldiers was entirely legitimate. The operation was fully in line with the Lebanese ministerial declaration, supported in parliament that stressed the right of the resistance to liberate occupied Lebanon against Israeli aggression. International law also allows peoples and states to protect their citizens and territory”.
A taxi driver suggested Nasrallah be captured and brought to an international tribunal to tell the truth about the 12 July attack on the Israeli soldiers.
Nevertheless, the tragedy of Lebanon is also working as a wake up for the Iranians, fearing similar destructions and killings in their country due to an “irresponsible” act by a “lunatic” sitting in a key position, especially of the regime is equipped with a nuclear weapon.
“What happens in Lebanon, what Nasrallah did must be an alarm bell for us. Iranians must realise that one wrong decision from one of our present leaders, most of them irresponsible, or an organisation, or a group, like the Revolutionary Guards or para-military units controlled by some clerics can transform our country into another Lebanon, devastated and millions massacred. By becoming a nuclear power, do we want give the Americans the pretext of ruining our nation, leaving Iran like Germany at the end of the War?” stressed an Iranian scholar asking for anonymity.
Another reason explaining Iranian’s negative attitude is that they fear the victory of Hezbollah-Iran in this war would encourage the already militaristic Iranian government becoming more radical in its crackdown on the dissidents, as seen by the death of Mr. Akbar Mohammadi, a young student in prison on Sunday, the imprisonment of professor Ramin Jahanbaglou, former lawmaker Ali Akbar Mousavi Kho’eini, bus drivers leader Mansour Osanlou or Naser Zarafshan, a popular lawyer.
However, the picture changed dramatically after the Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Qana, on 30 July, which killed dozens of civilians, including many children.
The massacre created an international uproar against both Israel and the United States. “Lebanon is an unwashable stain for the United Nations”, commented the populist Iranian President Ahmadi Nezhad, more determined than ever to “wipe Israel off the map”.
The rockets and missiles fired day after day by the Hezbollah over Israeli cities, causing more than 30 dead among the population while killing an equal number of Israel soldiers in combat, -- the largest ever suffered by the Israeli army at the hands of a Shi’a-based Arab organization backed mainly by non Arab Iran and to a lesser degree Syria -- reinforced the perception that Israel has lost the battle for hearts and minds, and that Hezbollah and Iran have won.
This leads to the major question of knowing whether peace and stability in the Middle East is possible with the present Iranian regime?
The answer, offered by a veteran Iranian political analyst who does not want his name being mentioned is a straight No.
“Without a regime change in Iran, the situation in the region would remain explosive, volatile, and instable. The change must come from within the country, by the Iranians themselves, but the problem is that the nationalist opposition does not want to be helped by the United States, for the simple reason that if would lose credibility and respectability, due to Washington’s past wrongdoings in Iran. Europe is a good option, but the fact is that not only the Europeans, mostly the major powers like France, Germany and even Britain do not share American’s views or policies on the present Iranian theocracy, but the regime also enjoys the backing of emerging wolrd powers as Russia and China”, he pointed out. ENDS IRAN HEZBOLLAH 1806